Specials are an important part of a Montessori education. Specials classes are designed to expand children’s exposure to a wide range of subjects that go beyond the core curriculum. Primary Full Day, Lower Elementary, and Upper Elementary level students attend Library, Spanish, Music, Art, and Physical Education classes weekly during the school day. Half-Day Primary students take Music and Motor Skills classes. Middle School students take Spanish, Physical Education, and Art classes each week, and they also get to choose a Music elective.
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MSSA’S Library: The Heart of Campus
Situated in the heart of The Montessori School’s main building, the Library is a resource center that instills a love of reading and independent research skills among all members of the community. The Library’s collection contains more than 13,000 books, including a range of popular fiction, nonfiction, and reference works, as well as periodicals and electronic media that are varied and age-appropriate. Work done in the Library supports classroom curriculum, and students enjoy borrowing books for pleasure reading as well as research. The Library hosts a variety of events and opportunities yearly, including the Multicultural Fair, author visits, poetry events, and book fairs.
Spanish instruction is aligned with the Montessori principle of allowing children to learn at their own level and pace as they follow their interests to create and implement their ideas. Classes are highly interactive, with an emphasis on communication in Spanish and collaboration among students. Literacy is a priority at the Lower Elementary level. High School Spanish I topics are introduced at the Upper Elementary level, and Middle School students complete either High School level Spanish I or Spanish II. Students conduct research and make presentations as they complete projects with real-world applications. Fluent Spanish-speakers sharpen their skills in spelling and written and verbal communication through reading advanced literature. All students grow culturally literate as they discover the history, geography, and social aspects of Spanish-speaking cultures.
At the core of music education at MSSA is the Kodály philosophy, which encourages good vocal tone production and teaches musical literacy (reading and notating music rhythms and notes) through traditional folk songs and well-composed music. Students participate in singing, music games, rhymes, speech exercises, movement, and folk dances, and are eventually led to rhythmic and melodic improvisation and composition. Orff instruments become an extension of the singing voice and are used to enhance the student’s musical experience. The Middle School music program offers electives in brass ensemble, percussion, and vocal ensemble with a focus on performance. The brass ensemble includes the choice of studying trumpet, trombone, French horn, or euphonium. Students at each level have performance opportunities during the school year. Additionally, the music program features opportunities for students to perform in school choirs including Singers (Lower Elementary) and Chamber Singers (Upper Elementary and Middle School) as well as an after-school hand-chime group, Chimers (Upper Elementary and Middle School). All performing groups give concerts at school and throughout the community.
The art program at MSSA endeavors to instill creativity as a foundation in problem-solving for each student, mirroring a core ideology of Montessori education. Beginning at the Primary Full-Day level, students are exposed to a variety of media and techniques. Utilizing the elements and principles of design, students practice different art methods in compliance with the National Core Arts Standards as well as the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Visual Art. Students have classes weekly, and group discussions build visual literacy skills and appreciation of cultural and historical influences on artmaking. When time allows, students can attend an additional open studio where they may work on a current class project or independent art exploration of their choice. The open studio provides the students at MSSA with a unique opportunity for authentic freedom to develop inventive, original work.
PE: Motor Skills and Physical Education
The PE program at MSSA aims to guide students at all skill levels to develop the competence that leads to confidence which becomes the foundation for lifelong enjoyable physical activity.
The program begins with Motor Skills for the Primary Half-Day and Full-Day students. Students develop a myriad of skills, including basic movement, techniques, and coordination as they progress to more complex and structured team sports in Physical Education with Elementary and Middle School levels. The curriculum and lesson plans are based developmentally on basic motor periods, and good sportsmanship is integral and emphasized at all ages.