My toddler started at MPCC in September of last year, right when she was 18 months old. I have been extremely impressed with the school, both due to her progress as well as the sense of community the school provides. I have not experienced what others have discussed with regards to the "inner circle"...everyone has been extremely welcoming. I will say that parental involvement is very important and expected at this school, so if you are looking for a place where you can just drop off and pick up, this is likely not the school for you. The move to the new building offered us the opportunity to meet the other parents and teachers, with everyone working towards a common goal. The school really is like a second home, where everyone knows you and cares about the future of your child.
This school is not for everyone, but it is for parents and students who are reflective about early childhood and elementary education, who think education is holistic and not compartmentalized, who think that relationships between staff, teachers and parents are very important, and who think students have tremendous capacities that should be explored and allowed to develop in individuals ways. Students are often trained to follow instructions, not think because being able to follow instructions precisely is what is rewarded. At this school, what is cultivated (not rewarded) is learning, curiosity, teamwork and problem-solving. What children in other schools are told to learn by following instructions, children at this school learn because they are self-motivated to discover it themselves. As for parent involvement, there are time commitments and slight headaches because of the nature of collective, democratic and inclusive decision-making. Those inconveniences are a small price to pay for having direct input into the quality education of your children and your children's classmates. And the benefits of the Coop are great. Access to information is far greater than other schools.
This is my second child to attend Montessori preschool, but our first at MPCC and we LOVE it. It is a nurturing place, and I like that it is nonprofit and parents are involved (as little or much as desired). I've had experience with two other preschools/daycare and also public elem school and I'm much happier with my ability to be involved and to make a difference at MPCC. My daughter has only been there a year and I don't know everyone, nor am I in the "inner circle," but I don't want to be. We're a dual career family and we do the minimum (and that's ok). There are some parents who are more invested because they've had kids at the school for ten years or more. But I find that there is always some way to get involved if one is willing to step up. At my older daughter's for profit Montessori, our high tuition went to the owner's pocket--here we see the financials each month and see our $ pays for teachers and the facility and educational materials. More important, my daughter loves going to school each day, she is thriving, and we are happy with her care. Plus the facility is beautiful and people are friendly. We plan to stay until kindergarten, maybe longer.
The environment at the school is affected by the way it is run. Be prepared to contend with a lot of politics. As was stated earlier on this forum, there is an inner circle of parents in this school. The term "coop" as well as the monthly meetings for parents are deceptive. You will not have a say in the decisions the school makes if you are not a member of this inner circle. Be prepared for politics as well as pressure to ask your friends and family to write donation checks to the school. In accordance with another parents remark, there is no transparency. Teachers are frequently absent and in the 6 months we were there, two teachers quit abruptly and we were given no insight into the situation. I was bombarded several times by different parents, in an effort to sway my votes during the parent meetings. In the instances when this happened, children were around and listening. It occurs to me that some of the parents at MPCC enjoy the political nature of this organization. However, I felt it detracted from my primary goal which was my child's education and development and it created an atmosphere that was more about politics and bureaucracy than what was best for the students.
MPCC is a really unique place. It has felt like a second home for my daughter. I am a developmental psychologist by training and the principles of child development that I really believe are crucial for healthy development are all found here. My child has freedom within limits, is self directed, and her social and emotional needs are equally valued.
My daughter has been in the toddler room for nearly a year and we could not be happier about her classroom. Her teachers are intelligent and caring and do a wonderful job of imparting the Montessori values and curriculum. The school is a bit disorganized administratively at times, but it's not for lack of caring. Sometimes it's because parents do a good bit of the administrative work and we all have other priorities at times. The school just moved to a new location and the administrator and staff are trying to figure out all the logistics for everything. The building is lovely, the staff are caring, and my kid is happy to go to school and still happy when I pick her up at the end of the day. She's also just barely over age 2 and surprised me the other night be telling me the sounds that several letters make. And compared to her last childcare situation, she has hardly ever been sick enough to have to miss school. I'm assuming this means that they are doing a decent job with hygiene there. We LOVE the place.
I planned on my son attending the Montessori Parents Coop when he turned 18 months since he was born because I strongly believe in the Montessori method and it is in our neighborhood. We did a visit when he was only 16 months old and I stayed in the basement area with my 5 year old while he stayed in the toddler area for a couple hours. He didn't cry at first at all, he went with the teacher right away and seemed to like her. He bit a student, which I am sad to report, he had learned from his previous placement and we were working on that behavior over summer vacation. My 5 year old was also supposed to visit the Kindergarten classroom and they cancelled that visit the same morning. A woman called me the next day to tell me that the teachers talked and that neither of my children could attend the Montessori Parents Coop because they did not fit into their school. They told me to call another person if I wanted to know why they did not fit into their school..I called and no one ever called me back.
This was our children's first year at MPCC and I am sad to report that they will not be attending next year. Although this school has a well planned and executed curriculum, it is extremely disorganized. I was really excited by the coop concept because I love to be involved; well, the school is only a coop in name. I have not felt any sense of transparency here. Beware of the inner circle of parents that seems to be running the school; they talk the talk regularly that they are helpful and inclusive when the reality is the complete opposite. I have been shocked by the number of absences the teachers have, as well. I am an educator too and have maybe missed a handful of days in my classroom in thirteen years. One teacher has missed several days so far this year and now is taking a leave of absence; there was no back-up plan in place for a substitute until a week later. The assistants were running the classroom in the teacher's absence, so I guess that is who we are paying. Another teacher was out for illness for a whole week. Wow! I am just really disappointed about this school. I researched relentlessly to place my children here and what I have seen is not what I was promised.
Outstanding education, extremely caring, nuturing teachers who take each child's progress and education to heart. Warm, safe environment in which each child progresses at her or his own pace. My children tell me, out of the blue, 'Mom, I love school!' The Montessori method is an integrated approach to learning, in which the many ways in which children learn are made part of the everyday curriculum. Parental involvement is crucial in this school, and that's what makes it such a terrific environment--everyone is committed to the children.
Absolutely the best school in Omaha. MPCC provides a loving nurturing environment in which children of all ages learn and grow. The school looks at the whole child and helps them along with the strong parent involvement, to grow and flourish. The teachers are outstanding.