MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Four years ago, Georgia College partnered with Baldwin Schools to start the Montessori Academy.
That's where graduate student Jessica Abney says she's using teaching skills she'll need for her education career.
"I would love to be an inclusive, special education teacher in a Montessori setting. That would be my dream," Abney said.
Director Kristin Meier and Early Learning Center Principal Lori Smith explain the difference between the Montessori approach and general education.
"It's very hands on as far as the children being able to learn and access lots of different material, lots of different environment. The teachers really act as guides," Meier said.
"Teachers are more like facilitators. They don't stand up and lecture. They meet with small groups of children. They introduce materials and they lead them through learning, but they let children sort of figure it out," Smith said.
Georgia College provides the staffing for the program at the Early Learning Center. Teachers go through training to be Montessori certified.
"We do not consider ourselves a daycare. We are truly a learning facility, so even as early as 6 weeks, we are working on verbal skills, social skills and our teachers have the training necessary to meet the child where they are developmentally," Meier said.
They have 60 students and 20 staff members at the Early Learning Center. Abney is one of the four Georgia College students doing her student-teaching with the Montessori Academy.
"It's just a great opportunity to get some experience with a different learning and teaching strategy," Abney said.
The program is tuition based until Pre-K.
Meier says the program was so successful after the first year, they were able to get money from the state to offer it from Pre-K to second grade at both primary schools.
They have future plans to expand it to third grade as well.