In what is thought to be a first in Australian education, middle school students from Southern Montessori School in South Australia will have their classrooms relocated to an aged care facility.
Noel Browne, Principal of Southern Montessori School, said the school has taken a 20-year lease on land that is part of Kalyra Woodcroft Aged Care, in Morphett Vale, SA.
The classrooms will be a permanent base for 35 students in Years 7, 8 and 9, with that number expected to rise to about 50 over the first 10 years.
Sara Blunt, CEO of Kalyra Communities, said the plan was approved on 10 May by the Onkaparinga Council.
“This is a terrific step forward,” she said. “Now that planning has been approved, the project is full steam ahead. We expect the new middle school will open in the first half of 2019. We have a formal lease and are developing protocols, policies and procedures to enable us to work together effectively.”
Research indicated that intergenerational life improves the well-being of older people, and is equally good for young people, Ms Blunt said.
“This partnership will give students a wonderful learning environment, and ample opportunity to engage with civic and community life. Our residents are very pleased to contribute to the life skills of the students and will benefit from life-long learning, and new technology.”
Sonia Bolzon, Chair of Kalyra Communities, said the project came about by chance, when a visitor to Kalyra Woodcroft Aged Care asked if it would be possible to consider a middle school in the redevelopment plans.
“Kalyra Communities has more than 125 years of service for people in need,” Ms Bolzon said. “Our passion is to enable people to enjoy and thrive in life, whatever their circumstances. These students needed a new home for learning and our residents embraced the concept, telling us it will bring life and joy into their home.”
Mr Browne said he was thrilled with the outcome.
“The development offers our students a rich learning environment as we nurture their unique talents and support their growth towards becoming independent, considerate, informed and active young people, who contribute to a better world.”
The classrooms would operate as usual, he said, with the addition that small groups of students would visit the aged care facilities at certain times to listen to the residents’ stories and learn from their experiences.
The students, who range in age from 12 through 15, would be involved in the facilities gardens, kitchen, cafeteria and even laundry, with guidance from the staff and residents.
Kalyra Woodcroft residents would sometimes be invited into the Southern Montessori School to engage in everyday learning, Mr Browne said.
“I can see some of our teachers planning art lessons and there are four spare chairs so we may invite some of the residents to join us,” he said.