I am a former parent. We removed our children after the Upper Elementary Program Lead Guide and Director left the school. The ARVM answer was to combine upper and lower elementary in one giant class with one guide and try to get an assistant or two. The current guide is an old correspondence course with summer school in Dallas type who is beyond her depth and physical ability. She has moved a recliner into the classroom so she can 'rest'. The only resident university trained AMI 'Montessori International' Masters Degree in Education Teacher or Lead Guide left the school for the new Urban Garden Montessori and that effectively ended any chance this school had. The staff is under qualified. The facilities are poor. The rooms are hot in the summer and cold in the winter. My children had to wear coats in the class room, and were then told by the head-of-school that they could 'not' wear their coats in the class. The extra-large super sized elementary class environment is unsound and not very child friendly. With very little effort and for considerably less money, one can find many better educational options for ones children in Little Rock.
This school is truly lacking. There are so many other Montessori school options in the Little Rock area that offer better programs, kinder more well trained guides and updated facilities at a lesser cost. All you have to do is tour a few other schools to realize how outdated the school is in most areas.
River Valley Montessori is a great school that takes Montessori education very seriously and does everything by the Montessori book: three-hour work periods, legit materials, trained guides, real self-care responsibilities for the children, and on and on. The best proof of the effectiveness of this school is the grace and courtesy shown by the students, who are always helping each other, and their parents and the school as well. Our five year old has thrived in the primary classroom, and we are re-arranging our family's life plans to enable her to continue to attend this school through high school. If you're looking for an authentic montessori experience and a staff that deeply loves the children it serves, you owe it to yourself to schedule an observation of the classroom in action at River Valley Montessori.
My name is Sam Piazza. I am a member of the staff at River Valley Montessori and I am proud to put my name with what I have to say about the school. After reading some of the comments on this page I wanted to set the record straight. All lead teachers at River Valley Montessori have certification from resident training programs, which is how the school maintains its full membership with the American Montessori Society. That can be found at amshq.org. If you come by the school, ask to see our certificate, as well as those of our teachers. I am very sad to see reviews like these, but we spend our time focused on the children in our school. Our Early Elementary guide has more training and more years teaching than any other Montessori teacher in Little Rock. Our Primary teacher was Montessori certified in 1988 and has taught Montessori ever sine. Our Adolescent Community (middle school) guide was trained at the AMI based NAMTA (http://www.montessori-namta.org) and has two masters degrees. I hope that those interested in our school will come by and see for themselves, as well as hear what our parents have to say about us. For testimonials from our parents visit arvmontessori.org
We were so excited to find this school but it has unfortunately taken a turn. They have slowly become more concerned with profit than the children and now have lost the BEST teacher they had and the only certified Montessori Teacher. For the amount you're going to spend on tuition you are paying for a glorified daycare provider. While I understand Montessori method is about letting the child lead and work with other children, at the end of the day a child needs direction and the staff here takes a lazy approach in the teaching department. We won't be going back and as a parent I felt I should let others know our experience as we looked at these reviews while looking for a good school as well.
I am very unhappy with the Lower Elementary teacher and program. In contrast (I have one student in each) the Upper Elementary Teacher and program are world class. Many parents can not stay with the school long enough to make it into Upper El (3th 5th & 6th grade aged students). The facilities are quite poor with hot summers and cold winters. All the kids a re bundeled up inside the class room in the winter and the winters in Arkansas are not servere. It is hot and sweaty in the class rooms for summer and spring. Only one staff member is a fully qualified Montessori International Teacher (Upper Elementary of course) the other so-called teachers are AMA summer-school and corispondence (non-resident) Montessori wanna-be teachers. This will be my childrens last year at ARVM.
My daughter attends ARVM, so I am honestly very interested in other parents observations of the school. Reading your review however, I was left wondering if you indeed reviewed the right school? You say that you had experience with the pre-K classes. There is only one Pre-K class at ARVM, referred to as the primary class in Montessori terminology, and it encompasses the late toddler, Pre-K and K years. You also go on to refer to ARVM as a boarding school, which it is not. Could you clarify these points? Additionally, as a point of interest, large primary classes are one of the cornerstones of Maria Montessori's philosophy; 30 children, a directress and an assistant in one classroom is not uncommon. Of course, you must have a well trained, confident and compassionate directress to guide such a group.
Sorry to say I have to agree with the negative reviews of this school. While it was clearly a poor fit for our family, there appear to be much deeper, more serious problems with the school. We had direct experience with the Pre-K classes and were really unimpressed. The student to teacher ratio exceeded 13 to 1, leaving the teachers overwhelmed, completely apathetic to teaching and, at times, bitter and rude. When discussing the teachers with the schools administration, they admitted that some of the teachers had known behavior issues, though it didn't appear they would do anything about it. While I really wanted to like this school, it ultimately proved to be an un-nuturing, punitive environment that didn't seem to foster any learning whatsoever. My overall impression was a class (and school, to be honest) that was much less boarding school and much more Island of the Flies.
We love this school! Dropping my 5 year old off every morning while the polite, sweet, and caring older kids unload her from the car, I just have a great sense of well being about leaving her there. We have had her at another private school and she just completely fell through the cracks. At ARVM she gets the attention and education that she needs and has just soared. She came in a "leader" in her classroom, which means most of her peers had already been together for 1-2 years, but they embraced her and she has made the sweetest friends. I cannot say enough good things about her guide - what a gift she is to those kids! GREAT school!!
Amazing School! Completely changed my child! He loves going to school! His guide is extremely professional and caring. She is an exemplary teacher who underwent difficult training to become a Montessori guide. She is pure with the method. Her teaching has transformed him. My husband and I are public school teachers. We have always felt welcomed. The school has been like an extended family. The administration cares deeply for the students. They are constantly seeking ways to reach the children and families in their care. The building is complete with all of the Montessori materials. These materials help the children grasp abstract concepts. The grounds has a lovely place for the children to grow plants. The children are also involved in jobs that allow them to grow in their responsibility and become active members of their society. The hot lunch program has also become a favorite with my child. Healthy lunches are served. The music program is lovely. The children are taught different instruments along with reading music. The art teacher has given the children wonderful projects where they are able to be creative. They havemany field trips and guest speakers.