The Montessori approach to ending the childcare crisis in Okaloosa County?

Getting childcare near Eglin Air Force Base is a lot like applying for college – but with less sleep. Typically, you’ve got to fill out several different applications, make a couple of non-refundable deposits… and you hope your child gets in, or at least wait-listed, at the ‘good one.’


RELATED: This is why it’s so hard to get chlidcare in Niceville. 


The problem becomes more and more familiar as fewer and fewer workers go into the childcare industry. The lower-than-average pay and, state credentialing and other cost drivers make it really expensive to get childcare – if you can even get it in the first place. 


Well, a group specializing in Montessori Curriculum for children has announced plans to open at least one center in Crestview to teach children. 


What’s more – they want to train military spouses to teach at the schools and pay them while they learn.

“Across the United States, there are growing waitlists near military bases. We’ve pinpointed the locations with the longest waitlists. Eglin is one of them,”
Edward Lunney
Director of School Growth
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Higher ground has begun an expansion around the United States. One of the company's focuses is to create centers near military bases with long wait lists.
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Opening new centers in Crestview

The team at Higher Ground Education says it’s about 60-90 days away from announcing at least one new school site in Crestview. They are working with local real estate developers and plan to build new schools from the ground up in the city. 


RELATED: Eglin announces new daycare complex to be built in Crestview. 


“Across the United States, there are growing waitlists near military bases. We’ve pinpointed the locations with the longest waitlists. Eglin is one of them,” said Director of School Growth Edward Lunney. 


The group also says they want to open locations in Fort Walton Beach as well. They believe that it will take between 12-18 months from groundbreaking to opening the centers – which means a facility could be ready as early as next July.

Hiring and Training Military Spouses

But the issue with childcare in the area doesn’t just have to do with the shortage of centers – many of the providers simply cannot find enough workers to keep all of their rooms open. 

Higher Ground plans to combat this by offering $4,000 Montessori Teacher Daycare Training to military spouses for free. Currently, the program has six military spouses spread throughout the country in a pilot program taking the courses.

The training requires very little in person training time – and the credits are transferable, according to Telisha Thomas,  the Department of Defense Liaison for Higher Ground Education. “We need to advocate for military spouses, to help them find and retain employment,” she said from her home on Ft. Belvoir, near Washington D.C. 

While the team at Higher Ground did not specify the amount the Higher Ground Centers would pay for a montessori-accredited teacher, ZipRecruiter had jobs in Florida which ranged from $24,690 per year to $34,254 per year. That’s roughly $11.87 per hour to $16.47 per hour.

Signing up for classes and schools

Currently, the schools are not taking applications for children in daycare – but do plan to launch that portal “soon,” according to Lunney. 

As for the training – candidates can sign up now at this link.

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