Arkansas River Valley Montessori I am a FORMER parent as I have removed both of my children from ARVM. The post from "Staff Member" Sam Piazza is a real hoot. Sam is perhaps 19 or 20 years old & the son of former head of school Sommers Piazza. Sam is a resent high school graduate is completely unqualified to speak about International Montessori standards & teaching practices. The ONLY qualified International Montessori Guide resigned this summer & moved to Urban Garden Montessori. ALL the other teachers including every "Lead Guide" are NOT graduates of a a Resident Degree Program. AMI Standard is a joke & is not a resident program, it is online, correspondence & 6-weeks of summer training not conducted at a University. AMI is a self-accreditating training program, meaning you pay AMI, go to an AMI training center for a few weeks and are now AMI qualified. No University is involved. The Primary Teacher Pat, is mean to the children. She was fired from her last school for "Physical Contact" with little children. The children are terrified of her. Famous for being the only Montessori Guide on Earth who uses a recliner to lay down during school hours in her classroom.
My name is Sam Piazza. I am a member of the staff at River Valley Montessori and I am proud to put my name with what I have to say about the school. After reading some of the comments on this page I wanted to set the record straight. All lead teachers at River Valley Montessori have certification from resident training programs, which is how the school maintains its full membership with the American Montessori Society. That can be found at amshq.org. If you come by the school, ask to see our certificate, as well as those of our teachers. I am very sad to see reviews like these, but we spend our time focused on the children in our school. Our Early Elementary guide has more training and more years teaching than any other Montessori teacher in Little Rock. Our Primary teacher was Montessori certified in 1988 and has taught Montessori ever sine. Our Adolescent Community (middle school) guide was trained at the AMI based NAMTA (http://www.montessori-namta.org) and has two masters degrees. I hope that those interested in our school will come by and see for themselves, as well as hear what our parents have to say about us. For testimonials from our parents visit arvmontessori.org
We were so excited to find this school but it has unfortunately taken a turn. They have slowly become more concerned with profit than the children and now have lost the BEST teacher they had and the only certified Montessori Teacher. For the amount you're going to spend on tuition you are paying for a glorified daycare provider. While I understand Montessori method is about letting the child lead and work with other children, at the end of the day a child needs direction and the staff here takes a lazy approach in the teaching department. We won't be going back and as a parent I felt I should let others know our experience as we looked at these reviews while looking for a good school as well.
I am very unhappy with the Lower Elementary teacher and program. In contrast (I have one student in each) the Upper Elementary Teacher and program are world class. Many parents can not stay with the school long enough to make it into Upper El (3th 5th & 6th grade aged students). The facilities are quite poor with hot summers and cold winters. All the kids a re bundeled up inside the class room in the winter and the winters in Arkansas are not servere. It is hot and sweaty in the class rooms for summer and spring. Only one staff member is a fully qualified Montessori International Teacher (Upper Elementary of course) the other so-called teachers are AMA summer-school and corispondence (non-resident) Montessori wanna-be teachers. This will be my childrens last year at ARVM.
My daughter attends ARVM, so I am honestly very interested in other parents observations of the school. Reading your review however, I was left wondering if you indeed reviewed the right school? You say that you had experience with the pre-K classes. There is only one Pre-K class at ARVM, referred to as the primary class in Montessori terminology, and it encompasses the late toddler, Pre-K and K years. You also go on to refer to ARVM as a boarding school, which it is not. Could you clarify these points? Additionally, as a point of interest, large primary classes are one of the cornerstones of Maria Montessori's philosophy; 30 children, a directress and an assistant in one classroom is not uncommon. Of course, you must have a well trained, confident and compassionate directress to guide such a group.
Sorry to say I have to agree with the negative reviews of this school. While it was clearly a poor fit for our family, there appear to be much deeper, more serious problems with the school. We had direct experience with the Pre-K classes and were really unimpressed. The student to teacher ratio exceeded 13 to 1, leaving the teachers overwhelmed, completely apathetic to teaching and, at times, bitter and rude. When discussing the teachers with the schools administration, they admitted that some of the teachers had known behavior issues, though it didn't appear they would do anything about it. While I really wanted to like this school, it ultimately proved to be an un-nuturing, punitive environment that didn't seem to foster any learning whatsoever. My overall impression was a class (and school, to be honest) that was much less boarding school and much more Island of the Flies.
