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Small school has big goals

Bethlehem Children's School adding pre-K in its 15th year

Teacher Emmy Cole in the pre-K and kindergarten classroom at the Bethlehem Children's School in Slingerlands. The school is celebrating its 15th year and is adding pre-K care in the fall. The Montessori school has always been small since its 1995 opening, but it's growing new areas in its curriculum.

Teacher Emmy Cole in the pre-K and kindergarten classroom at the Bethlehem Children's School in Slingerlands. The school is celebrating its 15th year and is adding pre-K care in the fall. The Montessori school has always been small since its 1995 opening, but it's growing new areas in its curriculum. Photo by Charles Wiff.

— This open-ended approach to education is at the core of the Montessori practice, and providing it to a small community was the reason behind the school's formation. A small group of parents founded the school after their children graduated from the Blossoms Montessori Learning school in Delmar's pre-K program.

“We became friends and our children became friends, and we just wanted that to continue,” Darling said.

And continue it has. Darling said many members of the school's first class are still in touch with one another, even as they graduated from college this spring. She said it's clear their education has served them well as they pursue learning at prestigious institutions, and it has stuck with them because school was a fun activity for her kids, not work.

“I think it keeps the kids' minds really involved in what they're going to learn ... nothing is hard because then it's just interesting,” she said.

The school meets all the state standards when it comes to education, and while being small presents some challenges, there are also opportunities. All the students of the school will be able to take advantage of special projects, for example, including an ongoing one to build a greenhouse out of plastic bottles.

It was designed by Jeff Chaney, an architect with the Malta-based M+W Group, and has been made possible by a grant from General Electric, as well as 2,000 empty 2-liter plastic bottles donated by Hannaford Supermarkets.

The school will be planting foods in the greenhouse and incorporating them into the curriculum for some classes. When it comes to the younger kids, the wonder of taking something directly from earth to table is a powerful lesson on its own, said Darling.

The Bethlehem Children's School has five full-time and three part-time teachers on staff. The school is enrolling for the fall semester. For more information, call 478-0224 or visit bethlehemchildrensschool.com.

The school will hold an open house on Saturday, Aug. 20, from noon to 4 p.m.

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wdevoe 3 years ago

this is a great story

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