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The City Journals

Elizabeth Academy to Purchase the Garfield School from Westminster College

Nov 02, 2016 03:01PM ● By Bryan Scott

Press Release submitted to City Journals 

SALT LAKE CITY – Westminster College is pleased to announce it has entered into a purchase agreement with Elizabeth Academy for the sale of the Garfield School (1838 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City). Elizabeth Academy plans to develop the space into a Montessori-inspired laboratory (lab) school.


The Garfield Lab School will train future teachers and provide innovative educational opportunities and professional development to its educators. The lab school will engage young students in an inclusive Montessori-inspired program. It will offer authentic Montessori training and certification for aspiring teachers as well as opportunities for live observation of young students engaged in the learning process. 


“We are very excited to work with Elizabeth Academy on the purchase of the Garfield property,” said Westminster President Stephen Morgan. “We have always wanted to be very thoughtful and deliberate with the use of Garfield, and after many studies and proposals, we determined the building would best be utilized by Elizabeth Academy.” 


"The Montessori method of education nurtures children’s natural curiosity and helps students to develop a lifelong love of learning, " said Jennifer Spikner, Elizabeth Academy's head of school. "Through their work with hands-on materials, students develop independence, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as well as a strong work ethic — all skills that will help them be successful throughout their lives."  


Over the past few years, Westminster has been no stranger to Montessori education. Through the Institute for Montessori Education at Westminster — funded in part through the Sorenson Legacy Foundation — the college has trained more than 100 Montessori teachers and administrators nationwide. The program is one of only a handful in the country that allows students to get their undergraduate degree in education combined with a Montessori certificate. The Montessori method of education is a child-centered education approach based on scientific observations of children from birth to adulthood. There are 49 Montessori schools in Utah.


“I believe this is the future of education,” said Gail Williamsen, Elizabeth Academy executive director and co-founder. “We would love to see the Montessori method of education become more prevalent in both public and charter schools throughout the country. I believe it’s critical to develop educators with innovative Montessori expertise. This new venture will help us create a space for this kind of teaching and learning. We look forward to working with Westminster on future educational endeavors at the new school.”


“Through our Montessori Institute, Westminster College has been collaborating with Elizabeth Academy for more than five years,” added Morgan. “This partnership has been successful in the training of Montessori teachers, and has provided our devoted faculty with opportunities to work with students exploring special education and early childhood programs. We are looking forward to exploring the potential of new partnerships between Westminster and Elizabeth Academy.”


About Elizabeth Academy:

Elizabeth Academy opened its doors in 2009 as an inclusive private non-profit Montessori school. It is located in the East Millcreek area of Salt Lake City and is currently serving over 200 students. Fully embracing Montessori best practices, Elizabeth Academy is a model school for inclusion designed to challenge and inspire diverse learners (typical, special needs and gifted students) from 18 months to 14 years. Early Childhood Academy joined Elizabeth Academy’s family of schools in 2016 as an early intervention and inclusive Montessori school serving students from birth to age five. Intensive therapies are integrated into this program, providing speech-language pathologists and music, occupational and physical therapies as needed by the students. For more information about both schools, visit


About Westminster:

Westminster is a private, independent and comprehensive college in Salt Lake City, Utah. Students experience the liberal arts blended with professional programs in an atmosphere dedicated to civic engagement. With the goal of enabling its graduates to live vibrant, just and successful lives, Westminster provides transformational learning experiences for both undergraduate and graduate students in a truly student-centered environment. Faculty focus on teaching, learning and developing distinctive, innovative programs, while students thrive on Westminster’s urban Sugar House campus within minutes of the Rocky Mountains. For more information, or follow WestminsterSLC on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.