Nestled in Metchosin above Witty’s Lagoon is the West Shore’s newest middle school.
West-Mont Montessori school, an elementary school which has been on the West Shore on the West Shore since 1954 and is expanding to offer middle school for Grade 7 and 8 students.
In Montessori, children are often not separated by grades, learning in multi-age groups.
Each student meets individually with a teacher and to plan his or her week, informing the teacher what they would like to learn and accomplish, and how they plan to do it.
Previously, Montessori curriculum was taught up to Grade 3 with Grades 4 to 7 in a similar style to a public school setting. This fall the school will expand Montessori teaching through to Grade 8.
“Adolescence is a stage in human development where the kids are in a huge state of change,” said vice principal Jason Bowers, also the middle school teacher for next fall.
The middle school curriculum was designed to focus on what the teens require. With peer groups being very important, every morning would include group work on weekly projects throughout the year. Each afternoon the students would focus on individual projects.
The Grade 7 and 8 students also work on social change projects in the community and go on week-long class trips five times a year.
“Adolescents want to change the world and we need to give them the opportunity to do it,” Bowers said.
Principal Magnus Hanton said in Montessori classrooms the students focus on hands-on, student-led learning.
“The student directs their own curriculum and it’s personal to each child. The teacher acts as a guide,” said Hanton.
Currently, when a student enters Grade 4 at West-Mont they begin to learn from textbooks and with a teacher standing at the front of the room. In the fall of 2014 that will change.
With the school expanding the Montessori curriculum through all grades, students will have more freedom to learn what they would like to learn while still adhering to the provincial education standards.
West-Mont Montessori school hosts an open house Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. for anyone interested in the middle school program. The school is located at 4075 Metchosin Rd.
For more information go to west-mont.ca.