Pros: Free Horizon Montessori (FHM) engages the individual child on a journey of learning - the teachers are really good at meeting the child where they are at both intellectually and socially. My child's teacher last year spoke of how each child in the classroom has a "big work" for the year - my child's was "sitting still long enough to complete an assignment". The teacher wasn't upset or worried about my child's wandering mind or body - she simply, and gently, worked every day to help my daughter be a bit more independent. Cons - While the turn over at FHM is low for a charter school, families and teachers leave the school more often than they would a neighborhood school because people have choice.
Free Horizon Montessori Charter School has exceeded my expectations. My 3 year old and 6 year old are learning so much and enjoying every minute of it. The parent participation is very strong and the principal is committed to the school and the children, as is every teacher there. Teachers, principals, and parents go above and beyond here because we all believe in it and want to make it the best place for our kids to learn and grow.
My family has been at Free Horizon Montessori for many years. Several years ago there were many changes that happened at FHM all in a short period of time and it was a challenging time for the school. I can say without a doubt that for quite some time things have steadily moved in a positive direction for Free Horizon Montessori. The Board of Directors, Administrative Team, and Teachers are all working well together to create an optimal learning environment for the students at Free Horizon. It is an amazing learning environment that produces creative, critically thinking, responsible students that will be life long learners because they aren't just learning facts, they are learning to love to learn. I encourage you to take a tour of Free Horizon Montessori to learn more about the Montessori teaching method and to determine if FHM might be a good fit for your family. I can't imagine a school that would be a better fit for my family!
I am a Montessori kid, and as such, was looking for a school that met my high expectations for inspired learning, while balancing my son's natural ability to learn, and very normal learning challenges. In our 5th year at Free Horizon, we have embraced a vibrant, caring community. My son couldn't be more delighted about jumping into school every day, learning and most importantly learning to function in a community. His latest parent/teacher conference reported that he had outstanding citizenship --- really, what more could we ask for? This doesn't come from a test, it doesn't come from homework, it comes from trusting calm adults who understand and support children and their natural ability to learn and thrive. Montessori is about guiding, not about cramming in facts and figures. As a Montessori kid, turned into an adult, I wouldn't give back that educational experience for anything. So glad that my son is able to share that same experience.
My daughter went to Free Horizon for preschool and is in kindergarten there now. She LOVES school. At her age, we really want a school that will foster her love of learning and let her explore things that interest her while still having structure in her day. Her teacher is awesome, and the assistant teacher is an integral part of a fabulous classroom environment that promotes personal growth and learning. We have no experience with the upper level grades at this point.
FHM does not just pay lip service to individualized learning they actually put it into practice. There has been lots in the news about teaching children to think critically about the material they are learning and I have found this to be the case for both of my children at FHM. Balancing a Montessori curriculum with the demands of a public school system can be tricky and challenging for teacher and administrators. FHM strive to balance these sometimes competing interests. If you are looking for a school where standardized test scores are placed at a premium this may not be your school as there is no teaching to the test and materials are not presented in the same order or modalities as more traditional public schools. However, if you are looking for an enriching environment that challenges your child to be their very best this could be the right school!
In my experience, they didn't understand the needs of my child, were not willing to work with my child, and communication between the teachers and staff involved was non existent. They knew what to say to get us to sign up. Their action reflected none of their promises.
I can't say enough about how this school's approach to learning has benefitted my children. My daughter is extremely high achieving, a little OCD, and tends to stress herself out seeking perfection. The Montessori model gave her a weekly to-do list, which allowed her to feel in control, structured, and focussed. She has been so successful there (I still remember the day she brought home a division worksheet in Kindergarten, her teacher just wanted to see if she could do it - she aced it!). My son has a completely different learning style. He is more social, and easily talks himself out of hard work. And yet somehow, the same education model has worked wonders with him. He has become a little leader, helps his friends, and works on the same "work" over and over again until he gets it. I think the teachers spend an unusual amount of time evaluating each student (compared to other education models). They stress individualized learning to the extent that two very different kids can both be extremely successful - academically and socially. I am so impressed!!!
My child attended PreK and Kindergarten at FHM. We will be attending a new school beginning in Summer 2014. After being tested for the 1st grade level, my child may have to repeat Kindergarten because she is so unprepared after her education at FHM. Two years and over $12,000.00 in expenses to educate her and we have absolutely nothing to show for it!! I would never recommend this school to anyone who is serious about their child(rens) education - you will be incredibly disappointed with the results. They hide behind the "Montessori" philosophy as an explanation to why their students can't measure up to the rest of the county when in fact they just don't teach your child anything. I truly believe that this school should be shut down and the attending children be moved into better learning environments. TERRIBLE!
