For anyone who attended The Montessori School (TMS) in the 1990s or 2000s, you likely would have been acquainted with the Mortellaro-Disser family. With three children in our program, spanning from 1993 to 2007, and now with their father serving on our Board of Directors, this family has been a huge supporter of our school for many years. Undoubtedly, they did, and still do, play a large part in creating the “close-knit and supportive community,” which all three children cite as one of the best parts of their time at TMS.

Blake Mortellaro, the oldest of the Mortellaro-Disser family, began his preschool and kindergarten career with TMS in 1993, staying with the school through 1998. Blake credits his time in a Montessori classroom with helping him develop the capacity to complete tasks and problem-solve independently, saying that, “it instilled a sense of confidence in my academic and professional capabilities and [helped me] develop an assertive mindset.” Blake was also appreciative of the Montessori structure of education for allowing him to do accelerated and advanced work, which served him well following TMS as he excelled academically in both high school and college.

Lia Disser, the Mortellaro-Disser’s middle child, attended TMS from 2000-2003. She too appreciated the opportunity to work independently and at her own pace, saying, “it helped me become a self-motivator.” In 2004, the final Mortellaro-Disser child, Ben Disser, joined the TMS family, attending our school from 2004 to 2007. Like his siblings, Ben really enjoyed the style of teaching and the ability to learn in his own way that he experienced while at TMS.

Following their time at TMS, all three Mortellaro-Disser siblings attended Portage Public Schools, with youngest Ben graduating from Portage Central High School just last spring. Blake and Lia have also gone on to receive their bachelor’s degrees from Michigan State University in packaging and marketing respectively. While in college, and upon graduation, Blake and Lia both found excellent internship and employment opportunities in their fields and credit, in part, the values of hard work and determination that they carry with them from their time as Montessori students.

The Mortellaro-Disser family is also very involved in their community. Ben is very active in the Boy Scouts and is currently working to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. With this endeavor, Ben has participated in and organized many community engagement projects and environmental conservation projects. Blake also has a heart for wildlife and the environment, volunteering to care for animals of all types, including exotic pets and companion animals. Lia too has been active in several community outreach organizations.

Thank you to the Mortellaro-Disser family for everything they have done to build up our community, both within TMS and beyond.