- What experience or history do you have with Montessori? How familiar are you with the Montessori pedagogy?
District 1: Monica Flores Richert: We researched it for our children and would have loved to have had the opportunity to send them to Montessori programs.
District 1: Gretchen Himsl: I am very familiar with Montessori, or as familiar as you can be without having had a child in it. I know teachers who teach in Montessori schools and families that have children in Montessori programs. I also have a nephew in a Montessori school, not in HISD. I know the Montessori pedagogy is based on multi-year, self-directed learning and working with older students to achieve concept mastery. It is a teaching style that is focused on tactile learning. I am in favor of families who have chosen Montessori for their children and completely support their decision. I am glad they found and have access to that educational model for their children.
District 7: Anne Sung: My parents chose a Montessori kindergarten for me, and my husband and I send our own child to a Montessori preschool. As an educator, I believe that the Montessori pedagogy helps students to build critical skills for life, including goal setting, responsibility, and self-confidence. Montessori builds on children’s natural curiosity and drive to explore and understand the world, allowing them to construct academic knowledge and practice skills in context.
- How familiar are you with the Montessori magnet school within HISD? Experience/ Views?
Monica: HISD has 3 strong Montessori Programs in the District, 2 of which go to 8th grade. I have also been fortunate enough to visit the non-official Montessori magnet facilities at Waltrip High School.
Gretchen: I am familiar with them and don’t have any students in them, but support them. I recognize the Montessori programs have different teaching requirements, different student to teacher ratios and different licensing standards for that educational model.
Anne: I have visited and toured Wilson Montessori multiple times. The public Montessori magnet schools HISD offers to families are some of the gems of HISD.
- Are you aware of the funding difference that is takes to provide a Montessori curriculum within HISD?
Gretchen: Yes, I do know that Montessori education and certification takes more resources because of the teacher to student ratio and additional staffing and training required for that educational model. I understand that there are by definition different resources required for Montessori.
Anne: Yes, Montessori requires teachers to create and deliver individualized lesson plans for each child, which means that teaching assistants are needed to keep the class running while the teacher is meeting individually with students. Additionally, regular professional development and Montessori materials are needed to ensure teachers can deliver an authentic Montessori curriculum.
- Do you support magnet programs in HISD? And if not, what alternatives do you propose?
Gretchen: I absolutely support magnet programs in HISD. They are a valuable feature of our public school system that provides choices in the learning environment for our HISD families and students. I support the district’s evaluation of the magnet programs to make sure they are healthy and sustainable and make sure they are still appropriate for the communities and neighborhoods they are in. I want to make sure we are giving the choices through magnet programs that those neighborhoods desire. Also, I want to promote structural equality in the magnet process and deadlines and accessibility in the magnet application program. I would like to see improvements made on the access to the magnet opportunities for all families across the district.
Anne: Yes, I support magnet programs. We are blessed in a large school district to be able to offer students magnet programs that meet the needs and interests of the individual child and family.
- Would your position on any issue/magnet programs hurt the Montessori magnet programs and the growth of more Montessori magnet programs within HISD?
Monica: My focus and goal is to strengthen all schools in HISD, through a detailed audit and several years of zero based budgeting, move more funding to schools and away from management of our schools
Anne: No, I am committed to the long-term sustainability of Montessori offerings within HISD and would love to see Montessori magnet programs be available to more students across the district.