Educators on a Mission
While Maria Montessori’s method is over 100 years old, the approach she pioneered is a tradition of innovation. The more frequently we connect to the tenets of that method, the more our school reaches today’s children. This year, WMS has reconnected to our deepest roots as the path forward into our school’s future. We set out this year to name, honor, and reinforce the traditions of community, deep learning, and mutual respect among students, teachers and families that have been the core of our identity since our school’s founding in 1965.
As part of this process, we held six “Cherish and Change” meetings. The purpose of these meetings was to ground ourselves in who we are, so that we can celebrate who we always have been and extend our mission into the future. During those meetings, we shared our core values, and then began to dream even bigger based on our core identity. Our reflections fell into four main categories:
- Montessori Excellence
- Follow the Child
- Community Roots
- Learning for Life
Through fidelity to the Montessori philosophy, WMS provides an exceptional educational environment
- WMS provides an authentic Montessori prepared environment. Authentic Montessori education is rooted in brain science. “We inspire and foster life-long learning for all community members.”
- Our Montessori-trained prepared adult staff are second to none, from teachers to coaches to advisors and our student support team: “A high caliber of staff with deep experience and understanding of children.”
- Children are excited about learning because adults are excited about learning and empowered to build the best possible Montessori learning environment
- Our students are well-prepared with strong executive functioning skills and deep curiosity. We give them challenging work to help them learn.
- Multi-age classrooms provide children with multiple opportunities to learn and to lead. Our peace mission helps students to develop social-emotional skills.
- Daily uninterrupted work cycles with a high degree of freedom give students agency and ownership of their learning: “Our environment is carefully structured to be full of learning and full of joy: students are happiest when they are working and learning.”
Follow the Child
WMS achieves remarkable results for every learner by meeting students where they are.
- We reach and teach each child, demonstrating respect for individual learners: “Follow the child.”
- Every child is known by their name, interests, talents and strengths by many members of the community: “We recognize and embrace the whole child.”
- The child’s independence and individuality are appreciated and encouraged.
- We “move at the pace of the child,” and do a beautiful job serving students with a variety of learning profiles.
- Student learning support is tailored to the child’s needs.
“An unconditional positive regard for children is assumed.”
We are a deeply rooted community of respect, inclusivity, kindness and collaboration.
- A powerful and productive partnership between families and educators strengthens the educational process.
- WMS is characterized by acceptance and mutual respect between and among children and adults. The relationship at WMS between parents and educators would “make Maria proud.” Educators and families share Montessori values and support one another.
- Our relationships are characterized by grace and courtesy between and among adults and children: concrete ways of demonstrating and receiving respect for one another.
- We share a commitment to positive discipline for parents and educators.
- We provide learning opportunities for parents: Montessori 101, The Voyage, affinity groups and conversations about vital topics.
- Our partnership with the Children’s Community School of Waterbury is a strength.
- We raise our children together. Friendships among children “feel like family.”
- “A peaceful community of families and educators frees children to be themselves.”
- Because of this value, we attend to the challenges of equity, diversity, and belonging for all, in the spirit of Dr. Montessori’s peace mission.
Learning for Life
A WMS education builds students characterized by their individuality, independence, agency, self-confidence and responsibility
- “Do not do anything for the child that she can do for herself”: our program builds thoughtfully towards independence and a self-driven love of learning.
- “The prepared environment leads to strong skill development and self-confidence.”
- The social and emotional well-being of children is paramount.
- “Students are undaunted in their self-expression.”
- Students, and not parents, drive learning.
- Students learn by doing, by serving, and through experiential learning. By valuing process over product, we teach students to learn actively.
- A dynamic education inspires creativity, confidence, and unique paths to success.
- We value, model and inspire responsibility. As adults, our graduates are committed to making the world a better place.
As a community, our next step is to clearly name our values and reaffirm this mission. In a world of scarce resources and many demands on our time and attention, making purposeful decisions based on a mission provides a school or nonprofit institution with its core identity. To do our best work at WMS, we work daily to enact our values and fulfill our mission, which is enduring and sound.
While this glorious year has given us a glimpse of all that is best about the WMS experience, we also acknowledge that aspects of school life need to be continually renewed and reborn. One way to do that is through the practice of examining and reaffirming our core values and refreshing the language of our mission. Our goal will be to name the pillars of a WMS education and develop a condensed version of our mission that is short enough to learn by heart.
I hope that what you read here resonates with you and your child’s experience. Please let me know what you think. My door is always open.