From the Smarty Education Corner: Students Take Ownership of Learning at Charlotte Prep
By Smarty Guest Blogger Catherine Astin, the dean of students and Middle School math teacher at Charlotte Preparatory School
Throughout a student’s experience at Charlotte Prep, activities, lessons and programs are designed with vital components of the school’s Mission in mind. As part of this “exemplary educational experience,” students in the Middle School are invited to have a voice and a choice in their learning. Each semester, 5th-8th graders are empowered to select an elective course that meets weekly and broadens their experience. The options cover a vast scope, from ultimate frisbee to Bollywood dancing to Spanish film study. During this block, students can stretch their understanding of learning, see themselves, their peers and their teachers from another perspective and develop passions outside of the core academic program.
Students are prepared to make this choice as a result of purposeful decision-making throughout their time at Charlotte Prep. With a strong Montessori foundation, children as young as three years old have developed awareness of their preferences, ownership over their role in their learning and a sense of pride for demonstrating their skills and knowledge to others. In the Lower School, this foundation strengthens as students participate in the BUDEE program (Be Understanding, Dedicated, Empathetic and Engaged), where they engage monthly in activities created, led and organized by Middle School students. They see their future selves in leadership roles and are inspired and excited about having this chance for themselves in just a few years.
In addition to independent choices about students’ education, electives represent tangible opportunities for leadership. In the fall semester, 8th grader Parker R. headed the MathCounts elective as team captain, leading a team of 10 peers ranging from 5th to 8th grade in rigorous preparation for a competition at UNC-Charlotte. Parker found real value in this. “It lets me do something I already liked but from a different angle,” he says. This perspective is not limited to only the team captains; visit the Middle School on a Friday afternoon, and one will consistently observe engaged, collaborative students fully immersed in activities they have chosen.
In Mrs. Zuck’s room, a small group of students edits, films, writes and interviews for the student-run Channel 71 News. Their clips are shown weekly in advisories and often broadcast on Charlotte Prep’s social media pages. Throughout campus, pairs of students from the Green Club tidy up the school and empty recycling bins. Their ownership over this is genuine; at a recent Middle School meeting, club leaders presented on the need for the rest of the community to participate in their initiative. Mrs. Edde sponsors the Young Ladies in Leadership elective, where students take on significant responsibilities in the community – presenting Holidays Around the World to students in all grades, providing breakfast to Crisis Assistance Ministry and organizing a pop-up shop for Charlotte Prep spirit wear. These are only a few examples of how Middle School students are engaged and empowered by active participation in their electives.
From Early School through Middle School, Charlotte Prep cultivates the growth and development of true student leaders who are prepared academically and socially for the challenges ahead. As a result, our 8th graders are prepared to make the important choice of high school during their final year at Charlotte Prep. Having the elective program, where students make meaningful choices and have authentic leadership roles, helps fulfill our mission of developing “lifelong learners.”
Upcoming Admissions Open House Events
Montessori Early School (Ages 2-5)
Thursday, October 19, 2017, at 9:30 a.m.
Sunday, November 19, 2017, at 2:00 p.m.
Tuesday, January 9, 2018, at 9:30 a.m.
For more information or to schedule a tour of campus, please contact Director of Admissions Vicky Wilkison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-366-5994.