Space and freedom are a key tenant in Montessori education and we believe strongly that the first place to reinforce this is in the physical space in which children learn. In our classrooms you will never find a student desk. Instead, the classrooms are filled with age specific materials aimed towards guiding the children through their academic journey coupled with tables and floor space. This environment helps facilitate child independence, versus traditional conformity, and encourages children to work collaboratively with each other as the space allows for greater movement and emphasis on the team.
The furniture in each classroom emphasizes the organic nature of life. Rather than steel and plastic, the furniture at the academy places an emphasis on natural wood – the tables in the elementary program actually having been built by our CFO with the help of students. While subtle, this emphasis on natural sets the tone for a calming environment where children feel comfortable.
Finding ourselves in an 80 year old building (updated for the future of course), we are fortunate to have great ceiling heights that allow for massive windows to the outdoor. As a result, our classrooms are filled with natural light. This exposure creates a beautiful space in which the children work and grow.
In the fall of 2016, we will be opening our fully dedicated computer lab. Currently, while in the work cycle, our students work on classroom specific desktops and our computer classes are taught on laptops that are moved into the classrooms several times a week for specific lessons. With the introduction of our new computer lab, we will be able to provide greater levels of computer time as we eliminate the need for set-up and tear-down and will also have smart screen technology that will enhance the experience of the students and elevate the connection between students and teacher. This new space will also allow for the permanent location of the much loved 3-D printing students engage in early as an enticing way to engrain them with a love of technology.
Starting at the elementary level, students take music in a dedicated music room. We are fortunate to be able house this program in its own location which allows for a greater breadth of activities that could not occur without the music focused location. In addition to music classes, families are also able to enroll their children in private piano lessons that are similarly housed in this location. In the fall of 2016, we will be relocating our music program within the building to a newly constructed room that will not only accommodate private piano lessons but will house private studios for the education of children on stringed instruments.
The second and third floors of our facilities are built around a central kitchen area. This area serves as the morning meeting place for our students as well as is the location from which snacks and lunches are distributed each day. For the fall of 2016, our second floor kitchen will be renovated to house an improved café space. This new café will provide an updated space for food service on the second floor and an opportunity for our middle school students to manage their own micro economy activities
As a Montessori program in an urban setting, we are very fortunate to have multiple spaces available to the children for movement and play. We have two large multi-purpose rooms located within our main building that are used by our nursery and primary aged children. These rooms feature floor to ceiling windows that provide incredible natural light. At the nursery level, we also have a beautiful outdoor play space with well grown trees and vines. In addition to these spaces, we also have a detached gymnasium behind our main building – truly unique within the city. This space is utilized by students as early as three years old. It allows for your typical gymnasium fun and physical development as well as provides a location to house our introductory classes for soccer, football, basketball and baseball. Finally, beyond those spaces housed on location, we are proximately located to take advantage of several Chicago parks and a local swimming facility. Our students walk to these parks on a regular basis and swim classes are offered weekly starting with children in our primary program.