An Open Letter to the Montessori Children’s Schoolhouse in Hammond

To everyone at the Montessori Children’s Schoolhouse in Hammond,

I remember the day I called the MCS. I was in a bit of a panic. I knew that we must find a preschool for our son who was going to be turning three.

My husband works at the University of Chicago and we had recently toured the U of C’s Laboratory School. The “Lab School” is a very prestigious prep school starting with preschool and ending with High School. This is the school that the Obamas sent their daughters. Because my husband works at the university we were entitled to half price tuition. Of course even at half price we would be living beyond our means. But it doesn’t hurt to look. Boy with the gothic ivy covered buildings and beautiful classrooms I was entranced. It was like going to the Hogwarts Academy sans witches and warlocks. Although the Lab school was a magical place it was apparent that we would be finding another place to send our son.

We were also in the process of looking for a house in Northwest Indiana (about 13 miles from Hyde Park in Chicago). The main reason we had decided to try and relocate was the fact that my parents were going to move out here after their house in Payson, Arizona sold (still not sold…. darn housing market) and the houses were affordable. We looked forward to getting a house and a nice yard where we could make a garden. We picked Munster, IN as our destination because the public schools were highly rated. However, in the mean time as we looked at places we had to find a preschool between Hyde Park and Munster. Since he was about two our son went to stay at a neighbor’s house. Mrs. Robinson is an amazing woman; she and her granddaughters watch many of the neighborhood children. But, it was clear that he was outgrowing this arrangement best suited for the infants and young toddlers.

I had always liked the Montessori way of teaching. I knew the children were encouraged to be independent and explore their world with all their senses. So when I saw that there was a Montessori school in Hammond, IN I thought I would check it out. I drove to the school thinking that the commute would be awful if we indeed stayed in Hyde Park.

I was impressed even before I went inside. The school is housed in a 1926 Northern States Life Insurance building with very beautiful stained glass and impressive grand columns. Mrs. Hill, the school principle, greeted me and immediately took me on a tour. She seemed like she was in a bit of a hurry but now that I know her this is just her nature, always on the go. The classrooms were buzzing with young children all doing different activities. I got a warm feeling right away. Like so many times in life you go with your gut feeling and my gut liked MCS.

We had not sold our Hyde Park condo by the registration deadline. Mrs. Hill graciously held a spot for us and let us “wait and see” if we did indeed move to the area by the fall.

The last two years that our son has attended MCS has been a great experience. His teacher Mrs. Renwick has such grace. I know that I would not always be as cool and collected with a room of 3, 4 and 5-year-olds as she is. She has been teaching at MCS for more than 30 years I believe. She has taught us all so much. And my son has blossomed.

MCS's Fun Fair

Learning his sounds, his numbers and how to add, but most importantly, how to be a friend. A skill I can say he has excelled at. This week he brought home his first book he read himself. I really can’t say in words what that means to me. MCS has become a second home for us.

We had planned to keep him at MCS for kindergarten. To complete the circle from coming in as a small 3-year-old and leaving as a “lunch buncher” ready to enter first grade. Unfortunately, since I have cut back on my work-load (meaning I bring home less money) and we have added expenses we are going to put out son in our neighborhood public school. We have heard great things about Eads Elementary and it is in walking distance from our house. We were going to put him in as a first grader so the transition was inevitable, but now it will come sooner.

I just want to thank everyone that works at MCS, an amazing group of people. You have given my son a great start. And we will be back for the Fun Fair next fall.

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the Montessori Children’s Schoolhouse in Hammond

  1. I think it’ll work out great. You two will have to set aside some other bonding time in place of the commute to and from MCS. 🙂

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