The Herald (South Africa)

Milestone for Montessori

- Tremaine van Aardt aardtt@tisoblacks­

THE Eastern Cape’s first Montessori school is celebratin­g its 20th birthday this year, having had thousands of inquisitiv­e minds wander the halls of the Walmerbase­d institutio­n.

Port Elizabeth Montessori started in 1998 with just 15 children and has now grown to accommodat­e more than 100 children.

Founder and principal Sam Streak said: “In those days, we were essentiall­y a home-based school, with Montessori education still a relatively new concept in Port Elizabeth.

“Many of the original children stayed with us for their whole primary school career and have since gone through high school and university successful­ly.

“Now 20 years later, our primary school has just more than 100 pupils, and together with our toddler community and pre-school, are based in a beautiful and newly integrated campus in Villiers Road, Walmer.”

Streak said the Montessori approach differed from other educationa­l approaches because it was based on the principle of freedom within a carefully prepared environmen­t suitable to the nature of the child.

She said the integrated campus which the school occupied five years ago resulted in the Montessori practice being more authentica­lly provided, allowing the children to work and play together in “a more natural way”.

“The building we are now in started as a refuge for women and children and was the first home for the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary,” Streak explained.

“We are extremely proud of our entire school community, ranging from our littlest child who is only 17 months old to our oldest who is 13 years old.

“We are a truly united, diverse and joyful learning community.”

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