“Success in life depends in every case on self-confidence and the knowledge of one’s own capacity and many-sided powers of adaptation. The confidence of knowing how to make oneself useful, how to help mankind in many ways, fills the soul with noble confidence…with dignity.”

- Maria Montessori

Middle School Program

Ages: 12-15 years
Grades: 7-8

Middle School Program

Montessori School of Columbia’s Adolescent Program is designed, above all, to meet the developmental needs of adolescents between the ages of 12-15 years old. Adolescents have skills and abilities that transcend the negative stereotypes often attributed to them. We, in the Montessori community, see them as social individuals who are capable and in possession of unique talents that may someday change the world. We are committed to fostering an environment where they feel safe to succeed, fail, and learn from mistakes.

Within our mixed-age classrooms, you’ll find nine, ten, eleven & twelve-year-old students working both individually and collaboratively. In a three-year period, your student will experience being the novice, the apprentice, and the mentor in their community. This allows each student to learn from practicing with and teaching other students.

Middle School Program Classroom

Our middle school does have a indoor classroom, but Maria Montessori believed that the optimal learning material for this age group consisted of a natural outdoor environment (a farm or piece of land) that could be explored, studied, nurtured, sustained, and used for entrepreneurial projects by the students.  

At MSC, the work of the land is found all around our classroom. We have begun working to weed and expand our established beds, as well as exploring potential opportunities around the schoolyard for additional areas to cultivate. While our urban location precludes most livestock, there is potential for establishing an apiary on the grounds.

We have already begun indoor cultivation of edible sprouts and will soon be starting some mushrooms, both inside and outdoors. These opportunities for cultivation of food sources are integral to the prepared environment for adolescents. Through these experiences, students engage in research, scientific and mathematical speculation, and historical and creative endeavors based on their immediate place.

“Pedagogy of Place” is a phrase that has been adopted by Montessori practitioners to describe the school site and surroundings as a living textbook over which students assume a sense of ownership, belonging, and responsibility.

Explore One of Our
Middle School Classroom

Daily Routine for ages 12-15

MSC offers a predictable upper elementary routine that allows your child to feel secure while also supporting their emotional, cognitive, and social development.  Like all Montessori routines, there is an amazing amount of flexibility during the Montessori work cycle to encourage independence and nurture your child’s ever-changing interests and curiosities.

Middle School Curriculum

Maria Montessori dedicated half of her plan for adolescents to Practical Considerations for Social Organization. These practical life components of the adolescent community provide students with opportunities to learn to care for themselves in relationship to others. What sets this practice apart from the work in elementary classrooms are the elements of social exchange and practice in authentic economic endeavors that put students on the path toward a new level of independence.

The adolescent is a “social newborn” seeking experiences in producing something of value that is appreciated and needed by their peers. The work occurs side-by-side with adults and is based on the societal structures of productions and exchange.1

In the second section of her plan, Montessori outlined an Educational Syllabus. Courses of study are introduced and explored through a project-based approach that spans the disciplines of human knowledge and are balanced with work that nurtures the intellectual, spiritual, physical, and emotional well being of every student. This syllabus is divided into three sections as described below.


Adolescence is a time of profound introspection paired with a strong desire to belong to a group This is why we sometimes call adolescents “social newborns” and provide them with opportunities that support new levels of adult-like independence and interdependence. Adolescents are asking questions like “Who am I?”, “Where do I fit in?”, and “How can I contribute?” These are personal questions that must be explored in order to establish a new identity;therefore, self-expression is essential developmental work and makes up a large part of the syllabus.

Psychic Development

Psychic development refers to those intellectual gifts we all have that put us in relation to others. Language and Mathematical thinking are the human intelligences that connect us; they form the foundation of our character; therefore, morality cannot be separated from these subjects.

Preparation for Adult Life

Life encompasses all of the knowledge that we as a species have accumulated and used to form and build societies through time. Subjects organized under this section of the syllabus include the humanities and sciences.

Enrichments Programs for Middle School

Along with our American Montessori Society accredited curriculum, we provide your child with unique enrichment activities to further develop their appreciation and understanding of the world around them.

What Other Parents Are Saying About MSC

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What Your Child Will Learn

  • May walk to school from home and vice/versa
  • Write and perform plays and, if necessary, secure an outside venue themselves
  • Cook in their classroom, often preparing class lunches together
  • Walk to local grocery stores to buy ingredients for meals that they have planned
  • Wash their classroom laundry in school
  • Keep bees and harvest honey
  • Camp and attend weeklong trips without their parents present
  • Have their own school email accounts
  • Peer Teaching
  • Higher level planning
  • Students maintaining a neat and clean environment
  • Students performing on stage in front of audience
  • Students answering the class phone and making calls on behalf of the class
  • Students challenging norms in respectful ways
  • Students creating and executing successful businesses
  • Choose and plan their own going out experiences
  • Brainstormed ideas and discussion generate businesses that they create
  • And countless other moments for reflection and internal celebration
  • Engage in a variety of efforts to help others, including multiple charity opportunities for your child to take part in
  • Foster an environment that supports self-identity while being able to see through the lens of other individuals in our global community
  • Learn from guest experts who teach an appreciation for Gullah-Geechee Culture, Ukrainian history, and Jazz music, among a variety of other lessons
  • Experience diverse cultural celebrations such as Diwali, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa Assisting and maintaining the Rosewood Orchard community garden
  • Showing great care for the earth by picking up litter around campaign and the community and recycling and composting
  • Brainstorm and define classroom agreements that the clas community agrees on to be the ‘rules’
  • Lead group discussions every morning where classroom issues are discussed
  • And every year new guest experts share their experiences to broaden our students perspectives
  • Arriving on time, prepared and ready to work
  • Planning and executing work
  • Making responsible choices
  • Develop verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Engage in collaborative analysis
  • Contribute in dialectical learning through Socratic seminars, including literature, sciences, social sciences, mathematics, current events, and civics.
  • The whole curriculum is based on interdependence
  • Develop social organization through living in a community
  • Odyssey experiences
  • Socratic seminars
  • Collective work
  • Work of the land
  • Place based learning
  • Equity in work
  • Community meetings

Meet the Middle School School Teachers

The role of a Montessori teacher at all levels is to prepare, observe, and facilitate your child’s learning progress. 

