This is a review for the fantastic Ms. Emmy Zappa and Ms. Katelyn Hattery of LePort Montessori. When we moved to Long Beach from the east coast a couple years ago, we toured at least ten day care centers before checking out LePort, in part because it seemed like too far a commute.
We were blown away the moment we took a peek inside Ms. Zappa's infant classroom and knew this was the right place for our 9-month-old son. Ms. Zappa's room is at once expansive and cozy, with Montessori furniture and play structures in high-quality natural wood, warm lighting and quiet corners for infants to explore puzzles and textures. The napping area has cozy floor beds, soft white noise and fairy lights overhead. Parents often joke that our babies' best sleep occurs in Ms. Zappa's classroom, because children are stimulated with constant learning, and can then snuggle up to sleep in an incredibly serene atmosphere. We signed our son up right away, and then began to see that LePort's value for our children goes far beyond the delightful classroom we first encountered.
LePort's value is rooted in the incredible teachers (or "guides") who create an atmosphere of calm, order and joy and then carefully nurture our children's increasing independence and journey toward self-discovery. Ms. Zappa and the teachers who work with her in B8 (the wonderful Ms. Waters, Ms. Fells, Ms. Briseno and Ms. Barrios) express their deep care and respect for each child not only in their loving hugs and gentle touch, but also in their patience and determination to allow the children to learn and grow as independent and self-sufficient little humans.
I have watched as they take the time--admittedly painstaking amounts of time for families rushing through their days at home--to do any number of daily tasks that help the world and themselves. Just by way of example, I have observed children delight in being guided to throw away a piece of trash in the correct bin, water a flower on the patio, fetch a blanket for nap time, hold a bicycle handle properly so as not to fall, put on shoes, watch rainwater collecting in a pool and so much more. Every daily activity is an opportunity to learn about the world around them, and so every moment spent on such activities is time well spent.
Ms. Zappa further demonstrates her passion for this profession by dedicating herself to the oft-overlooked details. She and the teachers of B8 send home detailed notes about each child's day and check in with caregivers before and after school to discuss any new developments. They also take sincere joy in each child's unique personality and are genuinely thrilled at each new milestone. Before our second son was born, we made sure he was on the waitlist for Ms. Zappa's class, and now we have the pleasure of watching him embark on the same journey of growth and discovery that his brother experienced.
Since "graduating" from the infant program at around two years old, our older son has been thriving under the expert care and guidance of Ms. Katelyn Hattery and Ms. Daniela Hoyle. Ms. Hattery's toddler classroom is tucked away behind a quaint red gate, across a patio filled with flowers and vegetables tended by the teachers and students. The very walk to her classroom feels like a storybook adventure for a small child, and my son enjoys pointing out all the lovely features in Ms. Hattery's garden.
Inside, the classroom feels calm and orderly, even when buzzing with toddler activity. There is a large table for the whole class to eat snack and lunch together, a cozy story corner, stations for life skills activities and shelves lined with "work" for the students to do independently. It's always a delight to peek in while the children are working on tasks that we typically assume toddler's aren't capable of, whether it be washing everyone's dishes after lunch, washing the mirrors or helping with laundry. And the students *love* the sense of well-being and independence they gain by taking part in these activities.
Ms. Hattery is one of those people whose serenity and focus is captivating, especially for the little ones in her care. She speaks in a kind, calm voice and carefully intervenes at every turn to help the students understand how their actions may affect others. Listening to Ms. Hattery is a lesson in patience and child psychology, and I can honestly say that I've greatly benefited from watching and emulating her style and approach. A classroom full of toddlers who are extremely well-behaved, well-adjusted and delighted to spend time together is all the proof I need that Ms. Hattery's system works!
We knew nothing about the Montessori method before coming to LePort, and thanks to the wonderful example provided by teachers like Ms. Zappa and Ms. Hattery, we are now dedicated to aligning our home environment with the atmosphere and learning opportunities our children experience at school. I can't recommend these teachers highly enough.