Parent Spotlight: Keontai

Parent Spotlight: Keontai 

“At Marillac St. Vincent, they help your child get to where they need to be in their learning.”

Keontai is the mother of two beautiful girls, Winter, 8, and Autumn, 2. She has two priorities in life: her children and her work. 

She works for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs, where she transports patients to and from the Jesse Brown and Hine VA hospitals. Her work keeps her busy and sometimes takes her as far as Wisconsin or Michigan to ensure veterans receive the care they need.

Her oldest daughter, Winter, attends L.E.A.R.N. Charter School, located on the third floor of the Marillac Social Center building in East Garfield Park. After Autumn was born and entered daycare offsite, Keontai found herself with a challenging schedule when dropping off two children at two different locations before work. After learning about the Early Childhood Program at Marillac, she researched and enrolled her youngest daughter in the Birth-to-3 program. Now, both her daughters were learning in the same building, making her commute more manageable. 


Keontai's daughter, Winter (age 8), collaborating with her classmates at Marillac.

Keontai has no regrets. “Marillac is good for them. I like how they work with the children. I like the activities they do with them, and I like the different activities they do with the parents. Some centers only allow kids to play and don’t teach, leaving that for the parents at home.” As a working mother, Keontai appreciates the education her children receive at Marillac. “You know your child is learning, and you see it when you go over things with them.”

She sees the difference a quality early childhood education makes at home. “Autumn always wants to come to Marillac. ‘Mommy, I want to go to school’ or ‘Mommy, I want to see Ms. Lena.’ She knows all her teachers and all the kids on the first floor. It’s a big difference from when she was at the daycare.” 

When the shelter-in-place orders went into effect last year, Keontai’s children then had to learn from home. While grateful for the extra time together as a family, Marillac’s re-opening over the summer allowed her to go back to work. 

“You know your child is learning, and you see it when you go over things with them.” -Keontai

With Marillac St. Vincent’s e-learning program, Winter now had a safe place to do schoolwork with adult supervision. “It’s pretty difficult because I’d rather write on paper than type on a computer. I like it, but I want to go back to school,” Winter declares. Despite the challenges, Winter has been performing well. Keontai points out, “She’s had straight A’s since she’s been in e-learning, so I feel like it’s actually working.” 

As busy as work can get, Keontai makes time to be involved at Marillac St. Vincent. She regularly attends parent meetings and other activities where she can stay informed. She wants the best for her daughters and believes Marillac supports that dream. “Don’t we all want our children to be successful in life? That’s all I want. That’s all I ask, that they go to school and be the best daughters they can be.” 

You can support our early learning efforts and families like Keontai’s by making a gift this spring! Click here to donate.

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