Teacher won't have Montessori experience

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The Steamboat Springs School District will ask a teacher without Montessori experience to lead its new program this fall.

The district will interview four candidates this week and plans to choose one of them for a full-time Montessori teaching position at Strawberry Park Elementary School. Whoever is hired will need to attend nine weeks of Montessori training on the Front Range beginning in June.

District officials said they aren't overly concerned that an experienced Montessori teacher didn't apply for the position.

"We'd prefer to have a trained teacher with some experience," Superintendent Donna Howell said. "But a good, talented teacher can take the training and do an effective job of implementing the program."

The district agreed to create the multi-year Montessori pilot program earlier this year. The creation of the program was contingent upon Steamboat Springs Montessori dropping a lawsuit it had filed last year against the district.

Twenty-three students are enrolled in the pilot program, which will serve first-, second- and third-graders during the 2004-05 school year.

The district began advertising the Montessori teaching position in March but was unable to attract candidates who met the position's criteria, including Montessori experience and a state teaching license or the ability to easily attain one.

At least one qualified candidate didn't apply because the Montessori class won't have an instructional aide. Traditional Montessori classrooms have instructional aides and as many as 28 students.

"I had heard it would be hard getting someone without an aide," Strawberry Park Principal John DeVincentis said.

District officials have said they wanted to keep the Montessori class approximately the same size as other elementary classes and wouldn't consider hiring an aide unless the class size increased to about 28 students.

DeVincentis recently attempted to actively recruit qualified candidates from state Montessori centers but was unsuccessful.

Nevertheless, he's confident the chosen candidate will work well in the classroom and in the building.

A 10-person hiring committee representing teachers, parents and administrators will conduct the interviews Friday.

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