After a year-long hiatus, the Montessori education method is set to make a comeback this fall in Enid.

An Enid couple who’ve spent decades operating early childhood education centers throughout the city have been renovating the historic downtown building that was, until recently, the site of the longtime Cimarron Montessori School.

Jeff and Darla Brooks plan to call their newest school the Villaggio (Italian for “village”) Montessori School.

“Montessori is going to give them a real strong foundation,” Jeff told Enid Rotary Club members during a meeting Monday. “I think it’s my goal to give these kids the foundation they need, not just physically, emotionally, but intellectually.”

Enrollment hasn’t yet opened for the school, which is set to begin classes in the fall for early elementary children, toddlers and infants.

Primary classes would have eight to 10 students for Jeff and another teacher guide; pre-primary would have around 18 students with two guides; and infants would about seven students with two teacher guides.

Jeff said he had studied Marie Montessori’s century- old teaching method in a lot of their child development work before deciding to open the school. He said he’d recently finished his training, and another teacher with Montessori credentials and school experience is also moving to Enid to work at the school.

“This was an opportunity for me to fully embrace some of the activities,” Jeff said.

As affiliated with the American Montessori Society, the student-led education program gives children more freedom to physically move around the classroom and to complete weekly assignments with teacher supervision.

Costs, likely ranging between $400 to $800 a month for 10 months, would be comparable to other early- childhood private schools in the area, as well as half the costs of programs in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro areas, Jeff said.

The couple currently own and operate three child care centers, serving infants through elementary years — Applewood Early Learning, located in YWCA Enid; Turn the Page preschool, at 1524 E. Broadway; and Summerhill Children’s House, at 4619 W. Randolph.

Cimarron Montessori School,

which had toddler, primary and elementary programs, closed its doors for good in spring 2021 after nearly half a century in Enid. Costs to repair the 120-year-old building had proved to be too expensive, while a former administrator had also embezzled thousands from the school.

Jeff wasn’t involved with the school when it closed, he said Monday. He’d gone to the building one day to pick up equipment and started talking with the property’s broker about what would happen next with the school.

Before the end of the year, he and Darla had signed the property’s warranty deed.

“One book closed and another one opened,” Jeff said.

Darla said thousands and thousands of dollars later, long-needed work on the school building is nearing completion.

“And it’s true the bones were beautiful. (But) it was a mess,” she said. “We have shelled out a lot of money and a lot of effort and lot of contractors … it wasn’t livable.

“It’s beautiful now, but it’s not done. But it’s almost done.”

A total 300 children are enrolled at the Brookses three other centers, which are all at full capacity, Darla said. Families on waiting lists would be able to enroll at the Montessori school, too.

Each site is located in different parts of the city, her husband said, to meet the demands for child care for as many Enid families as possible.

“The need is all the way across Enid,” Jeff said.

Summerhill students also often visit residents at the Arbors Assisted Living Center in Enid, which the Brookses took over two years ago.

Article by: Alexander Ewald, Enid News & Eagle 4.26.22