Buena Vista Montessori principal starting first full year as school's leader
Replacing David Brilliant, who had been the school's principal since 2008, her tenure started last January with the second semester of the 2015-16 school year.
Located at 924 W. Pikes Peak Ave., Buena Vista is in its 12th year as the only Montessori-focused public school in the region. As such, it is an all-choice school - preschool to sixth grade - with no attendance area and students enrolling from various parts of the Colorado Springs metro area.
Gateley had no Montessori background when she started, but has received training this summer, she said.
Although her transfer was relatively sudden - she had been assigned during the first semester as assistant principal for Jackson and Freedom elementaries - Gateley said she has enjoyed the opportunity. D-11 staff helped with the adjustment, and the people at the school did the same,
“It's been fabulous,” she said. “It's a really great school community, with probably the best PTA I've ever worked with.”
A visible example of the support is a PTA-led project, aided by school staff, to create a patio beside the school's main door, with pavers and benches that can be converted into tables. The space can be used for instruction as well as informal gatherings.
Gateley also praised the BV students. “What's really impressed me is their social skills. They are confident and polite,” she said.
“I don't think I could have chosen a school that matches the people better,” Gateley summarized.
Looking ahead to her first full year as the school's principal, her chief goals are to “continue to build community” and, from an instructional standpoint, to bolster team-teaching collaboration efforts.
Montessori is named for early 1900s Italian educator Maria Montessori, who believed that children learn better in a non-traditional setting, using hands-on methods and being self-directed as much as possible.
The Buena Vista enrollment going into the new school year is about 215 students. The school has a waiting list, Gateley said.
District 11 would release no information on Brilliant, other than to say he is no longer employed by District 11. According to a previous interview, he had been with the district since 1991.
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