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Going bACK to School: ACK Smart's experience with Nantucket Montessori School

In a year of so many calendar constants falling by the wayside, it was encouraging to approach back to school season yet again. Although the process of educating may be different this year, we at ACK Smart Energy know that different isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, Montessori teaching, as is done at Nantucket’s Children’s House, has been utilizing alternative education practices for the better part of two centuries. ACK Smart Energy had the tremendous experience of going back to school ourselves these past few weeks, installing a new roof and solar array for The Children’s House.


“We got a grant for the project, so it was sort of a no-brainer,” said Co-President of the Children’s House Board of Trustees Steven Hollister. “It’s a learning experiences for the kids, great for the environment, and great for the island in holding off a third cable.”

Originating in the 1800’s, The Montessori Method of education is a teaching approach founded in scientific observation of children by Dr. Maria Montessori. As noted on The Children’s House website:


“It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.”

For Head of School Grace Maskell, Montessori teaching has greatly influenced her educational experience from the beginning. As a lifelong Nantucketer, Maskell began school at The Children’s House, her mother one of the original teachers. In 2011 she returned to the school as a substitute, later full-time teacher, and eventually transitioned into Head of School as she remains today.


“I have a one year-old daughter who I hope to send to Children’s House one day,” she said. “The idea of maintaining our island and it’s natural beauty, it’s very important to me because I want her to enjoy it as she gets older as I have my whole life being here.”


ACK Smart Energy executed a complete re-roofing and solar panel installation, bringing the school’s exterior into alignment with their teachings of sustainability. The Children’s House, its faculty, and students will enjoy the benefits of the solar switch for many years to come with little to no maintenance, which Haskell notes as one of the greatest benefits.


“Once it’s in, you know, it’s not a challenge. I just love the idea that we can have these solar panels and they can help to power our school but it’s not something we have to think about or maintain everyday.”


Knowingly providing the next generation of Nantucketers with not just a cost-effective, energy saving educational setting, but a model of the impact and benefit of atypical methods is something that proudly connects both The Children’s House and ACK Smart. Our goal of island energy independence is a benefit to all, but especially to those who will one day grow up to call Nantucket a professional and personal home.


“I just think that any opportunity to do something like this we really should take it. Ultimately, I think our goal is just to leave less of an imprint on our planet. We want to leave an imprint with our children, not with what resources we take up.”


ACK Smart Energy continue to strive to do just that.


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