Lou Adamo and his daughter Nicole. DON RICKERS

Families with young children in the Fenwick area have a new educational option.

Adamo Montessori School, operated by Nicole Adamo and her father Lou, opened for business last Monday in Fenwick’s United Church, on Church Street.

Nicole, who lives in Fonthill, told the Voice that she has seven years’ teaching experience with different school programs around Niagara.

“When I started working in Montessori, I just fell in love with the curriculum, and observing what the children can accomplish. The atmosphere is designed to appeal to a broad range of student interests and skill levels.”

Montessori is a child-centred method of education developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an Italian physician and teacher who opened her first school in 1907. Using scientific methods of observation, Montessori forged a theory that children learn best when given autonomy and independence. The typical Montessori classroom involves use of specialized learning materials which develop the child’s cognitive capabilities through experience (seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, tasting, and movement) rather than by direct instruction. Montessori education recognizes that children learn in different ways, and accordingly they are free to pursue their interests and learn at their own pace.

The school’s capacity is 40 students in the first year.

“We’ll reassess going forward, but right now, we probably have about a third of that number registered. With full enrollment, we’ll have six teachers.”

Montessori schools have low teacher/student ratios, with classes typically composed of five to eight students.

Nicole studied criminology at Brock, then human resources management and early childhood education at Niagara College. She completed her formal studies at the Montessori Teachers College in Toronto. Nicole’s father, Lou, comes from a finance and manufacturing background, and will add his talents on the school management side.

Covid placed a delay on Adamo’s operational plans.

“We were looking for a property just before the pandemic started. We had our business plan ready, and things finally came together this past March. We had a late start with advertising, but got the word out on social media, did some print ads, and have been doing some canvassing going door-to-door handing out flyers.”

The school has to be approved by both Public Health and the Ministry of Education as a condition of licensing, and follows the DSBN’s calendar year.

“All students and teachers will be masked during the school day,” said Adamo. “There are separate entrances for the younger and older students, and the kids are grouped in cohorts, so they’re not mixing.”

The Toddler Program, for youngsters ages 18 months to three years, provides opportunities to engage and cooperate with other children, as well as enjoy independent play activities. Each child’s personality is respected, and a personalized curriculum is created, based on their interests and skill level. Children may enter the Toddler program when they can walk, sit, and feed themselves proficiently.

Teachers in the three-year Casa Program present lessons individually as well as in small groups. Students are encouraged to explore and experiment so that their curiosity is challenged. The daily schedule includes music and art activities, and “Peace Time” where children can reflect on their day and engage in a quiet activity of their choice. Two hours of outdoor play, and walks in the community, are also included. Children entering the Casa program are three years to six years of age, and must be fully toilet trained.

For more information, parents are invited to contact the school at [email protected]. The academy’s website is www.adamomontessoriacademy.com