As I write this, I am in Houston, having spent a full day observing a Montessori middle school and a second day observing a Montessori high school.
School of the Woods has had their middle school for 33 years and their high school for 17 years. Currently they have 48 students in 7th and 8th grade, and 72 students in 9th through 12th grade. What I saw was beautiful. These young adults took ownership of their environment. They appeared very much at home in these classes where there were no walls, and a lot of common space. They were happy and busy. They looked out for each other. I didn’t hear a lot of directions being given. I observed many systems in place that made everything work and run smoothly. The students appeared to be self-directed for the most part, with teachers acting as facilitators and providing support as needed. I saw group work and individual work being done. I watched students speak confidently to the community and I watched them conduct experiments. I watched them load the dishwasher and wipe the counters after fixing a snack.
I had the privilege of observing the High School Community Meeting that occurs every morning with all the students and faculty. The student whose turn it was to lead opened the meeting with her “Soap Box.” This particular student had prepared a slide presentation and talked about the five people who have most influenced her life to make her who she is today. She spoke with poise, confidence and humor, and she signed everything that was said throughout the meeting.
The students take American Sign Language along with Spanish every day.
Her peers were supportive and respectful. Following her “Soap Box,” she asked the community for Announcements, then Acknowledgements, and then Sharing. Many students contributed and they all expressed themselves well and supported each other. It was wonderful to see such respect and maturity.
I share my observations with you because it is a testament to where this Montessori journey leads. Most of these School of the Woods students started Montessori young, and what they look like when they get to this secondary level is very much a result of the personal and social educational journey that has taken them there. Montessori teaches the person, not content. Whether your child is in a Montessori Infant, Toddler, Primary, Lower Elementary or Upper Elementary program, we are laying the foundation; finding the keys to unlock their hearts and minds, building up the people who will be confident leaders and have diversity of thought, a strong work ethic, and will take care of themselves, their friends, their community, their world.
Each year about 25 colleges recruit students from School of the Woods. Last year, the graduating class received over $2 million in scholarship money. One-hundred percent of high school graduates from School of the Woods go on to graduate from college.
The decision to send your child to a Montessori school could have been the result of any number of factors, some having nothing to do with the fact that it is Montessori…but now that you are here, I hope you are celebrating your choice for all the significance it will have on your child’s future. I know I am.
CMCS Board of Directors, Secretary