living Classroom

Academy one step closer to its new home

SUTTONS BAY – The Leelanau Montessori Public School Academy (LMPSA) is now one vital step closer to relocating to its new home in the former Suttons Bay Public Schools Middle School building.

Jan McAdams, a nationally recognized expert on funding green buildings, has been hired to spearhead LMPSA’s $5 million capital campaign for the adaptive re-use of 20,000 square feet of the now-vacant building.

“Jan has secured more than $125 million over the past 15 years to fund green buildings,” said LMPSA’s Head of School Lynne Irvine. “Her expertise and experience in green building fundraising is unparalleled.”

Irvine explained that LMPSA will devote the next year to fundraising in the hope of breaking ground on the new facilities in August 2012, with an August 2013 occupancy target to accommodate LMPSA’s growth in enrollment.

Montessori education has been available in Suttons Bay since 1984, and includes toddler, primary and elementary programs. In a previous Insider article (Jan 30, 2011), Irvine stated that LMPSA’s enrollment over the next 10 years is expected to increase from its current 80 students to more than 200, just from internal growth.

“We’re very excited about the project,” she said. “It’s the right project, in the right place, at the right time.”

McAdams recently conducted a one-day workshop at Black Star Farms for LMPSA board members, staff, parents, representatives from Michigan State University’s Master Gardener Program and Suttons Bay Public Schools Superintendent Mike Murray.

She outlined the LMPSA Capital Campaign plan and gave a detailed description of the ways in which the funds would be used.

According to McAdams’ proposal, LMPSA will raise $3.5 million for architectural drawings, engineering, the internationally recognized green building certification provided by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum permit process, construction and gardens.   The remaining $1.5 million will be used to establish a sustainable endowment for operations and to create a staff position for a Sustainability Coordinator who would serve as a liaison with community organizations, manage the greenhouse and “edible schoolyard,” and plan and coordinate community events and educational gatherings.

“My goal is to not only fund the ‘Living Classroom,’” said McAdams, “but to teach Leelanau Montessori and the Suttons Bay Public Schools how to write grants and fundraise for future visions.”

Community benefit

“Superintendent Murray and I both know how important this ‘Living Classroom’ project is to the entire community,” said Irvine. “To that end, Murray plans to investigate ways to share the many energy and water-saving technologies at the new LMPSA facilities, including its bio-filtration systems, geothermal and renewable energy resources.”

The entire project has been designed by Ecophy LLC’s architect Dave Hanawalt and LEED AP Jess Glowacki, of Suttons Bay, who have been recognized by the American Institute of Architects for their design work. The new facilities will minimize energy and water consumption through state-of-the-art design and technology.

These sustainable technologies, together with the new greenhouse and “edible gardens,” will provide a hands-on learning laboratory that will be integrated into the Montessori curriculum.

The Suttons Bay facility will be the first LEED-certified school building in northwest Michigan. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED recognizes building designs that meet very specific guidelines. Hanawalt and Glowacki have developed LEED design concepts that match Maria Montessori’s philosophy of education, and believe that this partnership could be a model for Montessori schools worldwide.

The Leelanau Montessori Public School Academy was licensed by the State of Michigan in 2010 as a tuition-free public charter elementary school and tuition-based preschool by the Suttons Bay Public Schools. LMPSA also offers after-school care. Limited enrollment is now open for preschool through grade six. An application can be downloaded on the LMPSA Website.

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