A full-time job as a statistician.
A thriving business creating and selling organic and natural creations such as soaps, massage bars, bath salts and children’s aprons.
And… starting a Montessori school, too.
Yes, Lindsay Rymerson blew us away with her focus, dedication and passion for the Montessori methodology and her story about how to start a Montessori school, even with a full and busy life.
Lindsay’s school, Great Oak Montessori, opened its doors in April of 2015.
But her love for the Montessori method started way back when she was in college, taking a developmental psychology course. She was drawn to the natural, gentle approach to education and found the concept of allowing the child to grow and develop independence and confidence to be incredible and unique.
How to Start a Montessori School: One Bite at a Time
Do you know that old saying, “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.”
Well, it is the same with starting a Montessori school.
Lindsay Rymerson’s journey to start a Montessori school took 8 years of moving forward and taking one bite at a time.
Her planning began in 2007 with doors opening in 2015.
It took a few years of searching, but she finally found a beautiful home built in 1849 that suited their needs and matched their vision.
With the perfect location found, she then had to work out all the policies and get the necessary regulations and licensing sorted.
Standard requirements by the Ministry of Education, outlining floor space required per child, outdoor play space area per child, and financials were the first pieces completed for the school to see if it was feasible.
One of the things she learnt, and if she were to do it again, was to spend more time with the financial aspects and ensuring that she was sure about the minimum space requirements.
She also got started on writing policies fairly early so she could stay on top of documents that needed to be submitted for licensing.
Lindsay used savings and bank loans for the startup of the school. She budgeted over 1 million dollars for the entire project and prioritized spending on the house, rezoning with the city, and Montessori materials for the classrooms.
She found her first students by advertising on Kijiji, Facebook and Twitter, In the first year, the school had a 5 days/week program from 8:30am to 3:30pm, as well as before and after-school programs from 7am to 5pm.
The full capacity was 44 children with 9 staff: 1 Head of School, 1 Office Administrator, 5 Montessori Teachers, 1 Classroom Assistant, 1 Classroom Assistant/Art Facilitator.
Tips and Takeaways
Lindsay recommends leveraging Canada Post or your local newspaper, local radio and social media to spread the word about your school and for the initial recruitment drive.
She found her staff via Montessori training centre websites and international recruitment sites.
For parent education, Lindsay’s school organized monthly information sessions with themes focusing on various aspects of the Montessori philosophy and how it can be integrated at home
Doing It All, Boosting Productivity and Finding Balance
Doing it all can be a challenge indeed, especially when you’re juggling multiple balls in the air.
Lindsay feels that the largest challenge was financial, not getting as many students as quickly as anticipated.
However, the process and satisfaction of the students and how they prospered in the environment provided the most satisfaction.
In her words, “This journey has been very challenging, frustrating and offered many opportunities to give up. With persistence, it has been worth every moment and it is priceless seeing the results that show in each student.”
Lindsay Rymerson has her hands full, indeed, but she didn’t let that stop her from pursuing her passion for starting a Montessori school.
Have you been considering starting a Montessori school? What questions do you have? Ask us in the comments below and we’ll be happy to help!
Have you started a Montessori school? We’d love to hear your story and share it with the world! Please contact Startup @ TrilliumMontessori.org (no spaces)