We are fortunate in our area to have a public Montessori school. Two, actually. For the past 26 years, our program has been split between two general education schools across town. As a program we have been trying to grow and collaborate, being so far apart it has been challenging. In support of unification, I wrote the following. Our district board approved unification and beginning September, 2014 we will be housed at the same location. I am sharing this for posterity and in gratitude of this incredible program.
February 4, 2014
Spokane Public School Board
Subject: Montessori Unification
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to consider the public’s thoughts on unification for our two public Montessori locations.
When our eldest was ready for pre-school, we accidentally discovered Montessori as an alternative style of education. I immediately fell in love with it’s whole-child, whole-community focused form of education. I devoured every last Maria Montessori book I could get my hands on. This style of education is an incredible fit for the developmental milestones in our children. When the time came for our eldest to enter first grade, we knew it would need to be in a public school. Yet, our son was not a neuro-typical child. Educating him in a standard classroom was going to open him up to challenges I could not even begin to comprehend. His future as an adult rode on his name being picked during the lottery process at a time when an empty line was open on the roll sheet.
Over Spring Break of his kindergarten year, we received The Letter. The letter that quietly announced that our son’s future education would be cradled in the Montessori spirit for the next six years. At the time, I even calculated the value of that letter. Private elementary Montessori schooling was running around $3,000 a year. Calculated over six years, for our eldest alone, we won a lottery financially valued at $18,000. The final value would be determined in the years to come.
Our son struggled tremendously during those six years. It was not until his third-grade year that he received a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. His lower elementary Montessori teacher was a source of information, support and encouragement for us during those years. Moving on to upper elementary, he continued to struggle. Yet, his upper elementary teacher also worked tirelessly within the Montessori framework, to give him support and coping tools.
Upon entering Middle School, he flourished. In ways I can’t describe. Watching him in his first few months of Middle School made my spirit sing with hope for his future. His years as a Montessori student gave him the tools and skills he needed to succeed during those trying years in Middle School. What he has become through his years spent as a Montessori student cannot be evaluated with a price tag. It truly is priceless to this Mom.
We also have two other children. One is currently a sixth grader and our youngest is a second grader. Our youngest was diagnosed with cancer in 2009, at the age of three. At the time I was serving my second year as CoMP South Chair. Had you asked me at the time, I would have told you that I bled Montessori. I truly believe that Montessori is for every child. In the years that have passed, our youngest has received and is in recovery post a bone marrow transplant. He is surviving and thriving within the Montessori community.
We will make the necessary arrangements and accommodations our family will need to implement to make a unification work for everyone involved. That is what one does in a community they are devoted to. I am not attached to a location. I am devoted to the program. Maria Montessori is famous for saying, “Follow the child.” For myself, I will follow the program.
Mom to Curtis, AnnMarie and Gregory