By Lynne Winter
As the eldest child of a Montessori schoolteacher, Rachel Averch knew from the time she was 5 years old that she, too, wanted to be a teacher.
“Every day, I would come home and play ‘school’ with my younger sister,” says Averch, president, co-founder and CEO of the Montessori Children’s House of Denver. “By the time she reached kindergarten, she was testing at a third-grade level because I was teaching her everything I learned during the day.”
After graduating from high school, Averch took a short detour on her road to teaching, accepting a full scholarship to study business at a community college in northeastern Colorado. The detour ultimately proved fortuitous.
“The business education I received turned out to be a beautiful gift,” Averch says. The knowledge she gained from her classes allowed her to put together a business plan for an idea she and her mother had devised: opening their own Montessori school in Denver.
The bank saw potential in the idea too – approving her for a loan at just 19 years old.
Averch and her mother set out to find a location for their new school and came across a homey old farmhouse on Birch Street in the metro area. They knew it would be perfect for the children they would serve. In 1991, they co-founded the Montessori Children’s House of Denver.
“The mission of MCHD is to support and empower people to reach their full potential, and we believe that Montessori is the best method of education for achieving that goal,” Averch says. “Children are so capable. When they are given trust, respect and the right learning environment, the things they can accomplish are amazing.”
To realize her vision of being an administrator and teacher, Averch knew she needed to continue her educational pursuits and reached out to the Individualized Degree Program at Metropolitan State University of Denver. With guidance from IDP, she customized a degree program to fit her needs, allowing her to take classes while running the school.
“It was perfect,” the 1996 graduate says. “Earning my unique degree in both education and administration made every dream I had possible.”
Averch’s school has grown from its humble beginnings on Birch Street to three campuses serving more than 250 students between the ages of 12 months and 15 years. And with growth came change.
She no longer teaches in the classroom and is instead primarily involved with administrative duties and developing her leadership team. When she has time, she loves visiting the collaborative classroom environments to watch children learn and celebrate their individuality.
“It’s a disservice to society for everyone to have the same set of skills,” she says. “Our graduates are independent and unique – they all have different interests and abilities. That is what makes people amazing.”
Averch is driven by her desire to provide people with an environment where they are free to discover their purpose. She continues to encourage others to follow their inner voice as she did in her quest to become a teacher.
“It’s all really wonderful – I have a whole team of talented people who are building this dream,” she says. “The last 27 years have been just magical.”
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