Montessori programs won’t become part of School District #83 at least in the short term.
Following a report from a committee designed to review the issue, the board voted not to move ahead with implementing a Montessori program at Silver Creek Elementary for September 2016.
Montessori is a different educational philosophy including mixed-age classrooms and an emphasis on independence and student choice in learning. It was brought forward by parents when the school was under threat of closure as a way to boost enrolment. As well, the school, which already incorporates mixed grade classrooms, is using some of the Montessori methods in it’s classrooms. As well, the Silver Creek Parent Advisory Council has recently purchased some Montessori resources for Silver Creek teachers to use.
The most pressing issue for implementing Montessori in this district is the lack of trained teachers, and the potential costs of training. The costs of classroom setup, would also be an issue, with an average of $6,000 to $7,000 needed per classroom.
The district has not abandoned the issue entirely, deciding to continue with a committee to explore the issue of Montessori and teacher training.
“It was more of a not yet as opposed to a no,” says Noah Ralston, the North Okanagan-Shuswap Teachers Association representative. “The heart of the issue was the phrase “full implementation” for fall 2016. This would imply fully trained teachers, admin, support staff, TOC’s, … which obviously isn’t possible. Full implementation would take several years.”
In addition to the recommendation not to proceed, the school board voted to defer the issue of converting Silver Creek Elementary to a K-8 school to the long-term facilities plan and that any future considerations of Montessori be dealt with separately from the issues of school reconfigurations or potential closures.