School Calendar & Schedule
Cypress Junction Montessori will follow the District’s traditional calendar year and meet for 180 days per school year. If the district chooses to expand the school year under HB 349,Cypress Junction Montessori will comply. The Cypress Junction Montessori schedule for breaks and holidays will be aligned with the district’s as well.
Cypress Junction Montessori’s daily schedule will maintain the specialized education program of the Montessori Method that requires three hour work blocks wherein the student has rotating work in each of the core subject areas as well as the special subject areas. Three-hour work cycles are vital to the structure and order of the Montessori classroom because they provide the student with the necessary time to engage in active, productive work without interruptions. During each three-hour work cycle, students will be able to work on individual work or engage in group lessons. This flexibility allows for students to be engaged in work that is meaningful for them for the length of time that works best for them. In addition, if a student needs remediation in a particular subject, the three-hour work cycle enables the student to complete an individualized work plan which addresses the student’s unique needs.
School office hours are tentatively scheduled from 7:00 am to 5:00pm. Students will begin arriving at 8:15 am with classes starting at 8:30 am. Student dismissal will begin at 2:45 pm. These hours may be adjusted depending on bus schedules.
Cypress Junction Montessori will follow the specialized education program of the Montessori Method.
History of Montessori Education
Dr. Maria Montessori spent her life in communion with children, attempting to decipher optimal methodology for instruction. Her philosophy, often referred to simply as the “Montessori Method,” is a unique pedagogy that both approaches and diverges from constructivism. Dr. Montessori worked closely with children of varying abilities and backgrounds, adapting her work when necessary and focusing on the student as center in the learning process. She found that students learned best when presented with size-appropriate, interesting materials. She noted that when permitted, students took initiative in their own education, seeking out new topics and experiences.
Contrary to popular pedagogy of her time, she found students responded better when teachers acted as observers and guides in a process of learning, rather than as the ultimate source of all knowledge. She spent the next fifty years of her life honing the method, establishing the model and providing for the training of future Montessori educators. She is considered to be a developer of cognitive-developmental education alongside Piaget and Dewey.
The Montessori classroom is at the center of the Montessori Philosophy. It generally is large, open and inviting. There are sections to the classroom: math, music, art, language, science, and history. The furniture is student-sized, but not arranged in the traditional way. The classroom belongs to the children who learn there. It is not set up for teacher convenience, but rather to address the physical and developmental needs of the child.
Dr. Montessori devised specific plans for use in Primary classroom (three years to six years old), Lower Elementary classroom (six years to nine years old) and Upper Elementary classroom (nine years to twelve years old). During these important preschool and elementary years, the use of materials is paramount to the education of the student. Montessori preschools and elementary schools are notable for their use of tangible “manipulative” objects to provide sensorial lessons. Middle school ushers in a new level of independence, which must be provided for in the Montessori environment by increasing activity from the point of view of work level, choices, and planning. In the middle school, the Great Lessons, timelines, and charts are replaced with overviews of general sequences of learning for which the student becomes responsible in the context of an integrated whole. Within this overview, the student has open time to collaborate on both self-initiated and instructor-initiated projects.
Indeed, Montessori education focuses on moving children through a spiral of learning that begins with learning in its simplest, most concrete forms. As children become developmentally, emotionally and physically ready, studies move into the more abstract disciplines and concepts. This gradual, natural progression from concrete to abstract allows students to revisit similar materials again and again, increasing in abstraction for each three-year cycle. Please see Appendix M.
Instruction for students begins to evolve from the tactile, concrete lessons to the more intangible, abstract ideas. The social and emotional developmental needs of the student require meaningful work that includes them in their society. Service learning allows students to see themselves as agents of change within their communities. As students use their knowledge and skills to develop and enact community projects, they see that they can contribute to their community as well as use their education in a relevant and practical manner.
Cypress Junction Montessori’s Philosophy
Cypress Junction Montessori will be sensitive to the academic and developmental needs of our students.Cypress Junction Montessori views the student as a whole person, focusing on the student as more than a bundle of cognitive potential. Rather,Cypress Junction Montessori is holistic with an integrated, discipline-spanning curriculum. TheCypress Junction Montessori curriculum connects the past, present and future and integrates the local community within the global community. The school’s holistic approach considers students in partnership with family, teachers, and community moving toward a goal of maturation of the individual.
