Little Red Schoolhouse breaks ground |

Little Red Schoolhouse breaks ground

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Littlepage Green, left, and Hannah Knickrehm check themselves out in the mirror at the Little Red Schoolhouse in Breckenridge Tuesday afternoon while cleaning up after lunch.

BRECKENRIDGE – Four-year-old Dani Hutchinson sat on a swatch of carpet at Little Red Schoolhouse in Breckenridge, placing colored pegs into colored holes to make a picture of a fish.”Red … red … red … blue – silly blue one,” she said, yanking the blue peg from the red hole. She then made other red pegs dance across the picture. “Wait up, little fishy. Here I come!”She put the last two red pegs in the red holes.”I have no more red ones,” she said, pawing through the bowl. “Poor fishies. I guess they’ll have to be like that.”In another corner, Andres Morales flicked colored beads on an abacus.”Twenty-one,” – flick – “22” – flick – “24” – flick, flick.

Littlepage Green smeared her hand in a small box with a thin layer of fine sand. She scooped the sand up, let it run through her fingers, brushed the sand off and then divided what was in the box to the four sides.Their learning process exemplifies Montessori schooling, a form of education that allows children to learn at their own pace.”It’s a child-led environment,” said Little Red Schoolhouse director Allison Earnest. “The children can move freely from area to area, work with materials for as long as they choose. They end up eventually developing the skills to complete that particular project. Little Red Schoolhouse is in the midst of building a new facility to address the still-growing childcare needs in Summit County, Earnest said. The Little Red Schoolhouse is one of the beneficiaries of the Summit Daily News Holiday Fund, a special fundraising campaign to help nonprofits and other good causes do their work during the holiday season.”We’ll only have space for 27 infants and toddlers,” she said. “Maybe it’ll ease up the need for preschool, but there’s a huge baby boom in the county right now. There are a ton of people who just had babies or are having babies.”Little Red Schoolhouse began in a private home and moved to its current location about 17 years ago, Earnest said.The new 5,800-square-foot building is a far cry from the one the schoolhouse occupies on French Street. The current facility is licensed for 30 children a day; the new one will be licensed for 27 infants and toddlers and 53 preschoolers, aged 2 to 5.

Infants will be divided into three rooms, another room will provide space for the 2- to 3-year-old group and two other rooms will provide space for those aged 3 to 5. A multi-purpose room will also be available to the community for child-related activities.The new building will also have offices and workspace for the teachers and storage – something the existing building sorely lacks.”Space is a huge challenge,” Earnest said. “The building is old, it’s not in great condition and there’s no storage.”Earnest also hopes not to lose the cozy feeling the current building has when they move to the new facility.”The atmosphere at Little Red is very much a family atmosphere,” she said. “All the children respect each other; it’s a very special environment.”It’s apparent in the interaction between students and teachers.”Each child’s space is respected,” Earnest said. “We strive to foster independence. Each child cleans up after themselves, they choose their own materials.”

Earnest will also more than double her operating budget in the new facility, from about $156,000 this year to $750,000 next year, said co-president Rick Eisenberg.Little Red Schoolhouse will lease the $1.4 million building from the town of Breckenridge. The land was donated by Vista Point developer Lance Rader. Schoolhouse officials are awaiting $120,000 in grants, and still need an additional $287,000 on top of that to finish construction.”We’re really excited,” Earnest said. “I didn’t really think it would ever happen. Hopefully, we’ll make the transition from the old Little Red that everyone’s come to love to the new facility.”Donations to the Summit Daily News Holiday Fund will be accepted through Dec. 31. Individuals or organizations can send a check to Holiday Fund, Summit Daily News, P.O. Box 329, Frisco, CO 80443. Donations can be made in person at the newspaper at 40 W. Main St., in Frisco. Donors can specify if they want the donation to go to a particular agency. Summit Daily News publisher Jim Morgan said he is glad to entertain requests from other nonprofit agencies that benefit children and families.-Jane StebbinsJane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at

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