Rowntree Montessori Schools Celebrates 50 Years
It was 1969. Man had landed on the moon, music fans flocked to Woodstock, the Beatles released “Get Back” and the most popular sitcom on TV was The Brady Bunch. It was also the year the first Rowntree Montessori School (RMS) opened in a church basement on Clark Boulevard with 13 students. Today, the award – winning private school is celebrating its 50th anniversary, with almost 450 students spread across four campuses, all in the City of Brampton.
RMS is a Leader in Education
“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rowntree Montessori Schools, it speaks to our reputation in the community and the fact that people recognize us as a leader in education,” says Mark Essaye, Director of Administration. “Our schools continue to be in high demand because we offer an enhanced educational experience in a warm and nurturing environment, with a mission to provide students with a well-rounded education. We are also proud to have been recognized with the Brampton Guardian Readers’ Choice Award eight years in a row for Best Private School and awarded the Top Choice Award of Excellence, commemorating six years as the Top Private School.”
Many anniversary celebrations are planned for the upcoming year. One such activity was entering an anniversary/Christmas-themed float in the recent Brampton Santa Claus Parade.
“Students and staff wore commemorative 50th anniversary black and gold t-shirts,” explains Essaye. “While younger students were on the float, students from grades 5 to 8, as well as alumni and staff, marched behind the float to a choreographed dance routine. Everyone was wearing remote-controlled LED armbands with lights that flashed in sync to the music. Parents of RMS students in the crowd were also wearing the bands, which made for an exciting interactive experience. This marks our 13th year of participating in the parade and we are honoured to have been awarded with the highest distinction award, the Chairman’s Award, for ‘Best Float in the Parade’.”
RMS Participates in Community Events
Participating in community events is just one of the many ways in which Rowntree Montessori Schools gives back to its community and helps its students understand the importance of becoming good overall citizens. Jonathan Harris, Director of Education explains: “It is important for students to learn about engagement and giving back to the Brampton community and to the world, in general. We recently held a drive for a local women’s shelter in which students were encouraged to donate mittens, gloves, scarves and hats to those in need. Our school is involved in a variety of community events in which our students are encouraged to help those less fortunate. Our annual Mitten Tree is a tangible way for our students to understand that there are other children in their community who don’t have mittens, and we are fortunate enough to be able to help these individuals. These lessons are as relevant to a three-year old as they are to a 13-year old. However, they taught differently. We are involved in a number of charities such as Toys for Tots, the Terry Fox Run, and with the WE organization where Rowntree supports a village in Kenya.”
50th Anniversary Highlights
One of the highlights of the school’s history is the day Laureen Harper, wife of former Prime Minister Harper, came to visit. “It was during the time when Prime Minister Harper was in office, so having Mrs. Harper visit our school was a great honour and marked a special day for our students and staff,” says Essaye. “Another highlight was when we opened the RMS Academy in 2002. The purpose-built Academy was our first campus to offer education from JK to Grade 8. The opening of each of our campuses represents milestones in our growth and success of the schools.”
The History of Rowntree
Mark’s father, Joe Essaye, purchased the original Rowntree Montessori School 30 years ago from the Podgorny family and oversaw the addition of elementary grades. Mark took over the schools in 2005 and added the Mayfield campus, expanding the number of campuses to its current total of four, which also include the RMS Downtown, Central Park, and Academy campuses.
“Rowntree Montessori Schools was originally established in the Montessori tradition, but as we approach the year 2020, the school has evolved to the point where Montessori represents just one part of what is great about the school,” says Harris. “By taking a blended and balanced approach, combining Montessori with traditional and more modern methodologies as well as building character with core values, Rowntree is committed to an overall approach to learning that will prepare our students for academic and occupational success.”
Rowntree introduced a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) cross-curricular approach to the curriculum several years ago, along with 21st Century teaching methods.
“Over the last two school years, with the implementation of our monthly STEM challenges, this novel approach to learning has become embedded in our school’s culture of teaching and learning,” states Harris. “Each month, students across all grades are immersed in the solving of a real-world “wicked problem”, using the knowledge and skills they have attained. This year’s problems are based on the theme of Urbanization and students in each class collaborate on solutions and then communicate them to their schoolmates using innovative, electronic media.”
With the introduction of interactive whiteboards, Chromebooks, and even robots, technology has marked the biggest change to the curriculum. “Despite our focus on technology and modern learning, we never lose sight of the fact that everything we do is about our students,” says Essaye. “We set high academic expectations, and we challenge our students to attempt to solve complex real-world problems; however, we do all of this in a warm and nurturing environment, always keeping our student’s current and future needs at the forefront of every classroom lesson and every school activity.”
For more information on Rowntree Montessori Schools visit rowntreemontessori.com.