On Saturday, I attended the first information session for Redbud Montessori For All a proposed charter school that would be based on authentic Montessori principles. The school opening is still a few years away, but if you have kids age four or younger, I encourage you to fill out the pre-enrollment form to stay up to date with the school’s progress.
Montessori For All founder Sara Cotner has extensive experience with Montessori education, with charter schools, and with programs that are trying to close the achievement gap. She is applying for a Texas charter to open in Austin in Fall 2014 and then expand to San Antonio in Fall 2016. The San Antonio campus would open with two types of classrooms, 3/4/K and 1/2/3. Classrooms for 4/5/6 and 7/8 would be added later, which means that students could spend up to eleven years at one school. The target class size would be 24 students, with a teacher and an assistant in each classroom. The school would open with approximately 288 students and expand to 528 students.
The school will feature a dual-language curriculum that is consistent with Montessori principles. Some dual language programs have abrupt transitions between languages and activities; Redbud Montessori For All teachers will be able to switch between English and Spanish during an activity. Sara will seek teachers who are Montessori certified by AMI or AMS, dual language certified, and state certified.
In the early education classrooms, students will focus on hands-on learning; in higher grades, technology will be incorporated as a tool for creative production, such as scanning drawings, writing on a word processor, presenting slides, or producing video. Sara shared a story about a Montessori classroom in which seven- and eight-year-olds decided to produce a coloring book and sell it; following through on such a long-term project helps build independence. Students in higher grades even plan their own field trips, including how to raise the money.
Redbud Montessori For All is still looking at locations in San Antonio, but is focused on the urban core and the near West, East, and South sides—not the North Side (where most of the private Montessori schools in San Antonio are located) or outlying areas.
Other interesting details: The school calendar will feature nine-week learning periods separated by two-week breaks, offset by a slightly shorter summer break. School uniforms will offer some flexibility—several colors of shirts, for example—but will simplify choices and allow students to focus on what’s inside.
Interested families can fill out the pre-enrollment form to stay up to date about Redbud Montessori For All. There’s also a Facebook page to like. I will be posting updates about the charter application process, including charter interviews in August and granting (hopefully) of a charter in September. If all goes well, the Redbud Montessori For All application period will be December 2015 to February 2016, with a lottery in March 2016.