Owen Cherry/ The Mainstream

New daycare on campus hoping to help students and staff

Finding affordable child care in Douglas County, described by some as a “daycare desert,” is often a struggle. For parents, finding a safe place to leave their kids can obviously be one of life’s biggest stressors

Following the shutdown this year of the campus’s former Ford Family Enrichment Center, students and staff worried about what alternatives would open up. Now, looking to fill the FFEC’s shoes, the recently moved Maple Corner Montessori (MCM) daycare, preschool, kindergarten and elementary school is operating on campus.

UCC President Debra Thatcher, who was referenced in the Board of Education’s minutes from a board meeting back in March, said that the closure was due to school’s ability to run the FFEC in a financially responsible manner. The more than $145,000 it took to annually run was “draining the college.”

In last ditch attempts to ward off the closure, concerned parents shared their voices at the board meeting. Previous reporting done by The Mainstream quoted one soon-to-be mom as being moved to tears over her worries of available care, with others joining.

Fresh from its former home at the First United Methodist Church on Harvard Avenue, Montessori is looking to quash those worries. The campus Montessori Head of School is Leanne Jorgensen who has spent 20 years educating, earning her master’s and a Montessori certification in the process. Following a 15 year tenure at the Foothills Montessori School (which she also founded) in Henderson, Nevada, marriage brought her and her teaching style to Douglas County. Expanding Maple Corner from day-to-day childcare into a primary school was a goal she has met with the move to the UCC campus. The available amenities, hiking trails, professors and older students, all inspire the enriching and nurturing environment Montessori hopes to create.

With five new classrooms, the school currently enrolls 79 students with at least 30 having UCC parents. Designed to “foster a child’s innate curiosity and initiative,” MCM’s daycare through fourth grade programs hope to “create confident, lifelong learners who are prepared for fulfilling and meaningful lives,” according to their website. Developed in 1897, the Montessori Method of Education is renowned for its less traditional ways. Based on scientific observations of children, the method stresses the idea of a child’s fundamental ability to choose what they want to do. Guidelines created by both the Association Montessori International and American Montessori Society stress some common elements as essential to all “Montessori” classrooms. Mixed ages of children in classes, specialized materials, a trained instructor, blocks of uninterrupted time and a thoughtfully prepared environment are just some of the aspects set to make the Montessori way unique.

The choices a Montessori child makes in his or her learning is not entirely up to them. With curriculum ranging anywhere from zoology, history, geography and math, meticulous planning goes into nurturing and inspiring each individual child’s learning habits. By keeping track of what each individual student does, Jorgensen and the nine other teachers develop both an overall teaching plan as well as 79 more intricate, individual plans. Montessori’s kindergartners already learn to add four-digit numbers, and the school stands by its advanced test scores. Going off of 15 years of scores from her former Nevada school, Jorgensen anticipates the average Montessori student to be two years ahead of those in public school.

UCC insisted that MCM charge tuition similar to what was previously offered to students and staff. The cost of a child’s Montessori education (for those on campus) depends on their age as well as the days and times they need care.

According to its official fee schedule, admittance for infants and toddlers between the ages of 6 and 30 months varies from a starting point of $128 a month for two days of care ($320 a term) for students, to $136 a month ($374 a term) for staff members.

Students can enroll children 2 ½ to 5 years old in the primary school program starting at $90, and staff are able to do the same for $6 more. For questions regarding Montessori’s services, their front desk can be reached at 541-391-4777, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.

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