Yesterday afternoon I experienced something I never thought I would. It’s one of those things that you read about or see in movies and pretty much accept as someone’s romanticized interpretation of a far off and unlikely ideal. And being perfectly honest, if you had asked me to pinpoint where it might happen if it ever could, I would not have said Charleston, West Virginia.
My family was invited to attend an open house for a new school, Charleston Montessori. I have some good friends who developed a vision of a diverse community school where they could actively participate with other adults in not only delivering but modeling an approach to life committed to natural self-direction, peace, and managing the environment for learning, not managing individuals themselves. The Montessori Method is open to various interpretations and consequently lends itself to new schools and new communities of adults who want to do the very best by their children.
I am no expert in Montessori education, but I am an expert in honoring children. I can identify in the beat of a butterfly’s wing if a person loves and honors children. The adults who are coming together to build this new Creative Communities school on the West Side of Charleston do that, but there is something more. This crowd is very interested in the school being part of an organic whole that is the community. I pick it up in everything from the written communication, the transparent process of building the school, the willingness to let anyone engage, and sheer joy exuded while seeing this dream come to life.
There is an energy here that is magic. My daughter walked right into the 3-6 year old classroom and went straight to “work” with the organized materials. There was such lack of anxiety and stress from the teacher, just a patient fascination with my child and an eagerness to provide her the opportunity to learn in a natural way. The confidence in her ability to direct herself was wonderful.
I’ve grown beyond weary with the complaints about education in West Virginia. I know I am not alone when I say it may be wasted energy to try to “fix” our public schools. Maybe someone can. But the clock is ticking for my child, and like these parents who are building a new school I am not in a position to wait for the quarreling unions and politicians and school boards to put children first. I’m with the philosophy of the new crowd that is saying enough. We will do it ourselves, and we will do it for our children.
You’re welcome aboard, but don’t even think about trying to stop us.