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How did Ridgeline Montessori get started?

Ridgeline Montessori is an Oregon charter school approved by the Eugene School Board on June 21, 2000. The parents and teachers who created Ridgeline Montessori worked for a year to secure start-up funding and a charter to operate the school. The founders have been committed to the Montessori philosophy because of the positive learning experiences their children had in Montessori schools as three- to six-year-olds.

How many students attend Ridgeline?

Our charter includes an enrollment cap of 253 students. In 2019, student enrollment is about 246. 

Why is the role of a parent in the Montessori classroom so different from the role of a parent in a more traditional classroom?

The children in a Montessori classroom actively create their learning environment. The teacher provides the physical and behavioral structure, and acts as a guide. Ideally all adults should strive to make the smallest impact possible. Please enter the classroom only if you are an expected guest (parent volunteer or scheduled observer) and, when you do, remember to keep your voice low and your presence understated.

What are the school hours?

Doors open: 8:15 a.m.

School begins: 8:30 a.m.

School ends, Monday–Thursday: 3:05 p.m.

School ends, Friday: 1:05 p.m.

Whom do I call if my child will be late or absent?

Please call the office at 541-681-9662 before the start of the school day whenever your child will be late or absent. You may leave a message in the general school mailbox if you reach the answering machine. Office staff will call your home and business phone numbers, as well as emergency numbers, if you do not let the school know that your child will be absent or late. Students arriving after the start of school must check in at the office before going to their classroom. 

Can Ridgeline students take the school bus to school?

Ridgeline Montessori, similar to the alternative schools in Eugene, does not have school bus service. Parents must provide transportation to school for their children. Fortunately, being located near major bus lines affords easy access to Ridgeline Montessori by foot, car, bike, or the #28 LTD bus. Students may ride for free. Also, the school has been quite successful in encouraging carpools. There currently are carpool opportunities available from many different sections of the city.

Do you offer childcare before and after school?

Assorted area childcare providers, including the Y and University of Oregon programs, transport our students to their site for after-school care. Before-school care is offered on site by an outside childcare provider.

Why must all visitors (including parents) check in at the office before entering other areas of the building?

The safety of our students requires us to know who is entering our school. All visitors must check in at the office, even if only for a minute. When taking a student out early, the student must be checked out at the office.

What should I do if I have questions about anything that is happening in class?

To ensure that accurate information is being communicated, Ridgeline's policy is to bring any questions or issues to the student's teacher first. Our teachers are incredible problem solvers. If more assistance is needed, you or the teacher may then choose to seek further assistance through the office.

Is Montessori right for my child?

Underlying the Montessori curriculum is a fundamental belief that each child has an instinctive and spontaneous desire to learn, and that self-motivation is the only true impulse to learning. In the Montessori classroom, individual responsibility for behavior, along with respect for people and property, accompanies the freedom that students enjoy. In collaboration with observant teachers, who assist with goal setting and ensure steady achievement, children move themselves toward learning. They learn at their own pace and pursue materials and topics that are of interest to them.

To be successful, entering students must be able to learn to make choices, cooperate with peers, develop and maintain a sense of order, demonstrate self-discipline, function independently, and participate noncompetitively in a classroom community. They must also find intrinsic satisfaction in work well done instead of seeking extrinsic rewards or pats on the back. Students with diverse learning styles—including primarily auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners—will find many stimulating and appropriate activities at Ridgeline. Students who are highly distractible may find our environment too stimulating for their learning needs.  

What makes Montessori different?

Pedagogy and teaching materials are the most compelling difference between Ridgeline Montessori and other schools. Although the basic academic content of the curriculum is the same, the following elements are key to a Montessori classroom:

Montessori Materials: Carefully designed materials are at the heart of a Montessori classroom. Each material embodies a particular concept or skill but addresses many levels of understanding, beginning with the concrete and moving to the abstract. Many materials are self-correcting and provide students with feedback, thus reinforcing autonomy, confidence, and self-motivation. Used in the non-competitive Montessori classroom, the materials allow each child to develop at his or her individual rate. Extensive written materials in each area of the classroom support the Montessori emphasis on research using reference books and both primary and secondary sources.  In the elementary classroom, students study Zoology, Botany, History, Geography, Chemistry and Cultural Studies. Concepts are introduced with a key experience lesson from the teacher. Learning is reinforced as students work with sequenced materials and record their activities in written form.

Prepared Environment: Dr. Montessori created what she called the “prepared environment,” designed to encourage self-directed learning.  The classroom is arranged in learning areas, with clusters of student-sized tables and open areas for floor work. Shelves of materials pertaining to a particular area of study surround each learning area. The materials are arranged systematically and in developmental sequence. Students are free to move about the classroom choosing resources and working individually or in small groups as they pursue their work plan.

Teachers and Their Roles: Montessori teachers are rarely the center of attention in the classroom. Instead, the teacher is one source of information among many and the focus during work times is on each student working at his or her challenge level. The teachers prepare the environment, observe the children carefully to determine skill levels and readiness, offer appropriate activities, and facilitate the process of “learning how to learn.” Montessori teachers also actively model appropriate, respectful behavior and positive conflict resolution.

Individual Learning Contracts: Elementary students work according to individual learning contracts (ILCs) that they develop with their teachers and update periodically to reflect progress and standardized test results. These contracts set forth how the student will complete the curriculum requirements. Students and teachers track work weekly to ensure they are fulfilling their ILC. Individual students progress at their own rates and level of learning.

Long Continuous Work Periods: Whole-class instruction time is minimal; the school day is structured to allow students to spend long blocks of time on work that they choose within the framework of their contract. This schedule enables students to explore a topic or material thoroughly and to carry it through to completion.

Interdisciplinary Approach: Subjects are not taught in isolation; they are related thematically to each other. Students are taught to use reading, writing, and math as tools for the pursuit of knowledge and skills. This approach motivates students to master the basic skills and use them in understanding material in the content areas.

Multi-age Classrooms: Students are grouped in multi-age clusters spanning  three years in the elementary program. Multi-age classrooms serve to: maximize curriculum options available to students; encourage cooperation and minimize competition; provide opportunities for indirect learning for younger students; foster self-confidence in students who serve as role models; and provide for long-term teacher/student relationships.

Enhanced Curriculum: Using the services of a Montessori consulting firm, we have correlated the Montessori Scope and Sequence with the Oregon Curriculum Goals to ensure full coverage of both curricula. The Montessori elementary curriculum strongly emphasizes math and language, then uses them to study other subjects including anthropology, astronomy, biology, chemistry, economics, geography, geology, government, history, philosophy, physics, political science, and sociology, referred to as the Cultural Curriculum. Art, music, and physical education are part of the integrated Montessori prepared environment as well as being subjects that are taught in their own right.  Technology is a tool that supports all other curriculum areas.