What is Montessori?

7 months ago

Montessori is an educational approach based on the philosophy and teaching methods developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, an early 20th century Italian physician and teacher. 

Montessori education is based in the belief that the intellectual, physical and social-emotional needs of children are inseparable and equally important.

This approach accommodates each child’s unique learning style and pace in a supportive atmosphere and a carefully prepared learning environment that support individual development at every stage.

Montessori education is appropriate for students with a wide range of

academic achievement levels, as well as a variety of backgrounds. It is a supportive learning community with deep respect for each child and their families. Special Education, English Language Learning, and other educational services are provided to qualifying students in a manner consistent with other Juneau District schools.

 The Montessori method is a time-proven, research-based, educational approach used in a number of Alaskan public schools, as well as schools across the nation and around the world, helping children develop into contributing members of their society and the entire world.

A Montessori Classroom:

Provides for extended uninterrupted     work periods, where each child has the time needed for learning and mastery. 

Allows for individualized instruction in a mixed-age group. 

Includes specially designed Montessori materials to help children learn specific concepts and skills. 

Offers opportunities for leadership, modeling, and long-term relationships. 

Encourages children to follow their interests, make appropriate choices, and take responsibility for their education. 

Stresses the importance of balancing freedom with responsibility while teaching care and respect for others.

Encourages a strong sense of community among teachers and students.

Elementary Program

7 months ago

Montessori Borealis 

Lower and upper elementary program

The Montessori elementary classrooms are multi-grade (1/2/3 and 4/5/6) and children generally remain with the same teacher for three years.  This gives teachers and families an opportunity to get to know each other well, develop community, and work together from one year to the next.   The elementary classroom is designed for children to work with those who are older and younger. Children have the opportunity to be leaders and followers, to both teach and learn, and to socialize with children of different ages.

The day is organized around an uninterrupted 3-hour “Great Period”, during which children focus on academic subjects. Children plan and select their work and the order in which their work will be done, while the teacher provides guidance and presents lessons. Children as young as 1st grade are encouraged to research subjects that interest them. They may go out on child-organized field trips to enhance their areas of study. Depending on the subject and the child, the result of this exploration may take the form of a research paper, map, poster, science experiment, art or other projects.

P.E., recess, silent reading, and other aspects of the elementary school day are scheduled after the Great Period. Lunch is eaten family-style in the classroom. Art, drama, vocal and instrumental music is integrated into the child’s day.


Elementary Program Summary

Optional Program of the Juneau School District 

Grades 1 – 6

Multi-grade classrooms: 1-3 and 4-6

Children work at their own pace

Extended, uninterrupted work periods allow children to concentrate and complete work.

Rigorous academics and mindful social interaction.

Regular outdoor activities connect students to the place in which they live.

Integrated visual and performing arts.

Small and supportive learning community.

Appropriate for children of all academic 

achievement levels.

Montessori-trained teachers abide by the standards of the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI)

Adolescent Program

7 months ago

The Adolescent Montessori Program (generally referred to as AMP) is the middle school component of the Montessori Borealis Program.  It includes up to 45 students in grades 7 and 8.

AMP provides a small and supportive setting in which students can attain personal independence through academic choice, social responsibility, and service to the community.  In this environment, students feel secure enough to risk being different and to consider unfamiliar points of view.

Basic to advanced math and literature are taught daily, while science, history and geography are covered in intensive blocks to allow for in-depth exploration and learning. Classes in Spanish, art, music, and P.E. round out the curriculum. 

AMP is appropriate for students with a wide range of academic achievement levels, as well as of varying backgrounds.  Special Education, English Language, and other educational services are provided to qualifying students in a manner consistent with other Juneau District schools.


No prior Montessori experience is required for enrollment in AMP. 

Many students enroll in AMP after homeschooling or attending other district schools.


Literature:  Literature is studied in small group sessions, with an emphasis on writing, seminar discussion techniques, and critical interpretation.  Students are guided to works that provide an appropriate challenge to their abilities.

Mathematics: Students study math in small groups organized by skill level.  Mathematics courses offered include pre-Algebra and Algebra I, with special workshops offered in basic or advanced topics as appropriate.

Humanities:  “Humanities” includes place-based studies of human culture from our earliest days as hunter-gathers to the modern time.  Students are immersed in studies of Southeast Alaska and the larger world.  The specific topics covered vary by year, but include Alaskan and US history, world history, geography, and the environment.

Creative Expression:  A choice of classes are offered in block sessions allowing students to experience a variety of types of artistic expression.  Classes have included acting, pottery, poetry, music, photography, architecture, and mapping.

                                                * Personal Development * 


Twelve- to fourteen-year-olds are going through an intense period of physical and emotional growth.  AMP provides a broad range of experiences to meet a young teen’s need for intellectual growth, creative expression, and independence, as well as social and personal development.

AMP is a supportive community where students know they are respected and cared for, where they can challenge themselves through hard work, grow responsibly, and build meaningful relationships with peers and teachers.   

Adults from the community regularly interact with our students, sharing their knowledge and experience.  Real work experiences help connect students to the community and to their role as young adults.

AMP students are part of the Montessori Borealis 1st – 8th grade community.  They have opportunities to socialize and work with younger Montessori students and to act as mentors.

You can find more Enrollment Information  or download an Application Form.



Mission and History

7 months ago

Our Mission:  Employing the philosophy and method of Dr. Maria Montessori, the Montessori Borealis program is dedicated to educate young people to their fullest potential, instilling a deep sense of personal independence and social responsibility. With the knowledge that they are citizens of the world, students will make decisions based on the highest order of ethics and conscience as they contribute to the present and future of this world.  

History of the Montessori Program in the Juneau School District:  In 1994, an AMI-trained Montessori teacher and 17 students joined the School District to become Juneau’s first public Montessori classroom, serving grades 1-4.  Two years later, this class was split into two classrooms, a lower elementary class (grades 1-3) and an upper elementary class (grades 4-6).  An adolescent program for grades 7 & 8 was added in 2005.  The program has continued to grow to its current configuration of 6 classrooms: two lower elementary, two upper elementary, and two combined Adolescent classrooms.


After being located in various schools throughout the district, over the years, in the fall of 2009, the Montessori Program was provided it's permanent home in the Marie Drake building, downtown.  There are approximately 135 children currently enrolled in the program.


As a Juneau School District optional program, the Montessori elementary and adolescent classrooms are funded and enrolled at levels consistent with those of other district classes. The Montessori teachers are fully certified by both the State of Alaska and the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) for the grades that they teach. The Juneau School District has established a lottery system to insure that the Montessori classrooms reflect the diversity found in other district schools.

Who Was Maria Montessori?  

  Maria Montessori (1870-1952) was the first woman in Italy to become a physician. She also studied engineering, and did advanced studies in anthropology. She then immersed herself in the study of children and how they learn, and contributed greatly to the burgeoning field of child psychology.  She first worked with developmentally disabled children and devised new materials and methods to help them learn.  Later she turned her attention to all children and applied her skills, talents and experiences to create what is known as “The Montessori Method.”   


She held a deep belief in the potential of each child to develop their intellectual, emotional and physical powers, with a balance of freedom of work through fostering self-discipline.  She trained teachers, supervised programs for children, wrote numerous books about her theories, was nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, and gave birth to an international movement for peace and education which has evolved and flourished throughout the world.