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For the week of January 10 through January 16, 2001

Montessori planning expansion

Express Staff Writer

The Pioneer Montessori School in Ketchum plans to expand.

The schoolís pre-elementary program has proved so popular that parents last year began a push to get elementary grades established there as well.

Many parents of children attending the small school on Second Avenue asked each other, "What do you think? Can we get a Montessori Elementary going?" said parent and activist Jenny Morrissey.

Board members Kelly Feldman, Susan Cooper, Chris Miller and Claudia Allum had a business plan written up (by Allumís husband), which was presented to the rest of the board and approved at a meeting last month.

The plan calls for the inclusion of first through third grades by this fall.

There are openings for four new teachers with training on-site, and the board is currently accepting resumes for assistants, as well.

New teachers would train five weeks in the summer, intern for three hours a day during the next school year and work full time for four weeks the following summer, in order to receive a certificate to teach the Montessori Method to elementary students.

Multi-age students are put together in three-year spans in one classroom.

With a current student body of 50 in the school, between the ages of 3 to 6, the school will need to enlarge physically. However, there is no more space on the current property, so the board of directors is seeking a location for the elementary school.

"We can always use a church Sunday school room in the meantime," Morrissey said.

"The next step is to continue doing what weíre doing," said Claudia Allum. That includes fundraising from donors, businesses, and grants.

Ultimately, the plan is for the school to grow a grade every year until sixth grade.


The Montessori Method of schooling is based upon principles laid out by Dr. Maria Montessori in Italy.

She was born in 1870, and was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree, after which she worked in the fields of psychiatry, education and anthropology.

Montessori believed that each child is born with a unique potential rather than as a "blank slate" waiting to be written upon.

Her method involves the following:

  • Preparing the most natural and life-supporting environment for the child.

  • Observing the child living freely in that environment.

  • Continually adapting the environment in order that the child may fulfill his greatest potential--physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Montessori approached the childís world scientifically and practically, to bring forth the very best in young human beings.

She taught teachers to respect a childís individual differences, and to emphasize social interaction and the education of the whole personality rather than the teaching of a specific body of knowledge.

Itís become a well established style of teaching that has been imitated over the years in many different schools and has been the genesis of other newer methods of teaching.





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