Adolescence is a time of growth and exploration. It’s a time of awakening independence, eager discovery, rapid change and increasing engagement in the realm of ideas and social involvement. In MCHD’s secondary program, middle school students are encouraged to soar academically, intellectually and socially in a challenging, stimulating and supportive environment.
We motivate our students to actively participate in the world around them and unfold their worlds within. Students are encouraged to augment their academic work with projects that ignite their imaginations. Unlike standardized middle school models, Montessori education aims to recognize each child’s individual gifts, whatever they may be, and free the child to explore those interests, wherever they may lead, in a continuing process of self-discovery.
The middle school program focuses on engaging each part of adolescent development through the work of the hands, heart and mind.
MCHD’s middle school curriculum emphasizes hands-on learning and real-world involvement during these formative years, instilling character, confidence, compassion and commitment as students set forth on their individual paths to productive and fulfilling adulthood.
Students are taught core subjects such as math, science, English, geography, history and more in extended time blocks that provide space for deep and uninterrupted exploration of topical areas and create integrated learning opportunities. The curriculum at MCHD ensures academic challenge and stimulates critical thinking and creativity while promoting a sense of caring and responsibility for the community. Students are encouraged to pursue their special interests and seek ways to develop those interests.
Specifically, specialists from our community visit the classroom to discuss each student’s talents, careers and educational experiences. These organic community experiences allow students to explore career options, investigate potential mentorships and internships, and identify career interests.
Likewise, students have the opportunity to engage in microeconomies and/or internships at local businesses and institutions that reflect their newfound passions. From agriculture and sustainability to social justice and community service, and everything in between, MCHD’s middle school students are exposed to experiences that extend far beyond the classroom.
Supporting their real-world experiences, students engage in daily community meetings with their classmates during which they hold Socratic discussions, talk about important current events and classroom needs, acknowledge one another publicly, and engage in a regular democratic process. This enables students to function alternately as both leaders and collaborators. The classroom meetings are similar to board meetings and help the students develop skills that are directly applicable to working on teams, on committees, on boards and in other leadership roles in the future.
Finally, middle school students receive experiential learning through expeditions that allow for a deeper immersion into the investigation of learning. Regular expeditions link the students’ investigations to hands-on experiences. Local resources such as Project Worthmore, the Urban Farm, the Denver Art Museum, the Museum of Nature and Science, National Center for Atmospheric Research, History Colorado, the Denver Public Library, the Senate chambers and the Colorado House of Representatives give students opportunities to apply their knowledge.
As a result of both hands-on and intellectual experiences found in the curriculum, students emerge from their middle school experience with a clear understanding of themselves as learners and individuals, and as caring and resourceful young adults: secure, capable, well-rounded, and possessing a strong moral compass. They are proficient innovators and problem-solvers whose critical thinking, leadership, and interpersonal skills provide a strong foundation for success.
Children in the middle school program are becoming young adults, with increasing intellectual capacity, an understanding of social justice and complex social issues, and more complex skills. At the same time, they are experiencing physical changes that are sometimes awkward and difficult to navigate, as hormones shift and bodies develop.
Because both the body and the mind are undergoing such incredible development and change during this period, it is imperative that students receive an educational experience where physical needs are recognized and supported. At MCHD, students are able to tune into their bodies’ needs, like extra rest and nourishment, and to care for those needs as they arise so that they identify with the interdependence of the mind and the body and the need for both to be nurtured.
Along these same lines, and honoring the natural development of the adolescent as an integral social being, who is entering early adulthood, adolescence is a time of heavy focus on self-discovery, self-compassion, and on identifying the unique and inherent gifts that he or she can bring into his or her immediate relationships and also into the greater community. Not only are the students discovering their individual gifts, they are also developing skills to respectfully and confidently advocate for themselves so that they can continue to be successful after they leave MCHD.
In the Montessori classroom, respect and belonging are core to the culture and the values of the entire community. Acceptance in the community is not something that comes from material things or is earned through achievements or other external means. Belonging is a simply a right of all community members.
The ultimate goals of MCHD’s middle school program are to help each child reach their fullest potential, to build on their love of learning, and to support them in becoming successful in all areas of their lives as they embark on adulthood.