My children have thrived at Cambridge Montessori from the first day of the toddler room through to Upper Elementary. The teachers in the Upper Elementary classroom where my older child is now are some of the best educators I have seen anywhere, at any level, including university. I am convinced that the Montessori philosophy is one that works for most children and that my children are extremely lucky to be able to experience it at CMS. I am paying attention to how my children are developing the LOVE OF LEARNING at CMS. This is what it is about.
We started our children in Montessori because we believe in the curriculum and the style of education as set forth by Dr. Maria Montessori. This includes freedom of movement, own-pace learning and hands on education. Cambridge Montessori fully embraces these ideals throughout the administration, teachers and support staff. As with any school, the classroom teachers have tremendous influence on the direction of the students. We feel that CMS has done an excellent job of retaining the teachers that truly believe in Montessori education and respect the students and families. The administration was also very proactive in bringing in program directors that are passionate, intelligent and caring educators. We have been at the school from primary through the middle school with our daughter and sons, each with very different learning styles. Each classroom was very attentive to the needs of our children with all three more than ready, both academically and socially, for the next stage of their academic journey. CMS is a vibrant, diverse community that has been a perfect fit for our family.
This school was substandard on all levels. The parents live in constant fear of retaliation by poor reviews of your child by the administration in case you leave for another school. The teachers are intolerant of any child that does not fit their idea of "normal" and they will make you undergo counseling and constantly complain that your two year old "was loud and jumping today". It was truly a miserable experience for our toddler and us and in retrospect I wish we pulled out out kid mid year and not had him suffer through the end. After me moved to another school it was for the first time we had our child express happiness and want to go to school.
We withdrew our son mid year in 2014 as did other parents commenting on this post. It is not a good school. There are serious problems with administration, oversight and teachers. Boys are clearly at a disadvantaged, particularly black boys and boys of color. A horrible environment for children and parent.
I still think about Cambridge Montessori all the time, years after my experience there, because it was the most positive, loving environment I have ever experienced within a classroom. I was only there for a short time as a teacher's assistant, as an opportunity rose to have my own classroom in another school. To this day, I have yet to see so much love and genuine care for the children in the classroom that I saw at this school! I give a lot of credit to the lead teachers, who showed me how to truly interact with a child; I still use these techniques everyday in my (non-montessori) classroom. One thing that makes this school unique is that the teachers are able to have a close, intimate relationship with their students that you just do not see in a public school, as well as many other private schools. These teachers ultimately spend 7+ hours a day. working intensively with these children, and really love them, and know & want what is best for their development. And, just like ALL other schools, the parents will get defensive when they hear something about their child that they didn't expect. It makes me so sad to see the negative reviews from parents on here.
The school culture is rigid and judgmental, with a culture of pathologizing normal toddler behavior. Some of the things that made us withdraw our 3yo mid-year: In March, a memo forbade parents from speaking to each other at drop-off/pickup. When our son was afraid to use the toilet at school, the teacher forced him to sit on the toilet for 45 min while he cried in frustration. He was criticized for not doing work exactly the way the teachers wanted (e.g. sorting puzzle in the right order). In a parent conference, we were told our son was too literal because asked where rain came from, he said From the sky, not From clouds. He was already reading and adding at 3, but we were told this, along with his shyness, were signs of a possible psychological problem. We were bullied to take him for autism screening, even after a specialist and our pediatrician said he was likely fine. Administration, up to the head of school, either ignored problems or blamed us. When we sent a formal letter detailing our complaints, the school offered us a partial tuition refund if we signed a nondisparagement agreement. We refused. We ve llearned other families had similar experiences.
Parents are not welcome to be involved in their children's education at Cambridge Montessori School. My child was in the Toddler room this year. When parents raised concerns about school policies the administration (all the way up to the board) either ignored the issues, made empty promises, or tried to intimidate parents' --there was never any action or follow through. Parents are leaving the school in droves. It is a very unhappy community.
Our son started in the toddler room last year, moved up to primary, and was there until April of this year when we withdrew him. We had a truly terrible experience. We found the program to be incredibly rigid in what it allowed kids to do and what it expected of them; I spoke to many other parents whose kids had been flagged as "problem" kids because they were too active or (as in my son's case) too shy. The school pressured us frequently for interventions we weren't sure were necessary while refusing to discuss any of our concerns about how the school was run or work with us at all. In fact, a bizarre memo went out to all parents literally telling us that adults were not to speak to each other near the classroom. By spring we had serious concerns about particular teachers and the administration all the way up to the board, and we withdrew our son mid-year. At least 2 other families did the same around the same time (spring 2014). It must sound like I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. I do hope that other families there have had better experiences, but I was startled by how many unhappy families there were there and how severe the problems at the school seem to be.
Our kids love going to their school. We joined this community early on and we feel that our children are being seen at CMS for who they are. No cookie-cutter approach, kids are respected with their different personalities, backgrounds, learning styles and different learning paces. Great teachers, they are all masters in their field and it is quite remarkable how they motivate the children.
Cambridge Montessori School has serious problems with staff supervision, a culture that has little tolerance for boys and leadership that is woefully underperforming when it comes to oversight, communication and principled business practices. I wish other parents, not just the ones on the Board of Directors, had reviewed this school two years ago. We have had a terrible experience.