In a recent interview, Head of Montessori Community School (MCS) established in 1985, Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan, and a current MCS parent, Marie Bosteels, reveal the difference between MCS and other schools in the Salt Lake Valley.
Montessori is an authentic curriculum which has been practiced for over 100 years to meet the developmental needs of each individual student. “We have multi-age classrooms where students are presented lessons with hands-on materials by trained Montessori teachers. Certified teachers observe carefully and prepare the environment to suit each student in their classroom,” says Robyn. Essentially, students have the opportunity to gain a firm understanding of a concept before moving on to the next concept.
In addition, according to Robyn, it is commonly misunderstood that Montessori is a preschool program. On the contrary, the program offers an authentic Montessori education for children aged 18 months up to 8th grade.
Current parent, Marie Bosteels, shares her thoughts about MCS. “From an early age the children are empowered by learning independently through well-adapted materials with guidance from teachers”, Marie says. “They are confident that the knowledge of the world is at their fingertips.”
Beyond Montessori’s carefully developed curriculum, MCS also offers an enrichment program where students participate in a diverse selection of activities. “Students participate in Art, Music, Dance, P.E., Yoga, Drama, Outdoor Classroom and the Great Outdoors expeditions. Children can also participate in Spanish instruction at different levels,” says Robyn.
Like many MCS parents, Marie also has her children participate in the Enrichment Program. “We are driven to give our children a rich childhood, where they can explore and experience many areas of life. Thanks to the amazing program at MCS, I always knew that enrichment for my children happened at school,” says Marie. The Outdoor Classroom and the Great Outdoor Expeditions has supported her family’s desire to have an innate knowledge of the beauty, ecology, and flora and fauna that surround us. “My youngest daughter has a passion for art and because the Montessori materials are so unique and adaptable to the individual needs of each child, the teachers guide her to art projects that integrate reading and writing skills,” Marie says.
Marie shares her thoughts on the most important skills her children have gained at MCS. “Because Montessori adapts to the individual needs of every child, MCS has been the right place for all three of my children,” Marie says. “They have developed organizational skills, a sense of order, the ability to work independently, research, think and analyze, lead meetings and debates, conflict resolution, listening skills, mindfulness, staying connected with your passions, and goal setting. At MCS, my children have been learning and integrating these skills since their Early Childhood classes.”
When asked what sets MCS’s Middle School program apart from others, Robyn responded, “Our Middle School program is designed to meet the unique needs of adolescents. Supportive of their sensitive period for social development, our program allows children to continue to progress academically at their own level while also focusing on life skills,” says Robyn. In addition, team building exercises, appropriate communication, and rendering service are a few of the skills they develop as they explore social behaviors in a small, protected environment.
According to Marie, there are experiences her children have had at MCS that may not have been possible elsewhere. “In Upper Elementary my oldest daughter was able to successfully lead a group discussion with parents. She made sure everyone had a chance to express their opinions and kept the conversation going during silent moments,” says Marie. “She has always followed her passions and inner voice, a quality I attribute to the MCS school environment, where children always have a choice within a well- prepared environment.”
The MCS is located on the South-West corner of Foothill Blvd. and 1700 South in Salt Lake City. The school is open from 7:30am to 6:00pm Monday through Friday. The school day for Toddlers and Early Childhood students is 9:00am-3:30pm. For Elementary and Middle School students, the school day runs 8:30am-3:00pm. “We offer Extended Day programs and Summer and Holiday Camps in addition to the regular school schedule,” says Robyn.
For those interested in applying, MCS accepts applications all year with limited availability. Parents should schedule a tour now for the 2013-2014 Academic Year. Tuition rates and application forms can be found on their website, www.montessorislc.com.