I love this school. I chose it before I even gave birth. I knew I wanted to find a school that promoted my daughter's self esteem and taught her independence and a love of learning. This school is more than I hoped because they actually have over night "Earth Experience" trips every year. They teach foreign languages. They offer physical education. Every year they put on performances. The kids start giving speeches in front of their classroom at age 6. My daughter knows more than I ever did about science. I wish I had this option as a kid. I feel like it's Portland's best kept secret. If every parent knew about this school they'd have to double in size.
I think it is important to note that FMES is not only a great Montessori school they are also the only accredited pre-K through grade 8 Catholic Montessori school in the nation. They are accredited by the Pacific Northwest Association of Independant Schools. There are only 8 private schools in the Portland area with this accreditation. The schools listed are some of the most elite schools in the area. Check out the list at pnais.org. This accreditation sets FMES apart from the rest of the Montessori schools. Additionally, FMES was founded in 1977, they are tried and true to their teaching. It is important to note that although FMES does have religious studies, it is not part of the everyday classroom. The students who elect religious studies take theses classes separately from the other students. I am thrilled to have found such a great school for an affordable price.
The Franciscan Montessori Earth School (or just "Earth School" as we parents call it) is simply amazing. After moving to Portland, Oregon from Arizona about a year ago, our first priority was to find a great preschool for our then three year-old son. We searched all of the web sites out there, drove around the city, asked neighbors and friends, and came up with several that seemed worthwhile. We kept seeing this "Earth School" on all of the lists, and after reading many of the parent comments online we decided to check it out further. Now, I have to say, we are NOT wealthy...far from it. Back in Arizona we used to pay $140 per week ($560 per month) for a good quality day-care/preschool for our son. After a year we have to say that this school is AMAZING...check it out. You won't be disappointed.
I check this sight regularly to see what is being said about the 'East Sides best kept secret' and finally, I felt compelled to add my 'two cents' after reading the previous review: AMEN! My child also has a learning disability/behavioral issues and I cannot say enough, how well this school has dealt with him. The other children in his class are so well grounded and responsible that his Guide(teacher) can spend literally, hours working with him alone. I must admit that the tendency on the part of the staff to openly discuss individual childrens issues with one another and other parents took some getting used; it is odd to come around a corner and hear your child being talked about :) but I see now, that this type of open behavior is one of the ways the school fosters a family-like atmosphere---- Bravo to FMES
How truly blessed we feel to have found this wonderful school! My Partner and I searched long and hard for a school that would accept our Special Needs child and I am so pleased to say that we did. FMES takes to heart the idea 'that it takes a village'. Everyone, including students, is responsible for creating an atmosphere of learning and growth. My only 'issue' has been my daughters feelings of exclusion during some events and activities(i.e. Mass); we aren't catholic and the obvious iconography, everywhere, is uncomfortable at times---that said, I strongly urge parents whose children have had 'trouble' fitting in elsewhere to give this school a look!
Finally a Catholic school that is not ashamed of true Christian values. I was a little hesitant at first because of (just being honest) the possible image that FMES was too 'hippy!' But, this is just not the case! The nuns who run FMES gently weave the Bible and Jesus' important teaching through literally every part of the curriculum. I was astonished and so pleased when my daughter came home after only a few months at her new school to know exactly why priests wear purple during advent. These crucial lessons are often not even found at schools that take greater pains to portray themselves as Catholic. And with all the dubious and subtle educational changes infecting public schools, my husband and I found that most Catholic schools have started to buckle under that pressure--not FMES. Hooray for a return to a real education!!!!!
The staff is generally enthusiastic and are concerned about their students. However, FMES does not follow all of the tenets of a typical Montessori education, and this is greatly disappointing. For parents interested in a gently guided educational platform, FMES is serviceable. For parents looking for an educational philosophy grounded in the Montessori method, you would do well to keep looking. FMES is well meaning. But FMES is an experiment-in-progress.