A Unique Middle School Grows in Jersey City
Although Jersey City has its share of middle schools—public and private—only Hudson Montessori School can say it's a nationally certified STEM school. This past school year, 2022-2023, was the inaugural year of its Middle School, adding to its already thriving preschool and elementary divisions. Hudson Montessori School continues to grow, adding its final grade level, 8th grade, this 2023-2024 school year.
The Steps for Building a Middle School
“Our plan has always been to cap the school with a high quality, innovative Middle School program,” said Gina Reeves, Director of Hudson Montessori School. “We invested years in planning to ensure that this program was academically rigorous, offered a number of projects, and a curriculum that provides ‘real life learning’ and problem-solving opportunities to the students.” The program includes state and national standards and STEM-focused and integrated lessons and activities. Students become highly independent and well-prepared for their high school years.
Dr. Grace Sanvictores, science and technology teacher and co-lead of the school’s STEAM Program, was named the Middle School Director soon after achieving her doctorate in education in 2020. Dr. Sanvictores has been with Hudson Montessori School since it opened in 2009, and her determination and colleagues have helped develop the school’s award-winning STEAM program into the first of its kind in New Jersey.
Ms. Reeves, beginning her ninth year at the school, came with over 30 years of experience developing new schools. She and Dr. Sanvictores worked closely to structure the school’s robust curriculum for the sixth through eighth-grade levels. The Middle School would maintain its claim to fame—its STEAM program—extending it to its eager middle schoolers, many of whom were award-winning young scientists from the school’s Upper Elementary program.
What Makes Hudson Montessori Middle School Unique?
Hudson Montessori differentiates itself from other schools by how it applies its Montessori principles and integrates its STEAM program. The Middle School also sets itself apart by formally adopting the design-thinking process—a standard process used today by businesses, entrepreneurs, and universities to develop new products. Using empathy, students learn to set aside assumptions and gain real-world perspective by stepping into the shoes of the user by looking at a problem from the user’s perspective.
Each student is part of a multi-year capstone project, incorporating student collaboration, applying local and global perspectives, and solving real-life problems from conceptualization to development and beyond. Each student’s learning is as real as it gets, putting each child out there to solve existing problems in the community or globally. The Innovative Community Outreach Program strives to involve local leaders and community members to serve as models and mentors. The students are currently working on a pollinator garden with Liberty State Park and others to meet this identified community and global need.
What’s unique to Hudson Montessori School is its freedom to provide immersive learning environments for the students to grasp the content thoroughly, including fieldwork, excursions, and extending their classroom outdoors with a wet lab on the shores of the Hudson River. Students are not asking, “Why am I learning this?” Instead, they make those connections without teachers doing it for them and strive to learn the content they need to achieve a successful outcome.
Hudson Montessori’s Middle School curriculum exceeds core academic standards, including data literacy and science, research and development, music, art, performing arts, Spanish, physical education, and other exciting elective and after-school offerings. And to prepare for high school, Hudson Montessori’s Middle School team gives students the tools to succeed, like learning Algebra 1 and early Geometry, mastering essay-writing, note-taking, and essential time management skills, while also helping students learn to build an academic portfolio in preparation for them to apply to the high school of their choosing.
To learn more about Hudson Montessori School’s interdisciplinary, theme-based learning approach to education, the Montessori philosophy and methodology, or how the school fosters the love of learning for its students, the school welcomes parents to Middle School Information Sessions and, for children age 2 to fifth grade, the school offers virtual school tours.