Curriculum in Middle School
The Evergreen Community
Our middle school program is designed to nurture and encourage the growing independence of adolescent students and to instill in them the “noble confidence” they will need to meet life’s many challenges.
Cultivating Meaningful Occupations
Dr. Maria Montessori outlined the Third Plane of Development, or Adolescence (ages 12-18), as a time when students are undergoing great physical, mental, and emotional changes, when they are primarily socially motivated and when friendships can often seem more important than family.
“Order and discipline must be aimed at the attainment of human harmony. This end cannot be reached without practical and concrete effort. It is not enough to preach an abstract principle or to persuade others. A ‘great work’ must be undertaken.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori, Education and Peace
Outlining a syllabus for this divergent time in development, Dr. Montessori noted that students are also hungry to work on the land at real, authentic tasks, calling them “Erdkinder” or “land children.”
Like other Montessori middle school programs, the Evergreen classroom offers “Occupations” within the larger middle school curriculum, which combines academic coursework with real work of the hands that looks very much like a vocation or a job.
Our Occupations model allows students to engage in a traditional Montessori work-cycle each afternoon and Occupations work each morning at an offsite, privately-owned apple orchard.
Middle School Mastery
Students receive three-period lessons in new concepts during the work cycle as well as in Occupations. This includes direct lessons, follow-up practice, and demonstration of mastery.
When they are studying Latin, for instance, students first practice the concept through exercises and translations until they master the concept by constructing and translating unique sentences.
An expert horticulturist may present a lesson where the students then practice the work, execute the follow-up tasks, and analyze the results of their work. Because the work is hands-on, the mastery is evident in the success of the task.
The healthy, nurturing, academic environment of the Evergreen community at SVCMS supports the adolescent student in learning and practicing real work from experts in their fields and contributing to their community, where students learn that they are meaningful contributors and have a place in the world.
Students experience a great deal of independence surrounding the organization of their time and productivity around self-selected deadlines in both components of the program. They choose how to respond to projects.
The Community Micro-economy
The products of their labor in the Occupations help form a class micro-economy where they learn to manage money and make business decisions. They make decisions concerning finances, purchases, advertising, sales, etc. in the classroom that will impact their Occupations.
Art Studio Occupation
In the Art Studio, students receive lessons in a variety of artistic media and crafts. They create works for creative expression and also to sell – all profits contribute to the class micro-economy.
Recent art lessons include printmaking, photography, pottery, felting, embroidery, and basket weaving. The students sell their art at the annual Winter Sale, at a farm stand held at The Grove during and after dismissal, and in other venues as opportunities allow.
This Occupation includes three forms of farming: the Apple Orchard, the garden, and an aquaponics system. Students care for the trees, harvest, process, and sell the apples, and they do the same with produce and flowers in the garden. They also maintain a 200-gallon fish tank and two grow beds to produce tilapia, catfish, greens, and herbs.
In Performance, students work on every aspect of staging a production, from inception to casting and rehearsal, to set creation and backstage management, to managing finances. They receive lessons connecting their performance work to interpersonal communication, anatomy and physiology, the science of light and sound, and more.
On a daily basis, students work on Practical Life skills. This work of the hands can include cooking, organizing, shopping, team-building, running a meeting, and managing the jobs calendar.
The peace curriculum at this level stresses the need for inner peace and a sense of community peace as the students work closely together on large-scale projects.
Interested in joining the St. Vrain Community Montessori School community?
Check out our K-8 Enrollment information to learn more about joining our middle school program.