WINCHESTER — Teachers, staff and family members of current students welcomed the community to the new site of Maple Corner Montessori on Tuesday.
The Montessori school, which will have classes for students from kindergarten to fourth grade, moved to the Umpqua Community College campus close to three weeks ago and will start classes in September.
There were 68 families in attendance for the open house.
It was announced during the June 12 UCC Board of Education meeting that Maple Corner Montessori would take over operations of the child care center on the college campus. The Ford Family Center opened in 1994 and cared for children ranging in ages from 6 months to 5 years old.
Head of School Leanne Jorgensen, who is also the lower elementary teacher, said the main function of the facility is a school, not a child care facility.
The classrooms all have outdoor learning spaces, as well as access to gardens, hiking trails, an amphitheater, an observatory, tennis courts, auditoriums, a library, a pool and anything else the college has to offer.
UCC students and staff will still have access to an infant and toddler care at the school. Reagan White will be the teacher for the infant and toddler room.
There will also be slots available for staff and students in the kindergarten classes.
There are two primary classrooms, a lower elementary classroom and an upper elementary classroom at the new location. Lower elementary is for kindergarten and first grade, upper elementary for second, third and fourth grade, one of the primary classes is for 2 1/2 to 4-year-olds, the other for 3 to 6-year-olds.
Jorgensen said lower elementary students are introduced to new math concepts by what they can touch and feel, such as a chain with 100 balls divided into sections of 10 strung together to help with counting.
“We follow them and what they need and what they’re ready to learn,” Primary Lead Teacher Alesha Stevenson said. “We don’t ever push them.”
Students will focus on basic learning such as reading, writing and math, but also learn practical life skills, culture, history and geography.
Jorgensen said Montessori education embraces hands on learning and individualized instruction.
In upper elementary there will be some more traditional work, as well as assessments so that parents and teachers can see a student’s improvement.
UCC President Debra Thatcher said in June that the Montessori school’s values align with the college’s and that Maple Corner Montessori will provide infant and toddler care to UCC students and make affordability a priority. According to Thatcher, the operating costs of the child care center accelerated at a pace faster than its revenues and continuing to operate the center became unsustainable for the college.