Archgate Montessori Academy

Creating Quality Education Experiences Since 1986

BY MEREDITH KNIGHT PHOTO BY MILLHOUSE FOUNDATION

The best advocates of Archgate Montessori Academy (AMA) are the students themselves. Within the 7.5 lush acres that make up this 501(c)(3) school, children inquire, explore, imagine, create, inspire, learn, and grow, each at their own pace and within their own interests. Now, as those students have grown, gone out into the world, and started families of their own, many are returning to this nurturing environment to offer their own children the best weapon to survive a challenging world — a great education.

Head of School Rebecca Bernard was a Montessori parent herself, before taking the reins of this school, which exemplifies the William Butler Yeats quote, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

The nonprofit school was started 35 years ago (as Montessori New Beginnings) by a group of parents who wanted their children to learn through self-directed activity, hands-on learning, and collaborative play, individually serving the learning needs of children and their families. As the school grew, the name was changed to Archgate Montessori Academy. Their verdant campus includes a creek, nature trails, extensive gardens, and other outdoor learning spaces crucial to the child-focused Montessori learning model.

AMA students enjoy yoga in the garden. Teachers (called “guides”) take science lessons outdoors. Children can observe firsthand the lifecycles of animals, the calls of birds, the habitats of local wildlife such as beavers, and grow their own fruits, vegetables, and herbs. “This is our oasis,” Rebecca said. “We often hear from new parents that, the minute they walked through our garden gate, they can feel the difference.”

Learning is brought off campus as well, as upper-elementary students travel into the hill country for a week of foraging and outdoor education. During that same week, lower-elementary students enjoy similar lessons right on their verdant school campus.

A master-gardener-trained faculty member worked alongside the students to establish raised garden beds where students raise produce to feed to their classroom pets. There’s a pollinator garden and special designated wildlife habitat locations. Students compost kitchen waste and scraps from school snacks to be used in the gardens. “Rather than simply filling children with facts, activities like this nurture each child’s natural desire for knowledge, understanding, and respect,” Rebecca said. “Hands-on learning is the best way for that to happen.”

Classes are small and multi-age, each with Montessori-certified guides. Student/guide ratios for infants and toddlers are six to one, and 10 to one for preschoolers through older children. Emphasis is placed on creating natural opportunities for independence, citizenship and accountability, multi-sensory learning, and passionate inquiry, asking questions and probing for answers.

Under the Montessori model, individual students follow their own curiosity at their own pace, taking the time they need to fully understand each concept and meet individualized learning goals in core subjects as well as Spanish, music, ceramics, PE, shop, drumming, yoga, gardening, and more. Older students really blossom when they’re invited to mentor younger students.

Parents have always played a big part of the Archgate Montessori Academy experience, too. Although the COVID pandemic put that on hold at many schools, the nature of this unique campus where learning is often outdoors, has made it easy for parents to stay involved, adding their own expertise to the learning process.

For 35 years, Archgate Montessori Academy students have been given the freedom and support to question, probe deeply, and make connections, as they grow into confident, enthusiastic, and self-directed learners and global citizens. They think critically, work collaboratively, and act boldly with integrity. This is a great time to schedule a tour and put your child’s name on the AMA waiting list. “Although we consistently have a waiting list for admission, waiting is usually no longer than one school year,” Rebecca said. “We’re accepting applications now for the 2022-23 school year.”

Contact

4660 Legacy Drive
Plano, Texas 75024
(972) 491-1230
ArchgateMontessori.org