(Please note that the 12-15 year program will first be offered for the school year 2022-2023.)
For the 12 to 15-year-olds, Maria Montessori had a special environment in mind. Because adolescents are in a special stage of life, on the threshold of adulthood, the environment should reflect all aspects of adult life and provide opportunities, not only to pursue academic interests but also participate in real adult practical work in a social setting as close to a real society as possible. Through experiences of everyday life and its responsibilities, the adolescents will practice what it takes to become a contributing member of a wider society.
This experience includes an initiation into economics and an understanding of its importance for everyday life. Another important aspect of the environment is that it should put the adolescents in close contact with nature in order to instill an appreciation and understanding of the responsibility of the planet on which we live and are a part of. Dr. Montessori named students in this period of education Erdkinder, meaning "Children of the Earth".
The Bovina Center Montessori School will have a work and study process that emerges from direct contact with the land. The vast acres of woods and farm become the “prepared environment” for the adolescent. The farm activities lead the students to a study of farm science, land management and ecology, biology and chemistry, mathematics, accounting, geometry, civilization, economic systems, algebra, physics, energy, environmental issues, and technology and information.
In short, the farm activities and their features are the points of departure for formal studies, but the educational syllabus goes well beyond immediate academic extensions that arise out of farm work.
The curriculum and instructional design are developed so that, within the farm environment, each student is exposed to and well versed in knowledge and skills common to pre-collegiate curricula. Courses of study necessary to meet these standards are available to the students if they are not accomplished through the farm’s integrated plan of study.
The intermediate students will work from a contract that includes lessons and project-based learning. Learning is integrated to maintain the Montessori philosophy and to show the students the connections between subject areas. Arts and physical education are integrated within the students’ weekly schedule. Technology use is presented as an extension of a student’s ability to communicate. Students are immersed in the use of technology as a collaboration and research tool, shifting the power of learning directly into the hands of students.
In addition to academic work and farm experience, internships, service learning, and volunteerism are increasingly encouraged and integrated into the School’s curriculum and year, contributing to a beginning independence and work experience in congruence with their entrepreneurial and sustainable living practices.
Building on the 9-12 Early Entrepreneurship program, our older students will have the opportunity to create a micro-economy and practice their small business skills. Entrepreneurial language such as margin, markup, and cost are all terms children will hear and learn from upper elementary and on. Curriculum will be designed in collaboration with GrowthWheel International Inc., who offers visual learning tools for startups and growth businesses, thus dovetailing the Montessori curriculum and its educational values.
Moreover, internships and work opportunities are important element of the curriculum for our lower secondary students, as they are a way to explore the ideas of learning and leading, as well as the adult work of profession and work.
Our students will have a minimum of two internships each year. In the fall, they have a child development internship and in the spring, they have a career internship. While the internships are different with a variety of goals, they offer extremely valuable and timely opportunities for our students which result in deepening their understanding of themselves, of others, and of what it takes to actually work.
These internships are timely as the students are reaching the age when their decisions and personal choices in and out of school can have significant consequences. In the child development internship, they learn what are typical milestones and when they are usually reached for an infant, toddler, and pre-schooler, they observe the interactions and teaching in our early childhood classroom, they learn the ways classroom materials work to educate young children, they propose material ideas and then create the materials in order to provide a lesson to a primary-aged child, and they build positive connections with our primary students. From this project, their understanding of the challenges faced when one is in the position of teacher or leader continues to grow, and it helps further their development of patience, kindness, and empathy.
In the career internship, the students brainstorm a list of occupations which they think they might like to pursue or businesses they would like to open. They make lists. They update their lists. They research the assorted professions. Their expansive lists are encouraged, supported, respected. The BCMS administration, teachers, parents and school community will work to help locate professionals with which the students can spend all or some portion of their internship week. With what is clearly a huge kindness and investment in the future, the professional hosts and mentors engage the student at their place of employment. This opportunity allows the young adolescent to see how involved and complex a grown-up job can be.
Sometimes the student is able to assist by filing or completing other supportive tasks. The experience is a hybrid between job shadowing and a true internship. In the best cases, the adolescent will have the same placement for several days to gain a more realistic exposure to a particular career.
Other times a student will have multiple placements within the same field during the week, providing insight to the many possibilities some careers offer. Still other times, a student will have multiple placements during the intern week which are not professions typically linked together.