Though the Montessori ideal is for each classroom teacher to act as a generalist, supplying enough basic information for students to launch their own independent explorations into any subject of interest, some subjects benefit from a more deeply educated and consistent adult presence. In such areas, Post Oak employs specialists who meet with students during scheduled sessions or for special projects as needed.
In Elementary, students explore a variety of artistic media, from drawing and painting to ceramics and sculpture. Studies include the art of different cultures and the history of different artistic movements: anyone touring the school really ought to stop by the art studio to see the ceiling tiles decorated with re-creations of classic paintings by Middle School students. Each class, from infants to adolescents, plans and produces one or more art projects for the school's biennial Gala, and older classes frequently rely on the teacher's aid in designing sets and backdrops for classroom productions.
In High School, the First Year Art is a comprehensive one semester course that provides the student with introductory experiences in expressing themselves inventively and imaginatively through a variety of art experiences, media, techniques, and vocabulary. Emphasis is placed on the “Elements of Design.” The art class is conducted at the Glassell School of Art and is designed to utilize the Museum of Fine Arts and the Contemporary Arts Museum in helping the students understand and appreciate artworks from past and present, regional and global, bridging a relationship to the student’s experience.
9th and 10th grade’s target language is the modern Chinese language—Putonghua (Mandarin). The pronunciation is based on the Beijing spoken language, and the writing follows the simplified system used in P. R. China. During these two-year-studies, students will learn the four basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing Chinese characters; they will practice their conversation skills through student-centered and communication-oriented activities.
11th grade and 12th grade classes aim at language acquisition in a range of contexts and for different purposes. It focuses on four language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. It promotes an understanding of the Chinese culture through the study of the language. Objectives are communicating information and basic ideas clearly and effectively, understanding and using a limited range of vocabulary in common usage accurately, and gaining awareness of the Chinese culture.
In addition to classroom teaching, students will also benefit from various outside curricular activities such as field trips, interviewing native speakers, joining cultural events, participating in speech contests, and watching Chinese movies.
Each classroom maintains a stock of relevant books, but the school-wide library on the Bissonnet Campus offers books for a variety of interests and age levels. Students learn the basics of library research, from finding to returning a book, and are responsible for "paying off" their own late fines by performing volunteer service in the library.
Students study music appreciation/listening, vocal production, and music theory. Music appreciation/listening includes the basic elements of music, genres, styles, historical periods in music (i.e. the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Baroque), and studying the lives of composers and musicians. Students attend concerts and performances, and they also perform themselves. Selected artists from various music disciplines demonstrate and perform for the students. Their studies of vocal production include the basics of singing, canons, individual and ensemble singing, and performance techniques. Music theory includes learning how to read musical notes, rhythms, sharps, flats, major/minor, chords, and lyric and melody writing. Students also explore applied music on various rhythm instruments, the history of these instruments, and the history of world music.
Music (grades 9, 10) theory and performance provides students opportunities to connect their interest in music (listening or performing) to critical studies of music theory, music history, and performance. Students in their first two years take one or two semesters of music, depending on their interest.
Music SL or HL is a two year curriculum providing experiences in all aspects of music performance and creation. The first year covers music history, music theory, and various exploration activities which will enhance each student’s knowledge of music. Particular emphasis is placed on studying the interactions of different styles of music across different cultures and historical eras, gaining perspective on how music serves as both a support and reflector of the human spirit/condition.
Post Oak's physical fitness program develops a variety of skills, from basic movement and coordination in younger classes to more formalized team sports at older ages. Good sportsmanship is a part of the curriculum at every level. Elementary students have the opportunity to participate in intramural sports with other area Montessori schools. Competitive team sports and cross-country events are available for interested Middle School students, as is the annual MS 150 charity bicycle ride, for which usually several students pedal from Houston to Austin to raise money for research on multiple sclerosis.
Many classroom assistants, and several teachers, are fluent in Spanish and include it as a constant and integral part of daily classroom life. Ms. Onofre oversees the Middle School Spanish program and Ninfa Bridges teaches the subject in classrooms without a fluent adult. Younger classes concentrate on vocabulary and basic conversation; older students approach the language more academically, learning grammar, verb conjugations, etc. Hispanic culture is also an important part of the life of the school: the biennial Cinco de Mayo celebration features a regional song or dance from each of the classes, performed in colorful costumes on a professional stage in front of the entire parent body.
Theater Arts (grades 9, 10) helps students cultivate natural self-expression. There are a variety of connection possibilities as students engage in learning acting techniques, dramaturgy, set design, prop management, and technical theater. Students in their first two years take one or two semesters of drama.
Theater SL or HL provides an environment to explore theater with an open mind, expressive body, and caring heart. Students in the first year explore the origins and development of theater in the world through research and observing plays. Students participate in vocal and physical work to become more effective communicators. Second year work leads to thoughtful risk in a final live performance piece involving exploration of dramaturgy, technical theater, and playwriting.