This is the end of an amazing year for Hilltop Children’s House.
We bought a building, fixed it up a little, acquired just enough materials to open our doors in mid-October, and found some amazing help.
I’d like to share with you a letter we sent to a bunch of Steubenville-area businesses a couple of weeks ago to introduce HCH to them and to ask them for their support:
Dear Friend of Steubenville,
On Palm Sunday 2017 a 15-year-old boy was shot and killed two blocks from my home in Labelle.
My then-fiancée, now wife, Noëlle, and I were out for a walk that fine spring evening. We were on Belleview Boulevard and we heard the shots: five in rapid succession, then two more.
We made our way, slowly, to the home of some friends a mere stone’s throw from the scene of the crime, and what a scene it was: sirens, lights, and the family and friends of the youth wailing and shouting.
There and then Noëlle and I pledged to do what we could to make a difference in our neighborhood.
Eight months later, in December 2017, we founded the Hilltop Children’s House to bring the life-changing benefits of a Montessori experience to the young children—three to six years-old—of our home, the hilltop neighborhoods of Steubenville.
The Montessori method is about giving children a “foundation for life.” It is about putting children in an atmosphere that has order, beauty, structure, and simplicity. Everything in a Montessori house is arranged to encourage children to focus, concentrate, and learn at their own pace, doing activities that they choose to do.
Children learn to take responsibility for their own learning, and to care for their environment.
Importantly, they also learn how to live in harmony with others. Children are not separated by age, nor by any other demographic. They learn to take turns, to assist each other, and to see persons, rather than demographics, among their fellows.
These lessons affect their behavior outside the classroom, and eventually become foundational for the rest of their lives thus helping the whole community. This is true no matter the economic status of their families.
Indeed, a 2017 study by the University of Virginia showed that lower income children who experience Montessori at an early age achieved academic success at the same rate as their wealthier peers. Montessori was the only developmental model that showed this effect.
And it’s no wonder that the method has been successful, especially among lower-income children: Maria Montessori began to develop her method in the early 1900s by observing children in the slums of Rome who roamed unsupervised as their parents were off at work in the factories. A system with such a provenance can’t fail to work.
This is what Hilltop Children’s House intends to bring every year to 25 to 30 children of these distressed neighborhoods of Steubenville.
But a life-changing, community-supporting endeavor like this doesn’t happen without much support from the community.
Through the generosity of family and close friends we were able to raise the money to purchase a small former church building in the heart of Labelle—at the intersection of Maryland Avenue and Pittsburgh Street.
(Providentially, this places us on the opposite corner of the same block where the shooting took place on Palm Sunday 2017.)
Since then we have taken steps to improve the security and comfort of the building, and to acquire enough materials to open our doors. This past October we did open our doors for a pilot program.
Currently we have six children in the program, with Noëlle as the directress, and a friend volunteering daily to assist. We intend to add up to ten more children next fall and to find additional (very needed) help to manage the space.
As you can imagine, our need for support will continue to grow. And this is where you come in.
Need 1: Tuition Assistance Funds
Our tuition is modest by Montessori standards. Nationally such programs average $7,300 per child. We are asking just $2,200, and we have established a sliding scale to reduce that number based on the family’s income—and according to the availability of funds.
Need 2: Building Renovation Assistance
Our 100-year-old building cost little to purchase, but it needs a significant amount of work to make it the space the children need. It needs new (and more) windows to seal out the weather and let in more natural light. It needs electrical, plumbing, flooring, and HVAC work, as well as some wall reconfiguration.
Hilltop Children’s House is an Ohio 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation; all donations are tax-deductible. I invite you to learn more about Hilltop Children’s House in the enclosed brochure and at our website: https://hilltopchildrenshouse.org. And I ask humbly for whatever generous contribution you and/or your business is able to make as this year ends.
Hilltop Children’s House