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Meet Sima Cheregosha of ArborCreek Montessori Academy in Farmers Branch

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sima Cheregosha.

ArborCreek Montessori Academy (ACMA) is the final piece of the puzzle in Sima Cheregosha’s personal challenge to make the world a better place through accessible and effective education. Sima was born and raised in Iran where, during the Iranian Revolution of the late 1970s, she got involved with the volatile anti-government movement. The movement wanted to see the gap between the privileged and the unprivileged narrowed. She believed fiercely in what they were fighting for, but, after the uprising in 1979, she came to grips with just how dangerous and, ultimately, ineffective her involvement was. To make a real difference, the very fabric of society needed to change. Therefore, she shifted her focus to creating a culture of peace and understanding through education.

Sima moved to the United States in 1994 where she was introduced to the Montessori method of teaching and began to research its intents and origins. Montessori provides an empowering, interactive atmosphere for students of all ages, economic backgrounds and learning styles to confidently take ownership of their education. They are given independence as recognized individuals with unique needs and personalities while at the same time being encouraged to work alongside and together with their fellow students, learning the value of teamwork and developing the vital characteristics of community and empathy.

As she learned more about Maria Montessori and her ingenious approach to education, Sima knew she’d found her calling. More than nineteen years ago, Sima and her close friend Patty Said founded the ArborCreek Montessori School (ACMS), which grew to serve a diverse population of children from infancy through third grade. In that time, she has seen dozens of young children thrive and excel within those walls before moving into other public and private schools. For years, she watched and listened as dozens of those same students and their parents came back, discouraged by their new schools and longing for a return to the Montessori environment, wishing that she would extend her program all the way through high school.

Sima knew that she needed to not just grow the space but also meet the financial needs of families that wanted the Montessori environment but were not able to afford private school costs through high school. Ms. Sima, as her pupils lovingly call her, along with a tenacious group of ACMS parents, alumni, and community members, introduced the next phase of her dream to peace — a non-profit, scholarship providing educational institution that is today ACMA.

ACMA opened its doors to students 4th through 6th grade (9-12 years old) in August 2017. Today we are proud to have a healthy class of upper elementary students, a new class of middle school students enrolling, and a vibrant spirit driving the continued pursuit of Sima’s passion to improve the world.

ACMA envisions a permanent campus which will comprise infant and toddler community, primary, lower and upper elementary, middle school, and high school. In addition it will also have a science lab, a large greenhouse, art studio, craft workshop, full kitchen in each community model, gymnasium, barn, chicken coop, organic garden, and playground area. In order to realize this goal, as part of our fundraising efforts, we are reaching out to donors, philanthropists, and foundations that are committed to the growth of sustainable and effective Montessori education in Dallas.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It’s been such a rewarding journey, utilizing a temporary location while actively seeking a permanent campus location. We perennially strive to raise money for and provide scholarships that maintain socio-economic diversity in the classroom.

Today I feel so fortunate to have worked with a vibrant team of volunteers, Kelsey O’Keefe, Jennifer Wester, Patty Said, Raj Sen, Babi Mitra, and an absolutely amazing teach of Guides, Cassie J. Felicella and Katrina Cuevas who continue the pursuit of this dream that initiated with my passion to improve the world so many years ago.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with ArborCreek Montessori Academy – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
ACMA is a true Montessori School. Montessori education provides an empowering, interactive atmosphere for students of all ages, economic backgrounds and learning styles to confidently take ownership of their education. They are given independence as recognized individuals with unique needs and personalities while at the same time being encouraged to work alongside and together with their fellow students, learning the value of teamwork and developing the vital characteristics of community and empathy. Teachers are called Guides in Montessori education because they do not spend their days at the front of a stark, rigid classroom handing down instruction and controlling what and how the students’ learn each day. They, too, work alongside and together with their students allowing the students to inform how best they receive and absorb information. ACMA recognizes the need for a means to ensure that children of all socio-economic circumstances and learning capabilities are given equal access to effective education thereby creating a society of broad-minded, well-functioning adults.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
In order to serve the children in our community, we are raising funds to create the environment necessary for educational, emotional, and developmental excellence. This includes the following specific strategy:

Raise funds for  scholarship fund:
Direct fundraising by our school community
Community events to fundraise
Direct fund requests campaign
Engage families in the community and enroll new students by the next school year

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Photos by Jennifer Wester/Kelsey O’Keefe/Cassie Felicella

Suggest a story: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Sponsor Shoutout:
Laine McCandless of DFW Kid’s Directory is hosting a Summer Camp & Activities Expo on February 22nd and 29th. There will be over 40 vendors at the event, parents can meet one on one and get information about so many amazing camps all in one spot. It’s an extraordinary event and one that makes us very proud of our city. Tickets are free. Info and RSVP here: Dallas & Frisco

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