Dr. Rebecca Barker
I just want to say that we LOVE puffins. it’s such a joy to see how happy my son is and I really appreciate all the wonderful work that Amanda, Katie and Furzon are doing! Also the Snack idea is SO awesome – I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE not bringing something every day!
Dr. Rebecca Barker, Santa Cruz
Tien Lu Vo
Both of my kids so here, 2 and 4 years old. This preschool and daycare is one of the best in the area. As a parent of 2 boys born of Asian American background, I am very pleased with this school.
AWESOME teachers and curriculum with helpful and friendly staff. The only down side that I can see from a parent’s perspective is that it’s not diverse enough to represent the greater South Bay and not 5 minutes away from my home.
We wanted a place that would treat our children with respect, help them be self sufficient, learn to be a friend and a social member of our international community, and discover the joy of learning.
Their curriculum is based on the teaching philosophies of Maria Montessori. Be sure you understand her philosophy before coming to this school because you may not understand why things are the way they are in the classrooms. They are a certified Montessori school so you can expect their practices to adhere to Maria Montessori’s teaching philosophy.
I’ve had experience with many preschools in raising my own child and Montessori Community School definitely stands out as the best. I have been highly involved in my nephew’s care since he was born and have been a key adult involved in choosing and overseeing his time at Montessori Community School. He’s been there for a full school year + two summer sessions. This summer will be his third summer session.
- The sense of community the children experience in the classroom is unparalleled. They help one another and generally give one another respect and support. The older kids really know how to (and enjoy) helping the younger ones. One would hope high-schoolers had such fluid and practiced community learning skills as the preschool kids at Montessori Community School.
- The kids really learn. This is a school, not a playgroup and not a daycare.
- They have lots of fun; my nephew talks animatedly about all the things he does at school. He is energetic, inspired and motivated about his school activities.
- The playground and outdoor activities are good. New equipment, growing plants and so on.
- The teachers take their job seriously; they have high levels of education themselves (e.g. Masters) and provide good advice to parents about school readiness. They are also really creative with the kids – getting them excited about learning things you would never believe such young kids could learn.
- Meals and snacks are provided and very healthful and good. Diapers can also be provided for the toddlers.
- The schools is IMMENSELY helpful with potty training.
- The entire school experience is very stable. The kids know what to expect and how to succeed and have a good time. It’s a great way for kids to learn to love school. Especially with the way life can get hectic with many kids in the family, parents’ jobs and just general mayhem, it’s good to know that preschool is so peaceful.
- While having clear rules and being willing to enforce them, the adminsitration is also flexibile in working out fair soltuions. Not all behaviors are acceptable from the kids and it’s necessary that forms be turned in and bills paid and so on. The administration will be firm about such things, but they are also willing to work out obstacles with families. This balance is difficult to find and maintain and we respect Montessori Community School for the job they’re doing in this.
- The kids learn their own power at this school. There is no religious undertones. It’s just he Montessori curriculum that encourages them to discover EVERYTHING. And they become very strong in their ability to confidently solve problems, and take initiative to learn and create. So fun to watch this empowerment developing and in action!
Be Aware: The school could do better on giving first impressions of warmth. As a long time parent at the school, I understand that my child is loved very much by the teachers and administrators. The dedication the staff and administration have shown to him is outstanding. He is both a joy and a challenge and they really work with him and the family to make sure positive progress is happening. They are kind, available, receptive to feedback. What they are not is gushing – “We’re SO happy to see you! Come let me give you a big hug!” are not things you hear are this school. They have other (very effective) ways of making kids (and parents) feel welcome, supported and cared for. So give them the benefit of the doubt on first impression. You will be glad you did. This school is unique and better than most. Give them the freedom to be a bit different, look past the surface and you will see it’s very special. The kids and families here are lucky — blessed by the experience.
Finally, I just want to say thanks to Montessori Community School for all the care you have given!
Anna Paula Teepl
Understanding your need as a parent and the different learning methods is essential before you enroll your child in any school.
I researched for a while before I decided Montessori was right for me. When I first met Ms Suzanne (at the time head director of MCS), it was a mix of relief, comfort and happiness. Right then I knew there was no better place for my first born.
Today, both of my kids are there and I feel very lucky to have incredible teachers assisting them.
Monica and Suzanne brought me to a whole new level of understanding relative to their teaching practice. These two outstanding professionals inspire me on daily basis to be a better parent, their interpersonal skills and truly passionate commitment to the Montessori philosophy, provide me with constructive feedback, knowledge, and tools to raise good human beings.
One advice: get to know the teachers because they are the soul of the school.
I have been a MCS parent since the summer of 2005, when my first child needed a program change from SV Children’s Center. My second child is currently enrolled in the primary classroom of SVM. First off, I will say the Montessori is not for everyone, much like public school does not meet all of the needs of the children it serves. There are some tremendous pluses to SVM that should be seriously considered and reflected upon before writing either a bad review or writing a whole year tuition check.
- MCS is entirely focused on hiring and retaining the best qualified and most experienced teaching staff that are AMI certified. While turnover is not fun for anyone, it is expected in the course of the educational hiring process…not all teacher personalities fit the given school. Please remember that most of the head teachers have Bachelor’s degrees or MAster’s degrees as their highest degree attained. These teachers are not run of the mill 12 ECE credit teachers…They are the real deal. To my knowledge, all of the assistants are AMI certified and some are going for their Master’s degrees in Montessori method.
- The school is clean and organized. I have been involved in MCS for 7 years and their organizational structure and cleanliness are not to be surpassed. Bill Tershey, while not an educator by trade, he is incredibly focused on the education of the whole child and the smooth running, both curricurally and financially/business of the school. He is professional in attitude and intra-personal interaction. During this past year, in response to parent’s desiring for a hot lunch program, he researched, instituted and delivered a comprehensive school lunch program that is both wholesome, organic, varied and occasionally vegetarian. This was a HUGE deal for me as I hate dealing with the packing of 4 lunches for the following day.
- The curriculum and school culture foster independence within the child. This is probably the hardest thing for most parents to deal with who are not familiar with Maria Montessori and her methodology. The curriculum really pushes students to embrace (in the beginning) solitary problem solving and working towards proficiency, which then transitions into a peer teaching model where students across grade levels and proficiency levels are then helping or teaching their less- familiar peers. The coldness that some reviewers write of may be attributed to the ultra-professional teaching attitude that is embibed in the classroom. This does not mean that it is not nurturing or loving but it does mean that it is NOT a substitute for you and your partner. MCS never will attempt to be huggy or kissy in the hopes of demonstrating your parental love…it is not appropriate for the emotional and social setting. This does not mean that they do not care…THEY DO CARE!!!, but it is gauged appropriately for the “work” setting. If you are looking for a nurse-maid or a parental substitute, than this is not the school for you. If you want your children to be loved, independent, thoughtful, critical analyzers and lovers of learning, than this IS the school for you.
As an educator myself, with a MA in teaching and an MA in Progressive Leadership and 12 years of classroom experience, I wholeheartedly stand behind MCS.