Our Elementary program is appropriate for children ages 6 – 12 years old.

Classroom Model and Curriculum
Our multi-age classrooms accommodate children from 6 through 12 years old. The children are not in “grades” and do not “pass” or “fail” grades as in a traditional environment. Rather, they progress through the materials at a pace that is appropriate for each individual child.

The Elementary program is guided by individualized yet collaborative learning. Each child is a unique person with particular aptitudes and interests. The role of the Montessori teacher is to provoke questions and teach the children the skills to answer those questions. The teacher serves as a guide to each child in his or her own learning, exploring a diverse curriculum, and creating rich learning experiences as the child moves from concrete to abstract thinking. Our teachers match their instruction with each child’s learning style and natural talents, ensuring every child is engaged and invested in learning, and capable of achieving success.

The children in our Elementary classrooms learn to research information, write reports, and make presentations to the group. They design and carry out their own community service activities, write plays, build models of the universe, and study foreign languages. The range of topics is limitless and the curriculum is vast. Montessori has a proud history of offering excellent hands-on, concrete materials to teach abstract concepts in both science and math. Through both in-class and out-of-class activities, students develop strong skills in the STEM area. The children explore art, music, biology, chemistry, poetry, theater, engineering, and more.

Together, children and teachers create an inclusive environment that supports social and emotional development. Children help one another and come to feel that helping is part of living. The feeling in the room is more like that of an extended family, and the focus on respectful social interaction and problem solving cultivates a social maturity atypical of children of this age. The strength of these relationships allows the children to take risks, voice opinions, and creatively express themselves.

Learn more about our Elementary Curriculum

Sixth-Year Internship Program

Students in the sixth-year program incorporate learning through internships as well as on-campus curriculum. Each sixth-year student completes internships with local businesses, spending one day a week off-campus learning in a professional setting. Jocelyn Clark, the Upper Elementary teacher at The Montessori School since 1998, helps guide students’ internship choices, evaluate prospective businesses, and align interests within the sixth-year internship program.

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Arts and Enrichments
Art: Students are able to choose to do art on a daily basis with lessons in drawing, painting, sculpture, art history, and more! Various mediums and tools are available for use on art projects or to extend other academic areas. Art is lead by Sam Hartman.
Music: Twice weekly, students build on skills in recorder, xylophone, body percussion, hand percussion instruments, and voice. A strong emphasis is placed on structured improvisation with instruments, the voice, and movement. Students learn about composers, their periods and styles, and families of instruments. They showcase their skills in two concerts each year. Music is lead by Hal Hobson.
Health and Wellness: This curriculum addresses a student’s physical, mental, and emotional health, which gives them necessary tools and skills as they explore different seasonal activities. Yoga and mindfulness, tennis instruction at the YMCA, anatomy and physiology, as well as nutrition lessons round out our wellness curriculum. The curriculum is designed to help students care for their own health over a lifetime. Health and Wellness is lead by Avery Cook.


Field Trips
Students participate in class field trips to camp, concerts, plays, and outdoor learning opportunities. Additionally, students plan their own “Going Out” trips to explore individual topic of interest and foster community engagement. Students are responsible for making all the arrangements and, in the case of larger trips, fundraising for each outing.

Outdoor Learning
The Montessori philosophy embraces the lessons our natural environment can provide, and we have put much care into cultivating an outdoor space that facilitates this exploration. Our students enjoy planning and maintaining several garden beds. Currently we have a native wetland garden, two wildflower gardens — all of which are certified Monarch Waystations — and are in the process of planning a fourth butterfly garden.

Each year, students choose an environmental action project that interests them and also acts as a service learning project. Placed-based action projects allow the students to observe and experience the interconnectedness of all living things, including themselves. They serve as curricular extensions that raise ecological awareness within the child, meet their developmental needs and encourage them to explore and connect with the natural environment, both on campus and in the larger community.


Learn More

The Montessori School Goes Green — Blog

Developing an Outdoor Learning Environment and the Benefits — Blog

Faculty and Staff

Elementary Faculty

Elementary Guides

Anne Wester, Willow Room Lead Guide | e-mail Anne

A Kalamazoo native, Anne graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelors degree in Elementary Education. She earned her masters in education from St. Catherine University (née- College of St. Catherine-Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs), and has an Elementary I and II certificate from the American Montessori Society. Anne taught at Northglade Montessori Magnet School from 1999-2010. She joined The Montessori School in 2016. Anne and her husband, Steve, have a daughter, Jane, who is a TMS alumna. The three of them enjoy an active lifestyle — camping, paddling, skiing, and biking. In fact, Anne just completed her 8th bike ride across the state of Iowa!


Jocelyn Clark, Maple Room Lead Guide | e-mail Jocelyn

Jocelyn has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts with a concentration in Sociology from Kalamazoo College. She started at the Montessori School in 1991 in a childcare position as a way to earn money while working on a Master’s degree in Criminology at Western Michigan University. She loved her work here so much she changed directions educationally and earned a Michigan Teaching Certificate after re-entering Kalamazoo College. She attended the Washington Montessori Institute to earn her AMI Montessori Certification and Loyola University in Baltimore for her Master’s in Education.


Elementary Specialists

Sam Hartman, Art Specialist & Willow Room Assistant, | e-mail Sam

Sam’s educational career has been as diverse as her skill sets; from empowering minority families with critical literacy skills, to using the scientific process to improve inventions with the next generation’s aspiring entrepreneurs. After earning her Elementary Education degree, she worked throughout the Kalamazoo community both in the traditional classroom and in youth development programs. Joining the team of educators at The Montessori School in 2014 has provided the opportunity to share many of her passions with the children, but none more so than her love of art. By establishing the school’s Elementary Art program, Sam hopes to inspire students to find the interdisciplinary connections between the visual arts and traditional areas of study.


Hal Hobson, Music Specialist | e-mail Hal

Originally from Lansing, Hal graduated from WMU in 2000 with a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance, and joined our staff as music specialist in 2001. He has completed levels one through three certification in Orff-Schulwerk, and has been a session presenter at local and regional Orff conferences.

Hal is very involved in Kalamazoo’s vibrant music scene, including directing community choirs, playing piano and recorder in ensembles, and teaching piano and voice. He composes original transition music for All Ears Theatre, a local radio drama troupe, and participates in theatre productions as an actor, director, and music director at the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Farmer’s Alley Theatre, and other local stages. When not teaching or in rehearsal, Hal enjoys kayaking, gardening, and visiting Lake Michigan.



Avery Cook, Elementary Childcare Coordinator | e-mail Avery

Originally from Watervliet, MI, Avery graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology and minor in Biology. She has been at The Montessori School since 2015, working as an Assistant in the Juniper room, and as the Childcare Coordinator for the Primary classrooms. Her education and varied work history has instilled a passion for learning as much as she can about new subjects. Avery enjoys many hobbies in her spare time including: knitting, gardening, and cooking; she plans to use these personal passions as well as her academic passions to engage children in the classroom and the childcare  environment.


Jessica Hagen, Elementary Coordinator | e-mail Jessica

Jessica has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently pursuing her Master’s in the Child and Family Development program at Western Michigan University. Jessica is also pursuing her certification in outdoor and environmental education through the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education. She is passionate about place-based learning, outdoor education, hiking, biking and photography. Jessica has been at The Montessori School since 2016


To schedule a tour and meet some of our elementary staff, contact us today!