Westside Montessori School
WMS is celebrating 39 years of education.
Our mission at Westside Montessori School is to nurture and educate every child to meet her full potential. WMS operates with fidelity to the Montessori philosophy and principles. The school is designed to ensure safety and nurtures a rigorous, caring, and supportive environment.
Westside Montessori School was founded in the spring of 1977 by a small and committed group of parents. Their goal was to create another option for parents to consider educating their children that would nurture student empowerment, curiosity, and independence. They established a parent cooperative affiliated with the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). Through hard work, persistence, as well as the engagement of the community, the school opened its doors for the first time on September 6, 1977, bringing the Montessori Method of education to the community. After 39 years
of development, Westside Montessori School is nestled on a beautiful 4-acre wooded campus in west Houston, and currently serves toddlers through 6th graders, with the addition of an adolescent program from grades 7th through 9th launching in the fall of 2017. Today the school has stayed true to its founders’ mission and vision, but has moved far beyond its 2 classroom beginnings and become a multi-facility campus that serves over 200 students with phenomenal parent support of time, talent, and funds, and outstanding staff to deliver exceptional Montessori education.
“The child is both a hope and a promise for mankind.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori
WMS strives to offer a pure form of Dr. Maria Montessori’s educational philosophies and methods to our students. The Montessori approach nurtures the whole child and by doing so helps to create a centered being with confidence and compassion for the world around her. Guided by Dr. Maria Montessori’s wisdom, WMS prioritizes creating a favorable environment that will encourage the flowering of a child’s natural gifts by removing all obstacles. This environment is the foundation for all future education.
ACCREDITATION AND AFFILIATIONS
Westside Montessori School is an Associate Member of the American Montessori Society.
At the close of the 2015-2016 school year, the school reached an all-time high enrollment of 210 students.
Enrollment by level as of May 2016:
• 3 Toddler Classrooms: 36 total
• 4 Primary Classrooms: 108 total
• 2 Lower Elementary Classrooms: 43 total
• 1 Upper Elementary Classroom: 23 total
Students find their way to WMS as residents of our surrounding neighborhoods, but are also drawn to our doors from the greater Houston area based on our reputation for excellence in Montessori education. The diversity of our students and their families are at the core of what makes WMS so unique and exceptional. It is through our multi-cultural, multi-lingual student population that our true identity is achieved. Our families come for all over the world and represent over 30 countries. We celebrate our international array of scholars that unite under one roof for the purpose of developing the whole child through Dr. Maria Montessori’s teachings.
ADOLESCENT PROGRAM EXPANSION
This spring, the Board of Directors and Head of School announced to our families that the school is preparing to expand its program offerings to include a Montessori adolescent program. The new adolescent program will begin in the fall of 2017. Based on a thriving elementary program, and clear parent support and demand, the leadership decided to more completely meet the educational needs of our students by expanding to include the three-year adolescent cycle. This is a natural progression for our program and fits into the long-range planning of the school.
“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.”
– Dr. Maria Montessori
FACILITIES AND GROUNDS EXPANSION
In the past several years our campus has changed dramatically to meet the needs of our growing student population and ensure a quality, Montessori based education. Two new buildings that house our lower and upper elementary classes were built in 2013 and 2014. In preparation for the start of our adolescent program, on May 5th, 2016, the school purchased an adjoining piece of land to the east of our current campus. This newly acquired property is a long-awaited acquisition and is expected to become the adolescent program’s residence, as well as offer important experiential learning opportunities to all levels. The new Head of School will work with the Board of Directors and Building Committee to develop this new land to its fullest potential.
FACULTY AND STAFF
10 lead Montessori teachers, 10 assistant teachers, 4 specialty teachers (P.E., yoga, Spanish, music)
3 administrative staff, includes Head of School supported by the Office Manager and School Secretary Each classroom includes one lead teacher and one assistant. All of our teachers are fully trained in the Montessori method with either AMI or AMS credentials. Our classroom assistants and aides are chosen for their caring and nurturing abilities and also receive on-site training. Many of our faculty and staff have been at the school for more than 20 years.
WMS is governed by a 7-parent, elected volunteer Board of Directors and is supported by the Head of School and Office Manager. The Directors serve 2-year terms, with a maximum of 2 consecutive terms per Director.
