“Why should you spend roughly $9,000 per year to send your child to Skinner Montessori when you have many other options to choose from? Especially when one those options is the local public school, an option you´ve already paid for with your tax dollars? We came to Skinner after 1st at Lakeshore Elementary, one of the Challenge program magnet schools for the Vancouver School District. Arguably it is the best option that a very good school district has to offer “gifted” students: a dedicated teacher, an excellent peer group full of positive peer pressure, and small class size. We were very happy with this option but ended up at Skinner after a tough choice between two goods, not between good and bad. We chose Skinner as the better option for our girls because we know quite clearly what we want for them. Emotionally, we want them to be happy, secure individuals who can work, play and learn alone or as part of a team. Intellectually, we want them to be curious, creative, resourceful “lifelong learners”, even though that´s become a hackneyed phrase from hype ad overuse. It strikes me that this is a lot like the kind of 21st-century, world-class “knowledge workers” I try to recruit for my software development team, a team competes world-wide amid IT services outsourcing to India, China, Russia, the Philippines, etc. If I could, Id “unschool” or home-school my girls to help them grow towards those ideals. I believe that I am their first, best teacher and that I know and love them better and more deeply than even the best schoolteacher ever will. Also, I have a Masters in Education and almost 5 years professional experience teaching high-school math, science and technology across a full spectrum of settings: an all-girls private school, a public school with 1500+ students, and an “alternative” school for many of the “last-chance” students in Vancouver. Financially, however, I can´t follow that dream, so Ive made my peace with the fact that Im delegating most of the work of one of my most important tasks as a parent: the job of educating and growing my children into the happiest and most capable people that they can be. Obviously, that leave me a very involved and demanding education “consumer”, which is why I´ve been so relieved and happy to find a school like Skinner. Skinner is definitely a great partner in our childrens education, and that shows itself in more than just obvious things like amazingly high scores on the Slosson ready tests, or the opportunity to study a second language every day. Our first impressions about Skinner and our gut instincts have been proven out over 2 years and counting at the school. Love and community are the two most striking things we felt at Skinner, and that we still observe daily. As much as the teachers cared at Lakeshore, you never heard them playfully ask a student “Who loves you?” when a student needed to hear that. You also didn´t see students thoughtfully caring for each other the way they do at Skinner. One of the most heart-warming things to see after enrolling at Skinner has been to catch our pair of fierce sibling rivals bringing the Skinner culture of respect home, to see them being obviously patient, kind, and thoughtful with each other. That culture of respect is due to how Nikki and Neno Skinner and their talented staff apply the methods of Maria Montessori. My own appreciation and understanding of Montessori has been improved and deepened by ready Maria Montessori´s The Absorbent Mind, and by direct observation of Neno Skinner´s classroom. My observation is that learning at Skinner is student-centered, student-directed, and “organic” in the non-hippie sense of the word. It is about freedom to choose what and when to learn, but it also stresses the corresponding personal responsibility to work diligently and not to avoid least-favorite subjects. In short, Skinner is well worth their wage as our partner in helping our children to become the happiest and most capable people they can become. Compared to the cost of home-schooling or other private school options, Skinner tuition is a relative bargain. Also, I think weve come to the conclusion that we´d rather invest the private-school tuition now, while our girls can get the most value out of the investment. Maybe their college years is the better time to invest a little less, to chose the public option rather than the name-brand Ivy League one. Given that they´ll be out of our house and probably partying a lot more than they do now, we´re pretty sure now is the best time to invest more heavily in their education. The only area of improvement I would like to see as a Skinner “customer” would be a better-oriented, better-communicated assessment of each students progress toward meaningful curriculum standards, especially in math and science.”
On October 16, I saw “As You Like It”, matinee performance at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. In the audience were a group of eight to ten year old children, I think from some Montessori School. I just want you to know that they were the best behaved students I have had the pleasure to be with in my many years of attending OSF. Too many times with the groups of teenagers in the audience, a performance has been spoiled by snickering or inappropriate laughter or even cat calls. This group (yesterday) did none of that. They certainly have been taught how to behave in public. What a pleasure it was to see them!
“We see the Skinner Montessori School as an investment in our daughter´s future. By providing her now with the challenge and love for learning, she will have the competitive edge for the 21st century!”
