The Middle School: Traditional Program (Seventh–Eighth Grade)
In the middle school (seventh through eighth grade, or ages 12 and 13), the students slowly transition into a more traditionally based education through the use of textbooks and grading. Having acquired seatwork and study skills at the elementary level, these older students are now required to sit at individual desks throughout the day to help prepare them for the next phase of their education. While our middle school is more traditional, and this is the only classroom that does not employ a trained Montessori instructor, it still offers a more collaborative, informal setting than a traditional larger school. This smaller setting allows for more individualized learning, but it is designed to prepare our students for the more structured high school experience.
The majority of our middle school students are headed to more competitive, structured secondary schools that require high academic achievement. We believe that the Montessori education is an “aid to life” that will help them be successful in that environment. The middle school experiences of receiving grades, studying more frequently for exams and having leadership opportunities during the school day help prepare the child for the next phase of education.
In the middle school program, our instructors follow the curriculum guides of the Alabama State Standards but continue to adhere to the school philosophy of “meeting each child where he or she is” academically and socially. In addition to algebra or pre-algebra, literature, grammar, science and civics, each middle school student participates in art, music, P.E., Spanish, computer technology classes and community service. Work is tailored to each child’s abilities, and although students are graded, the instructor keeps in mind each child’s potential, work ethic and weaknesses when determining project grades. Note taking and other study/organizational skills are fine-tuned, and extra credit may be offered to provide additional learning experiences and chances for improvement. The grading scale is as follows: A (90–100%), B (80–89%), C (70–79%), D (60–69%) and F (50–59%). Students at this level receive progress reports every nine weeks and midway through each nine-week session. They also receive an assessment based on the “Montessori Standards,” the school-wide assessment for interpersonal skills.