Chestnut Montessori School recently opened the doors to its newest location in Kirkland. Chestnut Montessori School opened its first campus in Bellevue 10 years ago.
Founding Director Jeannine Hanson has been in Montessori education for the past 40 years. Raised by a family deeply rooted in Montessori, she directed Bellevue Montessori for 20 years and oversaw the elementary expansion on two campuses. In 1997, she founded the Montessori College for Early Education, now Montessori Center for Teacher Education (MCTE), which provides education for Montessori Early Childhood teachers.
With the success of the Bellevue campus, Hanson and her husband wanted to expand the school to another city. The Kirkland campus is located in the Forbes Creek area on more than four acres of trees, ferns and wetlands. With currently one classroom, it can receive students from ages 2 to 5 following the Early Childhood Program.
“It’s a beautiful site with a lot of nature, and my goal was for when my husband and I were looking for another site, that the site have a lot of animals, plants and a lot of beauty because we know that the research indicates that children benefit from being immersed in nature,” Hanson said.
The school officially opened Oct. 1 and currently has the capacity to hold up to 12 students, but may be able to hold more in the future. Enrollment is still open.
The curriculum will follow the same model as the Bellevue campus. Hanson said because of the natural environment surrounding the Kirkland campus, the curriculum involves an integrated study of geography, botany and zoology. As the students become ready, Hanson said the curriculum includes Practical Life, which helps students build fine motor skills and their attention span, which then leads to reading, writing, math and other subjects.
In Montessori education, teachers observe everything about the student and see what they’re ready for and interested in and then introduce that to the student.
“One of the many goals for our children is for them to develop internal discipline and develop independence,” Hanson said. “As the children choose activities and the teachers guide and support them, then the children develop that independence as they practice with different materials.”
According to Hanson, being able to be a part of Montessori education for the past 40 years has been very rewarding for her.
“Seeing these kids grow into organized, social emotionally developed global citizens means more than anything,” she said. “And to see teachers so devoted to serving these kids and see so much joy is wonderful.”
To learn more about Chestnut Montessori, visit www.chestnutmontessori.com.