Montessori School opens doors in Brookings, offers parents more options

Kristin Marthaler

Kristin Marthaler

Sara Rowland and Cynthia Lass opened the first Montessori School in Brookings on Sept. 20. The new school is located in Rowland’s basement which has been converted into a schoolroom.

Subjects offered at the school are practical life, sensorial learning, language, math, geometry and cultural extensions.

“Each child is allowed to work at their own pace. We never interrupt a child when they are working on their work mat,” Rowland said. “That way all the children know when another child is working, and to not interrupt them.”

Rowland’s basement has been converted into a classroom-type atmosphere. There are books, puzzles, arts and crafts, and number charts to work with. The one thing that seems to be missing is toys.

“We teach the child how to have fun with learning. Learning isn’t forced here, it’s something they want to do, and don’t always know they are learning,” Rowland said.

Savanna Collins, who is four-years-old, said, “I have two preschools, but I like them both.”

Collins knows how to count to ten, say the ABC’s and also say the days of the week, which she turns into a song.

“We believe on singing a little ditty on the way to a new project, or when we are putting things away,” Rowland said.

“When kids are putting away their work mat, you can hear them singing ‘Roll the mat so tight, Roll the mat so tight’ it just makes it a little more interesting.”

“I love this school,” said John Powell, a four-year-old, who was busy placing blocks together.

Rowland said they teach the students to line each box up according to size and shape.

“We want to really stress that we are not in competition with any other school around the area,” Rowland said.

“We really want to work with each school and let them know that we don’t think we are better than them, just that we offer a different style of learning.”

Savanna’s father, Blair Collins, said his family just moved here in August, and did not have very much time to review all the schooling options.

“The only places around here were mainly daycare facilities, we wanted something that offered something different,” Collins said.

Collins attended a Montessori School and his mother also taught at one.

“So I was really excited when I found one here in Brookings,” Collins said.

Rowland has studied psychology and has seven years of teaching experience with three- to five-year-olds. She also worked as a co-owner and director at a Montessori School in Spearfish for three years.

Lass has had extensive Montessori training and is certified as a Montessori teacher. She also holds a degree in music/piano and has over 15 years of teaching experience.

The classroom hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. Parents can also choose a three-days-a-week option. The age range of the children is three to six years. Also, Lass holds a private tutoring in the afternoons for six- to nine-year-olds.

The Montessori School name was originated in Italy by a woman named Maria Montessori, according to a handout from the school.

When Montessori was younger, she was interested in what happened to children who were mentally handicapped.

Wanting to do something about it, she decided to study the children and learned that the mentally handicapped children learned better in a Montessori School setting as opposed to a regular school setting.

Montessori, along with five women, got together and worked day and night to create a book focused towards these children.

In 1914, Montessori was given a chance to come to the United States and lecture about her book.

Montessori’s son was the one who incorporated the school into the everyday school.

He founded the international organization association, Montessori International, which sets all the standards for the teachers and schools.

#1.885928:2233498514.jpg:preschool1.jpg:Savanna Collins and John Powell place blocks together by shape and size which is one thing that is taught at Montessori School. :