Montessori school gets a makeover |

Montessori school gets a makeover

Kirk Caraway

It looked like a scene out of Tom Sawyer, with real estate agents and volunteers lined up to put a new coat of white paint on a weathered wooden fence.

But this was for a good cause, as the Sierra Nevada Associations of Realtors donated time and materials to do a not-so-extreme makeover for the Educare dei Montessori School.

The Realtors and workmen started early Saturday morning cleaning and fixing up the outside of the school, as others worked on moving a door on the inside. Old picnic tables where rebuilt and repainted, a new storage shed and planters were constructed, and several smaller repairs were undertaken by the volunteers.

Taking a cue from the successful “Extreme Makeover Home Edition” show, the association picked the school out of more than 25 applications for the contest.

“We feel as Realtors we want to give back to the community, and doing something like this is a way to do that,” said Joan Zadny, president of the association.

The school was forced to close last year, and Joan Lepas, who has operated Montessori schools in Carson City since 1983, was not sure it would ever reopen.

“I didn’t know what the Lord wanted me to do,” Lepas said. “The school was closed, and I was praying in the middle of the room, saying Lord, do you want me to move on?”

But in true Makeover fashion, the community stepped in to help. Lepas said that Carson City Supervisor Shelly Aldean, whose children attended the school, helped her get the school back open with a $2,000 donation.

Next came the Last Harvest Church, which was operating out of a garage and using all of its income to help those in need. Pastor Tony Grasso, Nevada leader for Bikers for Christ, saw the opportunity to help Lepas and find a place where his congregation could meet when school was not in session.

“We needed a church and she needed a school,” Grasso said. “She said she didn’t have the money or labor, and we said we would take care of that, so we helped each other out.”

One of the church members, Ralph Langford of Langford Construction, rebuilt the inside bathrooms to meet school standards and helped out with the rent. He had a work crew at the school on Saturday helping out with the makeover.

“This is what God is calling us to do, and we are just trying to do the best with what we have,” Grasso said.

Grasso’s wife Sue now works at the school, and they have three grandchildren who are students.

Lepas said she is blessed to have so many people coming to her aid. The school right now has eight students, ranging in age from 18 months to 5 years, but she said the makeover will help the school bring in more children.