Montessori School readies to move to new location

HOLLIS – A former pie factory on Route 122/South Merrimack Road will be the new home of the Hollis Montessori School by late summer, according to school officials.

The 4,800-square-foot building, formerly part of the Woodmont Orchards, is slated to be converted into classrooms and a community room, said Frank Grossman, a member of the school’s Board of Directors. The school also plans to build a connecting addition, providing four additional classrooms and office space.

“It will look different,” Grossman said of the former pie factory. “There aren’t many windows, and there are loading docks. We’ll be adding windows on the south side.”

Grossman said the Montessori School, which educates students from age 3, has outgrown its current home on Proctor Hill Road. Presently, the school offers classes through seventh grade, however, it is adding a grade a year up to the ninth grade, he said.

The relocation and construction were approved by the town’s Planning Board during a process that began with a site plan review and included a public hearing where one neighbor showed up with questions, Grossman said. The only concerns raised, and answered, dealt with traffic, Grossman said, adding that traffic studies were conducted and reviewed by the Police Department.

The board member said the school chose the site because of its central location, it backs up to a forest and pond, and includes plenty of parking.

Montessori education employs a method that emphasizes self-directed learning and discovery from an early age, and exposure to the natural world.

“In a Montessori school, the outdoor environment is part of the classroom,” Kari Headington, who heads the Hollis Montessori School, said. “We have access to the pond, the forest, trails, opportunities for science for elementary students and adolescents.”

Headington said the school will dedicate nine acres to gardens at the new location, providing a resource for a small business program for adolescent students.

Nationally, Montessori education has launched successful entrepreneurs, including Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergei Brin, and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

Hattie Bernstein can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 24 or hbernstein@cabinet.com.