As the only Montessori school in Rhode Island accredited by both the Association of Independent Schools in New England and American Montessori Society, Quest Montessori School in Narragansett is used to being a trailblazer. And with its recent expansion, it shows no signs of slowing down.
“We have worked really hard, so it’s really gratifying,” says recently appointed Head of School Katherine Bowen, reflecting on the school’s recent accreditations and developments to come.
The Montessori system is a holistic approach to education that fosters the whole child: academically, physically, emotionally, socially, and creatively. In 2002, Quest was established by a group of passionate parents looking to bring the Montessori approach to southern Rhode Island. Today, the original families are very still much involved; in fact, Bowen is one of the founding members.
Last year, Quest broke ground on their new building, designed by local contractor South County Post & Beam. The multi-purpose addition is accompanied by a greenhouse and garden beds, which together implement the school’s new agricultural learning program geared towards middle schoolers.
“It’s such a critical time of growth,” explains Bowen, detailing the alternative approach Quest takes to educate and motivate that age group. Their method focuses on more movement and hands-on work, which inspired the agricultural program to let kids engage with the land.
In light of these developments, Director of Advancement Susannah Blair shares, “We were eager to share the new space, so a community partnership made sense.” That partnership came in the form of another first, not only for the school, but for the town: the establishment of the first winter farmers market in Narragansett. The market, hosted by Coastal Growers, will also act as an extension of the middle school’s micro-business program, which encourages students to create and execute their own business plan; they’ll get the chance to work at the market and tend to the gardens and greenhouse.
“Quest’s commitment to the study and preservation of local agriculture aligns itself nicely with Coastal Growers’ commitment to provide RI grown and harvested fresh produce, along with high quality, locally produced food and textile products,” says Coastal Growers Market Manager Katherine Fotiades. “[We] feel that by working together, we can support, grow, and strengthen our local food system.”
Blair is happy to say that the local community, by which the school is massively supported, is excited for the start of the market and Quest’s expansion. She gushes, “People are really, really jazzed about it.” The market will run November 3-May 4 on Saturdays from 9am-12pm.