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The Montessori School of Denver was established in 1964 by a small group of dedicated parents committed to providing Montessori education in Denver. Since then, MSD has expanded to meet the demands for quality education for its students. We currently serve over 330 students, Toddler through 8th grade, and offer a wide variety of educational opportunities year-round.
MSD is the first Montessori school in Colorado to be accredited by both the American Montessori Society (AMS) and the Association of Colorado Independent Schools (ACIS). MSD is also a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS).
The Board of Trustees is the governing and policy-making body of the school. The Board is composed of parents of children who are currently enrolled in the school or alumni students, faculty representatives, and community members.
The Head of School is responsible for all aspects of the school and is the school's representative both locally and nationally. MSD is very proud of its faculty members who are selected from among the finest educators in the country. The head teachers have all received their training from a variety of Montessori teaching training centers affiliated with AMS and hold at least a Bachelor of Arts or Sciences degree.
We are proud to report the following accomplishments in the 2014-2015 school year:
• We significantly enriched our curriculum this year following our transformational campus expansion. These facilities improvements-which included one-story classroom building for up to 42 Toddler students; a Science and Innovation Tower, new classroom space for our Upper Elementary and Middle School programs; and an Arts and Athletics Center that includes a gymnasium, climbing wall, theatre and performing arts space, commons area, art barn and teaching kitchen, as well as new playgrounds, an Urban Farm and the MSD Treehouse-increased our campus to nearly six acres and impacted every aspect of the MSD curriculum.
• Two unique areas of improvement were the additions of the MSD Treehouse and the MSD Urban Farm to our campus. Both of these projects allowed our students to extend the learning experience outside the indoor classroom--a tenet of a quality Montessori education.
The MSD Treehouse is unique because it is the first treehouse of its kind on an elementary/middle school campus in Denver, making MSD the first school in Denver using a treehouse for classroom space. The MSD Treehouse was featured in The Scout Guide Blog on June 22, 2015 and the Denver Post on August 1, 2015, but what makes this project truly special is that it allowed our first graduating class the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy at MSD.
This Treehouse project was conceived, designed, and directed by our very own Middle School students. A group of 6th graders conceived of the idea and then spent the next two years working in the downtown offices of our architectural firm, Shears, Adkins & Rockmore, on the conceptual design and, ultimately, the final design of the structure, with the help of a master treehouse builder.
It is designed to foster collaboration, hand-on learning, and innovative thinking. In this upcoming year, MSD students will have the opportunity to enjoy the treehouse in new and different ways, including attending classes in the treehouse, collaborating, imagining, and playing in the structure, and using the treehouse to extend their indoor classroom learning to the outdoors, as Maria Montessori would have envisioned it.
• Our curriculum continues to expand. We garnered foundation support from a number of family and private foundations for program support this year. We were awarded a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation to purchase robotics kits to begin our emerging Robotics Program at the Middle School level. We received another grant from the Peyton Family Foundation that will support literacy in the classroom through our Orton Gillingham Initiative (OGI) in the 2015-2016 school year.
The OGI will allow teachers the necessary materials to extend this training to the classroom. Since we know that training our teachers alone has had measurable, positive effects on our students' reading scores, we are confident that these hands-on materials will only enhance our students' experiences and reading scores will continue to rise.
• We have support for what we do. We exceeded our Annual Fund goal this year and we enjoyed record-breaking financial support at the auction. Our community was so generous that we were able to purchase not one, but two, new school buses!
• Our outcomes speak for themselves. This June, we celebrated the first graduating class in MSD history, and we are looking forward to what see what they will achieve beyond the walls of MSD. Current and past graduates have attended a variety of schools, among them: Alexander Dawson School, Denver Academy, East High School, Denver Center of International Studies, Regis Jesuit High School, Kent Denver School, Colorado Academy, and St. Mary's Academy.
• Feedback from our admissions colleagues at the high school level this year was rewarding with comments such as:
o "MSD kids always rise to the top of our applicant pool,"
o "MSD kids are so confident in who they are,"
o "MSD kids just think differently than the other kids - they add a different dimension to discussions, debates, and conversations in the classroom,"
o "MSD kids are such nice kids!"
Most importantly, decades of alumni stories show that MSD is creating self-aware, generous, independent young people who grow up to lead successful lives, advocating for themselves and others to make our world a better place.
We are proud of our graduates' success and celebrate along with them as they accomplish great things. An MSD education provides our alumni with the tools to do whatever they have a passion for. You can find our alumni doing many interesting things worldwide including:
• Working on an archaeological dig excavating George Washington Bush's homestead;
• Attending a master's program in visual merchandising in the fashion industry in New York City;
• Designing toys in Japan;
• Being recognized as an All-Conference Defense for Lacrosse by CHSAA;
• Working as a film editor for the Discovery Channel;
• Teaching at a private, independent school in the East Coast;
• Owning a successful, "all green" cleaning company in Denver;
• Returning to MSD to teach the next generation of great thinkers.
