Ages 12 to 15 years
Seventh through Ninth grade
The Junior High School includes 7th, 8th and 9th grades. The experiential learning is tailored for adolescent-aged students.
"The hand is in direct connection with man's soul, and not only with the individual's soul, but also with the different ways of life that men have adapted on the earth in different places and in different times. The skill of man's hand is bound up with the development to his mind, and in the light of history we see it connected with the development of civilization. The hands of man express his thought, and from the time of his first appearance upon the earth, traces of handiwork also appear in the records of history." Maria Montessori
The Junior High School years are characterized by significant growth and change cognitively, socially, emotionally and physiologically. At Greensboro Montessori School, the seventh, eighth and ninth grade Junior High School curriculum is based on Montessori principles, incorporates state educational guidelines, and reflects current research being done on adolescent development and learning. A core team of four full-time and three part-time teachers plans and implements a rigorous curriculum that is integrated thematically across all subject areas and provides a culmination to the early childhood and elementary Montessori classroom experience. The emphasis on interdisciplinary studies is heightened through regular work on small team and individual research projects. Students are challenged according to their unique academic ability and are given the opportunity to advance at their own pace. On a regular basis, class time is devoted to helping students develop strong organizational, study, and computer skills.
Montessori education for the adolescent binds the individual's intellectual growth to their contributions and participation in a larger community. Therefore, in the Junior High School, you will see these two types of work, with the head and the hands, interwoven in the context of community work (the running of our micro-society) and in their educational syllabus. Both are necessary for adult life, and the adolescent is moving towards maturity and adulthood, and the actualization of personality. They are discovering in what unique ways they can contribute to society. To this end, we follow Dr. Montessori's Plan of study and Work. Purposeful work is full of intellectual study and helps abstract thoughts to crystallize, while intellectual work cannot be fully realized by the adolescent without practical application.
Creative Labs -- Performance & Production and Visual Arts
The Performance Arts curriculum seeks to develop the student's ability to create translate, produce, maintain, and further an original idea through the performing arts. The Visual Arts curriculum interweaves aspects of Montessori's Five Great Lessons, concepts from across disciplines, and national standards for arts education.
In addition to the formal required P&P and VA classes, student may also choose to participate in Music Ensemble. The group performs on and off campus throughout the year.
The purpose of the physical education program are to help the student understand the value of being physically fit and the types of activities that contribute to total fitness.
All academic studies examine the moral dilemmas of our time, ado the running of our business, the way in which we decide to organize and interact within our community, and our interactions with the larger world. Service learning is an important component of the program, as through service, we can address inequality and mitigate social ills.
The purpose of the Junior High School Mathematics program is to help the students develop an understanding, not only of the principles of mathematics and geometry, but also of the relevance and application of mathematics and geometry to their intellectual growth and their everyday lives, as well as as to society as a whole.
Spanish integrates listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. Instruction centers on the development of conversational skills, and grammar structures and vocabulary will be emphasized to enable proficiency in thematics topics. The culmination for Spanish Language acquisition is their cultural immersion in Costa Rica in the 8th grade year.
Preparation for Adult Life
This three-year curriculum was developed using the latest research on how adolescents learn, as well as, recent scientific data.
The study of the Earth and Living things includes Geology, Biology, Cosmology, Botany, zoology, physiology, astronomy and comparative anatomy.
The study of Human Progress and the Building up of Civilization includes Physics, Chemistry, Mechanics, Engineering, and Genetics.
The study of the History of Humanity included Scientific discoveries and relation of humans to the environment.
The Humanities curriculum gives students a solid grounding in the conventions of the English language by incorporating grammar, writing, and literature with all other curricula. Students will read and be exposed to a variety of literature that is integrated with geography and historical inquiry with all other subject areas.
Practical Considerations for Social Organization
Land Immersion Experience
"Men with hands and no head, and men with head and no hands are equally out of place in the modern community...Therefore, the work on the land is an introduction both to nature and civilization and gives a limitless field for scientific and historic studies...The rural atmosphere offers student a kind of 'place apart' - a safe and healthy environment to promote their transition to adulthood."
--Maria Montessori, from Childhood to Adolescence
GMS students experience the Land Immersion program by spending 3-4 days, approximately every sixth week, on our Land Laboratory in Oak Ridge. When we began the program students stayed in tents, but student and faculty over the many years have designed and built their own structures to meet various needs. There is also a barn that can be used when it rains as well as an indoor conference center.
Students develop a strong sense of community through planning and preparing meals, maintaining the environment, and working on small and large group projects... all this while experiencing the change in the rhythm of living in harmony with nature.
Students meet daily with a faculty member in a small group setting where emotional and academic support and guidance is offered.
Students work in the classrooms of younger students to assist teachers and provide mentoring and role modeling opportunities.
Students operate a micro-economy, which includes Culinary Arts (Maria's Cafe), Research & Design Lab, Gardening, Tribal Council, Community Service and Yearbook rotations throughout the year.
Extended Annual Field Trips
In addition to numerous day-long field trips, junior high school students participate in 5 to 10-day trips annually:
7th levels travel to Tucson, AZ visiting sites pertaining to their studies of the Westward expansion
8th levels culminate their studies with a 10 day trip to Costa Rica where they visit wildlife preserves, volunteer at a turtle hatchery, zip line through the rain forest with students from GMS’s sister Montessori school in San Jose.
The 9th level field trip is yet to be determined.
The three-year Adolescent Transitions and Wellness Program based on the work of Joseph Campbell is designed to meet the needs of young people as they undergo major life changes to adulthood:
- A Brave New World addresses the transition from Upper Elementary to Junior High
- Heroic Journey addresses familial, societal and peer related pressures adolescents face
- Vision Quest addresses issues face as they transition to new schools and prepare for their lives as independent and responsible citizens.
Open participation in team sports with the Independent School League is another vital element to the Junior High program at GMS. Emphasis is placed on positive, cooperative team play rather than competition. Boys and girls play on teams together and effort is made to give equal playing time. Junior High sports include volleyball, cross-country, basketball, flag football and soccer, but may differ from year to year as determined by the coaches of the participating independent schools.
Quotes from GMS alumni students:
"I like that we have opportunities to explore and don't have to follow a set path."
"I like how we can learn at our own pace and choose our own work."
"We are encouraged to challenge ourselves."
"The teachers are welcoming and understanding."
"Nothing is a lecture. It's a discussion."