“Montessori is an education for independence, preparing not just for school, but for life,” said Maria Montessori. Since 1979, The Montessori School of Camden (MSC) has been teaching children not only academic subjects, but also nurturing in them an enthusiasm for resourcefulness, a sense of responsibility and respect, and developing a lifelong love of learning.
For the past 38 years, a Montessori education in Kershaw County has only been available to those who could afford private school tuition. The Montessori School of Camden is aiming to change that however, by applying to become a public charter school for the 2018-2019 school year. If it receives a charter it will charge no tuition for kindergarten and above. Children age three and four will pay an instructional fee on a sliding need-based scale.
Kershaw County needs a Montessori charter school. I give several tours to prospective parents each week, and they easily appreciate the value of our educational model. Too often they don’t enroll because of the cost. Many of these families, unable to afford a Montessori education for their children, are eager to see a public Montessori option in our area.
The Montessori Method has been a proven model since the early 1900s, and is currently used in over 500 U.S. public schools in the United States—over fifty of which are right here in South Carolina—and Montessori is an approved educational approach in our state.
I frequently get the question, “What will change if we get a charter?” I understand the concern, but I can assure everyone that nothing important will change, and we will continue to adhere to the essential principles of Montessori after the administrative and financial transition. As a public charter school, MSC will continue to educate “the whole child” by offering multi-aged classrooms where children are encouraged to become highly motivated, independent, self-confident individuals while being given the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.
Because the charter would be granted by the SC Public Charter School District, children ages 3-12 from every county in the state may apply.
During its first public charter year, MSC expects to open its doors with 110 students. The school will gradually expand, with full capacity eventually reaching 280 students. Class size will range from 16 to 24 students, with two adults in each class. The school will add a Middle School program in 2019 or 2020, and more classes at existing levels until it reaches the full capacity of the campus.
As soon as the charter is granted the administration will identify eligible children of faculty and Charter Committee members for admission and announce a lottery for the remaining spaces. Once all available slots are filled, remaining applicants will be placed on a wait list. Yearly reenrollment will not be required; the flow of classes is designed to ensure that each student will have a position at MSC though Middle School.
Parental and community involvement have always been important components to MSC. The school believes that informed parents are involved parents. MSC encourages parents of prospective students to visit the school and learn more about the impact a Montessori education can have on their children.
The Montessori Method focuses on teaching children to see the world from a global perspective. We celebrate cultural and racial diversity. Spanish is already interwoven through the daily classroom routines and the school hopes to add a Mandarin Chinese track when expansion allows. As many of our readers know, Montessori teachers are taught to “follow the child,” and adjust lessons according to the needs of individual students. Students collaborate with their teachers to develop weekly work plans, and have the freedom to follow their personal interests. Classrooms are dynamic environments which invite inquiry and discovery, where students learn about language, science, mathematics and cultural studies using hands-on lessons and concrete models.
Anyone interested in more information or wanting to join the Charter Committee may contact the school office.