Hilltop Montessori adding teaching kitchen, community area to school



MT LAUREL – Hilltop Montessori School, located in the Town of Mt Laurel, recently announced the design phase of a new addition that will house a community area and teaching kitchen.

Phase Three will begin construction in 2015 and be completed by 2016, according to a press release from the school. The community area and teaching kitchen will also be available as a venue for local businesses and residents of the North Shelby County area.

Hilltop Montessori, whose current student body of 200 students ranges from 18 months through eighth grade, was gifted the land in the town of Mt Laurel by EBSCO Industries over a decade ago.

“As an independent academic institution, we are so grateful to EBSCO Industries,” said Head of School Michele Wilensky. “Phase Three is our way of giving back to the Mt Laurel community. This new extension of the building will be a wonderful ‘after hours’ resource.”

The school’s environmental education curriculum integrates a heavy emphasis on nutrition, which is supplemented from the school’s expansive edible edible-gardening program and an on-site apiary. The new teaching kitchen will allow the school to serve lunches made from fresh, organic produce. Bill Segrest, of Williams Blackstock Architects and architect on the project, said he sees the community space as a resource for the school’s needs while also offering support for “seed-to-plate” nutrition education and an indoor multi-purpose space that can support myriad different activities for the community. ”

Hilltop Montessori’s conservation efforts have been recognized at the national and local level. The current building has been LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, and, in 2008, the Birmingham Business Journal named Hilltop Montessori School “Green Project of the Year.” The school’s edible garden program is a recipient of Whole Foods’ Whole Kids Foundation grant as well as other environmental grants through Legacy, Inc. and The American Montessori Society.

The school also has the support of local chefs, including Chris Hastings, of Hot and Hot Fish Club, who has cooked with the preschool children, and Chef Chris Harrigan, of Stone’s Throw in Mt Laurel, who hosts the school’s annual farm-to-table–themed fundraiser. The school’s gardening nutrition program is part of the Edible School Yard Project, under the direction of Alice Waters, a former Montessori teacher who was recently voted one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people. The outdoor classrooms are certified by the National Wildlife Federation.

Naming opportunities are available for elements of the Phase Three addition, including the community kitchen, gymnasium and apiary program. For more information, call 205-437-9343 or visit Hilltopmontessori.com.

About Hilltop Montessori School: Hilltop Montessori School, located in the Town of Mt Laurel, is an independent school serving students from 18 months through eighth grade. The school’s mission is to provide a high-quality Montessori education in an environment that fosters a child’s love of learning and a respect for self, other, community and the world. Hilltop Montessori School is accredited by The Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).