Our Schools in the News

+ Enhancing Bright Futures - Brandon Business Newsletter, Aug 2013

The Brandon Montessori School at River Hills

Rohini Rustogi, President and CEO

Why should any parent consider early childhood education for their children? A quality school for young children provides the environment and essential resources for each child to develop socially, emotionally and to cultivate the foundational skills needed for success throughout life. While parents are our children’s first teachers, young children also need to grow and learn in a developmentally appropriate setting with professional teachers and positive peer role models to enable every child to reach their full potential.

What challenges have your learning institution overcome? In our Schools’ twelve years, we’ve overcome challenges to include working with changing state and local regulations, and weathering the economic downturn. We persevered, stayed true to our Schools’ Core Values, and focused on meeting the needs of our children and families.

How important is early childhood education when it comes to improving overall life for those who live, work and play within the Greater Brandon Community? Our community has grown to become a vital suburban hub, improving the quality of life for our families. The demand for educated citizens is greater now more than ever before. Early child education plants the seeds for success of our upcoming generations: our future business and government leaders. A child’s early years are proven to be crucial in later life. Google founders credited their life success to their Montessori preschool years for instilling in them the curiosity and initiative to “think out of the box”.

The Brandon Montessori School at River Hills has been a Chamber Member since 2001. It is located at 4223 Lynx Paw Tr., Valrico. Contact the school at (813) 655-9300. Visit the school’s website at www.WeAreMontessori. com.

+ Montessori expands to Waterset - Tampa Bay Times on June 20, 2012

By Marty Clear, Times Correspondent

Tampa Bay Times on June 20, 2012

APOLLO BEACH — Rohini Rustogi had been a school teacher and she didn't want to give that up. But when she had children of her own, she wanted to spend time with them. So in 2000, she opened the Brandon Montessori School at River Hills. It allowed her to continue her career as an educator, spend the days with her preschool-age kids, and give her own children and many others a head start on their education.

Five years later, she opened her second school, the Riverview Montessori School at Rivercrest. Now she's gearing up to open her third, the Apollo Beach [SouthShore] Montessori School at Waterset. It's slated to open later this year, probably in early November. "I really believe in the Montessori Method," Rustogi said. "I think it's the only way to learn, because it's hands-on."

The Montessori approach aims to build children into confident individuals who think creatively and emphasizes cooperation rather than competition.

The schools offer programs for children from 2 years old through kindergarten age, including a VPK program and summer camps. The Apollo Beach [SouthShore] Montessori School will have space for about 80 students when it opens Waterset is a new community that also, according to its website, will open this fall.

For up-to-date information, keep an eye on the schools' website, brandonmontessori.com, or call the Brandon Montessori School at (813) 655-9300 or the Riverview Montessori School at (813) 741-3300.

+ A preschool option for the independent child - The Tampa Tribune on October 17, 2012

By Lois Kindle, The Tampa Tribune

TBO.com on October 17, 2012

APOLLO BEACH -- The opening of the SouthShore Montessori School in Waterset is giving parents here a different kind of preschool option for their kids.

"Montessori provides an educational environment that focuses on children as individuals rather than groups," said Sarinette Rivera, director of the new school. "Children learn through sensorial activities at their own pace according to their abilities and individual needs, which helps develop independence, self-confidence and creativity."

A traditional school environment moves together as a class from one activity to another in more of a follow-the-leader fashion, she said.

With a capacity for 90 children, the SouthShore Montessori School has a classroom for 2-year-olds and two others for kids ages 3 to 6. Each classroom has sections for math, language arts, practical life skills and sensory activities.

Classes follow a specialized, comprehensive curriculum, which also includes art, music, foreign language and gardening. And the class sizes are small, with a teacher-student ratio of roughly 1-to-6 or 1-to-8, depending on the classroom.

The Montessori approach can be beneficial to children who are more independent and capable of making decisions for themselves about how to spend their time, said Darlene DeMarie, an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of South Florida.

"It's less teacher-directed and allows children to take the initiative," she said. "Parents should visit the school, know their educational goals and then determine what's best for their child."

A Montessori school isn't for everyone, though, and parents need to figure out their children's needs and whether they would be better served in a traditional preschool or a Montessori setting, DeMarie said.

"It's important for parents to have a choice," she said.

