January 2017 Update
Wow, it is really odd to see “2017” at the top of my computer. 2017. The year that Bluestem Montessori Elementary School will open. We are opening our doors this year. I hope that this realization is as exciting and energizing to all of you as it is to me!
January is always a good time to get excited about what’s coming. But it’s also a chance to reflect on what has past; a chance to look back at all that we’ve accomplished over the last year. At the beginning of 2016, I was just starting to tell people beyond my immediate friends and family about this crazy dream. We had just set the timeline of when we wanted to open, done enough research to think that was feasible, and started on more research.
We have come so far.
We have jumped over a bunch of legal hurdles in our formation. We are incorporated as a nonprofit, have built a Board of Directors, written and approved bylaws, and applied for 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. I have read pages and pages of state rules to make sure that we are ready to hit the ground running from day 1 - all about homeschool regulations, private school regulations, and child care centers. (We will be operating technically as a homeschool at first, which requires us to also comply by the Department of Health and Human Services rules for Elementary Age Child Care Centers.) I have learned about levels of membership in and getting accredited by the American Montessori Society. (We will be working towards that accreditation, but a school must be open for at least 3 years before it can be accredited by AMS). I have learned about rules governing non-profits. When we open our doors, we will be running by the book.
We have built a dedicated team of volunteers and supporters. From our Board of Directors to those volunteers who show up at fundraisers and brainstorming sessions, or offer advice and support online, we have built a community of people who believe in Montessori education and who want to see more educational options available in Lincoln. Online, we have over 200 followers for our Facebook page and almost 150 Friends of Bluestem who are following our progress and supporting us how they can and when they can.
We have raised almost $3,000 through our fundraising efforts, and we have gathered in-kind donations to get us up and running - from cleaning supplies to construction paper to books and puzzles, the less we have to buy the better off we are. (P.S. if you are purging things in a fit of January organization, consider donating it to us - we will take donations for our June rummage sale as well as things we can use in our classrooms! We’ll even take your old ink cartridges off your hands to recycle for funds!)
We have assembled a team of experts who support us when we have questions - Montessori teachers, Montessori executive directors, school founders, community leaders, non-profit experts, and start-up experts have all been there with answers and guidance. As a start-up, we acknowledge that we are beginners. We are not afraid or ashamed to ask for guidance, and we are so grateful for the support friends in Lincoln and Omaha have offered us.
We have a location - the Unitarian Church at 60th and A has agreed to rent us space. We hope to finalize a contract with them this month.
And of course there has been tons and tons of behind the scenes research, process designing, brainstorming, refocusing, re-thinking and re-designing, website building, updating, learning, etc etc etc. I think it is fair to say that most of us on this crazy team eat drink and dream Bluestem. I know I do! It’s a good thing that we love learning about Montessori education.
Coming up? This January we will have big news about an addition to our team, we will get our enrollment forms up on the website, and we will start searching for substitute teachers and other part-time employees.
Stay tuned, friends. In one short year, we accomplished so much. 2017 is going to be amazing.
Until next time,