Q. What is the school's most basic expectation of parents?
A. Make continuing efforts both to understand and to embrace the Montessori approach and to work in partnership with the school.
These efforts should begin before admission. The school desires parents who understand and embrace the mission of the school. To that end, we help parents learn about the Montessori approach by providing information and opportunities for parent education as part of the admission process—so that parents can make an informed decision in choosing to enroll their children— and continue to provide more opportunities throughout a family's years at the school. Once children are enrolled, the school expects parents to attend regularly scheduled parent-teacher conferences and parent education events, and to familiarize themselves with the philosophy, policies, and procedures contained in the Family Handbook and other school publications.
Children thrive when home and school work in harmony, with both environments sharing the same educational values and expectations.
Q. What contribution can I make to create a positive school community?
A. Demonstrate respect for all adults and children, the school, and the school's programs and policies.
Model for your children respect: for them, their classmates, parents of classmates, teachers and other school staff—in short, for everyone associated with the school. Respect begins with civility and deepens into trust. Our most fundamental behavioral guidelines for the children are, "Respect yourself, respect others, and respect the environment." We expect the same from adults, parents, and school staff, at all times and in all relationships within the school community. This includes speech and outward behavior. Support your child by speaking of her/his teachers, classmates, and school in positive terms. Respect and abide by the school's policies and procedures. Honor your commitments. Look for ways to make a positive contribution to the life of the school.
Through your behavior you contribute to your children's moral development and to the culture and climate of their school, which they experience on a daily basis.
Q. How can I create consistency between home and school?
A. Strive to parent according to Montessori principles.
Learn as much as you can about Montessori principles as they apply to preparation of your child's home environment as well as the way we parents interact with our children. This begins with the general principle, "Never do something for your child that he can do for himself." Allow your child to engage in all of the simple tasks of practical life that a child can do for himself at each stage of development. Montessori education may also entail learning a communication style different from the way in which we were parented.
Children develop a love of learning and become responsible, independent, and capable when parents' values and expectations are consistent with those of the school.
Q. What are my responsibilities regarding communication between home and school?
A. Maintain active, direct and respectful, two-way communication with the school.
Read communications that are sent home, including letters, newsletters, and calendars. Inform the school in a timely fashion of pertinent changes in your child's life. Active communication involves parents sharing observations and concerns about their child with the child's current teacher. In matters large and small, remember the principle of respect: even when there is disagreement, disagree respectfully. For more detailed communication guidelines, please refer to the Post Oak School Family Handbook.
Children prosper most when the primary voices in their lives sing in harmony. Let's work together for that music to happen.
Q. What can I expect of the school academically?
A. Post Oak aspires to fulfill its mission as a Montessori school.
As a Montessori school, we are different from traditional schools. Our first commitment is to the multi-dimensional development of the child. Montessori children do amass a great deal of factual knowledge in school. However, our aim is for each child to be far more than a repository of this information: we guide each child to think for herself. Cognitive development and a solid academic foundation are important, yet they represent only one dimension of our aspirations for your child. Equally significant is your child's social, emotional, spiritual, and physical development.
Children are given choices and a great deal of freedom—within limits—during the school day. The choices a child makes, and the accompanying responsibilities, influence the emerging character of your child. Choosing his own work, or shaping it to a considerable degree, following that work through to completion, while working independently or in cooperation with others, the Montessori child identifies his interests and develops his individual gifts. As a Middle School student said, "Montessori students motivate each other to be self-motivated."
Significant emphasis is placed upon community service. Younger children learn by serving their small community, e.g., classmates, classroom, and family. As they grow, children reach out to the larger community and experience the many rewards of helping others. The children gain awareness and appreciation of others, of the challenges faced by others, and, equally important, of their own strengths and abilities to help others and affect the world around them. Community service is an integral and important part of their lives, and stays with them well beyond their Post Oak years.
We treat each child with dignity and respect, and expect that she will treat all others with the same respect. We treat each child as an individual and strive to develop each child's unique gifts— within the context of the classroom and the school community. With freedom comes responsibility, and each child learns to balance his personal freedom with a clear sense of responsibility to himself, to others, and to the community as a whole.
