By Hollie Noonan
For most Noosa families of school age children, news of a Montessori school in Noosa still comes as a surprise.
In fact, Montessori Noosa has now been operating as an accredited independent school since 2016.
Families of the school say it could be Noosa’s best kept secret – and that’s the way Principal Richard Wallace actually intended it for the past few years.
Recently, the approval to expand the small primary aged school into a secondary school has increased the ripple of word on the street about Montessori Noosa.
So what is going to be on offer for our Noosa teens in a Montessori high school?
Secondary schooling, referred to as The Adolescent Program in a Montessori school, is designed to facilitate the child’s transition from childhood into their adult roles.
The inner evolution of the individual is the central focus throughout these age years of 12-18. How does this translate as a comparison from other high schools though?
Dr Maria Montessori determined that an adolescent requires the opportunity for self-chosen, purposeful work with both social significance and an economic meaning.
This means that students attending Montessori Noosa’s adolescent program will be largely exposed to entrepreneurial opportunities of their own design, not as an extra curricular opportunity but as a crucial pillar of their adolescent development.
With the Sunshine Coast rapidly growing in entrepreneurial and innovation status, this makes good sense for our young adults.
The learning environment is deemed critical to a Montessori school and Montessori Noosa seems to be positioned in quite an ideal location to nourish the balance between community and nature.
With easy access to sporting fields, gymnasium, Noosa Aquatic Centre, tennis courts, not to mention the Noosa National park and beaches, the school is well positioned to support a healthy indulgence of physical activity and immersion in nature.
Combined with the bonus of a local theatre company operating weekly within the school, the students are also exposed to a vibrant creative arts curriculum.
Perhaps one of the greatest opportunities to an adolescent in Montessori is to genuinely form a supportive connection with their teachers.
It has been described that Montessori teachers are more concerned with a students’ social development and happiness than the schools position on a ranking board. To some this may sound like a recipe for underachievement – however generally Montessori students develop a deep motivation for unlimited success, allowing even the most academically skilled students to thrive.
The freedom that comes with facilitating an individualised learning program, is that there really is no ceiling to cap their progress to a level mutual of peers, as is experienced in other school models.
Rather than undergoing regular standardised testing, Montessori students mostly conduct self-assessments, determining their own goals for improvement and frequently discussing their challenges and triumphs with their peers for support.
With Australian youth unemployment at a concerning high and high school drop out rates recorded at 1 in 4 in 2015, it is inspiring to know our Noosa teens have a new schooling opportunity.
Principal Richard Wallace says with the addition of grade 7 launching the adolescent program in 2020, some limited spaces are available for new students.