Bainbridge Island’s long-running Montessori school will be expanding its Arrow Point Drive campus.
The Montessori Country School is currently split between two campuses; the elementary school campus along High School Road and the preschool campus on Arrow Point Drive. Once complete, the new campus will be the most comprehensive on the West Sound.
Montessori Country School has been teaching Bainbridge’s youngsters since 1972. The Montessori instructional model is an alternate approach to early childhood education and places a focus on the child’s receptiveness during so-called “sensitive periods” in their development. It is believed that children are more predisposed to learning during these periods. This philosophy encourages children to take an active role in their learning and also fosters collaboration between students of different ages.
For the Head of School Meghan Skotheim, the benefits of consolidating both schools to one campus is two-fold.
“For the children, we work hard to make a community of kids,” Skotheim said.
“Our older children could come over and sit in class and help a younger child do something that they want to do. Our younger kids become inspired by what the older kids do and what they see them doing,” she said.
The expansion will offer opportunities for collaboration between teachers, as well.
“On a staffing level, it’s going to be fantastic because our staff can meet each other and talk to each other during the day and talk about what they’re doing, what we could do as a whole school, and help each other with kids that are moving through the school,” Skotheim said.
“It offers collaboration that we cannot do when we’re on two campuses,” added Program Director Hilary Benson.
“Whether it’s collaboration between students or teachers or parents, there’s a lot of benefit to being in one space together,” Benson said.
It won’t just be the students in the Montessori program who will be reaping the benefits of the expansion, though.
“I personally believe that having kids educated in a Montessori school benefits the community because of who they want to be in the community,” Skotheim said. “We do a lot of community outreach, we talk a lot about the broader community and the world.”
Having people working on the project who are familiar with the philosophy of Montessori schools has also been helpful in the design process.
“It’s been great because they understand the aesthetic that we’re going for, and the community that they’re working with,” Benson said.
“Having people that understand the heart of Montessori Country School is beneficial for everybody,” she added.
Several of the architects who worked on the design are the parents of children who went through the Montessori Country School. One individual working on the project has firsthand knowledge of Montessori Country School’s educational model. And the project manager for the expansion, Dylan Sievertson, is a former student of the Montessori Country School.
Montessori Country School has received approval for their construction permits and construction has already begun on the expansion.
The project is expected to be completed by September.