School hopes to keep building on first semester's success

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By Kelly LeVan

“We finally finished. Yay!”

Odalys González Fernández, director of Bilingual Montessori School, LLC, is happy to have the walls painted, the carpets laid and, best of all, to have children attending her new, 5,000-square-foot White Rock school.

“The parents are very happy,” she said, “and they’re passing the word around. That’s how we’re getting started.”

Only in its first semester, the school has already taken off – especially with its infant care (for infants 6 weeks old to 14 months), where only one spot remains open for the fall semester.

The infant room is all decked out for the babies’ comfort and safety. Serenely white cribs, cheery, rainbow-colored toys and a soft wrestling mat-like floor covering keep infants happy, whether asleep or at play. Infants also receive infant massage as part of their tuition.

The toddlers (14-36 months old) have it just as sweet. Homemade sheets line the tiny toddler-cots, which sleepy children lie in during nap time as their teacher keeps an eye on them from an old-fashioned rocking chair. And, as with the infants, there are plenty of toys to entertain them during their vivacious waking hours.

The 3- to 6-year-olds not only have a large classroom full of books, art supplies and games, they have an entire playground, with lots of choices for where to climb. Any extra energy they have goes toward tumbling, yoga and gymnastics classes the school offers.

Fernández stressed that Bilingual Montessori has a well-equipped curriculum, complete with all the Montessori materials for math, language and other subjects. The school is also on its way toward three stars on its operator’s license, which would show it meets a high level of state standards.

“I think we’re ready,” she said.

Of course, in addition to the standard Montessori curriculum, students also watch Spanish-language children’s television programming, sing Spanish songs and learn practical Spanish conversion skills.

Fernández said she hopes to keep building the school’s programs and its relationships within the community – and keep building on the excitement the summer program has generated among students and parents.

Throughout the summer, students have been enjoying a number of field trips, including bus rides to the Bradbury Science Museum, Mesa Public Library, Piñon Park Pool, the White Rock Senior Center and a few local restaurants.

“We love riding the bus,” Fernández said, referring to Atomic City Transit, which offers free rides between White Rock and Los Alamos, and free trolley services downtown. “And we try to work with the community as much as possible.”

In addition to field trips, students and parents seem to especially like the many pictures Fernández and other teachers take of the students during their days together. Fernández e-mails these photos directly to parents and posts many of them on the school’s website as well.

“The parents like that a lot,” she said. “I keep them informed.”

The fall semester begins Aug. 18. Parents can choose between four- or five-day weekly schedules, and between half or full days. Fernández said that parents can even set up a late, 6 p.m. pick-up, so they have time to run errands if they need to on their way home from work.

Spots are still available for the fall semester. Check out www.bilingualmontessorischool.com for more information, including registration forms, or call the school at 672-1800. Bilingual Montessori is located at 111 Longview, next to Dance Arts Los Alamos.