The Quest New Home Campaign
The Quest Vision: A Home of Our Own
A Proud History
In July 2001, a grass roots organization of about 50 parents founded the Friends of Southern Rhode Island Montessori School (SRIMS), dedicated to creating a new Montessori school for their children that extended beyond preschool to eighth grade. They called it “Quest” and a truer name they could not have chosen. The journey continues as we seek to achieve a home of our own.
These founding parents’ generosity and support provided the school with our first home, a library with hundreds of books, computers, initial financial support, and countless other gifts of kindness, materials, muscle and mind. From these humble beginnings, Quest quickly developed into a vibrant learning community that lives the original mission of the school, to evoke children’s love of learning and address the needs of the whole child with an authentic Montessori education.
Quest began in the 2002-03 school year in a quonset hut renovated by parents on a swampy property off South Road in Exeter. From the beginning we knew the shortcomings of our first site, now affectionately known as “the shack in the mud”. In spite of the shortcomings the kids loved the school and by word of mouth it soon quickly outgrew the space.
In 2005-06 Quest leased the conference center at Camp Canonicus off Exeter Road. Yet again after a few years passed, the school population grew steadily and it became clear that there were again significant space limitations. Quest became a school in suitcases, the shared use of the facility made it largely unavailable for
evening and weekend activities and every Friday afternoon, our staff and faculty packed up the school and it was transformed our space into a dining hall and sleep quarters for weekend conference guests. The entire process was reversed every Sunday evening when we got back into the space to pull our belongings out again and set up for “business as usual” on Monday morning.
When the lease ran out in 2010, even as a permanent home seemed secure, Quest scrambled to find temporary space but was fortunate in the 11th hour to be accommodated at the old South Road School in Wakefield on a short term lease while the school district decided on a permanent use of the facility. Over the summer we took one wing of the vacant school building out of mothballs and by fall were ready to open our doors again.
While our history supports reasons for Quest to seek a new home, there are reasons that are far more important — and fundamental to the essence of the Quest community.
Quest is not about a building or a specific location. It is about learning and community. Quest exists to evoke our children’s love of learning, to inspire our children in a caring, supportive, solid community, and, by using the Montessori curriculum, to serve the needs of the whole child. A home of our own – one that can be custom designed to meet all our needs, can grow with us and allow us to finally firmly lay down roots and become a permanent part of the greater community – will enhance our ability to fulfill our mission for every child and family, from day one.
To that end, Quest Montessori is finally poised to realize our vision of a home of our own and of developing the state’s foremost toddler to eighth grade Montessori campus for our community.
Planning for A Home of Our Own
As early as 2006, a comprehensive plan for a new school was formed, but Quest needed to find the right site and affordable financing for the $2.95 million development project — no small task in this economy.
In June of 2006, a Quest Board member brought the USDA Rural Development loan program to the attention of
the Board and Head of School, Paul Raymond, as a potential source of funding. From that point, it took 36 months to identify an ideal site, prepare a business and strategic plan, and actively engage an architect to complete the extensive application and review process.
Finally, in January of 2010, Quest got the news — the USDA had approved its application. Now, thanks to the low-interest loan from the USDA Rural Development Program and the support of the entire Quest community,
Quest can expand into a more flexible, integrated, thriving educational environment, while keeping tuition affordable.
In recent months, Quest has:
- Obtained 90 percent of the funding needed to develop this fully integrated campus.
- Completed the creative design process to develop the school building and grounds into a vibrant, sustainable environment filled with excitement and learning.
- Started construction in mid June, 2012.
Our plans include:
- Opening in the new location for February 2013.
- Incorporating a new toddler program to compliment our existing preschool through eighth grade curriculum.
- Expanding maximum enrollment from the current 60 to close to 150 students.
- Developing the only local and the foremost toddler to eighth grade Montessori School serving South County and Kent County families.
- Bringing the outside in while providing ample room to explore and play.
- Planting gardens, creating recreational fields, and gently clearing trails for discovery and exploration in
- Developing after school and summer camp programs.
- Creating a “green” school and pursuing LEED certification.
The New Quest Montessori Campus
The new Quest Montessori campus will include 6 acres, fully wooded with mature trees and significant privacy from the road, with no prior development, making it “feel” more like the rural vision we have for Quest.
There are many benefits to this location in the North End of Narragansett. There is easy access to the site from Route 138 and Route 1. The property borders on a Narragansett park, with extensive sport facilities (baseball/softball fields, basketball courts, picnic area, children’s playground, restrooms, skateboard / inline skate park, and tennis courts). The park is a short walk through the woods (no street crossings necessary) which could allow for the possibility of enhanced sports options without the cost of developing infrastructure.
The proximity to the URI Bay Campus and the access to Narragansett Bay at the end of Ferry Road provides the option of including the Narragansett Bay as an extension of the curriculum, and links our student body to maritime resources and the environmental issues so key to our state. Just up the road is Casey Farm which can provide opportunities for farming projects connecting the School to the community through service.
This site will allow us to build the 12,500 square foot, single story, light commercial structure we designed for our former site. We will use the same design to build a new school on the six acres to accommodate 150 students from Preschool to 8th grade. We will also develop the site to create parking and a recreational field and playground area.
