Parents’ parking lot powwow leads to opening of new Montessori school

One year after idea conceived, campus becomes a reality in Roseville
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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For more information on American Montessori Elementary, call (916) 784-1430.

For years, parents tried to get a popular Montessori kindergarten teacher to agree to teach their children as they got older.

Eva Doris, who had been a teacher at American Montessori Academy for decades, finally agreed, but not just because she was once again asked. She was actually hesitant at first and told the group of parents that if they found a site for the new school, she’d consider taking the job.

Well, they didn’t just find a school—they created one.

The group of parents founded American Montessori Elementary, which opened in Roseville on Sept. 4 for students in first through third grade. The school will carry about 12 students per grade level and isn’t accepting any more children this year. Annual tuition costs $7,000.

The campus’s opening culminates a yearlong effort by parents to create an educational environment they feel best suits their children. The cofounders have full-time jobs and most of the behind-the-scenes work took place between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

The school’s origins began in the parking lot of American Montessori Academy on Douglas Boulevard in August 2011 when parents Serena Azadan-Green and Dan Carnine commiserated about what would happen when their children finished first grade. Where would they go next?

They thought: Wouldn’t it be cool if they could continue with a local Montessori education through third grade?

The pair recruited other interested families, and in May their group raised $25,000 during an event at the Blue Line Gallery in Roseville, covering most of the $30,000 cost to open the school.

With 22 families onboard there was no turning back. Then, with time running out, the group signed a lease on July 17 with the Rock of Roseville for a campus off Riverside Avenue that was previously occupied by Cornerstone Christian School.

Azadan-Green calls architect Adam Lehner with Borges Architectural Group “a blessing” in guiding the project. Loder Construction Inc. helped with the renovation, knocking down a wall, re-leveling floors and conducting American with Disability Act upgrades.

The city of Roseville helped with the tenant improvement process and the school obtaining the correct permit to operate an educational institution in a residential area.

“It was such a relief,” Azadan-Green said. “You’re expecting it to be so difficult.”

She gives most of the credit to the families who assisted on the renovation and turned their collective dream into a reality.

As for Azadan-Green, she feels Montessori suits her daughter because it offers an opportunity for children to learn at their own pace.

“She gets bored easily,” she said. “There are lots of options there. (Montessori) has a reputation of being a free for all. In my experience, that has not been that case.”

During a typical day, students have what’s called “circle,” where they learn concepts and apply those to self-directed activities called “jobs.” Doris said the school provides thought-provoking, exciting and diverse curriculum that addresses the various needs and interests of children.

The children have physical education on the blacktop outside, walk to the Downtown Roseville Library and Royer Park once a week, and have a Spanish language immersion program.

“School goes from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” Azadan-Green said. “When the parents come to pick them up, they don’t want to leave, which is how school should be.”