Tina Pipher, a pediatric occupational therapist, agreed. Her youngest son, James, now a fifth-grader, attended Riverview Montessori. Quiet, more sedentary and inclined to do his own thing, James flourished in Montessori's more structured setting, she said.

"He blossomed into a little thinker," she said.

On the other hand, her oldest son, Ryan, now a high school freshman, was not ready to work independently when he went to preschool. So Pipher enrolled him in a traditional preschool.

"He was an active child who might have been seen to have behavioral problems," Pipher said. "He needed more play time and social engagement.

"All kids are different and they thrive in different educational environments," she added. "Both have their place."

Article can be accessed at http://www2.tbo.com/news/community-news/2012/oct/17/ssopeno1-a-preschool-option-for-the-independent-ch-ar-533805/#fbcomments

+ VPK Goes Global At The Brandon and Riverview Montessori Schools! - Osprey Observer, Feb 2012

Osprey Observer, Feb 2012

FREE Summer VPK allows your child to go “Around the World in 9 Weeks”! The Brandon Montessori School (BMS) and The Riverview Montessori School (RMS) blend the best of the Montessori learning environment with the finest instruction by college certified teachers. Children enjoy cultural hands’-on experiences with traditional academic learning. Fun lessons integrate native song, dance, art and even exotic foods representing various geographic regions. Come tour the South American Rainforests, take an African Safari, and even experience the Orient. Each week pre-kindergarteners enjoy professionally taught music and physical education classes, as well as exciting special events and even a water play day! Children thrive in a fun, social environment honing their reading, math, language and social skills -- skills required to build a foundation for success in Kindergarten and beyond.

BMS and RMS, owned by Mrs. Rohini Rustogi, and operated by a distinguished team of dedicated educators, provide the area’s premier Montessori Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) Program! The Schools’ Summer VPK graduates earned an A+ score (197 out of 200) on their Kindergarten Readiness exams, resulting in top ratings for the third year in a row!

According to Florida law, a child is eligible for Summer VPK if he/she will be turning five years old by September 1, 2012, resides in Florida, has not previously participated in a VPK program, and is entering Kindergarten in Fall 2012. The program is cost free to families regardless of their income level. The BMS and RMS Voluntary Prekindergarten Program consist of 300 instructional hours between June 12th and August 2, 2012. Summer VPK classes run 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday. Families may elect to attend the school’s Summer Camp on Fridays for a cost of $35 per week.

In addition to our stellar Summer Program, The Brandon Montessori School is thrilled to announce their new School Year VPK program, beginning Aug 27th. To be eligible, children must be four years old by September 1st, and hold a valid VPK Certificate. Children who have not had the opportunity to experience the Montessori advantage may now attend The Brandon Montessori School for free from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Mon-Fri. Space is limited.

BMS and RMS are proud of their unparalleled reputation and decade-long quality commitment to children’s education. The schools are dually accredited by the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). They are designated Gold Seal Quality Schools by the State of Florida and are proud recipients of the Brandon Chamber Small Business of the Year Award. The true success of the schools shines through in the happy faces and squeals of achievement of its current students, and also its accomplished graduates. For more information on VPK or any of the programs offered at The Brandon and The Riverview Montessori Schools, visit our web at www.BrandonMontessori.com, or you may contact the schools at phone (813) 655-9300; (813) 741-3300.

+ Montessori Schools Plan for VPK Program - Osprey Observer, February 7, 2009

Osprey Observer, February 7, 2009

The Brandon and Riverview Montessori schools are proud to announce their new summer Voluntary Prekindergarten (VPK) programs for 2009. The curriculum will be based on the world renowned and effective Montessori philosophy and teaching methods. State law mandates that children are eligible if they will be turning 5 years of age by September 1, 2009, reside in Florida, have not previously participated in a school year VPK program and are entering kindergarten in fall of 2009. The program is free to families regardless of their income level. The BMS and RMS Voluntary Prekindergarten programs will consist of 300 instructional hours between June 1 and July 31, 2009. VPK classes will be offered between 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Monday- Friday. New this year, the Elementary program at The Riverview Montessori School is a glowing success, and families are already signing up for fall of 2009. The schools are dually accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Montessori Society Accreditation Commission (MSAC). They are designated Gold Seal Quality schools by the State of Florida. For more information on VPK or programs offered, visit www.BrandonMontessori.com or call 655-9300 or 741-3300.

