There is a growing number of Montessori high schools across the U.S.A. I’ve been inspired by the vision, innovation and boldness of these schools – led by colleagues I greatly respect and admire. Some, such as Clark Montessori High School in Cincinnati http://clark.cps-k12.org/, are award winning public schools. Others are successful independent schools ranging in size – such as NewGate School in Sarasota, http://www.newgate.edu/, Montessori High School at University Circle in Cleveland https://www.montessorihighschool.org/, and Post Oak School in Houston http://www.postoakschool.org/.
Some of these schools are also International Baccalaureate Schools while others are not. All of these schools have implemented school designs that maximize the core elements of Montessori philosophy to create high quality college preparatory programs. I am excited to join this movement by launching Oneness-Family Montessori High School of Washington in 2017. http://www.onenessfamilymontessorischool.org/
Montessori schools at the high school level are focusing on building 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, organization, critical thinking, information literacy, creative thinking, citizenship and ethics. Montessori secondary educators are connecting with some of the most cutting edge research and emerging curriculum ideas. Inspired by visionary thinkers such as Ken Robinson http://sirkenrobinson.com/, Montessori high schools are part of a movement away from standardization and toward individual learning; away from testing of bits of information and toward deeper learning of concepts evaluated by performance based assessments; away from classroom only based instruction and toward the utilization of resources available to students beyond their school – locally as well as online.
Montessori high schools are perhaps more like colleges than traditional public schools. Students learn to explore areas of interest, design and plan elements of their studies, build positive relationships with supportive instructors and mentors, think reflectively and debate points of view, and meet like-minded peers through field studies, electives, internships and trips. They learn to become the drivers of their own learning process. In this way Montessori secondary education is blazing the trail when it comes to preparing high school students for an uncertain future, considering that 65% of them will one day careers that don’t yet exist (Huffington Post – 2016).
One of my favorite Maria Montessori quotes is: “Love is not the cause but the effect of the normal development of the individual.” While Montessori high schools are preparing students for success in the complex global economy, they are also forging essential skills students need to contribute to society in positive ways. When students are surrounded in an environment of caring and mutual respect, where they are seen for who they are and who they wish to become, they can grow into the fullness of their personalities, ready and able to share their unique gifts with world. And that’s exactly what Montessori high schools are doing.