Middle School (Ages 12-14)
The years between 12-14 encompass a time of rapid growth and change both physically and emotionally. Hermosa's middle school environment corresponds to the developmental needs of this age group. The program uses a model inspired by Dr. Maria Montessori's work, and refined, developed and implemented by Dr. Elizabeth Coe in the 1980's at the School of the Woods in Houston, Texas. It uses an interdisciplinary academic curriculum model that emphasizes 21st century skills as well as personal and social responsibility, communication skills, and empowerment. Practical application of academic knowledge is also part of the curriculum.
Students chart their progress weekly and share this information with parents. They also plan and initiate parent-student-teacher conferences. Students work towards 90% mastery in all curricular areas. Students present independent research study projects and participate in a variety of electives designed to introduce students to new ideas and experiences. Past elective classes have included semi private guitar, sculpture, arts and crafts, musical theatre, business, film making, photography, stop gap animation, rocketry, cooking, baking, and yearbook.
Students learn and practice cooperative skills through community service and community building activities such as the ROPES course. Students build community by creating their own mission statement, and code of conduct. All students participate in an internship program first in schools as teaching assistants, and in the Tucson community in local businesses or with local professionals. Students also serve as peer tutors for younger Hermosa students. Hermosa graduates successful attend many different local Tucson High School programs.
Dr. Montessori believed that nature could provide a calming force for adolescents, and that working the land with peers could prepare adolescents for real life. The Land Lab experience offers adolescents opportunities to spend time in the natural world while performing real life tasks related to stewardship of the environment, as well as the opportunity of assuming personal responsibility for the good of the community. Hermosa’s Land Lab is located the Vail Valley on a beautiful 15 acre ranch adjacent to a riparian area. Middle school students make practical applications of academic curriculum in a working natural environment. The land includes a custom home made of local stone, solar-powered well, gardens, hiking trails, campgrounds, and lush desert vegetation. Students select, manage, and complete real-world projects requiring critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, technical skills, and leadership. They also have fun and enjoy nature in a safe, tranquil environment.
Arizona Illustrated - View Video Below
Hermosa Montessori School's Land Lab was featured by Tucson's PBS affiliate, KUAT-TV Channel 6, on "Arizona Illustrated", Monday, February 16th, at 6:30pm.