ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Montevideo community rallies to support rural Montessori school

Montevideo is among a very few rural communities supporting a Montessori School. A campaign raised $120,000 to help the school transition from a home-based to center-based child care facility.

Keith Hein (at right) enjoys a laugh with others who joined to celebrate the Wildwood Montessori School's successful transition to a sustainable, center-based child care facility on Aug. 31, 2022. The school's supporters recognized Hein for a $40,000 contribution in memory of his late wife, Lois. That contribution was instrumental in helping the supporters raise $120,000 for the school's long-term viability.
Keith Hein (at right) enjoys a laugh with others who joined to celebrate the Wildwood Montessori School's successful transition to a sustainable, center-based center on Aug. 31. The school's supporters recognized Hein for a $40,000 contribution in memory of his late wife, Lois. That contribution was instrumental in helping the supporters raise $120,000 for the school's long-term viability.
We are part of The Trust Project.

MONTEVIDEO — Koreen Drexler Thompson opened the Wildwood Montessori School in her home in Montevideo more than six years ago in hopes of providing children with the education that can help them become thoughtful, committed citizens able to change the world.

Thanks to a whole lot of committed adults in Montevideo, that opportunity remains, but now exists in a much bigger way.

Related:
Falling enrollment and the end of pandemic relief funds have resulted in a need for budget cuts at Willmar Public Schools. A community task force will have a hand in making the recommendations.
The Hutchinson Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 960 has donated $80,000 to benefit State Veterans Homes.
News about educational achievements among students from west central Minnesota.
The students of the month for January 2023 at Willmar High School

The Wildwood Montessori School in Montevideo celebrated its successful transition from a home-based to center-based educational facility on Aug. 31, 2022. The celebration — held on the birthdate of the late Maria Montessori — was only possible because the community had rallied to help the school raise $120,000 to secure its future.

“There were times last year where I laid awake at night and worried how we were going to raise the money to make this move to this space,” said Patrick Moore, a member of the Wildwood Montessori board of directors. “How were we going to expand from family-sized child care to a child care center?”

The school needed to find a new home when Koreen and her husband, Erle, moved out of the country and could no longer offer their home for the school more than a year ago.

ADVERTISEMENT

The answer to Moore’s question came from the Zenk family and family member Pam Baukol.

The family converted the Montevideo Family Dentistry office on the city’s east side into a spacious facility for child care and education. Along with developing the building for the needs of the school, the family has offered what Moore described as a “sweetheart deal” of a lease to help it succeed.

Patrick Moore, a member of the board of directors of the Wildwood Montessori School in Montevideo, holds a portrait of the late Maria Montessori as the school hosted a celebration on her birth date to mark the local school's success transition to a center-based child facility. Supporters raised $120,000 to support the school, one a very few rural Montessori Schools.
Patrick Moore, a member of the board of directors of the Wildwood Montessori School in Montevideo, holds a portrait of the late Maria Montessori on Aug. 31, 2022, as the school hosts a celebration on her birthdate to mark the local school's success transition to a center-based child facility. Supporters raised $120,000 to support the school, one a very few rural Montessori Schools.
Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

But even with that help, the school needed to raise funds to equip it and make its operations sustainable.

More Tom Cherveny:
Producers sees bigger needs as farms grow, and market and geopolitical volatility become the norm, according to attendees at a farm bill listening session held in Willmar with staff members of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
KLQP this week marked 40 years as an independent radio station. The Madison, Minnesota, station is unabashedly local, featuring high school sports, talk shows with local guests and community news.
Diana Anderson has overseen a growing Southwest Initiative Foundation since she joined the organization in 2001. After nine years as its director, she is saying goodbye.
The Governor wants to tap the record state surplus and raise fishing license and other fees for a budget boost to modernize and address deferred infrastructure projects.

A Montevideo business owner anonymously offered a $40,000 contribution, provided it was matched by contributions from individuals in the community. It was matched and exceeded, and last week the donor’s anonymity was busted for the sake of recognizing the importance of that initial contribution.

The contribution was offered in memory of Lois Hein, and it should only be her name that is honored on the wall of contributors at the school, said her surviving husband, Keith. The founder of Hein, Theobald and Associations, Hein made his contribution through the Eagles Wings Foundation fund administered by the Montevideo Foundation and Southwest Initiative Foundation.

Hein told those joining for the school’s celebration that he was motivated to help the school by having witnessed how a Montessori education can benefit children. His late wife’s brother and family had children in a Montessori school. Hein said he watched them blossom, thanks to the education they received.

Hein’s donation — and those of community members — were joined by grants from a variety of foundations and organizations, including the City of Montevideo and the Montevideo EDA and Development Corporation.

The Wildwood Montessori School is one of a very few Montessori schools in a rural community. Its ability to make the transition to a center and survive is a credit “to some people who just didn’t give up,” said board member Pam Saeger.

ADVERTISEMENT

Wildwood Montessori Katie Pieh DSC_0014.JPG
Katie Pieh, executive director of Wildwood Montessori School in Montevideo, thanked school supporters on Aug. 31, 2022, for the successful fundraising campaign on behalf of the school. "We just feel so lucky to have Wildwood here in Monte and have this opportunity for the students and for the families," she said.
Tom Cherveny / West Central Tribune

“We just feel so lucky to have Wildwood here in Montevideo, and have this opportunity for the students and for the families,” said Katie Pieh, the school’s director.

Pieh is among six full-time staff members serving 34 enrolled students, ages six months to 6 years.

Providing a Montessori education can be challenging, Pieh admitted, but she was quick to answer when asked what the rewards are for her. “Seeing the children grow in independence and know that I am able to create an environment where they can be enjoying themselves while learning,” she said, is what makes it all worth it.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
What To Read Next
Any resident or business in the state of Minnesota that does not have wired broadband internet service of at least 25 megabits per second downloading speed and 3 megabits per second for uploads is now eligible to apply for this program.
Area funerals scheduled through Feb. 10, 2023
The Tribune publishes Records as part of its obligation to inform readers about the business of public institutions and to serve as a keeper of the local historical record. All items are written by Tribune staff members based on information contained in public documents from the state court system and from law enforcement agencies. It is the Tribune’s policy that this column contain a complete record. Requests for items to be withheld will not be granted.
Nobody was injured after a reported house fire Monday in rural Sacred Heart. All of the occupants of the home were able to safely exit the building. However, the home was deemed a total loss.