The History of Arborland
Arborland Montessori Children’s Academy is currently enjoying its 30th year. Dedicated to serving its students and maximizing their learning potential, Arborland Montessori utilizes the philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori in each classroom, each day. A small community of dedicated teachers, and passionate staff led by principal and founder, Dr. Sueling Chen, Arborland strives to be the best school for its students. Arborland is constantly looking for new ways to grow and better serve its students and parents. Arborland is grateful to have celebrated its 25th anniversary, and is looking forward eagerly to the next chapter of the Arborland Montessori Children’s Academy story!
A Brief Historyby Anisa Foy
In the fall of 1988 a small new school opened on the Corner of Valencia and Brookhurst in Fullerton, California. The founder of the school, Dr. Sueling Chen, a young mother from Taiwan had just completed her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Southern California. When questioned about her reasons for opening a school, she replied simply, “With two children under the age of 3, I looked around for a safe place that offered quality early childhood education. I was unable to find a place that fulfilled my needs and what I had in mind. That is when the thought occurred to me that there was need for a new school, and I decided to open a school myself.” So it was born, this wonderful place of education, fondly known only as Arborland, started like all great inventions, to fill a need. In this case the need was for quality education for young growing minds.
Never one to do things by half measures, Dr. Chen began an intense search, looking for the best. After an extensive quest and much deliberation, she decided on a Montessori school. The teachings and philosophy of Dr. Montessori touched her heart and mind, as it matched and expressed her own views. After seeking the best advice, and meeting with other Montessori educators, Arborland Montessori Children’s Academy opened its doors for business in 1988 in a modest custom built building at 1700 West Valencia Drive in Fullerton. There were a grand total of seven children in the first primary room, two of them being Sueling’s own children.
From these humble beginnings the school quickly grew by leaps and bounds fueled by the boundless energy, enthusiasm, and strong beliefs of its founder. By 1991 the enrollment was large enough to warrant the purchase and building of an elementary classroom to accommodate and continue the education of the graduating primary children to first grade. A lower elementary classroom for children aged 6 through 9 was opened with an enrollment of thirteen Arborland graduates for primary to first grade. Soon construction began to add a new building to house second lower elementary classroom in 1993 to meet the demands of increasing numbers of graduates from our primary classes. In a couple of years, it became evident there was a need to expand the education for upper elementary children. In 1994, the children moved into the upper elementary room for children aged 9 to 12. At this time, Arborland has three primary, two lower, and one upper elementary classrooms. In 1995, the new extension also provided a room for Spanish and Art classes.
It was a very proud and momentous day in 1995 when the very first student graduated from Arborland and excelled beautifully in the junior high school system. In subsequent years, many children have graduated from Arborland to local junior high schools and became opt students of their classes while continuing their education. In recent years, our alumni have continuously graduated high school and entered prestigious universities around the nation.
While Arborland is growing, its staff’s families are growing too. In order to help its faculty, Arborland added the toddler’s classroom to its west side. In 1997, it marked the officially opening of the toddler’s program for its faculty and the community. No wonder, the teacher turnover ratio is very minimal. In average, Arborland Montessori teachers have been working there for about 15 years.
While overseeing the rapid expansion and growth of Arborland since its inception, its enterprising founder, Dr. Chen, miraculously found the time to have another child, completed her Montessori teaching credentials, and completed her doctorate in education leadership!
The new millennium brought further growth for Arborland with the opening of The Arborland Montessori Hughes Campus, Arborland Education Center and Arborland Academy of the Arts. Here the idea of education was extended beyond the early years to include the field of arts, dance, music, sports, and continued after school education and support.
What started as the dream and belief of one woman’s dream for quality education for her own children has grown into a large education center to include all the children of a whole community. In The Field of Dreams a voice said, “If you build it, they will come.” The children did come. As Arborland steps into its second quarter of century, Dr. Chen, its faculty and staff all look forward to continuing their dedicated services to the community into the twenty first century and beyond.