Montessori to increase sizePublished 8:25pm Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The Washington Montessori Public Charter School started this school year a little differently.
The Board of Trustees invited school stakeholders to its annual retreat and developed a list of goals from the feedback they received from staff, students and parents.
Jen Hales, head of school, said that list is nearly complete.
“It’s been a year of really determining who we are,” she said.
That process involved reassessing school values, determining the public’s perception of the school and enlisting the help of a Montessori school development specialist.
The result of the tasks was a plan to get back to the basics. The school will shrink class sizes and hire additional teaching staff to reduce the student/teacher ratio.
Each class currently has two adults. Classes either have a teacher and teaching assistant or two teachers using a co-teaching model. Next year, the school will have three teachers in each classroom.
Sandy Kennedy, director of the day school and an instructor for students ages 3 to 6, said her favorite change will be the addition of a fourth kindergarten class.
“It’s going to reduce the number of kids in each class, which is really going to help us spend more time working with each child,” she said.
The school upgraded its technology, adding mobile laptop labs, new computers for each teacher and classroom. The school also purchased laptop computers for each middle-school student. Each student was assigned a laptop to use at school, not take home.
Hales invested in Montessori Records Xpress, an online records-management system that she said will reduce the amount of paperwork and student assessments needed.
“Most important, it’s going to standardize all of the curriculum,” Hales said.
The system also helps teachers plan curriculum that is in alignment with the core curriculum guidelines. They can customize, view and copy lesson plans from anyone in the network.
A few teachers have started using the system with mixed reviews, but Hales is optimistic.
Middle-school curriculum will change in the coming year. Each middle-school student will take a Spanish-language course. Hales said the school would add Spanish classes to other grade levels in the future.
The school purchased an adjacent lot for future expansions. With the addition, the campus is now 36 acres. Hales mentioned the possibility of a new middle-school building and, one day, possibly a high school.
Hale said the school’s progress would be guided by the words of Montessori school founder, Maria Montessori: “Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.”