The Roberts Academy, a Montessori secondary school serving students aged 12 to 18 years (grades 7 to 12), is relocating to SilverRidge Assisted Living in Gretna, NE, to become what is believed to be the first full-time Montessori secondary school in the country located in a healthcare setting.

“This unique collaboration will not only save money for the nonprofit Roberts Academy; it will provide significant intergenerational, lifelong learning opportunities for the students and the SilverRidge residents up to five days a week,” said Anna Fisher, Ph.D. She is a board member of the Montessori school and director of education at Hillcrest Health Services, of which SilverRidge is a part.

The school’s approximately 20 students, who previously spent some time at sister senior living communities, will move full-time to SilverRidge in the fall. Currently, the school, which remains an independent, not-for-profit entity, is about 20 miles away in Omaha.

“We are closing our Little Ridges child care on May 24 to make room for The Roberts Academy, which will bring older students to our campus who can more effectively interact with our residents and enhance their lives,” SilverRidge Administrator Sarah Stoakes said.

Eight years ago, Hillcrest entered into a partnership with The Roberts Academy to host students at Hillcrest’s Mable Rose assisted living campus. The collaboration, according to Hillcrest, helped ensure that residents are engaged in consistent, purpose-driven activities.

For the past two school years, students have been working with residents at Hillcrest Country Estates Grand Lodge, an independent living, assisted living and memory care community. The effort even earned Hillcrest Health Services a Gold Award in the Quality category in the senior living track of the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards in 2018.

“The two-way, intergenerational learning has allowed for both students and aging adults to see just how the Montessori method works,” said Alice Roberts, co-founder of the school and lead Montessori instructor there.

“The Montessori method is based on respect and dignity to all individuals and provides a prepared environment conducive to learning and engagement. It encourages purposeful work that meets people where they are, providing a sense of community and belonging,” she added.

The impending move came about because The Roberts Academy’s lease was set to expire. Fisher recognized an opportunity to move the school to SilverRidge. The school will begin the moving process in June.

“I’m excited for our residents, especially those with dementia, to engage in evidence-based, multi-sensory activities with the students,” Stoakes said. “I believe the frequent interaction will not only boost resident engagement; it will lead to many new intergenerational friendships.”

Silver Ridge Assisted Living, where The Roberts Academy will be moving.

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