Mission and Philosophy

Our Mission

At The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca we prepare children for leadership in an equitable, just and peaceful world.

Our Philosophy

Montessori is Child-centered.

Many schools where teachers take center stage talk about being child-centered. The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca is truly child-centered. At EAC, we speak of the “triad” of child, environment, and teacher, where each part of the triad is as important as the other. At EAC, we believe that each child possesses many gifts and is not merely an empty mug to be filled by an all-knowing jug (the teacher). This approach demands confident and skilled professionals who allow the child to be an active participant in their learning. It also means that all school decisions are driven by what is best for the children.

Montessori is a meticulously prepared environment where every element of the curriculum, the materials, and the classroom are designed to engage the young learner.

Maria Montessori crafted an educational approach and developed materials that provide a blueprint for implementing what Swiss educational reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi and American philosopher John Dewey posed only as theory: that education should be based on a pedagogical method corresponding to the natural order of each child’s individual development and concrete experiences. In the 1920’s American public schools chose the Henry Ford factory assembly line as a model, a model which persists in many schools to this day. Montessori schools, however, believe that educational environments should neither feel nor look like factories (either physically or curricularly) and that they should stress cooperative learning with holistic curriculum and instruction.

Montessori stresses learning by doing and by teaching others.

Maria Montessori wrote, “Only practical experience and work lead to maturity…. Those children who have been able to work with their hands make headway in their development, and reach a strength of character which is conspicuous.” An ancient Chinese proverb says, “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Sadly, a lecture-based approach to teaching continues to dominate American education. At The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca we provide specially designed, multi-sensorial materials that engage the children constantly in their own learning, allowing each to discover—and to understand—by doing. With multi-age classes in three year developmental cycles, older children internalize what they have learned by teaching the younger children and by being mentors and role models. We believe that “You do not really understand something until you have taught it.”

The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca teachers are experienced, certified, professionals who have had rigorous Montessori training and a practical, in-class internship beyond undergraduate or graduate school.

In many schools it is sufficient to have a BA or BS in education to be permitted to teach, “particularly at the elementary level,” where for some reason it is commonly believed that teachers need fewer skills or degrees to teach than they would at the secondary level. Many preschools require minimal education and training of their teachers. At The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca, we feel that the early educational years are the most important and require the greatest skills of our professionals. The same level of education, training, background, and experience is required of Primary and Extended Day faculty as for Elementary and Middle School faculty.

Montessori stresses a values curriculum and multicultural experiences.

Before “values curriculum” became a trendy educational buzzword, grace and courtesy were an integral part of the Montessori day. Creating community, resolving differences, and treating one another with honesty, care, and respect are among the most important lifetime skills we can impart to our children. An important component of that is creating a diverse cultural, racial, and linguistic environment. At The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca, differences are celebrated and the uniqueness of one’s culture, language, background, race, and religion is honored. Maria Montessori wrote, “Social peace and harmony can have only one foundation—man himself. This is the task of education. We must make it possible for the individual to be free and independent.” Is this not the greatest task of education in a democracy? By creating a respectful, stable, and interdisciplinary learning environment, The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca provides a sense of order, understanding, and respect in an often disordered world.

The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca has a fundamental belief in the giftedness of each child and in their eagerness to engage actively in their own education in a carefully-designed academic continuum.

Discovery and Learning

“We shall notice that the child has a personality which he [sic] is seeking to expand; he[sic] has initiative, he[sic] chooses his[sic] own work, persists in it, changes it according to his[sic] inner needs; he[sic] does not shirk effort, he [sic]rather goes in search of it and with great joy overcomes obstacles within his [sic]capacity.”

~ Maria Montessori

The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca provides a well-developed, clearly-defined interdisciplinary curriculum which considers, understands, and responds to the needs of each child in a developmentally appropriate way. The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca encourages its students to work in small groups, to read from a variety of books and to approach scientific and mathematical concepts by solving concrete problems. Recognizing the critical difference between free choice (“Do anything you want”) and freedom of choice (“Which one of these three things would you like to do?’), The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca allows its children to successfully apply knowledge and skills in new situations. By considering the process (the route traveled) as important as the understanding gained (the destination), The Elizabeth Ann Clune Montessori School of Ithaca enables students to follow their own joyful paths to discovery and learning.