West Side Montessori offers unique learning environment

by Mary Helen Darah

West Side Montessori offers a learning environment for toddlers age 13 months through middle school, or eighth grade. The school, located at 7115 Bancroft St., is a family-oriented educational community that encourages children to discover their potential. West Side Montessori’s curriculum promotes respect in all interactions between people as well as social responsibility. The school itself is practicing social responsibility especially in the midst of a global pandemic.
The school opened this year on Aug. 12 for five day a week, in-person classes after creating and implementing a unique learning environment for its students.

Taking recommendations from the CDC and other agencies, the school designed a reopening plan to meet the standards of safety. The school’s Toledo campus sits on 37 acres of property which naturally lends itself to social distancing. In addition to classrooms that connect to outside patios, tents have been set up around the campus for outdoor learning. Classes are held outside whenever possible. When classes are held inside, ventilation is provided by open windows and exterior doors. “We have spacious classrooms and a low student-teacher ratio, which naturally lends itself to safe distancing,” stated Head of School Jenn Schoepf. “We are so fortunate that our buildings and grounds are so expansive. The joy and excitement that we see in the children affirms all of the planning and work that we have undertaken to create the safest learning environment possible. Embracing these new challenges, our specially trained Montessori teachers continue to inspire our students and nurture a love of learning.”
Although there will be no field trips or large gatherings or ceremonies for the first half the school year, West Side will use its numerous resources to enhance learning. The school has a history of fostering a lifelong learning relationship between students and the natural world. This year, students are placed in stable groups to limit exposure, and will take full advantage of their scenic campus consisting of woods, wetlands, a pond, wildlife garden and natural playgrounds.
Leslie Davis, a parent of two West Side Montessori elementary students, is thrilled to have her children back in the classroom. She stated, “We are so grateful for them to be on campus. My kids needed to be back in the classroom environment with their teachers and friends. They are thriving instead of struggling at home with distance learning. My kids are having a great year, which frankly I didn’t expect during a pandemic. I feel comfortable with the safety features they have in place such as students wearing masks and having their temperature taken. My kids know that if that is what it takes to get them there in person, they are more than willing to comply. My kids only mingle and interact with the kids in their classroom. They really have them in their own separate, safe, nurturing little bubbles.”

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