Woodrow Wilson Montessori School, founded in 1925, serves students in grades PreK-8. Wilson Montessori is still in its original building at the site of the home of Mirabeau T. Lamar, the second President of the Republic of Texas. The school advertises itself as a diverse community which promotes “safety, high achievement, creativity and teamwork.” In 2005, Wilson Montessori became Houston’s first public all-Montessori school. It is a zoned magnet school, meaning that students can be eligible for admission simply by living in its attendance zone.
As a magnet school within HISD, Wilson Montessori has no religious affiliation. Students’ religious convictions do not factor into admissions, and the curriculum does not include theological material. While there is no institutionalized prayer in the school, there is a daily minute of silence during which students may choose to pray. Additionally, absences due to religious holidays do not count against a student’s record, though the student is still responsible for make-up work.
The school is located on Yupon Street, north of Westheimer Road in Montrose. The outdoor facilities include a track & field and a playground. A residential neighborhood with single-family homes and many trees surrounds the school. The campus recently expanded its outdoor facilities for a community project called SPARK Park, which allowing the area to be used as a neighborhood park outside of school hours. Last renovated in 2004, the school will benefit from a nearly $19 million expansion scheduled for completion in late 2015 or early 2016.
Wilson Montessori is a neighborhood or zoned magnet school, meaning that students who live in the attendance zone – see map below – are automatically eligible for admission, and indeed, must attend Wilson unless they transfer to another HISD school or choose to attend a private school instead.
Prospective students who are not zoned for Wilson must apply through the HISD magnet admissions process. An application may be downloaded from the HISD website or completed online. In addition to the application, parents must submit supplementary materials to the school. For applicants to Wilson’s PreK programs, the required supplementary materials are as follows: proof of age 3 or 4 by September, immunization records, a home language survey, and proof of HISD residency. For kindergarten applicants, the required supplementary materials are as follows: proof of age 5 by September, a PreK progress report (if applicable), and proof of HISD residency. For applicants to grades 1-8, the required supplementary materials are as follows: the previous year’s final report card, the first grading period of the current year’s report card, and proof of HISD residency. Additionally, students applying to grades 3-8 are required to have previous experience in a Montessori educational setting.
Available seats for out-of-zone magnet students are filled by a lottery process. Admissions decisions are made available in late March or early April.
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Wilson Montessori offers On-Track, Honors/Pre-AP, and Neighborhood Vanguard tracks within its Montessori curriculum. Wilson has a schoolwide magnet program for Montessori, a specialized teaching method which promotes development of “the whole child.” In a Montessori classroom, the teacher acts as a guide rather than as a traditional instructor. At the elementary school level, children’s primary learning experience centers on hands-on modules, like the pink tower of blocks, which promote mathematical and spatial reasoning and the development of critical thinking skills. At the middle school level, Montessori classes are somewhat more structured, permitting the implementation of an Honors/Pre-AP curriculum for advanced students. Nonetheless, in middle school as in elementary school, the Montessori system challenges students to think beyond the confines of the textbook and develop as well-rounded human beings.
Accommodations are available for students with special needs who meet the requirements for admission. If the parents already have documentation about the student’s special needs, the school will need a copy of that documentation. After receiving the documentation, the school will set up an annual ARD meeting that the parents, the student, an administrator, a core subject teacher, a special education teacher or 504 representative, and an HISD advocate will attend to discuss the specific modifications necessary for the student and to create an individualized education plan (IEP) for the student. Every teacher will receive a copy of the modifications for the student after they are set in the ARD meeting.
If the parents want to request modifications for their child, then the special education teacher will give the student’s teachers paperwork to document the student’s behavior and any modifications the teacher uses for the student. After 6 weeks of documentation, the teachers will turn in the paperwork, and the special education teacher or 504 representative will call a meeting similar to an ARD meeting. If the meeting determines that the student needs accommodation, then the school will have documentation of the student’s special needs and will follow the same procedures as above.
Specific accommodation programs available at Wilson include English as a Second Language, Resource Services, and Speech Therapy, as well as accommodations for students who are hard of hearing.
Wilson does not offer any foreign languages as part of its standard curriculum. However, the school does provide ASL-medium instruction for hearing impaired students and English-Spanish bilingual instruction for Spanish-speaking students who are learning English. A general English as a Second Language program is also available.
Wilson Montessori has added an art ancillary class and is bringing more enrichment programs to campus, including dance, music and a Great Books program. The school hosts several annual events to promote the arts, including an Art Exhibit for students and teachers and a Book Character Parade where the students dress up as their favorite fictional characters.
Wilson Montessori offers a computer class to all grades. Students learn the basics of keyboarding, Microsoft Office, file management, and surfing the Web. Middle school students use a program called SCRATCH to incorporate math and creativity into designing interactive stories, games, music, and art. Students must abide by HISD’s Acceptable Use Policy when using school computers.
Programs for students include Writers in the Schools (WITS) for the upper elementary school and Fotofest for the middle school. Students can also participate in Jump Rope for Heart, a fundraising event sponsored by the American Heart Association. School events include a family picnic, Field Day and Friends of Montessori (FOM) play dates.
No information concerning Wilson Montessori’s athletic programs is available at this time.
Parents at Wilson Montessori can join the PTO, which holds three general meetings per year. The PTO has worked with the non-profit Friends of Montessori to raise money for the school’s Wonderground SPARK Park, and it is also involved in other fundraisers and school events. Parents can also volunteer on campus, provided that they have been approved by HISD’s Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) program.
The school also has a Shared Decision Making Committee, through which interested parents can join with teachers and community members to advise the principal on important administrative matters.