Greenpoint

Montessori Schools: What are they and why Brooklyn parents should consider them

New Greenpoint Montessori brings borough total to 20

December 17, 2018 By Alex Wieckowski Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Kat Walker observes students as they play in the Greenpoint Montessori backyard. Photo courtesy of Greenpoint Montessori

Greenpoint is receiving a new school — just not the one residents thought they were getting.

While plans for a public school slated to be built near a toxic Superfund site have stalled, one resident is opening up a different type of institution in the neighborhood.

Greenpoint Montessori, located at 288 McGuinness Blvd., is set to open its doors to the public on Jan. 2.

“I have been living in Greenpoint long enough to know that the neighborhood doesn’t have that many high-quality options,” Kat Walker, the school’s lead teacher and director, told the Brooklyn Eagle. “I am a true believer in the Montessori philosophy, and I have long dreamed of starting my own school, so it made sense to build a program here.”

Teachers and children interact in a C’e Montessori Brooklyn classroom. Photo courtesy of C’e Montessori
Teachers and children interact in a C’e Montessori Brooklyn classroom. Photo courtesy of C’e Montessori

 

Walker hopes her Montessori program will “provide an experience for families that is both more intimate and more affordable than preschools in typical commercial spaces.”

Unlike a standard classroom, which has rows of desks with children all facing the front, Montessori school rooms look much different.

In a Montessori school, students of varying ages engage in different activities simultaneously and are encouraged to pursue projects that interest them — much of it being hands-on — with the teacher serving as a guide to their learning rather than an authoritative voice.

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Children are also encouraged to go at their own pace, work collaboratively and individually, and spend time working on projects they enjoy.

“Generally, people gain an impression that our Montessori environment will offer young children freedom within structure, with unlimited opportunities to learn and grow in a caring community of friends,” said David Mandel, the executive director of the Montessori Day School of Brooklyn in Prospect Heights.

“Many — though not most — parents who apply to our program were Montessori children themselves and have strongly positive memories of those formative experiences,” Mandel added.

A teacher observes her students. Photo courtesy of C’e Montessori
A teacher observes her students. Photo courtesy of C’e Montessori

 

Fernando Camberos, the founder and director of C’e Montessori Brooklyn, located in Williamsburg, shared a similar view.

“Many of our parents are hyper-aware of the benefits of a Montessori preschool education and having attended public school themselves, worked incredibly hard at putting their children in a better educational environment than they had for themselves,” Camberos said.

“[Parents] want their children to be independent, to be self motivated, to love school and enjoy learning,” he continued. “They can’t imagine their lively, curious children sitting at desks for hours on end.”

The C’e in the school’s name is Italian for “there is.”

“We are definitely traditionalists about the philosophy and believe in this type of organic classroom,” he said, “We focus on just developing a natural curiosity, a healthy love of learning and independence.”

The Montessori education approach is based on the teachings of Maria Montessori, an Italian physician who studied special education and experimented with different teaching methods. She opened the first Montessori school in 1907 in Rome.

Today, the teachings of Maria Montessori are taught in more than 22,000 Montessori schools across 110 countries, with over 4,000 of those schools located in the U.S., according to the American Montessori Society.

Children work together on a project. Photo courtesy of Montessori Day School of Brooklyn
Children work together on a project. Photo courtesy of Montessori Day School of Brooklyn

 

In Brooklyn, there are roughly 20 Montessori schools, including Brooklyn Heights Montessori School; Elemental Arts Montessori; Lefferts Gardens Montessori; Montessori Day School of Brooklyn; Rivendell School; Luria Academy; Windmill Montessori School; C’e Montessori Brooklyn; Carrig Montessori School; LePort Montessori Cobble Hill; Williamsburg Montessori; Gold Material Montessori School; Bay Ridge Montessori School; Elite Minds; Seneca Village Montessori School; Montessori School of Midwood; Wortspiele; Stuyvesant Heights Montessori; and Ms Lam Montessori School.

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