“During the difficult time of adolescence it is helpful to leave the accustomed environment of the family in the town and go to quiet surroundings in the country, close to nature. Here, an open-air life, individual care, and a non-toxic diet, must be the first considerations in organizing a ‘centre for study and work.” ~Maria Montessori
Belle Meade Montessori School also offers a five-day boarding program that provides a communal living experience and fosters the development of practical life skills, personal independence, and community responsibility. Through this residential experience, students have an opportunity to explore and refine their sense of self. Our family homes provide a safe environment for students to grow, mature, and explore who they are both as individuals and as members of society under the guidance of caring house parents. These become second homes for the students during the week while they return to their families on weekends. They get the best of both worlds.
*Five-day boarding is available starting the 2018-2019 school year. There are separate residential homes for male and female students with house parents.
Tuition and boarding fees for students boarding is $33,000.
Jay and Karen Allen are the house parents for the boy’s residence.
Jay received his social work MA at the University of Chicago and started his social work career as a child and adolescent therapist at the University of Chicago Hospitals. He continued to work in child and adult mental health for about 25 years, until in 1997, when he had been so impressed with the Montessori method he observed in his daughters’ school that he decided to become a Montessori teacher. He received his AMI certificate in Milwaukee from Allyn Travis in 1998, and worked at Lake Forest Montessori and Alcuin Montessori in Illinois for a total of eight years, then returned to social work. Prior to becoming a house parent for the Boys’ Residence, Jay spent 5+ years on the emergency services team for the Rappahannock Rapidan CSB, assessing people in crisis to determine whether hospitalization was indicated.
Karen also has a social work MA from the University of Chicago and an MPH from Johns Hopkins. She has decades of experience running domestic social service programs in Chicago and Northern Virginia for adult and child mental health, Head Start, afterschool services, domestic violence and early childhood. For the past two years, she has worked for the US Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, which includes some international travel.
Jay and Karen have seven children, three of them birth daughters and four of them foster sons, who came to them as teens.
Anne Simon serves as Residence Mentor for the girls’ residence, coming to the school with over 40 years ofexperience teaching and leading private schools in both California and Virginia. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University Teachers College and has held credentials both at the K-12 level and at the Community College level. She is a Board Certified Coach with the Institute of Life Coach Training and a member of the International Coaching Federation. She is also the co-author of a successful book on private school admissions navigation. Personally, Anne has been a parent in just about every way possible. She is a parent, both biological and adoptive, a stepparent, a grandparent, great grandparent, and since moving from California to Virginia in 1996, she and her husband Lee have served as therapeutic foster parents to 20 children, mostly teens. They now own and live in the cottage on the farm where the Belle Meade girls reside in the original farmhouse.
Caitlin and Taylor Leotta are the house parents for the girl’s residence. Caitlin and Taylor were introduced to Montessori education four years ago when they moved into the farm house where the adolescent program for Mountain Laurel Montessori School was located. From 2014 through 2017, as residents of the farm school, Caitlin and Taylor interacted with the students informally each day. They also played a formal role, working with them on the farm, participating in field trips, and supervising overnights. When the adolescent students spent the night at school (overnights), they cooked meals, played games, worked on homework, and completed household chores. Taylor is a manager and waits tables at a local restaurant. He enjoys music, hiking, and playing golf. Caitlin loves the outdoors as well as hiking and cooking. Caitlin and Taylor are expecting their first child in February! Having a baby as part of the residential program will add a tremendous learning experience for adolescent girls.