In 2008, when Maria Montessori Charter Academy moved to its permanent home in Rocklin, one of the first programs created was the garden and outdoor classroom. We partnered with the adjacent church to use a portion of their land for a larger garden, in exchange for access to the beautiful space we planned. Our ultimate goal was to create an outdoor classroom and discovery lab for students to learn about nature, sustainability, and life cycles. Getting kids outside and in the dirt was essential. The plan was to incorporate the garden into all aspects of the student's curriculum, from science and math, to art and literature. Using the Montessori philosophy of learning that is experiential, the students would learn respect for the environment through discovery. Today the outdoor classroom has grown to include a 1/4 acre garden with perennial vegetables, native plants, fruit trees and vines, sixteen annual planting boxes, compost bins, a storage barn, bunnies, and a garden docent program. We keep all produce and soil organic, and aim to be sustainable by making soil through composting, and practicing seed saving. All of this work was accomplished solely through volunteer labor, donations, and fundraising.
Maria Montessori Charter Academy is a nonprofit, pre-K-8th grade public elementary school serving approximately 300 students in Rocklin, CA. The school integrates Montessori methodologies within the accountability and framework of the California state standards. This integration includes emphasizing individualized work plans, small ability-based groups for language arts and mathematics, multi-age classrooms, low student-teacher ratios, manipulative-based instructional materials, and an overall emphasis on developing the 'whole child.'