Soaring Wings Montessori School celebrates its 25th
March 6, 2012
When Duna Strachan moved to Park City in 1987, she started a Montessori school in her living room for her three-year-old son and one other student. A few months later, Strachan said, enrollment had increased by six students. This year, Soaring Wings Montessori School is celebrating its 25th anniversary with enrollment reaching nearly 150 children from infants to 5th graders.
Strachan said they moved into the Library building on Park Avenue in 1993 when it was being renovated. The classrooms have remained on the third-floor since then and the school has also expanded to other locations including one in Jeremy Ranch. Strachan said they will break ground this spring on another campus to fulfill a longtime dream of having a Montessori school on Old Ranch Road.
"Our new campus will not only be bigger than the other two, but we plan to include gardens, a child-accessible water feature, a tree house and nature paths as well as a sport court and skate board park for the middle schoolers," Strachan said. "There will also be a child-centered kitchen and a collection of live animals to complement our biology curriculum. We also plan to expand our art and music as well as our theater curriculum."
She said the school plans to expand its art, music and theater programs as well, along with more opportunities for community projects. She said their curriculum allows students to complete their academic requirements faster than traditional students.
"Teachers have talked for years about getting students involved in cooking soup for the homeless or the elderly. We have a very talented, educated and enthusiastic faculty who just keep adding more to our school," she said, adding that the Montessori curriculum allows older students to spend extra time working on real-life projects outside of the classroom. She hopes students will be able to build trails or raise chickens on the new campus.
When Strachan and her husband started the school she was working on her master’s degree in environmental biology. Strachan said she learned that the "Montessori way" is science-based and logical, so she used a lot of her science training for teaching. She later completed the Montessori training which requires a bachelor’s degree and takes just more than two years to complete.
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Strachan said not only has enrollment increased, but so has the number of programs the school offers. The school’s newest programs include, an infant class, along with a pre-elementary program for students ages 3 to 5. Students also participate in the Park City Children’s Fair, which is a community event they started nine years ago.
"We try to keep the children involved, so they sell the tickets and hang posters around town and then they take all the proceeds and decide where to give the money," she said. "We’ve gotten to where we’re making about $10,000. The idea is that children can put on a simple community fair and spread that around the community and make a difference in the world."
Strachan said the community has supported the school over the years, which has allowed them to continue the school as a family-run business with their daughter and her husband.
"We have a wonderful group of parents, both present and past, who contribute to the school in a myriad of ways," she said. "The community has always been very supportive of the school over these past 25 years, too."