Our new home will provide ample space to develop the “Children’s House,” a toddler, preschool and kindergarten program, which are vital components of a comprehensive, sustainable Montessori program. We will preserve the 15:1 student-teacher ratio small class size and individualized attention that our students and faculty enjoy now. The additional space will allow us to bring the benefits of the Montessori approach to learning to children at a younger age and serve more families while remaining an affordable alternative educational environment.
Our students will not only benefit from this new vitality and interaction with a fuller, integrated community, they will enjoy the space and open environment to facilitate long-term projects, expanded opportunities for growth and education, and greater faculty/ student/parent interaction. New programs for music, language and drama can all be implemented gradually as we settle into our new home. In addition, we can offer after-school and summer camp programs.
To accomplish this, we need your help. We need to raise 10 percent of the project cost — or $300,000 — from our community, friends and families to augment the $2.65 million in low-interest financing we have already secured from the USDA Rural Development program. To find out more about how you can help by volunteering or donating, contact Paul Raymond, Head of School, at email@example.com or call us at 401 783-3222.
|Acquisition of Land||$600,000|
|Site Work and Construction||$1,985,000|
|Architect and Engineering Fees||$195,000|
|Legal and Permitting Fees||$65,000|
|Furniture and Equipment||$25,000|
|USDA Community Facilities Loan||$2,655,000|
|Total Funding To Date||$2,655,000|
|What We Still Need|
|Capital Campaign Pledges||$219,020|
|Total Funding Still Needed||$80,980 Donate now|
The Montessori Approach: Collaborative Learning
- Multi-Age Classrooms
- Individually-Paced Learning
- Teachers as Guides
- Integrated Curriculum
- Prepared Environment
- Montessori Materials
- Applied Learning
- Intrinsic Motivation
- Self-Directed Learning
- Friendships, Life Skills and Community
At Quest Montessori School classrooms consist of cross-age, cross-grade groupings in three-year developmental cycles. The early childhood program is called the Children’s House and is a group of 3 to 6 year olds that includes the Kindergarten. Lower Elementary of 6-9 year olds is the mixture of conventional 1st, 2nd and 3rd grades. The Upper Elementary, 9-12 year olds, is the equivalent of 4th, 5th and 6th grades. Our Adolescent Program currently has 7th and 8th years, but will eventually grow to include 12-15 year olds who leave the school at the end of 9th grade.
In these groupings children internalize what they have learned by teaching the younger children and by being mentors and role models. The children are encouraged to show mutual respect and empathy for others by working together towards common goals. This is the spirit of the community. The mixed age community creates conditions that foster individual differences as strengths, and promotes groupings of mixed abilities. The collaborative learning process facilitates the development of social skills as a response to informal group interactions, rather than through direct teaching intervention.
Children in Montessori classrooms have a rich variety of opportunities for learning not afforded them by more conventional schools. In addition to specially designed materials for independent learning and teacher lessons, the educational process in a Montessori classroom is supplemented by role modeling, peer tutoring and an inherent collaborative learning structure that is superior to traditional whole-class teaching in terms of both learning and the social climate that they support. The key component of a Montessori school, learning from peers, achieves academic success through the internalization of behaviors and ideas of collaborators in a motivating social context. The Montessori method of education clearly is a design that suits the nature of the child at this age in how they learn and develop.
3-6 Year OldsFor the young child, learning is a process that involves all the senses. Dr. Montessori created enticing materials for children to manipulate, and through their exploration, understand higher-level concepts, develop innerdiscipline and foster their natural curiosities. She discovered that given the proper amount of guidance and freedom, children develop a positive sense of self and their community.
The activities in the Primary Program fall into four major areas: practical life, sensorial, language and mathematics. Music, art, science, gardening and physical education are also part of the daily curriculum. Children develop self-discipline and capacity for total concentration. Respect for others, courtesy and grace develop naturally as the children grow within the Montessori environment.
Grades 1-3In this mixed age classroom an interdisciplinary curriculum stresses connections between different study areas. The teacher uses “Great Lessons”, which lay out a general organization for knowledge, then invites the children to investigate details and relate them back to the whole. Impressionistic charts and evocative materials give a sense of the size and age of the observable universe, the steady progression of life on Earth, the variety of terrain and climates on our planet, and the saga of human evolution, invention, and civilization.
The classroom environment meets both the social and academic needs of the child Social skills are taught and practiced and group learning encourages individual contributions, listening, and the ability to compromise.
Grades 4-6Children at this age become abstract thinkers and the curriculum responds to this developmental characteristic. Students are presented a challenging interdisciplinary curriculum with a key emphasis on project work that moves from the concrete to the abstract. Class trips include overnight experiences at Plimoth Plantation and Camp Hi-Rock. Sixth-grade students plan and implement a 4 day trip to New York City incorporating their study of Fundamental Human Needs. Upper Elementary students extend their studies and go out into the community to use what they have learned. This may come in the form of putting together a science fair project, interviewing a university professor, or planning a group trip to a local historical site. Community service rounds out their Upper Elementary Experience.
