Students, staff and parents at Charleston Montessori School are preparing for an open house as well as spring hikes that will be open to the community.
"We are a community school," Susanne Coffield said. "Parents and children feel that sense of community. Parents are very involved. We love that and encourage it."
Coffield is the school's co-director along with Paige Payne.
Charleston Montessori School, located at 805 Price Street on the West Side, includes 51 students from preschool through sixth grade.
Mixed-age classrooms include preschool through kindergarten, first through third grade, and fourth through sixth grade.
"Multi-age groups work beautifully," Coffield said. "Older students teach the younger ones and the younger ones love learning from the older children."
She said the learning environment is "child centered" with teachers giving assignments and students practicing lessons until the material is mastered. Lessons are very "hands on," she said.
While tests are not given on a daily basis, students do take required national standardized exams.
Without ongoing tests, students can learn in a more relaxed environment and concentrate on their interests and strengths, she said. Children learn to think creatively and solve problems, she said.
She said the children love being there so much that her 9-year-old daughter cried when school was canceled Feb. 13 due to the huge snowstorm.
Emily Hopta is a member of the school's board of directors as well as a parent of a student there.