Our Philosophy

Children don't thrive in a vacuum. Education, interpersonal relationships, home, community, and culture all play a role. Zora Montessori combines all of them to provide quality Montessori education that activates inquisitive minds, prepares children for a lifetime of independence, and inspires learning.

Our Story

Zora Montessori started with an idea to create a quality preschool that supports the children of Lane County. It is the only Montessori school that is located in West Eugene, a location that allows it to serve the families of the Bethel School District.

Zora Montessori is named after writer Zora Neale Hurston as a reminder to the staff that every child needs to be reflected in the artwork, stories, and experiences of the school.

Students

The students are the core focus for Zora Montessori. Every child can benefit from the Montessori Method and the school is dedicated to meeting each child's individual needs. The environment is created to engage every sense, provide opportunities for independence, and prepare the children for K-12 schooling.

Parents

Parents education is paramount in Zora Montessori's philosophy. There is a need for quality parent education and engagement about the Montessori philosophy and early child development. Parents are taught how to incorporate Montessori philosophies at home (on a budget) and the latest development information in early childhood education. This allows them to support their child's Montessori knowledge throughout the years.

Staff

There is a high turnover rate in childcare which detrimentally affects the students. Children attach to their teachers but where there is turnover, that bond/trust in school is broken. That can lead to challenging behaviors like tantrums, hitting, and running. By providing quality benefits, staff turnover is reduced. Not only is the staff happy because they have an employer who cares, the children reap the benefit of teachers who are with them for years.

Mission Statement

Zora Montessori is committed to the Montessori pedagogy and philosophy for the education of children in the first plane of development. Our school fosters learning through concrete, sensorial, reality-based experiences, and are unique to each child in our care. We believe that children are individuals and their education must be catered to their specific developmental needs. Our school cultivates self-expression, functional independence, self-confidence, self-esteem, and collaboration. We encourage our students to grow and be challenged to become empathetic members of the global community.

Values:

  • Holistic Education
  • Anti-Bias/Anti-Racism Examination
  • Respect
  • Self-Reflection

Beliefs:

  • Provide real tools with real purpose
  • Accessibility to all materials and furniture scaled down to the appropriate size for young children
  • Order, everything having a place, limited clutter
  • A space for beauty and intrinsic motivation to flourish

Goals:

  • Support the Montessori philosophy in allowing all children to develop on their own time
  • Use gentle and clear language which is developmentally appropriate
  • Providing safe opportunities to exercise will in order to create self-regulation
  • Foster and cultivate the love of learning
  • To build connections with families through school wide community events, daily interactions, Montessori 101 and individual meetings on children’s progress

Anti-Bias/Anti-Racism (ABAR) Statement

Zora Montessori recognizes that biases are inherent in our world. That can include biases for or against racial/ethnic backgrounds, culture, language, gender expression, sexual orientation, family structure, cognitive or physical ability, economic class, and religion. We recognize that every person—staff, parent, child—at Zora Montessori experiences privilege and oppression differently. It is our duty as Montessori early educators to prepare our staff and environment to provide an inclusive space for every member of our community.

Zora Montessori is committed to taking a proactive approach to eliminating biases and/or racism in our environment. To that end, Zora Montessori is committed to:

  • Engaging in yearly ABAR training for all staff members
  • Recognizing the biases and privilege that permeate our interactions with families, staff, and children
  • Supporting each other in understanding and dismantling our personal biases and privilege
  • Restructuring our systems to eliminate barriers to accessing quality education
  • Incorporating lessons that teach how to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate our students, staff, and family differences

Anti-bias/anti-racism work is ongoing due to the changing nature of a school community. It focuses on uplifting individuals to be proud of their uniqueness while honoring other individual’s differences. Zora Montessori is dedicated to integrating ABAR education at all levels of the school community.

