Many of you have seen the failing grade the state has given Montessori de Santa Cruz, the small public charter school in Tubac (“Grades run the gamut on school report cards,” NI, Nov. 6). This grade was derived from our state standardized testing results, and is just one small snapshot of our school.

The population of students who seek out this school and thrive here comment on its small size, a welcoming feel, a freedom of movement and more flexibility and choice during work time as well as the virtues-based peace curriculum we provide.

All of our classes are multi-leveled and inclusive. This allows for many peer-teaching, role-modeling and leadership opportunities.

Parents often report that students that have resisted school, now want to come and have a complete change in demeanor.

We hope to educate the whole child in the beautiful, art and history-rich village of Tubac, and do so with such weekly classes as gardening, music, physical education and technology. We have a support dog come regularly for the students to read to, we walk out and nature journal and have Andy Goldsworthy­-inspired art mornings down on the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail by the Santa Cruz River. In addition, we have had field trips to the Tubac Center for the Arts, Tubac Presidio Historic Park and Tumacácori Mission. Students join staff and parents to fund raise at the many local festivals and at Tubac businesses like Dos!, Tubac Territory and Wisdom's.

Our mission is to create world citizens who are internally motivated, can bring ideas to fruition in the world, and who can work with others peacefully. We have seen students who arrive sullen and mute, blossom into running, playing, and participating class members. When our students go into the community or into middle school, we often hear that they are curious and engaged, can work well in teams and groups, and that they can problem-solve. These are the skills that have been identified as key for young people moving out into the workforce and the world today.

Moving forward, we plan to increase the rigor of our academics. In this multi-age environment, students study math, grammar, geometry, language, writing, history, geography, science and spelling, relying on a Montessori education curriculum and materials as a guide.

The sensitive periods for learning different skills as identified by Maria Montessori don't always align perfectly with our state's standards. We are developing these skills as the state standards continue to shift and change. We have developed a technology component to add to our daily curriculum, and will be implementing a tutoring program to support our already rich curriculum. In addition, the Arizona Department of Education has assigned a specialist to our school who will be working with us to build stronger systems to boost our growth and continue our improvement.

This grade is humbling to a school that takes each child individually and believes strongly in each child's overall development and it is reflective of state standards. We have work to do on academics, but we are building on a strong foundation of Montessori education and a welcoming, diverse and vibrant community.

We appreciate the larger community of parents, families, businesses and beyond that have supported Montessori de Santa Cruz and its students and hope we can count on you as we move forward.

(Huerta is principal of Montessori de Santa Cruz charter school in Tubac. She is also writing on behalf of the school's board of directors, which includes Todd Harrison, Laurinda Oswald, Robert Ochoa and Steven Page.)

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