I feel compelled to respond to Ms. Edith McHenry's letter of Feb. 22. I am the parent of a Glacier Valley second-grader; he is in a Montessori classroom. I am involved in the Montessori community, and I also serve on the Glacier Valley site council. I spend one morning a week serving breakfast for the Glacier Valley Breakfast Club and actively participate with Alaska Kids Count. I am living proof that parents in alternative programs do participate in their school. There are many parents of children in Montessori classrooms who are actively involved in their school as well as the classroom.
My husband and I chose the districtwide Montessori alternative because it was a better fit for our son than a mainstream classroom. We plan to keep him in the Montessori Borealis Charter School, should it be approved, not in an attempt to isolate him, or because the charter could "do a better job," as Ms. McHenry implied, but for the simple reason that a Montessori classroom is the best fit for him.
The Juneau School District is considering placing the Montessori charter in an existing elementary school. I personally would prefer the Montessori program be located in an existing school. I want my son's education to be enriched by the elementary environment. I want him to maintain friendships with children outside his classroom. Most of all, I want this program to be as accessible as possible to as many children as possible, for I believe that many more children could benefit from the program.
I do not believe, nor do I wish to imply, that mainstream teachers are inadequate. All teachers work hard under increasingly difficult conditions. I simply believe that it is important to recognize that some children learn better in a different environment. Every child in this district should be in a classroom that enhances their strengths while improving their weaknesses. For some children, that classroom is an alternative program.
I do agree with Ms. McHenry on one point. The Juneau School Board has to consider what is best for the student population, including the 113 Montessori students that would initially comprise the Montessori Borealis Charter School.
Stephanie L. Allison