Wednesday, June 8, 2005

The Community School's elementary director retires

Express Staff Writer

Leslie Maksik

Leslie Maksik describes the turn of events that brought her to the Wood River Valley as "serendipitous good fortune."

Over the years, she passed her good fortune to hundreds of Wood River Valley children through a devotion to education.

"I am always struck by how wonderful the kids that we teach are. They are kind, wonderful souls," Maksik, The Community School elementary school director, said. "I have loved the children I have met at this school."

She came to the valley from California in 1987 to teach fifth- and sixth-grades at The Mountain School, based in Elkhorn. Later that year, the small, private elementary school found itself in need of a headmaster and turned to the new teacher for leadership.

After her first year as teacher and headmaster, The Mountain School merged with The Community School. Under the consolidation, Maksik became director of The Community School elementary program and her husband, Jon Maksik, became headmaster of the private Sun Valley-based school.

This year, Maksik is retiring after 17 years at The Community School. Through her leadership, the private elementary school built a strong foundation for early education.

"We are like an extended family—a safe place to experiment and try out different areas of academics, from athletics to foreign languages," Maksik said.

Maksik expanded the elementary environment to foster early education. During her time at the school, the elementary expanded from approximately 50 student to 150 students. In 2002, the Early Childhood Program brought the beginning class together with the kindergarten level to enhance students' learning experience.

The expansion proved to improve education at the elementary level, providing opportunity to assess student development and to extend the sense of community Maksik worked to instill in the school.

"I hope they walk away with an understanding that there's nothing they can't do," Maksik said.

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