Kibitz (CHAT) 4.0 with Ellen Beach, Head of School with Walnut Farm Montessori School

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wf2This week we caught up with our friends at the Walnut Farm Montessori School.  Steve Fineberg & Associates is a proud supporter of their program, and we wanted to share more about the amazing work they are doing with young people in the community.  Many thanks to Ellen Beach, Head of School, and board for taking time to chat with us.

For those who are not familiar, can you tell us more about what the Montessori school model looks like?

The Montessori approach to learning is an educational philosophy that may seem foreign to parents as it differs from traditional educational models.

The Montessori Method of education, developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, is a child-centered educational approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. Dr. Montessori’s Method has been time tested, with over 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world.

It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.

Dr. Montessori observed that children experience sensitive periods, or windows of opportunity, as they grow. As their students develop, Montessori teachers match appropriate lessons and materials to these sensitive periods when learning is most naturally absorbed and internalized.


In early childhood, Montessori students learn through sensory-motor activities, working with materials that develop their cognitive powers through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement.

In the elementary years, the child continues to organize his thinking through work with the Montessori learning materials and an interdisciplinary curriculum as he passes from the concrete to the abstract.  He begins the application of his knowledge to real-world experiences.

This organization of information—facts and figures—prepares the child for the world of adolescence, when thought and emotion evolve into understanding more abstract, universal concepts such as equity, freedom, and justice.

Can you tell us about the history of Walnut Farm Montessori School?

Absolutely, we were founded in 1991, Walnut Farm welcomes children ages 18 months to 12 years from diverse backgrounds, abilities, religions, races and cultures. Our school community includes families from northwest Arkansas and southwestern Missouri.

wf4We are the first and only Montessori School in Arkansas awarded accreditation by the American Montessori Society. In addition to a full Montessori Curriculum, we provide a variety of enrichment programs and activities to our students. Music, Art and Spanish instruction are presented in all classes. Our Elementary students attend performances at local art centers and visit other area businesses and sites of interest throughout the year.

In addition to your classroom settings, we understand that you also have an outdoor interactive classroom.  Can you tell us more about this?

  • As part of our classroom experience we offer an outdoor classroom. The outdoor classroom provides a space for learning about nature and the practical life work of gardening, raking, weed pulling, and other outdoor tasks. With the direction of a credentialed Montessori guide, the outdoor classroom is rich in Science lessons such as bird watching and naming, insect and leaf investigations as well as rock classification.

    This outdoor prepared environment is available to our primary and elementary students. Each primary classroom has a back door which allows the children to flow in and out, making this a free choice throughout the morning work cycle. The elementary children have designated days and various responsibilities in the outdoor environment. In addition to their student roles, the elementary children serve as leaders of the school community and caretakers of the various gardens. The outdoor classroom is an exciting extension of our classroom environments.

wf5We are really excited about your upcoming Art Experience 2015 event, and being involved from a corporate level.  How can people learn more about supporting the school and attending your events?

We are really excited about this year's event and are so thankful for our wonderful sponsors - including Steve Fineberg & Associates!  It will be an unforgettable adult evening of friendship and fundraising inspired by artist Georgia O'Keefe and the Roaring 1920's on Friday, February 27, from 7-11pm at Avondale Chapel in Bentonville.  Participants will enjoy a 1920's lounge atmosphere with a jazz band, professional dancers demonstrating 1920's dance styles, gaming tables, silent and live auctions, local artist, food trucks and local brews. Costume dress is encouraged. Grab a partner and a friend or two and make plans to experience this fun-filled night.

Tickets can be purchased online at

Last modified onTuesday, 15 March 2016 13:25