Student learning knows no bounds at this public Montessori school
Ten-year-old Rosemary Sissel is highly motivated to finish her assigned school work early at Geiger Montessori. That’s because then she can use the rest of her work time to pursue he
r own projects such as writing and directing plays.
“We learn a lot of about time management,” Rosemary says. “And there’s also a sense of freedom.”
At Geiger Montessori, the staff says that freedom helps students cultivate an ownership of their education, and spurs a love of learning. The school – which re-opened in a new, green building in September 2012 – is one of Tacoma’s two public Montessori programs.
The Montessori model emphasizes student-led learning. Teachers provide lessons to individuals or in small groups. Then students choose what lessons they want to work on during lengthy, uninterrupted work cycles.
The classrooms are multi-age, giving older students a chance to mentor younger students. The teachers encourage independence and problem solving, and for students the sky is the limit when it comes to what they can learn.
In a Lower Elementary class that might look like a group of students searching for information about a nautilus after realizing they’d unintentionally created a shape similar to the sea creature while working on a math project.
For Rosemary, it’s getting the chance to write a new play based on a book she’s reading and then challenging herself to direct the production, which she and her friends performed for other classes.
A space that inspires
Her mother, Jessica Troy, is also a teacher at the school. She says that the new building plays a big role in furthering the school’s Montessori mission. The open classrooms invite collaboration and new materials
“Part of the Montessori philosophy is that we are influenced by the beauty of our environment,” she says. “Geiger offers that beauty by design.”