Desert Garden Montessori trip

Last school year, Desert Garden Montessori middle school students traveled to Kanab, Utah to spend time at an animal sanctuary. The Ahwatukee Foothills school will begin their first high school class in the fall and administrators plan to continue student interaction with similar trips.

Submitted photo

Plans for the first Montessori high school in Ahwatukee Foothills are coming together for Desert Garden Montessori.

The idea is to kick off the first ninth-grade class for the 2012-13 school year, and administrators have been working with the Tempe Union High School District and Arizona State University to provide a comprehensive Montessori experience. As one official said, their plans are “to do it the right way.”

Spokesperson Lecia Michels said students will go to two classes in the morning that they decide upon and, depending on the subject, can travel to Mountain Pointe High School for one of the arts or academics offered there. A big chunk of the rest of the day will be instruction by one of the two teachers designated to teach the high school Montessori students.

Then in the afternoon, the students can go back to Mountain Pointe for sports, band or other social outlets.

“We want them to have the whole high school experience,” Michels said.

It will operate under a six- to nine-week curriculum, with a lot of hands-on, individual and group work — a staple of the Montessori philosophy, which will conclude with a week-long trip to apply what they learned. Last year, middle school students traveled to Kanab, Utah, to spend time at an animal sanctuary.

They raise the money for the trip, budget it themselves, and decide where to go.

As for the high school, it will be a phase-in, four-year program that will kick off this fall with a limited number of ninth-grade students being enrolled. They are looking at an opening class of between 10 to 25 students, and have five signed up to date.

To further entice interest, Desert Garden Montessori will be offering a two-year full tuition scholarship for two new applicants who might be interested in the program. Applicants should inquire at Desert Garden Montessori, 5130 E. Warner Road, regarding details and requirements.

Sindoor Bhakta, a current seventh- and eighth-grade teacher with certification to teach ninth-grade Montessori; and William Hall, who previously taught at the school, will be the first two teachers to implement the new program.

For questions and more information, contact Lecia Michels at (602) 909.0617.

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