Campus Feature: Leichhardt Montessori Academy

Campus Feature: Leichhardt Montessori Academy

Nestled in the buzzy Italian precinct of Norton Street, Leichhardt Montessori Academy offers an exceptional educational experience that combines genuine Italian history, with a vibrant early learning environment.

Prior to becoming Leichhardt Montessori Academy, the historic Casa d’Italia building was home to the Italian Bilingual School, run by Co.As.It. This building has long been associated with the Australian-Italian migrant community, and has served as a home for many cultural activities throughout the decades.

When the Italian school outgrew its facilities, and subsequently moved to Meadowbank, this provided Montessori Academy with the
opportunity to purposely redesign the building to become a Montessori long day care centre.

In January 2015, the Leichhardt campus opened its doors to a warm reception from the local community; revealing five beautifully designed Montessori classrooms, and two separate outdoor play areas enriched with sandpits, fixed playequipment, and extensive gardens.

Over the past three years, the campus has established a strong reputation for delivering an outstanding education program that is based
on genuine care for each child, open dialogue with families, and a focus on the principles and practice of Montessori education.

To find out what our Leichhardt campus is doing now, we interviewed Anushka, Second-in-Charge and Preschool Room Leader.

When visiting Leichhardt Montessori Academy for the first time, what’s something that parents will notice?

At Leichhardt Montessori Academy, we’re lucky to work in a beautiful, purpose-built centre, that is drenched in natural light. The campus distinctly feels like a welcoming school that has a natural flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. New families often comment on these features, as well as the fantastic children’s projects that are exhibited on our walls.

One of the other things parents notice, is the separate spaces for our infant students, and our toddlers and preschoolers. This separation provides each age group with the space they need to follow their interests, and develop their gross motor skills, within a safe and supportive environment. Lots of space is very important for our toddlers and preschoolers, who love to run!

What does the Leichhardt team do to encourage team bonding and collaboration?

Our staff team is led by Centre Manager, Ami Tank, who has been working at Leichhardt Montessori Academy for three years. Prior to becoming Centre Manager, Ami was the Preschool Room Leader, who naturally progressed into this leadership role as a result
of her passion for Montessori, wonderful relationship with families, and collaborative approach to team leadership.

In her role as Centre Manager, Ami has continued to build a team culture focused on consistency, quality, innovation, improvement,
and open communication. To do this, she actively mentors our staff team, provides us with the freedom to try new ideas, and always has
an open mind about what we can do to make Leichhardt Montessori Academy an even better place for our students, families and staff.

As a result, each member of our team has really blossomed, as our unique talents are recognised and utilised for the benefit of our campus. This was clearly demonstrated when our team was awarded the Outstanding Team Award at the Montessori Academy Excellence Ball in 2017.

What are some of your current classroom projects?

Earth Day is on April 20, and in preparation for this special celebration, we’ve been incorporating sustainability practices into all aspects of our education program.

For example, we have been re-using all the boxes that our nappies and office supplies are delivered in. These re-used boxes provide
tremendous imaginative opportunities for our students to create and collaborate. So far, our toddler and preschool students have loved
making cars, boats and rockets!

We’re also recycling everyday items, such as milk bottles and water bottles, to create some wonderful learning activities. We repurposed old milk bottles into watering cans for our garden; recycled water bottles have become musical instruments for our younger students; and the recycled milk bottle lids have been used to create a sustainable moveable alphabet that the preschool students have been using to spell out their names.

What are you doing to encourage community and family engagement at your centre?

We have a very strong connection with our families and community at Leichhardt Montessori Academy. This begins with ensuring that our families are greeted every day, and that they truly feel like our campus and staff, are a home and a family, away from their own.

This strong sense of community provides us with a great platform for open communication that provides families and staff with the ability to provide genuine feedback about how we can continue to improve our education programs, facilities, and general centre operations.

We also actively encourage our families to join us for story, craft, or group time every day. Just last week we had one of our musically gifted parents join us for music and movement time. It’s always wonderful to have our families come in and showcase their special skills.

In terms of our relationship with the community, we have a wonderful connection to the local library. Our preschool students visit regularly to borrow books for group story time. At the moment, they are fascinated with water animals, especially sharks, so we’re borrowing plenty of books about sea creatures.