Bobbie Noonan, the educator who brought her strong Christian faith and unwavering love for children and education to the several preschools and childcare centers she started some five decades ago in Chicago’s southwest suburbs, died Sunday, October 6. She was 86.
Roberta L Noonan was born May 1, 1933, and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from St Xavier University in Chicago and her doctorate in education from Nova University in Florida.
She is known for incorporating Montessori concepts into her schools’ programs and has written and spoken extensively on early childhood education, in addition to designing a wide range of educational toys and authoring “Bold Beginning,” a nationally acclaimed developmental and sequential preschool program. Her early work, initiated before preschool became the political chess piece it is today, recognized the value of academics, especially in reading, and play through hand-eye coordination as children developed relationships that would last throughout life.
Her preschool in Alsip began what would become the Bobbie Noonan franchise-like celebration of early childhood education, the latest instance being a religious elementary school, Noonan Elementary Academy, in Mokena. Many endeavors and centers in between have brought early education, growth, and development to thousands of children over the decades.
Although I attended Bobbie Noonan’s preschool and kindergarten in my youth, my fondest memory of her came when I interviewed her briefly in April 2001 for an article about providing preschool for children and how it benefits them. The article is no longer available online, but her contributions to the body of knowledge about the benefits of early education go far beyond what I could have written.
“My two daughters attended her Alsip location as babies, all the way up through kindergarten,” one woman wrote in tribute. “Ms Noonan’s belief in children having fun while learning is the best form of learning. My girls, now 30 and 26 years old, still will just break out singing the ‘A is for Amos, Amos has an apple…’ and remember those days fondly. I always attest to the Bobbie Noonan school for the knowledge they gained in their early years, and credit to them for being the wonderful Equine Veterinarian and Marketing Exec that they are today.”
Arrangements are in the care of Sheehy Funeral Home. The funeral will take place on Saturday. In lieu of flowers, donations to Noonan Elementary Academy, 19131 Henry Drive, Mokena.