Business profile

Owner, Island Montessori School

Posted: Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Mary Jane Bauer

Title and firm: Owner, Island Montessori School

Philosophy: Italian physician Maria Montessori, who died in 1952, pioneered a new approach to early childhood development, insisting before scientific evidence was available that the first six years of life are the most critical for developing intelligence. Rather than treating children as ``miniature adults,'' Montessori recognized that children have unique ways and periods of learning, with ``absorbent minds capable of taking in enormous amounts of information,'' Bauer said. Montessori developed the idea of making a child's environment conform to his or her needs, lowering the height of shelves, for example. Children in Montessori programs also are encouraged to pursue chosen areas of interest and are given time to concentrate on hands-on tasks.

Biographical information: Bauer, a native of the Seattle area, was originally lured to Alaska in 1979 by a cousin in Pelican. She spent her first five years in the new state in the troll fishery. In 1982, she moved to Sitka, where she worked in child care and was able to observe a Montessori program. Already a certified teacher, she went to an Oregon training institute for Montessori, and opened Island Montessori in Douglas in 1994. The school has a capacity of 15 students, ages 3 to 6; seven are now enrolled.

Rates: $329 a month for the preschool day, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m., or $434 for after-care until 3 p.m. Other times and rates are offered, too. Fall enrollment is under way, and observations of the school may be scheduled with Bauer.

Quote: ``I love being with this age group, where so many things are new. I like seeing the lights turn on. I like seeing them discover things.''

Family: Bauer, 47, has two daughters, Micaela, 14, and Elizabeth, 8, and a fiance, Bruce Tenney.

Hobbies: Skiing, gardening, picking berries, beach combing, identifying wildflowers.

Contact information: 9363 North Douglas Highway; 586-3021

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