An extremely important element of a Montessori program is the service component. Our Early Childhood and Toddler classrooms have ongoing service projects with organizations such as the Road Home Homeless Shelter and an orphanage in Romania. Our Elementary School students have visited residents at local Nursing homes, raked leaves for elderly neighbors and mentored Spanish speaking children at the Guadalupe Center. Our Elementary and Middle School students have several hours each month set aside for service learning projects. These projects include our school-wide Scholastic Book Club service, our school-wide recycling program, and local community projects such as shoveling snow for our neighbors, and clean-up efforts in local parks. These are just a few examples of the many projects in which our students become involved throughout the course of an academic year.
For more than fifteen years, the Montessori Community School has sponsored three Navajo grandmothers through the “Adopt a Native Elder” program. The children collect food and deliver it to our Grandmothers during the Navajo Rug Show at Deer Valley and during another time of year we also collect money to buy gift certificates and wool for the beautiful rugs they weave. The Adopt-A-Native-Elder Program exists to create a bridge of hope between Native Americans and other cultures. It allows us to reach out to one another, share our gifts, and mend the broken circle of our relationship with the Land and the Native Americans who hold it in sacred trust.
The Program supports the traditional Elders who live in the cultural and spiritual traditions of The Dine' People. Most live in remote portions of the Dine's (Navajo) reservation. Many live in traditional hogans, and some raise sheep as a means of maintaining themselves. The Program provides food, simple medicines, clothing, fabric and yarns to help these Elders live on the Land in their traditional lifestyle. As they have become elderly, it has become more difficult for them to support themselves on the Land in their traditional ways.
We have three “adopted” Navajo grandmothers, Grandmother Emma Bahe, Grandmother Roseline Jackson and Grandmother Elvira Horseherder.
Each year, our students raise money through our annual Fun Run for our grandmothers. We use the money to purchase gift certificates to Walmart (the only real shopping option that they have and it does afford them the opportunity to buy most items that they need - such as clothing, household and gardening items etc.) and also purchase several boxes of yarn for them to use to weave the beautiful rugs that they sell at the Deer Valley Rug Show each fall (the money raised from the sale of the rugs is their main source of income for the year). If we collect enough money we also buy gift certificates for the Bashi food stores that operate on the reservations.
Each fall Grandmother Elvira attends the rug show and Grandmother Roseline (who does not speak any English) has attended a few times. Our Kindergarten and Elementary students are given the opportunity to attend special cultural events on the Thursday and Friday prior to the first public event and spend time with Grandmother Elvira and Grandmother Roseline. Grandmother Elvira has also visited our school to talk to all the children about her life on the reservation. She is a wonderful woman with a generous spirit and the children love the interaction with her.
We sponsor seven girls from Ethiopia through the Children of the Ethiopia Education Fund (COEFF), a Utah-based organization. The sponsorship provides these girls with the opportunity to attend school. Each of our Early Childhood, Elementary and Middle School classes sponsors a girl. Our students raise money for the sponsorships through our annual Fun Run and have pen pal relationships with the girls. For more information about this wonderful program, you can go to the COEEF website at www.coeef.org.