As a 3rd grader, my kiddo is now half way through her 5th year attending what I believe is one of the best schools in Denver. Denison is a Montessori school which has very different than traditional schools. Montessori uses the term “cosmic education” to describe approaching education for children from 6-12 years old emphasizing the interdependence of all the elements of the natural world. Children are taught to work directly with plants and animals in their natural environments. Meaning they spend a lot of time outside on field trips, walks, and planting a school garden. Montessori children learn with their hands by first feeling how letters and numbers shaped long before they ever write them. There is also a very strong emphasis in acknowledging all children as individuals and treating them as such. Children stay in the same classroom for 3 years and it us not uncommon for a 3rd grader to be helping a 1st grader with their reading, math or what is called practical life projects. The Montessori theory is that children yield better learning and have a more fulfilled potential in this type of atmosphere.
The best example I can give is the month last year that Sloane’s teacher devoted to teaching her class about India. Her teacher Ms. Carrie, decorated the classroom with blankets, rugs and sari’s. She also built a tent for the kids to sit in and drink chai tea. She assigned all of the students an Indian God or Goddess to learn about and dress as that fit their personality. On the final day of the month, her teacher had the students dress as their character and invited all the parents to visit the classroom for an Indian feast and presentation. All of the kiddos were dressed beautifully and had memorized facts about their God/ Goddess that they could recite immediately when asked. Ms. Carrie even had the students make passports that she stamped for them as the individually entered the classroom that day. All of it made me wish I was back in second grade so I could have such an amazing learning experience, because nothing like that ever happened in my elementary school! To quote one of the parents I photographed this weekend, “I definitely drink the Montessori Kool-aid.”
Despite how amazing the school is, Denison has not been unaffected by district budget cuts and because I think so highly of the school and the hard-working teachers (Yay for Ms. Carrie & Mr. Joe!) and staff, I thought I would have a photo fundraiser. The weather was beautiful as we haven’t had any snow in Denver yet, so there were plenty of leaves and lots of color! Making for some very beautiful photos for the families who participated! I am hoping to do it again next year, because I feel obligated to do my part to help with this wonderful school!