By Sharon Vanella, Head of Early School
One of the most critical aspects of Montessori education is the relationship that this educational model has to child development, and really, to the neurology of the developing brain. Children are naturally inclined toward discovery and play. Beginning in infancy, babies delight in games like peek-a-boo, and once mobile, they begin reaching out to discover the world around them using all their senses. Picking up an object from nature or the space around them, children imagine the possibilities it contains by experimenting with it—banging on something, putting it in their mouth, and manipulating it in a variety of ways. These experiences begin to develop the neuro-pathways within their brains, thus initiating the process of learning.
Montessori classrooms are sometimes criticized for being “too limiting”—not allowing for imaginative play. However, as Maria Montessori herself discovered, children gravitate toward realistic objects that allow them to explore their world with purposeful play. Make no mistake, there is imagination happening here, but at the same time, the children’s play is actually laying the groundwork for their future learning. Continue reading “Purposeful Play”
By Sophia, Class of 2018
Courage. Dictionary.com says it “permits one to face extreme dangers and difficulties without fear.” Honestly, I don’t know if I agree with that. You see, very soon I, along with the rest of us in 8th grade, are going to have to make a change. We have all been here for a long time, some of us for our entire lives, and now we’re all going to high school, where we don’t know what will happen. We’re supposed to face this with courage and have no fear. Yet in all honesty—I am seriously terrified. Quaking in my boots. Thank you, but no thank you, I would rather just go crawl into a hole for the rest of eternity. This change absolutely terrifies me. I have made so many great memories at Charlotte Prep, and at first, I can’t say I looked forward to leaving. High school is a big deal, and I know just how many opportunities I will have to completely botch the entire thing. Then I think back and realize that I also had the chance to mess up at every turn during my years at Prep. If I made it this far, no sense in stopping now. Despite my fear, I know that without risk and change, you remain steady and safe, but nothing ever comes of it. Change brought me from my old school to Charlotte Prep, brought me to all my new friendships and experiences here, and I know that this change will bring me to even more exciting experiences and phenomenal times during high school. I wouldn’t have ever gained all the incredible memories I have at Prep if I didn’t take a risk and have the courage to try. So even though Dictionary.com says that for me to have courage I can’t feel afraid, I’m going to choose to accept my fear, and still have courage as I walk into High School next September ready for whatever comes next.
By Jake, Class of 2018
I have enjoyed my time here at Charlotte Prep. I have been here for around ten years, and I am sad to see this journey end. Charlotte Prep has taught me a lot of important life lessons that I will continue to use throughout my high school experience and later on in my career. The four pillars have taught me how to act and how to be a helpful and productive person in my community.
The four pillars at Charlotte Prep have shown me to respect my peers, family, teachers, and even those that I do not agree with. I have learned perseverance. I remember, in my fifth-grade year, I tried out for the school basketball team and I got cut. That summer I worked on my game and when it was time for tryouts, I played hard and made the team the following year. At Prep, I have learned to be courageous and to stand up to challenges and to never back down. My teachers have also shown me to have integrity, teaching me to be honest and own up to your mistakes.
These four pillars have set me up physically and mentally through academics, the arts, sports, and in everyday life. I will be able to improve myself in my high school and professional career with these morals. Thank you for this experience, Charlotte Prep. I have learned so much and I have made lifelong friends thanks to you. Thank you.
By Erin, Class of 2018
Courage. Not only is it an important pillar here at Charlotte Prep, but it’s also fundamental to life. Whether it’s asking a question in front of the class, owning up to your mistakes, or standing up for a friend, courage is displayed all over campus, every day. In fourth grade, the fall talent show was coming up, and I, with not much previous singing experience, let alone in front of a crowd, decided to do a duet with my friend Caroline. We chose, of course, the “Cup Song”, acapella with plastic solo cups and everything. We practiced endlessly, talked about it way too often, and probably annoyed the heck out of everyone. As the date approached, I grew more and more nervous, with thoughts of failure and public embarrassment swirling through my brain. When the moment finally came, I marched up to the top of the stage and sang. Sure, I was pitchy and completely off the beat, but when we got up for our finale of crushing the cups under our feet, everyone cheered. At the time, I had never felt more proud of what I’d done. Later on, I learned that I, well, wasn’t as good as I thought I was back then, but I’d definitely improved and learned from that experience. Charlotte Prep has subtly guided me through obstacles and taught not to be afraid of new experiences. As I get closer to attending Myers Park High School, I can’t help but be terrified of the thought of a stampede of students crushing me and getting lost on campus. Still, even when I’m afraid, I remind myself that I’m brave and that I can achieve the success that I’ve always worked hard for. I want to take a moment to thank the teachers and my friends for supporting me through times when being courageous wouldn’t cut it. As I leave this place, I won’t forget the memories I’ve made with my fellow peers and the ways I’ve grown as a person.
