Montessori to expand preschool program


— A group of Steamboat Springs parents who battled the school district to bring public Montessori education to local students has merged with the Yampa Valley Montessori Education Center to expand the preschool and kindergarten program.

The re-organized school is scheduled to open this fall and offer a variety of scheduling options for children ages 3 to 6. The school, which is applying for nonprofit status and is in the process of taking over Yampa Valley Montessori Education Center's operating license, will be renamed Steamboat Springs Montessori.

"It has been a pleasant process," said Jody Patten, a Steamboat Springs Montessori board member. "We're building on the success of an eight-year program."

Lesa Radford, the director of Yampa Valley Montessori Education Center, has joined the Steamboat Springs Montessori board, Patten said.

The school plans to increase its enrollment to 25 students. Patten said the group is considering further expansion in future years in the hopes of providing local families with two Montessori classes.

Children must be 3 years old by Sept. 1, 2004, to enroll in the program for the 2004-05 school year. Most of the slots available for registration are for 3-year-olds, though older children will be considered.

A main focus of the re-organization effort is to provide a strong and reliable feeder program for the Montessori pilot program that begins this fall at Strawberry Park Elementary School. That program is for first-, second- and third-graders.

"It's crucial to have a program that will really prepare these children for success in the Montessori strand," Patten said. "We want to see that strand be a success."

She said that Montessori programs often run more smoothly when about half of a program's incoming students have previous Montessori classroom experience.

The Montessori education method, developed a century ago by Dr. Maria Montessori, emphasizes multi-age classrooms designed around the developmental stages of children. Other primary components of the method include hands-on learning materials and peer interaction. Montessori learning is often referred to as student-driven as opposed to teacher-driven.

The Steamboat Springs Montessori program is a five-day-a-week program with a calendar schedule that coincides with that of the school district. Daily schedules and tuitions vary depending on the age of the student, according to a flier outlining the program. Yearly tuition for the 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. kindergarten program is $7,560, or $42 each day. A morning program designed especially for younger children costs $4,320 for the year or $24 each day.

Optional add-on programs such as a lunch program and an extended day program also are available at additional costs.

For more information or to receive an enrollment application call 879-8108 or write to Steamboat Springs Montessori, P.O. Box 775104, Steamboat Springs, 80477.


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