Xavier partners with a local Montessori elementary school to model best teaching practices

Pleasant Ridge Montessori will become a professional development model school in two years | February 21, 2011

The School of Education is partnering with Pleasant Ridge Montessori Elementary School, a neighborhood school in the Cincinnati Public Schools district, to develop a professional practices program for Xavier students majoring in Montessori education. Until now, the partnership has focused on curriculum development and training for the school’s instructional staff, but Xavier plans to begin offering courses at the school beginning in the fall of 2011.

Xavier plans on completing the transformation of Pleasant Ridge Montessori into a professional development model school in two years.

“Xavier has a long and rich partnership with Cincinnati Public Montessori schools, beginning with Sands Montessori,” said Gina Lofquist, director of Montessori Education at Xavier. “We are pleased to be able to deepen our relationship as we work to meet the unique needs of Pleasant Ridge Montessori as a neighborhood school transitioning to a Montessori school.”

Not only will the school showcase Montessori teaching methods, it also will provide professional development in other teaching specialties, such as educating students with disabilities, Lofquist said.

Cincinnati Public Schools established the first public Montessori elementary school in the nation when it opened Sands Montessori 35 years ago. It also developed the nation’s first public secondary Montessori school when it opened Clark Montessori Junior and Senior High School more than 10 years ago. While most of the district’s seven  Montessori schools operate as magnet schools, allowing students to register at their preferred school, Pleasant Ridge Montessori still operates as a neighborhood school open only to students living in the assigned area. It converted from a traditional format to a Montessori program several years ago.

Developed by Italian physician Maria Montessori in 1907, the Montessori method features multi-age groups of students, a focus on independent learning, specialized learning and teaching materials, and less structured settings than most traditional classrooms.

Pleasant Ridge became a Montessori school as a result of strong support from parents and community members, who remain committed to enhancing the program, Lofquist said. “What’s special is that parents were a critical force in the development of this school, and they’ve stayed with it,” she said.

Principal Maria McDonough praised the partnership. “Xavier’s work with our staff and parents has been stellar, and we are thrilled at the prospect of becoming a professional development model school,” she said.