Montessori Community School nurtures students in an authentic, high quality Montessori environment. We’re in West Ashley for our Cool School of the week.
Montessori Community School is a magnet school in Charleston county, and was the first public Montessori program in South Carolina. Principal Kim Hay says, “We do have a very special school.” It started as a private school then opened as a public school with a small student body. Hay says, “When we became a public school in 1997, we were actually the first Montessori public program in the state.” Today the school serves 252 students in a new facility that embodies the Montessori experience.
Montessori Community School follows a philosophy that nurtures intrinsic motivation as well as independent and collaborative work. The school serves students from 3-years-old through the 8th grade in authentic, high quality Montessori environments. Principal Hay says, “Between the teacher training and materials, we’re really able to create these environments where children can be independent learners and thrive. They understand that they need to be responsible for their own education. They take on that responsibility eagerly. Ii think they set high goals for themselves, and I think they have strong organizational skills and are intrinsically motivated to learn.”
Multi-age classrooms foster peer learning, uninterrupted blocks of work time, and choice of work activity. All students spend time working in the class gardens, which helps to promote a peaceful environment. Hay says, “We really work with the students in the environment to establish a sense of peace and calm and quiet so students can focus on their work and it impacts the whole building. You get that same sense of peace in every room you’re in.”
The rigorous academic environment supports strong student achievement. Seventh grade student Eli Jennings says, “I think the Montessori experience is cool because you don’t just learn the basics of academics, you also learn the basics of life. You learn more than just how to multiply something or divide something. You actually learn how to cooperate, deal with problems.” Second grade student Isa Jickling says, “I think it’s fun when we get to start our work and we get to do it by ourselves, or we can do it with a friend, and we get to sit on rugs or at tables.”
The classroom teachers at MCS are both state and Montessori certified. “I am able to really reach my students where I need to. It’s a lot more individualized instruction. The students benefit because they’re allowed to work independently, they’re allowed to work collaboratively,”says teacher Heather Atkinson. Hay says, “We want them to be intrinsically motivated so that they are eager and curious and interested in a lot of things in life in a wide range of experiences and they will step up themselves and look for those learning experiences.”
Students participate in many trips into the community during their years at MCS.
Community service is an important aspect of a Montessori Education. the school supports a diverse group of community outreach projects such as oyster bed restoration, Heifer International, The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Rein and Shine, and Courageous Kidz.
Upper elementary students in the fourth through sixth grade participate in a reading buddies program with the three, four and five year old students at MCS to foster a love of reading.
Seventh and eighth grade middle school students practice entrepreneurial skills by running their own school store. They make craft items to sell, do all of the bookkeeping and re-stocking of the store.
In addition to Spanish and art integration classes, MCS has a chess club, chorus, as well ukulele and guitar clubs.
Coming up Friday on News 2 Today, we’ll present Montessori Community School with our Cool School award.