In the past year, I've thought a lot about school options for Nia. Like all parents, I see a lot of potential in my child, and I feel it is my responsibility to ensure her schooling is one that inspires her and really educates her over the long haul from preschool to elementry school to high school and beyond. Like most parents, too, I know a lot of teachers and so know about some really great schools, and now about some I'd really rather avoid. Fortunately, there are nearly as many options out there for schooling as there are types of children.
Many of you know that Joe and I were homeschooled. Joe homeschooled from first grade on (as did my youngest brother, Kyle). I went to public school through 8th grade and then homeschooled my high school years. Part of my public school experience included a Waldforf style kindergarden in Saratoga, and beginning when I was 14, the junior college in Saratoga. Joe was primarily schooled at home, but also took a few high school classes at the high school in San Jose where his dad taught. So we had a mix. Which is to say we see pros and cons of both homeschooling and public schooling.
In looking at Nia, I'd love to homeschool her. I think that we would learn so much at home together. But -- and this is a big "but" -- I don't think homeschooling would be right for her right now. I feel strongly that homeschooling is right for some kids, but not all. And homeschooling can be right for some kids at certain times in their lives. Right now, my daughter really wants to go to school. She wants to learn from other adults. She's not so interested in the other kids, but she really likes the idea of going somewhere to learn something from an expert.
I realize all of this could change. For now, she seems like a more traditional school environment would be ideal. And so, that is what I'm researching here in Santa Cruz.
In the last year, I've done a lot of research. I've talked Joe's ear off. I've talked to everyone I know about what they are doing for their own children. I've read tons of books and websites. I've talked to teachers; I've gone to open houses. I've layed awake at night, and woken up at 4a thinking about it.
And then one day last summer an opportunity came along.
I learned about a group of dedicated parents and teachers who had a dream to build a Montessori charter school in Santa Cruz. I went to the first meeting and realized this would be perfect for Nia: mixed age classrooms, student-led learning, rich, engaging materials -- sign us up! I read everything I could about Montessori and discovered the incredible price tag ($18K/year!). And then I read everything I could about charter schools and what it means to blend a specific methodology with a public school option.
And then I joined the group.
For the last six months, we've been working hard to build the Maria Montessori Charter School in Santa Cruz. It is ideal for where Nia is right now.
It might be ideal for your child, too.
We are hosting a Montessori Information Night on Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 6:30 at the Pacific Cultural Center on Seabright & Broadway. Come find out if Montessori is right for your child -- be it private or the new charter.
At Maria Montessori Charter School, our mission is to inspire in children a passion for a lifelong love of learning in an environment which nurtures independence, creativity, confidence and tolerance while developing a sense of responsibility for self and community through a public charter based on the principles and philosophy of Dr. Maria Montessori.
Our program rests on four pillars:
1) The cultivation within our students of a passion for excellence in everything they do, both in and outside of school
2) The development of a strongly held set of universal values, which include self-respect, respect for others, honesty, integrity, responsibility, empathy, compassion, kindness, peacefulness, a sense of concern for others, warmth and a love of community
3) The development of a global perspective and sense of international understanding
4) A lifelong commitment to give something back through service to others who are in need