The First Montessori School of Atlanta community cut ribbons at the door of the school’s new media center Sept. 11 in a ceremony celebrating the opening of two buildings on the Sandy Springs campus.

Construction on the 2,182-square-foot media center building and the 11,382-square-foot elementary classroom building started in 2007 and was completed in August.

The buildings were constructed with concern for the environment and include geothermal heating and cooling, foundations for rainwater harvesting, reflective roof systems, solar shading screens, nontoxic paints and floor finishes, and recycled-content floor tiles.

Lisa Stacholy, an architect whose three children attend the school, volunteered her time to help bring the buildings into existence. She cut a ribbon at the ceremony.

The buildings are designed to support the Montessori philosophy, she said. According to the school’s Web site (, Montessori teachers act as guides to students and encourage “individualized pace and freedom of choice balanced with responsibility.” They allow children to “repeat and perfect concepts, and move on to new ones, without being isolated from their peers.”

“It’s very self-directed,” Stacholy said. “For example, in each one of the kitchens there are two separate sinks. One can function as a laboratory kitchen; the other one functions as a kitchen sink. They have the ability to expand and adapt to each one of the individual task that the kids are going to handle.”

The new buildings give the school’s campus a “sense of community beyond what the school has previously enjoyed,” she said. Each classroom is a slightly adapted “microenvironment” with large windows to emphasize a connection to nature.

The design of the buildings will enable the school’s 250 students to “relate themselves to their individual environment, their classroom environment, their school environment and to the world at large,” she said.

Josh Tolchin, co-chairman of the school’s board of trustees, and Mike Everly, chairman of its capital campaign, spoke and cut ribbons at the ceremony.