+ Small Business Of The Year Winners Announced - Osprey Observer, Posted on 30 November 2008

Osprey Observer, Posted on 30 November 2008 by Marie Gilmore

The Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce announced the winners of the 2008 Small Business of the Year Awards. The annual recognition gala, featuring a red carpet theme, was held in October at The Palmetto Club at FishHawk Ranch. Fifteen area businesses were recognized as finalists at the Chamber’s annual event, sponsored by Bank of Tampa - Brandon Division. Supporting sponsors include Alday Donalson Title, Hanna, Lemar & Morris, P.A., State Farm- Melissa Snively Agent, and The Brandon News & Tribune/ The Tampa Tribune. Dave Mishkin, radio voice of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was the celebrity emcee for the 2008 event. One winner from each of the five categories was announced. Each finalist and past recipients of this prestigious Chamber award were also honored and featured in a video presentation. Nominations were received from the 1,800-plus members of the Chamber and divided into categories based on the number of employees or type of business. Judges reviewed the applications and interviewed the candidates to determine the finalists. The judges made personal visits to the finalists’ places of business, to conclude the judging process and determine the five winners. Award categories include home based businesses, minority and woman owned businesses, businesses with one-five employees, six-15 employees and 16 or more employees. This year’s winners include: Home Based Business Black Diamond Associates, LLC Minority or Women Owned Business Brandon Montessori School at River Hills, 1 to 5 Employees Huth & Booth - The Portrait Gallery, 6 to 15 Employees i9 Sports Corporation, 16 Plus Employees ServiceMaster 24 Hour. For more information on this event, visit the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce’s Website at www.brandonchamber.com or call Jamie Reid at 689-1221.

+ Riverview Montessori School Expands - Osprey Observer, March 2008

Osprey Observer, March 2008, Bloomingdale/Fishhawk, Riverview/Apollo Beach Editions

Volume 6, Issue 3; Staff Report, Submitted by Laurie March

Exciting changes are in the future at The Riverview Montessori School (RMS). Last month the school, located off Symmes Rd. in Rivercrest, broke ground on its new elementary classroom. Currently the school holds prekindergarten and kindergarten classes. “We were so excited to hear of the expansion,” states RMS mother Nina Stokes. “Our daughter has been at Riverview Montessori since opening day, thriving in the caring and stimulating environment provided by the dedicated staff. She has excelled in all areas – both behavioral and intellectual – and we feel blessed to now have the opportunity for her to stay at RMS until third grade. Her brother will also be joining her for the next school year.”

“It’s wonderful to be able to answer the call from our many families requesting we open a Montessori elementary class,” says Rohini Rustogi, owner and president of the school. According to Rustogi, the RMS elementary program will provide a vastly different experience from the traditional elementary classroom. RMS’s benchmark elementary class will be centered on noncompetitivew activities and focused on teaching life long skills, versus an emphasis on testing. The children will share the responsibility for learning in a cooperative, self-paced environment.

As with traditional primary grade studies, all major subject areas are covered in a Montessori elementary classroom. However, the similarities end there. This classroom is made up of children ages 6 to 9 who study collaboratively as a true community of learners (resembling a family unit).

Another key difference is the extensive presentation of a cultural curriculum that is interwoven throughout the program. Classes will include hands on instruction in conversational and written French, organic gardening and horticulture, musical intruments and choral vocal singing, as well as art history and appreciation. The children will be immersed in an atmosphere that stimulates their creative and critical thinking skills to prepare them for life.

Both the Brandon and Riverview Montessori Schools are accredited by the Montessori School Accreditation Commission (MSAC), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and are designated as Gold Seal Schools by the State of Florida. Talented Montessori-certified teachers energize the children, evoking their imagination and stimulating their desire for knowledge.

To learn more about all the classes offered at Brandon and Riverview Montessori Schools, call 741-3300 or 655-9300 or visit www.RiverviewMontessori.com.

