Children First Montessori moves locations

Adjacent to Evergreen Park, school settling in at new spot.

After 30 years of educating children in a building at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church on Sheridan Avenue, Children First Montessori School has moved to a new location adjacent to Evergreen Park in Bremerton.

Started by Dorothy King in the mid-1970s, the school began as The Country School Montessori, then became Children First Montessori when current director Cindy DuVall, who will step down in June, took the reigns 13 years ago.

And while the school’s location and name have changed over the years, soon-to-be co-directors Karmen Penrose and Karin Bortisser will ensure the school’s mission — “... to provide a specially prepared Montessori environment, which encourages children to become enthusiastic, confident, self-motivated and independent.” — remains in tact far into the future.

“We hope that they have a very large love of learning,” Bortisser said of the students.

Accredited by The International Montessori Council and the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Educations, the school’s staff seeks to inspire learning through a hands-on, practical approach to education.

“Montessori is huge on practical life,” Penrose said, explaining that children learn by “doing” rather than “seeing” and need to be treated as independent individuals.

“The kids are in charge of their own learning, to an extent,” Bortisser added. “If children bring something in from over the weekend that they want to work on, we put it in the curriculum.”

Balancing what students want to learn with what they need to learn, the school hopes to extend its curriculum to sixth grade.

“We want people to take a look at Montessori,” Bortisser said.

The school also is approved by the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

And while the transition from one building to another has brought a few challenges, both staff and students have settled in.

“Anytime change happens there are positives and negatives,” Penrose said. “Now that we’re here everything is running smooth.”

Right next door to Evergreen Park, the new building, while smaller, offers students more outdoor opportunities.

“We don’t want people to think we’re gone,” Penrose said.

“The biggest challenge was getting the kids and parents on board,” Penrose said of the move, occurring during spring break. “We had great support from the families.”

More information about Children First Montessori is available online at the school’s website:

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