Mahoning Valley Montessori School Celebrates 45 Years

YOUNGSTOWN – As the Montessori School of the Mahoning Valley celebrates its 45th anniversary this year, Executive Director Rachel Gonatas hopes that “opportunities to celebrate in person are on the horizon,” she says.

Last year, teachers and staff quickly adapted the entire materials-based, hands-on curriculum to a virtual format. Teachers attended training courses and continuing education programs virtually.

Students also showcased the adaptability and “Montessori grit,” Gonatas says. “They were flexible and resilient, as is the way of a Montessori child.”

In the fall, the school returned to a five-day, in-person schedule. Teachers arranged classrooms to accommodate physical distancing and implemented pandemic mitigation guidelines.

COVID-19 relief funding and technology grants allowed the school to provide WiFi hotspots and Chromebooks to students. The school also introduced a virtual after-school theater club via SMARTS Youngstown, and is implementing an online chess club.

Staff changes and additions include the transition of Shelley Sikich to lead teacher and the hiring of Erin Arnal as an assistant and extended caregiver.