We love this school! Dropping my 5 year old off every morning while the polite, sweet, and caring older kids unload her from the car, I just have a great sense of well being about leaving her there. We have had her at another private school and she just completely fell through the cracks. At ARVM she gets the attention and education that she needs and has just soared. She came in a "leader" in her classroom, which means most of her peers had already been together for 1-2 years, but they embraced her and she has made the sweetest friends. I cannot say enough good things about her guide - what a gift she is to those kids! GREAT school!!
Amazing School! Completely changed my child! He loves going to school! His guide is extremely professional and caring. She is an exemplary teacher who underwent difficult training to become a Montessori guide. She is pure with the method. Her teaching has transformed him. My husband and I are public school teachers. We have always felt welcomed. The school has been like an extended family. The administration cares deeply for the students. They are constantly seeking ways to reach the children and families in their care. The building is complete with all of the Montessori materials. These materials help the children grasp abstract concepts. The grounds has a lovely place for the children to grow plants. The children are also involved in jobs that allow them to grow in their responsibility and become active members of their society. The hot lunch program has also become a favorite with my child. Healthy lunches are served. The music program is lovely. The children are taught different instruments along with reading music. The art teacher has given the children wonderful projects where they are able to be creative. They havemany field trips and guest speakers.
I am responding to the posting on April 3, which I think is a "complete joke." I am a parent, a real parent that has had her kid go to ARVM for 5 years. I chose this school because the Montessori method is clearly followed and the staff is qualified to teach the method at its purest form. I appreciated the person who included a website link (which did not work, btw) so that I could at lease search the correct website to see these supposedly "scary" lists of cited violations. It seems to me if the school covers a few more electrical plugs and moves a couple of napping cots around for "emergency exits," they will be fine. And I am sorry this person feels that "average hardworking people are not welcome." I am a public school teacher. I work hard. I have never felt anything but welcomed. And I am sure if this person was as bitter and rude at this school as s/he is here, in his/her review, there was a reason why s/he was unwelcomed. ARVM is a small Montessori school whose guides and staff make my child feel loved, accepted, and they have given her an environment which makes her cherish her learning and grow further in her understanding.
This school is a complete joke. Not only is the Montessori Method not adhered to, but the teacher's so-called degrees were obtained ONLINE! They have been cited with multiple violations by DHS. Violations that I as a parent have never been informed of. Some of these include hiring teachers without a background check, contamination issues, fire hazards, really the (very scary) list goes on. They must have forgotten that its public info and I'm sure someone will come behind me and try to rebut this comment. (probably a staff member posing as a parent) So I encourage all parents to check the website for themselves. In fact here is the link. You can't argue with cold hard facts. https://dhs.arkansas.gov/dccece/cclas/FacilityVisits.aspx These "educators" have absolutely no idea what they are doing. The building is falling apart and is filthy. I would only recommend sending your child here if you have no concern for his/her safety, wellbeing, or intellectual stimulation. It is all about the bottom line. Money. If you aren't a doctor,lawyer, or exceedingly wealthy don't expect to fit in here. Average hardworking people are not welcome.
Both my children have soared in this school. They are happy children...happy to go to school and happy at home. Their performance is excellent on standardized tests. They are passionate about the earth, the world around them and the treatment of others with respect. Bullying is not a concern because if it happens, it is dealt with. They spend alot of time outside, they have a school garden, amazing lunches. It's too bad more schools do not provide this type of education. They have real-world responsibilities around the school that most schools don't provide. One downside is that I wish they had more technology instruction and more robust music instruction. The fundraising is also excessive, but you're going to get that everywhere you go. Structure is helpful for children so they know what to expect. I have not experienced a closedminded faculty. They CAN and DO talk at lunch!
Visited the school twice. Staff was nice. Told that students were not allowed to talk during lunch. On both visits separated by many weeks, the smoke detector beeped often because no one had bothered to change the battery. I still liked the school in many other ways.
On the plus side the campus is beautiful, the children seem calm and relaxed, the restrictions on diet and commercial characters are a plus. However, the faculty is extremely rigid and close-minded. Also, many are out of touch with developments in educational theory. A pretty school, but prepared to be frustrated by an unhelpful faculty.
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