Milwaukee Montessori School
Face of Montessori Education
Milwaukee Montessori School; (Left to right) Anya Reppa, William Baker, Grace Walters, Liam Metzen; Photo by Boutique Photographer Linda Smallpage; Instagram: @boutiquephotographer | Facebook: Boutique Photographer | Linkedin: Linda Smallpage
In April of this year, Milwaukee Montessori School hosted an international drone racing competition that brought over 60 drone pilots to the city. MMS’ middle-school Drone Lab students helped put the event together using experience they gained from years of learning to code, program and most recently, fly drones themselves. For fourth to eighth graders at MMS, drone racing is just one of the recent additions to their school’s cutting-edge curriculum.
“Programming is the new liberal arts,” says Monica Van Aken, MMS’ Head of School. MMS is the only school in the metro area that offers extensive programming, drone racing and similar technology-based classes to elementary and middle school students. “Our students learn to animate in 3D, they design their own video games, create animated films, and code using many programs including Python. Rather than just being consumers of technology, our mission is for MMS students to become creators of new technologies. MMS is the only school in the nation to win the National STEM Challenge in Game Design three times.”
But it’s not all tech all the time at MMS. Students engage in competence-based learning in all subjects. That means they don’t move to the next level in a subject until they’ve mastered the previous one. The approach has yielded results, with 20% of MMS eighth-graders finishing pre-calculus before graduating to high school, and the other 80% completing Algebra 1 by the end of seventh grade. “If you’re constantly making sure that kids have an understanding of what they’re working on, they learn faster,” Van Aken says. “Once they’ve mastered the content, they move quickly into advanced classes. Ultimately, that’s the gateway into the highly competitive colleges and universities.”
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