The Board is responsible for:
• Long-range planning
• Hiring, supporting, and evaluating the Head of School
• Reviewing and approving the annual school budget
• Chairing and organizing major school events
The Head of School is the Board’s only employee and serves as the educational leader of the school. The Head of School is responsible for faculty, staff, and student selection, evaluation, and dismissal. The Head of School must communicate the mission of the school to its community, and is responsible for the professional quality and behavior of the faculty.
WMS is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation funded by tuition, fees, and donations. WMS balances its operating budget annually, and has healthy reserves.
• Tuition income and fees cover 100% of the core operating expenses.
• The 2015-2016 annual Direct Donation Campaign raised $16,361.00
• The Spring Annual Gala, held in April 2016, raised just over $44,000 in net proceeds.
WMS is a Parent Co-op where the parents are encouraged to support the school in the manner and methods that they are able. Parents are invited to participate in everything from daily tasks such as listening to children read to repairing library books, to much larger organization of school events, such as the Annual Gala. Parents’ support of the school ensures that our school is successful from their involvement and support of the teachers and programs. School community is a large focus for WMS. Every year multiple events are organized by the parents as a way to foster a sense of community among our families. In the fall, events include a Parent Work Day, Welcome Back-to-School Coffee, Festival of Nations, Parent Social Mixer, Family Movie Night, and a Holiday Book Fair. In the spring, the events continue with the Annual Gala, Elementary Book Fair, an additional Parent Work Day, and the End-of-Year Field Day. Parents also bake food to share for
staff appreciation days and collect monetary gifts for staff before the winter break. The school community prides itself on working together for the benefit of the children and staff. There are opportunities for all who want to be active in their support of the school, and the closeness of our families is founded upon the shared responsibility for ensuring success of the school, just as those who came before us did so selflessly.
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
-Dr. Maria Montessori
“Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to ‘make him learn things’, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.”
-Dr. Maria Montessori
The school values are centered around quality, both in the loving and nurturing programs that the children receive and the materials with which they work and play. This is the hallmark of Westside Montessori. This goal motivates the staff and parents in all their endeavors.
WMS offers an education to children ages 18 months through 6th grade. Our academic workday for toddler and younger primary students is from 9:00am-noon. Those primary students that are ready will be offered an extended academic day ending at 2:30pm. Elementary academic programs run from 8:30am-3:00pm. Extended care is offered to meet working families’ needs with extended day and full-day options available. Fullday care for children is available from 7:00am-6:30pm. There are currently waitlists for all programs.
“The greatest sign of success for a teacher… is to be able to say, “The children are now working as if I did not exist.”
-Dr. Maria Montessori
Montessori Objectives for Westside Montessori School
• To recognize and affirm the individuality of each child
• To provide an environment wherein each child may grow according to his own needs
• To help each child develop in a way natural to him, so that he may remain in touch with his own nature and develop a respect for the work in which he lives
• To help a group of children develop a social structure among themselves which originates from the contrasting needs of the individuals and the group
• To prepare the whole child for future academic successes in their pursuit of higher education and beyond
The Toddler Program (18 months-3 years)
is a prepared environment which provides for the physical, psychological and developmental needs of the child under three. The materials used provide the child the opportunity to learn through movement and exploration. At Westside Montessori emphasis is placed on gross and fine motor skills, sensorial, language and social development. Toilet training is part of the program. The environment is arranged specially for, and corresponds to, the growing developmental needs of the child.
The Early Childhood Program (ages 3 years- kindergarten)
is based on the three-year cycle, with the third year serving as the culmination of the preparatory work during the first two years. This results in exciting leaps in reading, writing and math concepts. The student brings together practical life and sensorial experiences in botany, geometry and geography to an intellectual level of conscious understanding.
The Elementary Program (grades 1st-6th)
is broken up into two 3-year cycles beginning in lower elementary (grades 1st-3rd) and continuing to upper elementary (grades 4th-6th). The elementary program offers an exciting research style of learning where children work in small groups on a variety of projects, which spark the imagination and engage the intellect. Lessons given by Montessori teachers direct the children toward activities which help them to develop reasoning abilities and life skills. At this age, the appetite of children to understand the universe and their place in it directs the elementary work. Elementary studies include geography, biology, history, language, mathematics, science, music and art. Exploration of each area is encouraged through trips outside the classroom to community resources, such as a library, planetarium, botanical garden, or science center. This inclusive approach to education fosters a feeling of connectedness to all humanity, and encourages their natural desire to make contributions to the world.
