Children (4-12 years)
MdM's unique and innovative educational model integrates several research-based strategies: 1) dual language instruction in Spanish and English; 2) Montessori philosophy and pedagogy to promote individualized, independent learning, including use of multi-age classrooms designed to encourage peer-to-peer learning; 3) Conscious Discipline to create a healthy social-emotional learning environment; and 4) effective intervention strategies to support struggling students. Each of these key programs or strategies are defined below; however, it is worth noting that the intentional integration of these approaches is what makes MdM truly unique and enables the school to fulfill its vision of graduating bilingual, self-motivated, critical thinkers who love learning and will shape and advance the integrated communities of the 21st Century.
Dual-language instruction: MdM's approach to dual language instruction is research-based and the Spanish / English instructional model varies with the child's age. For students in Children's House (preschool / kindergarten) classrooms, instruction is 90% Spanish and 10% English; for Lower Elementary (1st / 2nd / 3rd grade) classrooms, instruction is 60% Spanish and 40% English; for Upper Elementary (4th / 5th / 6th grade) classrooms, instruction is 50% Spanish and 50% English. Research shows that for full language acquisition to occur, children's development must be fully supported in four domains - sociocultural, linguistic, academic, and cognitive - in both their first and second languages. Researchers Collier and Thomas have studied bilingual education for over 32 years (across multiple states and school districts with millions of children) and found that high-quality, long-term bilingual education programs close achievement gaps between English learners and native English speakers in 5 to 6 years (whereas English only and transitional bilingual programs only close half of the achievement gap). They also found that it takes an average of 6 years for children who start in kindergarten and remain in a quality dual language program in which at least half of instruction is in the first language to reach grade-level achievement in their second language. In contrast, it takes 7 to 10 years to reach grade-level achievement in the second language if children are not "schooled" in their first language.
Montessori: The Montessori approach was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori in the early 1900s and was based on her scientific observations of child learning and development from birth through childhood. Montessori education has withstood the test of time because it has been proven effective with children across decades, countries, and socioeconomic and racial groups. Montessorians believes that children are eager to learn, naturally curious, and capable of initiating learning when provided with a supportive, carefully-prepared learning environment. In Montessori education and at MdM, children have longer blocks of work time and guided choices for "work" (learning) activities. The classrooms include intentionally arranged learning materials in different areas of the classroom. In the Children's House classrooms, the work areas practical life, sensorial, math, and language. In the Lower and Upper Elementary classrooms, the areas are expanded to include math, geometry, language, geography/cultural studies, history, and biology. (All students participate in music, art, and physical education as rotating "specials" that are taught by specialists outside the regular classrooms.) The nature of the Montessori method of instruction encourages independence, provides children with freedom with limits, and creates a sense of order in the classroom. Another hallmark of Montessori education and implemented at MdM are multi-age classrooms. This arrangement supports younger children learning from older children and older children benefiting from opportunities to demonstrate leadership and reinforce their learning in supporting younger children.
Conscious Discipline: MdM relies on Conscious Discipline, a trauma-informed, research-based approach to classroom management based on social-emotional learning, discipline, and self-regulation. Rather than teachers focusing on policing children's behavior, they invest in teaching life skills that result in a well-managed classroom. This approach begins with teacher awareness of three brain states: survival (which seeks to answer, am I safe?), emotional (am I loved?), and executive (what can I learn from this?). The teacher addresses different children's brain states with seven "powers" - power of perception, unity, attention, free will, acceptance, love, and intention. Implementation of the powers allows teachers to meet children's needs, thereby helping them reach the executive brain state most conducive to higher order thinking.
Intervention and Support Services: MdM employs a skilled intervention team that meets the academic and social-emotional needs of children who are struggling in the classroom. They provide both push-in and pull-out support to children as needed. The school uses Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to define different levels, types, and intensity of interventions. Key intervention programs used include the multi-sensory Orton Gillingham phonics program, Words Their Way, and Palabras a Su Paso (Spanish reading intervention).
MdM's 2019 preliminary School Performance Framework (SPF) rating was an "Improvement Plan." This reflects growth from the previous year when the school received a "Priority Improvement Plan" rating. The school's ultimate goal is to reach a "Performance Plan" rating in 2020. The school has had consistently high outcomes with English language learners. On the 2018 SPF, English language learners as a subgroup were meeting expectations for academic growth in English language arts and 72% were on track towards English language proficiency. Similarly, in 2017, the school's strong overall performance resulted in MdM being recognized by the Colorado Department of Education as a Center of Excellence, an award given to schools who serve at least 75% "at-risk" students who show the highest rates of longitudinal growth in the state.
In terms of the early childhood education program, on the TSG, 57% of preschoolers were meeting or exceeding widely-held expectations for social-emotional development at year-end; 51% were meeting or exceeding expectations for physical development; 48% were meeting or exceeding expectations for Spanish language development; 64% were meeting or exceeding expectations for cognitive development; 82% were meeting or exceeding expectations for Spanish literacy development; 72% were meeting or exceeding expectations for mathematics development; 69% were meeting or exceeding expectations for English language development; and 100% were meeting or exceeding expectations for English literacy development. Finally, MdM values parent/guardian satisfaction so the school conducts an annual year-end satisfaction survey. In spring 2018, 85% of parents/guardians agreed or strongly agreed that MdM provides their child with a well-rounded education and 85% of parents/guardians said they would recommend MdM to a friend.