Courtesy photo

Ross Montessori, a charter school in Carbondale, is sending $1,000 to Escuela Montessori San Cristóbal in Caguas, Puerto Rico in hopes of a collaborative partnership between the two schools.

Ross Montessori is one of around 500 public charter schools in the United States where children are taught by the Montessori method, invented by Maria Montessori, an Italian physician, in the early 1900s. The Montessori method emphasizes individualized instruction and self-paced learning, facilitating students’ growth through the joys of discovery, dedication to mastery, compassionate love and community building.

San Cristóbal follows the same approach to teaching its students, many of whom are orphans. Ross Montessori found out about the school from Eira Soto, a former Carbondale teacher who is originally from Puerto Rico and now works out-of-state. The $1,000 donation will help fund resources to further the education of San Cristóbal’s student body.

This money was raised through a bake sale that was run by students at Ross from kindergarten to eighth grade. On Nov. 28, the students decorated 600 cookies from Sunshine & Moons Bakery in Glenwood Springs in under 45 minutes. The cookies, served along with the hot cocoa and fresh rolls from the Carbondale Community Oven, sold out within two hours at a bake sale on Dec. 2. The school invited parents and community members to join in face painting, postcard making, cornhole and other activities ahead of First Friday festivities.

“It was amazing. It was like watching Santa’s elves at work, but in a bakery. We’ve already talked about doing this again next year but ordering 1,200 cookies,” said Head of School and CEO Sonya Hemmen.

She then mentioned that the $1,000 check is already on its way to San Cristóbal. Although Ross is not yet privy as to what the money will go toward specifically, it is a sizable donation given the cost of school supplies.

“Montessori materials, in and of themselves, are very expensive, but they’re also durable,” Hemmen continued. “They’re meant to last, as a green curriculum, so that you’re not having to buy workbooks or make copies of a lot of things. So the $1,000 would buy maybe one or two durable Montessori works. I’m not sure what they’re gonna decide to do, but hopefully we’ll get some more information from them soon, and we’re hoping to have a relationship for our students with theirs.”

She hopes to see a pen pal program develop between the students of Ross and the students of San Cristóbal. While no solid plans have yet been made, this goodwill gesture could potentially be the beginning of a beautiful and fulfilling partnership.

“It’s the kernel of a great pop,” Hemmen said. “I’m pretty delighted to be talking with the school and we’ll see what happens in the future.”

Hemmen is set to meet with San Cristóbal’s head of the school at a later date to discuss the potential for a sister-school relationship.

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Photos courtesy of Ross Montessori School