Placing your child into the care of someone else, in an environment other than your home, is an act of enormous importance that hinges entirely upon trust. You have to trust the people caring for your child, trust that the setting is safe, trust that your child will be nurtured and inspired. So, what does a parent do if they can’t find a place they trust? In Barbara Langford’s case, the answer was to create one herself.
Back in 1989 Barbara was a young mother with a two-year-old daughter. She simply couldn’t find a preschool setting that reflected her family values and offered the level of education and care that she felt her daughter – like all children – truly deserved. Barbara had already started investigating the Montessori method of education after coming across a book that described an approach to teaching that she felt aligned with her parenting philosophy. Barbara, previously a Dental Hygienist, completed a training course in Montessori Education and then “with stardust in her eyes” and a great deal of support from her husband Stephen, she began the journey to establish Jescott Montessori Pre-school.
“There were many unexpected challenges along the way. In hindsight, I’m glad I wasn’t armed with all of the knowledge up front, or I might never have been brave enough to complete this journey. I just followed my instincts and learned an incredible amount each time I had to overcome an obstacle put in front of me.”
Jescott Montessori opened with 8 children attending, including Barbara’s daughter Jessica. Twenty years later, Jessica joined her Mum as a colleague and business partner having completed her Bachelor of Education in Early Childhood, a Montessori Diploma and a Diploma in Positive Psychology.
“I am incredibly privileged to share my passion and love for children with my daughter Jessica. Our vision and values align, but we have our own perspectives on the finer details and we challenge each other to grow beyond what we would each achieve alone. There are moments when the ‘Mother’ in me wants things done my way but we negotiate with respectful love and work to find creative solutions that are enriched by that collaborative process. She is an incredible young woman and an exceptional educator and recently she gave me the gift of my first grandson, Robin.”
The success of Jescott Montessori planted the seed that grew over three decades to become the flourishing family tree of seven early learning centres that make up SA Montessori today. Each of the SA Montessori centres retains the core value of respect and belief in children’s innate abilities. All of the centres offer high quality care and education and this has been recognised with the awarding of the “Excellent rating” four times by ACECQA, the national body that oversees over 15,000 early childhood services in Australia. There are only 48 centres Australia wide to have been awarded this accolade since 2012.
There was never a ‘business plan’ to expand beyond Jescott Montessori, but demand from families encouraged Barbara to be open to other opportunities to extend the wonderful Montessori experience to other children.
“Serendipity has played a big part in the expansion of our centres. Opportunity has come our way many times when we weren’t actively looking for it. We were approached to establish centres at Westminster School, Loreto College, Walford School for Girls, St Spyridon College and St. Aloysius College. What higher endorsement could we have gained than to be trusted to run the ELC’s for these prestigious schools.”
Along the way, Barbara Nache, Adriana Francescangeli, and Pam Francescangeli joined Barbara and Jessica as co- partners in the establishment of some of the SA Montessori centres. Together these ladies have formed an exceptional friendship that keeps the spirit of family alive as a reminder of the true beginnings of SA Montessori, when a young parent simply wanted to trust that her child would be cared for and inspired the way she deserved.
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