The Xavier Montessori Lab School, established in 1966 as one of the first Montessori schools in the region, is being revamped with additional classrooms, new leadership and an expansion to include upper grade levels through age 12.
The expansion means that for the first time, the Lab School will serve children ages 3-12, or preschool through sixth grade.
The school is adding a second classroom for ages 3-6, which is preschool through kindergarten. The school also is adding an upper elementary classroom for ages 9-12, which is the same as fourth through sixth grades. The school also has a classroom for ages 6-9, first through third grade levels.
The physical space is expanding to encompass two floors of the Joseph Building on Winding Way. The first floor will be dedicated to Early Childhood grades, ages 3-6, and the second will house the Upper Elementary grades, ages 6-9 and 9-12.
With the addition of a 9-12 classroom, teachers in training can observe authentic Montessori principles and practices through the whole spectrum from ages 3-12. Expansion allows for better modeling of Montessori and aligns with Xavier’s Montessori teacher education program, which offers credentials through grade 6. The long-term goal is to expand the program through high school.
Rosemary Quaranta takes over as principal and clinical faculty of the Lab School. She graduated from Edgecliff College in Cincinnati and Washington Montessori Institute, and Cleveland State University where she received her MEd in Montessori. She has more than 35 years’ experience in Montessori instruction of students, curriculum, development and teacher education. She was elementary head teacher at Seton Montessori, Clarendon Hills, Ill., and serves as faculty for the American Montessori Society Teacher Education Program for both early childhood and elementary at the Seton Montessori Institute.
Also, Joshua Shanklin is the new head teacher and clinical faculty for the new Upper Elementary classes. He earned his master’s in Montessori Education from Xavier in 2012 and spent four years as the age 9-12 director at Towles Montessori in Fort Wayne, Ind.
The Lab School was established as a demonstration project to reflect the philosophy and teaching methods of the Montessori Teacher Education Program. Xavier was the first in the country to offer Montessori teacher education at the graduate level. Its founder, Hilda Rothschild, had studied with Maria Montessori, an Italian physician who developed her unique method of education in the late 1800s and early 1900s while working with disabled and low-income children.
After fleeing Nazi Germany, Rothschild and her family came to Cincinnati where she opened Cincinnati’s first Montessori school as a classroom at Cincinnati Country Day School. With interest rising in the Montessori method, she realized that more teachers needed to be trained in Montessori, and she approached Xavier administrators who agreed to start a Montessori teacher education program in 1965.
The Lab School now serves as a venue for teachers in training, providing an interactive learning environment for Xavier undergraduate and graduate students, and it helps the community observe and learn about Montessori education. More information is available online at the program's website.
Children in Montessori classrooms learn in a multi-age setting based on a three-year cycle. This sparks social collaboration in learning, cooperative teaching experiences, respectful conflict resolution, leadership opportunities and spontaneous activities that spawn new interests. Lab School students thrive in a setting that fosters community. Older students eat lunch with the younger ones, work on service projects together, assist in lessons, provide cultural performances and assume leadership roles.
Xavier has expanded its Montessori education programs into South Korea and China, and visitors from all over the U.S. and Asia have come here to observe and learn. More than 1,500 children have attended the Lab School. Some have enrolled their own children as students and about 25 former Lab School children have returned as teachers in the school.
Today, Cincinnati Public Schools offers Montessori education in seven schools: Dater, North Avondale, Parker Woods, Pleasant Ridge and Sands at the elementary grades, and Clark and Gamble for high school students. Clark Montessori was the first public Montessori high school in the country.