Meet Maria Montessori Education Centre

King Edward served as a school for 90 years, educating generations of Calgary’s youth (including a notable artists and future oil barons!). Built at a time when Calgary was booming, the construction of King Edward launched a new ambition for supporting learning and exploration. Fast forward a century and that legacy continues with the Maria Montessori Education Centre (MMEC) at cSPACE.

Historic photo of students at King Edward. Courtesy of the Glenbow Archives, NA-1855-2

Historic photo of students at King Edward. Courtesy of the Glenbow Archives, NA-1855-2

Beyond the nod to the heritage of the 1912 school, MMEC (a non-profit and registered charity) will provide the community with a unique child development environment and bring a wonderful energy to the building. Montessori methodology aligns strongly with the arts by “encouraging children to become creative thinkers and engineers of their own learning.”

Precedent for this type of inclusive community can be found in Toronto’s 401 Richmond complex and their childcare centre Studio 123: Early Learning Centre.  The centre has run for 15 years out of the arts-focused building and is self described as “a special place where very young children can explore and discover in the midst of a dynamic, creative community”.

While the creatives at cSPACE will be influential for these young developing minds, integration of the centre triggered a novel solution to outdoor playspace. Many spaces at King Edward are designed to function multiple ways, generating opportunities for Calgarians to engage in the arts. cSPACE looked for inspiration to New York’s Lentspace, which features a “a moveable sculptural fence… that can enclose or open the site to different degrees, creating an array of social spaces.” Facing the future active living seniors’ residence, we have designed an outdoor courtyard for children’s play with the ability to morph into a seating, performance space, or an outdoor art show location when not in use.

Lentspace in New York features "a moveable sculptural fence"

Lentspace in New York features “a moveable sculptural fence”

We spoke further with Servejit Massey of MMEC to learn more about what the Montessori centre will look like at cSPACE King Edward:

c: Tell us more about the mission and creation of MMEC?

MMEC: The centre was created in 2007 by a group of passionate, ambitious parents and educators. Our collaborative focus was to provide Calgary families with an authentic, low tuition Montessori experience in an environment that nurtured the individual growth and development of each child that came through our doors. Our main campus is located on Calgary’s Currie Barracks.

MMEC's current space on the Currie Barracks

MMEC’s current space on the Currie Barracks

c: What is the Montessori philosophy and what are the benefits of this educational system?

MMEC: Montessori is a system of education based on the understanding that every child has an innate motivation to learn. We provide a thoughtfully prepared environment, designed to promote physical, academic, and psychological development. In our mixed-age classrooms, children are free to work at their own pace, collaborating in small groups lead by their guides. We know that children learn best by using all their senses, not just by listening, so the carefully-designed Montessori materials support children’s need to feel, smell, manipulate, and hear. Traditional education divides up learning into arbitrary categories, but the Montessori curriculum is a deeply interconnected one, with children focusing on integrated patterns of knowledge.

The Montessori method is a very creative and holistic way of learning. A sense of community is an integral part of our students’ experiences.

Montessori materials support children's need to feel, smell, manipulate, and hear

Montessori materials support children’s need to feel, smell, manipulate, and hear

c: Tell us about your plans for your tenant spaces on the main and lower levels of cSPACE King Edward

MMEC will occupy 2 classrooms – one Casa classroom (children ages 3-6 years of age) and a Toddler community (children 19-36 months).  The Casa program is home to about 24-28 children, and the Toddler community has a capacity of 12 children. Both classes are led by a Montessori Guide and offer half day (8:30-11:30am) and full day options (8:30am-5:00pm).

A child plays at MMEC's Currie Barracks location

A child plays at MMEC’s Currie Barracks location

MMEC at cSPACE is a crucial part of a community that is inclusive of those in the arts who have children (for an interesting supporting read challenging the notion of artists as parents, check out Canadian Art’s recent article 6 Questions About Art & Parenthood). cSPACE King Edward will open in November 2016 as an intergenerational community space facilitating connections to art lovers of all ages. Our breadth of tenants include everything from MMEC to the Calgary Association of Lifelong Learners (serving insatiable learners over 45). We’re excited to see how these generations of learners are both inspired by, and inspiring for, our artistic community!

MMEC is presently accepting applications for their programs beginning at cSPACE King Edward in January 2017.

Applications can be found on their website, where you will also find detailed information about their main campus Currie Barracks Campus, other programs and tuition fees. For parents that are interested in an earlier start date, MMEC is exploring the opportunity of starting the King Edward classes at the main campus (the main campus is located on Calgary’s Currie Barracks and offers programs for children ages 19 month to grade 9.) and then transferring the children in January 2017. Please contact Servejit Massey at servejit@gmail.com to discuss this option.

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