The Ivy School - Portland's first public Montessori elementary school - opens its doors Tuesday, September 8. The tuition-free charter school will serve students living within Portland Public Schools' district boundaries. With an initial enrollment of 60 students in grades one through three, the school will grow annually until reaching capacity -- 240 students in grades one through eight.
The Ivy School's Montessori classrooms are prepared environments which allow children to choose learning opportunities from a collection of hands-on materials, all displayed at child-height, on low open shelves. Ivy School students will have freedom to explore the classroom at their own pace while gaining competency in a variety of subjects. By pursuing individual interests in the classroom, children will gain an early enthusiasm for learning.
As at other Montessori schools, Ivy School students will be grouped in mixed-age classrooms. Mixed-age classrooms allow children to work with the same teacher and classmates for three years, letting teachers form long-term relationships with their students while also building community among classmates. Younger children learn by observing older students, while older children gain confidence and leadership skills by sharing experience. Together, students learn the value of teamwork.
In keeping with the Montessori philosophy of blurring the boundary between indoors and out, Ivy School classrooms will open directly into a fenced schoolyard, allowing the outdoors to serve as an extension of the classroom. Ambitious plans for schoolyard include the creation of an edible garden full of vegetable, fruits and herbs. Ivy students will tend the garden, harvesting what they grow to integrate into the school's daily snack offering. The Ivy School garden will teach students about growing food organically, eating locally and seasonally, and working together as a team. As currently envisioned, Ivy's edible garden will fill the entire west-facing yard of the school. Late fruiting raspberries, pumpkins, winter vegetables, and more will thrive in the tiered multi-season garden, providing healthy produce for students all year long.
The school day at the Ivy School is longer than that of some other local schools. Students will arrive at 8 a.m., and classes will be dismissed at 3:30 p.m. This extended school day will allow students to participate in music, art and physical education classes every day of the week.
Another offering somewhat unique to the Ivy School its model of bi-lingual education. In addition to providing Spanish lessons each day, the Ivy School staffs each classroom with two instructors – a lead guide and an assistant guide. The lead guide interacts with the students in English, while the assistant guide speaks Spanish exclusively. This bi-lingual approach exposes students to a second language throughout the school day, but unlike the immersion educational model, English is spoken in the classroom as well.
While many Montessori schools are private institutions, nationwide, there are over 500 public Montessori schools, including the Ridgeline Montessori PublicCharter School in Eugene, and the Lewis & Clark Montessori Charter School in Gresham. The Ivy School is the first of its kind in Multnomah County.
About the Ivy School: The Ivy School will enable children of diverse backgrounds to learn at their own pace by offering a developmentally appropriate and challenging academic environment that models grace and courtesy and fosters a peaceful community of lifelong learners. Any child eligible for enrollment in Portland Public Schools may apply for admission via lottery. Information about the admissions process may be found on the Ivy School web site at www.theivyschool.com.