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St Joseph Montessori School5
Posted February 24, 2014
- a parent
I've been a parent at the school for over eight years and though we've had some bumpy times I'm happy to say the school is on the right track and continues to be one of the best, most special schools in Columbus. The administrator who caused so many of the negative comments below is long gone and the new head of school is fantastic. Our students graduate 8th grade easily able to excel in any high school in the city. Starting in the phenomenal preschool level, the Montessori Method gives students basic building blocks of knowledge that they expand and develop as they grow and learn but it all happens at the individual child's level. The community of parents are involved and friendly so if you agree that it "takes a village" this is a good village to be in. My kids know how to be self started, manage their time, and respect others because of SJMS. Best of all no homework is assigned until 7th grade leaving plenty of after school time for other interests. If you are looking for a school I strongly urge you to go and see it in action. You won't believe it how great it is.
We have been a family at SJMS for many years and have seen firsthand the benefits of a Montessori education. The Montessori philosophy emphasizes the human development of the child and that is what we have seen during our years at the school. Our children have learned to work independently, manage their time and tasks, be self-directed in their choices, and respect themselves and others. We have had some excellent, dedicated teachers during our time at SJMS, and our whole family has benefited from the strong community of families at the school. There have been challenges in leadership and with some individual teachers but they have not detracted from our overall very positive experience with the school.
I have had my children at SJMS for 8 years and counting. I live in a community with a highly rated public school, yet I make a significant sacrifice to send my children to SJMS. I believe in the Montessori philosophy, SJMS teachers' commitment to the students, and the nurturing environment this school provides to my children. My children love this school AND love going to school! They feel supported in their desire to learn beyond the traditional curriculum and have formed beautiful friendships with their classmates. Like many schools, SJMS has experienced changes in administration and faculty, yet the institution has withstood the transition with great grace and superb fortitude. In spite of these changes, my children are thriving, happy, and eager learners. I am confident my children will continue in this path AND the school will not let them down. SJMS is amazing--it's a hidden gem in Central Ohio. I would whole-heartedly recommend this school to anyone who is looking for a nurturing, caring environment that is academically challenging for their children.
I have had my children at the school for 11 years. During this time I have witnessed changes. Change is good. It sure is hard but mostly it's good. I have always had this thinking, as soon as I become a perfect parent, I will expect a perfect Teacher, Coach, Etc. I am far from perfect and frankly this school has been able to pick up on my deficiencies. I am happy. I have had concerns, don't get me wrong, but I directly addressed them with the person and then went up the chain of command when needed. That too is tough, but it is my role as a parent to be fair and do that. My daughter is in 7th grade now, started at 3 years old, and guess what, SHE LOVES TO GO TO SCHOOL. That in itself is amazing. This is how I know it is working. My son is a Freshman at St. Charles. He has a 3.6 gpa as of today.... wouldn't you say they prepared him? He expects to be treated as an adult, this is the Montessori upbringing he has had. I am still their parent, making the hard decisions, making them responsible for their own actions but they wouldn't be who they are (THEY ARE GREAT KIDS) without this school. It's worth every penny, and believe me I've sacrificed for it. Truly.
Attended the school at the elementary level coming from a top rated suburban Montessori preschool. Teachers, parents and children were wonderful, very involved and embraced the Montessori philosophy fully. If rating were exclusively for teachers, parents and children the school would be 5-star! Unfortunately, teacher turnover has been alarmingly high in the last few years. We experienced 3 teachers leaving in the same classroom in the two year period we attended. Most recently a teacher was removed during the school year under mysterious circumstances, reasons were not given by the leadership at the school but among the families there was reportedly significant teasing/bullying going on directed at young children. Then out of the blue a long time favorite teacher who was a constant and positive presence to the children, also resigned voluntarily with very little information given to the parents and with very little effort made to retain said teacher. Leadership is significantly unstable and inept. Communication is poor and Montessori methodology does not exist from the top down. Definitely not worth the money.
My son started Children's House at 3 years old and has recently completed a year. He has learned so much and I often wonder had he not been placed at a Montessori school, would he do as well. He worked on many advanced topics such as naming the planets, countries and continents. He also recognizes most numbers to 100. I'm sorry to hear of some negative comments below, but I can't speak for other things going on with the administration. The other thing I love is they have Wholesome Tummies, a very healthy alternative to normally bad school meals. His classroom teachers seem very encouraging of his abilities and we will continue to put our son here so long as he is thriving and happy.
The current administration does not deal with current parents nor interested parents truthfully. Conflicting statements are made regularly... which leaves both current and prospective parents confused about how to deal with certain situations. There are major changes that need to occur in order for me to recommend this school... from the admissions process to upholding true Montessori ideals to dealing with conflict appropriately. My disappointment is unfortunate.
Our experience at the school was extremely negative. We had a CH teacher who took a very hands-off classroom approach, with the result that bullying, aggression and inappropriate (violent, gory, mean, sexual) language occurred frequently and were allowed to continue uncorrected. We believe this is not consistent with the Montessori concept of freedom within limits and certainly did not create a nurturing environment for 3-6 year old children. When we brought our concerns to the administration, we thought they would be addressed; after some initial responsiveness, we encountered dismissiveness. Consistently, when problems arose during class, including accidents and aggression, we were not told. Instead, there was an active culture of discouraging communication with parents. We had expected teachers and administrators to partner with parents to support our children. It never occurred to us that anyone would conduct a preschool classroom in this manner. It was simply shocking as we discovered the depth and seriousness of the classroom issues. It is possible that there are better classrooms in the school, but we cannot recommend this school based on our experience.
We recently finished our first year of Children's House (3-6), and I will say that the educational experience has been amazing. Our daughter is learning about things that I am confident I was not exposed to until much later on. The "works" method of Montessori school is also something that I recommend as an effective way for young children to learn. That said, it takes a certain breed of parent to be comfortable with the way teachers and administration communicate with parents, which is to say not much and not well. We try to understand that Montessori is all about creating little individuals, but we struggle to be as hands-off and trusting that this will all work out as the teachers and administration tell us we need to be. They say all kids are Montessori kids, but not all parents are Montessori parents, and I'd say that is our situation exactly. Our daughter will be here for one more year of pre-school, but then we'll send her somewhere else for K-12.
We had high hopes that the new head of school would make some much needed staff changes. Sadly, this has not happened. Because of a couple of teachers, many families have left mid-year. The board's main focus seems to be on raising money for tuition assistance rather than responding to problems and attempting to retain families who are currently there and are paying tuition.
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