Museums and Institutions
Montessori High School at University Circle has established focused relationships with numerous cultural institutions and is therefore able to provide students with unique learning opportunities. Throughout the year, students utilize the rich cultural sites and museums of University Circle. Imagine the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Cleveland Botanical Gardens, or the Western Reserve Historical Society as your classroom? MHS not only has strong relationships with them, but also works with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Cleveland Institute of Music. University Circle has nearly 40 member institutions encompassing medicine, education, the arts, social services, religion, and history.
Several times a year, MHS students participate in J-Term /X-Term programs. This gives us the ability to offer a wide variety of classes with our smaller staff while providing our students to concentrate on a particular course subject. These programs are guided by faculty members and other leaders in the subject being studied. After the winter holiday vacation and at the end of the school year students choose from a range of J-Term/X-Term programs.
The areas chosen for study are as diverse as our student community and reach deep into the rich cultural sights and museums of University Circle.
X-Term programs include:
*short story writing workshops that in one x-term utilized the unique culture and university backdrop of University Circle, and in a following two week session that completed the academic year, the writing workshop had a broader reach, extending the program so that it included a New York City trip to heighten the appreciation of American writers and their muses. English Teacher Julie Reyers led this program
*Botany and field study, with digs at international desert sights. In the fall of 2009, two MHS faculty, and Dr. Michael Ryan, the Cleveland Natural History Museum Curator of Paleontology will join 10 students, as they travel to Mongolia. This two-week program began in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, and moved to dig sites at the Tomb of the Dragons, near Ultan Ula, and later at Flaming Cliffs site. The group investigated for Velociraptor bones.
*A three-week in depth study of our home city, ‘Inside Cleveland’. Anthropology and History teacher Dr. Regina Feldman opened the doors to this city on Lake Erie’s shores, and together with students examined the rich history of our years of industrial leadership; visiting sites that pull together the ethnic foundations in the revitalized Tremont area, the internationally known West Side Market, Little Italy, Chinatown, and the cities evolving and renewing neighborhoods; lunching at America’s oldest forum of free speech, the Cleveland City Club, touring the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball home, the Q and of course staying to watch the Cavs win another home game. The student group also toured ten of the city’s unique bridges, spent time at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, attended a Cleveland Orchestra concert, and were guests at the Maltz Museum Of Jewish History.
*an opening-of-the-school year trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where the entire school community studied geology and botany; visited the Ernest Hemmingway exhibit at Central Michigan University, tracing his summer steps when he vacationed in the area and wrote several of his short stories. Hemmingway spent several summers in Semey and loved that area of the state. Our students read one of his better known works, Fox River Pathway while on the trip.
*When a group of students headed to Americus, Georgia, where one of their first destinations was Koinonia Farm, where Habitat for Humanity was founded. They met former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn, later worked on a build in Georgetown, South Carolina. Other parts of the trip included working in a vineyard pruning grapes and studying the growing season for that crop.
Other X-Terms programs include:
*the study of computer based Gaming Theory and the opportunity for students to create their own computer games
*habitat restoration in NE Ohio, headed by Dr. Jim Bissell, Curator of Botany at the Cleveland Natural History Museum
*gourmet cooking and the menu development for sound nutrition and balanced diet, and in-depth study of different cultures and their foods
*creating and building over-sized walking puppets, and participating in one of Cleveland’s cultural spotlight events, Parade the Circle. This event brings all of Cleveland’s major cultural institutions together in a weekend program that reaches from the Cleveland Museum of Art, to the Botanical Gardens, to the Natural History Museum
Students at Montessori High School work with faculty and staff to develop a list of X-Term content options, and then a process begins that eventually votes the list into four or five study areas that students can select from. The key is to be open to each new idea, to create a living learning experience, to know that each student has reached deeply into an area of learning that they had not yet fully explored until their X-Term.