Hershey Montessori School will host a Feb. 12 grand opening of Hershey Market, a retail shop on Chardon Square to be operated by the students of the school’s newly opened Upper School, with a 1:30 p.m. ribbon cutting sponsored by the Chardon Area Chamber of Commerce.
The market will offer products and produce from the Montessori school’s 97-acre farm campus in Huntsburg as well as locally produced items from crafters and venders throughout the community.
Hershey Market, supported through a grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, is the capstone to the school’s adolescent program. With its opening, Hershey Montessori School becomes the first in the world to offer all of the elements described by Dr. Maria Montessori as key to creating the best environment for adolescent development. Those elements include offering adolescents a residential experience on a working farm; and, when they are ready, the opportunity to venture into their broader community through a self-sustaining market, where they sell their own wares as well as those of their neighbors.
Hershey Market’s location on Water Street across from the Geauga Lyric Theater, provides easy access to Chardon Square, where the Upper School students spend one day each week as part of their coursework. The students are within walking distance of civic centers and government officials, who are able to provide expert supplement the Upper School’s college-preparatory curriculum.
Through their operation of Hershey Market, students will engage in the kind of hands-on, projectbased learning that defines the Montessori approach to education.
“The adolescents will gain lessons in entrepreneurship and business management as well as a real-world understanding of economics,” said Hershey Montessori Pedagogical Adviser Laurie Ewert-Krocker. “But they also will come away with something even more profound as they learn to collaborate and gain experience in building relationships with their customers, local businesses and civic leaders.”
Already, Hershey Market has met with overwhelming enthusiasm from its neighbors on Chardon Square and throughout the community, said Paula Leigh Doyle, head of school for Hershey Montessori School.
“It is inspiring to see how encouraging Chardon’s merchants and community leaders have been to the students,” Leigh-Doyle said. “It is clear they want to see the students succeed. And that very sentiment – those interactions with the community and the real-world relationships students are building – is success.”
Hershey Market will offer student-made merchandise – including maple syrup, bees-wax candles, pancake mix, wooden products and art – produced on the Hershey Montessori farm in Huntsburg. The farm serves as campus and the international boarding community for Hershey Middle School and the new Upper School, which opened its doors for the 2015-16 school year with 13 tenth graders. Grades 11 and 12 will be added over the next two years, making Hershey Montessori School the first in the world to offer the fully immersive, land-based education Dr. Montessori envisioned for individuals from birth through age 18.
The proceeds from Hershey Market will go back into the school’s microeconomy, which supports economics-class projects of the Middle School as well as the Market itself.
In addition to the grand opening celebration Friday, Feb. 12, Hershey Market will be open Saturday Feb. 13 from 10 to 5. Regular hours of operation will be Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The store will be closed Sunday and Monday.