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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014

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Craig Montessori on the Northwest Side is one of 7 Montessori schools in MPS, which also is home to Highland Community School, a charter.
Craig Montessori on the Northwest Side is one of 7 Montessori schools in MPS, which also is home to Highland Community School, a charter.

Milwaukee Public Schools: Vested in Montessori Education

Parents who can afford to send their children to private school often choose a Montessori education.

MPS is making Montessori education public; accessible to everyone. MPS has been offering Montessori education since the mid-1970s. We are expanding this year by growing MacDowell at Juneau Campus and opening a new school in the old Tippecanoe building.

Why? Because it works.

How do we know MPS Montessori works? Test scores, student engagement, student success after leaving Montessori schools, parent satisfaction and confident children. In a June 2011 report, the Milwaukee NAACP wrote that "Prospects for educational achievement are brightest for Milwaukee Public School students who are enrolled in Montessori Schools."

When I walk Into Maryland Avenue Montessori I do not see my elementary schooling. I went to St. Bernard's Catholic School in Middleton, Wisconsin. There we strictly sat in rows, only given the chance to talk when hands were raised and seldom engaging in any instruction other than lectures and reading from a textbook.

What is Montessori? Maria Montessori began with her first classroom in 1907 in the slum tenements in Rome, Italy. There she scientifically observed children, paying close attention to developmental issues, interaction with the environment and experimenting with specific materials encouraging student engagement.

Fundamental to Maria Montessori's philosophy is all children have a natural inclination to learn. That drive for knowledge must be tapped into, facilitated, encouraged and self constructed by each child.

Maria Montessori concluded from her observation that children develop at different rates, on different biological and psychological timetables, and students learn best from working with materials in interaction with the environment as opposed to direct instruction.

In response Maria Montessori developed a method which allows for a constructed learning in a "prepared environment" with order and room for independence.

So if you have a chance to Visit Maryland Avenue Montessori – or Fernwood, or Craig, or MacDowell, or Lloyd Barbee, or Kosciuszko, or Howard Avenue – you won't see students sitting in rows. Instead you'll see orderly interaction between students, between teachers and students and between students and a whole array of learning materials. You might see sandpaper letters or the Brown Stairs or the Pink Tower or the Pythagoras board or the trinomial cube or the color beads. You will see large group settings. You will see small-group settings. You will see students reading books.

MPS is growing its present Montessori programs and creating new Montessori programs. While the type of schooling and the specific school that fits each child's needs is an individual family choice, I strongly suggest that parents and guardians checkout Montessori. Chances are there will be a public Montessori school near you soon.

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