What could people as disparate as Helen Hunt, Julia Child, and Jeff Bezos possibly have in common? The clue lies in the photograph above showing the newly-opened Montessori Training Center and Lab School in Grand Center. When I toured the facility with founder Dr. Annette Haines, a Washington University graduate and internationally-recognized AMI (Association Montessori International) lecturer, examiner, and trainer, she told me that the common thread among these well-known individuals is that they were all educated by the Montessori Method. (Dr. Maria Montessori founded the Montessori Method in 1907).
The Montessori Lab School at 3854 Washington Blvd. (63108) opened last September. After touring the school I could understand why a CWE neighbor was so eager to tell me about it, and ask that I help spread the word.
There is perhaps no hotter topic among young families than where to send your children to school if you choose to live in the City of St. Louis. I would venture to say that on any given block in this neighborhood there are almost as many schools represented as there are children. The good news is that more choices have become available over the years, and I am happy to bring one more to your attention.
Recognizing the need for a "really good" Montessori School in the City of St. Louis, Dr. Annette Haines above, purchased a 7000 s.f. building in Grand Center and spent a couple of months transforming it from a drab building that housed a day care center with little light to a bright cheery place "where the sun shines in." Annette sought out the location in Grand Center because of the area's connection to art and culture.
For the past 40 years Annette has been a "trainer of trainers" in the Montessori Method, a role in which she has taught most of the Montessori teachers in the St. Louis area and many others around the world. A map at the end of this post shows which countries have Montessori educators who have graduated from her Training Center.
The facility is divided into two sections separated by an exhibition space called "The Pearl Gallery." One section houses The Montessori Training Center, a 501(c)3 (not-for-profit), which includes a classroom space and a practice environment for adults (visible in photo above and below). The Training Center operates during the summer months (it takes three summers to be certified as a Montessori teacher, information can be found here).
The practice environment for adults, above, is replicated in the Montessori Lab School, or wherever trainers are located. It is here that the future educators learn how to set up a Montessori classroom and practice giving "presentations" to their young students.
The Montessori Lab School accommodates 30 students ages 2 1/2 to 6 years. The day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. (at this time there is not an extended day program). Children are not divided by age, but instead spend their day "working" in mixed-age groups called a "family." Annette explained the Montessori philosophy: "Children have an intrinsic motivation to do work, and define themselves through work and interest." She also said there is no competition when children are grouped together, as they are working at different levels and learn from each other.
Each Montessori classroom is divided into different areas. "Practical Life," includes care of the environment. From age 2 1/2, children learn to sweep, dust, take care of and learn about plants. "Care of Person" trains them to thoroughly wash their hands by learning "the doctor scrub." (Maria Montessori was a physician.)
Another area of Practical Life at The Lab School is a flower arranging table, where children even learn to hold the stem under water to trim it (just like the pros).
"Grace and Courtesy" teaches pleases & thank yous, and to use appropriate language with adults. "Language" includes reading, grammer, writing - and yes, even the disappearing art of cursive.
Botany instruction familiarizes children with the shapes of leaves. The Montessori Lab School does not have a typical playground, but instead a large deck and backyard where the children will grow edible plants in planter boxes that will be constructed by Gateway Greening.
A very comprehensive Math section above.
A CWE parent sent me the following email about The Lab School:
“I’m a big believer in the true Montessori approach that is based on respect for the child and was so discouraged that there wasn’t a school of this nature near the CWE. When I learned that the Montessori Lab School had opened a few minutes from our home, I immediately set up a tour and enrolled both our children afterwards. There is a certain magic in a Montessori-prepared environment and on the first day at their new school, both of my kids seemed to know intuitively what to do with their hats, coats and bags on the child-sized hooks and shelves and jumped right into the ‘work’ that was laid out for them. When I came to pick them up, they both announced they weren’t ready to come home. There are only a handful of Montessori lab schools in the country-we are SO fortunate to have this educational asset right in our neighborhood that is run by a world-reknowned expert in her field.”
A map of the world indicates locations where there is a Montessori school with a teacher trained by Dr. Annette Haines.
The Pearl Gallery, a sunny event space between The Lab School and the Montessori Training Center, is currently exhibiting paintings by Albert Yowshein Kuo, a Montessori graduate. The gallery is named after Pearl Vanderwall, a student of Maria Montessori who founded The Montessori Training Center of St. Louis in 1972.
Tuition at Montessori Lab School, 3854 Washington (east of Vandeventer), is $900 per month. To build enrollment, a 1/3 discount is being offered to the first "founding" families to enroll.
Visit the website here. For more information, contact Dr. Annette Haines by email: email@example.com or (314) 833-5330.