Mountain Sun Works with Ellie Elzerman to Develop Curriculum

By Kayla C. Leed | Brevard, NC

Mountain Sun Community School, located at the Brevard Music Center, has offered the children of this community an independent, inspired education for over a decade. For children ages 3 through middle school, Mountain Sun combines Montessori education with outdoor exploration, artistic creativity, and community engagement. Over the past school year, Mountain Sun Community School worked in partnership with Ellie Elzerman, Educational Consultant and Montessori expert, to develop and improve the school’s academic curriculum.

An important part of the Mountain Sun’s educational philosophy is rooted in the innovative practices created by Maria Montessori. It is a style of education that incorporates multi-aged classrooms, student-chosen activities within a given range of options, blocks of work time, freedom of movement, and an experiential model which gives the student the opportunity to learn concepts from hands-on experience. These concepts are brought into each classroom at the school, and developmentally appropriate materials are available in each class grouping so that children can find their level of challenge.

Throughout the year, Elzerman spent one week each month observing each classroom and working closely with each teacher to develop enhanced learning materials and an even stronger academic curriculum.

Beginning with the Primary classrooms (ages 3-6) and the Lower Elementary (ages 6 – 9), Elzerman spent time observing and working with the teachers to fine tune existing Montessori practices while also assisting with the implementation of Montessori principles as threads throughout the curriculum across the school. Together, the teachers and Elzerman solidified math and language skills taught at Mountain Sun to correspond with the Montessori materials. 

Elzerman worked with Upper Elementary teacher and Curriculum Advisor Becky Langerman to refine the benchmark math and language skills for each age level and ensure their connection to state and national standards. “Creating this document helped us identify and write down what we’ve been doing as a school with our academics for years. Now we are able to pinpoint each skill and communicate amongst each other and with our community,” Langerman stated. 

Using the Montessori materials, especially at the primary and elementary ages, empowers children to discover and explore academic concepts through independent learning, repetition, and practice with physical objects. Teachers prepare the learning environment to allow students to become independent learners, who are also held accountable for their own educational journey. The Montessori materials enable children to learn at varying paces, so that a child may understand language and math concepts at the level for which she is ready.

Elzerman spent several days at a time at Mountain Sun over the course of the school year. “This school is like nothing I’ve seen before,” reported Elzerman, “They have created a unique school environment where they bridge nature with education brilliantly.” 

Mountain Sun Community School will begin its 12th school year on August 21st, 2019.

Mountain Sun Community School is an independent, nonprofit school serving Preschool through Middle School and utilizes nature-based Montessori and other methods to provide a unique, inspired education for each child. Mountain Sun Community School is currently enrolling students for the 2019-20 Academic Year. Mountain Sun is a United Way partner agency. For more information, please visit www.mountainsunschool.org or call 828.885.2555.

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