In Montgomery, nestled behind the Wallkill River School of Art, resides an early education experience you do not want your child to miss. At the head of this gem is Claire Pahucki, affectionately known as Ms. Claire.
Claire Noorlander Pahucki is the owner of Ms. Claire’s. She began her career at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford in vocal performance. From there she obtained her Montessori certification through the Center for Montessori Teacher Education at the College of New Rochelle. “After several years of teaching I knew I wanted to return to my love of music and opened Ms. Claire’s Music Cupboard,” she shares. For more than five years she has been providing music for children from birth to age seven with the Kindermusik program as well as birthday parties with multiple themes to choose from and private music lessons. “I especially enjoy the programs we have for families with disabilities to enjoy music and movement,” she adds.
In the summer of 2012 Pahucki decided to start a small, part-time Montessori based pre-school program. The first year of the program consisted of just 3 half-day sessions with approximately eight students in attendance. The following spring when art and music were cut from the elementary schools and kindergarten was reduced to half day in the Valley Central School District, Pahucki knew the community was upset and looking for programs to supplement their children's education.
While she already had long-term goals of expanding the pre-school program that she was running, these unexpected circumstances led her to rethink her time frame and ultimately begin the process of opening a private school providing pre-K through 1st grade. Thus, Ms. Claire's Montessori was born and officially opened as a New York State certified school in September of 2013.
Many families in the Valley Central School District made the decision to send their children to their local elementary school for kindergarten for half the day and then to Ms. Claire's for the other half of the day. Her staff worked closely with the Valley Central teachers to reinforce what the children were learning and make the transitions smooth and easy for the children. “We were glad to be able to offer these children more learning time in their day and also benefit from music and art classes while attending our school,” Pahucki shares.
Fortunately, the following spring the budget passed and full day kindergarten, art and music were restored. During this time, Pahucki also was working with the district to become one of their Universal Pre-K providers which was granted by New York State that summer. This made Ms. Claire's a full day UPK provider beginning with the 2014/2015 school year.
As Ms. Claire's Montessori has grown, the staff has consistently provided an exceptional learning environment that nurtures and fosters a love of learning. The staff at Ms. Claire's believes strongly in the Montessori method and has over 30 years combined Montessori teaching experience. The program is unique because it is comprised of both Montessori and New York State certified teachers. This allows them to provide their students with a complete and comprehensive education experience and prepare them for their future.
As the school continues to grow, the staff strive to maintain a community presence. From hosting blood drives a couple of times a year to organizing fundraisers for local families in need, you often can find Ms. Claire's lending a hand. They have developed a community-minded program to impart to the students the importance of helping others called Meaningful Missions. “One of the most important things we can teach children is to be more concerned about others besides ourselves,” says Pahucki. In addition to helping out in the community, Ms. Claire's believes in utilizing local business and helping to support other local small business owners. All of this, added to an amazing staff and wonderful students, creates a one of a kind environment.
Ms. Claire’s Montessori is located at 8 Factory St. in Montgomery. For more information, visit MsClaires.com or call 522-9652.