It has been a unique time for families and small businesses around the state facing the COVID-19 pandemic. One place is happy to have reopened its doors and welcome back children and families!
For three decades, Alpine Montessori has offered educational child care at both its Sparta & Oak Ridge locations. They have been an integral part of educating and caring for children in the surrounding communities for three decades. Boasting two Directors who have been there since ‘day one’, a long-tenured, caring staff with little turnover, and their own free standing buildings on private property, Alpine Montessori offers a unique childcare experience in what many of the families refer to as their ‘home away from home’.
Closed in mid-March amidst the pandemic, the staff worked tirelessly to stay connected to its Alpine families in a time of significant disruption, offering weekly curriculum and activities for the children while posting videos of morning sessions, reading books, and more. Owner Mark Aromando shared, “As the owner of Alpine – and father of three children in high-school, middle-school & elementary school – I know all too well that the ‘Learn-at-Home’ environment presents a great number of challenges for kids of all ages, particularly our preschoolers. There is only so much you can offer when not physically open, but, we just kept saying we wanted to be ‘present & positive’.” That mantra led the owners and staff to stay connected with consistent weekly communications from lesson plans to operational status updates in order to provide some clarity and comfort to Alpine families during such uncertain times.
Reopened at the end of June amidst a very difficult backdrop for a struggling industry, Alpine endeavored to move at what Mark calls “the speed of safety”, instituting both state mandated guidelines and leveraging years of experience for school-specific protocols. “Health & safety are paramount with education – from ABCs & 123s to social & emotional engagement – a very close second,” said Sparta Director Doreen Gorman. “The first couple of days back presented some expected transitional challenges for the children, but it’s just so wonderful to see them adjust quickly and get back to the business at hand – playing, learning, and growing together.”
With summer camp in full swing, Alpine continues to adjust to this ‘new normal’. Alpine Oak Ridge Director Melissa Dugan added, “Patience & flexibility are required in any successful early childhood education program. And, now with a new set of rules, it’s needed more than ever. Having a core group of teachers in place for over a decade and such a loving, caring support staff allows us to remain vigilant. You could say we were built for this moment.” And, as Alpine continues to offer weekly-themed camp sessions for the kids, it focuses on operational execution, adjusting to the moment, and getting ready for a busy Fall back-to-school season with all classrooms filled (along with a growing wait list) based on current state mandated capacity restrictions.
At its core, Alpine is community-driven, and focused on its dual role of educating and caring for children while providing parents with peace of mind. Adhering to the new protocols (i.e. small group sizes with no combining of space, staff assigned to specific classrooms, daily wellness checks, entryway drop-off and pick-up with hygiene stations) while highlighting what has always been ‘tried and true’ (i.e. handwashing to the ‘Happy Birthday’ song, intra and end of day cleaning and sanitation) is of the utmost importance and serves both purposes well. Recent industry disruption can present any number of unintended consequences and a disconcerting lack of clarity for many. As for what lies ahead, Alpine expects to remain a vital part of the community as it has for the last three decades. Owner Mark Aromando adds, “As a preschool, we just have to live the mantra now for our Alpine families and remain ‘present & positive’ for the whole community.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Alpine Montessori, visit www.alpinemontessori.com or call us at 973-935-3347 (Sparta) or 973-832-1582 (Oak Ridge). We’d love to meet your family and introduce you to ours here at Alpine Montessori. With two locations and shared programs, there is still an opportunity to find a slot or be placed on a wait list which will secure a slot automatically once the state mandated capacity restrictions are eased/lifted.