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Meet Maduka Wijayaratna of Pacific Explorer Montessori in Torrance

Today we’d like to introduce you to Maduka Wijayaratna.

Maduka, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Having spent 10 years in a Montessori classroom, it had always been my dream to open my own Montessori school to implement proper Montessori philosophy. In 2013, when Happy Face Preschool was on sale, our realtor at the time brought this to our attention. Meanwhile, the current owner at the time late MS. Mary Shaw wanted to meet the prospective buyers to decide whom she wanted to sell the school she built from scratch in 1972. When we met Ms. Shaw for the first time we became friends right away. Her daughter Sandra says Ms. Shaw spoke to her that day and told her “I want to sell my school to them”.

Biggest challenge we faced in the beginning was to convert a 40 years old preschool to a Montessori school setting. After a tedious process of renovation Pacific Explorer Montessori was stated in February 2014 as Young Explorer Montessori.

The next challenge that came across after two year of operation was to change the school name from Young Explorer Montessori to Pacific Explorer Montessori do to the infringement rights from a preschool in Ohio who claimed that we are using their “Young Explores” name, although they have trademarked Young Explorers Preschool, without any cause from us in the state of California. Although, this was a setback, we decided to change the name from “Young Explorer” to “Pacific Explorer” in our own terms at the begging of the year 2016.

Our team has two leading teachers and three assistant teachers. Our Teachers are well trained and background certified by the Department of Social Services. All our teacher assistants have at least 12 units or more in Early Childhood Education (ECE) units from reputable colleges. All teachers are CPR and First Aid certified as required by law. Recently, the management have strategically planned to retain the best teachers by providing scholarships/grants to assistant teachers, who are willing to obtain there American Montessori Society (AMS) credentialing after signing a contract with the company. This planning will retain the best teacher with-in our organization for many years to come, once they have finish their one-year internship with-in our facility.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The next challenge came in 2016, when we had to obtain a SBA loan. With careful planning after 3 years of success in a small business environment, we faced the challenges of securing a SBA loan, which started with a not so reputable bank, who was willing to fund our loan. In the latter process we found out that the bank had its own ulterior motives, was not concise as they promised in their initial electronic mailing, and there was no written notices or pro-misery notes of terms, that came along funding our loan. Soon the PEM management realized that it is not in our best interest to go ahead with this bank, rather looked into other banks to fund our loan.

Although we had invested substantial amount of money for securing the loan, for the best interest of being funded the loan, the Management chooses to go with the more reputable, Bank of the West. After many obstacles and realizations finally securing the SBA loan process came to an end, with the Bank of the West facilitating the loan in the month of March, 2017.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Pacific Explorer Montessori LLC – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Pacific Explorer Montessori is managed and partnered by a family-oriented husband and wife team. Directress of the school, Ms. Maduka is not only a managing partner, but she is the leading teacher in the classroom that provides the educational guidance for the children. She brings eighteen years of Montessori teaching experience, and holds a Montessori Diploma by the American Montessori International (AMI). She has been taught Montessori in many countries, such as India, Sri Lanka, Singapore and in the United States, where she brings a great educational and managing knowledge to the table. Administrator, Mr. Wijayaratna, has a degree in Biological Sciences from Cal State University Long Beach, served as an Agriculture Specialist in the government sector for 8 years as a US Customs and Border Protection at Los Angeles, CA, started the business with his managing partner. He is responsible of overseeing the business strategic planning, enrollments, payroll, restocking the supplies, etc. among many other aspects of the business.

Our school caters to children from age 18 months-3 years (Toddler Group) and from 3-6 years (Preschool Age) through Kindergarten. We are open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 6 pm, and we are open whole year around, except for 1 week vacation for spring break and 1 week in December.

Since Pacific Explorer Montessori is a smaller school, we guarantee your kid will not be just a number but all the members in the staff will know him/her in person and so would their families. We cater to each child as an individual and will help him/her to develop at his/her own pace.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
We would like to thank Sandra Cater and late Ms. Mary show for being our well-wishers. Also, we would like to send our thanks and appreciation to all our dedicated staff and all the parents who have being with us from the beginning of the process.


  • Toddler Group : Full Day School Session (8:30 am-3:30 pm) -$ 230 / Week PROMOTIONAL PRICING*
  • Toddler Group : Half Day School Session (8:30 am-12 Noon) -$ 175 / Week PROMOTIONAL PRICING*
  • Toddler Group : 3 Day School Session (8:30 am-3:30 pm) -$ 165 / Week PROMOTIONAL PRICING*
  • Preschool Group: Full Day School Session (8:30 am-3:30 pm) – $200 / Week PROMOTIONAL PRICING*
  • Preschool Group: Half Day School Session (8:30 am-12 Noon) – $180 / Week PROMOTIONAL PRICING*
  • Toddler & Preschool : Extended Care (3:30 pm -6:00 pm) – $ 35 / Week

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Duminda Wijayaratna

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