Pleased that our SAIS-AdvancED-American Montessori Society reaccreditation visit went so well, we thought we would share comments from our report of the visit. We thank our visiting team: Terrie Sampson, Former Head of School at Lamplighter; Dr. Larry McLemore, Head of School at Saint James in Montgomery, Dr. Michael Edwards, Head of School at Cliff Valley School in Atlanta; Melinda Cotter, Head of School at Sea Pines Montessori Academy & Mary Kay Lively, Montessori educator at Hill Country Montessori. Here is a brief look at the team’s findings in their own words:
*”All stakeholders truly value the nurturing, supportive, and engaging community and the way the school inspires students and prepares them for a lifetime of success.”
*The team commends HMS for their integration of peaceful spaces to encourage purposeful movement and mindfulness; beautiful and functional LEED certified facilities; a strong partnership with Mount Laurel and the shared playground, athletic spaces and library.
*The team commends HMS for creating a school culture that supports the development of leadership skills, commitment to wonderful Spanish and art programs; an excellent music program from the music teacher to the learning spaces and the instruments/equipment available; obvious webbing of curriculum between levels and enrichment classes; teachers providing an authentic Montessori environment that encourages academic discovery; implementation of new safety features such as the RAPTOR security screening and cameras.
*Hilltop teachers are outstanding and a critical component of the school’s longevity. They also commend staff tenure, and tenure and commitment of key board members. They noted that staff are guided from within the community and given opportunities for growth, experience and development. They also appreciated our desire to include a salary and benefits study in our strategic plan and a program to fund Montessori certification for assistants to ensure the longevity of the school.
*Also noted under commendations: awareness of outplacement options for students and commitment to preparing students for schools they will attend after HMS; alumni returning as parents and teachers demonstrating their love, commitment and respect for the school, the community and the Montessori method. They also commended the clear expectations of the students leaving the classrooms and moving up to the next Montessori cycle.
Overall strengths were also: the kitchen and farm to fork lunch program; beekeeping and honey program; a deep and abiding sense of community, family and support that students, faculty, staff and parents all identify as central to the school. In particular, they felt that “the students demonstrate the school mission through their actions in learning spaces and through their own personal accounts of their learning experiences.”
Hilltop is truly excited about our next 5 years and tackling our new strategic plan! Thank you to all for a great year!