Monarch Montessori is tucked away between UBC and Kitsilano and surrounded by the true elements of what we know as Beautiful British Columbia. The Founder and Principal, Grace Chou has been a long standing supporter and customer of Natural Pod since October 2014. I remember her first order very clearly because I did my first install of our furniture at this very site.
At the beginning of January 2021 as Grace and I stood, socially distanced, wearing masks, we watched the children in her program interact with each other and the Montessori Guides. One group was doing yoga in one corner of the room. Another group was finishing up a different activity. Lying nearby on the floor was an orange rope, interlaced with yellow loops.
My colleague and Operations Warehouse Manager Andrew was on site delivering a new table and bench set. Curious eyes watched on as he installed the pieces and adjusted the table height of one of their existing tables. Andrew departed to deliver to another customer and as I sat with Grace in her office, the children all put on their boots and coats and picked up the orange rope. Each of the children took a yellow loop in their hands, the Educators opened the front door, and off they went… it was ‘Outside Time’!
With the soft hum of noise ‘outside’ Grace and I learned a bit more about each other. While walking by a church one day, Grace observed the current program in session, a program for Seniors. She approached the woman leading the Seniors class and asked if she would be interested in letting Grace rent the space to run a Montessori school. Maria, the group leader (with the same name as Maria Montessori) had no hesitation in saying yes. It was like the planets were aligning. Almost seven years later, Ms Grace leads a team of like minded Educators to foster social and emotional development by teaching children grace and courtesy, conflict resolution and communication skills, and she has a clear view on the role of education and its environment:
“I believe education does not happen in the school but in the society we live. With a calm mind and peaceful environment, the children here are invited to acquire skills and learn lessons that will assist them in becoming social members in our society.”
From the beginning Ms Chou was both certain and particular about her needs. Beautiful furniture, sustainable, locally made, functional and versatile. For many years, she has had to roll the furniture away at the end of every week to make room for other programs that come in to use the space when the Montessori School is not in session. A positive outcome of Covid has meant that the other programs are not running and she can leave her furniture in place on a Friday afternoon.
Her newest addition of the square table and bench seating she told me, is for the children to sit together, collaborate and share their stories with each other. With a full registration and a waitlist, I can tell that Monarch Montessori is a desired educational institution for many families in the area.
Being able to spend precious moments seeing our furniture being appreciated was a true delight and heartwarming, especially given this current environment. To learn more about our customers, see the inspiring work they do, and the care they take in educating our generations of the future is a privilege.
Thank you for your kindness and warmth, Grace and Team. Until the next time.
The photo below shows from left to right: Ms Paige, Principal Ms Grace Chou, Andrew from Natural Pod, and Ms Aline.