07/21/13 — Montessori School expands

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Montessori School expands

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 21, 2013 1:50 AM

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Construction is nearing completion on the Wayne Montessori School, located on New Hare Road.

What's new at Wayne Montessori School?


With construction wrapping up in time for the Aug. 21 school year start date, the new building is at a new location and will feature an expanded size in more ways than one. In addition to larger classrooms and overall space, it is now on a two-acre campus, which will be ideal when fundraising begins to introduce a natural playground to the mix.

The biggest thing internally that's accompanying the move is the student configuration, says Adrienne Strickland, head of school since July 2011.

"Previously we accepted 21 kids up to fourth grade. Now we have 30 kids and fifth grade," she said.

"This is the first time it's been expanded to up to fifth grade," said Melissa Arbun, board secretary. "Previously it was (grades) 1-3. This last year we served first through fourth. We just had kids move up."

The school, which starts with pre-K, will stop at fifth grade, Mrs. Strickland said, especially since sixth grade is now considered middle school.

There's already a waiting list for the elementary grades, but there are still a few openings in the younger children's program, the women said. The cap is at 30 in the elementary grades, 20 for pre-K.

The site, located on New Hare Road, just off New Hope Road behind the Social Security office, features three children's house classrooms, which are pre-K and kindergarten, and an elementary classroom which serves grades 1-5.

The classrooms are more spacious and each contains its own bathroom. There is also a two-way glass partition, allowing parents to observe without interrupting or disturbing instructional time, Mrs. Strickland said.

Something else added this year will be Kindermusic, a preschool music program, and an incentive for military families, a 10 percent military discount, Mrs. Arbun said.

Wayne Montessori was started in 1979 and has had other locations over the years.

"I think it did not have its own school building until about 1993, when we built the building on Harding Drive," said Mrs. Arbun. "They sold the building to the Family Y, I think, in 2009. Since then, they have obviously been planning and expanding our own property."

The Montessori style of teaching and playing is much more independent, she added, so the latest building will definitely be more in line with that model.

Students at the school, she explained, tend to be grouped together and yet work individually as well.

"What that does is, the younger kids are starting to work independently, but to get a 3-year-old to work independently can be a bit challenging, they need some guidance," she said. "For children who are like the third child in the family, used to being babied, they become independent and then help others. All of the work is hands-on."

The Montessori program also features cooking lessons for the children, Mrs. Strickland said. With that in mind, a full kitchen is part of the new interior.

There will also be a common area featuring computers for the older children.

The latest chapter has been in the works for some time, she said.

"They sold our buildings several years ago," Mrs. Strickland said. "It was always the plan to be able to go back and rebuild.

"We have spent the last two years planning and doing fundraising. We started building last December."

The next phase will be fundraising for the natural playground and additional technology.

"The natural playground is something that's really interesting," said Mrs. Arbun. "We first learned about it from N.C. State and the Natural Learning Initiative.

"What they have found in children is when they spend lots of time outside -- where there are woods, flowers and a natural environment -- not only do their test scores improve, but also even things like ADHD or ADD, their attention span improves significantly after 20 minutes outside."

The ideal would be to include things like a fossil dig for the kids, she said, as well as log balance beams and climbing equipment found in a typical playground, perhaps a rock wall.

"We could easily spend $100,000 on it," she said. "I think we're trying to do it little by little."

It will be a work in progress, she said, with mailings sent out to alumni over the summer to introduce the fundraising efforts.

For more information on the school, call 919-778-0022.