Montessori (pronounced MON-tuh-SORE-ee) is a comprehensive educational approach from birth to adulthood based on the observation of children’s needs in a variety of cultures all around the world.
Beginning her work almost a century ago, Dr. Maria Montessori developed this educational approach based on her understanding of children’s learning tendencies as they unfold in prepared environments for multi-age groups (0-3, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and 12-14). The Montessori environment contains specifically designed, manipulative materials for development that invite children to engage in learning activities of their own individual choice. Under the guidance of a trained teacher, children in a Montessori classroom learn by making discoveries with the materials, cultivating concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning. Today, Montessori schools are found worldwide, serving children from birth through adolescence. In the United States, there are more than 4,000 private Montessori school and close to 200 public schools with Montessori-styled programs.
The Montessori School of Agoura opened its doors in September 1979, after having moved from Woodland Hills where it was established by Ann Culhane in 1973.MSA has 3 classrooms – Room 1 for ages 2 – 3, Room 2 for ages 3 -4 and Room 3 for 4 1/2 – 6 year olds – that are fully equipped with Montessori materials and are staffed with a Montessori trained master teacher and a qualified assistant. The school actively supports a wide range of events and programs, on both the local and national level, including St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Los Angeles Child and Family Guidance Center, and food drives for the local food pantry.
In 2007, Karen Kunstler became the new owner/director of MSA after Mrs. Culhane retired, bringing with her a vast array of experience and knowledge to share. Mrs. Kunstler’s passion for the environment has helped establish a recycling program for the school and placed an emphasis on conservation. The school was improved with a major, environmentally friendly renovation in the summer of 2008. Many former students have attended some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the United States and return to give credit to their early Montessori training in providing a solid foundation for their continued success.
The Role of the Teacher
The function of the teacher in a Montessori classroom differs considerably from that of the traditional teacher, hence, Dr. Montessori used the term “Directress.” The directress brings children into contact with the world in which they live and the tools by which they learn to cope with the world. She is, first of all, a very keen observer of the individual interests and needs of each child; her daily plan proceeds from her observations rather than from a prepared curriculum. She demonstrates the correct use of materials as they are individually chosen by the children, carefully watches the progress and keeps a record of their work. Individual children’s total development as well as their progress toward self-discipline is carefully guided by the directress, who prepares the environment, directs the activities, and offers each child enticement and stimulation. The mutual respect of the student and the teacher-guide is the most important factor in this process.
Did you know that…
- We are a small, friendly neighborhood school with only one location.
- Many of our exceptional teachers have worked at the school for more than 20 years.
- Our teachers are fully qualified, who work well both individually and as a team.
- In 2013, we completely renovated our playground with custom built play structures and redesigned spaces.
- We have classroom pets and our world-famous rainbow chickens inhabit their custom coop in the yard.
- Each class has the opportunity to cultivate its own raised vegetable garden.
- We encourage recycling and composting, and have a worm bin.
Famous Montessori Graduates
Just a few Montessori students you may have heard of.
Founders of Google.
Founder of Amazon.
United Nations Peace Ambassador, Winner of 15 Grammy Awards, Presidential Medal of Freedom & National Medal of the Arts.
Nobel Prize-winning novelist.
Famous child diarist from World War II.
Woodrow Wilson, President of The United States of America had a Montessori classroom installed in the basement of the Whitehouse during his term of office for staff to send their children to and his daughter trained as a Montessori teacher. Margaret Wilson was on the committee that brought Dr Montessori to the USA in 1915.
Academy Award Winning Actress.
Nobel Laureate and renowned physicist.
Academy Award winning actor.
English Royal Family.
The Ungraded Classroom
The use of individual materials permits a varied pace that accommodates many levels of ability in the classroom. If the classroom equipment is to be challenging enough to provoke a learning response, it must be properly matched to the sensitivities of each of the children. The most satisfying choice can usually be made only by the children themselves.
The Montessori classroom offers children the opportunity to choose from a wide variety of materials at different levels of ability. The child can grow as their interests lead them from one level of complexity to another. They work in a group composed of individuals of various ages, abilities, cultures and interests. This affords the younger children a graded series of models for imitation, and the older ones an opportunity to reinforce their own knowledge by helping the younger ones. Hence, each child adds to the group as they receive from it what they need.