Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Three Questions Answered

Why Montessori?
I personally was drawn to Montessori first by my understanding of children. Children are ready to absorb information and learn from birth. It is my belief that it is the nature of each child to grow into the environment we provide through a natural process of learning. Thus, by simply creating the right environment, I believe it is possible to create a classroom in which the learning needs of every child-- whatever his or her particular strengths and challenges may be-- are addressed in a joyful rather than oppressive manner.

Over the years, I've accumulated more and more experiences with Montessori education, including in the lives of my two children, and I am continually impressed by the way in which Montessori classrooms are designed for the whole child, and the way in which they creatively engage children and nurture true excellence in learning. Montessori has made a difference in the lives of my children (both of whom happen to have special needs), and though it is a historic model of education that has been supported by generations of research, I believe it is also a cutting edge model of education that simply hasn't caught on quickly enough in the public setting.

Why a Charter School?
Last spring, my son turned three and was admitted into Worcester Public Schools. In anticipation of the transition, I visited and spent many hours observing 16 different early childhood education programs, including the one offered by my neighborhood Worcester public school. Tuition for the private schools ran between $3,600-$17,000 per year! Most of these schools were Montessori with accreditation from a Montessori organization of one type or another. Only a few went beyond the preschool years. Not one was in Worcester. As far as I know, there are currently no accredited Montessori schools within Worcester. Only the most expensive school offered a handful of modest scholarships. This same school also does not accept children with special needs, such as Deaf students. Few children will be so privileged to attend these schools.

Our public schools are struggling to educate our children, and the schools that are successfully educating our children are simply not accessible to the public. This is an alarming fact that deserves our attention.

Why Worcester?
I believe that the children of Worcester deserve to have access to something as stellar and as powerful as Montessori. And I believe Worcester, the second largest city in New England, should have cutting edge public schools. In fact, the Department of Education is soliciting applications for public charter schools in Worcester, and even providing grants for charter founding groups because the need for innovations is clear.

I have a vision of a diverse, urban public Montessori school for kids in preK-1st (traditional Montessori 3-6 classroom) and 2nd through 4th grade (traditional Montessori 6-9 classroom), with the possibility to expand into upper grades once the school has been established (expand one grade per year).

Worcester is an ideal location for this effort.

No comments: