Greensboro Montessori School partners with Scholastic Book Fairs every fall and spring. All students in Primary and older have an opportunity to visit the Book Fair and purchase books during the school day. We prefer students do not bring cash to school. Instead, Scholastic Book Fairs has an eWallet payment option. Simply set up an account and have funds immediately available for your child to purchase books.
Set Up Your Child's eWallet
Follow these steps to set up your child's eWallet:
- Visit our Scholastic Book Fair homepage.
- Scroll to the "eWallet" section of the page, and click "Get Started."
- Review how it works, and click "Create eWallet."
- "Sign in" or "Register" with Scholastic Book Fairs. Note, if you have previously created an account, please use the same login information.
- Complete the form to set up an eWallet. Follow the prompts to fund your child's eWallet. (Note, after creating one eWallet, you may add others for additional children. Click "Manage My Funds" to visit the eWallet tab. Click the arrow in the bottom right to show your first child's full account, and click "+ Add eWallet.")
- If you have funds that your child(ren) did not use during a previous Book Fair, you will see an option to fund your eWallet with a "gift card." This "gift card" holds the balance from the last fair, and clicking that option will transfer the balance to your child's current eWallet.
- If you had a balance on multiple eWallets, the balances have been combined on this one "gift card," which will transfer to the new eWallet you create.
- Once complete, you may print a paper voucher for your child to bring to school, or we can look up your child's eWallet by their name.
Come to Our Book Fair
We look forward to welcoming parents and family members at the following community shopping times, when adults may shop by themselves before pickup or with their children after pickup.
- Tuesday, May 3: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6 p.m.
- Wednesday, May 4: 2 to 6 p.m.
- Thursday, May 5 : 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
If you are interested in volunteering at the Book Fair, please email Sarah Bobo to learn more.
Note, we do NOT expect the Book Fair to be open on Grandparents & Special Friends Day due to inventory and replenishment limitations at Scholastic. If this changes, we will let you know.
To support the health and well-being of our entire community, all visitors must be able to pass our daily symptom screening for visitors prior to entering campus. More specifically, in the last 10 days if you have been diagnosed with COVID, experienced any COVID-like symptoms, or have been a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID, please do not enter the building.
If you have any questions about the Book Fair, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Greensboro Montessori School's Upper School students took a leading role in Friday's Earth Day celebration. Upper Elementary students kicked off the morning with readings of original poetry and Spanish. After the program (which we shared live on Facebook), Junior High students hosted Lower and Upper Elementary students at eight different different stations set up on the Athletic Field. Each station featured an activity to to raise awareness for Earth Day, including ideas for recycling, composting, and even limiting our waste. Primary students enjoyed a lesson with our environmental educators, Chelsi Crawford and Sara Stratton. Toddler students took everything in from their shaded mats under the trees, just steps away from their play yards.
The original poetry shared by our Upper Elementary students highlights our integrated curriculum. Students combine their skills in English, Spanish, creative writing, science, environmental education, public speaking, and leadership all at once. We are honored to publish their work for all to experience.
Redbud Tree Lydia, Sixth Grade The Eastern redbud tree, purple blossoms in early spring. Small beacons of colour adorn the dull, monochromatic landscape. Bursts that spring is just around the corner. As the blossoms begin to fade, they get swept away by the gusts of wind that spring brings. Petite purple petals pressed onto the ground as they get trampled by tiny feet. But not all is lost, leaves that are a deep crimson, like garnet, or a sharp, zesty lime the size of a hand unfurl. The leaves are shaped like spades. Desperately trying to hold onto their branches by their paper-thin stems. Through treacherous storms they hold on, not falling yet, for the leaves have roots of their own. The redbud tree is eternally stretching, reaching its roots through the mycelium and soil, while the branches are competing for the warm rays of sunlight. The uneasy cottontail rests by the roots of the tree, protected by the lush canopy from the hungry hawks’ view. During autumn, the leaves of the redbud tree glow orange, like a campfire. Only turning into a bonfire as the chorus of the other deciduous trees chime in in the early November. Then, the redbud tree goes to sleep as the long, cold winter days begin.
Día de la Tierra Upper Elementary Group A
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es el único planeta que temenos.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es nuestra casa y nuestro hogar.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque vivimos en ella.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque hay animales, árboles, océanos y más.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es la casa para todos los tipos de vidas.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque nos da comida.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es la casa de todos.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es muy bonita. Los humanos debemos comprender que no se debe hacer daño a la Tierra.
- Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque o si no nos extinguieremos.
- Debemos cuidar la tierra porque es nuestra protectora y nuestro hogar.
sphagnum Tanner, Fourth Grade The sphagnums dance in the rain like an umbrella being twirled. The sphagnums dance in the rain on the mother tree. The sphagnums dance in the rain in the rainforest. The sphagnums dance in the rain under the shade. The sphagnums dance in the rain and the damp mother tree is playing her music. The sphagnums dance in the rain, their spore capsules open up and the spores fly away. The sphagnums dance in the rain as the 10,000 ancestors watch them. The sphagnum dances in the rain, the calm green color is shimmering on as the rain falls on them, the sphagnums dance in the rain; they have no roots, stems, leaves or seeds. The sphagnums dance in the rain, they can grow until they run out of room. The sphagnums dance in the rain in their fuzzy soft coats. The sphagnums dance in the rain. They are used for medicine to save peoples lives. The sphagnums dance in the rain; they get picked and re-planted to make a garden look nicer. The sphagnums dance in the rain.
For many younger students, our Junior High adolescents are role models and mentors. In a pre-COVID world too long ago, our Junior High students engaged more fully with our younger students. We had Study Buddies (pictured above from 2019) and found Junior High students playing actively with Upper Elementary, Lower Elementary, and Primary students all across campus. The photo below of a Lower Elementary student waving at a Junior High student from afar tells the story both of our current caution with resulting physical distancing and the ongoing importance of our Junior High students to our greater school community.
Our Junior High students engage in essential work throughout campus by caring for the gardens and chickens, while also performing campus clean-ups. They also prepare meals for faculty, staff, each other, and the Upper Elementary division each week. Offerings from Maria's at Home (our Junior High students' community supported agriculture (CSA) program) provide families the opportunity to enjoy the produce, eggs, and other goods our students have grown, gathered, and made. However, there is a qualitative nature to a potentially greater essential quality for our adolescent students, and that is their presence as role models on campus.
We learn through experience, through exposure and instruction to new concepts, and by observing others. Our Toddler, Primary, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary students are always observing their Junior High role models, learning from the ways these "big kids" interact with each other, the Junior High teachers, and younger members of our school community. Through observation of the Junior High students, the younger students are learning how to be an active member in society, how to show grace and courtesy to others, how to compete fairly and honorably, and how to grow into responsible young adults.
And it's no surprise that our Junior High students are often at their best when they know their younger friends are watching. For our Junior High students, being role models provides purpose and responsibility above and beyond their individual pursuits. It elevates their sense of belonging and supports a key tenet of our adolescent program: valorization. Valorization is the process of understanding you are a strong and worthy person, through work and exchange in society – not through work as a means to an end. It is the process of self-actualization and fulfillment in knowing that you are an essential member of your family, your school, and the community at large.
About the Author
Ben Payne is Greensboro Montessori School's director of upper school. Ben joined our School in 2019 with a wealth of teaching and leadership experience in education, including: leading the creation of two charter schools; effectively leading a faculty of 60 professionals as their principal; raising over $1.5 million in capital funds; managing the school renovation of a $2 million, 32,000 square-foot historic property; and cofounding The Symposium on Liberal Education and African American History. Ben holds a Master of Architecture from from the University of North Carolina at a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Virginia.
You may have noticed an unusual orange fruit in your child’s book bag this week. You may even have asked, "what is this?"
Originally from Asia, and morphologically considered a berry, the persimmon is a lovely fruit that matures to a deep orange color in late Autumn. If you’ve ever visited Greensboro Montessori School's Primary Garden, you’ve probably noticed our beloved persimmon tree, planted over 20 years ago by master permaculturalist, Charlie Headington. In the years since, this tree has been lovingly pruned and harvested by our favorite garden coordinator, car line greeter facilities assistant, and student support pal, Aubrey Cupit.
Generations of GMS students share a collective nostalgia for the flavor of the persimmon. To them, it seems a rare, exotic fruit with notes of magic and pure joy only attainable from our grounds. Students begin asking for persimmon snacks in our Environmental Education classes on the very first day of school, and then every subsequent day until we cut into the first ripe persimmon in October. It would be difficult to adequately describe the infectious wave of excitement when our students find out we are having persimmons for snack.
A firm persimmon tastes like a combination of honey, peach, and mango, with earthy undertones and the texture of an apple. For those unfamiliar with this fruit, I would recommend eating it raw, just like an apple, skin and all. Others prefer to bake softer persimmon pulp into pancakes, bread, or cookies. Persimmons work well in savory applications such as persimmon vinaigrette and other meat-based dishes akin to pork and apples. Dehydrated persimmon pulp creates a delicious fruit leather, while dehydrated persimmon slices make an excellent snack.
Each of the five persimmon trees on campus have produced bountiful fruit this season! In an effort to share the persimmon love, we’re sending at least one persimmon home with every single student within our GMS community. Enjoy!
- NPR: Ancient Japanese Food Craft Brings Persimmons To American Palates
- Martha Stewart: 12 Persimmon Recipes Everyone Should Make This Fall
- Wikipedia: Persimmon
About the Author
Chelsi Crawford is Greensboro Montessori School's lead environmental educator. Prior to joining our School in 2018, Chelsi was the assistant farm manager for Clemson University's sustainable agriculture program. In this role, Chelsi assisted with all farm duties pertaining to planning, food production, and harvest, in addition to managing a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm share program providing fresh produce for over 100 families weekly. Chelsi received both her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology (with a minor in biology) and her Master of Science in natural resources from North Carolina State University. She also has a published journal article focused on educational resources and dissemination of information to organic farmers throughout North Carolina.
Greensboro Montessori School partners with the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) to use Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) Growth assessments. MAP Growth is a computer-adaptive test for measuring individual student achievement and growth in math, reading, and language usage.
We've chosen MAP Growth because it is a student-centric approach to standardized testing. Unlike paper and pencil tests, where all students are asked the same questions and spend a fixed amount of time taking the test, MAP Growth is an adaptive test. That means every student gets a unique set of test questions based on responses to previous questions. At the end of each test, teachers are able to determine what individual students know and are ready to learn next.
Unlike traditional standardized tests, MAP Growth testing is administered twice a year, enabling us to measure our students' individual growth over time. Teachers may also use test results to further inform instruction, personalize learning, and monitor student growth.
While we are not a test-driven school, we know test taking is a practical life skill students need in preparation for high school and college. MAP Growth tests are one form of assessment we use, in conjunction with other methodologies of formative and summative assessment given throughout the school year.
About MAP Growth
No. As a computer-adaptive assessment, MAP Growth will provide questions to test the upper limits of your child's skills. Every student will miss questions. The MAP Growth guides suggest that students should expect to miss 40-60% of their questions.
There is no particular score for which students should aim. Instead, your child's individual MAP Growth Report will contain a RIT score. This score represents their achievement level at the time they took the test. As a partner in your child's education, we are less concerned one-time scores and will focus more attention on students' growth measures between assessments.
During MAP Growth
After MAP Growth
Preparing for MAP Growth Assessments
There is nothing families need "to do" in preparation for a MAP Growth test. We encourage families to follow the child – provide the level of support they need to feel successful. This could vary between treating an assessment day like any normal school day to practicing questions on a sample to get comfortable with the format, to talking with your child about the practical life skill of testing (i.e., tests are part of education and you should do your best, and you should not worry or stress over tests).
If you'd like to provide a strong framework for your child before and during a test, we have these tips:
The Night Before
- Relax and have fun.
- Enjoy a healthy snack an hour before bedtime.
- Get a good night's sleep.
The Morning of the Test
- Fill up on healthy, complex carbs and protein.
- Arrive at school on time.
- Connect with a friend or teacher if you have pretest jitters.
During the Test
- Take three deep breaths.
- If you don't know the answer, give your best guess and move on.
Maria Montessori believed that “establishing lasting peace is the work of education...”
While many of us are focused on the end of a school year, on how the pandemic will affect our family and our jobs, and on working to support the emotional needs of our children, as we should be, I felt it appropriate to also take a moment to remind ourselves of what Maria Montessori writes about peace education. For our attention should also be focused on what is happening all around the country and world this week in response to the events in Minnesota.
Greensboro Montessori School welcomes and embraces diversity by providing a safe and supportive environment that is open and inclusive. Our community is enhanced by people from many different cultures, races, nationalities, faiths, learning and physical abilities, political backgrounds, sexual orientations and identities, ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and family constellations.
We work together to empower all of our families to share and grow in their confidence and ability to raise responsible young citizens. And, the recent tragic events in Minnesota with the death of George Floyd must serve as a reminder that we still have much work to do. Being non-racist is not the same thing as being anti-racist. As peace educators, we have a responsibility to make sure we are doing our part to foster empathy and kindness in all of our students.
Our school has always proudly had the following policies for admissions and hiring, respectively,
- Greensboro Montessori School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.
- Greensboro Montessori School does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, gender, disability, age, national origin, marital status, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status with respect to recruitment, hiring, compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment.
We are proud that we do not discriminate. We are proud that we actively teach our students to be just and inclusive. These are at the heart of the foundations of Maria Montessori’s peace education. And sometimes this is not enough. Sometimes we must move beyond awareness of discrimination, acts of aggression, and bigotry wherever they are and at whomever they are aimed. We must also engage. How we each choose to engage these challenging times and challenging events will vary from home to home, and we all stand together with our shared value and commitment to peace education.
We hope that everyone can engage injustice when we see it, actively see our privilege where it lies, and promote equity and peace with not only our mind, but also our resources and actions. And especially to all our African American students, staff, and community members: you matter. Black Lives Matter. We see you, and we support you.
The president of the board of our accrediting body, the American Montessori Society, recently shared part of this reflection to our 16,000 members:
AMS recognizes that institutional change is required to make an impact in the larger Montessori community. Ensuring environments where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and respected is our most important charge as a membership organization. Serving as the largest Montessori membership organization does not exclude us from the institutional racism that is pervasive in associations, schools, and training programs throughout the United States. We hope that you continue to engage with us as our organization strives to be anti-racist. – Amira Mogaji, President, AMS Board of Directors
We hope that everyone can join us as we work to intentionally move from awareness to engagement.
In peace, and on behalf of the Greensboro Montessori School Team,
Dr. Kevin Navarro
Head of School
As they do every spring, Greensboro Montessori School's Junior High students recently engaged in their final Great Debate of the year in history. Students addressed and argued both sides of two debates. The first questioned whether the purposes of government are best served by an authoritarian approach. The second questioned whether the primary role of a government should be to meet the needs of its people. The debates provide Junior High students the opportunity to argue in a logical and clearly defined manner.
While The Great Debates are usually hosted in the classroom, this year's final debates were argued virtually through Google Hangouts. 57 participants, including students from both Junior High and Upper Elementary, attended the event, deepening their understanding of many forms of government and economic systems, including authoritarian, capitalist, communist, and socialist.
How the Debates Work
Teams of two or three students are given their topic in advance, but they do not learn which side they are on, for or against, until the morning of the debate. As a result, they must analyze and evaluate both sides and research and compile points and examples supporting both arguments. Each student writes two formal position papers, one for each side of the argument. This helps them broaden their thinking and mental flexibility.
The debates follow a modified version of standard debate procedure, with an opening argument, sometimes shared by two teammates; time for preparation of rebuttal; and then closing arguments and rebuttal, by the remaining member of the team. Faculty members observe, discuss and provide extensive oral feedback to the teams about the debate.
How Topics are Selected
The topics of the debates are drawn from subject matter the students have discussed in history classes during the preceding several weeks. Students are encouraged to go beyond the class discussions in gathering information and building their arguments.
The process allows students to go beyond what they have learned and apply it to larger questions, to develop their reasoning and ability to build and support logical arguments, and to gain confidence and develop greater precision in presenting their thoughts persuasively.
How We Learn
As Junior High students move into and through adolescence, it’s imperative they receive authentic support for their burgeoning philosophical questioning, curiosity in the world around them, and deep desire for belonging within their peer group. Greensboro Montessori School honors these needs through the concept of valorization, which is a pillar of our Junior High curriculum.
Valorization is the process of understanding you are a strong and worthy person. It is the process of self-actualization and fulfillment. It is not about surviving hours of arbitrary homework or memorizing facts for the next test. It’s about completing meaningful work, unleashing academic excellence, and solving real-world problems.
The Great Debates are just one example of how Greensboro Montessori School students experience valorization by developing self-worth, skills, and courage through purpose-filled work. Learn more about how we build valorization through our science curriculum in our recent blog about Trout in the (Indoor, Outdoor, and Virtual) Classroom.
If you are interested in learning more about Greensboro Montessori School's student-centered Upper School serving motivated learners in fourth to ninth grades, we encourage you to schedule a virtual information session. We welcome an opportunity to meet you, learn more about your family, and explore Greensboro Montessori School could partner with your family.
Greensboro Montessori School's Junior High students just culminated one of their project based learning assignments – hatching, growing, and releasing brown trout.
Junior High science teacher, Tim Goetz, released the trout in a cold water tributary of the Smith River near Bassett, Virginia. It was a Friday morning in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, our Junior High students would have been stream-side with Tim, and it would have been their job — not their teacher's — to complete the final step of their semester-long project. Instead, students joined Tim virtually to watch the trout meet their natural habitat.
As the trout grow, they will make their way up river into the Smith River. Along the way, they will eat land and water insects, zooplankton, worms and other aquatic creatures. They will also search for hiding places from predators, including birds and other fish. Tim Key, a member of the Nat Green Fly Fishers Club, who was present at the release said "these are some of the best fish I have every seen."
The fish were hatched at Greensboro Montessori School as a part of the nationwide Trout in the Classroom program, with support from the Dan River Basin Association, and Tim Key of the Nat Greene Fly Fishers Club. Over 250 eggs were given to the School on December 5, 2019 and the first hatch was December 10.
The fish were raised in a 45-gallon, cold-water aquarium at 50 degrees Fahrenheit in Greensboro Montessori's Upper School. To quickly prepare the correct growing environment, students mixed five gallons of water from the School's pond with 40 gallons of tap water. Students tended to the fish daily, including feeding, changing water, and water testing. Daily water tests included pH, ammonia, and nitrites with the goal of recreating a natural, cold-water trout habitat. This attention to detail resulted in the science room smelling more like an outdoor classroom next to a river than a traditional classroom.
Eighth grade student, Nina, was the head aquarium tender and her classmate, Ava, provided the backdrop art for the aquarium.
Prior to COVID-19, Junior High students were scheduled to travel to Virginia to release the trout themselves. Their expedition would have been part of their April Land Week, one of several weeks a year when they learn at Greensboro Montessori School's 37-acre satellite campus in Oak Ridge, N.C. With schools throughout the state suspending in-person learning, the students' land week and field trip was cancelled, but not their learning. Students participated in the trout release through a Live Lesson via Google Hangouts. Tim also documented the release on GoPro cameras so he could share the experience with the entire school community, Toddler through Junior High. After all, Greensboro Montessori School students learn everywhere, whether its the indoor, outdoor, or virtual classroom.
Learning through purpose-filled, project-based learning — like hatching, raising, and releasing brown trout into their natural habitat — is not the exception to the rule at Greensboro Montessori School. It is the rule. Our students learn through completing meaningful work, which often results in real-world benefits to the community. Through the multistep process of researching, designing, implementing, refining, analyzing, and presenting their projects, our students gain real-world skills such as resiliency, creativity, curiosity, time management, and public speaking. They also develop a sense of self-worth by understanding the value of their contributions to society and experiencing personal fulfillment.
Click here to read about about another real-world project our Junior High students are leading: inoculating, growing, harvesting, and selling shiitake mushrooms.
In addition to Trout in the Classroom, Dan River Basin Association, and Nat Greene Fly Fishers Club, Greensboro Montessori School would like to thank Oliver Rouch from K2 Productions for lending us GoPro cameras and editing our release footage. We also want to thank Tim Key for his work behind the camera.
Another trip to the restroom. That all-important fourth cup of water. Just one more snack to sustain them until daybreak. Isn’t it amazing how young children become such ardent advocates for self-care as the evening hours roll on? Bedtime struggles are a timeless, and trying, rite of parenthood. Just as we’re ready to wrap up the work of the day and enjoy a fleeting moment of grown-up time, our little ones get a second wind, armed with a million urgent reasons to leave their beds. Are afternoon naps to blame for these late-night revivals?
Toward the end of the first Primary year or middle of the second, some parents begin to wonder if eliminating their child’s naps will ease evening bedtime struggles. In some cases, less sleep during the day can indeed help children nod off earlier at night. However, before dropping naps cold turkey, there are some important factors to consider.
The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's recommendation that “children 3 to 5 years of age sleep 10 to 13 hours per 24 hours (including naps) on a regular basis to promote optimal health.” With families’ busy lives, this goal can be difficult to attain without the added rest time an afternoon nap provides. Children who have recurring issues with falling asleep at night may not fill their sleep tanks by the time they need to wake for school the next day, leaving them to navigate their mornings foggy and fatigued. Adjusting this pattern by abruptly eliminating a midday rest may result in emotional and behavioral repercussions later in the day, which can put a real damper on family time.
Napping at Greensboro Montessori School
In the Primary napping room at Greensboro Montessori School, we carefully monitor how long and often children sleep at school. When we notice a child is moving away from napping, we communicate with parents to make a transition plan for gradually eliminating afternoon sleep. Depending on the unique needs of each child, we may begin by abbreviating a child’s nap, waking them after a specified period of time. The duration of sleep is decreased little by little, until the child is ready to forego their snooze altogether. When they wake, we offer quiet, engaging activities until it’s time to transition to the car line or our after-school program. For many children, this opportunity to wake slowly and refresh themselves is much less jarring than an abrupt transition to the active Encore classroom or outdoor play spaces.
In other cases, children may outgrow sleeping on their own, while continuing to benefit from remaining in the nap room for a quiet rest and calming activities such as reading, drawing, or listening to music. When the child shows signs of readiness for more stimulation and movement, we work with the family to plan a transition to our Encore classroom (for first-year Primary students), or for the child to remain in their Primary classroom (second-year year Primary students) through the afternoon.
Is it Time?
If you’re uncertain about whether to begin phasing out your child’s naps, please reach out and let us know. Each child is unique, and requires their own individual approach to this transition. We are happy to keep you posted on your child’s sleeping habits at school, and to partner with you to craft a plan that is responsive to your child’s - and your family’s - needs. We can also provide helpful information on other challenges you may be experiencing while getting your little ones to settle in for the night. Though bedtime battles can seem insurmountable, there are effective strategies for giving and getting the rest we all need. Rest assured that your dreams of bedtime independence will eventually come true, and we are here to help you find your way to a truly good night!
