A classroom should be a peaceful place of exploration and wonder -- that's the goal of the Montessori preschool program at the South Bend Center for the Homeless.
The school just won a $1,000 One School at a Time grant from Martin's Supermarkets.
Now in its 20th year, the preschool is made possible by a unique partnership with the Montessori Academy at Edison Lakes.
"We try very hard to instill a sense of home and a sense of ownership to their environment," explains teacher Porzia Micou.
She is well aware of the struggles her students face.
"We are really big on peace in our classroom, because sometimes they do not come from a peaceful place," Micou explains. "So we do a lot to instill a sense of community."
There are currently four students enrolled in the SBCFH Montessori program. That number could change on a day-to-day basis. It could be more, it could be less. That's why the consistent academic approach of the Montessori program is so incredibly important.
"People that come here, their kids are getting a really good education,” eighth grader Joel Stangebye explains. “They're getting what I got, what my peers got."
Joel is an 8th grader from the Montessori Academy at Edison Lakes. He and his classmates visit weekly to help in the classroom.
"I really like just being with the kids, just knowing that you're making them laugh and smile," Joel explains.
"They come every Wednesday and help our little ones with various activities. They are wonderful role models," says Micou.
To keep this partnership strong, the Montessori Academy relies on private donations and fundraisers, including a 2K, 5K, and 10K run, and a children's obstacle course.
The One School at a Time grant will help them raise more money.
"There's a lot that goes into planning an event like this. We'll use the money for promoting and planning the race, and for all the other wonderful things we have going on at the Center for the Homeless," Micou explains.
Wonderful things like these special relationships.
"That's part of the experience too," Joel explains. "I’m knowing that I'm putting smiles on the faces of kids that have seen more than I will ever see in my whole life."
Mark your calendars: the run will be held during the academy's Fall Frolic on October 18th.
You can nominate your school for a One School at a Time grant.
The winning school gets $1,000 from Martin's Supermarket, and a new winner is picked each month.
Schools only need to apply once, and you can do so by going to michianaschools.com.