Penta Montessori School opens new location in Wayne

| 02 Aug 2012 | 12:25

WEST MILFORD — Two years ago, Anna Penta and her family brought the Penta School, a Montessori form of education, to West Milford. Now, after two years here in West Milford, Penta is expanding her school to an additional location in Wayne.

When she first opened the West Milford location in September of 2010, Penta admits people didn't understand the Montessori way of doing things.

"Parents reluctantly gave it a shot," said Penta, who has been a fan of the child-directed way to educate for more than a quarter century. "The kids took pride in their work. I stepped into their environment and now they embrace it."

Penta took over what was originally a day care center primarily for infants and toddlers. She implemented more of a learning environment and started taking older children.

"It was a bit of a struggle in the beginning," said Penta. "But then their behavior and concentration improved. Now, I have parents coming to me because I'm a Montessori school."

And now Penta is expanding. She will open her new location at 970 Black Oak Ridge Road in Wayne this September. She is hosting an open house this Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the new location. So for those West Milford residents who maybe travel to work and would rather bring their children to the Wayne location, here's your opportunity to see what it's all about.

Her history Penta got involved in the Montessori method of teaching quite by accident. Her husband, who grew up in Chile, admired the Montessori method of teaching. When their then three-year-old son was able to go to a local Montessori school, her husband was all for it. Penta had difficulty leaving her son so when she dropped him off, she just sat outside. The teachers saw that she wasn't leaving and invited her in to help. They offered her a job and she took it. In two weeks, she was hooked. That was nearly 26 years ago. She opened her own school a decade ago in Totowa, and moved it to West Milford in 2010.

Montessori is child directed, instead of teacher directed, Penta said. Her classrooms are orderly, with no chaos or raised voices. The classroom is divided into sections: practical life section, sensory area and world culture. Kids move at their pace, working independently but also with each other.

Each month Penta has a special event planned for her students, for example, a visit from the fire department or a chef to come in and show them how to turn those just-picked apples into good treats. A Karate instructor and music teacher come in and teach on a regular basis, and the children go on field trips.

Most of Penta's clients are preschoolers, but she also takes infants from six weeks old, is a licensed kindergarten and also takes kids up to 13 years old in her after school program. The district busses children from Westbrook and Maple road to her school for aftercare.

But the focal point of Penta's school is indeed the academics.

"We are the best," said Penta. "The Penta School is the best West Milford has to offer."

Penta is hosting an open house at her new Wayne location on Saturday, Aug. 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The following week, the open house is at her West Milford location, 1441 Union Valley Road, on Saturday, Aug. 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Stop by and chat with her. She'll be happy to explain why Montessori is the way to go with your children.