Caroline Caldwell imagined a school for her daughter where the focus was kindness rather than performance. “I just felt like I wanted something very specific for her,” she says.
Caldwell, along with Anna Ferguson, Brett Hornberger, Nayana Shah and Mark Stroud, founded Heärt Montessori, a school that will prioritize empathy and compassion, intertwined with core academics.
“It’s not that other schools don’t teach empathy and compassion but we wanted it to be the focus,” Caldwell says.
Heärt will educate children in a typical Montessori style, with an emphasis on developing higher self-esteem and high self-acceptance through yoga, meditation, mindfulness, art and music. Caldwell says it’s important for children to learn tools to be kinder human beings.
“The main impetus is for students to manifest the most exquisite version of themselves,” says Caldwell. “Now more than ever with kids being bullied and kids having low self-esteem, integrating practices like yoga, mindfulness and meditation helps kids deal with stress and pressure in a healthy way rather than taking it out on others.”
Heärt plans to start its inaugural pre-school/kindergarten learning group in Jan. 2018. Meanwhile, the school building, located at 268 Ludlow Ave., is undergoing renovations that reflect its philosophy of living in harmony with the earth.
“Sustainability is important,” Caldwell says. The renovations use sustainable, green materials whenever possible, like painting the interior walls with clay-based paint.
Green living and sustainability will permeate many aspects of the school’s programs and curriculum. After spending the first two hours of the morning on typical Montessori work, children will have extended “outside time.” Students can expect to learn using natural materials, exploring Burnet Woods and learning to tend the school’s garden.
“I get so excited for that opportunity for my daughter,” Caldwell says.
Heärt will provide healthy, organic, plant-based lunches and snacks for its students using the produce from the school's garden. Mark Stroud, one of the founders, is an acclaimed vegan chef who will prepare the nutritious meals.
“Optimally, we’ll be cooking food that we grow in season,” says Caldwell. “We’ll have healthy, plant-based meals that are organic and amazing.”
In the afternoons, students might take a nap, have one-on-one time with their teacher or take time for yoga, art, music or meditation.
Heärt is a private school and parents can enroll their children online via its website. Caldwell encouraged interested parents to attend an open house to learn more.