St. Pius X Catholic School in Rodgers Forge was named the first Catholic school in the Archdiocese to offer its students a Montessori education. The school introduced a Montessori primary program for children ages 3-6 in the 2011-12 school year and expanded the Montessori program to include an early elementary program (grades 1-3) in the fall of 2013.
The Montessori method of teaching was developed by an Italian physician, Dr. Maria Montessori, in 1907 and utilizes a comprehensive approach that allows children to proceed at their own pace and focuses on all aspects of human development—intellectual, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual—to make learning an exciting process of discovery.
The school partnered with Loyola University Maryland, which has one of the premier Montessori graduate programs in the United States.
"We are excited to offer this program to students in the Archdiocese because of its track record of success in educating today's student and because it gives Catholic parents who desire both a Catholic and Montessori education for their child, a great option," Archbishop O'Brien said. "We are especially grateful to be working with Loyola and consider our partnership a vitally important one for the future of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Baltimore."
Montessori classes place children in three-year age groupings: Primary (ages 3-6), and Elementary (ages 6-9 and 9-12). A certified Montessori teacher, assisted by a trained teacher assistant, is present to observe and present new activities to children as they demonstrate their need and readiness. The Catholic faith formation component of the program allows children to learn about the Catholic liturgy and Holy Scripture through the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
The first classes of the new primary Montessori program at St. Pius X School will occur in the 2011-12 school year and were offered to three-and four-year-olds. In the second and subsequent years, the program will include students ages three, four and five. The St. Pius X community made to the decision to expand the program in October 2012 for the following year.
"St Pius X School is extremely excited about being selected by the Archdiocese of Baltimore as the site for this innovative program," said Principal, Mrs. Maggie Dates. "The school is a dynamic educational environment and this additional program will be very attractive to young families."
Prior to the start of the 2011-12 school year, St. Pius was making preparations to ensure the program is implemented effectively, including the recruitment and training of teachers certified to teach in the Montessori program. Loyola's Center for Montessori Education houses the oldest Association Montessori Internationale (AMI)-accredited training center in North America, the Washington Montessori Institute.
"Loyola's School of Education and Center for Montessori Education are delighted to partner with St. Pius X School in bringing the Montessori educational experience to students in the Archdiocese," said Peter C. Murrell, Jr., Ph.D., dean of Loyola's School of Education. "The Montessori approach to education offers children a unique learning experience very much in keeping with Loyola's focus on educating the whole person, and we are very pleased St. Pius, a well-regarded school, is interested in incorporating the Montessori approach into its learning environment.
"This partnership is a ground-breaking opportunity for us to not only enrich the school with a Montessori approach, but to create the kind of professional learning community that could lead the way in demonstrating how to revitalize schools through collaborative engagement, spiritual focus, and capacity building."
St. Pius X School is located at 6432 York Road in Rodgers Forge. For more information on the school's Montessori program, visit their website.