My child is currently a student at HDMS. I truly like the principal as well as the teachers, however, I do not believe that a montessori school is for every child. My one negative thing to say about HDMS is that they don't always see the individual child. Some children do need more guidance and clarity than others which I do not believe is given at HDMS.
My child spent several years at HDMS and graduated last year. She is now at one of the Washoe County Signature Academies and is absolutely thriving. She is getting all A's with a full load of honors classes. I truly believe that HDMS gave her the perfect foundation for high school and beyond. She has learned to think for herself and I think she is much more self-directed than her peers from traditional elementary and middle schools.
My child attended High Desert Montessori all though primary and elementary and he had a wonderful experience. He left recently because we had to move, so he is going to another Middle School, but he transitioned beautifully, gets great grades, and is considered a leader by his teachers and peers. A recent review stated some serious inaccuracies about the primary program. Children are absolutely allowed to read fiction; in fact, his primary classroom had hundreds of fiction books available daily. He even brought them home nightly to read with us in kindergarten. I do know that there in an emphasis in primary on non-fiction, though, because they want to expose children to real world concepts. Elementary classrooms do allow parents in the classroom (I know because I volunteered in his classroom). They are just more stringent in primary because they want to preserve the work environment to ensure that young children are disturbed or distracted by adults who aren't trained in Montessori. The teachers at this school focus on the whole child. At High Desert, my son learned how to be kind, compassionate, and how to work problems out. You can't put a rating on that.
High Desert Montessori School is a sweet school with a lovely playground and caring teachers. I like that the children are taught self-responsibility and that there is a healthy food policy. The teachers are caring and sincere. The children learn to work independently and collaborately. I think others should know that in primary (including kindergarten), there is no fiction allowed. The children only read nonfiction books until first grade. Superheroes are banned as well. The lack of fiction and the lack of art in primary really bothered me as things like arts and crafts are what makes kindergarten special. Parents are allowed to volunteer at the school, but not in the classroom. The school could improve its communication with parents as to the goals for the children and how they are meeting those goals. The school should also allow for more creative pursuits like art as well as science. Their writing instruction seems a little weak so far although I don't know if that improves in later grades.
I LOVE this school. My daughter attends the infant/toddler program and will be moving into the Primary Program soon. My nieces both attend the Elementary Program. I have spent a ton of time researching this program, observing the classes, talking with the staff, and even attending the events and fundraisers. It is a fabulous combination of Montessori Method and Charter School (meeting all Washoe County Educational Regulations). When you walk into a classroom, the first thing you notice is how quiet it is! Not because the kids are forced to be quiet, but because they are all so focused on what they are doing. The project based learning method, allows kids to get excited about learning. Plus, I have to applaud their SUPER healthy lunch program. Not to mention the garden and chickens they keep. This school is worth its weight in gold.
We have been at HDMS for several years and are very happy with the academic process that both of our children have made. Their math and reading scores are well above grade level, yet they are both still challenged. Most of Montessori learning is hands-on and project based. The assignments are multidisciplinary and encourage creativity. For example, one Nevada Day project for the middle school children was to create a historically accurate chili recipe from the mid-1800s. The students had to research food availability in Nevada at the time, cooking methods, spices, etc. It was a fun and very educational project - and I'm sure most of them will remember the information they learned through that project much more than anything they would have learned by writing a report on the same topic. The school is only 10 years old and has experienced growing pains, but we feel that it has definitely 'come into its own' in the last couple of years. The teachers are passionate and truly do care about the needs of each child. We are confident that our children will be socially and academically successful when they move on to high school and college.
Thank you High Desert for challenging my children academically and teaching them social responsibility. Both my oldest and youngest son are able to work at a level that challenges them academically in every core academic class and then some. My youngest son works above grade in math without being treated like an anomaly. My oldest is twice exception, yet at High Desert he is thriving. In a traditional middle school, he would be a statistic, a special education box to check for more funding. At High Desert, he is an individual treated with respect and valued for his strengths, while still being supported in order to overcome his lack of social skills. When I see him interacting with other children, thriving, and being accepted for who he is, I forget he's been labelled on the autism spectrum. The ability of my sons to thrive and grow is only possible because of a highly skilled, caring group of teachers, parents, and students.
High Desert is a wonderful school for kids of many different levels. Since Montessori is student driven they are working at their performance level instead of working on work that may be above or below them. The use of the eye catching materials helps to grab the attention of the students and they become more interested in their own education, all without feeling like it is "work". I love this school and what they offer.
High Desert Montessori is a hidden gem in the Reno area! The teachers are highly trained and knowledgable. The staff is well-informed and can help out with basic questions about the school. Students are happy and the community is involved. I am proud to be a member of this amazing community!