ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Montessori1 Preschool and Elementary Academy is expanding again. It added an elementary school in 2015 and now has purchased three acres next door where it plans to open New Mexico’s first Nido learning center.
The lot was previously owned by Pete’s Landscaping, which relocated last year.
The expansion will include 10,000 square feet of classrooms, 6,000 square feet of outdoor space and additional parking. The current facility on Paseo del Norte east of Wyoming is roughly 20,000 square feet.
According to Tina Patel, the founder and director of Montessori ONE, there are only 17 Nido facilities in the United States.
“Nido” is Italian for “nest”. The idea, according to Patel, is to make a learning environment for infants up to a year old with a focus on independence. “(We are) trying to get them to read their body, what their body is wanting, what their mind is saying, with freedom,” Patel said.
Construction will begin later this month and is planned for completion in August 2018.
The expansion will mean 20 additional employees and 44 new students, with a three to one classroom ratio. Montessori ONE already has 155 students in its preschool and elementary school programs.
The cost for the Nido program will be on a sliding scale from $1,200 to $2,000 per month, Patel said..
The new construction will also mean more playground and garden space. Garden vegetables are cooked in the classrooms and extras are sold to parents or at a farmer’s market, with proceeds going back to the garden or to charity. The school works with local farmers to help the children tend the garden and teach them about sustainable gardening.
Patel said she was motivated to build the new facility by personal experience and the experiences of her employees. “I have quite a few moms on my staff who have newborns, and one specifically struggled with her first-born,” she said. “(She was struggling) to leave (her) child somewhere safe, where she felt comfortable and then coming to work.”
Patel said her goal with Montessori ONE and the Nido center is to create a learning environment that teaches children independence and the value of caring for their spaces. “Environment is very important to us. That’s what Montessori is all about. If the environment is inviting and children-friendly, then children will be content, wanting to be there and take care of the environment.”
Patel said enrollment for the Nido center will begin in January but that it already has a waiting list.