Classrooms and community
The entrance to the new Cornerstone Montessori School in St. Paul has two kinds of doors — one, a standard industrial door, the other a miniature version to welcome the smallest students when it opens in September.
The building, located at 1611 Ames Ave., will house classrooms for children 16 months to 6 years, along with a home for handicapped adults, teacher training rooms, office spaces, a one-of-a-kind Montessori museum, and additional space for community meetings. The goal is to make this a hub for the community around it, one of the lowest-income areas in St. Paul.
“We’re trying to have a model that can be replicated in other low-income areas,” said Molly O’Shaughnessy, director of training at the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota, which runs the school. “The mission of us moving here is to have scholarships available.” In September, one-third of the students at the school are expected to be on full scholarship, and another third on partial scholarship.
Children at a Montessori school structure their own learning and work with real materials that reinforce sensory and tactile perception. From gardening to math, children spend as much time on a subject as it takes for self-mastery.
Cornerstone Montessori School
New online option
More than 90,000 students in the United States now take K–12 classes online. Starting this September, Minnesotans will have another option: the Insight School of Minnesota.
Though virtual, the school is governed by the Brooklyn Center School District and follows the district’s academic year and graduation requirements. Students must apply to the school and transfer into the district.
Every Insight student will receive a laptop, printer/scanner, and computer headset, along with an Internet stipend to ensure they can attend classes.
The school’s 120-plus classes cover everything from the basics to honors, and students will be able to do their work 24 hours a day. “They can go to class at 11:00 at night if that best suits them,” said Valerie McCullough, Insight’s executive director. “But, of course, we follow state regulations, so they are required to attend class nearly every day and spend enough time to accomplish their work.”
Teachers will hold office hours, when they will be virtually available for discussion with their students. During office hours, students and teachers will use LumiNet software, which includes voice-over-IP communication and a live virtual white board. Teachers will also check in with each of their students with a personal e-mail or phone call to monitor their progress.
And when students are working outside of office hours they have yet another option for academic aid. Smart Thinking, a 24-hour tutoring service, is available for all Insight students. “If a student is studying algebra at midnight and they’re stuck,” said McCullough, “he or she can call a tutor and have someone who, minimally, has a master’s degree in mathematics to help them. We build in as much support as possible because we see it helps students.”
Insight School of Minnesota
A boost for school readiness
More than 90 percent of a child’s brain develops before age 5, and yet many children don’t have access to high-quality early childhood education. To bridge that gap, some St. Paul parents will have access to scholarships starting this fall, in the pilot of the St. Paul Early Childhood Scholarship Program.
The program is funded by the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation and directed by Resources for Child Caring and the city of St. Paul. Low-income families in the Frogtown and North End neighborhoods will be eligible for up to $13,000 annually for accredited childcare for children ages 3 and 4. Expectant parents can also get services through the project.
“The first three years of the program involve family mentoring,” said Barbara Yates, executive director of Resources for Child Caring. “Then, at the age of 3 or 4 the child is eligible for the scholarship. So if a family meets the criteria and participates, they know that funding will be available for their children.”
The Early Childhood Scholarship Program is now accepting participants. To apply, please call Resources for Child Caring at 651-641-6604.
Persons wishing to speak with someone about the program in Hmong, Somali, or Spanish should call the Language Access Line at 651-665-0150. H
Resources for Child Caring