New private elementary school with unique name, curriculum to open in eastern Lawrence; longtime heating and cooling company sells to new owner

We’ve all heard of the School of Hard Knocks, and yesterday I’m sure several of us were reacquainted with the School of Short Fuses. (Perhaps you even went to its graduate academy: The Institute of Glue-on Eyebrows.) But you don’t hear a lot these days about The School of Love. Well, there is indeed a new school with that name opening up in Lawrence, but before you get the wrong idea, it is for elementary students.

A new business called The Lawrence School of Love has signed a deal to locate in the former home of the Sunshine Acres Montessori School at 2141 Maple Lane in eastern Lawrence. As the name suggests, the school will have a curriculum that is focused not just on academics but also on emotions.

“We teach through love, not through rewards and punishments,” said Angela Piperidou, the founder and director of the school. “We focus on how we treat the kids and how they treat others. You treat others the way you want to be treated. We want them to carry that idea with them through their whole lives.”

Plans call for the school to serve kindergarten and first-grade students this year and to add one or two grades per year in the future, Piperidou said. Piperidou operated the school this past year, but it was based in Tonganoxie. She and her husband live in Tonganoxie, where he is a teacher in the public school system.

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Piperidou also has some experience as a teacher, but it primarily has been in Cyprus. Piperidou came to Lawrence about 25 years ago and received multiple degrees — philosophy, psychology, communications, a master’s degree in clinical social work — from Kansas University. She went back to Cyprus about 10 years ago, and returned to Lawrence in 2012, she said.

Piperidou said she decided to start the new school, in part, because she has seen too many young children unhappy at school.

“There are kids crying because they don’t want to go to school,” Piperdou said.

She said her school — which is a private, for-profit venture — hopes to change that by having a curriculum that incorporates a lot of outdoor time and many lessons that use real-life experiences instead of books. The school also will emphasize yoga and other such exercises that help students channel their emotions, she said.

The new school will follow the same calendar as the Lawrence public school system. Piperidou said she is uncertain how large classes will be, but she said small class sizes are part of the school’s strategy. Tuition for the school ranges from $550 to $650 a month, she said.


Our K-12 education reporter Rochelle Valverde has learned a preschool also is opening in the same building at 2141 Maple Lane. She caught up with the operator of that school. Here is her report:

The building will also house a Montessori preschool program, Mindful Montessori. The preschool and The School of Love operate independently of one another, but do have some aspects in common.

“We are separate programs but our paradigms are very similar,” said Samantha Hewitt, the founder and director of the preschool. “We’re both very invested in children having healthy, good food in their bodies and in incorporating mindfulness into our daily practice.”

Hewitt said curriculum for the preschool students will also focus on outdoor learning and play, and students from both schools will help with a garden on the grounds. The preschool will also offer an organic meal plan that includes some of the garden’s produce.

The preschool program will serve children ages two and a half to six years old, with much of the curriculum based in mindfulness, Hewitt said. For example, elements of the daily curriculum will include yoga, meditation and positive behavioral support. At the same time, it also strives to be personal.

“Our curriculum is designed to meet the needs of any and every child, so we find ways to adapt literally every child to the classroom regardless of their needs,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt has about 10 years experience working in Montessori settings, including Sunshine Acres and Raintree Montessori schools. She began the preschool one year ago as an in-home daycare, but the program will be a licensed childcare center once it is housed in the new facility next month.

Mindful Montessori will have two classrooms of about 20 children, each with a Montessori-certified lead teacher. Tuition will be $725 per month, and like The School of Love, the preschool is private and for-profit. But Hewitt said she is in the process of creating a nonprofit that would help provide tuition assistance.

“We’re really trying to find a way to make this particular Montessori program available for the masses and for all incomes essentially,” she said.

The preschool has about 25 students enrolled so far, and will open on Aug. 8.

In other news and notes from around town:

• As we were reminded again last night, there are lots of reasons to utter the phrase “hotter than a firecracker.” But one of the traditional reasons has been when your AC quits on a hot summer day. Well, I’ve gotten word that a longtime Lawrence company that is in the heating and cooling business is going through a major change.

Lawrence-based Harris Heating & Cooling has been bought by Kansas City-based United Heating, Cooling & Plumbing Inc.

Harris has been operating in Lawrence since 1989. In a press release, Harris owner and founder Rob Harris said he had been looking for an opportunity to expand the company’s offerings and wanted to sell to a firm that shared his values. Harris will take a senior management position with United and will remain active in day-to-day operations of the company, according to the press release.

The press release indicated that Harris will keep its Lawrence operations on East 11th Street and that Harris will operate as a division of United. The press release also stated that all employees of Harris have been offered positions with the new company.

“Harris is an extremely strong company with a solid customer base and bright future,” said Gayla Eckholt, chief operating officer of United. “We are honored to join forces with them and look forward to bringing deeper resources and increased service capacity to the Lawrence community.”