When a child walks into George Watts Elementary, they begin a unique learning experience. The school is both public and Montessori. Public, we understand - it's open to everyone, no matter their background. But what does it mean to be Montessori?

Classrooms are multi-aged, allowing the children to learn from and work with one another in new and different ways. Each child is given an individualized work plan and learns at his or her own level. If you walk into a classroom, you are as likely to see children stretched out on the floor as sitting in a desk. You will hear children talking as they work out a solution together. Other children settle down by themselves to read or spread out math materials. You are likely to find a teacher sitting on the floor, surrounded by six or seven children as she gives a lesson for the next assignment.

Once children complete required work, they move on to coveted "free choice" time, during which brain teasers, books, art materials, or play with a number of the interactive learning tools are free to be explored and enjoyed. This approach is designed to allow children to be self-directed and independent. Materials that provide children with hands-on opportunities for all activities are on shelves they can easily reach and help move the child from a concrete way of viewing the work to abstraction.

The Montessori Model assumes that all children want to learn, and it respects the individual's style and pace of learning. Classroom communities operate on the principle of freedom within limits, translating into respect for self, others and the environment. The mission of George Watts is to prepare students to be responsible, productive citizens who have a sense of personal fulfillment and a feeling of love and respect for others. The most important goals for each child are to develop confidence for learning, maintain the desire to learn and obtain the knowledge, and to learn skills to support growth.