“I am proud to say I couldn’t have been more wrong about the ‘elite foo foo’ part,” said Dave Carringer, co-owner of Abundant Living.
“What I saw was personal devotion to each child, their needs and their gifts,” Carringer said. “I was amazed at the natural flow of education that was being implemented — focused, yet fun!”
Carringer’s tour of Cleveland’s Montessori Kinder International School came about as part of the efforts of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce to unite the efforts of the business sector and local schools through its BEST program. BEST is an acronym for Business & Education Serving Together, which seeks to forge partnerships that involve a commitment of time, energy and expertise between a business and a selected school.
“Each partnership is a two-way street designed to benefit both business and education through available resources,” said Sherry Crye, director of workforce development.
Carringer observed that at Montessori “clearly each child is taught, trained and encouraged from the level that best suits his or her needs and abilities at that time. I walked away knowing that while each child receives the same love and attention, individual kids are nourished and encouraged in areas of special giftings they might possess.”
The owner of the local health food store deals with the effects of poor nutrition in children on a daily basis, noting that many parents who truly love their children unknowingly subject them to products not classified as foods at all.
“When nutritious, whole foods are supplied to a child, it affects every realm of the child’s thinking, social response, energy, and overall health and immunity,” Carringer said. “The mind is able to operate the way it was created to because it is not bogged down with all the toxins and chemicals, thus giving the child every available chance to achieve life’s greatest goals.”
Brigitta Hoeferle, founder and director of Cleveland’s only Montessori school, is excited about the new BEST partnership with Abundant Living.
“Both entities, Abundant Living and Montessori Kinder, have a common goal in mind — that of serving the whole self,” Hoeferle said.
The Montessori Method is a holistic educational approach.
“In the past years we’ve been emphasizing not only the academic side of our school, but also educating students and parents alike about the nutritional aspects that allow learning and development to its fullest,” Hoeferle said. “Our students learn the difference between good and bad foods, foods which constrain their ability to concentrate and interfere with their natural desire to learn.”
Montessori Kinder has written grants on healthy living and learning and how processed foods negatively influence a child’s behavior and concentration and therefore the students’ ability to learn. The school’s summer program, Growing My Own Garden, teaches students to grow vegetables and fruits, maintain the garden, and harvest the produce.
“BEST partnering with the Abundant Living Organic Foods is a perfect match. We share a positive mindset,” she said.
“We have entered into this partnership with Brigitta, Montessori and the Chamber with the goal of being a support system for the school, the children, the parents and ultimately the community as a whole through education and helping to teach the responsibility we each hold for our own health and enjoying the gift of life that has been so graciously given to us.”
Schools in the Bradley County and Cleveland City School Systems have one or more local business partners as part of the BEST program. Private schools that are Chamber members may also participate in the program. Both Abundant Living Organic Foods and Montessori Kinder International School are Chamber members.
“The partnership between Abundant Living and Montessori Kinder is a good fit,” Crye said. “We are always excited to find member businesses that are genuinely interested in helping our local schools through our BEST partnership program. The better we prepare our students today, the better our workforce will be in the years to come.”
For information about the BEST partnership program, call Crye at 472-6587.