U.S. and Mexican Rotatians Work to Expand Akumal Montessori

Fort Collins and Playa del Carmen rotarians
With financial assistance from the Foothills Rotary Club of Fort Collins, Colorado and construction management supplied by fellow Rotarians from the Playa Del Carmen Rotary Club in Mexico, the Montessori School in the pueblo of Akumal, Otoch Paal, has been able to expand its child care services.

The Foothills Rotary Club of Fort Collins celebrated 30 years of its existence in 2007 and to commemorate that event, decided to find an international service project of its own. For many years, the club (along with other Rotary clubs in Fort Collins) made periodic financial contributions to international service projects through Rotary International.

As a result of existing contacts that two club members (Art Bavoso and Ron Rockvam) had in Mexico, a match was found with fellow Rotarians in the Playa Del Carmen Rotary Club in the state of Quintana Roo. Specifically, the two service clubs are collaborating on work to expand the Escuela Otoch Paal Montessori in the pueblo of Akumal, Mexico.

construction on Akumal Montessori school
In Spring of 2008, the Foothills Rotary Club raised funds that were used to build a second preschool classroom (for children ages 3-5) at Otoch Paal. However, the school was still required to complete a number of other renovations in order to pass building inspection by the state. Namely, the two original classrooms built when the school began operation had only grass (palapa) roofs)and the school is required to replace them with cement roofs. So the Foothills Rotary Club continued their fundraising efforts to help provide the funds needed to complete these roof replacements. The replacement of one is finally underway and the second roof is scheduled to be replaced before the end of this academic year.

In essence, thanks to the tireless efforts of some devoted people in Colorado, the Montessori preschool in Akumal is able to continue its efforts to provide high quality early education services to local children. Collaborations such as these are truly inspiring, as the donors expect nothing more in return than a “thank you.” As one Foothills Club members says: “Come to the school, and see the children, and the teachers. What a worthwhile project this is!!”

students at Montessori school in akumal
To see a Montessori preschool in operation, come visit Otoch Paal Community Center in Akumal Pueblo. Otoch Paal welcomes visitors who are interested in seeing how a Montessori center operates. Classes are in session from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visitors are asked to come between 9 and 10:30 a.m.

How you can help. As a non-profit community-based learning center, Otoch Paal does not generate sufficient funds to pay for all necessary school improvements. Monetary donations and donations in kind are always welcome. Donations can be made directly at the school. Or more information can be found at: montessoriaroundtheworld.org/otoch.html.

The Rotary Club of Fort Collins, Colorado has already raised money for one new roof but they are still working on raising funds for the second (and last) grass roof that needs to be replaced at Otoch Paal). If you are interested in donating to the roof project, please contact Foothills Rotary Club Members Art Bavoso (art@thirdsector.biz) or Ron Rockvam (dvantage@msn.com).

Are you associated with a Montessori school that could donate used learning materials for the preschool/kindergarten classroom? Contact Eleonor Bermudez Ferrer, of Otoch Paal, at: leocancun@hotmail.com or Ellie Zucker, parent, at: elzucker@aol.com.

Directions to Otoch Paal: The school is located near the back of Akumal Pueblo, on the Northern edge of the town. It can be reached by following the Pueblo’s main street (avenida) to the fourth block on the right hand side of the street. After passing the secondary and kindergarten schools (which are on the main street), turn right at the corner where the kindergarten is located and continue to the next corner. Otoch Paal is next to the kindergarten and the entrance is at the far corner, near the town’s edge.


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