Calhoun is now offering a dual-track early-childhood program. This is the first program of its kind in New York, offering families of preschool-through-third-grade students the choice between two curricular paths–Calhoun’s signature Open Inquiry track; or the Montessori track, known as MMS@Calhoun.
This unique addition to the New York City independent-school scene is designed to nimbly respond to students at a stage when their learning styles, preferences and talents are rapidly evolving. "Often when families are looking for school options in the early-childhood years, they are unsure of how their children will ultimately learn best, and our unique dual-track program allows for additional flexibility for students to unlock their full potential,” says Jessy Trejo, Calhoun’s Director of Admissions. “Families will have options, within this program, to adjust to their children’s ever-developing learning style, while still having access to the resources and broader community of an ongoing pre-K–12 school.”
The introduction of a Montessori track to the Lower School also represents a sort of homecoming for Calhoun, where the tradition of Montessori education runs deep. In 1916, Calhoun opened a kindergarten led by one of the earliest protégées of Dr. Maria Montessori, developer of the internationally esteemed method. Calhoun closed its Lower School in 1937 in the wake of the Great Depression, but when it reopened in 1958 and ever since, elements of Montessori teaching and learning have continued to be an influence.
Indeed, the shared values between Calhoun and MMS have become ever more apparent. Academic teams from both schools have engaged deeply with one another’s curriculums in their preparations for the merger. Calhoun’s Open Inquiry track draws on a range of methods to engage and challenge children, while the MMS@Calhoun track utilizes the same Montessori materials and methods found in Montessori classrooms around the world. Though the two tracks differ in their approach, they also have fundamental similarities, such as a mutual emphasis on hands-on experiences and student-driven learning. Their commonalities have helped lay the groundwork for the future of the program, while ensuring that no matter which track students enter, they’ll be well prepared for fourth grade and beyond.
"Families will have options, within this program, to adjust to their children’s ever-developing learning style, while still having access to the resources and broader community of an ongoing pre-K–12 school." Jessy Trejo, Director of Admissions
The merger brings additional benefits for Calhoun’s youngest learners. The Lower School is now located in a recently renovated space on 85th Street with an elevator, gym, full-size kitchen and rooftop terrace. The adjacency of the two tracks will create new opportunities for collaboration among teachers, as well as for community-building among students.
Ultimately, the launch of the dual-track early-childhood program represents the latest step in Calhoun’s ongoing effort to find new ways to best serve students. Whether a family chooses the Open Inquiry or the Montessori track, Calhoun’s Lower School will continue to shape independent and compassionate citizens and learners.