Inclusion Statement

At Zora Montessori, inclusion means everyone is included, regardless of ability, age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, social and economical status. Everyone has the chance to participate and no one is excluded. The benefits of inclusion vary for the children, families, child care staff, and everyone benefits from meaningful inclusion practices. The children learn to acknowledge and how to approach differences in everyone, develop mutual respect, learn different ways to socialize with peers, and engage in real-life experience on functioning in a community. The families have access to quality child care while expanding their expectations for their children through recognizing and appreciating individual differences. The child care staff gain valuable knowledge on how to work with children with individual needs, establish different learning techniques that benefit all children, and grow practical skills of how to work with different people with complex abilities. They also share knowledge about child development with other families or child care providers. Children with special needs will be accepted into our program under the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

STUDENT/CLASSROOM

Montessori philosophy believes that the classroom belongs to the children. The environment is arranged for children of all abilities to move freely through each classroom. All items, art, materials, furniture, bathrooms, and more are at the children’s level to allow them to manipulate, explore, and rearrange according to their needs. There are various work surfaces: tables, floor work rugs, and lap tables. At the table a child may stand, sit or move furniture around to meet their needs. With rugs or lap tables a child may sit or kneel when working with the materials.

Montessori curriculum and classrooms are individualized to meet the needs of the children in the classroom. Inclusion is woven into every part of our day. Once a child is given a lesson on the material, they can choose that material anytime they would like. They can use the materials repeatedly and once they are finished, they return it to the shelf exactly the way it looked when it was taken off the shelf. This means it is ready for the next child to use. The routines vary according to age and abilities in the classrooms. Activities can be done individually or in small groups. Throughout the day children interact with each other to work collaboratively or to get their needs met. The Montessori classroom is built for the individual child as well as the community of children.

FAMILY

Zora Montessori understands and is aware that children are the number one priority in their families and these priorities are based on unique family values. Families are encouraged to share their priorities with lead teachers to allow collaborative successful support for children, families and staff. We accept every child because Montessori education is for the whole family, school and community. When our classrooms are full, we create a waitlist, on a first come, first served basis. If there is a child with Special Needs identified on the enrollment application, the lead teacher will meet with the family to develop a Special Health and Emergency Information plan.

To help parents stay engaged with the school, we provide monthly e-newsletters and parenting classes the second Saturday of every month during the school year. We use an online record keeping system, called Transparent Classroom, which allows the families to see daily progress of their child’s work choices. In the Pre-Primary and Infant classroom, the information about snacks, toileting, bottles, and meals are recorded. This information is emailed to the family at the end of the day. We schedule parent teacher conferences in the fall and spring. We require ten hours of volunteer time from families. We ask what their strengths are and how they can contribute to the school. The more involved a child’s family is in the contribution of the school, through volunteer work, the larger sense of community is fostered and instilled within the child.

After forty-five days of enrollment, the Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQs) are sent home with the families to complete. ASQs are sent again after the child has been enrolled for six months. If there are any concerns, we meet with the family to provide them with local resources in our community to seek outside sources to meet the medical and behavioral needs of all children. If Early Childhood Cares, or any other early intervention agencies, are involved we ask questions about and follow the child’s individualized plan, to find the best way to support the children experiencing delays.

STAFF

Zora Montessori keeps all information regarding children confidential to protect the privacy of the child and the family. Confidential means, all current, potential, and formerly enrolled children will only be discussed between staff on-site. Written records are stored out of common spaces in the individual file belonging to the child/family. The staff will not release information, to another school or agency, about a child unless there is written permission from the parent or guardian of the child. The confidential policy does not apply to the suspicion of abuse or neglect. All staff are mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect.

Within the first two weeks of employment, the staff are given an orientation on the expectations at Zora Montessori. During the orientation we discuss our Anti-Bias/Anti-Racism statement, inclusion statement, and review the emergency plans. Once a year we close the school for an in-service day and review of procedures at the school. Once a month, all staff meet for a two-hour staff meeting and minutes are taken. During the meeting, diversity and inclusive practices, appropriate language, school policies, and debriefs on trainings the staff have attended are discussed.

