This year as the students arrived on the first day I was reminded of something wonderful that never fails to surprise me. One student, with one foot over the threshold said to me, “Mrs. K I’m doing a report on the eclipse!” Three of my returning students took the chemistry kit off the shelf and began to build molecules. They stayed engaged with the project for three days. Coming back to their old familiar classroom, students take up where they left off. It amazes me, in the most fitting way, by confirming that learning without borders is the best gift we can give to school children – the ultimate experience that schooling has to offer, a Montessori education.
This school year began during prep week with a delightful visit from Renee Serota who spent three hours with me in the classroom just days before she headed off to college. I remembered Renee, in 5th grade, after a summer break on the first day of a new school year, responding to my question of what would you like to do? “Well I left off with decimals so I’d like to start there”.
A continuum of learning that puts students at the center is what the Montessori approach is all about. Interest drives learning and hard work. The complete developmental curriculum organized around the elegant hands on materials serve as old friends even to Renee, who repeatedly worked with the trinomial cube during our visit. “I’m not ready to put this away- just one more time.”
Having completed high school algebra, calculus and more Renee touched down on the landing strip where her mathematical understanding took flight, first as a four year old and throughout her years as a learner here.
During our working prep week, one teacher burst into room 203 smiling from ear to ear, reaching out to hug me from across the room “I’m so excited, I can’t wait to get started!” “That’s what children deserve”, I reply. And no one was disappointed. Weeklong reports from returning Middle School Teacher Stéphanie Beaurain and new co-teacher Syd Hoffman regaled me with reports of their “amazing students”, their language skills, their tenacity, their willingness to face disappointment with grace, their honesty, their confidence and resourcefulness – adolescents! We are well aware, more so than most, of the turbulent time this stage of development brings as students navigate the passage to adulthood, but what a foundation they have to build on! And they built that foundation both at home and here at Crescent Montessori, most of them since age two.
Quietly working over the summer to prepare a beautiful, warm, loving environment, the teachers on the first level, Minha Yoon and Casey Richter and class assistants, Eileen Noel, Kendra Evanghelo and Rachelle Engbreth, stayed from morning until late afternoon getting everything just right in anticipation the first day with their new and returning students. I turned out the lights and locked the doors on most days leaving my classroom feeling lucky for the support of the dedicated teachers to with whom I share the work of the school year
Our first weeks back at school reaffirm for me that Crescent is a place where students love to learn and teachers love to teach. I think of concentric circles when I think of the school, organized around the children at the center. Our families, faculty and staff respond to the growth and development at each important stage with new skills and the opportunity and time to practice, hands on experiences, freedom and choices that support independence and meaningful tasks. Through our work, the children have the opportunity to develop self-worth by including each person as a meaningful
member of the school community with a role and an important contribution to make.