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Twenty-five years and counting

July 24, 2008|By Mary O’Keefe

For the past 25 years children have been entering the doors of the Foothill Progressive Montessori School and embarking on an academic adventure that promotes learning in a kind and calming environment, with an international flair.

“We started with kindergarten through sixth grade,” said principal and founder Padmini Joseph.

Joseph had taught in La Cañada when she decided to open the school after several parents approached her with the idea.

“I was going to open the school in Redondo Beach, but so many parents said they could not travel that far,” she said.

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Joseph found a property at 4526 Indianola Way and opened the school in January 1984, with 12 students ranging in ages from 5 to 12. Later that summer she partnered with Kanthi Desilva to open a preschool at the same Indianola Way location.

“In my wildest dreams I never thought I could have a school and that it would go for 25 years,” she said.

Joseph said she moved to La Cañada because her brother, a doctor at Huntington Memorial Hospital, lived in the community. She was happy to find a place for her school so close to her La Cañada home.

The school has grown and changed throughout its quarter century. It now has an enrollment of 80 students and includes seventh and eighth grades. The preschool was moved to a separate location, at 827 Houseman St.

Joseph said that she has seen many changes throughout her years at the school.

“When we first opened we used to take the students on [many field trips],” she said. “But now with the traffic I think 100 times before I take them out.”

The students do go on field trips throughout the year, but Joseph tries to bring in guest speakers more to cut down on traveling.

Another change, Joseph said, is the relationship between the student and parent.

“Discipline has changed,” she said.

In the past, the parent was not afraid to discipline their child. “I am not saying [physically] discipline,” she said.

But now Joseph said that some parents seem afraid to set boundaries and children, being children, know how to take advantage. She added that at her school the students are taught respect, not just for others in the classroom, but others in the world.

The school has many international events including a International Feast, and celebrates the art and dance of other cultures.

The students also learn the art of philanthropy by helping those less fortunate.

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