According to Dr. Angeline Lillard (2005), developmental psychologist and Montessori expert, the eight principles of Montessori education can be summarized to demonstrate:
- Movement and cognition are closely entwined, and movement can enhance thinking and learning.
- Learning and well-being are improved when people have a sense of control over their lives.
- People learn better when they are interested in what they are learning.
- Tying extrinsic rewards to an activity, like money for reading or high grades for tests, negatively impacts motivation to engage in that activity when the reward is withheld.
- Collaborative arrangements can be very conducive to learning.
- Learning situated in meaningful contexts is often deeper and richer than learning in abstract contexts.
- Particular forms of adult interaction are associated with more optimal child outcomes.
- Order in the environment is beneficial to children.
Taking our cues from these most basic tenets of Montessori philosophy,Cypress Junction Montessori will use the following specialized, innovative learning approaches:
- Movement Enhances Learning: Students atCypress Junction Montessori will be free to choose their space for individual work and group work. The space will be conducive to movement, lending itself instead to a more comfortable and developmentally appropriate arrangement. Students will also be physically moving from subject to subject and with that comes new venues and new spaces in which to work. The flow of the Montessori classroom is important. Kinesthetic learners, in particular, find the use of movement while learning effective and useful.
- Personal Choice is Important: Students atCypress Junction Montessori will have a large degree of personal choice in the classroom. Indeed, the ability to self-direct is a vital concept for Montessori students.Cypress Junction Montessori believes that each student is capable of making decisions about what to learn, who to work with, and how long to work. Always working within the classroom standards, in alignment with the Florida Standards), teachers guide students in their academic endeavors while still allowing for personal choice of materials, workmates and duration. This sense of autonomy provides the student with enough academic investment to learn what he or she must.
- Interest in Subject Matter: Students are naturally drawn to certain subjects and study topics, andCypress Junction Montessori’s classroom will encourage great diversity in both method and matter. The teacher will guide students in widening subject horizons by exposing them to multiple options from which to choose. In addition, research plays a large part in Lower and Upper Elementary and Secondary Montessori classrooms, allowing the student to exhaust a subject, wringing out the sponge to the student’s liking before the student begins to explore another subject. Alternatively, the use of research methods in the classroom allows for multiple engaging projects to be worked on simultaneously. This project based learning provides cross-curricular opportunities.
- No Extrinsic Rewards: Cypress Junction Montessori will not engage in providing extrinsic rewards for a job “well done.” This concept extends to letter grades as rewards. Therefore,Cypress Junction Montessori will not focus on letter grades as rewards for hard work.Cypress Junction Montessori wants students to work hard and learn the necessary material to be a vital part of the community. Using mastery checklists and narrative grading will ensure students learn the curriculum while not placing a critical importance on the use of letter grades as extrinsic awards.
- Importance of Collaboration:Cypress Junction Montessori feels working alongside one’s peers is crucial in the learning process. Students fill the role as both student and teacher in the Montessori model as the student progresses in proficiency in a certain topic. When a student is able, he or she will demonstrate and instruct his or her peers in a skill, both to further the confidence of the skill and also to reinforce it.
- Meaningful Contexts: Using a service learning model,Cypress Junction Montessori will provide its students with the opportunity to choose meaningful work, important to the class as a whole and to each individual according to talents and interests. Service learning will provide the students with the ability to demonstrate community, confront practical problems, and integrate the theory of their core subjects into their real lives. Service learning encourages a group process where communication and collaboration are fostered. Through service learning, the classroom environment is enriched through value exploration, goal setting and achievement, responsibility assumption, and individual accountability. Through real work, youth develop a personal vision of themselves, helping them to see who they wish to be, how they may contribute and what matters deeply to them. This vision has the power to sustain students through the contradictions and dilemmas of life, to make them strong and to imbue their lives with meaning and purpose.
- Interactions with Teachers: The authoritative teacher in aCypress Junction Montessori classroom will serve as a guide and a consistent source of information.Cypress Junction Montessori teachers will provide interaction and opportunity without removing the child’s autonomy and ambition to learn. Montessori pedagogy allows the teacher as observer to evaluate the precise skill set and personal interests of an individual student, and to tailor a learning program to the learner, encouraging them to move beyond skills already mastered into areas in which he or she may not be yet proficient.
