Editor’s Note: After printing of the April 2017 publication, the Monitor has learned that the Montessori school has received a one-year lease extension.
By JANE MCCLURE
When school bells ring a final time in June, Midway area institution Children’s Center Montessori will be saying goodbye to its longtime location. The preschool and kindergarten, which just marked its 45th anniversary, must move out of its space at Minnehaha Ave. and Asbury St. this summer.
The school has operated at 1536 W. Minnehaha Ave. since 1971. For many years it rented from and shared space with Knox Presbyterian Church. But Knox, due to declining membership, merged almost four years ago with North Como Presbyterian Church. The last service at Knox was in November 2013.
The Knox property, which includes a 1914 Prairie-style church and a newer education wing, was sold after the congregation moved out. Other churches and tenants, including the Montessori school, remained.
The church property was sold to International Discipleship Ministries, which has indicated to Children’s Center Montessori that it will need to relocate this summer. The International Discipleship Ministries program local office could not be reached for comment.
Montessori Director Gretchen Rademacher Harkins said she doesn’t know where the school will go. “We’re looking, and we’re trying to stay in the neighborhood.”
A Facebook post about the impending move brought an outpouring of comments and suggestions, including comments from people who attended Children’s Center. In some families, more than one generation attended school there. Many Hamline-Midway families have liked the center’s atmosphere and the convenience of having a child care center in the neighborhood that they could walk to.
One Facebook post stated, “Let’s keep this gem in our neighborhood.”
The Children’s Center Montessori School was founded in 1971 by John and Elaine Rademacher. Harkins, daughter of John and Elaine, has taught since 1991 and been a director since 2002. The school website notes that “Gretchen has been trained as a teacher since she was six years old and is Montessori certified.”
Other staff members have also taught at Children’s Center for many years. One part-time teacher is an alumnus of the school.
Montessori schools use a child-centered model developed more than a century ago by Dr. Maria Montessori. Teachers undergo special training and schools must meet guidelines to bear the Montessori label.
Children’s Center Montessori limits its enrollment to 30 students per session, and to a 36-month age span. It offers preschool and kindergarten programs on a half-day or full-day basis, and operates during the school year, five days a week except for holidays.