What Makes Casa di Mir Special and Unique

By Wanda Whitehead

“From the very beginning, Casa di Mir taught me to think differently about education.” –Aaron Shuler

What makes Casa di Mir a unique school community, a treasure in the sea of many schools? Let me count the ways:

  1. Trained Montessori teaching faculty implementing a curriculum designed specifically for the developing child at each stage of growth
  2. The time, energy, and care our teachers invest in their relationship with each child to understand and meet the needs of each child to their best ability
  3. A strong academic program
  4. A curriculum that includes music, art, dance, Aikido, Spanish, educational field trips, and service learning projects
  5. The opportunity to practice independence, take initiative and explore personal interests
  6. A social/emotional curriculum based on character development and education for peace
  7. A like-minded parent community who share the values of a Montessori education and who wish their children to grow up in a wholesome environment
  8. Traditions and celebrations that are cornerstones of the school and that make a lifelong impression
  9. Mindfulness practices that teach self-reflection and self-regulation
  10. We encourage mistakes and the opportunity to learn from them
  11. A place to find acceptance.

It is the balance and blend (kaleidoscope) of all of these elements that makes a rewarding experience possible for our students, every day.

Writing the words in the bullet points above forsakes the passion and energy that infuses their implementation in our community and in our classrooms. The words themselves are often overused in education and can’t convey the actual experience we provide.

There is so much opportunity in our classrooms for the real experiences of teamwork, creativity, and leadership. Children are not confined to a desk or to be receptacles for other’s knowledge. As William Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The outcomes of our “igniting the fire” for our students are: confidence, joy in learning, a strong sense of self, appreciation for others, and an assurance that whatever the situation, “I can handle it.” Walk into any classroom any time and you will see action toward these goals.

Ask an alumni and you might hear something very similar to what Aaron Shuler (2004) shared with me recently:

“From the very beginning, Casa di Mir taught me to think differently about education. It provided me incredible freedom to express myself, as well as follow wherever my curiosity led. Learning became something that I was doing, not just something that was being fed to me. School was an exploration, a journey upon which I embarked, filled with surprises and wonder. I was the master of my own experience…

Of course, upon reflection, I can see that I was not alone on this journey. Throughout my experience, those around me encouraged me in self direction with an incredible warmth and compassion. They empowered me. They focused my curiosity. Indeed, they inspired me to bring the love of learning they gave me to others.

Now, as I embark upon a career in education, I often think back to how my Casa teachers might help a struggling student, or how they would inspire a group of first graders to give an epic Cultural Night performance. My mission is to bring the Casa experience to all of my students, so that they might be inspired too.”

This is what makes Casa a special place to grow and learn!

 

About the author: Wanda Whitehead is Casa di Mir Montessori School founder and Director of Education, and former head of school (1989-2018).

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