The Soldotna Montessori Charter School was recognized as a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Soldotna school was one of 325 nationally and the only one in the state of Alaska recognized. The government recognizes schools for either outstanding academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps. The elementary school was nominated in the exemplary high performing schools category.
John DeVolld, the principal of Montessori Charter, said it’s nice to know that organizations outside of school can recognize it as a standout.
“I think it’s quite amazing,” he said Tuesday.
DeVolld just started his fifth year as principal of the school, but taught at Montessori Charter for 10 years, he said.
What makes the school unique, DeVolld said, is that the curriculum allows for each student to learn in the way that best suits them.
“The value that we have is that we’re reaching out to each individual student,” he said. “I think that just helps the students academically excel.”
The last two school years have been difficult for schools in the Kenai Peninsula Borough as officials have had to adjust because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and DeVolld said Montessori Charter was no exception.
“We struggled to make sure we were meeting the needs of students,” he said.
But even as the pandemic constantly forced schools to adapt, DeVolld said the school’s spirit of unity has helped everyone through.
“We went through it as a school family,” he said.
DeVolld said the school takes pride in a family-centric atmosphere, which he said has allowed Montessori Charter to be successful.
“I’m so impressed with our students and our staff. They just work hard every day.” he said. “I feel like we’re a Blue Ribbon School every year.”