Overcoming enormous obstacles, Marco Island Montessori Academy opens Tuesday

Primary classroom teacher, Stephanie Janisch arranges books and gets her classroom in order for opening day. Jean Amodea/Eagle Correspondent

Primary classroom teacher, Stephanie Janisch arranges books and gets her classroom in order for opening day. Jean Amodea/Eagle Correspondent

Although Island Montessori Academy (IMA) has a delayed start date, the school will open today (Tuesday), ready to greet a crop of 31 students eager to stretch their wings learning via the innovative Montessori method.

Founded in 2005, by Lisa Nguyen, M.Ed., the school will open in their new location on Elkcam Circle. The school formerly operated out of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

Working hard for the past few weeks, many times until midnight, Nguyen is excited and ready to rock a new school year.

“We have just about completed this four month project in six weeks. Special thanks go to Juan Mendoza of Meso American Builders, whose smile and positive attitude got us through the long hard days and to Jason Bailey and his partner Don Montroy, of Allied Paver Systems, who made this dream a reality,” said Nguyen.

“Come Tuesday morning a group of very happy children and parents will have them to thank for their new school.”

And as a testament to the support and respect earned from those who know her, staff, family friends and parent volunteers pitched in with the work.

Parents like Sean and Nathan O’Donnell of Ace Performance Plus and Jim Timmerman worked at full-time jobs during the day, then worked at the school for another five or six hours painting and assisting in any way needed.

“My eight year old daughter Abigail has been attending for six years and my four year old, Noah, who is in his third year are doing so well, I wouldn’t have it any other way; and I am happy to help,” said Timmerman.

Even Hector Garcia who works for one of the subcontractors freely offered to work after his regular job hours.

And Marco living legend, Herb Savage, who was involved in designing the original building, was commissioned to draw the specs for the school’s redesign and make sure everything was up to code.

At 92, he still works, goes to his office every day and says with a twinkle in his eye that he is still available to do design projects.

New for IMA this year is an after school program well guided by related arts and after school specialist Amy Chapin. It will feature the ABCs: Be Active (fitness), Be Creative (art) and Be Healthy (healthy living and eating).

A former chef and current fitness instructor, Chapin studied various art forms, including drawing and printmaking, industrial and interior design.

An infant program (3 to 18 months) is on the drawing board, depending on demand.

While Nguyen holds Montessori training credentials and a master’s degree in education, her solid five years Montessori classroom experience as well as experience teaching primary students at Tommy Barfield Elementary well equips for her current role.

Acutely aware that parents should have an alternative choice to traditional education and convinced that the Montessori method was the perfect learning model, she made the leap and opened her own facility.

“Sir Ken Robinson said that ‘Everyone is born with tremendous capacities for creativity. The trick is to develop these capacities.’ The focus for our teaching staff is to treat each child as an individual and to guide them on their path,” she said.

The American Montessori Society Web site describes the educational approach as holistic, focusing on the child’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development, thus stimulating the child desire to learn.

The rationale is that children who are afforded a teacher guided, self-exploratory, self-paced approach using a variety of stimulating materials will learn concepts at their own cognitive skill levels.

“Our teachers have bachelor degrees and meet DCF requirements, and each lead teacher has a Montessori credential for their age group,” said Nguyen.

There are some spots still open for enrollment. The school offers two toddler (ages 18 to 36 months) and two primary (3 to 6 years) classes as well as one elementary (6 to 9 years) class that will be taught by Nguyen.

Enrollment requirements include a school tour, parent interview and child observation.

The school hours are from 8 a.m. to 12 noon for half days (toddler and primary), Monday to Friday and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for full days, with a noon dismissal on Wednesdays.

The annual tuition for toddlers for five half and five full days ranges from $6,985 to $9,970 and from $6,615 to $9,600 for primary students. The three half day tuition (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) for toddlers is $4,320 and $4,104 for primary students.

The tuition for elementary students, for five half full days, with a noon dismissal on Wednesdays is $9,970 annually.

A non-refundable $375 program materials fee is payable with approved enrollment and is applied to the purchase of supplies and materials for the duration of a student’s three-year program.

A 15 percent sibling discount is offered for families who enroll more than one child and selected scholarships are accepted.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Island Montessori Academy

Where: 579 Elkcam Circle, Marco Island

Contact: (239) 642-2020

or www.imamarco.org

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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