CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Charleston Montessori School has spread its operations to a modular classroom as a step toward moving to a more permanent location.
The $23,000 structure, which school officials refer to as an "extended classroom," is used as a primary education room, or where the children who are 2 1/2 to 6 years old spend part of their day.
The school's Director Paige Payne said the new 1,200-square-foot building is a "stepping stone" toward where Charleston Montessori needs to be in five years, but that's not to say they want to move far away.
"We really like being on the West Side," Payne said.
Charleston Montessori is housed in the Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church at 805 Price St. and has 35 students ages 2 1/2 to 12.
The Montessori method calls for students to learn through experiences like practical life lessons, exploration of sensorial and mathematical concepts and cultural exposure.
The students choose what they want to pursue as long as they've had a lesson in that particular area.
Charleston Montessori has been open since the summer of 2010, and the school's board of directors has been working since then with parents and the community to raise money for the new classroom.
About $3,000 in donations came from community members who have no direct affiliation with the school but support Montessori educational methods.
"There are families out there who understand why Montessori education is important but don't have kids here," Payne said.
The new classroom contains ample space, but there's a noticeable lack of the technology that tends to dot public school classrooms. There are no Smart Boards or laptops here.
"While Google is a wonderful tool, that is not where we want our kids to go for information first," Payne said.
Instead, the room includes stations where students can focus on lessons that use the five senses to help them learn. Young ones might trace letters made of sandpaper, for example. Students also can use the "brown stairs" tool, in which brown blocks are stacked in configurations that demonstrate depth.
There is also an area for life lessons, such as how to serve a snack, how to button, tie or zip clothing and how to fold a washcloth.