Monument View Montessori may be on its third head of school since opening in August 2017, but as the public charter school moves into a bigger building and seeks more students to enroll, leaders insist they're on the right track.
"It's not unusual in a charter school to have a lot of turnover. That being said, having a new head of school every year is admittedly a fair amount of turnover," said past board president and parent Perry Cabot. "What I can comfortably say is that every time we've had a change, it's been ... to maintain compliance with our authorizer's standards."
While the school has had leaders with education experience, Cabot said, it needed a leader with administrative experience who could handle a budget. Enter new Head of School Nick Zielinski, who previously led a large environmental education school in California that served up to 12,000 students per year.
"Finding your stride as an institution doesn't happen overnight, and that's the nice thing about where Monument View is now," Zielinski said. "The path ahead is clear and that's what differentiates this year from years past."
Monument View is moving from a converted chapel in downtown Fruita to another former church building on U.S. Highway 6, which will offer more space so the school can enroll more students. Monument View is also offering free preschool for the first time this year and will continue to offer kindergarten through third grade classes.
As a Montessori school, students are in classes based on age groups of several years, not just on year, and there's a strong emphasis on hands-on learning.
One of the reasons Zielinski is so passionate about Montessori is because of the impact it's had on his own child.
"When I watch my son come home from school and his eyes are excited, he's proud of the work he's doing and he has a respect for the materials in the classroom, that's such a powerful experience," he said. "Seeing the change in a child in a Montessori classroom from September to May — it's like they become little grownups. It's amazing."