Marie Liburdi began her career simply, with a passion for children and teaching – Now, she’s the proud owner of Children’s Place Montessori in Brownstown and Grosse Ile
Never in her wildest dreams did Marie Liburdi expect to have two schools and 250 students under her supervision. She began simply with “a passion for children and teaching” and a single classroom to call her own. Now, she is the proud owner of the Children’s Place Montessori in Brownstown and Grosse Ile.
She opened the school on Grosse Ile in March of 2009, renting four rooms from St. Thomas Lutheran Church. “I believe in stressing the importance of early childhood learning,” Liburdi says. Children’s Place Montessori teaches children from as young as four weeks up to first grade. According to Liburdi, “One of the most important windows of brain development begins at birth continuing through toddlerhood and preschool. In these stages children have an innate ability to absorb information.”
Liburdi explains that, in addition to reading and listening to a teacher’s information, children learn by actively engaging with specifically designed materials in a Montessori setting. The Montessori method develops and refines the five senses, building a foundation for speech, reading and mathematics. Teachers look to inspire each student, not just to instruct.
Children’s Place Montessori provides a relaxed, welcoming environment for all children. All Children’s Place Montessori staff are trained in the Montessori method developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. In the early 1900’s, Dr. Montessori was an Italian physician, educator and innovator, whose famous method contains five core components: properly trained teachers, multi-age classrooms, Montessori materials, child-directed work and uninterrupted work periods.
“The Montessori method is centered on the belief that children naturally want to learn,” Liburdi says, “and that they learn best through doing.” For example, Children’s Place Montessori children learn math not just by counting, but by learning numbers and knowing what they mean. “They use our numerical spindle rods and count them to understand the meaning of the number.” She says this quantity and symbol recognition makes adding and subtracting much easier. The children learn the numeric and quantity recognition of numbers 1 to 9,000. And when students learn to read and write, importance is placed on phonemic awareness. In fact, students who have attended Children’s Place Montessori for two or more years are able to read and write at a first or second grade level when they are four, with many students spelling at second or third grade levels. Everyday exposure to Montessori materials offer children concrete evidence of the concepts they are learning and working with.
Montessori schools are designed to allow children to explore the diversity of our physical world and many cultures. When it comes to geography, all children learn about continents and oceans. They learn which animals live on each continent, and which fish swim in each ocean. “The salt water aquarium in the lobby contains many fish they have learned about, as well as many of the fish that are featured in the movie ‘Finding Nemo,’” Liburdi says.
In learning to care for the earth, children plant flowers, vegetables and take care of the plants as they grow. In learning to care for themselves, they learn how to prepare their own snacks. Depending on the season, they wash their own apples, squeeze oranges into juice and wash and clean celery and learn to cut it.
All children observe butterfly larvae and cocoons, which later emerge as butterflies. They also explore the life cycle of frogs from egg to adult form. And each classroom incubates chicks, ducks or pheasant eggs which the students care for as young birds. “We are currently building an age-appropriate barn in the playground area,” Liburdi says. “It will allow us to keep our animals for a longer period of observation.”
“Children learn many important social skills through our classroom behavior expectations and lessons on friendship,” says Liburdi. Children’s Place Montessori values a peaceful classroom with helping hands and safe working behavior. Teachers model and role play healthy friendship behavior. Children then role play similar conflict resolutions, learning how best to speak for themselves. Bully awareness is also a classroom priority. “Our children learn what is unacceptable behavior and what to do when they are confronted by a bully. They also learn to be aware of their surroundings and even how to decipher appropriate behavior from strangers,” Liburdi says.
Child safety is paramount at both the Brownstown and Grosse Ile locations. All teachers have been given multiple criminal background checks and must have up-to-date C.P.R., first aid, AED and allergy certification credentials besides current teaching credentials. Doors are kept locked during school hours and parents are given a personalized key fob to enter the building. Though only children and staff are allowed in classrooms, each room contains a video camera which broadcasts a live feed to the monitor in the main lobby at all times, where parents enjoy watching their children.
Children’s Place Montessori is an Associate Satellite Member School of the American Montessori Society. Toddler and infant Lead Teachers hold Child Development Associate degrees, while the preschool Lead Teachers hold Bachelor’s degrees. Many of the staff are members of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. As stated previously, all staff are trained and follow Montessori methods.
There is a waiting list to enroll in both facilities and Liburdi has hired an architect to expand the Brownstown facility which was just completed in 2016. “We are growing again,” she says. Liburdi had designed the Brownstown building from the ground up” as a Montessori facility.
Liburdi grew up in the Downriver area and believes in investing in her community. She hopes all of her hard work has a positive impact on the young children and families of the Downriver area.
For further information on Children’s Place Montessori, please visit cpmontessori.comM