Montessori: A Smart Choice
Arlington Vote Makes Way for Virginia’s First Public Montessori School
Drew School’s Montessori Program to Move to Patrick Henry Elementary in 2019
An April 7, 2016 vote by the Arlington County School Board opened the door for Virginia’s first public Montessori school. The 5 to 0 vote puts into motion a plan to move the 400-plus students in the Montessori program at Drew Model School to the Patrick Henry School building in 2019. In the 2019-2020 school year Henry students will move to a new larger school that will be built just blocks away from its current location. The move is part of a larger plan to help solve school overcrowding. “This is a huge win for the most diverse elementary program in Arlington,” said Arlington Montessori Action Committee (AMAC) President Kathleen Trainor. “AMAC looks forward to working with Arlington Pubic Schools, the surrounding Nauck community, and the current Drew learning community to create a plan that honors all students in both programs during the transition years, while helping provide more seats for more Arlington students.” Since its inception, Arlington’s elementary Montessori program has shared a facility with the Drew Model program. AMAC believes this vote will give both programs the opportunity to grow their own identities in a way that will offer academic benefit for current and future students in both programs. Arlington is home to one of the oldest public Montessori programs in the country and boasts more than 700 students, ages 3 through 8th grade, in Montessori classrooms in nine Arlington public schools.
In 1971, Arlington Public School (APS) leaders chose Montessori education for its preschool program to help prepare lower income students for elementary school. APS diversifies the program by adding a smaller number of peers from homes with higher household incomes.
The APS Montessori program reserves two-thirds of its preschool spaces for children from families of lesser means. Families pay tuition on a sliding scale until the kindergarten year when the program is available as a public school option for Arlington residents. Families with incomes that are at or below 80 percent of Arlington’s median income pay no tuition in the 4 year old year. This diverse student body helps serve as a base for the popular countywide public elementary program at Drew and the growing Montessori Middle School program at nearby Gunston Middle School.
Montessori Is The Right Pick for an APS Choice School
The Montessori Program in Arlington Public Schools:
Is in demand. Over 750 PreK-8 students are in 35* public Montessori classrooms across Arlington County, and hundreds more are on waiting lists.
Closes the achievement gap for minority students. The county-wide Montessori program at Drew more diverse than APS as whole, yet the SOL scores mirror the scores of students countywide.
Is proven. Montessori is an over 100 year old educational approach with 50 years of history in APS. It meets all of APS Strategic Goals and encourages children to learn concentration, motivation, self-discipline, and a love of learning.
Is growing. In fall 2019 the APS Montessori program will have its own home at 701 S. Highland Street. We need your help to plan for the future at our new central location to ensure more students have the chance to experience Montessori education through elementary school. The middle school program at Gunston is growing too. Please join AMAC to stay involved and help shape the future of Montessori in Arlington.
* (31 primary and elementary + 4 middle school classrooms)