Sabrina Park

Huntsville Forester, Pamela Steel, December 28, 2011

HUNTSVILLE – Tina Boysen will have turned her dream into reality when the Montessori Casa class opens at Sabrina Park in January.  A satellite campus of the Muskoka Montessori school, the class will offer a half day of schooling to five children from the affordable housing complex, five days a week, at no cost to their families.
Boysen is volunteering her time as a teacher and the District of Muskoka has come on board, providing the space, equipment and materials. Boysen hopes to begin classes on Jan. 16.  “As long as all the materials come on time,” she said.  Classes will be held in the children’s room on the main floor of Sabrina Park.
This is Phase 1 of the project, according to Boysen. They want to start small and build the program, so she has signed up only five children in the two-to-three-year-old age range.
The district has committed to supporting the program for the initial six months, and will review it from there, according to Rick Williams, commissioner of community services. He said the costs to district for the program will be minimal and it has the potential to be life changing for the children involved, and will likely enhance their achievement in school. “There’s so much good data out of the Montessori approach,” he said. “We’re thrilled to work with them.”
Williams added that while there isn’t any specific data on education outcomes for residents of Sabrina Park, there is a fair amount that speaks to the connections between school success, income and family structure.
“Some of those are issues we see at Sabrina Park,” he said. “Our main focus is that this is such a hopeful opportunity; I’m sure it will be of benefit to the kids there.”
Both Williams and Boysen say they hope this is the beginning of something that will continue for years. “We have the benefit of a teacher who is committed to making a difference,” said Williams. “People who want to make a difference generallydo make a difference.”
Boysen has a bachelor of education, taught at independent schools in Toronto and in the public system and took Montessori teacher training a few years ago. She said she embraced the Montessori approach because it’s about the whole child and offers a well-rounded approach to developing a love of learning as well as valuable life skills.
“It’s very strong with practical life skills,” she said of the Casa program. “Which will be very important for these children.”
Muskoka Montessori French teacher Kathy Roi has also volunteered to teach French to the Sabrina Park campus students once a week.
The cost of a similar program at the existing Huntsville school is $5,100 a year.

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