What’s the Buzz at Mission Montessori Del Norte?
Step onto our campus and you will feel the excitement, the energy, and the sense of wonder. We are committed to creating a supportive and stimulating learning environment that encourages students to achieve their own unique potential and to attain academic success.
Each month Mission Montessori Del Norte has a curriculum activity or theme to support continued environmental awareness.
So hop around, and discover all that Mission Montessori has to offer to your child in upper elementary and middle school years.
We are a dynamic educational environment empowering students to use diverse knowledge and experiences to reach their full potential and do good in the world.
Our focused educational effort is based on the belief that children have an innate desire to learn and to discover ways to contribute meaningfully to the world community. We engage students in environmentally-aware initiatives. We teach lessons from a multicultural perspective, and we believe in a global philosophy with practical returns. Our students consistently demonstrate high levels of academic achievement as well as confidence, compassion, multicultural understanding, and independence.
As the success of the Mission Montessori schools grew, so did the educational program offerings. Our charter school expanded its Sustainable Systems Program in the academic year 2011-2012, offering a high-quality Montessori education for the upper elementary and middle school students.
"Our main goal is to utilize tangible science in the outdoor environment," said Heather Devich, Ed. D.*, the Sustainable Systems program director, developer and teacher at both 96th St. and Larkspur campuses. "We're teaching students self-sufficiency and self-reliance, and they also have the satisfaction of growing and nurturing the plants and animals that teach the children responsibility and the importance of sustainability. This is why they have planted their own house-hold sized fruit orchard, built a rain run-off basin to help water it, and built a natural water purification water pond garden. For their final projects this year, they are building their own house-hold sized greenhouse with a small tilapia fish barrel, to be filtered by their own student-installed single solar panel. They also are going to help install a rain water run-off catchment barrel from their new barn. Now that is good science applied to everyone's everyday needs for food, water and energy!"
"To the best of our ability, we plant things that are both useful and tasty in the garden," she said. "It's more important for them to appreciate love the space that they build themselves. The goal is for the children to learn and become involved in sustainable growth, holistic health, responsible work cycles, and the interaction, beauty, joy and value of all nature on our earth.”
Although the gardening season is winding down, Dr. Heather is using the momentum to set up the program development of life-enhancing and life-saving skills for the next academic year.
From spring until the end of fall, the students plant, weed and give life to gardens on our campuses and create zen-like beauty that surrounds their everyday life. Before the planting seasons, Dr. Heather works with students to sprout and transplant vegetables into the garden. Students learn the premier importance of composting for a healthy successful garden, and then prepare planting beds, and plant seeds and sprouted plants. They also learn how to use simple medicinal herbs, such as aloe vera and yerba buena mints. Every aspect of garden maintenance is covered: watering, pruning, aeration of soil, seed collection and storage, as well as return of organic materials to the gardens – mulching, fallowing, rebuilding of soil nutrients. Harvesting, preparing garden foods, solar cooking and solar water purification and are favorite activities. “Food always tastes best when you grow and cook it yourself!”
"They need to experience the process of taking care of their whole garden and sustainable systems also," Dr. Heather said. "Just telling them that we're collecting rain water so we don't have to use water from the faucet doesn't really register entirely. When they get the hands-on working experience of building, maintaining, and using their own water catchment and purification systems, it then becomes real to them, and is integrated into their thinking processes. They can then share these skills with their families and future children for a life time."
Our Larkspur and 96th Street campuses boast on some amazing small animal husbandry projects. Dr. Heather introduced the students to barn construction and maintenance. Our kids know how to safely use tools and clean up after each session. They have been introduced to goat and chicken physiology, the structure of the egg, reproduction cycles of chickens and goats and use of animal waste products for compost. Next year, we hope to have the birth of a goat, with our students learning to milk, make cheese and yogurt.
And the parents who have enrolled their youngsters in the program love it. After all, seeing the sheer joy on their faces when they lavish loving care on the fluffy chicks and bunnies is PRICELESS!
“Teaching children about the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in their lives.” – Thomas Berry
This quote supports a key element of Montessori education. At Mission Montessori Academy, we believe that by focusing on a child’s desire to discover, they will develop a passion for learning for life. We are excited to showcase unique and remarkable classes and elective programs. The school will further the Sustainable Systems program efforts next year.
*Heather Koger Devich earned her Doctor of Education (Ed.D. degree) in 2000 at the Jesuit University of San Francisco, CA. Her dissertation was titled “Education as a Tool for Social Changes”. Doctor Heather also has a master’s degree in Theology (Applied Spirituality, Children’s Bereavement) from the University of San Francisco, CA. She is a Founding Board Member and Children's Group Facilitator of New Song Center for Grieving Children. Besides teaching at Mission Montessori, she is also Non-Profit Founder of Global SEED: Sustainable Environment Education Demonstrations. Doctor Heather is a life-long volunteer, actively involved with a number of charities. She is married, and has two daughters.