HIGH SCHOOL PREP (7th and 8th graders)
Full Day: 8:15 a.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Rising Star Montessori does not generally accept outside students into the High school prep program: almost all members of the class rise from the Elementary, and usually have attended this or another Montessori school since Primary. Although it shares many features with the younger classes, it is also a distinctive environment.
The academic program at the Middle School level is rigorous: a thorough grounding in algebra; scientific studies in physics, chemistry, biology; language work in a variety of written forms, with frequent oral presentations; and a comprehensive humanities curriculum uniting some twenty novels per school year with a wide-ranging survey of history, Western culture, and social studies. The daily schedule at this level begins to resemble a conventional school in many respects: teacher specialists for different subject areas, specific classes at specific times, regular homework with graded assignments and tests.
Though the course of studies may resemble more conventional education, the method remains Montessori’s. Our term “academics” comes from the Academy of the Greek philosopher Plato, where young people learned to think and to express themselves through careful thought and dialogue, within a supportive environment driven less by academic competition than by the quest for knowledge about the universe and one’s self.
In the same way, students in Middle School are working to develop their intellects, not their report cards. The quality of the intellectual life appears in the students’ work: intense seminars that unite the novels they read with both their lives and their studies; research and oral presentations on topics they authentically care about; student-planned trips to important sites that will further illuminate their work in the classroom.
The Passage to Adulthood
When does a child become an adult? Under the law, it happens instantaneously. Parents and educators, though, know that maturity is not just something that happens; it is something that develops. Too often, adolescence becomes an artificially extended childhood rather than the training ground for adulthood.
Independence and a sense of responsibility are two markers of maturity. Middle School students must constantly exercise their executive skills: juggling multiple assignments, keeping track of due dates, coordinating efforts in group projects. In an environment where they are engaged with their friends in cooperative efforts, students know that they are valued for who they are and what they can do, and gain the confidence to take on larger challenges outside their initial “comfort zone,” whether that be speaking in front of a group, making cold calls to find the best bus fare, or creating a poster.
In what we call the High school prep class, “Everyone is motivated to learn, and we motivate each other to be self-motivated.