Dear Prospective Parent,
It is with great pleasure and sincerity that I offer my reference and recommendation of the Montessori Children’s House of Hyde Park (MCHHP).
Our family has been at this school for 8 years, and our children have experienced the educational environments in the primary, lower elementary, and upper elementary classrooms.
The Montessori environment is a unique journey that meets the needs of every individual child. The teachers are incredibly capable, engaged, kind and committed to the students in their classroom. A wonderful benefit of our school is that each teacher has three years with your child in order to understand the way your child individually learns, identify the strengths and weaknesses of your child and to create an environment for them which creates a love of learning and incredible self-motivation and directness that I have to see in another school.
In addition to the daily studies in the classroom, the children at MCHHP are uniquely exposed to incredible real-life learning opportunities like traveling to Tallahassee and holding a mock session in the Florida House of Representatives, visiting local businesses to interview them on how they build and grow their company, and taking day trips to numerous local treasures to really see and learn about plant root systems, animal habitats and water systems in our community.
The children are given the wonderful opportunity to grow in each classroom from the youngest, learning from the older students, to the oldest, teaching the younger students. This gives the children incredibly close relationships with one another and gives them a wonderful sense of responsibility and confidence with their peers. The children at MCHHP are often pointed out as the most respectful and engaged group on any field trip they attend, and that is mostly because of the earnest interest in learning that is cultivated in the classroom. They are a kind group of children, who are taught to work through problems and guided on how to do so.
The education my children have received at Montessori has amply prepared them for their next step in their educational life, with both children being accepted to one of the top private K-12 schools in Tampa Bay – Berkeley Prep. The team at MCHHP worked with me to support my children in every possible way, and our family always felt supported by Amanda and her staff at every turn and with any challenge.
It is difficult to articulate all of the ways that this school has impacted our children and family, but I reiterate that I give my whole-hearted recommendation of MCHHP to any family that wants to instill a long-term love of learning and strong education foundation in their children.
Kim Kirtley, Parent
Alumni Testimonial - A Student's Reflection
One of the images that most clearly sticks in my head of my early years at Montessori is the bucket-on-the-string experiment. I remember peeking around the door-frame of my Junior Level Once class and watching the “Older Children”. They had taken a small tin pail filled with water and tied a thin rope to the handle. And now, to my astonishment, they picked up the rope and started swinging the bucket in the air, in huge, sweeping circles. As I was about to run and tell on them for doing such a terrible thing, I noticed something even more amazing – something which challenged my newfound perception that there was no such thing as magic: The water was staying in that bucket. A few years later, I tried the same experiment myself, and learned that the only magic there had been something called centrifugal force; gravity had not been defied, but merely obeyed. The magic was in the nature of the water.
Standing by when I learned how to perform this “magic” myself was the teacher – she had gathered a group of us for a presentation – an event for which we all had the greatest respect. It was now, we knew, that we would be able to understand what the “Big Kids” already knew about the world, and such amazing things as flying buckets of water.
These presentations were, indeed, just that – the world was being presented to us, as was our place in the world. On my first day of school, when I was five, the teacher announced that everything in the classroom had a name. She challenged us to find an object that did not; we couldn’t. We then began to learn the names of things outside the classroom – the types of trees on the lawn, the types of leaves on them – the parts of an apple – the parts of a lizard – the states in the country – the countries of the world. We learned also our responsibility to and role in that world. We saw the tiny silhouette representing mankind at the end of the long sheet representing time. We learned that this was us. We saw that the potted plants and groundhogs in the cage in the corner needed us as caretakers. We learned that we were that, also. We saw that there were pictures to be painted and plays to be written and worms to be dissected – and so we became artist and writers and scientists.
Since the world had been present to us, we, in turn, presented ourselves to the world. In Montessori I was allowed to delve into venues of creativity, to explore interests, however fleeting, and to develop passions. And, amazingly, my teachers were as receptive to my presentation as I had been to theirs. They sat patiently through long skits and even longer reports; they listened intently as we raised our hands to tell stories, even when they knew they weren’t true.
We were encouraged wholeheartedly to create and experiment and explore; I found myself with more freedom in the fourth grade that I would have in my senior year of high school.
I figured out early on, as most of us did, that Montessori teachers had handed us their unconditional trust. We were free to do what we chose, from picking what we would work on to moving freely around the classroom. I can’t imagine how different my education would have been had I been denied the basic rights to talk and move around – had I, like my friends at other schools, viewed my teachers as wardens, rather than friends.
In a world where “Give ‘em an inch and they’ll take a mile” seems to be the golden rule this trust is refreshing. The Montessori teachers gave us a mile, and because they respected us enough to do so, we respected them to run that mile as hard as we could. This momentum carried me through high school as well. The respect with which I had been instilled remained, as self-respect, and I therefore pushed myself to excel – to exceed the goals which had been set for me.
One of the first presentations we received in science was about the nature of solids, liquids, and gasses. While solids stay constant and gasses are without form, we were told that liquids flow freely, expanding and moving to fit the shape of their container. Children are liquid. They shape themselves to fit the form of the container in which they are placed. Where they are free to go, they go; what they are free to do, they do. And when they are accorded this freedom, they feel no need to push its boundaries.
Children thrive on trust. When allowed to walk to town, they do just that; when allowed to paint a picture, they do just that; when allowed to work for hours mastering intransitive verbs, they do just that – and gladly. I am forever indebted to my teachers for their amazing “presentation” of absolute trust to a young child.
They had enough faith to swing the bucket, because they knew it was in the very nature of the water to remain right there.
Rebecca Makkai, Alumni