Janice and Ken Carson
“Our daughter had attended an accredited Montessori school at age 3 for one year. She learned how to do developmental things like “sweeping” and “The Pink Tower” (a graduated block activity), and pouring things which she felt very good about doing. Due to the driving distance, I took her out of that school and put her into a traditional preschool closer to our home. Here her personal abilities were not highlighted; she just faded into the circle of mediocre children. In fact, the “expert” teachers (who were mothers whose children were grown and with no professional training) thought there was something wrong with my child because of her maturity. So I took her out of that preschool and put her into another traditional preschool where she continued to fade into the group of teacher tells the children what to do; she was just putting in her time. She wasn´t allowed to do much hands on work (cutting, writing, pasting, etc..) for fear of making a mistake and the finished product not looking good for mom and dad. “Well, at Skinner Montessori, our daughter has blossomed into all of her abilities. She began reading, writing, cutting, counting, and doing math the week she began. They have lunch outside almost every day the sun allows; the playground is safe and fun; the children are given jobs to do for the good of the other kids which makes them feel responsible. Skinner Montessori is the best. The principal, Nikki Skinner, is the most child oriented teacher I have ever known. She keeps the kids focused and on task in a friendly way with a great sense of humor. All Montessori schools are different so if you know one, you cant assume you know them all. I highly recommend Skinner Montessori.”
Jeff and Kathy Blackwell
“The Skinner Montessori experience has been wonderful! I wouldn´t think of enrolling my child anywhere else. My son categorizes ALL of his teachers as very special people. I´m extremely pleased with his academic and social development over the past two years. I cant thank you enough!”
June 10, 2014 Six years ago, I´d started looking for school for my 4 years old son (then) – with two things in my mind: I wanted for him a school where there was discipline and he gets a good start in his education. After attending many ´´open house´´ events for lots of schools in the Vancouver area, I got to attend Skinner´s also. From the very first moment I walked into that school, I knew that this is the school that I want my son to attend. I´ve felt cozy, comfortable; I´ve got a sense of close and united family. All kids being very polite, dressed up nicely. I remember seeing a lady from school saying, “Bonjour”, and speaking French to kids and kids responding back. I was amazed; that was the French teacher! Weeks would go by and my son started coming home and talking to me about: Greek mythology, French, math, geography, history, etc. Each day he would come home and tell me that “Dad, today I did ten pieces of work” but I have to continue study at home because that´s what Nikki told us that we have to do. I was quite impressed. After three years, it was time for our second son to start school also, so we´ve picked up the same school. With this Montessori school, my kids go the chance to be in the same classroom, which was great. My little one already felt comfortable with his brother´s buddies so…we had no problem here, at all. He wanted to go to school everyday and spent time with his older friends. When it came to academics, of course, he´s followed his brother´s path: learning lots of things. Sometimes, I would catch accidentally pieces of conversation between my kids and some other kids and I could see a big difference. Without exaggerating, I was seeing my kids answering questions asked by kids from public schools, 3 or 4 years older than ours. It´s amazing how much they learned at Skinner. We´ve loved all the activities that they did here. French Week was amazing. I also liked the fact that, at Skinner, kids would get to celebrate both Easter and Christmas and Halloween, at their will, which I also think is great! This is where my kids learned cultural differences between Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian. Well, after six wonderful years spent at Skinner Montessori, with regret we are saying that: it´s time for us to move on in life. My son, who is 10+ now, wants more PE activities and sports and we´ve decided to take him to another school. The bad part is that, my little one has to leave Skinner also, because it would be too hard for us, with kids in different schools, although Skinner would be a perfect fit for my little one, for at least three, four years. One last thing I want to add: when I´ve took all the paperwork to the new school, they lady from admission took all the printouts of the work that my kids had done at Skinner, browsed through and said: “Wow! That´s impressive. I have to say that, we are not that advanced, here.” Thank you Skinner Montessori! My kids will always remember the years they´ve spent here.
Dear Nikki, I wanted to thank you, with all my heart, for educating both of my sons so well over the last 12 years. When we brought Jack there in 2002 to check out the school, I immediately loved Gina and everything about her classroom. When it was time for Ben to start school in 2007, the choice was a no-brainer. Choosing a school for your child is one of the hardest decisions a parent can make, but there was no hesitation in choosing Skinner for our boys. While most schools simply teach the basics: how to read, write, spell, add, subtract, etc, you go beyond that. You teach them how to be good PEOPLE. You teach them to practice kindness and empathy. You teach them how to treat others around them. While we smiled at the adorable “practical life lessons”, it was clear they definitely had a very positive impact on my kids. If more schools would adopt this practice, I think we´d have happier, more productive students. My sons are the wonderful human beings they are today thanks to a collaborative effort between us, you, and your staff. The memories they have of their time at Skinner are ones of happiness and love. It´s as though they went to school inside of a giant hug. I will be forever grateful for the amazing foundation you´ve given Jack and Ben, because I truly believe they wouldn´t be the amazing people they are had they gone the public school route for their early education. Thank you for everything you´ve given them. We will all miss you beyond words! Tara Dublin