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Sugar House Journal

Westminster College sells Garfield Elementary

Dec 06, 2016 15h52 ● By Natalie Mollinet

The halls that once stood empty at Garfield will once again hear the sound of children’s voices. (Natalie Mollinet/The City Journals)

By Natalie Mollinet | [email protected]

The old Garfield Elementary School at 1500 East and 1838 South has been the property of Westminster College since 2011, but just last month Westminster sold the property to Elizabeth Academy, which plans to develop the space into a Montessori-inspired laboratory. Both schools are gaining a win from the sale and both school’s leaderships are excited about the purchase for different reasons. 

“We are very excited to work with Elizabeth Academy on the purchase of the Garfield property,” Westminster President Stephen Morgan wrote in a press release. “We have always wanted to be very thoughtful and deliberate with the use of Garfield, and after many studies and proposals, we have determined that building would best be utilized by Elizabeth Academy.” 

Elizabeth Academy is a non-profit Montessori school that works with students who need special attention. The school opened its doors in 2009 and is located on Connor Street in Millcreek. They now have 200 students and educate students from 18 months to 14 years old. 

“The Montessori method of education nurtures children’s natural curiosity and helps students to develop a lifelong love of learning,” Jennifer Spikner, the Head of Elizabeth Academy said in a press release. “Through their work with hands-on materials, students develop, independence, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as a strong worth ethic – all skills that will help them be successful throughout their lives.” 

The old Garfield school is no stranger to being occupied by students, having been an operational school from 1912 to 1970. 

The school will keep the name Garfield and will have the name The Garfield Lab School. The lab will not only help young students in Montessori-inspired program but will offer training and certification to teachers as well. 

“I believe this is the future of education,” Gail Williamsen, Elizabeth Academy’s executive director and co-founder wrote in a press release. “We would love to see the Montessori method of education become more prevalent in both public and charter schools throughout the country.” 

This isn’t the first time that Westminster and Elizabeth Academy has helped each other out, in fact Elizabeth Academy has helped out Westminster students in learning how to work with students who are interested in special education. The college has trained more than 100 Montessori teachers and administrators around the country, and is one of the few that that allows students to earn their undergrad degrees as well as get their Montessori certificate. 

“Through our Montessori Institute, Westminster College has been collaborating with Elizabeth Academy for more than five years,” Morgan said. “The partnerships has been successful in the training of Montessori teachers, and has provided our devoted faculty with opportunities to work with students exploring special education and early childhood programs.” 

“This new venture will help us create a space for this kind of teaching and learning,” Williamsen said about Montessori teaching at Garfield Elementary. “We look forward to working with Westminster on the future educational endeavors at the new school.”