Safe, respectful and responsible, as we use our head, heart and hands, and have fun integrating the joy and rigor in our academic pursuit of excellence. That’s the motto of the new Children’s Kiva Montessori School.
The new charter school in Cortez opened its doors to more than 70 students in kindergarten through sixth grade on Monday, Aug. 18. To launch a school from the ground up, officials had to hire teachers, order school supplies and train new board members, to name a few.
“Our team was really busy this summer,” said Kiva board member Anna Gahl Cole.
Josh Warinner was tapped as the school’s executive director to lead a staff of about a dozen teachers and administrators. Originally from Grand Junction, he was dean of students at Manaugh Elementary last year.
“Josh is full of energy and enthusiasm, and we are really excited to have him on board,” said Cole. “It also helps that he has a strong working relationship with the Montezuma-Cortez Re-1 District.”
Over the summer, Warinner attended a four-week Montessori administrator’s training conference in New Rochelle, N.Y., and Andrea Owens, a lead teacher, attended an eight-week Montessori teacher-training seminar in Boulder.
“Our entire staff worked hard this summer to prepare classrooms, plan for our inaugural year and get ready to welcome our students,” said Cole.
In addition to its academic focus, the charter school also offers a health and wellness program, farm to school family-style meals and an after school outdoor education program.
With an annual tuition of just under $800 per student, board members are committed to ensuring that more than half the student body consists of low- to moderate-income families. Tuition assistance is available.
According to the school’s website, 70 percent of budgeted income is garnered from tuition. Funding and support from grants as well as corporate and individual donors help support the school’s tuition assistance and scholarship programs.
Parent-led efforts are also vital to the school’s fundraising strategy, and a Parent Teacher Organization introductory meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Aug. 28.
Montessori education dates back more than 100 years, when Maria Montessori opened the Casa dei Bambini, or Children’s House, in a low-income district of Rome. Today, more than 5,000 Montesssori schools exist in the U.S.
Montessori education is characterized by multi-age classrooms, a special set of educational materials, student-chosen work in long time blocks, a collaborative environment with older students mentoring younger ones and individual and small group instruction in academic and social skills.
The Montessori curriculum is organized as integrated, multi-disciplinary studies as opposed to the more traditional model, in which the curriculum is compartmentalized into separate subjects. Literature, the arts, history, social issues, civics, economics, mathematics and science all complement one another in the Montessori curriculum.