There's nothing you can't do with an education from MSD.
• We completely redesigned our website this year to give our community a place to connect with MSD online. We added a parent portal as an easy way for parents to stay current on what's happening in the classroom and learn about the value of a Montessori education. We added videos, slideshows, and a wealth of valuable information about our school in a pleasing and easy-to-use format. Visit us at www.montessoridenver.org and see for yourself!
• We sustained enrollment and continued to provide excellence in programming, and advanced our role as a nationally recognized model school for Montessori and independent school education;
• We partnered with Penny Harvest, a program of the Young Philanthropist Society. The Penny Harvest is a student-run program that allows kids to not only raise the funds but also to determine how the funds will be distributed. A council of students from our Lower and Upper Elementary classrooms managed the program from start to finish; organizing the classrooms, collecting, and disbursing $2,050 in pennies, interviewing nonprofit organizations, and, ultimately, donating to five worthy causes.
Executive Director Statement
Welcome to Montessori School of Denver!
Founded 51 years ago, Montessori School of Denver serves over 330 students ages Toddler through 8th grade. We were the first Montessori school in Colorado to be accredited by both the American Montessori Society and the Association of Colorado Independent Schools, and we continue to be a model for other Montessori schools locally and nationally. Our students don't just learn facts and figures - they learn how to learn - and they leave us ready to succeed in a world that demands them to think creatively and work collaboratively.
In keeping with our 2014-2015 theme of Vision, we spent much of the school year looking to our future with the kick-off of the first phase of our Long-Range Strategic Plan. After completing a multi-million dollar expansion last year, we turned our attention to our path for the future with the following initiatives:
• Developing a new strategic plan;
• Analyzing the school's optimal enrollment structure;
• Planning facilities programming to have a greater reach into the greater Denver community, and;
• Integrating curriculum and "doing good" under the all school theme of Vision.
As a part of the Long-Range planning process, our Trustees dug deep into the fabric of who we are to determine who we need to be in the future. They spent this year getting the lay of our land-MSD as it stands today-examining and understanding how MSD operates in the areas of academics and outcomes, operations and financial sustainability, facilities, enrollment, and leadership in education so that it may guide us to the possibilities that lie ahead. It is an exciting time for our school as we determine our place in the private, independent landscape in Denver. We are now looking forward to taking what we've learned this year to inform our Long-Range Strategic Plan.
We're always thinking about how we can do things better and more efficiently, so this year we completed a redesign of our website to enhance the online MSD experience. We added a parent portal so parents can access information about what's happening in their child's classroom at any time of the day and learn more about the value of a Montessori education.
We also completed the student-designed MSD Treehouse and planted the first crops in our new Urban Farm. With these special projects now underway, you can safely say that we're growing in every way on our campus!
Last but not least, we celebrated the first graduating class in our history in June who will be attending some of the most prestigious high schools. Most importantly, decades of alumni stories show that MSD is creating self-aware, generous, independent young people who grow up to lead successful lives, advocating for themselves and others to make our world a better place.
We hope this gives you a look inside this special school we call MSD. Please call and stop by for a visit or learn more at www.montessoridenver.org!
Stephanie Pax Flanigan
Head of School
We were proud to unveil our transformed campus in the fall of 2014 as a testament to the fortitude, generosity, and perseverance of our entire community, including our Board of Trustees, current parents, alumni, grandparents, students, faculty and staff and friends of MSD. We are indebted to them for their support of the single most important initiative of our history.
We continue to rely on our community's support of the Annual Fund to provide the necessary funding for additional operating expenses, new technology in the classroom, and professional development for our faculty and staff to continue to provide the quality education our parents have come to expect.
This past year, we exceeded our Annual Fund goal because of the generosity of the MSD community. A portion of these funds provided the necessary support to allow 100% of our faculty and staff to participate in professional development opportunities including attending workshops and seminars offered by the Montessori Applied to Children at Risk (MACAR), Responsive Classroom, Orton-Gillingham Basic Training, the National Association of Independent Schools, and the American Montessori Society. We invest in our faculty and staff each year, giving them the opportunity for the best Montessori professional training opportunities within the state of Colorado and nationwide. We believe that the educational enrichment of our faculty and staff is vital to delivering the quality education our community is accustomed to-and obviously our parents agree!
We also achieved record-breaking financial support at this year's auction fundraising event. Because of our community's generosity we were able to purchase not only one, but two, new school buses. These vehicles will make it possible for our students to travel beyond the MSD classroom and explore the larger Denver community.
Board Chair/President Statement
As the Chair of the Board of Trustees, I am honored to lead MSD into the future.
Along with our dedicated Trustees and the dedication of Head of School, Stephanie Flanigan, we have been able to exceed our goals in fundraising, enrollment, facilities improvement, and overall growth at our school.
