It all started with the power of parent engagement. . .
by Guest Blogger Katrina Hill, founding Montessori of WH Charter School group member
It all started in early 2014 with a group of parents and a Montessori teacher in Winter Haven who saw a need for more public educational choices in their community. This group began working on a plan to provide a unique, quality tuition-free option to K-8 students in the Winter Haven community. On October 6th, the Montessori of Winter Haven Charter School founding group moved one step closer toward achieving that goal after a unanimous vote of the Polk County School Board to approve their application to open a new K-8 Montessori charter school in 2016.
“We are excited to begin moving forward with this plan we’ve worked so hard on,” says Katrina Hill, founding group member. “We can’t wait to celebrate with the community during our kick-off celebration,”
The kick-off celebration will be held in early November at Tanner’s Lakeside in Winter Haven. The entire community is invited to come celebrate this pivotal win for our community. The founding group will be available to answer any questions and introduce the community to ways they can help.
“This will be a fun event featuring live music from Coastal Acoustic Barefoot Music, information and fundraising opportunities,” says Melissa Davis, another founding group member. “Stay tuned to the school’s website and facebook page for more details.”
An authentic, tuition-free option to receive a Montessori education for K-8 students will be something totally new in Winter Haven. Tasha Keppler, a founding group member explains, “The Montessori Method is a research-based approach that has been proven to promote self-esteem, develop initiative, concentration and persistence. It fosters inner security and curiosity and encourages a love of learning. Montessori schools work diligently to ensure that the physical environment, the teachers and the student community will meet the children’s needs with respect and support at each step in their educational journey.”
Montessori of Winter Haven will operate as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a board of directors who are dedicated to making this school successful. Public funding for charter schools does not kick in until the staff is hired and trained, the students are enrolled and the facilities are set up and ready to welcome students. To help cover these initial costs, the Montessori of Winter Haven team has planned several fundraisers including hosting the kick-off celebration.
With this being the first Montessori Charter school serving students Kindergarten through 8th grade in Winter Haven, the Montessori of Winter Haven team understands this will be new to families in our area. The team will soon begin holding informational workshops throughout the city to introduce the Montessori method and the benefits of this alternative educational option. The following months will also include ongoing fundraising, finalizing facility decisions, completing renovations, staff recruitment, and student enrollment through a random lottery process.
Montessori of Winter Haven will also offer a preschool program for three and four year olds. “This program will complement the multi-age dimension of the primary classroom that is unique to Montessori education,” explains Karen Winningham, founding group member. “We are working to fund a scholarship program that will allow a portion of the spots available in the preschool to also be available tuition-free to continue the goal of making Montessori accessible to any student in Winter Haven.”
Workshop dates and locations, fundraising needs and events, and staff and student application details will be made available as soon as possible on the charter school’s website, www.MontessoriOfWinterHaven.com and the team behind the project is available to answer any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.