About The New School Montgomery
The best way to understand what you need to know about The New School Montgomery is by comparing it to traditional schools.
|Rule / Practice||The New School Montgomery||Traditional Schools|
|Freedom to learn and grow to one's full potential?||Yes||No|
|Teacher lecturing to students?||No||Yes|
|Endless memorization and regurgitation of facts?||No||Yes|
|Rule / Practice||The New School Montgomery||Traditional Schools|
|Creating lifelong learners?||Yes||No|
|Self-paced learning of core skills?||Yes||No|
|Freedom of movement within the classroom?||Yes||No|
|Freedom to decide topics of study?||Yes||No|
|Personal responsibility for learning?||Yes||No|
|Extensive project-based learning?||Yes||No|
How The New School Montgomery is different
As you can see, we do a lot of things differently at The New School Montgomery (and we think that’s a good thing).
Like many micro-schools and alt-schools around the country, we honor the freedom of your child by employing self-paced learning and project-based learning.
Children learn to learn best by choosing topics for deeper self-directed study.
After all, don’t you do all you can to learn as much as you can about what interests you?
While The New School Montgomery is about freedom, with freedom comes responsibility and accountability.
With core skills (reading, writing, and math), we don’t emphasize testing because it only encourages children to retain information just long enough to pass the test.
In contrast to traditional schooling, the apps and programs on which we rely for core skills–including Khan Academy–require each student to master the material before moving on. As such, your child will retain what he or she learns, making further progress much easier.
As for project-based learning, the finished product itself serves as the measure of progress. Each student maintains a portfolio of completed projects.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you start The New School Montgomery?
The Montessori elementary school that our children attended closed abruptly.
We loved the non-traditional approach to learning provided by Montessori schools (no sitting passively at desks, wearing uniforms; yes to a mixed-age classroom), but there was no other post-kindergarten option in Montgomery (or the River Region).
Because we wanted our kids to be self-directed learners who didn’t sit at desks all day listening to lectures, we knew we had to start a school. More specifically, we started Montgomery’s only micro-school.
Our approach combines parts of the Montessori approach with technology and blended learning.
The New School Montgomery’s self-paced, student-driven model is unique among Montgomery (and River Region) private schools.
Why don’t you assign homework?
Nobody likes to take work home, and we see no benefit in sending home busy work when students can accomplish all they need to during the school day.
Our students learn more efficiently because of the student-directed and self-paced approach, along with gamification of the learning process.
Everyone needs a chance to decompress after work (including parents). That’s not to say, of course, that you can’t do something educational. That’s up to you.
Doesn’t giving students so much freedom encourage them to do nothing?
Far from it.
When a student has freedom to pursue knowledge that interests the student, the learning is deeper and more intense. Just think about what interests you, and how much more you know about it than something else.
As Seth Godin writes in Stop Stealing Dreams, “[t]here are really only two tools available to the educator. The easy one is fear.”
The other tool is passion. A kid in love with dinosaurs or baseball or earth science is going to learn it on her own. She’s going to push hard for ever more information, and better still, master the thinking behind it.
Without regular testing / grades how do you know the kids are learning anything?
Rather than “teaching to the test,” we encourage our students’ natural desire to learn. While there are objective criteria–for example, core skills mastery is proven via the interactive learning systems themselves (Khan Academy, etc.)–the best evidence of what your child is learning will be their projects.
Both short- and long-term projects show that your child is applying what he or she is learning to real world situations.
Generally speaking, your boss doesn’t give you a test on what you have learned or know–he or she expects to see results. The projects are the results of what your child has learned being applied to produce something tangible.
As in real life, the projects are unlikely to be perfect and may not turn out as envisioned (the discovery of penicillin as an antibacterial agent was serendipitous), but they will result in knowledge being gained.
What’s the difference between your blended learning approach and the flipped classroom model?
The only way to really answer the question is to define the two concepts.
The flipped classroom (or flipped learning) model is a type of blended learning. In a flipped classroom approach, students learn the material by watching video presentations and the like as “homework,” while doing what would traditionally be considered homework (application of the knowledge) in the classroom.
Blended learning is not universally defined. However, for our purposes, it is learning core skills (math, reading, and writing) in a physical classroom via computer (Chromebook) programs and apps that gamify the learning experience.
Given our feelings about homework, The New School Montgomery could never employ the flipped classroom model.
Our students learn core skills via proven programs and apps on their Chromebooks.
Because of the efficiencies of the blended learning model, core skills take up a relatively short amount of school time, leaving plenty of time for project-based learning and pursuing deeper understanding of topics of interest to each student.
Are you a Montessori school?
No. Although we are inspired by the Montessori approach, we are not a Montessori school. Micro-schools like ours have been described as “Montessori 2.0.”
What are your hours?
You can drop your child off as early as 8 a.m. Final pick-up is at 3:30 p.m.
The academic day runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
What grades do you serve?
We are accepting applicants–and able to serve students–in grades 1 through 6, and will expand through 12th grade as current students progress.
How do I apply?
Are you a religious school?
No. We are not affiliated with, nor do we advance or advocate for, any church or religion.
Where can I find your calendar?
With respect to holidays and breaks (spring, winter, and summer), we generally follow the Montgomery Public Schools’ calendar. The same goes for weather-related closures.
Who inspired your school model?
A lot of educational innovators have inspired us, including Maria Montessori, Seth Godin, Salman Khan (creator of Khan Academy), Jeff Sandefer (co-founder of Acton Academy), Sugata Mitra (founder of The School in the Cloud), and John Taylor Gatto. There are some great videos featuring several of these figures.