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Mendoza students aid local Montessori school

Nicole Michels | Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Four Mendoza College of Business students are applying project management skills learned at Notre Dame to a local Montessori school.

Juniors Stephanie Boggs, Patrick Cotter, Barbara Smith and Devlin Lynch are using professor Corey Angst’s Project Management class to help Good Shepherd Montessori School increase enrollment.

Good Shepherd develops a child’s love of learning through a unique combination of Catholic social teaching and Montessori teaching methods, according to co-founder and director of community relations Felicia Leon-Driscoll. She and her husband, co-founder Daniel W. Driscoll, established the school after studying at Notre Dame.

“We’re doing what Notre Dame taught us,” Leon-Driscoll said. “We’re applying the principle of Catholic Social Teaching to our work and our lives, [taking] the preferential option for the poor and [making] the world a place where it is an easier place to be good.”

Room exists for improvement and expansion from the 16 students the school had when it opened 10 years ago, Leon-Driscoll said. Good Shepherd wants to increase class size, with the immediate goal of generating enough interest to open a preschool classroom.

“Our goal is to attract 20 new elementary-age students and 15 new preschoolers,” Leon- Driscoll said. “That will make a huge difference.”

Through the Project Management course, students, including Boggs’ group, will apply what they learn in the classroom directly to real world experience after choosing their clients from a list of interested organizations, Angst said.

“We want to send the message to the students that you can do good things, support whatever mission you want, if you generate enough revenue to be able to do those things,” Angst said.

Boggs’ group plans to capitalize on Good Shepherd’s strong connection with Notre Dame to help it achieve its goals, she said.

“A lot of the parents at the school are connected to the University,” Boggs said.

One of those parents is Christina Wolbrecht, professor of political science at Notre Dame. Wolbrecht said she chose Good Shepherd because the school embodies a number of values really important to her family.

“The basic teaching philosophy of the school really emphasizes independence, exploration and love of learning,” Wolbrecht said. “What we really like about this philosophy is that it recognizes each child as unique, and lets the child work both at the pace and in the way that works best for [them].”

Driscoll, who acts as head of Good Shepherd, said his school embodies the Montessori mission to stimulate children’s minds and natural intellectual creativity.

“The first and foremost vision of a Montessori school is to create a world of peace,” Driscoll said. “We want to create an environment that allows a child to be self-confident, directed, motivated and to love the universe so much that it opens a new type of world.”