Grades 7-8The Middle School serves as a bridge to the conventional high schools that most of our graduates attend and although it shares many features with the younger classes, it is also a distinctive environment. The academic program at the Middle School level is rigorous: a thorough grounding in algebra; scientific studies in physics, chemistry, biology; language work in a variety of written forms, with frequent oral presentations; and a comprehensive humanities curriculum focused on novel study with a wideranging survey of history, Western culture, and social studies.
The daily schedule at this level begins to resemble a conventional school in many respects: teacher specialists for different subject areas, specific classes at specific times, regular homework with graded assignments and tests.
The Benefits of a Montessori Education
At Quest the child is able to choose his or her own work, direct their own progress, complete the work on their own timetable, and seek help from other children and adults when they need it. The student planner and weekly conference facilitates the independent learning process.
Confidence and Competence
At Quest each child is taught a system to manage their work with a clear sense of purpose and organization. Through observation, reflection, and discussion they receive ongoing feedback, much of which is constructive and positive, building self esteem and the ability to self correct.
Through daily living and working in a collaborative approach to learning the child finds community membership can be both personally satisfying and socially rewarding. There are ample opportunities for inclusion in the work of others as well as appreciation for the freedom to create and control one’s own work.
Strong emphasis on independent learning creates intrinsic motivation. The child engages in continuous study and exhibits satisfaction in the process. Children achieve levels of competence and often revel in their mastery by showing others.
Adept at Handling Guidance
Rapport and relationships that grow over the three year cycle enable the child to accept the “ground rules” of the group. The child recognizes the appropriate way in which to comport himself/herself with other children and the classroom teachers.
The community based approach to learning integrates the independent and autonomous aspects of learning with group study. This solicits collaboration and cooperation. The mixed age community creates conditions that foster individual differences as strengths, and promotes groupings of various abilities. These ongoing experiences develop social skills as a response to conditions, rather than through direct teaching intervention.
Quest implements a well-developed, clearly-defined interdisciplinary curriculum which knows, understands, and responds to the needs of each child in a developmentally appropriate way. Highly structured, (each child has a personalized “lesson plan” daily), it is the very structure of each environment at Quest that allows for the intellectual freedom and exploration which characterizes the Montessori classroom. Quest encourages its students to work in small groups, to read from a variety of books in the library, to keep journals, and to learn scientific and mathematical concepts by solving concrete problems. The Montessori approach has a breadth of content that ensures the child has the richness of scope and understanding to interrelate and apply knowledge. Specially designed, concrete materials constantly engage the children in their own learning, allowing each to learn – and to understand – by doing.
Citizens of the World
A well-rounded citizen must not only have an intelligent understanding, but also a sense of social responsibility and strong moral character. In the Montessori approach, intelligent understanding comes through the study of civics content, and through the perspective of history. The roots of culture emerge in the study of civilizations and the child begins to grasp the significance and interrelatedness of human achievements over time. An appreciation of humanity is awakened through knowledge of human history. As the child recognizes the essential elements of culture and then acquires these characteristics, the child simultaneously learns how an individual’s actions affect others, a key element in socialization. Character development is integrated into the Montessori learning process. Moral development is about both the self and the connection of one’s actions and healthy relations with others. A strong moral character grows from the self discipline and civility necessary to be a participant in the Montessori classroom community. Although the modern definition of civility refers to politeness and courtesy, the root Latin civilitas,was a term denoting the state of being a citizen and hence good citizenship or orderly behavior. This is our expectation for civility in the Montessori classroom. Through a holistic approach that develops the intellectual, social and moral character of the child, the Montessori method prepares the child for life.
2013 Capital Campaign:
A Home of Our Own… The Homestretch!
You are the reason we are well on our way to finishing and occupying our new home, please help us hit the finish line!
Give your way:
- Walk 4 Quest
Join our students and our community in raising funds for our new school via our first Annual Walk/Run. Mark your calendars for Sunday, October 28th! More details to come.
- Lay the Path to Quest – Gift a Brick!
It’s our home, it’s their home… commemorate this special time with a little bit of your history. Your child’s name, your family’s name, the year they first went to school. Small bricks priced at $100, large bricks at $250. Donate now. Brick Order Form
- Become a Friend of Quest
A step up in giving amounts ($1,000-$10,000) not only will secure larger gifts (naming gifts such as picnic benches, trees, and classroom equipment), but it will also earn yourself a one-of-a-kind Quest hard hat! That hard hat will also give you VIP access to private tours of the new school during its construction. Donate now.
2013 Annual Fund
You can participate in two other community-wide events this year to support the annual operating budget for the school. Quest will continue to offer smaller “friend-raising” opportunities throughout the school year (Yagoo, Barnes + Noble, Pancake Breakfast, etc.).
- Winter Wine Tasting + Art Show
Post holiday and during the dead of winter… we know wine will draw a crowd! Accepting donations now! 6 Bottle Minimum. Email Kristin Barclay to donate wine.
- May Auction
We are hoping to return to Plum Beach and try and top last year… Details to come. Email Kristin Barclay with any donations.