+ Montessori Schools Give Back - Osprey Observer, October 2007

Osprey Observer, October 2007, Bloomingdale/Fishhawk, Riverview/Apollo Beach Editions

Volume 6, Issue 10; Staff Report, Provided by Laurie March

The Brandon Montessori and the Riverview Montessori Schools will be running their second annual Trike-A-Thon to raise money for a local family. This year the preschoolers will ride their Big Wheels, tricycles and bicycles for their friend Jessica Rose Kohut and her mother Maureen. Jessica is a 4-year-old who was diagnosed with cancer. Even after her numerous chemotherapy treatments and dozens of tests, Jessie smiles the cutest little smile. She is an amazing little girl who enjoys being with her family and her fun friends at her local preschool. See Jessie's Website for updates at www.Care4JessicaRose.org. This year's Trike-A-Thons will be on November 9 at The Brandon Montessori and November 16 at The Riverview Montessori.

Last year, The Brandon and Riverview Montessori Schools raised over $10,000 for another local family whom are now considered life-long friends and part of the "Montessori family."

Local police officers cordoned off the drive way, The American Cancer Society sent volunteers and balloons and refreshments were donated by local businesses.

The Brandon Montessori School is located at 4223 Lynx Paw Trl. in Valrico and The Riverview Montessori School is located at 11520 Ramble Creek Dr. in Riverview. For more information, call 655-9300.

+ Riverview Montessori Makes the Grade - Osprey Observer, June 2006

Osprey Observer, June 2006, Riverview/Apollo Beach Edition

Volume 4, Issue 6; Page: 11; Author Holly Gerardi

On May 25, the Riverview Montessori School celebrated its first graduating class. These young graduates will be independent critical thinkers, thirsty for knowledge and ready to tackle their upcoming elementary school education.

With almost 80 students enrolled, the school is the only one of its kind in Hillsborough County to have been accredited by the prestigious Montessori School Accreditation Commission, as well as by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, an organization that accredits universities such as the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa.

Students look forward to their weekly art lessons and eagerly gather around the piano for their music lessons. Spanish is part of the school’s foreign language program, as is Hindi, spoken by Rohini Rustogi, owner of the Montessori School.Children also learn the value of personal hygiene, household cleanliness and care for their environment, but perhaps most importantly, to establish feelings of self-worth. It is believed at Montessori that children feel a greater sense of accomplishment when discovering things for themselves, which is why activities are geared towards the development of students’ self-sufficiency.

“At Montessori, children learn by doing. The teacher is purely a facilitator,” says professor Hemant Rustogi, co-owner of the school. Children also take part in seasonal celebrations which include plays, feasts and cultural events, as well as visits from children’s story book authors and various entertainers. An after school program is in place for elementary-aged children, who have the opportunity to expand on their computer skills, or to learn ballet, tae-kwon-do or tumbling.

For more information on the Riverview Montessori School at Rivercrest, located at 11520 Ramble Creek Dr., please call 741-3300 or email questions to TheMontessori@aol.com. The school is open from 7:15 a.m. to 6 p.m., five days a week.

+ School's Existence Provides Business Lesson - The Tampa Tribune; February 20, 2003

The Tampa Tribune; February 20, 2003; Page 3, Brandon Section


STEPPIN' STONE GIRLS SEE DREAM'S REWARD BRANDON - Learning sound business principles and developing a work ethic are important studies at the Steppin' Stone Farm home for at-risk girls in southeast Hillsborough County.

Resident Kim Everett, 17, already has an idea. "My business plan is to start up a hair salon," she said. Everett was one of a band of Steppin' Stone students who visited the Brandon Montessori School on Friday as part of their entrepreneurial education program. All 27 Steppin' Stone students came at the invitation of Hemant Rustogi, who teaches entrepreneurial classes at the home and also owns Brandon Montessori with his wife, Rohini. The lesson of the day: how to make dreams come true.

Rustogi, chairman and associate professor of marketing and international business at the University of Tampa, said he wanted to teach by example by showing the youngsters the school he dreamed of and worked for years to establish. "Look, we're doing it," he said.

The Steppin' Stone students performed a choir concert and listened to Rustogi talk about how he and the other founders created the Montessori school, how the girls can design business plans of their own and the importance of having passion for their ideas. "Mostly I learned about passion," Everett said. "So now I know my passion can come true." Developing a business plan was part of an assignment given to the 27 residents of the nonprofit Christian home during a summer camp led by Rustogi and fellow teacher Alan Weimer. Rustogi and Weimer developed "Entrepreneurial Training for Youth" at the University of Tampa, and Steppin' Stone uses their course as part of the curriculum. Both teachers volunteer their time to teach the classes.

