In a recent conversation with MSSA Class of 2021 member Kate Ogden, she discussed how each level shaped her and has prepared her for high school. As a sophomore at Clark High School, she credits her success to the foundational skills taught at MSSA. Here is a snippet of her interview.
Q: Looking back, what are your most significant takeaways from each level at MSSA?
For me, Primary was mainly learning that it was ok to ask questions. When I first started, I didn’t know anyone, and I remember that on the first day, I was crying in the corner. Ms. Cheri called me over, and we went straight into a motor skills activity. She didn’t pressure me. She just showed me how to do it and let me experience it. This taught me that it is ok not to know what to do at all times and that it is ok to take your time to go through something new, but more importantly, it is more than ok to ask questions along the way.
Lower Elementary was about learning the basic skills that I still build on today. I can mainly point to math and English. I remember we used very hands-on materials like wooden blocks and things to count out the individual numbers. It may seem very mundane, but I contribute this process to why I can do such effortless multiplication and division and why math makes sense to me.
English came so naturally in LE. I remember there was an emphasis on reading and practicing things until you really understood them. Also, knowing how to articulate and building a stronger vocabulary with Greek and Latin roots was important. It was such a happy time! I remember we created plays that built our confidence and taught us more about ourselves.
I could talk on and on about UE. I remember we furthered our math and writing. We also learned more about science and geography and explored more of the concepts we wanted to research. It was such a confidence builder to research and create a poster we were interested in. It taught us that it was ok to be interested in different things than everyone else.
The middle school was a slight shift away from Montessori into traditional education while still keeping those elements of self-exploration. We started cycling classes and learning by subject. English was focused on reading and vocabulary. History was digesting the knowledge, being able to debate, and knowing how to format an argument. Science was hands-on experiments and labs and very collaborative. As a seventh grader, I took algebra and then Geometry as an eighth grader. I am a year ahead in math. At the time, I didn’t register that I was above level, but it made sense because that was what we did.
Montessori gave me the tools like time management, knowing what works for me, and advocating for myself so that no matter where I ended up going, I would thrive.