Montessori program generates excitement

July 10, 2006|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM


All they've done is post a sign at the school, Cascade Elementary School principal Rose Pellegrino said, and 17 parents have rushed to enroll their children.

"Everyone is excited about this," Pellegrino said.

The parents were signing up their children for Washington County's 13th pre-kindergarten program, which will be starting in Cascade in August.

The Children's Montessori School of Gettysburg, staff from Cascade Elementary and the Washington County Board of Education will enroll at least 20 students in the county's first Montessori pre-kindergarten program.


"We could possibly go up to 40," said Christina Placek, owner of Children's Montessori School.

The school's pre-kindergarten class will be open to 3- and 4-year-olds. Eventually, the class might have 3- to 6-year-olds in what Placek called a "multi-age classroom," where younger and older students work together.

"Then you have the younger students learning from the older students in what really is a family-type atmosphere," she said.

In a Montessori classroom, as opposed to a traditional pre-kindergarten, Placek said the teacher is more of a facilitator who directs the children if they need it. There is a lot of one-on-one interaction, and the children are invited to want to learn and choose their own work, she said.

"The Montessori method emphasizes all of the different areas of development and is really a multisensory experience," she said. "They process the information in three different ways: touching something, saying it out loud and seeing it."

The start of a pre-kindergarten program at Cascade began about one year ago, said Jill Burkhart, Washington County Public Schools elementary supervisor for reading, social students and early learning. Placek needed space for her growing enrollment, and Cascade needed a pre-kindergarten option for parents.

"We're looking to meet the needs of the children," Burkhart said.

Three- and 4-year-olds who live in the Cascade area and meet federal income eligibility requirements will be able to attend the Montessori pre-kindergarten program for free. The program will be available on a tuition basis to children from Cascade, Smithsburg, Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., Rouzerville, Pa., Waynesboro, Pa., and other nearby municipalities.

Tuition is $290 per month for Cascade students, Placek said, and $300 for students from surrounding areas.

Nine spots per class are available for low-income students.

There is no enrollment deadline, and applications are being accepted now, Pellegrino said.

Children's Montessori School of Gettysburg was founded in 2005 when Placek was looking for Montessori schooling for her son.

"I think both schools will benefit from the union," she said. "I have confidence that the program will give the Cascade and surrounding area a foundation for success."

Open House

· What: Open House for information about Cascade Elementary School's new Montessori pre-kindergarten program

· When: July 12, 6 p.m.; Aug. 1, 6 p.m.

· Where: Cascade Elementary School, 14519 Pennersville Road, Cascade

The Herald-Mail Articles