I've had the pleasure of teaching at Community Montessori for five years. Like many others in the profession, I've wanted to be a teacher since childhood. After high school I earned my elementary ed degree, setting out on the path to work in a traditional setting because I'd never known anything else. Throughout my practicums I got red flags that didn't sit well with me. I felt strongly that there were systems in place that were not respectful to children. Finally, when I visited CM, I instantly knew I had found what I didn't even know I was looking for, and I joined the team shortly thereafter. Since that time I've earned my Montessori credential for ages 6-12, my Master's in Montessori education, and I'm currently working on my Montessori credential for ages 3-6.
Reading some of these reviews led me to share my own experiences. Now that I've been studying the Montessori philosophy for five years, I realize more than ever how much there is left to learn. I understand the rationale behind why we do what we do in ways I never grasped before. I constantly work to shed personal prejudices, and when successful, it becomes clear how strongly those prejudices affected my views of events, children, and adults. Being a Montessori teacher, first and foremost, requires great personal humility, and second, the observational skills of a scientist. I can't help but feel that the negative opinions others have expressed are at least in part due to not fully understanding the situation or the rationale behind the decisions made. It would be impossible to come into an unfamiliar environment and gain an accurate picture of what was taking place right away. I will say that where I am in my understanding right now, Montessori is, without a doubt, the best possible option for children.
I implore anyone reading the reviews on this page to keep in mind that each event is viewed through the individual's personal experiences and prejudices, and we all have them. We only know what we know. As a personal testimony, I will undoubtedly send my future children to CM, and both of my nephews are currently in the 3-6 program. I am so excited for the wonderful education that I know is in store for them. Just like any school, CM has room to grow, but I can guarantee that there is not a staff anywhere more committed to providing the best possible school experience for children and teens.
I'm sure from my previous comments it's clear that I think the staff at Community Montessori is the best anywhere. I feel honored to work with them, and I see firsthand the amount of behind the scenes effort, care, and consideration that goes into their work with children and teens.
Wow, CM does this in every possible way! From the first days of school children work together, with the adult's support, to form classroom commitments that they agree are important for a successful school experience. When there is conflict, the adults support conversations between children, where they can learn to communicate respectfully and effectively, express their needs, and consider the needs of others. With enough practice, the children are able to then use what they've learned to peacefully navigate tough situations independently. The structure of a Montessori day and the co-teacher model allows the freedom for grace and courtesy lessons to take place whenever they need to with whomever they need to. CM knocks "soft skills" (I hate that term, but it is what it is) out of the park!
I was hired at this school in late spring, and when I went on a tour of the school l, I was surprised at how beautiful the environment was and I was enchanted by everything I was promised as a teacher. However, after starting training, I quickly began to see red flags. The director of the school says, "We don't make kids say sorry because they don't mean it." She also attributes lack of basic skills children should have academically to parents "setting unrealistically high expectations for their children." This is absolutely false. In my first week teaching there, I saw second and third graders who wrote letters backwards and used capital letters in the middle of words! As a reading specialist, this was startling to me. I was told by my "co-teacher" that I was not allowed to teach any lessons during the first month or two of school, and to only help remind students of the rules of the classroom. This concerned me because the children who were about to take the ISTEP had no time to review or prepare. The children of the teachers there are the most out of control children I have ever encountered. One child pushed another small child on the playground so hard that she went flying into the mulch and was crying. I made him apologize (disregarding the directors words), and when I told my "co-teacher" she didn't discipline him at all and told me "No one gets in trouble at this school. We will have a conversation with him later about it." (We never did). The children spend most of the day wandering aimlessly around the room or drawing pictures. They are not learning and the teachers there are not bothered by this. The first day of school, I did a read aloud after lunch and I was told by my coteacher that I wouldn't be allowed to do that anymore and the kids should choose three books to read on their own for 40 minutes. Many of our class couldn't read yet, and she was okay with letting them choose huge chapter books and didn't care that they couldn't read them. Her exact words were, "The only way to get better at reading is to read on your own." Again, as a reading specialist, this was a red flag. When I quit, the director was rolling her eyes and telling me I needed to stay another year and that I was unprofessional and breaking trust with the children. She had me in tears when I left the building. DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILDREN TO THIS SCHOOL! TERRIBLE!
We have 2 younger children at CM. Our son began when he was 4 and our daughter began when she was 3. I really appreciate that the children stay in the same studio for 3 years. By the end of 3 years the relationship between the teacher, student, and parents is so well developed. My son has a learning disability and he has always had a tremendous amount of support from the school. During his IEP conference every year I am always amazed at how deeply his teachers, the developmental staff, and the director know and understand him. Whenever I have requested a meeting with a teacher (or the directors) to discuss either of the kids, I have always been readily accommodated, even though they have very busy schedules. They WANT to be in communication with the parents as much as possible. I am so grateful they are in an environment that encourages internal validation rather than external, creativity, compassion, and graciousness. Every child on the planet is an individual; not just a statistic inserted into a bell-curve of achievement. Why should we accept one traditional educational paradigm for all children? After all, Fibonacci was considered a moron when he was in school because he didn't demonstrate learning the way the other kids did. But, if it weren't for his mathematical genius, we'd still be using Roman Numerals.
This school is THE epitome of why charter schools should not exist. The teachers are underpaid and under qualified and the same goes for the administrators because one of the perks of being a charter school is that you can make and enforce your own rules. Teachers here don't have to have college degrees. Administrators are placed in their roles thanks to nepotism and not based on their skill-set or educational experience. My child attended this school for 5 years until their learning disability was no longer welcome. The Director of the school has a knack for bullying out the families of kids with learning disabilities by making it impossible for our kids to succeed which is ironic since Maria Montessori started her schools with children disabilities. Again, a perk of being a charter school is that you can choose how you want to operate. You get what you pay for, folks. If you want a free "Montessori" education that is a watered-down version of what Maria Montessori truly envisioned for her philosophy then this might just be what your family is looking for. If you want to send your kids to a school where the teachers actually teach then send them to a real Montessori school that has taken the time to go through the accreditation process. If you're ok with mediocre then you might do just fine here.