North Coast Montessori School in Seabrook has combined with the North Beach School District effective Dec. 1, according to a statement released by North Beach Superintendent Andrew Kelly.
North Coast Montessori will continue to exist as a school within a school as part of Pacific Beach Elementary School for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, and will continue to be housed at Seabrook for the remainder of this school year and the 2020-2021 school year.
Casey Roloff commented, “We are very excited about combining our school with the North Beach School District under Andy Kelly’s leadership and vision for North Beach.”
Kelly became superintendent in July 2018. Roloff is the man behind the development of Seabrook; part of the early design of the town was the creation of a Montessori school to meet the demands within Seabrook and the surrounding community. Over the past 17 years, about 25 students annually have attended the North Coast Montessori School.
For the past 15 months, Kelly and Roloff have met frequently about bringing the Montessori school into the district. As a private Montessori School, it receives no state funding, which, said Kelly, creates a financial burden and limits the families who can access North Coast Montessori School. Also, the students who attend North Coast Montessori don’t generate revenue within the North Beach School District. From strictly a fiscal perspective it’s a lose/lose, said Kelly.
From an educational perspective, Kelly suggested to Roloff that the two programs could co-exist, be mutually complimentary, provide equitable access to all kids within the North Beach regardless of socioeconomic status, and help to unify the communities.
“I absolutely believe that North Beach School District can be one of the highest performing districts in our state,” said Kelly. “Our kids and families deserve it. It’s up to the adults in our community to ensure that we deliver.”
The North Beach School District Long Range Facilities Committee is currently working on a plan to propose construction of a new Pacific Beach Elementary School. The hope of Roloff and Kelly is that as the new school is built, it will allow one of two options moving forward: 1) Montessori education would continue to be a “school within a school” option for students at Pacific Beach Elementary, or 2) Pacific Beach Elementary School may opt to become a school-wide public Montessori school.
If the second option is chosen, it would be the first public Montessori school in Grays Harbor County and one of just three in Washington State. Beginning in 2020-21, students in the general Pacific Beach community will be able to apply via lottery to participate in the Montessori approach.
Montessori education is a method of education that is based on self-directed activity, hands-on “discovery” learning, specialized educational materials, and collaborative group work, according to Kelly’s statement.
In Montessori classrooms, scholars make creative choices in their learning, while the prepared classroom environment and trained teachers offer developmentally appropriate activities to guide the process. Maria Montessori began testing this educational method in 1907 based on her belief that the needs and interests of the child should drive their education based on their developmental stage. There are more than 4,500 Montessori schools in the United States and over 20,000 worldwide.