June 6, 2018
I am not going to lie and say that starting high school was not a big adjustment, but I can confidently say today that I had nothing to be worried about, and neither do you.
Just to express just how nervous I was for high school classes, I will confess to you all that I read my summer reading book for my honors English class three times the summer before high school. Mind you, this was a book that I had previously read at Charlotte Prep, so that makes a grand total of four times. Fortunately, I quickly learned that I was prepared for high school academics—and I promise you will find the same to be true. Although I do not know each of you individually, I know that Charlotte Prep has challenged you and prepared you for all the super fun papers and projects and exams that lie ahead of you! So, please don’t worry about reading your summer reading books four times.
The social scene was a bit more of an adjustment for me. I went from a class of 22 kids to a class of 400, and most of those 400 already knew each other from middle school. I was really worried that I would not know how to handle a different, bigger school. Like so worried that it took me hours to pick out what to wear for my first day of high school, and my Charlotte Catholic uniform gave me a maximum of four different polo/khaki combinations. But again, I came to find out that I was worried about nothing. Something I came to realize, which I wish I had known at the time, is that my very small, diverse class at Prep had taught me so much about people. It taught me how to interact and be friends with everyone, not just people who are similar to me. I know that you guys have this same wonderful ability to befriend everyone and anyone—it is the Charlotte Prep way. You will come to find that this is a rare and special quality; the people you meet in high school will really appreciate you for your ability to empathize with everyone.
As I started to make new friends in high school, however, I was still scared of losing touch with my friends from Prep. My best friend, Lena, was going to a different school than I was. Well, she now goes to college in Spain—we really could not be farther apart if we tried. But over the course of all these years, she has remained my best friend. And Lena and I are not a rare exception. My sister Blaire is 24 and still keeps in touch with her best friend from Prep, Victoria. My brother Jake is 26; he got married last summer, and his best man was his best friend from Prep, David. Whether you and your friends are going to the same high schools or different ones or even different countries, I am confident you will remain friends through time and distance.
So my advice to you all as you move forward is to be confident. I promise Prep has given you all the knowledge and skills to be successful in high school and beyond. What you have learned will stay with you. The friends you have made will stay with you. You are ready for the next step, all you need to do is remember that! If you do not want to take it from me, I can think of a couple other pretty special Prep lifers who happen to share my last name that would agree that Prep gives you everything you need to go on to be amazing people.
By Eddie Mensah, Head of School
Social media is a real-time battleground of competing, intensely-held opinions that reflect our society’s widening political divides. Here’s one thing we can all agree on: Parenting today is not for the faint of heart. Why? Our kids are watching and listening.
For some parents, the answer to the loud voices arguing all around us is to stop talking about politics or the day’s news altogether. It’s easier to talk about yesterday’s soccer match or tomorrow’s algebra quiz. But sometimes the difficult conversations are the ones we most need to have.
When it comes to kids, being proactive beats being reactive. So, here’s a proactive step you can take when it comes to being a role model for civility amid differences of opinion. Make plans now to attend our next Prep Parent Partnership Event, “Parenting in the Age of Political Divisiveness,” on Wednesday, April 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Gymnasium Foyer.
By Nicole Girvan, Head of Lower School
The lessons of childhood are nuanced and unavoidable—and can make us stronger adults. When I talk with friends and family about our childhood memories, mixed emotions hover over us. I loved my childhood and feel fortunate, but there were many challenging moments when I had doubts about the character of others or questioned my identity and place in the world.