Macomb Montessori Academy Snapshot:
Students Served: 200+
Grades Served: Kindergarten – 6th Grade
Year Established: 2013
Principal: Ashley Ogonowski
There’s a warmth that surrounds Macomb Montessori Academy (MMA), making it a welcoming neighborhood school in Warren, Michigan.
Students across many zip codes commute to MMA with dreams and aspirations of bettering themselves through their education. Starting in 2013, the school began as a K-8 school with blended Montessori classrooms. MMA recently made the change to grades K-6 to focus more on elementary education and strengthen their Montessori roots.
Macomb Montessori Academy is also unique in the way that they grow their students in preschool through a strong partnership with Second Home Child Development Center. Students are able to start their free Montessori education early on, and experience a smooth transition from preschool to kindergarten and throughout the rest of elementary school.
The smaller school setting combined with a strong community approach allows teachers, parents, and students to share ownership over the educational gains made in the building. Together, teachers and parents are able to take a close look at the needs of each child and ensure that he or she is getting the right support through small group work and extra interventions in order to have choices in life.
At Macomb Montessori Academy, each staff member serves on at least two committees to make decisions about the school that keeps the school’s vision in focus. This builds a huge sense of investment and community at a staff level, which translates beautifully to the students. The Systems and Structures Committee worked over the summer to create all the detailed systems and routines students would follow to keep MMA running safely and smoothly. Additionally, the committee created a “boot camp” for staff during summer in-service days where teachers walked through every common area of the school as if they were students and practiced each routine. At the beginning of the year when kids were present, every day for the first two weeks, teachers led their students through the same steps. Students practiced routines for the common areas (how to use the bathroom, how to get a lunch tray, how to behave in the front office, which direction to walk in the hallway, etc.). This gave students a sense of consistency and community, and gave them every reason and opportunity to meet the high expectations Macomb Montessori Academy expects of them.
“Every day at MMA feels like a step forward,” said Ashley Ogonowski, Head of School. “It is no secret that the field of education is filled with unexpected turns, however, when working with a team as diligent and positive as the MMA staff, reaching our goals and making gains is possible.”
This year, Macomb Montessori Academy downsized grade levels in order to increase enrollment. While previously serving 175 students in grades prekindergarten through eighth, a strategic decision was made to serve 225 students in grades kindergarten through sixth. As Montessori classrooms are typically multi-aged, MMA also moved from serving three grade levels per classroom, to serving just two. This approach allowed new teachers to strengthen their Montessori muscles in two grade levels.
Uniqueness of the Academy
Macomb Montessori Academy is an unique school in that it offers a free Montessori education to students who otherwise may never have the opportunity to experience such methods. Students receive an individualized education that moves them across a continuum from concrete to abstract thinking. The school community is small, which means that teachers, students, and families get to share ownership over creating the educational experience of all students.
“The spirit of the teachers translates quickly to the students,” explained Ogonowski. “The culture has become one where students care about one another, their school, and their community. I am so proud to lead a school that is on the move, and I am most proud of our collective team who took ownership to make that true.”
Walking through the halls and observing the classrooms, you will see students creating video announcements to share with the community, leading tours of prospective students and families, and holding one another accountable for high-quality outcomes. There is so much to be proud of at Macomb Montessori Academy!
How MMA educators motivate their students to learn…
In our classroom, we create our own personal goals. We utilize a data wall to give students a visual of the overall success of the classroom. Students feel intrinsically motivated to help the classroom’s goals grow, as well as their own personal goals. I also try to use my verbiage in a way that has students feel good about their progress for themselves as opposed to outside gratification. Ex. “You should be so proud of yourself!”
I don’t talk down to students. I treat my students as if I am their peer, and I tell them that I am learning everyday just as they are. Therefore, they have nothing to be embarrassed about if they don’t know something, because we are all here at MMA to learn more. I take time to recognize their accomplishments, even the smallest ones. This is a daily and hourly event. Learning can be a frustrating task at hand, and I want the students to know that I am in their corner and I will never give up on any of them.
Motivation is something I strive to instill without the students even knowing. I motivate my students by the way I express my feelings towards their hard work. Sometimes you can spark something inside the student just by the facial expressions you show. When a student of mine is working hard on a task, I always make sure to recognize their efforts. I also make sure my lessons are engaging and my work materials are appealing, as it’s a great way to motivate my students to learn. When I model a new piece of work, I make sure to show my students my eagerness to learning this new skill. When my students are motivated, their learning is unstoppable!
I assist students with long-term motivation by showing them their NWEA scores in the fall, and working on their student progress learning sheets. This motivates students to continue on improving their scores; reaching their overall goal. At the end of the year, we host a class party as a time to reflect on the improvements we’ve each made throughout the year, and look toward our future growth as students and individuals.