Tulsa Public Schools is finishing construction on a new elementary school that’s been closed for two years.
The school will tout a new learning approach for students in a widely under-served community.
The first public Montessori School in the state is scheduled to open in Tulsa this fall and teachers say they are getting very excited to start this school year in a brand new building with a new learning approach for students.
“It’s going to challenge everything that TPS has been doing,” said teacher Elizabeth Steinocher.
Steinocher previously taught at Skelly Elementary for 10 years before deciding to transfer to the new Montessori School.
“It’s not a ‘sit in a desk, everyone is doing the same thing’ philosophy,” she said. “It’s a ‘what are you interested in, what are your strengths and how can we use those to get you invested in your education.’”
In a normal classroom, a child may not have to clean up their own mess, but with the Montessori approach, they are taught to take care of themselves and the environment that they’re in with a plethora of different materials.
“When you see it in action, you see the power behind empowering children,” said Steinocher.
Through this approach, students don’t have to work at desks. They can work at tables, mats on the floor, or even outside in a common area.
“As teachers, we are accustomed to being the one in charge and the one in front, but my role is going to be to guide them and not control them,” Steinocher said.
Usually, Montessori Schools are private and could cost thousands, but this school will be free to kids in the neighborhood Emerson previously served.
“I think it’s important for TPS students to have options,” said education blogger Nehemiah Frank.
Frank recently visited a Montessori School in Chicago and thinks this addition to TPS is going to be a great fit.
“It is a community that definitely needs attention and putting the Montessori School there is definitely a way to close the equity gap that exists in Tulsa,” he said.
Steinochers says, “my hope is that it provides some reconciliation to this area and that it opens peoples’ eyes to what all children are capable of.”