Stability at Fountainhead in Orinda
We, the parents of children attending Fountainhead in Orinda (“Families”), call on the leadership of Fountainhead Montessori School (“FMS”) to address the growing concerns arising out of various unforeseen and unexpected events in the past six months. These events include, but are not limited to, the alarmingly high turnover rate of teachers and directors; sometimes unsanitary conditions and sometimes unsafe conditions. These past six months have created confusion and instability- issues that should be addressed collectively.
The Families acknowledge that turnover in any business is a natural occurrence. That being said, in the past six months, the students of FMS have been subject to four different directors including an individual known to have been investigated by the State of California’s Community Care Licensing Division for hiring unscreened employees in her previous business. In addition, numerous teachers who are cherished by the Families have left abruptly and without proper explanation. The Families are left wondering whether the explanations given are in fact the true reason for the employees departures.
The most critical aspects of any preschool should be (1) safety of students and staff and (2) ensuring quality of learning. Both safety and quality of learning depend on and cannot exist without continuity of staff, proper screening measures and ongoing communications with the Families. When there is a high turnover rate of staff and directors, there is an overall unfamiliarity with the needs of students and Families. When there is a high turnover rate of staff and directors, more time is spent on training and acclimating as opposed to student development.
Maintaining some level of continuity of staff depends on and is directly tied to treating the staff with respect, dignity and providing competitive wages. By failing to provide these measures to staff and director, both safety of students and staff is at risk and we cannot ensure quality of learning of students.
Proper wages are critical in education, as well as any industry, as it (1) attracts new staff who is competent and qualified and (2) allows existing staff to continue with the school. The goal of any school should be to take proper measures to keep existing staff from leaving the school. The impact of teachers are far reaching and the recent departure of many teachers who create the fabric of the school has been devastating on the children.
The importance of teacher-child relationships is cited in the below study:
Preschool care and early education has become increasingly specialized, as working parents have less and less time to serve as primary caregivers and educators for their children. With this temporal change in the modal forms of early childcare and education, research concerning teacher–child relationships has become a central topic in the developmental and education sciences. Research has highlighted the importance of teacher-student relationship quality in all school age groups (Cyr and van IJzendoorn, 2007; Sabol and Pianta, 2012). In fact, the quality of this relationship, has been identified as a critical support for academic success (Martin et al., 2007), school adaptation (Baker et al., 2008), good classroom management (Riley, 2011), and better peer relationships (Verschueren et al., 2012).
We ask for a meeting with the Families to provide assurance that the issues raised in this petition are addressed.