Skip to main content

Maryland Montessori

Grade Level
Elementary School

Using the Framework in Non-Traditional Settings

Wisconsin’s framework for an equitable multi-level system of supports is flexible enough to be used in non-traditional educational settings. Maryland Avenue Montessori School (Milwaukee Public Schools) has been implementing the framework for over ten years.

Montessori schools are known for their holistic approach to education and their strong belief in the value of knowing each student. Collaboration among teachers at levels, but also between support teachers and administration is key. “It really makes the difference in terms of supporting students,” Principal Joseph DiCarlo said. “Using the framework provides Maryland Avenue with a way to organize their supports, which increases their effectiveness. The structure (of PBIS and RtI) helps facilitate these collaborative conversations,” he said.

Because staff often have different approaches, DiCarlo believes the framework provides common language to bridge understanding  between traditional education and the Montessori method. As a result, the school is able to collect quality data. “The better records you keep, the easier it is to be able to improve,” DiCarlo said.

The value of family and community engagement

Family and community engagement is a huge part of the culture at Maryland Avenue. Jenni Hofschulte is the school’s community and parent engagement coordinator. She understands that communication with families is fundamental to the school’s success. “We have an enormous amount of trust with families and work hard to never breach that,” she said. “As staff, we are intentionally thoughtful and careful with the children.”

Looking at the whole child has caused Maryland Avenue Montessori to commit to equitable practices. The school began anti-bias work with staff five years ago, then did additional staff development around equity. Black history is not something that students study only during the month of February. “It’s incorporated into the work that the students do throughout the year,” the principal said. While Milwaukee Public Schools were delivering instruction virtually during the pandemic, Maryland Avenue intentionally created learning opportunities and activities for students connected to racial diversity and awareness of differences. “We’re always reaching for that center equity goal,” Jessica Bahr, school support teacher, said.

The school’s approach is having a positive impact on all their students as evidenced by their high overall achievement score (76.1) on their 20-21 report card from DPI.

Additionally, Black students at the school are seeing high academic growth above the statewide average.

“Everything that we do blends toward that overall goal of having a peaceful and positive community focused on learning and supporting–not just the students but each other–as much as we can,” DiCarlo said.