During our current campaign, we expanded our campus to over six acres; adding not only a new Middle School to our offerings, but also increasing our toddler student capacity to forty-two with the addition of our Toddler Village. We also added an Arts and Athletics Center that will enhance the good work that we do at every program level, as well as a Welcome Center so that our community can meet and learn more about who we are.
We grew radishes, watermelon, kale and much more in our new Urban Farm, and made history by building the MSD Treehouse on our campus-the first of its kind in the city of Denver.
In fact, the MSD Treehouse was featured in both the Denver Post (August 2015) and The Scout Guide Blog (June 2015), but what's really special about this project is it allowed our first graduating class the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy at MSD.
We continued to innovate in the classroom by garnering support from the Morgridge Family Foundation to purchase robotics kits for our emerging Robotics Lab in the Middle School, and support from the Peyton Family Foundation for a new Orton Gillingham Initiative (OGI) at the Primary grade level.
We're proud of what we've been able to accomplish this year, and we're looking forward to the 2015-2016 school year where our community of do-gooders - Trustees, parents, students, grandparent, alumni faculty and staff, and friends of our school-will come together again to make the world a better place.
Chair, Board of Trustees
Montessori School of Denver
"We have nothing but positive things to say about MSD. Our children have and continue to thrive. "
Primary and Kindergarten Parent
"We are so happy and proud to be a part of MSD."
"I feel so blessed my daughter landed in such a caring environment."
"We are incredibly grateful that our son is an MSD student! His classroom environment feels like a customized world made just for him. His teachers truly see him as an individual and challenge him in the most encouraging ways. Our son looks forward to school every day and shares his daily experiences with so much excitement that we cannot wait to hear what is next."
"Our teachers are outstanding- the best I've ever seen and we feel incredibly fortunate that they taught our child. They care so deeply about their students and are committed, knowledgeable, and loving. MSD is an awesome school- we truly love it."
Lower and Upper Elementary Parent
"MSD did a wonderful job of sparking a love for learning and our daughter loves her teachers, the school and community. She has grown socially emotionally, and academically during her time at MSD, for which we will always be grateful."
Upper Elementary Parent
"We are delighted with our daughter's change in attitude about school, and I credit it all to the Montessori School of Denver. She learned wonderful relationship skills and problem-solving skills at MSD, and has maturity beyond her peers when it comes to making good decisions and seeing a situation objectively. Interpersonal relationships are still her focus in school, but she did the work necessary to keep her grades up, and she took initiative to communicate with her teachers and to get caught up when she fell behind. This was a dramatic change from the discouraged student who had all but given up on school when she started at MSD after 5 years in the public school system. You are doing great things. Thank you for making a lifelong difference for our daughter."
Upper Elementary Parent
"The past couple of years, when I would pick my daughter up from her former school, she was always very down. I would ask, "How was your day? Good, great or awesome?" Her answer would always be, "None. I didn't have a good day." It was always something; a bullying issue, boredom or frustration with teachers not answering her questions. Now, I pick her up from school at MSD and I ask, "How was your day? Good, great or awesome?" So far, everyday the answer has been, "Awesome!" Oh that is music to my ears! She has told me learning is fun. The teachers are always available to help and answer her questions. The best part, she is making lots of new friends! After chaperoning at Keystone this week, I was so impressed how welcoming all of the children were to the "new girl." There were no "clicks" among the girls. All of them were so inviting to each other during activities and very helpful and compassionate throughout the trip. My daughter had a blast! I am so relieved that I made the right decision to move her when I did."
Upper Elementary Parent
"We feel so fortunate to have discovered MSD over 11 years ago. Our son is currently in 8th grade and has been at MSD since he was three. He will be graduating from this amazing school in June. This will be a bittersweet event for him and our entire family. It has been an incredible experience to watch our son grow and evolve and ultimately blossom in middle school. We will be forever grateful to the teachers and staff for their dedication and devotion to our son's education and development. He began MSD as a primary student and will leave this school a confident, intelligent, self-motivated, kind-hearted, committed young man. The middle school program has given our son an unparalleled foundation academically and socially to move forward to the next phase of his education and life's journey. The teaching philosophy at MSD is top notch and encourages students to build on their strengths as well as their challenges. Our son knows how to problem solve, think globally and creatively, self-advocate, and dive deep into anything he's learning and exploring with an inquisitive mind. He has been exceptionally fortunate to have had strong, trusting, and mutually respectful relationships with all of his teachers during his time in middle school. The teachers and staff at MSD have demonstrated an unwavering commitment not only toward our son but our entire family."
Middle School Parent
"In my role as Director of Admission I work closely with high school admissions personnel to find the right fit for our graduates. I'm proud of the feedback I receive from my colleagues at the high school level. Here is a sampling of the feedback I received this year:
'MSD kids always rise to the top of our applicant pool'
'MSD kids are so confident in who they are'
'MSD kids just think differently than the other kids - They add a different dimension to discussions, debates, and conversations in the classroom'
'MSD kids are such nice kids!'