At Carson Montessori School, the students take the lead. When they watched a news segment about the potential health risks associated with the crumb rubber on their playground, they took the initiative to get rid of it and replaced it with a better substance.
“The research they did was amazing,” said principal Jessica Daniels. “The kids called, negotiated the deal and ordered it themselves.”
When a beloved teacher died of cancer, the students planned her celebration of life. The teacher performed a final act of service as well.
“Clutched in her hand when she died was a letter a little girl wrote to her mom who had died,” Daniels explained. “(The) last deed was to deliver this note to this little girl’s mom in heaven.”
So as the school is looking to expand its footprint, the students again are taking the initiative to convince city officials to help.
They hit a stumbling block this week when they were denied a special-use permit after making a presentation to the Carson City Planning Commission to use a building next door as a testing lab and two learning exploratoriums. The building would serve as a temporary solution as the school looks for a new location.
They’re working on a presentation now to appeal to the Carson City Board of Supervisors.
The school needs the space, Daniels explained, now the state has moved its mandated testing online.
“Our school is wide open,” Daniels said. “You just have to look around to know we can’t secure it for testing.”
The additional building, she said, will allow for a place to administer tests as well as extra room for hands-on learning.
The school opened as a charter sponsored by the Carson City School District 12 years ago in the industrial area near Goni Road.
Daniels, who taught at Carson City schools for many years, took over as principal 10 years ago. She brought the same style she used as a teacher in the classroom to the Montessori school.
“I always worked for administrators who backed me 100 percent,” she said. “They let me think outside the box, and now I have complete freedom to work that way.”
The school focuses on hands-on, real-world learning.
“We look for projects that are doable, workable and feasible,” she said.
Not only has the school outgrown its building — her office doubles as a storage space — it never meant to make a permanent home in the industrial area.
She said the additional space is needed in the interim but the real push is to find a new home, but the process is complicated by financial guidelines overseeing charter schools.
“We’ve wanted to find a new location all along,” Daniels said. “At the same time, we’re trying to be good citizens.”