My child has been a student at FHM for 4 years. 4 years ago, FHM was ranked as one of the best schools in Jefferson County. Sadly, this is no longer the case. Although my child continues to rank in the 90th percentile on standardized testing, I no longer feel confident that this will continue to be the case. FHM's proficiency ratings continue to fall the higher the grade level. The turnover rate of their teachers is horrific and the quality of their teachers along with their test scores continue to decline. I can no longer trust that my child's education is a priority at FHM. We will be leaving this school at the end of the school year.
After touring 11 different Montessori's on the front range, we are happy to say that Free Horizon easily measures up to, or exceeeds, even the best private Montessori's. The staff is caring and responsive and the communication is excellent. After-school activities have been really enjoyed by our student, and their gifted programs have also been very enriching. Highly recommended.!
FHM gives our family a well rounded world view within education. I feel like I get my questions answered and my and my kids needs met in a warm, peaceful and loving environment.
Free Horizon Montessori has been like a magic wand for my daughter. She joined FHM as an unsure student with little confidence. Now, after 3 years @ FHM, she is thriving - she is happy, confident and proud. As I've read the other comments posted about FHM, it is accurate that no school is perfect, however, FHM does a terrific job of doing their best with limited resources. We are extremely thankful for FHM's spirit, community and commitment.
We came to FHM after a rough couple of years at a very test-focused, heavy homework school where we saw our son's love of learning and self confidence get worse every day. In just the 3 months he's been at FHM he is happier, healthier, more excited, and more in love with learning than I've ever seen him. This isn't a school for you if you think that test scores are the only thing that matters, or if you are an active participant in the sport of competitive parenting. But if you want a school that nurtures your child as a whole human being, and if you want a child that is in school to become a lifelong learner, not a test-taker, then this is a great school for you. And the long term evidence with Montessori shows that by high school these kids are doing better on the ACTs, getting into the colleges of their choice, and finishing college in 4 years - all without hours of homework at night and weeks of rote test-prep during the day. We are very happy with FHM - we wish they had more money for building repairs, etc. - but that's the district's fault, not the school's.
Our family has been at Free Horizon for 6 years. Our two kids have thrived in the Montessori environment at Free Horizon due to the focus on individualized learning. We have always felt that our kids are being challenged on a daily basis. They are encouraged to "go deep" and truly understand their work. Free Horizon has even helped to enrich our home life through the school's focus on peace and global citizenship; we have learned so much by becoming a "Montessori family." Free Horizon educates the students in more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic; the school helps the students see the "bigger picture" of life through cultural studies and a peace curriculum. Our school's leadership and staff are fabulous! Our principal is *AMAZINGLY* dedicated to and passionate about Free Horizon. Parental involvement is very high at Free Horizon, which makes for a great school community and helps our staff in innumerable ways. Parents, want to make your school a better place? GET INVOLVED!
I have at times been impressed and at times disappointed with the schools ability. There seems to have been a challenge bridging the gap from 3rd grade to 4th grade in terms of skill level as measured by standardized testing and in our own experience. The school has struggled to maintain consistent leadership and staff in part due to the desire for Montessori background and training. The community though is supportive, diverse and interested. We have not been aware of any significant bullying and my child feels that he is cared about. Communication with home could be improved upon. They do have a reasonable plan to address their performance measures. It just appears to be a daunting process to mesh both a Montessori curriculum with state guranteed viable curriculum requirements. There is not enough consistency yet to address special or outside the box needs of students who would have them.
I moved my daughter to this school her 2nd grade year because I was not at all happy with the results at the public school she was in. She, like many other children did not thrive in the standard classroom and was academically far behind. She is now in 6th grade and is doing great and loves going to school. Free horizon has been the best thing I have ever done as a parent for my kid. We have moved in the last year and I make the 45 minute drive round trip to keep her there because it is that important to me.
My feedback was also removed! Good early childhood option, but the 1-5 combind classrooms are very large. Crisis of leadership and high faculty and staff tuenover make for a difficult environment. Teacher quality highly variable. Excellent in some cases and abysmal in others.
Had high hopes for Free Horizon as I my experience with their pre K-K classes was great. When it comes to Lower elementary (1-3rd grade), that is a different story. I feel my kids have not learned a whole lot this year at FHM. Learning was below average, and there was not a lot of Montessori teaching going on. We had to do a lot of supplemental work at home to feel like our kids were taking anything away from this school year. Between the bullying issues that seemed to go ignored by staff, the turnover of principles mid- year and the turnover of a classroom teach after 3 weeks, we cannot take any more and will not be returning to FHM next year.
Our school is excellent with regards to helping my children excel. Reading is a major focus, as is encouraging children to love learning (rather than having to study for tests). Communication with the school is ... well... terrible (failure to return phone calls, newsletters and school info isn't passed out until the last minute, etc), but that is my only major complaint. We love the staff, the majority of the teachers, and the montessori method that is embraced here.
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