By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The new School in the Hills Montessori at River Place will open in several weeks and future students of the new campus recently toured the construction site.
This is the second campus for the locally-based school which was launched in 2008 in Steiner Ranch by Alicia and Daniel Marker of Steiner.
The River Place campus is a 16,000-square-foot facility that features a 2,000-square-foot activity room and sits on 3.7 acres at 10911 RM 2222. Plans are for the school to be open by the end of the month.
“The playgrounds are beautiful. We’ve built different ways brains and minds engage outside,” said Daniel Marker, administrative director.
They did not use metal when building the playgrounds, and when complete, they will have hills for climbing, paths for biking, trails for hiking and sandpits, which they found with their Steiner campus, the children love and the parents have learned to appreciate even though it means a little extra sand comes home from time to time, Marker added.
The long term plan is to create the retention pond into an outdoor learning center which can be appreciated from observation areas from the balcony and ground levels. They plan to plant grapevines, berries, plants and flowers and to attract butterflies and birds at the pond.
Ultimate plans also include a small orchard of lemon, lime and peach trees on-site.
There will be many outdoor learning areas and “older students will be allowed to earn the right to take work outside,” Marker said.
There is space for a teepee, fairy huts and possibly a future zipline, if Alicia Marker gets her way. The Markers even plan to have a pygmy goat or two.
The owners kept as many native trees as possible and planted 120 more trees including oaks and elms. As soon as they bought the land, they started feeding and nurturing trees on-site.
The Markers worked with Cisneros Design to build its learning environment both outside and in.
The inside of the building has lots of windows for natural lighting and will use the most energy efficient technologies with independently controlled air conditioning, heating and electric. It will use light harvesting on sunny days. The new school is designed with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification qualities.
Response for the new River Place school has been strong and there is a growing wait list for students.
The new River Place facility will expand its Montessori curriculum to teach up to third grade.
“From the conception of School in the Hills in Steiner Ranch, we have always dreamed of more than one campus,” said Alicia Marker, head of school. She’s worked in Montessori education for more than three decades.
School in the Hills Montessori in Steiner Ranch was started in August 2008 and currently has 185 children on the roster for the 2015-16 school year. Students range in age from 18 months through kindergarten. The school also provides after-school care for 30 children from Steiner Ranch, Laura Bush and River Ridge elementary schools.
She said the new campus will meet a big demand in the community for an early elementary-aged program.
“We really wanted to do elementary, but I could not do an elementary program properly without space,” Marker said. “This is something that many of our families have asked for. It’s something that is wanted and needed in this neighborhood.”
The school will offer busing to River Place for its Steiner Ranch elementary students.
For more information on School in the Hills, visit their website at www.schoolinthehills.com or call (512) 266-8180.
Those who attended the tour:
Brian and Olga