38 | CITISCAPES | DECEMBER 2018 ecent updates at Fayetteville Montessori School will allow its students to experience the spark of creativity and collaboration that leads to success, according to Victoria Butler, director of Fayetteville Montessori School. The campus opened in 1974 and has grown to include six buildings and about 29 mixed-age group classrooms that allow children, ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, to learn in a child-centered environment. Butler said her dream to bring together the community of infants and toddlers has finally become a reality, as a new infant and toddler building is scheduled for completion this month. Along with an updated playground, the new building will offer opportunities for more interaction between children ages 6 weeks to 18 months. Playgrounds for the new building and the current infant and toddler school will be connected by a gate, according to Butler, which will allow children in those age groups to enjoy the outdoors together. “I like community, so I wanted [the children] to be together,” she said. “I just wanted to make sure everybody could support each other because I think that is so healthy.” The new building will spark excitement for both students and teachers in the student-centered environment with its design by Fayetteville architect Marlon Blackwell, who won top design in the state for Fayetteville Montessori School’s elementary building, located on the same campus. The new infant and toddler building uses orangewood and large windows as key elements to brighten the classrooms with natural light and help children feel connected to the outside, according to Butler. “I like my children to look outside and see things outside,” Butler said. The campus also provides more outdoor engagement opportunities with its outdoor music equipment, in addition to an indoor music room. Bernice Hembree, coordinator of the music program, works with teachers to expose children to reading and writing music at a young age and helps to keep the program moving forward. Hembree is also a vocalist, bassist and piano player for local band Smokey & the Mirror. “We are always involved with music here because of my commitment to try and make children awake and excited,” Butler said. “We are trying to take it to another level with composition for these kids.” Butler said that her mission has always been to make a school out of things that matter and hopes to implement more ways for students to be involved in outreach. “We are very much community here and that is how we teach children to be good citizens of the world, thinking about other people rather than themselves.” ■ EDUCATION | BY LAUREN MERLENE | PHOTOS BY MEREDITH MASHBURN Fayetteville Montessori Schools Celebrating 45 years with new and exciting updates for its students Bernice Hembree, music program coordinator, leading an activity with students. R Visit fayettevillemontessorischool.org for more information.