• Comment

Charter school teacher brings growth to self-directed learning program

Posted: August 23, 2017 - 1:26am
Back | Next
Sarah Strom, one of two lead Montessori teachers at Horse Creek Academy in Aiken, holds an American flag Monday morning as students recite the Pledge of Allegiance. NEFETERIA BREWSTER/STAFF
Sarah Strom, one of two lead Montessori teachers at Horse Creek Academy in Aiken, holds an American flag Monday morning as students recite the Pledge of Allegiance. NEFETERIA BREWSTER/STAFF

Several students gathered around a rug in the corner of a Montessori classroom in Aiken recently as their teacher reintroduced herself to the class.

Sarah Strom is one of two lead Montessori teachers at Horse Creek Academy who welcomed her 4- and 5-year-old students to another year of the program that requires three uninterrupted hours of classwork each school day.

Strom, one of the youngest teachers at the charter school, received the First Year Teacher of the Year award in June for her success with the program, which she's taught for three years.

Frank Roberson, executive director of Horse Creek Academy, said Strom's efforts have been outstanding.

"She does a phenomenal job with the Montessori program, which is a unique method of providing learning opportunities for students as they explore in the learning environment and learn accordingly," he said.

In the three years Strom has taught the program, class sizes have increased 35 percent, Roberson said.

The academy started in 2002 in Graniteville as Midland Valley Preparatory School.

During that time the small preparatory school had low enrollment in its 4K to sixth-grade classes. However, the school soon expanded to include education for seventh- and eighth-graders and in the fall of 2013 moved to Aiken as Horse Creek Academy.

Although the first day of class began with seven of her former students, Strom said 13 more, ages 4 and up, will be added by the end of fall semester.

"We'll have all the new students in 4K stagger in two or three at a time starting next week,"she said as each of her seven students rolled a mat onto the classroom floor to work on their individual activities."

As part of the Montessori program, lessons are taught and worked on individually and each student's concentration is protected. It also demands that students solve their own problems and learn from their peers and from community-building.

Strom said the self-directed learning environment is a unique benefit of the program that students in a public school setting do not get to experience.

"I just think it's the best thing for the child," Strom said. "It's all individualized and it's not for a certain type of child, it's for every child, and there's not many methods of teaching like that."

She also listed the freedom to observe and decide what's best for each child in a "tight knit environment" as a significant benefit of teaching at the charter school as opposed to one that is public.

"I'm rarely told what to do or how to do it," Strom said "I'm trusted to do what I went to school for."

 

  • Comment

CONTACT US

ADVERTISING

DELIVERY & DISTRIBUTION

  • Call 706-722-5620