A Montessori Middle School teacher is an observer and mentor who skillfully uses a variety of teaching strategies to develop a hands-on curriculum. The curriculum is organized by different themes throughout the school year and creates interconnectedness and ecological dependency with a large focus on outdoor education. 

The middle school teacher provides opportunities for the your child to be part of the planning process of what school life looks like for them so they can be free to be their true selves. The Montessori teacher introduces students to social justice issues and encourages community service. They assess students based on projects, portfolios, participation and self-evaluations.

It is their privilege to enjoy the beauty in the development of your child while being aware of themselves as the “one who serves” in this process.

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Karen has been in Montessori education since 1990 when she began her career as a lead teacher in a lower elementary classroom. She has been a Montessori Head of School in Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Karen Kuse
Head of School
Thursday, August 31, 2017
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Leslie graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor’s degree in Experimental Psychology, Cognate in Child Psychology. She earned her 3-6 certification from the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Leslie Greene
Assistant Head of School
Erica has her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in English from the University of South Carolina, as well as two degrees in elementary education from Drexel University and Lander University.
Erica Patterson
Lead Teacher

Frequently Asked Questions About Montessori

Dr. Montessori first developed her educational approach while working with a preschool population. She gradually extended her approach to children and youth of all ages. Today, some Montessori schools provide all levels of learning, from infant & toddler through the secondary (high school) level. Others offer only certain levels.

The benefits of Montessori, the emphasis on independent learning, for example, and the warm, supportive community, continue to be important at each stage of development as children grow into lifelong learners and responsible citizens of the world.

Dr. Montessori observed that children are more motivated to learn when working on something of their choosing. A Montessori student may choose their focus of learning on any given day, but their decision is limited by the materials and activities, in each area of the curriculum, that their teacher has prepared and presented to them.

Beginning at the elementary level, students typically set learning goals and create personal work plans under their teacher’s guidance.

Montessori schools teach the same basic skills as traditional schools and offer a rigorous academic program. Most of the subject areas are familiar, such as math, science, history, geography, and language, but they are presented through an integrated approach that brings separate strands of the curriculum together.

While studying a map of Africa, for example, students may explore the art, history, and inventions of several African nations. This may lead them to examine ancient Egypt, including hieroglyphs and their place in the history of writing. The study of the pyramids, of course, is a natural bridge to geometry.

This approach to curriculum shows the interrelatedness of all things. It also allows students to become thoroughly immersed in a topic, and gives their curiosity full rein.

Although students are free to work at their own pace, they’re not going it alone. The Montessori teacher closely observes each child and provides materials and activities that advance their learning by building on skills and knowledge already gained. This gentle guidance helps them master the challenge at hand, and protects them from moving on before he’s ready, which is what actually causes children to “fall behind.”

Dr. Montessori realized that children’s play is their work, their effort to master their own bodies and environment, and out of respect, she used the term “work” to describe all their classroom activities. Montessori students work hard, but they don’t experience it as drudgery; rather, it’s an expression of their natural curiosity and desire to learn.

Grades, like other external rewards, have a little lasting effect on a child’s efforts or achievements. The Montessori approach nurtures the motivation that comes from within, kindling the child’s natural desire to learn.

A self-motivated learner also learns to be self-sufficient, without needing reinforcement from outside. In the classroom, of course, the teacher is always available to provide students with guidance and support.

Although most Montessori teachers don’t assign grades, they closely observe each student’s progress and readiness to advance to new lessons. Most schools hold family conferences a few times a year so parents may see their child’s work and hear the teacher’s assessment, and perhaps even their child’s self-assessment.

An advantage of the Montessori approach, including multi-age classrooms with students of varying abilities and interests, is that it allows each child to work at her own pace. Students whose strengths and interests propel them to higher levels of learning can find intellectual challenges without being separated from their peers. The same is true for students who may need extra guidance and support: each can progress through the curriculum at their own comfortable pace, without feeling pressure to “catch up.”

We might note that from a Montessori perspective, every child is considered gifted, each in her way. Every child has their unique strengths, it is all a matter of degree.


There is a small but growing body of well-designed research comparing Montessori students to those in traditional schools. These suggest that in academic subjects, Montessori students perform as well as or better than their non-Montessori peers.

In one study, for example, children who had attended Montessori schools at the preschool and elementary levels earned higher scores in high school on standardized math and science tests. Another study found that the essays of 12-year-old Montessori students were more creative and used more complex sentence structures than those produced by the non-Montessori group.

The research also shows that Montessori students have greater social and behavioral skills. They demonstrate a greater sense of fairness and justice, for example, and are more likely to choose positive responses for dealing with social dilemmas.

By less stringent measures, too, Montessori students seem to do quite well. Most Montessori schools report that their students are typically accepted into the high schools and colleges of their choice. And many successful grads cite their years at Montessori when reflecting on important influences in their life.