The Elementary children take an annual two-night, three day field trip to Camp Allen located in Navasota, Texas. The students are accompanied by the teachers as they gain confidence in their time away from home and explore the great outdoors. Activities such as hiking, canoeing, rock-wall climbing, horseback riding, archery and fishing are enjoyed. The children come home with memories that last a lifetime and with a longing to return. The Montessori teachings encourage this level of time spent observing nature and the importance of reliance on peers and self to further develop the individual.
Spanish, music, physical education, and yoga are presented to the student during the school day. Extracurricular Programs Dance, drama, gymnastics, tennis, karate, and art are offered at a fee to children after school.
WMS offers a summer program for all levels, though it is not part of the official academic year and is optional for students to attend. The Montessori teachings are enhanced with special themed programs for the different weeks. This is a time for teachers to go beyond the daily lessons and incorporate new, exciting activities to continue inspiring a love of learning in the children.
Our students are proud to participate in different service projects throughout the year that allow them to discover the joy of volunteerism and importance of serving the larger community. Students have participated in fundraising and given of their time for events such as Lemonade Day, book drives, coat drives, sale of school-made crafts, bake sales, and volunteering at the Houston Food Bank.
FACILITIES AND GROUNDS
Our campus consists of three buildings: Building A houses the Main Office, Toddler and Early Childhood classes and before/after school care. Building B houses Lower Elementary students in grades 1st through 3rd. Building C houses Upper Elementary students in grades 4th through 6th.
The campus boasts gardens, play areas, walkways, benches, a gazebo, pond, and picnic tables. A shaded sports court, large soccer field, sand boxes, and playgrounds for all levels are located on the campus. The newly acquired land is a Montessori dreamland, where mature gardens and trees welcome children to view and explore the natural world, and still offers plenty of space for the budding adolescent program to make their own environment appropriate for their increasing level of physical and intellectual needs.
Houston is the fourth most populous city in the nation, and is the largest city in the southern U.S. and Texas. WMS is located in west Houston in an area that is referred to as “The Energy Corridor”. With an educated workforce comprised of more than 94,000 employees, The Energy Corridor is the second largest employment center in the region and one of Houston’s fast growing areas. http://www.energycorridor.org/
Our families enjoy outdoor activities easily with over 50 miles and 26,000 abundant acres of recreational parks and trails nearby. The Addicks and Barker Reservoirs include George Bush Park, Bear Creek Park and Cullen Park. The heart of The Energy Corridor is Terry Hershey Park, which winds right through the Corridor connecting neighborhoods and businesses along eleven miles of trails. The Ray Miller Park is another favorite for students to enjoy due to its close proximity to the school.
The west side of Houston offers first-class shopping, dining, and entertainment, and in the heart of the city residents and visitors can attend theater, ballet, symphony and opera performances. The many museums, exceptional zoo, performing arts centers, and vast opportunities for cultural experiences are the benefits of living in a city of over 2 million residents. There are endless culinary, cultural, and artistic offerings to be enjoyed in this metropolitan area.
Houston has outstanding professional sports teams representing football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and AHL hockey. Houston is home to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. The world’s largest livestock show and rodeo that attracts more than 2.2 million visitors each year.
Houston has among the youngest populations in the nation which might be attributed to the more than 40 colleges, universities and institutions found here. Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, with a local economic impact of $10 billion. More than 52,000 people work within its facilities, which encompass 21 million square feet. Over 4.5 million patients visit them each year. These facilities are internationally recognized for their industry-leading research in the field of medicine and outstanding treatment facilities.
The Port of Houston ranks first in the United States in international waterborne tonnage handled and second in total cargo tonnage handled. It is the tenth largest port in the world.
Houston is one of the world’s largest manufacturing centers for petrochemicals, and the $15 billion petrochemical complex at the Houston Ship Channel is the largest in the country. Houston has more than 400 chemical manufacturing establishments with more than 35,000 employees. Houston has two of four largest U.S. refineries.
Houston is home to the Johnson Space Center, NASA’s largest research and development facility, employing nearly 3,000 federal civil service workers and more than 14,000 contract personnel.
There is something for everyone in Houston, and on the west side families can enjoy a peaceful and active lifestyle. The community that supports WMS is unlike any other, and a wonderful place to call home.