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Parent Perspective: A Father’s Thoughts on 9th Grade

Categories: Adolescent Program / Fan Mail / For Parents / General Knowledge Fund / Why Montessori

When Tracy and I enrolled our daughter Scout in the Wheaton Montessori Junior High program, it seemed apparent to me that she would stay for the full three years. Like the Elementary and Children’s House that come before, it’s a long-view cycle designed for a child’s age-specific needs that takes time to reach full circle. Not completing that cycle would be to ignore a key reason we chose Montessori in the first place.


Despite already having strong feelings about staying through the 9th-grade year, it wasn’t until part way through our daughter’s final year that I came to truly comprehend the enormous value of staying for the full program. Adolescence is a turbulent period of hormones and self-doubt about ability and identity. In 9th grade at WMS she was able to grow through this time in an environment that I don’t believe can be matched elsewhere. WMS provided familiarity in time when the whole world seems alien, compassion during a phase when social pressures can be cruel and opportunity to lead when elsewhere she would be lost in a mass of older students who lead by default. For two years in Junior High, Scout has participated in nourishing her own community- in this final year she can truly lead that community. It completes a natural circle that had we moved her elsewhere would have denied her the last crucial arc which brought her self-assuredness and a balanced perspective on her role in a bigger world.  Sending her to be an uncertain 9th grader among older students wouldn’t just be losing this amazing last year it would be like losing the previous two years as well.

Entering 10th grade in a new school is undoubtedly an anxious event- but our daughter’s 9th-grade year at WMS has given her a chance to develop through the difficulties of problematic age in an environment designed for her, but it is not only a matter of the program. I am very thankful that our daughter has had as much time as possible with Dr. Bilezikian and Mrs. Jonelis. It seems bizarre that as a parent I wouldn’t take full advantage of one more year of their influence in my child’s life. Their attention, capability and authentic care for our daughter certainly can’t be reproduced anywhere else and if anything saddens me about her moving on it is the unfortunate thought that it is doubtful that any other teacher in her future will know her and mentor her as well as they have. I am grateful for their dedication to her and to WMS for providing a program that fully encompassed Scout’s adolescent years.