Q. What can I expect in terms of communication from the school?
A. We aim to maintain open, honest, timely, and respectful communication with you about your child and about information affecting the school community.
There are two regularly scheduled parent-teacher (or in the case of older students, parent-teacher-student) conferences each year, accompanied by written summaries, and a year-end written progress report. In the event of special concerns, your child's teacher will contact you to discuss these concerns by phone, by email, or in person. In addition to conference reporting, classroom teachers will communicate with you via classroom letters and newsletters, email messages, and short reports as needed for individual children.
Each Post Oak teacher is a well-trained professional, and her evaluation is confidential and based on direct observation of your child. A teacher will always offer his current best understanding of your child's progress and her strengths and needs. For all children, this evaluation is based on the teacher's observation, which may be augmented by input from the division director and/or auxiliary staff. For older Elementary and Middle School children, we also report to you annual standardized test results.
Regarding ongoing school-wide communication, the school distributes a weekly email, the Post Highlights; a monthly printed newsletter, The Post; as well as a Family Handbook, school calendar, and other occasional letters and publications.
Q. What can I expect of the school environment?
A. We strive to ensure an environment that is physically and emotionally safe and supportive, as well as aesthetically beautiful.
Dr. Montessori said that the classroom teacher's first responsibility is to prepare the environment. This means that the learning materials should correspond to the developmental characteristics of the child at each level, and that those materials must be attractive to the child: correct in size, aesthetically pleasing, well maintained, and complete. More broadly, the whole school environment must meet these criteria: to appeal to the child and to inspire his work.
We are ever vigilant to ensure that the school building and grounds are physically safe, secure, and well maintained.
Our community of children and adults comprises a social environment and culture that impacts the child's experience. We strive to make this environment emotionally supportive and safe for every child. This does not mean that there are no problems. It does mean that we will work with your child in developmentally appropriate ways to deal with problems as they arise, empowering him with social skills and aiding him in the development of emotional intelligence to prepare for a lifetime of working with others in different communities and organizations.
Q. What professional standards can I expect of the school and faculty?
A. The school seeks accreditation and consultation from organizations with the highest standards in the realm of private school education.
The school is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest (ISAS) and the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO). For guidance in implementing Montessori principles, we rely on the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). These three organizations represent the most exacting standards of excellence for Montessori schools and for private, independent schools. We are also licensed by two Texas agencies: the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (TDFPS) and AMI Teachers of Texas (AMITOT). In addition, the board and administration have worked with Independent School Management (ISM) since 1993 to identify and implement goals for management and governance.
At minimum, all lead teachers hold a bachelor’s degree; many have earned master’s degrees or doctorates. Furthermore, we strive for all lead teachers to be trained by the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI). High School teachers complete training through the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) as well. Our teachers have a sense of mission in working with children and adolescents and demonstrate high standards for themselves and their students.
The school promotes a culture of professional growth in a number of ways. Teachers work annually with division directors to create a Professional Growth Plan (PGP), driven by goal-setting for professional development. Over a three-year cycle, Montessori school consultants from outside Post Oak observe each teacher and work with each department. In addition, the school annually hosts workshops and conferences for professional development of faculty, administration, and board.
Q. What can I expect of the school administration?
A. Integrity; a focus on the needs of the individual child in harmony with the life of the community; mission-driven decisions embodying good stewardship and responsible management; and an open door to your questions or concerns.
Administrative staff interface with all the various constituencies of the school: students, parents, extended family, faculty, trustees, alumni, prospective parents, professional visitors, government officials, other schools and educational organizations, and the general public. In your interactions with administration, you can expect professional, courteous, and business-like conduct, as well as mutually respectful communication.
The head of school, division directors, chief financial officer, admission director, development director, and support staff comprise the administration. They often face decisions requiring a balance of competing priorities. Sometimes those factors are mutually exclusive; sometimes equally well-intentioned adults see matters differently. In making decisions, administration will focus on the interest of the individual child in balance with the needs of the school.