St. Vital Montessori School is back where it belongs.
The early childhood education program has relocated to 613 St. Mary’s Rd. within the St. Mary’s Road United Church, which was the site of the school at its inception in 1968 and all the way to 2009.
"The building we were previously in at 479 St. Mary’s Road was sold," said Derek Cherewick, volunteer chairperson at St. Vital Montessori.
"It had been owned by a consortium led by the India School of Dance and as a result of some litigation within that group, it was sold to a church that will be using the property. Rather than hope we might be able to negotiate a new lease with the new organization, we took proactive measures to relocate."
Cherewick said the school first moved in 2009 because the leadership at St. Mary’s Road United Church had other uses for the space. He says the church’s leadership team has since turned over and sees value in having St. Vital Montessori School on its premises again.
The school — for children ages two and a half to five years — follows the educational approach designed by Italian physician and teacher Maria Montessori.
"The curriculum is largely based on what interests the children," Cherewick said. "The teachers do put out specific equipment that they rotate throughout the year and introduce specific subject matter, but the children always have time each day to explore the classroom and work with equipment that interests them.
"It’s the teacher’s responsibility to observe them and help them take that exploration to the next level. If a child is interested in building blocks, the teacher will help them understand counting, colour organization and other exercises of that nature. It’s basically student-driven exploration."
Cherewick said the new location/old location is better suited to the Montessori style of teaching than the previous space.
"It’s actually a better classroom in that it’s slightly more square footage," Cherewick said. "We maintain a ratio of no more than 10 students per teacher (the school has two Montessori certified educators) at any given time. The space we’ve moved to could actually accommodate up to 23 students, but we’ll keep our limit at 20 to maintain that ratio.
"Also, the space is square, whereas our previous location was more rectangular, so it will be better suited to any group work the teachers do with the students."
St. Vital Montessori School will hold an open house today (Sept. 4) from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. All are welcome. For more information on St. Vital Montessori School, go to www.stvitalmontessori.ca or call 204-255-0209.