St. Helena Montessori School

Children at the St. Helena Montessori School put on hard hats and picked up golden shovels during Friday's groundbreaking.

St. Helena Montessori School on College Avenue broke ground on two new buildings last Friday, representing the final phase of a campus master plan that began 12 years ago.

The new buildings will be used by the entire school and incorporate permanent classrooms for the Adolescent Program, the seventh- and eighth-grade program that utilizes the campus farm, and a new building dedicated to the existing Toddler Program.

This is the final phase of construction that has spanned a 12-year commitment from SHMS families and its community. The school has partnered with Bank of Marin to secure financing that will cover the upfront costs of construction.

The school expects construction to be completed in 14 months. The project is being managed in conjunction with Eames Construction by Alexander Heil, director of the Adolescent Program, and Matthew Heil, director of development.

The new buildings will include a Great Room for school functions and seminars, a music practice space, a teaching kitchen to expand the Culinary Arts program, a science classroom to increase the hands-on component of the curriculum, and a library to house educational resources for the entire school.

The Adolescent Program is now in its 10th year and has used the Activity Barn on the campus for the last six years. Students have a booth at the St. Helena Farmers’ Market where, as part of their curriculum, they sell the produce grown on the farm.

The campus is designed to create ideal environments for each of the school’s mixed-age classrooms: the Toddler classroom for children 18 months through 3 years old, the Primary classrooms for ages 3 to 6, the Elementary classrooms incorporating first through sixth grade, and the Adolescent Program for seventh, eighth and ninth grades.

“We have thoughtfully planned each space on this campus to be ideally-designed and purposely built to meet the developmental needs of children at each stage of their journey,” said Matthew Heil. “This project will be enjoyed by future generations of families and we are so excited to realize the vision of our founders, Elena Heil and Olga McAdam, and the community that has supported St. Helena Montessori for decades. We are indebted to our partners at the Bank of Marin and the city staff that have diligently worked to help make this possible.”

The new buildings will not increase the school’s current enrollment of about 210 students, Heil told the Planning Commission in March.

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