Maracas Montessori is a full Spanish-immersion school in Raleigh NC for children from 15 months old through 6 years old. The school follows the Montessori philosophy, which is an educational approach to natural human development in young children. In this model, children engage in psychological self-construction by means of interaction with their environment. The multi age classrooms at Maracas are organized in different areas with materials including language, math, sensorial, art, practical life, music, and a nature oriented area called the "outdoor classroom" – all while communicating in the Spanish language.
What the owners think sets Maracas apart from other Montessori schools is the superior level of support from parents and the community. While the students are invested in a full Spanish immersion program, 60% of attendees come from families that are non-native Spanish speakers. Many parents have a desire to learn Spanish along with their children, and many more are interested in helping out with virtually all activities. For example, the "outdoor classroom" was brought to life by the parents that wanted to make this a reality for the school and for the kids. It includes a garden, gardening tools, flora & fauna, a log maze, stepping stones, bird feeders, picnic tables, a vegetable garden and a sandbox… and is not meant for recess – it's a learning environment for the students that connects with the many subjects they learn indoors. It has become a tradition that two Saturday mornings in the Fall and two more in the Spring are planned as working days for parents to come and volunteer to enlarge and/or maintain this wonderful outdoor area. Actions such as this are constant at Maracas Montessori, and are a shining example of the tremendous sense of community surrounding the school.
The story of Maracas Montessori is a true reflection of the American dream. Gerardo Santoyo and his wife Claudia Casco came to New York from Mexico in 2001, so that Gerardo could pursue an international professional opportunity with his job at IBM. Claudia is a psychologist and used to run a school when they lived in Mexico, but put that on hold with the move to the U.S. In 2005, IBM moved Gerardo to RTP, North Carolina, and in 2008 he helped Claudia to start up Maracas in the North Raleigh area. They have experienced steady growth since opening; original enrollment consisted of 8 students, and at the latest count they had 115 kids attending 3-5 days a week. Gerardo runs the day-to-day business side of things, and Claudia runs the academic side – maintaining the curriculum and supervising the teachers and classroom activities.
Almost three years ago Gerardo and Claudia began leasing a wonderful building in a prime location in North Raleigh. With two years left to go in their lease, the couple noticed an increase in people coming by to view the building and property. This indicated to them that they needed to take steps to purchase the real estate that they had been renting, so they could keep the school running in the same place. They were referred to First National Bank Small Business Finance, and were ultimately connected with Business Development Officer Michael Byers. Through Michael's expertise in SBA lending, the commercial real estate purchase closed successfully and ensured that Gerardo and Claudia would retain their fantastic location.
Gerardo had this to say about working with Michael Byers:
We clicked with Michael at our first meeting. He understood what we were trying to do, and was willing to help from the start. Michael was fully engaged and worked with us through the whole financing process. We appreciate his hard work in this transaction and look forward to working with him again in the future as we grow our business!
This commercial real estate deal closed in December 2016, and was a seamless process with the students and families of the school. The purchase includes land for expansion, which will be the next step for Maracas Montessori.
12401 Stickland Rd.
Raleigh, North Carolina 27613
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