Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms weekly Meet a Mom spotlight where we feature one local mama, what they’re up to both personally and professionally. But first we’d like to extend a very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm. Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities!
This week’s Meet a Mom feature is the lovely Edison Park new mama, rock n’ roll expert, band member and Regional General Manager for School of Rock Highwood and School of Rock Evanston, Maggie Weber! Maggie has been managing the School of Rock since 2014. When asked what her most favorite aspect about this career is, she doesn’t skip a beat, “I have had so many conversations with parents who worry about where their child will fit in, and we find a place for them… My absolute favorite is witnessing the moment our students let go and have complete and total FUN on stage!” Read on to learn more about Maggie’s career journey from cruise ships and bartending to the “leap of faith” that led to her current and very successful position. Welcome, Maggie!
Hi Maggie! Please introduce yourself. Where are you from originally? What city do you live in now?
I was born and raised in Champaign, IL where I also attended college at the University of Illinois. I live in the Edison Park neighborhood of Chicago now. I decided to move to the north side of Chicago (Lakeview – because it’s awesome in your 20s!) in 2002 after a stint working on cruise ships as a Port Shopping Guide. So many of my friends from U of I are from the North Shore and moved back to the city after college – I thought it would be such a cool place to live. I moved to the Edison Park area in 2013 and love how the neighborhood incorporates a city feel with a small town vibe. Also, I’m only a hop-skip from other awesome burbs like Park Ridge, Niles, and Skokie!
I just had my first baby on November 23, 2020 – so I’m really new to the momma scene. Little Magoo (as we affectionately call him) is a little butterball of joy and my husband and I are already feeling like he’s growing up too fast! I’m sure that’s a shared feeling by all you mommas out there!
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I have absolutely no piercings or tattoos. Strangely, I really like the look of both, but I never ended up getting anything on my own body. I’m pretty sure it’s a blessing in disguise because I would spend entirely too much money adorning my ears with awesome earrings.
Any local favorite takeout restaurants for those of us who are begging to find something new to try?
This is a loaded question for me! I worked in the restaurant and service industry for 17 years, so I’ve got a ton of favorites. Here are some of my favorite North side takeout places: North Branch Fried Chicken in Jefferson Park, Bangkok Belly in Norwood Park, La Principal in Evanston, Koya Japan in Lake Forest, and Food Stuffs in Lake Forest and Glencoe.
You are the Regional General Manager for School of Rock Highwood and Evanston! Please tell us more about those locations and your role there.
The School of Rock has a very different approach to music education. Our programs, camps, and workshops for kids, teens, and adults make learning to play music fun and create great communities of musicians through Song-First learning. We teach awesome Rock songs and translate those songs into music theory knowledge.
I have had the pleasure of managing the Evanston and Highwood School of Rock locations since February of 2014. I started as an Assistant Manager, then grew into my current role as the Regional General Manager for the School of Rock Evanston and Highwood. There has never been a dull moment – it’s Rock and Roll, baby!
My general experience in the music industry has varied over the years. When I first moved to Chicago when I was 22, I used to sign up for Live Band Karaoke contests for extra money. One time, I also won a giant Pez dispenser that I gave my mom for Christmas that year! Like most musicians, I have been involved in too many projects, bands, and recordings to count. The love of music is what keeps us going!
It’s so great that you’ve been involved in music yourself and that translates into your day-to-day job! How did you get involved in this career?
I answered an ad on Craigslist! I was bartending fulltime and I decided that I couldn’t stay in the bar industry any longer. The owners of the School of Rock Evanston and Highwood hired me because I was very sincere and honest with a little bit of sass. They took a leap of faith with me and hoped my skill set would translate. They were right. Our schools hit record numbers on enrollment year over year, and I continue to forge new relationships with our families and local communities every day.
What is most rewarding about your role as Regional General Manager at the School of Rock?
Seeing the transformation of students is unbelievable – absolutely awe-inspiring. I have watched 12 year old girls who struggle with self esteem graduate from high school with the confidence I wish I had at their age. I have seen 8 year old boys who don’t like sports find their place with us. I have had so many conversations with parents who worry about where their child will fit in, and we find a place for them. I have been a cheerleader to our adults who join our adult bands and muster up the courage to live out their dreams of being on stage since they were teenagers. My absolute favorite is witnessing the moment our students let go and have complete and total FUN on stage!
That is an amazing answer! What’s the hardest part?
The most difficult part of running these schools is seeing these kids graduate and move on. As moms, we always know that’s the next step – independence – but it’s so hard to see them go!
Who are your influencers and/or mentors that have helped you get to where you are today and/or continue to inspire you?
You guys ask such tough questions! First and foremost, my Momma is absolutely the key to my success as a musician. My Dad is also amazing and has taught me everything I know about business. They have been together over 40 years and are just the best role models and parents a gal could ask for!
What are the most common questions that perspective families ask?
Q: How old do you have to be to start music lessons?
A: We typically start around 7 years of age – this is because of the fine motor skills necessary to play an instrument. However, we always offer a free trial lesson to anyone ages 5 and up to evaluate skill level.
Q: What is the cost of your program?
A: The cost for our programs range from $240-$325 per month. We also offer discounts and other packaged pricing for enrolled siblings and parents.
Who are your all-time favorite bands?
This question is hard to answer because I have a ton of favorite bands AND solo artists: Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Alison Krauss, Boyz II Men, The Eagles, Queen, Third Eye Blind, Rascal Flatts, Billy Joel, and Indigo Girls. Yes, I realize that these artists are drastically different, but they are the ones who shaped me.
Ha! I love the variety! Are you in a band?
Yes! I’m one of the lead singers in Where’s Maggie. The name of the band came about because we always rehearse at the School of Rock Highwood where I am constantly pulled away to talk to parents, students, and teachers. Because I am always leaving rehearsals to work, the band is always left waiting for me, asking, “Where’s Maggie?”. Where’s Maggie’s mantra is to reinvent songs with three part harmonies. Creep, Seven Nation Army, and Sweet Child of Mine are only a few of our favorites we have reworked for your listening pleasure! We have gigs with just the trio (Scott Balmoos, Eric Falberg, and me) or our full band (made up of School of Rock instructors). We have become a favorite for many venues on the North Shore such as 28 Mile, Teddy O’Brian’s, Toad Stool Pub, Pazzo Di Vino, Fred’s Garage and lots of private events!
Super cool, can’t wait to check that out! What’s on the horizon for you personally and professionally?
I will never stop singing! No matter where life takes me, I will always sing a song. Also, I would love to have more children if that’s in the cards for my husband and me – I’m 38, so we’re grateful for Mr. Magoo given my age. My long-term professional goal is to own a School of Rock someday. No matter what, I will always pursue a career that sings to my soul (pun intended!)
How can we connect with you for more information about School of Rock and more?
I am always available via email at email@example.com. I am happy to schedule calls or meet in person to talk about the School of Rock, Where’s Maggie, or any opportunities to partner up in the North Shore community! You can also follow us on Instagram (Highwood and Evanston) for current program information and specials.