New director at Breckenridge Montessori
summit daily news
Sara Wilkins has been working with children since she was 10 years old. As a child, she was a babysitter and mother’s helper. As a teenager and young adult, she worked at YMCA after-school programs, summer daycamps and numerous children’s centers. Now, her new role as the director at Breckenridge Montessori – which she’s held for six weeks – seems like a natural move.
“I’ve always had a passion for working with young people,” she said.
Wilkins stepped away from her work with children while in college, earning her bachelor’s degree in English and her master’s in business. She moved to Summit County with her husband, Ben, in the fall of 2007, and worked at Kinderhut daycare in Breckenridge until its close in the spring of 2008. She said she really enjoyed working with kids again, and was fortunate to find an opening at the Breckenridge Montessori. Since 2008, she has worked at the montessori as a primary assistant (working with children three-and-a-half to seven years), youth children’s community assistant and lead teacher (children two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half years), and assistant school director. She said her background in business and various positions at the school helped to prepare her for her current role.
“I’ve seen all different sides of the school,” she said. “Which is a really great way to be involved in the organization.”
Wilkins’ role as director comes with many different hats: managing the staff, recruiting new families, strategic planning, facility maintenance, and – most importantly – setting the tone for the entire organization.
“It really starts with the director, and kind of trickles all the way down to the children,” she said.
Wilkins said her favorite part of the job is working with the children and families.
“We have some amazing kids at our school,” she said.
Breckenridge Montessori was established in 2006 and is a full member of the American Montessori Society, which provides leadership and inspiration to make the montessori method “a significant voice in education.” The montessori method is a model of education created by Maria Montessori in the early 20th century that encourages order, concentration, coordination and independence in children. Adults emphasize social interaction and the education of the child’s whole personality, rather than just teaching one or two subjects.
Wilkins said teachers at the school act like guides for the students. Kids are encouraged to explore their surroundings and try to complete tasks on their own. Separated into learning sections, the school offers children concrete knowledge and practical, everyday skills. Kids learn the real names of shapes and animals – like ellipse instead of oval, or macaw instead of parrot – and learn to perform everyday tasks like washing dishes, pouring water or zipping up a zipper. Children also use real, everyday items an adult would use. A real carpet sweeper, instead of a toy replication, is used, and kids use real glass and china during meals. Wilkins said the use of real things is one part of the montessori educational philosophy.
Above all, Wilkins said she loves the community created by the school.
“We have a very tight-knit group of families at our school,” she said. “I love that sense of community.”
In the future, Wilkins said she hopes to continue to solidify the bonds with families already participating, continue to recruit new families and get the school’s message out to the community.
Wilkins said the montessori currently has a few openings for students. Interested parents are invited to schedule a meeting and tour of the school. For more information, go to http://www.breckenridgemontessori.com, or call (970) 547-7661.
UPDATED to correct phone number.
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