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Letter: Why MSC became a charter school

Posted: March 8, 2018 2:18 p.m.
Updated: March 9, 2018 1:00 a.m.

 

Most people know that education is not one-size-fits-all. But the teaching methods dating to century-old agrarian society that rely on this assumption aren’t preparing our students for the jobs and challenges of the future.

Today’s schools must take an approach that is not only accountable, but dynamically responsive to the changing needs of students, ensuring they work together with teachers and parents toward the common goal of readiness for life.

That was Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy when she developed the Montessori Method of teaching: offer learners a “prepared environment” in which they could freely move, which tailored learning to their unique needs and individual characteristics, and emphasizes self-regulation, self-confidence, and children’s recognition that they share responsibility for their own learning.

A physician, Dr. Montessori was foremost a scientist. As she developed her method of education, Dr. Maria Montessori observed universal, innate characteristics and tendencies in the way her students learned. The tools she developed follow natural human development, which is why the Montessori Method is practiced successfully in more than 15,000 schools around the world.

The “prepared environment” acts like the perimeter of the arena inside which the students may explore, experiment, and achieve. Because the Montessori structure and philosophical assumptions are so different from those of traditional public schools, Montessori schools wishing to serve more children are opting for the structure of a charter.

We know that Montessori works, and a publicly funded charter school gives us the best opportunity to make a Montessori education available to the greatest number of students.

Twenty years ago, recognizing that not all schools could meet the needs of all students, the S.C. General Assembly established charter schools to allow for flexibility in learning within an environment that could allow educators to adapt to the unique qualities and needs of their learners.

Just as every child is unique, every charter school requires different levels of support and accountability to create best atmosphere for success.

That is the very reason The Montessori School of Camden recently chose to become a charter school and chose to do so under the Charter Institute at Erskine.

In 2017, The Charter Institute at Erskine was established with a framework of accountability and support -- its own “prepared environment” -- that provides dynamic responsiveness to the need of schools to allow them to respond dynamically to the different needs of the students in each institution.

We are part of a trend of charter schools looking forward to working with a charter school authorizer that is closer to the way we see the world.

At the Montessori School of Camden, we see the symbiotic relationship between school and authorizer as an advantage, allowing us to continue the optimal learning environment that has characterized our institution for almost four decades.

Students need a school that offers an educational system with personalized academics fitted to their unique individuality, and the school needs to be able to choose an authorizer that will provide the services and utilities in order to do that.

The Charter Institute at Erskine offers its schools a set of services adapted to the needs of each school it sponsors. Along with high-tech support, high-quality professional development, and multiple avenues for training, their shared service model will help to lower overhead costs and return more money to our classrooms.

Dr. Montessori’s motivation for creating such a precise and distinguished model of teaching was to contribute to the development of an effective and stable society, giving students an opportunity to build the skills they would need in order to participate and thrive in their communities.

We are excited about the opportunities that lie before us as a soon-to-be charter school and look forward to our relationship with The Charter Institute at Erskine as our authorizer to help us better equip more students to serve in our communities successfully and become productive members of society.

 

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