Officials with Hilltop Montessori School in Mt Laurel recently announced the third phase of a project to expand the school.
School officials said they have launched the design phase for the new addition and that construction should begin in 2015.
Scheduled to be completed by 2016, the new addition will house a community area and a teaching kitchen that will also be available as a venue for local businesses and residents in the North Shelby area.
Hilltop Montessori, whose 200 students range from 18 months through eighth grade, was gifted the land in the town of Mt Laurel by EBSCO Industries more than a decade ago.
“As an independent academic institution, we are so grateful to EBSCO Industries,” said Head of School Michele Wilensky. “Phase Three is our way of giving back to the Mt Laurel community. This new extension of the building will be a wonderful ‘after hours’ resource.”
Hilltop Montessori School is an independent school that aims to provide a high-quality Montessori education in an environment that fosters a child’s love of learning and a respect for self, others, community and the world. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Independent Schools and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The school’s environmental education curriculum integrates a heavy emphasis on nutrition, which is supplemented from the school’s expansive edible-gardening program and an onsite apiary. The new teaching kitchen will allow the school to serve lunches made from fresh, organic produce, school officials said.
Williams Blackstock Architects’ Bill Segrest, architect on the project, said he sees the community space as a resource for the school’s needs while also offering support for “seed-to-plate” nutrition education and an indoor multipurpose space that can support different activities for the community.
Hilltop Montessori’s conservation efforts have been recognized at the national and local level. The current building has been LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council. In 2008, the Birmingham Business Journal named Hilltop Montessori School Green Project of the Year.
The school’s edible garden program is a recipient of a Whole Foods’ Whole Kids Foundation grant as well as other environmental grants through Legacy, Inc. and the American Montessori Society.
The school also has the support of local chefs, including Chris Hastings of Hot and Hot Fish Club, who has cooked with the preschool children, and Chef Chris Harrigan of Stone’s Throw in Mt Laurel, who hosts the school’s annual farm-to-table-themed fundraiser.
The school’s gardening nutrition program is part of the Edible School Yard Project, under the direction of Alice Waters, a former Montessori teacher who was recently voted one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. The outdoor classrooms are certified by the National Wildlife Federation.
Naming opportunities are available for elements of the Phase Three addition, including the community kitchen, gymnasium and apiary program.
For more information about naming opportunities or the school’s plans, call 437-9343 or visit www.hilltopmontessori.com.