What’s new at Orcas Montessori

by Teresa Chocano

Orcas Montessori School

Perhaps you are wondering what all the activity has been at the Montessori School on North Beach Road these past several months. We have been building a new larger classroom and modernizing our old space. This new light and airy space will enable us to serve more children, provide more hours of care for younger children with space for naps after lunch, and provide working parents more flexibility.

In the planning stage for many years, finally, its day has come! The project, in partnership with San Juan County, is funded in part by a Community Block Development Grant from the Washington Department of Commerce. Due to the rising cost of materials and labor, additional funds had to be raised to complete the project. We are grateful to San Juan County Commissioners, Department of Health and Community Services for partnering with us and to our families, donors, local tradespeople, and the many members of our community who helped make this project possible.

The school has been in its present home on North Beach Road for 23 of its 33-year history. During that time, small projects done by volunteers have added an office, a storage room, a kitchen, a covered sandbox, trike shelter but we always have been limited by our classroom size. In 2015 we were encouraged to apply for a CDBG grant and in 2017, on our second attempt, we were awarded the grant. Funded with federal dollars, there were many hoops to go through and thanks to our San Juan County partners Mark Tomkins and Ryan Page we had help clearing that hurdle. We had to do some creative fundraising and financing to pay for some changes in our design, some unexpected discoveries about our building during construction, and the massive increases in the price of materials.

We are grateful to Norman and Becky Flint and Timberline Construction for doing such a beautiful job. We would like to thank architects Bob and Lois Wardell of Lopez . We were fortunate to have the construction done by a crew made up of alumni parents and one of our former students, whose love for the school was evident in the work they did. Some of them had volunteered their time to do some of the smaller school projects years ago when their children attended. This made the process so much more meaningful. Once all the inspections are done and we are set up, we will be hosting a grand opening (socially distanced of course).

We are now enrolling students for fall and have a few spots for spring. Please contact me if you would like more information.360-376-5350. We serve children ages 2 ½ – 6 and ECEAP and Working Connections students.