I have exciting news that I have been holding close to me, until I was absolutely sure it would happen, though I’ve wanted to shout it from the Ozark mountaintops because this is BIG NEWS. The process of getting to where we are today was a journey. This is a journey that I have been heading towards for the past 36 years, and now I can tell the simple version.
In April, I decided that we are ready for a new facility that would house elementary children from age 5 through 12 years of age.I then began my search for an architect that understood the special needs of a Montessori elementary program and would share my vision.
In May, from a field of highly qualified architects, I chose……Marlon Blackwell Architect Firm. Marlon Blackwell is the principal and designer. He is an architect of local, national, and international renown. The firm is currently working on the Fayetteville High School, the addition to the Architecture School at UofA, and the gift shop at Crystal Bridges. The firm’s portfolio includes Blessings Golf Clubhouse, Fulbright building, and Mason’s, to name a few. Marlon has been in countless publications. Last month in AY Magazine he was listed as one of the most powerful men in Arkansas. He serves as Distinguished Professor and Department Head at the U of A School of Architecture. He has been a visiting professor teaching graduate design at MIT, University of Michigan, University of Florida, Auburn, and Washington University in STL, and on. If you care to view more of Marlon’s projects, awards and honors, publications, and accomplishments, you can visit his website at http://marlonblackwell.com
Marlon’s wife, Meryati Blackwell, will be working as our Project Manager. She has a special passion for this project because I taught both of their children in my school from age eight weeks. Ati also designed my Infant/Toddler building for me. Both she and Marlon want to pass along that they “are true believers in the Montessori method of teaching and true supporters of Vicki and her vision.” Ati is LEED AP certified.
Next, the choice of who would build the new facility. After much research, interviewing, and recommendations, I chose NABHOLZ Construction Company. Phil Jones has been patient and helpful, and the company seems to have an exceptional reputation. The company has no debt, they bring jobs in on time, keep the budget, and loads of experience. They are currently finishing Crystal Bridges and the Fayetteville High School. When calling on banks and you tell them that your builder is NABHOLZ, when they smile, you know it is a good thing.
My final hurdle before I could tell the world was the City of Fayetteville. I called on the head of the city planning division, Jeremy Pate, whom I have always had a good relationship with and he told me he was supportive and excited because of the team I have compiled. Friday the first of July, Marlon, Ati, Phil and Jeff Bates pounded it out with the city. Things are somewhat altered, but we are cleared for takeoff!!
To finish the preparation for the expansion of the elementary program, I sent Rachelle Archer to training for the month of July. She worked this last school year with Ms. Rhonda in P1, waiting for a lead position and especially an elementary position. She is a certified elementary teacher and taught third grade in Little Rock public schools. She has a passion for children and teaching the Montessori way. She begins in August when she returns from training to work with the elementary children. I feel so blessed to add her to our team.
When I found Montessori, I knew, from the very first moment of my encounter, that this was to be my life path. The journey to our current place in time has been an interesting journey and I cannot be more excited about this new chapter. I will keep all of you informed as the plans progress. We break ground first of November. We are scheduled to open the first of August 2012. It will be a LEED certified building. That is all I am going to say. I will let the rest unfold.
Yours in Montessori Excellence,