- Order is Important: Order is fundamental to the Montessori classroom. The prepared environment is important to effective student learning. The student follows the clues of the environment, so if the space is orderly and spacious, so will be the student’s mind. The teachers and Principal will ensure that the classroom is prepared with activities that engage the student and encourage learning. Information presented in clear, ordered ways can find its way into the mind in a more efficient fashion.
How the Montessori Method Aligns with Our Mission an Vision
Cypress Junction Montessori will operate using the Specialized Education Program of the Montessori Method providing elementary and middle school age students educational exploration in a carefully ordered environment. By its very nature, Montessori education encourages students to interact with their environment in a variety of ways including tactile, service and self-directed project-based learning which directly aligns with our school’s mission:
Cypress Junction Montessori students in grades K-8 will develop a strong academic foundation and a love of learning. Students will draw upon that foundation to explore the world through project based learning and thematic studies in science, math, and the humanities.Cypress Junction Montessori strives to put children on a path that embraces creativity, builds self-awareness and helps them develop the academic skills, physical tools and personal confidence necessary for lifelong success. In addition,Cypress Junction Montessori students will build relationships with community mentors to extend their learning beyond the classroom.
In the Educational Program – The Montessori Method is designed around research-based child development theories as to how children construct their knowledge. Children respond enthusiastically inside a Montessori classroom, and this naturally motivates them to achieve. True Montessori classrooms are lesson-driven, child appealing, and individualized to help children exceed most expectations. Children are guided to reach their potential academically, personally and socially. True Montessori inspires the elementary child to develop an awareness of other people and to participate with them in making the world a more peaceful, productive place. This is congruent with Dr. Montessori’s mission for helping children develop into intelligent, caring members of a global community in order to promote a more peaceful world.
In Governance – The Montessori philosophy is a way of approaching life and learning, with a desire to help, to understand, and to respect. School governance policies and procedures are based upon these shared values, and keep our education community focused upon the school wide goal of helping children grow and achieve, and supporting all the members of the learning community.
In Policies and Procedures – Established upon the Montessori values of respect and responsibility, school policies and procedures, which affect children and adults in the school community, reflect and support the school’s mission to cultivate excellent and responsible, sensitive behavior.
SinceCypress Junction Montessori will be using the specialized education program of the Montessori Method, which is a proven and innovative approach to education, the administration and faculty assume the Florida State standards to be the minimum in student achievement. The Florida state standards will be used to ensure each pupil is making adequate learning gains as measured by the current state required criterion-referenced assessments assessment. However, it is important toCypress Junction Montessori that each student’s success reaches beyond the standards as he or she explores his or her own diverse interests.
The Montessori Educational Program successfully prepares every child to meet or exceed state benchmarks. The comprehensive, developmentally appropriate Montessori academic curriculum will assist each child in the successful attainment of state and national standards.
The Montessori Curriculum will be correlated with these standards for every subject and instructional level. These correlated standards will guide individual and differentiated instruction in the classroom, providing students with the means to demonstrate academic success in all core subjects and grade levels. The Montessori curriculum provides an excellent academic preparation, and the alignment/correlation will assist teachers in the timing for specific lessons within the comprehensive Montessori curriculum to meet required current state required criterion-referenced assessments testing timelines. Montessori is individualized and differentiated education and therefore helps every child achieve and attain the state education standards.
The following Cypress Junction Montessori services will help the target population attain the Florida Standards:
Weekly Plans. All students will be given a blueprint to help them create work plans each week. Teachers will help students build weekly plans that encourage their learning interests and challenge them to explore each subject matter in depth.
Observation Based Lesson Planning. Teachers will closely observe their students and identify their academic strengths and challenges. Teachers will develop engaging lessons that target areas of improvement for students and encourage them to practice in these lessons often.
Data Driven Lesson Planning. While the Montessori Method is designed to follow each child and meet his or her individual needs, teachers will also use results from current ongoing mastery skills checklists and all current state required criterion-referenced assessments to make sure students are provided targeted support in areas they may struggle in. These lessons will be integrated seamlessly into the function of the Montessori classroom.
We continue to research and adopt sound practices from existing high-achieving Montessori public schools and other charter schools in Florida, implementing proven strategies and approach to policy and sustainable charter program creation.