Sandia Vista Elementary School Montessori Program – a hidden gem in the Rio Rancho Public School System (RRPS)

We are about to complete our first full school year in the Rio Rancho Public School (RRPS) Montessori Program and we could not be happier with the progress our kids are making in school.

To tell you the truth, we actually stumbled across this hidden gem when looking to buy a house after moving to Albuquerque, NM from Tucson, AZ.  We looked at many houses in the northeast part of Albuquerque and contemplated Corrales.  We eventually found a house we were interested in not far from the intersection of highway 528 and Idalia Road.  In addition to checking out the house, we checked out where the elementary school was.  This led us to the Sandia Vista Elementary School website.  The website has since changed, but back then, the RRPS Montessori program was highlighted right on the school website.  Since we previously had our boys in a Montessori school in Tucson (Casa Ninos School of Montessori) we really wanted to continue the education method of Maria Montessori for as long as possible.

Our oldest (soon to be 6) is in Kindergarten and the cost of his Montessori school is covered by the state.  Our other son (4 years now) is in the pre-kindergarten (or preschool, or affectionately called “tomato garden” in the family) program which costs us $600 a month (this is not nursery school, our youngest had to use the toilet for acceptance in the program).  We had the choice to place both our boys in the same classroom, but they spend enough time together outside school that we thought it best to split them up and let them make as many friends as possible.

What amazes me most is how involved the parents are and the effort they put into their kids for this Montessori program.  A percentage of kids that go to school with my boys come in from outside the Sandia Vista school boundary, this means those parents have to drive their kids to and from school.  One benefit … It was quite nice to be invited to a piano recital recently since a classmate was taking piano lessons.

Being Native American and a Laguna Pueblo member, I thought it was awesome that the RRPS is open and committed to diversity, here is an example.  One of the students in the Kindergarten Montessori was from Santa Ana Pueblo and the parent, school, & teacher arranged a field trip to visit the pueblo on its feast day.  A bus full of students & parents got the chance to experience something only Indians get to know and love.  The students & parents watched some social dances in the plaza, had the chance to catch giveaway items from the rooftops in the pueblo, and have a nice hot lunch of green or red chile & various dishes at a relative of the student’s house before heading back to school.

This program is successful because of the commitment of RRPS & the teachers (Ms. Gchachu, Ms. Lance, & other teachers).  Both classroom teachers (and aides Ms. Susan & Ms. Nevin) are Montessori trained and work throughout the year with other Montessori schools in the Albuquerque area to share best practices and keep current.  This is the first we have heard of a public school system doing a Montessori  program.

The RRPS Montessori program is only pre-K to grade 2 for now, but they have a vision for the Montessori program to evolve to grade 5.  Our kids are only in the beginning here, and it is our hope RRPS attracts the attention and mindshare of more parents to grow this new choice in New Mexico child education.  We will certainly do our best to support & encourage it’s growth.

Here is a link if you are interested in more information about the RRPS Montessori program or call (505) 994-2811 extension 531.

Also here is a little history I recently found, sounds like we moved back home to NM at the right time … Click on the Cached Abq Journal links.

– Dom

P.S. … Here are some pictures of the school & classrooms where both of my sons go, pretty neat place and they even integrate computers.  Enjoy!