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Charleston Montessori School prepares open house

Courtesy photo
Zoe Clemente studies zoology and practices tracing at Charleston Montessori School.
Courtesy photo
Kenneth Wright works on the Europe puzzle map for a geography lesson at Charleston Montessori School.
Courtesy photo
Zoe Clemente studies zoology and practices tracing at Charleston Montessori School.
Students, staff and parents at Charleston Montessori School are preparing for an open house as well as spring hikes that will be open to the community."We are a community school," Susanne Coffield said. "Parents and children feel that sense of community. Parents are very involved. We love that and encourage it."Coffield is the school's co-director along with Paige Payne.  Charleston Montessori School, located at 805 Price Street on the West Side, includes 51 students from preschool through sixth grade.Mixed-age classrooms include preschool through kindergarten, first through third grade, and fourth through sixth grade."Multi-age groups work beautifully," Coffield said. "Older students teach the younger ones and the younger ones love learning from the older children."She said the learning environment is "child centered" with teachers giving assignments and  students practicing lessons until the material is mastered. Lessons are very "hands on," she said. While tests are not given on a daily basis, students do take required national standardized exams.Without ongoing tests, students can learn in a more relaxed environment and concentrate on their interests and strengths, she said. Children learn to think creatively and solve problems, she said.She said the children love being there so much that her 9-year-old daughter cried when school was canceled Feb. 13 due to the huge snowstorm.  
Emily Hopta is a member of the school's board of directors as well as a parent of a student there."Ellie is 5 and this is her second year," Hopta said. "We looked at different schools. We were attracted to the mixed-age classrooms."She likes the idea of children working at their own pace in an environment that fosters creativity and builds community.In addition to regular studies, all full-day students see specialists who teach art, physical education, Spanish, yoga, and sewing.Tuition is $4,300 a year for a half day for ages 3 and 4, $4,900 a year for a full day for primary/kindergarteners, and $5,500 a year for grades one through six. The school supports three need-based scholarships that fund the full nine years of education from age 3 to age 12.
Several community events are coming up.Through a partnership with Bridgemont Community College and ZMM Architects and Engineers, upper elementary students will learn about engineering and food scarcity as they compete in 2014 Canstruction. Participants in the event build structures with canned foods that are later donated to Covenant House.Students also partner with area businesses to collect nontraditional recycling items from toothbrushes and cheese wrappers to cosmetic containers."Life's A Hike" kicks off 1 p.m. April 2 when participants will walk the Sunrise Carriage Trail. Meet at the trailhead at the law firm of Farmer, Cline & Campbell. Students will be joined by teachers, parents and community members on the 30-minute hikes that will be scheduled at various locations through May 3. Go to for a schedule.The school's open house is set for 2 to 4 p.m. March 8 when community members can see the classrooms, meet the teachers, and learn about the Montessori method of learning.For more information, go to or call 304-340-9000.
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