MONTEVIDEO – Koreen Drexler Thompson opened Wildwood Montessori School in her Montevideo home more than six years ago in hopes of providing children with the education that can help them grow into thoughtful and engaged citizens capable of changing the world. world.
Thanks to a large number of committed adults in Montevideo, this opportunity remains, but now exists in a much greater way.
The Wildwood Montessori School of Montevideo celebrated its successful transition from a home-schooling facility to a teaching center on August 31, 2022. The celebration – held on the day of the birth of the late Maria Montessori – was only possible because the community rallied together to help the school raise $120,000 to secure its future.
“There were times last year when I woke up at night and wondered how we were going to raise the funds to make this move to this space,” said Patrick Moore, board member of Wildwood Montessori. “How were we going to go from a family daycare to a daycare? »
The school needed to find a new home when Koreen and her husband, Erle, left the country and could no longer provide their home for the school more than a year ago.
The answer to Moore’s question came from the Zenk family and a member of the Pam Baukol family.
The family converted the family dentistry office in Montevideo, east of the city, into a spacious facility for child care and education. In addition to developing the building for the school’s needs, the family offered what Moore described as a “soft offer” of a lease to help it succeed.
But even with this help, the school needed to raise funds to equip it and sustain its operation.
A Montevideo business owner has offered a $40,000 contribution anonymously, on the condition that it be matched with contributions from individuals in the community. It has been matched and surpassed, and last week the donor’s anonymity was broken in recognition of the importance of this initial contribution.
The contribution was offered in memory of Lois Hein, and it should be only her name that should be honored on the school’s contributor wall, her surviving husband, Keith, said. Founder of Hein, Theobald and Associations, Hein contributed through the Eagles Wings Foundation fund administered by the Montevideo Foundation and the Southwest Initiative Foundation.
Hein told those joining the school celebration that he was motivated to help the school by having witnessed how a Montessori education can benefit children. His late wife’s brother and family had children in a Montessori school. Hein says he saw them flourish, thanks to the education they received.
Hein’s donation – and those of community members – have been joined by grants from various foundations and organizations, including the City of Montevideo and the Montevideo EDA and Development Corporation.
Wildwood Montessori School is one of the few Montessori schools in a rural community. His ability to transition to a center and survive is credited “to some people who just didn’t give up,” said board member Pam Saeger.
“We feel so lucky to have Wildwood here in Montevideo and to have this opportunity for students and for families,” said school principal Katie Pieh.
Pieh is one of six full-time staff members serving 34 enrolled students, aged six months to six years.
Providing a Montessori education can be difficult, admitted Pieh, but she was quick to respond when asked what the rewards were for her. “Watching the kids grow up independently and knowing that I’m able to create an environment where they can have fun while they learn,” she said, is what makes it so worth it.