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Montessori Mastery School christens high school

Nonprofit private school opened in 2012

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Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2015 5:30 am

Punctuated by prayer, stories and a surprise for two of the main contributors, Montessori Mastery School of Odessa held a dedication for its high school building Friday at Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

School Director Randy McGuire said the ceremony was held to recognize those who made the new modular building on the church grounds at 1415 N. Grandview Ave. The structure got pressed into service around Thanksgiving, he said.

The Rev. Jimmy Braswell, pastor of Cumberland Presbyterian, gave the devotional.

The nonprofit private school opened in 2012 and originally served grades four through eight. Because of parental support and encouragement, it expanded to ninth grade this year and will add an additional grade level each year through 12th, McGuire said in an email.

The first year, the school’s enrollment was 32, and with the addition of ninth grade, it’s up to 47 this year. McGuire said in the email the school doesn’t plan to be much larger than 60 to 70 students when fully enrolled through 12th grade.

McGuire said the church invited the school to use its building. Braswell said he’s glad to have the school in its environs.

“The day may come when you outgrow us … but in the meantime, we love having you,” Braswell said.

For McGuire and his wife, Gloria, the school is a mission. They had talked about starting a high school in the future, but just a year after they opened, there were discussions about adding grades. Ultimately, the money was contributed and a modular building found and installed.

In recounting how the expansion became reality, McGuire ran through the people he consulted and those who helped out along the way. Two of those were Greg and Kevin Ann Burnett of Odessa, whose grandson Taylor Gwyn attends Montessori Mastery School. Gwyn presented a sign with Burnett Building to them during the dedication.

McGuire said things like this happen when you put your faith and trust in God.

Braswell, in his closing, prayer, noted that dedication means to give back. “God gives us a gift and we give it back,” he said.

Greg Burnett gave much of the credit for the high school to McGuire, but he did enjoy having the building named after him and his wife. He added that the school is more than just a place to learn.

“It’s not just a school,” Burnett said, “it’s a catalyst of education, of Christianity of respect and learning all together, so it’s a great thing and I was more than happy to help with it.”

Montessori education, developed by physician and educator Maria Montessori, is designed to teach to each child’s ability and to help encourage them in their learning, rather than “force or push them,” McGuire said. He added that teachers give students the time they need to master their subjects.

The school is just finishing its first year with ninth grade and will add 10th grade in the fall. It currently has three teachers. Another will be added for the junior year.

Having the building in place, McGuire said, gives him a feeling of gratitude and thankfulness. The addition wasn’t planned, but it came down to what was best for the students and what the parents wanted.

“We just trusted in God that the needs would be met and they have been,” McGuire said.

Both McGuire and his wife, Gloria, taught for Ector County ISD before opening the school. They started as special education teachers and he wound up at Austin Montessori Magnet while Gloria was at Austin, Noel and Murry Fly elementary schools at different points.

High school students Haley Lavergne, 13, Jordan Woods, 14, and Rachel Spraggins, 15, all appreciate having the Montessori high school.

Lavergne said she went to Reagan Academic Magnet before coming to the school. She skipped eighth grade and went straight to ninth.

“I think it’s great to have the opportunity to excel and grow my knowledge,” Lavergne said. “I believe we have more one-on-one with the teachers. I think that’s a better opportunity to be able to grow. You get to learn more because they more attention to you and your needs.”

Spraggins, who attended St. John’s Episcopal School before going to the Montessori school, agreed that the teachers care about the students, not only education wise but personally.

She added that McGuire showed infinite patience with her when she needed help with math in eighth grade.

Odessa, TX

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