The Renaissance School: Unleashing a Child’s Unlimited Potential
Jul 31, 2012 07:37PM
● By Linda Sechrist
After a successful 10-year career as a Montessori schoolteacher, Kathleen Leitch opened the Renaissance School, in Fort Myers. “In 1992, there were limited education options for families in Lee County,” says Leitch, whose enthusiasm for the Montessori approach to education stems from the fact that it views each child as an individual, with a unique personality and learning style. “It encourages children to become original thinkers and creative problem solvers, and considers the home/school partnership as an integral part of a child’s education,” Leitch advises. “In all the other settings that I taught in, these things were missing.”
At Renaissance School, modeled after the philosophy and educational approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori, parent, teacher, child and school relationships are very important. “An alliance based on mutual respect and support enhances all individuals’ understanding, knowledge and insight. It also offers a cohesive learning environment,” explains Leitch, who finds that the parents of students are frequently the school’s best spokespeople.
Dr. Tasha Wallace likes to share her observations about how a Montessori education has benefited not only her son and daughter, but also her personal experience as a parent. “In addition to a complete and well-rounded academic program for my children, the school has provided me with suggestions about how to expand on their education, and opportunities to do so. Also, the educational classes for parents, which I’ve taken advantage of twice, are invaluable, and have helped me to be a better parent,” says Wallace, whose volunteer time as a “classroom parent” has involved helping to coordinate field trips, fundraising activities and keeping other parents apprised of what goes on in the classroom.
Craig Heller’s daughter has been at the Renaissance School since she was 19 months old and is now entering fourth grade. His son attended from age 2 until he graduated from sixth grade and went to live with his uncle in Spain, where he completed seventh grade. “My son is now enrolled at Fort Myers High School in the International Baccalaureate Program, which will allow him to apply and be accepted at any university in the world,” notes Heller, who holds a doctorate degree in education.
A Montessori education, rather than public school, was Heller’s choice for his children because he wanted a smaller school with a low student-teacher ratio that would help his children define and discover themselves, as well as help them advance their own goals and values. Impressed with the dedication of Renaissance teachers and administrators, Heller says, “They have helped my children to blossom.”
Megan and Aric DiPiero sought an intimate environment that would encourage their son and daughter’s creativity. “We were concerned that our son, who was home-schooled until this year, would struggle in a different environment. However, we are impressed with how he has flourished academically and socially, and even learned to lead and resolve conflicts,” says Megan.
“I’m grateful that so many of our parents want to be involved and support our academically oriented curriculum, which celebrates the human spirit and helps to unleash a child’s unlimited potential, as well as the unique gifts that he or she is born with,” Leitch enthuses. “Parents, who contribute their time, talents and resources, are an enthusiastic group of promoters and a great asset to my recruiting efforts. I couldn’t do it without them.”