Emily Neal, 17, said her visit to the Montessori school helped her understand more about the need for a vision. "I learned that you can't go into business without passion," Neal said. "It's not just for the money or it will fail." As part of the entrepreneurial curriculum, Rustogi and Weimer also teach the girls life skills, public speaking, team work and the importance of taking risks in business. "Self-sufficiency is very important for at-risk girls," said Steppin' Stone director Cindy Churchill. "These girls are risk takers by nature." Most are overcoming behavioral problems such as illegal drug and alcohol abuse, violent behavior, disciplinary problems and criminal activity. "They are smart girls, but they do not have the discipline to stay on the right track," Churchill said. The entrepreneurial course "helps them become good stewards of their resources, whether it's personal resources, skills or just being good stewards," Churchill said. She said while Rustogi and Weimer teach the girls good business skills, Steppin' Stone helps build their character. In addition to developing their work ethic, Steppin' Stone teaches girls in grades seven through 12 to have self esteem and pride in their work, Churchill said. She said the majority of girls who graduated from Steppin' Stone since it opened in 1973 have been successful in college, the work force and in their personal lives. Some start their own businesses after graduating, she said. And she's proof of the program's success. At age 14, Churchill entered Steppin' Stone, which sits on 85 acres 13 miles southeast of Plant City in Lithia. She worked while attending school full time and eventually earned her master's degree. "It changed my life," she said.



How many Indian American teachers do you know? To be more precise, how many Indian Americans do you know who have founded a preschool? Well, I didn't know any till I came across Rohini Rustogi who just last year realized a dream of having her own school, Brandon Montessori (www.brandonmontessori.com) in the River Hills area of Brandon. "It was driven by excellence and not profit," she says.

Needless to say, teaching is in Rustogi's blood. After receiving a high school diploma from All Saints School in Nainital, she earned a master's in economics from Kumaon University in India and her Montessori Certification from the American Montessori Society.

"My parents were both teachers before they retired, and my husband, Hemant, is a university professor," she says. What is it that Rustogi likes about teaching? "I love children and enjoy their innocence and sense of discovery," she answers. "I also like to make a difference in people's lives. The greatest benefit is that it has allowed me to raise my own kids and spend quality time with them during their formative years. I am basically a child at heart and these kids provide a reward that is good for my soul!"

+ Montessori director sees dream take shape - The Tampa Tribune, April 26, 2001

The Tampa Tribune, April 26, 2001; Page 7, Brandon Section

Author: Donna Koehn

VALRICO - A couple from India is building a Montessori school "from scratch" to serve area preschoolers and their families. Right now, the structure is a lot of cinderblock and sawdust, with drills and saws providing a background racket. But Rohini Rustogi sees what will be: A wall of windows overlooking a patio with fans and water fountains, a playground and a basketball court, backed by a scenic conservation area with a garden for herbs and butterflies. Large rooms will be filled with computers and brightly colored learning materials.Most of all, she sees the children, who will arrive in August ready to learn at the new Brandon Montessori School at River Hills.

"Since we moved to River Hills seven years ago, I've looked at this lot and dreamed about building a school here," says Rustogi, a teacher certified by the American Montessori Society who will serve as director. The 4,200-square-foot school is under construction near Lithia Springs Elementary, and will offer extended, after-school care. But its primary focus will be the "pre-primary" program for children ages 3 to 6. Half-day and full-day programs are available. Rustogi says she will limit enrollment to 60 children.

The Montessori method of instruction was begun about 90 years ago by an Italian physician who believed learning is best accomplished within a social environment that supports each child's individual development. A typical day at the Brandon school will include circle group time, music, computer work and independent work in math, language, science, geography, Spanish and art. One tenet of Montessori is that children need not be segregated by age but can all learn together and from each other, Rustogi says. She expects to draw students from the River Hills area, but already has attracted students from as far away as Plant City. Her partner, Martin Eshleman, will enroll his daughter there. Rustogi, who taught English and geography in middle school, began working in Montessori schools nine years ago to be closer to her children, ages 9 and 4. Rustogi has a bachelor's degree in English and geography and a master's degree in economics. Her husband, Hemant Rustogi, is a professor at the University of Tampa and chairman of the marketing department. They met in high school in India.

Tuition for the half-day program will be $385 per month. The full day will be $485 per month, or $535 per month with extended care. The after-school program is $225 per month.