As a school, we are fortunate enough to have a living founder. In the past, we would set aside a day in March as Founder’s Day, and our founder, Dr. Patricia Feltin, would visit each classroom where she would chat with students, and they could ask her questions. Although we had to cancel our on-campus visits, we still want to keep the spirit of honoring and celebrating our founder, and what a better way to do it than to share with you an article (slightly updated) that she wrote for our 2019 Spring Issue of Connect. Please take a moment to view photos from past Founder’s Days at the bottom and use the button link to visit Eton School’s timeline from our founding to our 40th anniversary.
Reflections on Eton School
by Patricia Feltin, Ed.D., Founder
“It is a story of belief in the mission and trust in the students. Every affiliated person over the past 40 plus years has contributed to Eton School’s legacy.”
“Why is there an Eton School in Bellevue?”
I hear this question regularly during my annual classroom visits on Founder’s Day. The answer is just as meaningful now as it was in 1978—I wanted to provide a place where children could develop the necessary skills to succeed in life. I wanted their education to empower them to become independent learners with a deep sense of confidence and high self‑esteem—to achieve a joy of learning.
Lofty goals? Yes!
Attainable? For sure!
Observable in the Eton classrooms? No doubt about it!
I was fortunate to have been able to dedicate my professional career, 34 years of it anyway, to a mission I love and know is making a difference. I can be assured of its continuance because Eton School is based on the Montessori philosophy and approach. The method has been successfully proven for over 100 years in countries and cultures around the world. And the school’s administration and staff embrace it.
A few key components are in place at our school to assure that children of varying ages are able to explore in a prepared environment where materials and activities are designed to arouse their interest and ensure success. The teachers are trained, and the curriculum is not solely standards-based or focused on testing. In Montessori-inspired classes, students work and learn at their own level and pace, motivated through curiosity and discovery.
So, Eton School in Bellevue is 40 plus years in existence. This is truly a gift to the community. Many of the nearly-original staff members are still in attendance every day, dedicated to the Eton culture. As teachers and administrators retire, new professionals are hired, such as Dr. Russell Smith, who maintain the tenets on which the school was founded. It is a story of belief in the mission and trust in the students. Every affiliated person over the past 40 plus years has contributed to Eton School’s legacy. I am proud to be a part of this amazing journey.
Although every moment of the school’s history has been significant, the following are most memorable to me:
- Moving from the Ashwood Center to our own building on Bellevue-Redmond Road in 1984.
- Celebrating our 25th Anniversary with an old‑fashioned birthday party involving a family parade to the park while sporting festive balloons.
- Painting of murals annually by students that grace the fences surrounding the playground.
- Receiving the US Department of Education Blue Ribbon award, the first Montessori school to be so honored, and attending the ceremony in the White House Rose Garden in 1991.
- Gaining accreditation through the Northwest Association of Independent Schools (formerly PNAIS) in 1994 and 2003 as well as through the American Montessori Society (AMS) in 2003.
- Forming non-profit status with the first Governing Board made up of parents of former students in 2009.
- Establishing student traditions including Spirit Days, Historical Halloween, All-School Dance, Science Fair, spring performances, and Una Voce.
- Welcoming my granddaughters to the school as Pre-elementary students and attending their eighth-grade graduations in 2015 and 2016.
So, I say, “Congratulations, Eton School! You maintain high quality and dedication to the mission. You are ready for many years to come.”
- Eton Founder