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OUR HISTORY

The Full Story

Julia Gorham, an esteemed educator and visionary, is the Founder and Principal of the renowned Field and Study Montessori Pre-School in South Africa. Recognized for her pioneering efforts in Montessori education, she holds the distinction of being one of the first individuals in the country to obtain a Montessori Degree. Following the completion of her degree, Julia embarked on a journey of continuous professional growth and expertise in the field of early childhood development. She played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Alta Montessori Pre-Schools, where her invaluable insights and contributions significantly shaped the educational landscape.

In 1992, fueled by her passion for providing exceptional Montessori education, Julia took a momentous step and founded her own Montessori Pre-School in Rivonia, aptly named Rivonia Montessori. Simultaneously, she embraced the joys and challenges of starting a family of her own, demonstrating her unwavering commitment to both her professional and personal aspirations.

True to her unwavering dedication to the Montessori philosophy, which emphasizes children's connection with nature, Julia meticulously sought out the perfect location for her blossoming preschool. The idyllic Field and Study Centre, with its abundant presence of horses, ducks, rivers, and majestic trees, offered an ideal environment for fostering a love for nature and holistic learning. Recognizing this unique opportunity, Julia seamlessly transitioned her school to this enchanting setting, further enriching the educational experience of her students.

Fast forward 31 years, and Julia stands as a revered figure in the realm of Montessori education. Alongside her role as a dedicated Founder and Principal, she has become a contributing writer to esteemed educational magazines, sharing her expertise and insights with a broader audience. In addition, Julia gracefully balances her roles as a loving mother to two daughters and a cherished wife, embodying the values of compassion, dedication, and lifelong learning that she instills in the children under her care.

Julia Gorham's remarkable journey, characterized by her indomitable spirit and visionary leadership, continues to leave an indelible mark on the Montessori education landscape in South Africa. Her unwavering commitment to providing an exceptional educational experience, rooted in the Montessori philosophy and the wonders of nature, ensures that countless children have the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential.

Julia Gorham's youngest daughter, Gabriella, wholeheartedly shares her mother's profound passion for teaching and made a meaningful addition to the Field and Study Montessori team in 2018. With several years of hands-on experience working with children, and her studies in both Montessori and traditional teaching methods, Gabby brings a wealth of expertise to the table.

 

The bond between Julia and Gabby extends beyond family ties, as they form a formidable team of devoted and experienced educators. Their shared commitment to providing exceptional education is not only rooted in their familial connection but also in their genuine love for nurturing young minds. With their combined wisdom and expertise, this mother-daughter duo creates an environment of warmth, guidance, and unparalleled educational excellence.

HISTORY OF THE FIELD AND STUDY PARK

The Field and Study Park holds a significant place in history, as it was one of the earliest Farms established in 1857. Spanning across 40 acres of fertile land from Craighall to Bryanston, this agricultural landscape was initially acquired by the Wilhaus family, who hailed from Germany. In 1871, they purchased the farm and adorned it with blue gum trees and wattles, which remain to this day, serving the purpose of tanning extract production.

Eventually, the property changed hands and was lovingly taken care of by the Arnolds, who meticulously constructed a magnificent two-story house with the assistance of their son, Wolfgang. This remarkable abode, now a Heritage House, still stands proudly within the park, representing a cherished piece of history.

In 1957, the descendants of the Arnolds offered the Sandton Town Council the first opportunity to acquire the entire 40-acre property. It was the heartfelt desire of the Arnolds to ensure that their land would be enjoyed by families and appreciated for its natural beauty.

The original stables on the Arnold Farm, located in the far end of the park, have been repurposed as the building for The Fields Montessori Pre-School. Julia Gorham, the visionary founder of this educational institution, generously funded its establishment on behalf of the City Parks. Her intention was to provide young children with an exceptional education within an ideal and nature-filled learning environment.

Today, The Fields Montessori Pre-School stands as a testament to Julia Gorham's commitment to creating an educational haven where children can thrive amidst the beauty of the park's open veld areas and dirt paths. The collaboration between Julia Gorham, the City Parks, and the historic Arnold Farm has resulted in a harmonious blend of nature and education, ensuring that young minds are nurtured and inspired in a truly remarkable setting.

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