Welcome back !
As the construction continues this school year, the students will share in the excitement. We will have to learn the names of some of the big construction vehicles!
This past month, I participated in the Strategic Alliance of Global Educators conference. This conference was hosted at Avenues New York. Some of you may of heard of this school, as it is a $60,000 a year for-profit school in Chelsea, with campuses in Shenzhen and Sao Paolo and more to be built. A Class Divide, a recent HBO documentary, highlighted the differences between classes, of the school and the public housing project across the street from it. A small group of educators (not associated with Avenues) from China, Singapore, India, Finland, Great Britain, Massachusetts and NYC participated in the two and a half day conference. The themes were bilingualism, empathy, and project based learning.
Jeff Robin from High Tech High in San Diego spoke about Project-Based Learning, author and Georgetown linguistics professor Alison Mackey spoke about bilingualism, and Julie Higdon from Avenues, spoke about empathy. We also learned more about Avenues school and its approach and programs and had the opportunity to talk to each other and learn about the various philosophies of the schools represented from around the world.
One of the interesting things I learned about Avenues is that there is a research and development department of their organization; the R and D group applies research protocols to the work they are doing to make sure of its efficacy in the educational methods they are using. One of the senior staff said that they were working with an architect to design furniture to best suit the educational needs of the students. Part of the introduction to a presentation by the Head of Research, Tim Carr, started with a few words about Montessori and a Montessori quote. He acknowledged that there are many parallels in the Montessori method and philosophy between programs at Avenues and Montessori. From what I understand, a highly-educated and experienced group of educators and researchers were hired and told that if they had a blank check and freedom, what education system could they create? Along with this is a research and development department that continues to test the methods that they are using to determine whether they are working.
Along with this conference, I have been working on my dissertation as part of my doctoral program at Sage College. For those of you who have gone through a doctoral program or been in the company of someone who has, there are chapters and protocols that are followed. The literature review is an in-depth review of the research that has already been done on the topic one is researching, so in my case, shared leadership and Montessori education. Since many people in traditional education do not know much about Montessori education, I included a section on Montessori education and research. Central to this is the research of Angeline Lillard, who wrote the book Montessori: the Science Behind the Genius. In her book, Lillard divides Montessori’s work into eight principles. She then cites research in addition to Montessori’s own research to support each of these principles. Understanding these principles in light of the proven research of many scientists and educators is powerful. We were fortunate to have had Dr. Lillard speak at WHMS as part of our 40th year anniversary celebration.
We don’t have a blank check here at WHMS and our tuition isn’t $60,000 a year, but we have a world-class, research-based, exemplary education in a beautiful building. We have hands-on learning, multi-culturalism, an integrated curriculum, and a deep commitment to helping children be empathetic, engaged, and persistent, as part of a strong and supportive school community.
I am excited about beginning our school year and look forward to partnering with you in the education of your children.