Brooke Juneau is the director of CASA at Greensboro Montessori School. In this role, Brooke oversees the School's before- and after-school programming, along with all summer camps. Brooke first joined Greensboro Montessori School as a Toddler teacher in 2013 and served as an anchor for our Toddler students, families, and faculty for six years. She transitioned into her current role in 2019. Brooke holds her Montessori teaching credential in Infant & Toddler Education. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in education and human development from Hampshire College.
Our adolescent program in Upper Elementary (fourth, fifth, and sixth grades) and Junior High (seventh, eighth, and ninth grades) authentically engages each aspect of our students’ development: physical, cognitive, and psychosocial. We provide students with real-life, hands-on, and meaningful opportunities to learn important skills and lessons. And all their work and lessons are seeped in a commitment to excellence.
As Montessorians, we have clear academic and social objectives for each of our students, and we also believe in following the child as they achieve their objectives. Sometimes following the child means adapting our schedule or plans … and sometimes this means going out in the middle of a snow storm.
This winter, a predicted snow storm prompted Greensboro Montessori School (and all area schools) to dismiss at 12 p.m., ahead of an inclement weather event. Our Junior High students were supposed to have spent the day at The Land, our 37-acre satellite campus in Oak Ridge, N.C. where we use the natural world and our 4,000-square-foot retreat center as a base for community building, personal development, and project-based lessons.
Among other projects, the students are currently working on designing and building an outdoor kitchen and community space at The Land. This sort of project-based learning involves many steps, including complex executive functioning and integrated academic skills. Projects are put together in a real and meaningful way that engages the students’ passion and commitment. Our middle school-aged students actually love to learn, which if you have friends in other middle school programs, you know this is not the norm. A few examples of the learning that have been and may be involved in this particular outdoor kitchen project include:
- Running design charrettes to discuss and prioritize the myriad objectives for the space.
- Learning how to survey and measure the physical land, including distances, areas, and slopes.
- Learning and putting into practice permaculture gardening and design principles.
- Conducting online and primary research about various components that could be part of an outdoor kitchen area.
- Talking to vendors and contractors about ideal types of materials, costs of equipment, and potential obstacles.
- Creating a budget and timeline for the entire scope of the project.
- Petitioning administration with their plans and proposed budget for approval.
- Building and working side-by-side with professional contractors to construct the outdoor kitchen and community space.
- Helping to plan a meal and experience at The Land and new outdoor kitchen space for the entire school.
Our students are committed to learning and are personally invested in their work (just like us adults). So, when the idea of not being able to go to The Land for the day and instead having to go home at 12 p.m. ahead of the storm, a different plan was hatched ...
Rather than dismiss early with the rest of the school, our Junior High students chose to hunker down and spend the night in the retreat center at The Land. Families were consulted, extra fire wood was cut, meals were planned by the students, bags were quickly packed, safety plans were already in place, and all the students headed to The Land in advance of the coming snow.
Over the next 24 hours - when the rest of the school was dismissed home and most every other adolescent child in the Greensboro area was plugged into a device or game system - our Junior High students chose more school. And that’s what they got: more school, working on their outdoor kitchen and other lessons. And along the way, they had a lot of fun, built community, and created memories. They baked bread and prepared delicious meals; they hiked in the snowy woods at night; they squealed with delight as they tried to build snow-people; they frolicked with our resident caretaker’s two dogs and read books with his three daughters; they left their cell phones and devices at home; and they felt safe, secure, and at home with their peers and teachers.
This is what adolescent education should look like.
And we know our approach to adolescent education works:
- Our graduates’ average ACT score of 29 is eight points higher than the national average score of 21.
- 9 out of 10 graduates say they are better prepared for the demands of high school than other students in their high school classes.
- Our graduates' average, unweighted high school GPA is 3.8, compared to the state average of 3.4.
- 97% of our graduates say they are successful adults because of their Montessori education.
- Our graduates enter college with an average of 24 credits earned from AP and IB classes in high school.
Who says learning can’t happen in the middle of a snow storm?