Phoenix Montessori launches high school
by Staff Writer
When husband and wife Sidney and Tamla Boone first visited Phoenix Montessori Academy in Huntersville, they were simply looking for a place to take their home-schooled children to play basketball and tennis.
In the fall, however, the couple will head up the academy’s first academic program for students in ninth through 12th grades.
“We want to remain a small, safe environment where teachers are able to concentrate on each and every student,” Sidney Boone said.
Although the academy enrolled four high school students last year, mostly through online classes, August will begin the first year that high school students will spend the full day in the classroom receiving face-to-face instruction. Sidney Boone said plans for next year include time built into the school day for socialization and rest, flexible scheduling, a life-skills class and a possible opportunity to take science classes at Discovery Place in Charlotte.
The Boones recently moved to the Charlotte-area from Tennessee, where Tamla home-schooled their three children and Sidney worked as a corporate buyer. The couple said they hope to make the academy’s high school program home-school student friendly, especially for home-schoolers who want to play organized sports with their peers or take courses that their home instructors are unable or unqualified to teach.
“We know from our experiences as home-school parents that it can be very difficult to find outlets where kids can play sports,” said Sidney Boone, whose oldest son attends and plays basketball at Davidson Day School. “We’ve found that the goals and philosophies of Phoenix Montessori match with the same goals of many home-school families.”
After the Boones talked several times with Head of School and Phoenix Montessori founder India Adams, Adams approached the couple about leading the new program.
Founded in 2004, the academy uses the Montessori method, which teaches students through:
• Mixed-age classrooms. Each high school student at the academy will also eat lunch with younger students to foster and refine leadership skills.
• Various learning options and methods. Phoenix Montessori also will let each student decide when he or she takes certain courses throughout the school day.
• Hands-on learning. Students “discover” ideas and concepts through manipulating materials, rather than through direct instruction.
• Individualized lesson plans for each student.
“The Montessori method, it just allows a child to grow and develop as they are,” Tamla Boone said. “The instructor or teacher identifies the gifts and talents of each student and helps develop those gifts in a way that’s most beneficial to that specific child.”
According to the couple, the method also recognizes that students know what type of instruction best suits their learning needs and gives students ample room to explore different learning methods.
“I’m a morning learner, so if I were going to have to take a math class, I would take it at the beginning of the day, instead of at the end of the day,” Tamla Boone said. “At most schools, students have no choice but to take a course whenever it’s offered, but here, students make those decisions for themselves.”
The Boones also said they have no expectations about potential enrollment numbers but hope to keep the program small. The academy enrolled about 100 students last year, including one graduating senior. The couple anticipates most of the program’s new students will be ninth- and 10th-graders.
In addition to the core curriculum, high school students will have the opportunity to study music and chorus, art, physical education and French and Spanish.
For more information about Phoenix Montessori Academy, including tuition costs, or to download an admissions or financial-aid application, go online to www.phoenixmontessori.org or call 704-892-7536.