CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Clark Montessori is one of the best things in the United States, and it happens to be a state-supported public school in Cincinnati. It is not a charter school, or a private school. It is a public school in the city system, a magnet open to children of all races and incomes, and it is highly successful. Amazingly successful, really. Kids from the suburbs enroll at Clark, even through their parents must pay tuition.
Seldom does a senior not graduate, and it is rated excellent by the Ohio Department of Education. The graduating classes tend to walk away with millions in academic scholarships that help them pay for college, and almost all go on to university.
Two of my kids are Clarkites, and I sent them there because the school is so damn exceptional. Example: They both spent nearly two weeks of their freshman year backpacking on the Appalachian trail. And there were other adventures that introduced them to the world per the philosophy of Maria Montessori. Clark is small -- only 92 seniors picked up diplomas this year.
I'm mentioning Clark because Thursday I proposed positive posts across the Ohiosphere that would promote our state. (And I missed my own 24-hour deadline to get the post up. Why? I didn't originally intend to include myself, but decided what the heck, jump in.)
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has backed Clark and studied it, and calls the Cincinnati public Montessori exemplary.
"The small design promotes opportunities to learn the skills and values involved in teamwork and group decision-making, in long term project management, and in service to the community. These have combined to with Clark's challenging academic courses to proficiency test results that are far above state norms."
This is a public school, a big city school, and it sits there in Ohio defying all stereotypes. It has long been described as America's first and only public Montessori high school, but there may be imitators out there somewhere. And what do they say about imitation -- isn't it the highest form of flattery.
[UPDATE: 5:30 pm EDT: In a comment below, Jill of the always erudite and informed Writes Like She Talks has gently pointed out that purists may not consider the school in Cincinnati a true Montessori. There could be some room for debate because Cincinnati is experimenting with Maria Montessori's philosophy and, so far (more than 30 years) has successfully adapted it to the American standard education model. There is a a lot of additional information in this article about Xavier University's program that produces certified Montessori teachers, (one can earn a master's degree) which is somewhat pioneering and defying of educational conventions in its own right. Xavier is in Cincinnati, and no doubt because of its influence, kids in Cincinnati can start in a public pre-school program and stay with the Montessori philosophy all the way through 12th grade. I suppose Jill is technically correct. Please read what she says below in her comment.]