I’m thrilled about the new Montessori middle school! It’s small, and the teachers are passionate, intelligent, and energetic. The same can be said for the dedicated group of pioneering parents. Although the school is linked to Watts and Morehead (those students have priority in the lottery) there is actually more slots for the school than those two schools can fill, so there will always be some room for children to come in from the community at large. This year the 6th graders have their own wing at Watts while the renovation is completed at the Lakewood YMCA building. We only have about 70 6th graders, so we’re looking for more kids to join the 7th grade next year! The lottery will be accepting applications for rising 6th and 7th graders for the 2011-12 year, probably in January.
I’ve observed the classes less than a week after it opened, and I can’t tell the Montessori from the non-Montessori kids. Work seems to be project based (individual and group) and the teachers have been focused on teaching the kids how to manage their time so they can be successful. There are 3 core teachers who specialize in Science, Math, and Language Arts. They all teach social studies with their “advisory group” (akin to homeroom). They change classes without a bell, and when they go into the hall, it looks like a peaceful ballet! In addition to the creative approach to academic rigor, there is also a strong focus on community: building a strong community at the school (through team building and daily leadership opportunities) and in connecting with others through community service. These concepts are integral to the Montessori middle concept. Montessori values work and the whole child. The classrooms each look a little different; teachers and students are provided the flexibility for teachers and students to organize their space into what works for them.