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Geiger Montessori School

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 her 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.

Student-led learning

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
inspire students.

“Part of the Montessori philosophy is that we are influenced by the beauty of our environment,” she says. “Geiger offers that beauty by design.”

Encouraging independence

Meet Geiger Montessori student Rosemary Sissel and watch how she articulates an educational approach that emphasizes self-directed learning and aims to cultivate concentration, leadership, self-motivation and a sense of community at Geiger.


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 Get to know Geiger


Innovation Model: Geiger uses the Montessori model, an educational approach that emphasizes self-directed learning. Each classroom is a mix of ages and comprises three grades (for example, first through third grade or 3-years-old through kindergarten). Students work uninterrupted for long periods of time on tasks that they choose. The approach aims to cultivate concentration, leadership, self-motivation and a sense of community.

Students best served: Geiger Principal Paula Bond says that Montessori can benefit every child, especially when they begin the program in preschool.

Grades: Preschool through fifth grade. 

Students: 380

Teacher training:  Geiger’s classroom teachers have completed their Montessori training.

School report card

School Web site

Special and after-school programs: • Chess class • Student government • Open Arts studio classes • Girl Scouts • Good News Club, an evangelical Christian club.

Related links:

American Montessori Society

International Montessori Association

Montessori 101

Montessori Foundation

Designated Innovative School - Washington State