Honesty, integrity, fairness--and social justice--are at the core of Ancona. Even at the age of 3, children are encouraged to explore these topics. One kindergarten class felt that something their teachers were doing was unfair, so the teachers helped them come up with a plan to explore this with the Head of School and make their case. It was amazing to see that children were encouraged--even at that age--to explore issues of fairness.
My daughter is in her third year at Ancona, in the All Year Montessori program, and we couldn't be happier. The learning is phenomenal--she is not simply memorizing facts, she is truly understanding complex concepts and craves to understand more. I have volunteered a number of times in class, and I'm always blown away at how the class operates. The teachers are amazing--calm, patient, nurturing and empowering. The children respect each other and work together. You can see how the school is setting the class up not only to be life long learners, but to work with others. The emphasis on Spanish, music, art, and outdoor learning (the new outdoor learning space is going to be great!) provides a well-rounded education. The Ancona community is diverse--families look different, come from different neighborhoods, and are all just so supportive and warm. There are many efforts to bring parents together and to create a community. We highly recommend this wonderful school!
Our son is in the All Year Montessori program at the Ancona School, and he--and we!--could not be happier with the experience. While we had no prior connection to Ancona (nor were we very familiar with the Montessori approach), we have found it to be such a wonderful and welcoming community, and a perfect fit for our family. The AYM program features a dual Spanish/English curriculum, which was a stand-out feature for us. The teachers are absolutely amazing at identifying each child's strengths and helping them develop at an individualized pace. They have shown such warm enthusiasm for my son's interests and have nurtured his curiosity for learning about the world around him. Whether learning about the solar system, our city's architecture, or African dance, the teachers work WITH the students to develop creative projects that inspire a holistic understanding of the material, often taking advantage of the city's rich resources for real world experiences. Whatever the lesson, I appreciate that the emphasis is about intellectual exploration and true understanding, not memorizing for a test. Beyond the classroom, I have also found the staff to be exceptionally kind, professional, and connected to the students and families. The parents, too, are involved and invested in the school, yet without the sharp competitive edge that sometimes exists in private school environments. Parents are not doing assignments on behalf of their children here, much to my relief. To touch on the broader mission of the school, Ancona encourages its students to be independent problem solvers who are respectful and responsible members of their community. In addition to the academics, students are shown how to be kind to one another, and how to work together to solve problems, and how to appreciate diversity in its many forms. I am always impressed that even the youngest children here will look adults in the eye and speak to them with confidence. In sum, this is the educational experience I wish I would have had as a child (a somewhat anxious, high achiever who felt constrained by an exam-driven curriculum). I am so glad we found Ancona, and I look forward to many more years of joyful learning for my son.
Ancona is an extraordinary school. It offers a world class education but that is not what makes it so special in my opinion. It's values are what really sets it apart from other school. Ancona is committed to social justice and that thread runs through everything the students do. It is also the most diverse school in Chicago but not just in terms of the student population (which is 60% students of color with a wide variety of backgrounds represented) but in terms of the curriculum. There is a significant emphasis on creating a peaceful community. It is truly a beautiful place.
I also love that kids are kids here - there is daily recess (often twice daily) and a very reasonable homework situation. They want kids to have time to play. What a relief!
Finally, the families who come to Ancona are extraordinary - we have made so many amazing friends. It's a privilege to be a part of a community that shares your values. We want our children to receive an excellent education (and get into the city's top high schools), have fun, and help make the world a better place.
"I just love Ancona!" That was music to our ears after enduring weeks of ranting about leaving his friends.
Transferring our son to Ancona for his 8th grade year was risky, but a very necessary decision. We had become so disenchanted with the CPS system and its rote approach to learning and that we had to make a leap of faith. The Ancona family made us, and more importantly him, feel right at home! Our son met new friends and teachers who cared about him as a person and not just a letter grade. The holistic approach to learning was exactly what he needed, and what we had been looking for! Our only regret was that we didn't send him sooner.
We were so pleased that we immediately transferred our second son to Ancona. We are happy to say that he is a thriving 6th grader and is excited about learning!
I have been an Ancona Parent for 8 yrs now. My daughter has flourished and grown in every way a parent could ask for. The teachers are kind, interested, academically motivated, curious, gentle and rigorous. Their concern for every child is so manifest. The trips away to camp and later Mexico build character and create confident risk takers. Spanish is available from the time they are 3. Montessori works, it REALLY does....Plus, Building the pink tower is the best. I can not find enough good things to say about this place or it's people. Teachers, staff, parents, EVERYONE! Sending your child to Ancona will be a choice you will be glad you made. I promise.
The Ancona School is perhaps the only private, independent school in Chicago that has consistently maintained its integrity as a school implementing progressive-based and Montessori practices. Ancona has almost always been completely true to its mission: providing an exceptional educational experience, while celebrating a racially, ethnically, religiously, socially diverse population. It's a gem that shouldn't be so "hidden". Too many people searching for so-called "good" schools go after a name or a reputation, while their children end up lacking the kinds of interactions that really prepare them for the so-called "real world". Ancona is about a real as it gets. No hiding, no bait-and-switch, just real. Not perfect, but real. I am very impressed by the tremendous education my child has received at Ancona.
Ancona is a truly exceptional place with strong leadership, exceptional teaching, and a warm social environment. All of these basics facilitate what the school is all about -- creating in each student an open-minded, confident, creative risk-taker. I have a sixth grader and a fourth grader in the school now. But prior to arriving at Ancona, we had sampled four other schools. No comparison. Ancona manages to balance the many important aspects of cultivating young minds and emotions: academics, self-expression, importance of community, skills, play, values, self-discipline and respect . . you name it. Strongly recommended to anyone considering a move to Chicago or a shift from another local school.
We are so happy with Ancona. Our kindergartener is reading out loud, says math is fun, knows all the countries in South America, and talks about civil rights. What an amazing place! The teachers are kind and patient and can handle a "spirited" child. The community is incredibly diverse. Choosing Ancona was absolutely the right decision.