Monthly Archives: September 2013

Community of Adolescents

The Adolescent Community is off to an exciting and busy start.  In addition to settling into the school year and adjusting to the rigors of their academic studies, these dynamic middle-schoolers have taken up archery and photography, initiated a cupcake and coffee business, began familiarizing themselves with the work of the farm, revitalized the school gardens, and spearheaded the MAN yearbook.  Let’s back up for a moment and see how they got here.

When Montessori Academy of Naples first opened its doors in 2008, the Adolescent Program was a dream, hazy and idyllic somewhere in the distant future.  Over the years, the vision was clarified through the tireless dedication of the MAN Board of Directors, MAN staff, the families and friends of MAN, and the children who remind us to always look  forward to what comes next.  Needless to say, working towards it has been a labor of love and seeing it materialize piece-by-piece has been gratifying.  But nothing can compare to witnessing the first students step into this unique and progressive academic and social structure, and watching them so eagerly, joyfully, and naturally take the reins, and the responsibility, for their future.

Years of careful planning was employed before the first students registered.  The Adolescent environment was created with an eye toward providing students with access to whatever they need both now and in the years to come.  The teacher was hand-selected for her broad-ranging expertise, her understanding of the characteristics and the needs of the 12 to 15 year old student, and her understanding of Montessori.  In addition, she also possessed the unique blend of ability, energy, dedication, and energy (yes, it needs to be said twice) to create the malleable and precise mix of guidance, freedom, and opportunity necessary to foster the independence and development of a thriving community of adolescents.  Within this support structure, the students quickly settled into the routines of their day attending to core studies, participating in seminar (both an opportunity to enhance and expand learning, and to exercise innovative thinking and problem-solving) and brainstorming and researching both community-minded projects as well as new and interesting endeavors to pursue.  

Within the first few weeks of school, the students decided they wanted to take up archery and photography which created the first opportunities to navigate the adult world.  They went about finding and securing appropriate instructors and venues,  scheduling visits, and researching and procuring needed materials including funding.  Once they addressed all the practical details, they openly and eagerly embraced these ongoing experiences.  In this same time-frame, they began making regular visits to and working on the farm, enhanced the gardens around the modular units, and started to envision their micro-economy.  It was through their activities that the students began to realize the importance of the development of their micro-economy.  They themselves observed that its creation would be integral to their success and independence as funding for their pursuits would be an essential element moving forward.  From this realization their cupcake and cup of joe business was born.  Additionally, they realized that their growing knowledge of photography could be useful in the creation of a MAN yearbook.  It’s all connected!

MAN’s adolescents are a dynamic testimonial to the true beauty of a Montessori Adolescent experience.  It is not “like” life, it is life…one experience…one lesson…one inspiration leading to another.  Challenging and engaging, practical and innovative, demanding the most of the individual and a commitment to community…life.  While the vision and efforts of many created the Adolescent Program, in the end, it is the children who have created the Adolescent community.  What a joy it is to see these seeds take root and grow!

Learn more about MAN’s Adolescent Program.