The Montessori School (TMS) is located in Dresher Pennsylvania, a beautiful Philadelphia suburb about 45 minutes northwest of center-city. The Montessori School is a PAIS accredited institution that is recognized by top-tier middle schools in the region for consistently producing exceptional students. The toddler program runs from ages 18 months to 3 years; the Children’s House from ages 3 to 6; Lower Elementary grades 1-3 and Upper Elementary grades 4–6. Typical enrollment of about 125 students dipped during the pandemic to about 100 students, but it is already on its way back to its enrollment “sweet spot”. The physical facility can accommodate up to 180 students and there is reason to be optimistic about future growth. The school is culturally diverse with as many as 25 different languages spoken at home. There are Russian, Turkish, Indian, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese families, to name a few.
Over the past several years, the school has received a great influx of energy with a number of trained and eager new faculty. Several regional Montessori training centers like Chestnut Hill College provide ample opportunity for faculty and staff professional development; the school has had no trouble finding qualified Montessori teachers. There is no question that the students are receiving an outstanding and joyful Montessori education. The 7 acre campus underwent a significant renovation six years ago, but like any school, TMS has facilities ambitions for even more.
After a successful 14-year career, Head Laurie Stulb has notified the board of her desire to retire, at the end of this year; the board is searching for a new Head to fill her position starting July 1, 2022.
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGE
The school is still in the process of rebounding from COVID. This includes:
The curtailing of daily personal connections that has left many in the TMS community eager to re-establish a sense of community and teamwork in service to a common inspiring goal.
Marketing and outreach have been less of a focus as the current administration is consumed with myriad daily tasks. The new Head will have support from the board to build out the administrative team to overcome those obstacles.
Internally and externally, the school would benefit greatly from a charismatic leader who can promote the Montessori way of education to parents as well as to the community at large.
Montessori continues to evolve and it will be important for the next Head to stay current with emerging thought and practice so that TMS remains an exemplar of an excellent Montessori program
While the Board has been an excellent fiscal steward, the school would benefit from ongoing board development and strategic additions of skill sets not currently represented.
As with most independent schools, TMS finds a number of students in need of learning support. It will be important to continue to provide professional development for the classroom guides as well as enhance the learning support staff as that population of students grows.
Carney, Sandoe and Associates is an educational recruitment firm that places teachers in private, independent and like kind (charter, magnet, pilot and merit) schools across the nation and internationally. Since 1977 we have placed over 28,500 teachers and administrators in independent schools.