What is Montessori?

The Montessori educational approach was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, Italy’s first female physician. The Montessori Method was brought to the United States 100 years ago and is now used in 4,500 schools, including 440 public schools nationwide. Research shows that children who receive a Montessori education excel not only academically, but socially. Montessori teaches independence, problem-solving, responsibility, social courtesy, and good citizenship. Montessori honors and cultivates each child’s natural love of learning.

How is Montessori different?

The elementary-aged child wants to know everything about everything. This natural tendency to learn with an expansive perspective within disciplines such as the sciences, the arts, and social studies, motivates basic skill mastery in the Montessori Elementary classroom. Children in a Montessori classroom learn from each other and because of each other. They develop skills of cooperation and respect. They collaborate instead of compete. They celebrate each other’s efforts. They take care of themselves, they take care of others and they take care of their environment.

How are classes taught?

SAPMS’s elementary program includes ten key curricular areas: Language Arts, Mathematics and Geometry, Geography, Earth and Physical Science, Biology, History/Social Science, the Arts (Visual Arts, Music, Drama, Movement), Character and Peace Education (Service Learning), Practical Life, and Health and Physical Education. SAPMS’s curriculum is designed to address the psychological characteristics of the elementary-aged child, which include a stronger capability of effort and concentration, an immense desire for knowledge, a stronger need to satisfy intellectual curiosity, development of the powers of imagination, and heightened social exploration.

Why a PUBLIC Montessori school?

Montessori education is designed to teach peace and understanding among all people of all backgrounds and abilities, just like traditional public schools. We believe that an ideal Montessori classroom environment is one that is open to a diverse group of children, not just to those who can afford it. SAPMS is one of 31 public Montessori Schools in Florida.

What is a charter school?

A charter school is a public school that has received approval from the local School District and the State Department of Education to teach children using a different approach than the traditional classroom. The state and federal governments have decided to allow the use of alternative approaches in hopes that every child will be educated to reach his or her true potential.

Will SAPMS students be required to take standardized tests?

Yes. Charter schools must meet the state standards and test their students using the state-mandated test. The learning objectives of the Montessori elementary curriculum meet or exceed Florida and national curriculum guides. Charter schools are accountable to the federal/state government and to their authorizing School District for reporting standards achievement and compliance with Charter School laws and regulations. For those interested in 2014 FCAT test scores and the associated School Grades, this table lists the results from the State of Florida Department of Education for grades three through six for St. Augustine Public Montessori School and other St. Johns County Schools. See 2013-14 School Grade and Test Scores here.

How many students will the school accommodate?

Our current enrollment (2015-16) is 92 students in first to sixth grades. We plan to grow to serve about 120 students in first through sixth grades through 2017-18. We plan to add a Primary (3-6 year olds) class in 2018. The actual number of students will depend on funding, facilities, applications received, and personnel hired.

Why does SAPMS start in First Grade, not Kindergarten?

Since the Montessori Method recognizes the three-year developmental age spans observed by Dr. Montessori (Ages 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, and 12-15), if we are to be true to Montessori, a class made up of a single age level is not appropriate, nor is it appropriate to lump in Kindergartners with first through third graders. SAPMS plans to open a Primary level as early as 2018, serving children ages three to six.

Is Montessori for all children? What kind of student will do well in Montessori?

Montessori education has been used successfully with children of all income levels, of all academic abilities, and from all cultural backgrounds. A child with the following qualities would be the most likely to succeed in the learning environment of the Montessori program:

  • Passion for learning
  • Self-motivation
  • Willingness to investigate and take risks
  • Enjoyment in choosing among several options
  • A self-directed learner
  • Ability to work independently
  • Ability to follow through and complete tasks
  • Respect for self, the environment, and others
  • An awareness of personal responsibility
  • Ability to work with others
  • Honesty
  • Respect for personal and academic endeavors

How will interested students be selected to attend?
The admissions process will include the following:

  • Application to the school by the deadline published
  • Review of the applications
  • Determination of class size for the upcoming school year
  • A formal lottery organized by grade, if applicants exceed the number of allotted slots
  • A pre-enrollment prospective parent meeting

Please see our Enrollment Information.

Do Montessori students have priority?

Yes, children with documented Montessori experience have priority. We will aim for a ratio of four previous Montessori students to one without.

What sort of parent involvement is expected?

Families of eligible children must commit to their child’s education by agreeing to at least 20 hours a year of participation in the school and community. Parent activities will take many shapes and forms, such as attending school events, chaperoning, assisting teachers or in the office, coordinating community events, and so forth.

How much money will be needed to open and operate the school?

Approximately $60,000 in donations is needed each year to operate the school until a facility is developed to accommodate our eventual 120-150 students. This funding will come from private donations and grants.

Isn’t State funding provided to Charter Schools?

Charter School funding is dependent on State Department of Education FTE (per pupil) funding and is set by the state legislature. The FTE funding is annual funding and does not cover the costs to operate a Montessori school. St. Johns County Charter Schools do not receive any local education funding and 5% of our FTE funding is kept by the District.

Can individuals donate money to the school?

Yes. The governing organization, Saint Augustine Montessori Community, Inc., is a non-profit organization and all contributions are tax deductible. You may donate online here.

How can I help and get involved?

  • Request that your family be added to our email list to get updates.
  • Participate in fundraising activities.
  • Like the SAPMS group on Facebook.
  • Complete an Application for Enrollment Consideration form.