Local residents to launch new school Sept. 3

Ballantyne residents Hawley Hoggard and Allyson Creel are passionate about Montessori.

The two have nearly 35 years experience combined in the Montessori classroom, both in and outside of the Charlotte area. While Charlotte is already home to several other Montessori-based schools, Hoggard and Creel say its just not enough.

“Our community can be supportive of more Montessori schools,” they said, noting other cities comparable to Charlotte have larger Montessori bases. “We knew that Charlotte was a place that was ripe for another Montessori school for children of all socio-economic backgrounds. We can reach more people.”

That’s why they’re opening nonprofit Keystone Montessori School, a new Montessori option for Charlotte students, next month. The school, which will be housed in the education building at Sedgefield United Methodist Church, 2830 Dorchester Place in Charlotte, will be a community that nurtures natural development of children from ages 3 to 12 and will follow Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) guidelines. School leaders are currently accepting applications for its primary class of 3- to 6-year-olds for the 2013-14 school year and will host an open house event Saturday, Aug. 24, from 9 to 11 a.m. for interested families.

Hoggard will serve as the school’s primary class teacher, as well as the head of school. Creel will serve as an assistant in the classroom and head of school. The two have expansion plans for the 2014-15 school year, where Creel will serve as the elementary classroom teacher for 6- to 12-year-olds.

The goal of the school is to provide mixed-age groupings, uninterrupted work periods, freedom to move about the classroom as needed and the pursuit of purposeful and meaningful work – all essential elements of a Montessori classroom.

“A joyful community – that’s what we are trying to create for students, parents and the staff that work here. We want it to be a joyful experience for everyone, and we always want to put the children first.”

An important aspect of Keystone will be to work closely with parents to implement Montessori practices at home, Creel said, from having child-sized furniture to organizing furniture in a way to help kids sleep better at night.

Keystone will help educate the whole child – emotional and spiritual – and will give students and parents the comfort of working in a well-organized and peaceful environment, Creel said.

The school will be grant- and donation-based, and leaders hope to one day have a scholarship program.

“We want a diverse student body,” Hoggard said. “We’re hoping to form good relationships with the community, too.”

Creel and Hoggard, with the help of a wide-parent base, picked Sedgefield UMC to house the school because of its central location in the city. They hope to attract students from all over Charlotte, Creel said.

The school’s primary program will run Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to noon, with extended day offerings for older primary students until 3 p.m. The first day of school is Sept 3, a Tuesday. Find more information, including the admissions process and tuition and fees, at www.keystonemontessorischool.com.

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