One Montessori school closes, another opens
The Twelve Oaks Montessori School in Oxford closed its doors
in May after 10 years, but parents who want their children
to have a Montessori education need not despair: a new
school will soon open.
After hearing of the closing of the Montessori school in
Oxford, Karyn Jankowski knew she had to do something to
rectify the situation. She decided to open her own
Montessori school in the Plein Air neighborhood in Taylor.
“I saw an immediate need and opportunity,” Jankowski said.
“Also, I wanted my youngest child to have the same quality
Montessori education that my oldest had, and my options were
“I have always thought that Taylor was an ideal spot for a
Montessori school because of the peaceful, country setting
and the small, close-knit community. Since my decision to
open the school, I have found it to be a very supportive and
caring one as well.”
After graduating from the University of Mississippi in 1999
with her bachelor’s in business administration, Jankowski
lived in Memphis where she worked in pre-schools and
discovered the Montessori method.
The Montessori method began as a philosophy that focuses on
getting children to reach their highest potential, through
emphasizing social interaction and focusing on the
personality of the children rather than just teaching a
The Montessori method of education is a model which serves
the needs of children of all levels of mental and physical
ability as they live and learn in a natural, mixed-age group
which is very much like the society they will live in as
adults, according to the Montessori Web site.
In 2004, Jankowski went to Denver to study at the Montessori
Institute and received a diploma from the Association
Montessori International. During this time she opened the
Assistants to Infancy program at the Maria Montessori School
in Memphis while she attended Loyola College and received
her master’s in early childhood education in 2007.
After moving to Oxford with her husband, Jankowski wanted to
remain involved with the Montessori method. Upon hearing
that the Oxford school was closing in May, Jankowski decided
to step forward and open a new school.
Jankowski said the Plein Air Montessori School will offer a
holistic approach to education with a unique curriculum.
“It will be a place of peace and mutual respect where
children will learn from a variety of sources to grow
academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually in a
safe, loving environment,” Jankowski said.
Lessons are designed to provide structure and support for
the children, building concentration and focus while
encouraging self-direction and independence through
self-correcting materials, Jankowski said.
The curriculum includes lessons in grace and courtesy,
practical life, language, creative arts, math, geography and
This year the school will accept 2- to 4-year-olds and will
continue to grow with the needs of the children in coming
Montessori supporter Leighton McCool said she was sad when
the Oxford school closed, but she is looking forward to
supporting the new school. Her husband, Campbell, is the
local developer for Plein Air.
“This was truly such a huge loss for Oxford,” McCool said of
the Twelve Oaks school.
“The kids that they fed into the public school system were
the top of their class,” she said. “All three of my boys
went to the Montessori system here in Oxford, and the
foundation that the school gave them for reading put them
well above their peers.”
An informational meeting for the Plein Air Montessori School
will be held Thursday at 6 p.m. at the new school at 100
Towne Square Lane in Plein Air. Applications will also be
available at the meeting and will be reviewed for acceptance
on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Only five children will be part of the first-year’s class.
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