Imagine a school designed and fully functioning like a little city just for students.  You push the door open and discover a big open room with large tables, no individual desks.  There is natural light flooding in, and some students are even working outside in the sunshine.  There are about thirty children all in this same room, and it is peaceful, and yet a lot is happening.  You look around to see some are working individually at tables, and some have a partner and are in chairs by a window.  Some are in small groups over on the couches, and some are with a teacher working on the floor.  They are all engaged and joyful and intentional, and you can tell because there is a light in their eyes that reveals to you that what they are doing matters to them.  You notice when they need a drink, they go get one- they don’t raise their hand or have to wait to go to the things they need to do.  Someone goes to the kitchen to get a snack and eats it while taking a breather because they were hungry and overwhelmed at the time.  They clean up their own areas before moving on to their next goal for the day they are keeping track of.  They prayed before eating lunch and thanked God for the goodness in their lives and those struggling.  They ask questions instead of being told what to do and given the freedom of time to dive deeply into subjects.   There is no bell alarming nor a micro-managed schedule that constantly interrupts focus and concentration.  They collaborate with each other, diving deeper into improving ideas, and individually contributing to the group with their own personal skill-sets.  They are moving around as their bodies require it because they are children and young adults, and that is what they are meant to do.  They finish their day, together they review hardships and successes and are fulfilled and eager for the next day.    


This is Vandermont.  The students are engaging and learning.   They are in charge of it and work with Educators to personalize their learning path. (We prefer to call our Teachers “Guides” because that is what they are doing.)  The students are not just memorizing data in the age of infinite instant access to limitless information we now have.  They don’t just push back memorized info on a test, where some answers are left incorrect or erased from short-term memory, but expected to seek a level of mastery showing they grasped the concepts and can add-on.  All of this while enjoying what they do and gaining more each day.    We have an exquisite respect for children, and researchers have found that when we root them in personal responsibility, they have the freedom of independence.  We are able to trust they can do hard things, self-govern, hold themselves accountable, and work towards excellence.  At Vandermont, we cultivate learner autonomy: the ability to take charge of his or her own learning.  As Maria Montessori said so perfectly (an Italian doctor who devoted her entire life to the study of children), “The role of education is to interest the child profoundly in an external activity to which he (or she) will give all his (or her) potential.”  We recognize that every child has a native genius, or potential, uniquely designed by God, and we believe that without a purposeful and engaging learning environment paired with a focused discipline towards mastery, the Genius and creative potential of that child can be wasted, along with their time, determination, confidence, and joyful spirits.  We want to honor that Genius.  


Our students are not just learning academics but also increasing their intellect.  The academics of memorizing, practicing, counting, reciting will take place within the service of the intellect- the reasoning, predicting, hypothesizing, and problem-solving.  We are empowering learners every step of the way.  They are gaining more skills than ever before, left in a traditional school setting, ones vital to growing up to be continuous confident learners, great communicators, goal setters and achievers, negotiators, and most importantly, able to lead purposeful lives doing things that matter to them.  They are naturally building self-confidence because they are proving to themselves they are capable.  They use their creativity and problem-solving skills to figure things out, because children are tougher and smarter than we adults make them out to be.


We are creating this by turning learning upside down with an innovative research-backed school model that will recognize and hone over time with rigor, each student's God-given potential. To realize the infinite potential of young learners, we much reimagine “schooling” as we know it.