The staff are sent the quarterly trainings offered through Quality Care Connections. We encourage staff to attend trainings related to Special Needs, Diversity and any other Core Knowledge Category they are lacking to move up in the Oregon Step Registry. We require staff to complete 24 hours of extended teacher training each year. We are members of Oregon Montessori Association and the information on their trainings is available by email to the staff. The lead teachers have scheduled preparation time every day and meet every other month. The Infant and Pre-Primary Teachers have time scheduled between 12:30 PM and 1:00 PM daily to collaborate or work independently.

Meet the Team

Our robust environment would be nothing without our teachers.

Education is our focus. Why? Because we get to watch the spark of creativity, focus, and mastery in a child every day.

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Crystal

Infant (6 wks - 18 mo)

Lead Teacher

Pronouns: she, her, hers

 

Crystal comes to us with over ten years of teaching experience. She is a trained Montessori Assistant with over seven years in a Montessori classroom. She says being part of the evolution of the "whole child is a rewarding experience." She gets to watch them grow, develop their personalities, and prepares them for the world through many opportunities to foster independence. She is the mother to three children.

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April-Kay

Pre-Primary (18 mo - 3 yrs)

Lead Teacher

Owner

Pronouns: prefers first name

With over ten years experience working in early childhood education, April-Kay has witnessed the value of quality education during the formative years.  April-Kay augments teaching with her degree in the field of Early Childhood Education, as well as an AA and AS in unrelated fields. April-Kay is currently enrolled in the AMI Assistants to Infancy training program at Montessori Northwest.

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Jessica

Primary (3 - 6 yrs)

Lead Teacher

Pronouns: she, her, hers

 

Ever since Jessica was a teenager she has worked with young children. At that time, she did not think it would be her career path. This changed when she met her husband and start her family. Her daughter was born and she realized how much enjoy guiding children's path in learning. A family member introduced her to the Montessori philosophy and she knew this is where she was meant to be.

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Jessica

Infant (6 wks - 18 mo)

Assistant

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Curiosity drew Jessica to the Montessori classroom. She has a BA in journalism with a minor in English literature. She is new to the Montessori community, but has naturally used Montessori practices in her own home and with other children she has cared for in the past. She has volunteered with Head Start and has experience as a nanny. She enjoys watching children learn and giving them a little push in the right direction to self discovery.

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Shey

Pre-Primary (18 mo - 3 yrs)

Assistant

Pronouns: coming soon

Shey grew up in a very large family, the oldest of ten grandchildren. She helped care for two of her younger siblings as well as all of my younger cousins. In high school she found interest in the childcare from the program on site. This sparked her interest in childcare. Now, she is excited to grow in Montessori through her time at Zora Montessori.

JH

Jason

Primary (3 yrs - 6 yrs)

Assistant

Pronouns: he, him, his

Jason began his career teaching children with special needs one on one. Through this work he found a local Montessori school and was inspired by the philosophy and teaching methods. He became a certified Montessori Assistant with over ten years of experience working in a classroom.

BN

Brittney

Infant/Pre-Primary (6 wks - 35 mo)

Closer

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Brittney has been around children her whole life. She is the oldest of her mom’s six children, she grew up being the second parent to her siblings. Her interest in being a preschool teacher started in high school. She worked on the campus for four years. She enjoys watching children grow and fostering their development. Brittney graduated with honors from Lane Community College with her Associates of Applied Science in Early Childhood Education. Since graduation she has worked in quality rated programs. She is excited to further her knowledge in the Montessori philosophy, a philosophy she was interested in while obtaining her degree.

Stacy

Cook

Pronouns: coming soon

Bio Coming Soon!

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Katie

Primary (3 - 6 yrs)

Assistant / Closer

Pronouns: she, her, hers

Katie's interest started in high school working in the childcare center on site. She attended Umpqua Community College to further her practicum experience in the Early Childhood field and in the classroom. She received her bachelor's degree in Ethnic Studies at the University of Oregon, while also focusing on Early Childhood Education. With over ten years of experience in this field and she is excited to expand her knowledge in the Montessori philosophy. She is dedicated to guiding children on their journey through life.

Next Steps...

Schedule an appointment to meet the staff. We would love to learn more about you and your child.