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Creation of a Middle School / High School with an Earth focus

Started by: Mary Ellen


I am in the process of creating a Montessori middle school.  The curriculum for adolescents, as created by Maria Montessori, is Erdkinder (children of the land).  It will be based on an urban farm with the curriculum focusing on the farm, the local watershed and the climate.  This school will be in Atlanta and will be a mix of children from all incomes and backgrounds.  There will be a strong social justice and anti-racism thread woven throughout the curriculum.  Students will participate in the Montessori Model UN each year.  

This school will provide students with a deep understanding and relationship to earth and each other.

Reasons for working in this topic, project or business:

It is essential for youth to understand the world around them and to discover their place in it.  With so many environmental changes happening now a school with this focus is critical.  I have decided not to go the charter route.  Currently I work in a public school and I have worked in public Montessori in the past.  Public education is being strangled by testing of students and evaluation of teachers.  This takes so much away from student learning.  So I am putting together a unique school with, ideally, a sliding-scale tuition.

Root causes of the problems in this field and main barriers:

I am addressing the lack of critical education and understanding of the universe.  This is dominant in the work of Maria Montessori and meets the developmental needs of children.

What is needed to overcome barriers to implement solutions:

I need to find a creative way to fund the school.  Also I would like to have a board with strong, influential, international leaders.  

Specific needs and/or support requests:

Ideas and resources for creating a financially stable school so that tuition is not an issue for children.  I would also like to connect with other schools throughout the world and so create a truly global school focused on earth.

Suggested best local solution for this topic:

Montessori is the solution to our obsolete system of education.  In my particular interest, middle school, youth are in an environment well-suited for their developmental needs.  They go through so many physical and emotional changes during this time of life.  The Montessori middle school is created around the understanding of these changes as well as providing the adolescent with many experiences and responsibilities around the work of the world.  Relationships with earth through the farm, understanding the watershed and the larger climate give the world to the adolescent so that s/he may discover her/his interests and work in the world.  Socially students will also become deeply involved with issues of justice, global and local.

Networking opportunities:

It will once we get going.  The plan is to begin the school in the Fall of 2014.


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Erin Johnson posted

Hi Mary Ellen! I am transitioning from a stay-at-home, homeschooling parent to a Montessori teacher, and am entering a training program next month. I love your idea, and could not agree more about the benefits of Montessori education and theory! How has your project gone so far? Has your school opened? Did you get your funding? I wish your school all the best and would love to hear more about it. I am in WA state myself, Cascadia region.