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Catholic Montessori Education Coming to Hammonton

This fall, the Carmel Children’s House at the former St. Joseph Community School in Hammonton will offer a Montessori-style infant program. This photo shows an example of what a classroom looks like – furniture and hands-on learning materials are child-sized. Among the learning tools are articles on mass and altar, such as priestly dress, candles, crosses, Bibles, and crosses. (Photo courtesy)

This fall, the Carmel Children’s House will begin in Hammonton, a principle-based Catholic program born from the work of Italian female doctors and educators over 100 years ago.

The Carmel Children’s House at the former St. Jose Regional School provides children aged 3 to 5 with traditional Montessori-based classroom instruction for children.

Student-led educational practice

Father David Ribera, Rev. St. Mary of the Parish of Mount Carmel, explained how the Montessori method differs from other types of education.

“The Montessori method helps children choose their ingredients for a long time according to their interests,” he said. “We allow children to work independently or in pairs and the classroom is very quiet. We manage their involvement in the material and keep it out of the way.”

The American Montessori Society describes this method as an educational philosophy that promotes the rigorous and spontaneous growth of children and adolescents in all areas of development, with the aim of fostering each child’s natural desire for knowledge, understanding and respect. And practice. ” Named after its creator, Dr. Maria Montessori, the method, created in 1907, is based on individual learning goals, multisensory tasks, and spontaneous growth in all areas of development.

In short: Children take the lead in the quest for knowledge.

The teacher, or guide, acts as a link between the child and the material. Their focus is to “lead from behind”, to carefully observe each student, encourage independent work, and present lessons or “presentations” to each child according to their individual work plan.

The chief guide for the Carmel Children’s House is Lisa Lorusso, a teacher in the Parish of Camden for the past 11 years. Lorusso worked at St. Jose Regional School in Hammonton and St. Mary’s School in Williamstown, where he was responsible for a combination of first and second grades who saw the benefits of a mixed-age learning environment typical of Montessori classrooms. Since 2015, she has taught religious education for the Christ the Redeemer, Atco, and the Parish program of St. Mary of Mount Carmel in Hammonton.

Lorusso participates in a one-year training course at Princeton Montessori School. Carmel Children’s House will add guides and assistants as the number of students grows.

Montessori Principles and Catholic Education

Religious education in Catholic Montessori also follows a child-focused program known as the Good Shepherd’s Christian Education (CGS). Created in Italy by Bible scholars Sofia Cavalletti and Gianna Gobi in the 1950s, the CGS is based on Maria Montessori’s discovery of the developmental and mental abilities of young people from birth to the age of twelve.

Separate from the main classroom, the atrium has child-high shelves filled with items commonly found in churches, children-sized holy family models, and environmentally friendly cleaning. I have supplies. Lorusso said teacher guidance at the start of the session could lead to multiple activities.

“It starts with circle time,” she said. “We may sing a song and learn about the mass part. Children can choose the items they want to carry in the procession, set up an altar and listen to the gospel readings. All items [such as the chalice, candles and Bible] It’s real. ”

A conversation with a guide on the Bible and ritual may lead one child to imitate the Mass celebration, while another child uses the figure of Jesus and the sheep to bring the good shepherd’s parable to life. May let you. Colored vestments of the various seasons of the liturgical year are tactilely added to the description of the cycle of Jesus’ birth, ministry, death and resurrection.

“I’ve seen it work in my parish [Christ the Redeemer]”Rorusso said. “I went to class and saw a 4-year-old girl explain why the monk poured a small amount of water from the Holy Grail to the Holy Grail.” If this kid could explain this, I was sold. “I thought. I took my religious education class to the atrium, and the children were fascinated. “

Father Rivera added: We are all spiritual beings. Montessori takes it seriously – it’s a matter of heart. “

Benefits of the whole family

Father Rivera has become a solid supporter of Montessori education. The minister plans to introduce the Montessori method this fall, with less than 24 students aged 3 to 5 years. He is working with the Catholic Department of Education to work on the process of adding annual grades up to fifth grade. He is free to admit that this program can provoke skepticism among potential families.

“This is new here. We may suffer from stereotypes,” said Father Rivera. “For those who say’Montessori is just for the rich’, I point out that it costs the same as us. [existing] Little cubs. For those who think “it’s just for hippies,” Maria Montessori designed it for the poor children of factory workers.

He recalled a conversation with a pastor and friend who started the Montessori method and the Good Shepherd categorization at a school in South Dakota. The children were excited to bring back lessons and worship stories and encourage their parents to attend more regularly. mass.

“The students brought their faith back to their families, so I said,’That’s all I need to know,'” said Father Rivera.

For more information on Carmel Children’s House, including videos and resources, visit