Buena Vista getting ready for Montessori
Signups still being taken, though classes filling

       Now, if the bookshelves would just get here.
       Summer break may have been a relaxing time for some people, but not for the parents who are ramrodding the new Montesssori program for Buena Vista Elementary, 1620 W. Bijou St.
       They've been busy unloading boxes of supplies and materials and readying classrooms for the Aug. 19 school-opening date. Helping them this week was the school's first Montessori teaching hire - Clarice Hastings, who will be leading the lower elementary class.
       Principal Alan Rasmussen said he was pleased to find such an experienced teacher. Hastings first received Montessori teacher training in 1985 and also helps instruct new teachers at the Rocky Mountain Institute in Boulder.
       Buena Vista will be offering two preschool/ kindergarten Montessori classes (ages 3 to 6), plus one lower elementary class (ages 6 to 9).
       Signups continue to be taken for the Montessori classes. Although they are “filling quickly, there are still some vacancies for certain ages,” Rasmussen said, adding that he expects to have waiting lists before too long.
       Although the school is hoping to attract students from other districts, preference will be given to students from the Buena Vista attendance area, Rasmussen said. “We're trying to keep it a neighborhood school, not a charter,” he said.
       Over the past year, several parents whose children will be in the program have written grants, built community support and helped convince the District 11 Board of Education to provide Buena Vista funding for two Montessori-trained teachers as well as $75,000 in teaching materials. As for the recent physical labor, parent Sue Spengler said “a whole bunch of parents” have been showing up regularly at the school. The only annoyance, according to Spengler and other parents, was that without the bookshelves, they can't open up a lot of the boxes to organize what's in them. But the shelves are expected any day now.
       Montessori is a style of education allowing individual students to work at their own pace, on projects that interest them, under the close tutelage of trained staff.
       The Buena Vista program will be the first of its kind in District 11. Currently, Montessori is only available in private schools in the area.
       There is a fee for the preschool/kindergarten class. The lower elementary class, which covers the equivalent of grades 1-3, is free.
       The school will still offer a traditional grade 1-5 program for those currently enrolled at the school, as well as a traditional, half- day kindergarten class for parents who prefer that format. Those students will then continue in a traditional program through 5th grade.
       Eventually, after six years of gradual implementation, all of Buena Vista will become a Montessori School, according to plans that have been developed by school staff and parents.

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