In 1988, two dedicated Montessori teachers, Joan Walder and June O’Farrell, realized their dream of owning their own school with the purchase of York Montessori School, 2 Bellefair Avenue, housed in Bellefair United Church in the Beach. They chose the name, Kew Park Montessori School, and quickly established an unequalled reputation in the neighbourhood for their pre-school program. In 1989, Jo-Anne Sexton joined the teaching team. In 1993, June returned to Ireland and Joan became the sole owner of Kew Park Montessori. Jo-Anne Sexton became an integral part of the school, becoming the School Co-ordinator while devoting to her teaching duties. Under their leadership, the school’s reputation for excellence remained constant, providing a Montessori education and community solidified.
Joan’s belief in the Montessori approach to child development and learning led to her conviction that a Montessori education should not end in the pre-school years. Many of the parents agreed with her. With their support and loyalty, Joan joined with one of her teachers, Carole Cristiano, to establish a Montessori elementary program. As co-principals, they opened the doors of Kew Park Montessori Day School at 79 Hiawatha Road to 17 students from Grades One to Three in September of 2000. Today, it is home to over 90 students with a pre-school program and an elementary program through to Grade Six.
One of the overall goals of Kew Park Montessori Schools was to establish a program that met the standards for accreditation with the Canadian Council of Montessori Administrators. With their determination and with the dedication of their staff, accreditation was awarded to Kew Park Montessori Schools in 2004, an outstanding achievement for Joan and Carole and their proud legacy to the schools.
As with all institutions, growth came with many changes and challenges. Today, Kew Park Montessori Day School has new owners and co-principals: Tarynn Parry and Tacha Pearce-Miller. Carole Cristiano remains at The Day School in an advisory position. Joan chose to devote her attention to the original campus and to further her university studies and research in Literacy and Language Acquisition in the early stages of child development. Jo-Anne Sexton continued to be an essential part of Kew Park Montessori School on Bellefair.
A new location was necessary for Kew Park Montessori School, Bellefair, due to the sale of the church, which housed the school. With a new address, it seemed the appropriate time for a new name and Boardwalk Montessori was chosen for the new school on Waverley Road. Boardwalk Montessori School opened its doors in its brand new location on Waverley Road in December 2010 with Joan Walder as the sole owner and principal of the school. In the Fall of 2014, Joan decided to retire from Principal and owner of Boardwalk Montessori School and pursue her research in Literacy and Language Acquisition in the early stages of child development. At that time, Jo-Anne Sexton became the sole owner and principal and continues to be to this day.
Boardwalk Montessori School offers both Half & Full-Day Casa Programs and a morning and afternoon Pre-Casa Program. Jo-Anne remains extremely proud of her history throughout her years with Joan and Kew Park Montessori School. Jo-Anne is committed to the goals of a Montessori education as principal of Boardwalk Montessori School.