Good news for the community: In the fall of 2021, a Montessori micro-school is likely to be opening its doors in Aurora. Tatenda Muchiriri, a veteran Montessori teacher, has plans to launch the private, affordable school somewhere inside the boundaries of Aurora Public Schools.
Muchiriri’s school will be part of the Wildflower Montessori network. Wildflower is an ecosystem of decentralized Montessori micro-schools that support children, teachers, and parents. Wildflower aspires to give all children and families the opportunity to choose high quality, beautiful learning environments as they follow life’s unfolding journey. Montessori schools feature self-directed, hands-on education, where families are actively involved in their children’s day-to-day education.
The Montessori model originated in Italy more than 100 years ago. It was initially designed for low-income families. Immigrants who have studied in Africa, Asia, and even in South America are familiar with this model. It is a community-based education model, where parents are invited into their children’s classroom to observe and where their input is taken into consideration and included in their children’s education.
Muchiriri, a member of the African Leadership Group, is originally from Zimbabwe. He immigrated to the United States in 2015 from China where he taught at a Montessori school in Beijing. He holds a bachelor’s in liberal arts with a concentration in Montessori education and a credential from the American Montessori Society emerging leaders fellowship. He has seven years of Montessori education experience, and has taught in Montessori schools in Boulder and Denver since he arrived in the U.S. He also serves as a board member of the Colorado Montessori Association.
Needless to say, he comes fully qualified to open a strong school in our community.
He is also part of the incoming cohort of Moonshot EdVentures fellows in Metro Denver.
As an educator and as a parent who cares about anything education-related in her community, I was curious to know more about this project, and if you are like me, I am sure you want to know a little bit more. Here is what I learned from sitting down with Muchiriri.
He is working with Wildflower Schools, an organization that helps fundraise for and develop Montessori micro-schools across the country. His school will serve 30 children, ages 2-1/2 to 6 in Aurora. The school will have 30 students with a total of three or four teachers all with Montessori teaching credentials.
Though the Montessori model in the U.S. is known mostly for serving more affluent families, its influence has begun to spread into lower-income communities over the past decade or so. Muchiriri intends to introduce Montessori not only to immigrants but any low-income family in the Aurora area.
“I want the school to be informed from an anti-bias, anti-racist education curriculum, where we are validating these students’ experiences, where they are coming from, and honoring their cultures,” Muchiriri said. “I am bummed about Covid-19 because I really want to do home visits to learn more about our families and their backgrounds. Maybe that will be possible next year.”
The school could be ready to enroll new students as early as August of 2021. The location is still to be determined, but with the help of community and families in Aurora, Muchiriri is confident he will find the best location. He also hopes to identify teachers from within the community who will be ready to serve once they receive specialized Montessori training.
In other words, launching this school will be a community effort.
The school will be affordable to all families. Muchirichiri’s school will be intentionally socio-economically diverse – serving at least 50% low-income and working class families.
Wildflower Schools hopes to partner more broadly with Aurora Public Schools to design charter schools which serve elementary and middle school students. Additionally, Wildflower’s early childhood programs, such as Muchichiri’s, partner with school districts to secure public subsidies designed to provide tuition assistance to low-income families.
If anyone is not convinced that school choice is important, please think again. The Montessori model offers an important option for families. Its philosophy offers an education that adapts to the learning style of students and does not impose one and set way of learning. This type of teaching helps students reach grade level by providing a solid foundation. It also helps students to adapt even when they transition to traditional public schools.
Why wouldn’t anyone support that? Please stay tuned, there is more to come about Tatenda Muchiriri’s Montessori school in Aurora.