Jennifer Lynch started the Mighty Oaks Montessori School in her home a little more than a year ago. The first year was going so well, she almost immediately began looking for more spacious quarters. Then fate intervened when a chance conversation led Lynch to Dennis Knight and Pakachoag Church.
“I had been up at Pakachoag Church and thought it would be perfect. I was talking to Dennis not realizing he was the minister and asked if he knew anyone at Pakachoag!” Lynch says.
Over the summer Lynch was busy planning and getting the required state approvals. “Home -based programs have different regulations than offsite.” she explains. All went smoothly, and on September 10 Mighty Oaks Montessori (MOM) began its new chapter based at Pakachoag.
Montessori Schools utilize an educational method that focuses on a child’s independence and sense of discovery. They typically feature mixed-age classrooms with materials and activities designed to allow the child to learn and discovery on their own. The Montessori Children’s House of Auburn on Bryn Mawr accept students from 2.9 to 6th grade. Mighty Oaks currently accepts students from 15 months to 2.9 years, but Lynch hopes to secure additional space that will allow her to have classrooms up to 5 years old.
“The regulations limit the number of children per square footage of classroom space” says Lynch. “We are at our limit of 7. So we are trying to work out an arrangement for an additional room in the church that would allow us up to 20 students.” MOM currently operates Tuesday through Thursday. Additional space and additional students would also allow Lynch to add staff and perhaps operate five days a week.
The classroom is very inviting and surprisingly quiet for a room full of 2 year olds. “That is part of the method” says Lynn Pepin, Lynch’s assistant instructor. “The children are focused on what is called ‘purposeful work’; working on their own on an activity they choose.” added Lynch.
The children ‘worked’ diligently picking up fuzzballs with tongs, threading beads, painting and ‘cooking.’ They were looking forward to their outside time, when they would help by watering the newly planted trees placed by the Worcester Tree Initiative this past weekend. “That is one of our jobs now” laughs Pepin as one of the students holds two small (empty) watering cans.
The setting at Pakachoag is ideal. The students take outings or nature walks in the Pappas Recreation Complex almost daily according to Lynch. There is also ample open space around the church building to plant some bulbs and, in the spring, a small garden.
Mighty Oaks is currently enrolling for 2014. For information, call Jen Lynch at 508-304-7110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more about MOM on their website mightyoaksmontessorischool.org