JACKSONVILLE, N.C. -- Twenty-one Marines with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base, volunteered to help the Montessori Children’s School revitalize their landscape here Oct. 17.
This is the start of what will be a continuing relationship with the school because the battalion has volunteered to adopt the school, according to Capt. James M. Bechtel, the Logistic Office’s Chief for the battalion. The Marines have started one of the first of many volunteer efforts, which will help the school’s program Project Green Space.
“We really feel like this is the beginning of something good,” said Peggy Higgins, the school director.
Project Green Space is the school’s effort to give the children a healthy and natural outdoor space to play, learn and grow, said Higgins.
“If we prepare the environment for growth than physically, mentally and socially the children will grow as well,” said Higgins.
The volunteer effort is also a way for the base to connect with and enrich their relationship with the local community, said Higgins.
The adoption of the school started with the Battalion Commander Col. David R. Leppelmeier, according to Bechtel. Wanting to help the community Leppelmeier contacted the school and offered the services of the battalion to help.
The Marines worked through cloudy skies and rain to spread mulch on the play ground, fill four sand boxes with sand and trim trees and shrubs as well as pick up trash to give the children a better environment, said Bechtel.
“I’ve got kids of my own and so I wanted to come out and help other kids,” said Sgt. Nathan Gregory, a field wireman, with the Base Telephone. “It gives me a good feeling to help.”
The clean up was also in preparation for the schools international night, which celebrates the different cultures of countries, said Higgins. It is also in preparation for the celebration of 100 years of Montessori Schools.
“This is an enormously huge undertaking for this school to celebrate Montessori,” said Stephanie Crabb, the president of the Parent Teacher Organization at the school. “The work that the Marines are doing for us makes this project a lot more achievable for us. It is a tremendous gift.”
The school plans on completely renovating the outdoor space under the guidelines of North Carolina State University Professor Robin Moore, who is a pioneer of outdoor learning, said Crabb. The entire project will cost $75,000 to $100,000 and the work that the Marines with the battalion are doing to help will cut down on the cost of the project.
The school is made up of 80 students 60 percent of which are children of active duty service members, said Crabb.
The Montessori learning environment is much different than the traditional model instead of information passing from the teacher to the student, the teacher is skilled in putting the child in touch with the environment, and helping him learn to make intelligent choices and to carry out research in a prepared environment, according to their website http://www.montessori.edu.