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Mrs. Ambreen working on a color lesson with toddler students

Featured Article

Children are the Future

Passionate Young Woman Takes Over Family Business with a Vision of Preserving Traditional Montessori Roots

Article by Roslyn Bond

Photography by Lesson Medrano

Originally published in Austin Lifestyle

Austin's first Montessori early education school has continued to inspire and educate children since 1965.

International Montessori House of Children (IMHoC) was founded in 1965 by Mrs. Iranganie Weerasuria, who was recruited by President Lyndon B. Johnson from Holland. Mrs. Weerasuria’s impressive resume included her diploma with the Association of Montessori Internationale (AMI), which was signed personally by Mario Montessori, son of Dr. Maria Montessori, as well as the President of AMI. 

Extensive teaching across the world made her the ideal directress to increase the standard of education, and shortly after the first location of International Montessori opened in Austin, the demand for Montessori education increased in the area. A second location was opened with the blessing of Lady Bird Johnson, who enrolled her own grandchildren, and later her great-grandchildren, into the awe-inspiring schools. Within a 15 year span, five more schools were opened in the Austin area.

Jennifer Weerasuria began working directly with her mother-in-law, Mrs. Iranganie, in 2014. During the years of their close partnership, Mrs. Iranganie guided Jennifer into management and shared her vision of the schools in preparation for Jennifer to take over the family business. 2019 marked the year when Jennifer took full ownership of the company and when Mrs. Iranganie stepped down. 

Montessori is a method of education named after founder and Italian physician Dr. Maria Montessori. She saw early education from a scientific level and believed that education should prepare a human for all phases of life. She carefully designed materials and methods that would promote a natural progression of learning within students. Dr. Montessori’s method has been time-tested, with more than 100 years of success in diverse cultures throughout the world.

The Montessori method is an approach that values the human spirit as well as physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. Each child is valued as a unique individual. Dr. Montessori realized children learn in different ways and accommodated all learning styles. Beginning at an early age, Montessori students develop structure, coordination, concentration and independence. Classroom design, materials and daily routines support the child’s ability to educate one’s self. Students are part of a close, caring community that mimics a family structure. Dr. Montessori believed that children learn best from other children, which is why Montessori classrooms are mixed-age environments. Older students enjoy stature as mentors and role models; younger children feel supported, gain confidence about the challenges ahead and are inspired by their older peers.

The Montessori name was never patented, so many preschools or childcare centers use the name, even though they may not have an authentic Montessori curriculum and materials or teaching staff educated in the Montessori method.

Jennifer is directly involved in the daily operations at both International Montessori campuses to ensure the Montessori method is still honored. She also gives the parents her personal cell phone number to make sure the gap between home and school is minimal.

“I encourage every parent to call or text if there are questions or concerns," Jennifer says. "If one of our students has a rough night or doesn’t eat breakfast in the morning, I want to know so we can make appropriate adjustments and decisions for that student during the day. My priority is that the children at IMHoC are happy, safe, and successful. I take that responsibility very seriously and am honored to have the opportunity to be part of a child’s early education experience.”

International Montessori enrolls children ages 18 months to 7 years old. Their curriculum includes a weekly Spanish class and a “mindfulness and meditation” period instructed by a certified teacher and yoga instructor.

Each campus has a beautiful outdoor environment where children are given ample amount of time for unrestricted play. Students build classroom gardens where they are responsible for the selection of plants and produce, germination, maintenance and harvest. The impressive eggplants grown by the young children will be harvested and tasted by students soon. The children excitedly point out their accomplishments and gently handle the vegetable on the vine.

The toddler environment accommodates students from 18 months to about 3 years old. Grace and courtesy are practiced, and early Montessori practical work is introduced. The toddler classroom provides a 3-year-old child the unique opportunity to experience a leadership role, which builds self-confidence and independence. Simultaneously, the younger members of the classroom emulate the behavior and classroom etiquette displayed by the older students.

The Montessori primary classrooms are for children ages 3 to 7 years old. The prepared environment takes approximately three years for a child to complete the entire curriculum, which is separated into six areas of focused studies. At any time during the uninterrupted work time, all areas of the classroom may be explored and studied by students. Students leave IMHoC well prepared for a traditional first-grade curriculum, reading at a first- or second-grade level, and proficient in advanced mathematics and geography.  

“One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child.”

—Dr. Montessori

When given the freedom and support to question, make connections and probe deeply, Montessori students become self-reliant, eager and confident learners. They are able to think analytically, work collaboratively and act confidently—a skill set for the 21st century.

Moving forward, Jennifer has aspirations to grow the company to offer and accommodate authentic Montessori programs for lower (first-third grade) and upper elementary (third-sixth grade).

The academic school year at IMHoC begins Sept. 3, 2019, and they are currently accepting applications for new students. Arrange a tour at one of the acclaimed campuses today by contacting the head of schools or emailing Jennifer directly at Jennifer@InternationalMontessori.net.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to set your child up for success with one of the most fundamental and proven early educational programs available.

Far West Location:
6420 Hart Lane
512.343.0071 

Arboretum Location:
11124 Jollyville Road
512.342.1033

IMHoC.com

  • Jennifer working with Niam on the hundred board
  • Isabella working on multiplication with bead board
  • Mrs. Ambreen working on a color lesson with toddler students