Mountain Sun Community School was incorporated as a non-profit organization in May of 2008 and opened our doors to students in August 2008. The school was formed as a parent-driven effort to create a holistic community school integrating the best in educational pedagogies, with a strong emphasis on Montessori, Waldorf, and Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theories. The ultimate goal is for the school to serve children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.
The school’s mission is to:
- to provide children with the opportunity to discover and nurture their own passions, unique abilities, and their inner spirit;
- to preserve a child’s natural curiosity and cultivate a desire for lifelong learning;
- to empower children to develop into adults who think creatively, live authentically, and lead purpose-filled lives;
- to foster responsibility to self, community, and the natural world;
- and to practice love and respect for self and others.
What "Holistic" and "Inspired" Education Means at Mountain Sun?
We live in a time of cultural re-evaluation. The industrial age is now part of our history and does not appear to dominate our cultural future. Many people are re-prioritizing, returning to a way of life closer to community, nature, and guided by core values of how we should treat one another. Communities are becoming more diverse. Learning to celebrate our differences, communicate effectively, and collaborate with people with different ideas and perspectives is more critical than ever.
Unfortunately, many schools are taking away things such as recess, the arts, thematic studies, and project-based work where the opportunities for children to interact and learn how to work together are strongest. Many of the same classrooms do not attend to ethics education and or provide guidance for respectful communication and conflict resolution. However, children spend approximately 40% of their waking hours in school. It is the first place they truly experience community and establish the ways they will interact with others and view themselves. We believe it is important to fully attend to their social and emotional growth so that as children grow into adulthood, they have the skillset, desire, and sense of self that will allow them to become authentic in their interactions with others. Our school, along with many others, is a reflection of this growing need to live in harmony with what we believe.
Yes, our school believes academic and cognitive development is the fundamental responsibility of any school and of holistic education. School should facilitate the development of the child's sense of self as a learner, feed their innate curiosity and inspire them to become lifelong learners. Education should engage the child in the discovery of their academic strengths, passions, and interests and facilitate meaningful experiences that challenge them cognitively and academically. The primary tool for doing so in the holistic setting is through the use of hands-on materials and experiential lessons. Ultimately the pursuit of knowledge and discovery in this manner leads a child to utilize their gifts to become positive contributors to their communities. This is what we mean when we refer to “holistic education.” At Mountain Sun, we serve the child’s whole developmental needs – cognitive, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
We engage the child in their whole development through an open classroom setting, with multiple age children sharing a class, and through the use of the unique Montessori manipulatives and materials. We then add thematic learning based on the multiple intelligences' philosophy (spatial, linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential as developed by Harvard’s Howard Gardner); plus the flourish of Waldorf-inspired creativity, daily and seasonal rhythms, and imaginative and cooperative play. Finally, we add the teachers' ability to observe and recognize each child's unique characteristics and developmental needs, the teacher's expertise in other experiential curriculums, and the unlimited outdoors and nature-based education. At Mountain Sun, the teachers are inspired by educational visionaries, by each other, and most of all, by their students. Our students are inspired by their daily work at school, by their peers, by the intertactive nature of our school, by their sense of belonging, by the natural world, and by their personal discovery of their strengths and challenges. This is inspired education for the whole child.