Mission and History
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.