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Montessori with a view

By Mona Newbacher

18 February 2021

It started in 2014 as Starfish Village — a children's enrichment centre, a preschool and a start-up Montessori with 16 children. Today, Village Montessori is a full-time, fully licensed Montessori school with a student body of 100 and growing.

Located in Camana Bay Crescent on the Seven Mile Beach corridor, the school’s transformation was a natural development, says Traci Bradley, co-owner of Village Montessori with Jeifrene Small.

"Our location was the main reason that we thought adding another Montessori school to the local school offering was a sound decision,” Traci says, explaining that 40% of their students have a parent that lives or works in Camana Bay. “In addition, we are one of only two Montessori schools on the island that offer a Montessori curriculum for primary school age children. This allows families to give their children the wonderful experience of a Montessori curriculum in their primary school years, whilst meeting all of the national curriculum requirements as set out by the Ministry of Education.”

As a result of demand, in 2018, Village Montessori transitioned to school only, becoming a full-time Montessori school, while still offering after-care to students already in enrolled in the school, as well as their fun-filled and well-received summer and holiday camps, under the parent company, Starfish Village.

The Montessori method differs from traditional schooling in that it takes a more holistic, hands-on approach to learning. Classrooms include children ranging in age and ability, allowing them to learn from and support their peers, thus fostering a sense of community. "Casa" ages are 3 to 6 years; lower elementary 6 to 9 years; and upper elementary 9 to 12 years.

Village Montessori’s location in the Camana Bay community helps to foster a hands-on approach to learning, Jeifrene says, adding that learning activities can include walks through the courtyard areas, visiting "the Island" in the Camana Bay Harbour for science experiments and exploring different restaurants for cooking classes and field trips.

“We try to utilise as much of Camana Bay in our daily learning when possible,” she says.

Another important component of the Village Montessori experience is inclusion, Traci says. “Our close relationship with Inclusion Cayman and our belief that every child should have the chance to be included also gives parents an alternative to other private schools on the island.”

Monique Hather, whose 8-year-old daughter has attended Village Montessori since she was 18 months old, says the school’s teachers do more than teach classroom skills. “Our teachers are an extension of our family and we love them dearly for what they do," she says. "[They] are highly skilled and dedicated educators who also teach our children to be good human beings.”

Combine Village Montessori’s teachers with the Montessori method and the children thrive, Monique says. “The kids learn at their own pace and when they need more help or a different approach to understand an exercise, the Montessori way shines.”

For more information about Village Montessori, telephone 640-7827 or email info@villagemontessori.ky.

This article first appeared in the February 2021 print issue of Camana Bay Times.