Silvia Villacorta was teaching at a Montessori school in Costa Rica when she got the call. The principal at St. Elmo Elementary School invited her to create an early-education program to help youngsters’ years before they step into an elementary school.
The program is a partnership between AISD and Foundation Communities, and beacause of its success will expand during the 2019-20 school year to two additional classrooms, two at Sierra Vista and one at Vintage Creek, Silvia said.
With 22 years of teaching experience, a master’s degree in human rights and experience founding educational programs in Spain, Silvia was excited to build a program with strong community involvement.
“It has been a nurturing, sweet place to be. We talk a lot about love and respect,” Silvia said of the Pre-K-3 program.
Her background in instructional design and Montessori education helped her create an environment where children work independently, build social, emotional learning skills and where families engage in their children’s’ educational growth.
A place where kids love to learn.
The love and respect the program fosters is evident. Parents don’t drop off their children and leave, they are invited to stay and eat breakfast with them, giving Silvia an opportunity to talk with them and build bonds.
“Children are encouraged to go around the classroom and freely choose what they want to do. The learning experiences are based on self-motivation… All of the materials are created for their developmental levels and are easily accessible,” she said.
“Our program is so full of joy because as educators, we love our job,” Silvia said. “I will summarize it in a quote from my beloved and admired educator, Dr. Maria Montessori, ‘I didn’t come here to teach you, I came here to love you. … Love will teach you.’ Each child that crosses our door gets real, authentic love. And, love teaches.”