Lindsey Pollock, Ed. D., LMSW
Pre-Kindergarten Standards TEA
Testimony December 1, 2015
Good morning! I am Lindsey Pollock a public school principal at Garden Oaks Montessori in the Houston Independent School District. Over the course of my 30 year career in both education and social work I have overseen early childhood programs in both the private and public sectors. Through my experiences, I can attest to the lasting impact of a high quality prekindergarten program as an administrator, a teacher and a parent. Additionally, longitudinal research conducted by various institutions, points to the long term positive effects of quality prekindergarten including increased reading levels in elementary school, improved social interactions and self concept, higher rates of high school graduation and lower rates of crime and incarceration. These results alone are compelling reasons to not only continue but increase the level of support for quality prekindergarten. Among the many delivery models of prekindergarten, the Montessori methodology offers unique characteristics worthy of your consideration. While some estimates reflect that there are over 8,000 Montessori schools operating in the United States, only about 500 of these are public Montessori schools of which about 30 are located here in the great State of Texas.
The opportunity to benefit from a public Montessori education is not only a social justice issue, it is also a model for those seeking to develop effective early childhood programs as evidenced by the essential elements that make public Montessori education a high demand choice for parents. These unique characteristics include:
Multiage groups: Dr. Montessori recognized the three year developmental cycles of young children and developed her educational method to respect the needs of the children through multi age classrooms that encourage collaboration and the development of leadership skills in very young children. In the Children’s House classroom, 3, 4 and 5 year olds work and learn together.
Larger group sizes: Montessori classrooms encourage children to self monitor and support one another with the guidance of the adults in the classroom. Ideally, Montessori prekindergarten classrooms have up to 24 students with a Montessori credentialed lead teacher and teaching assistant. In the words of Dr. Montessori, “Never do for a child what they can do themselves.” In the Montessori environment, children are encouraged to work independently and to construct meaning from the handson materials in the prepared environment.
Multiyear classrooms: Students in a Montessori environment stay with their classroom teacher for three years. Having this extended relationship between families and teachers develops secure attachments in children and lasting relationships that support children for many years. This sense of community also improves classroom discipline and the children’s compassion for one another.
Montessori teaching credentials: Montessori teaching credentials are offered at many public and private universities and training centers in the United States and internationally. In fact, the credential is recognized at many universities as a master’s degree, such as at Texas’ Southern Methodist University.
Last year, my public Montessori school received over 900 applications for only 60 available spaces. The overwhelming demand for public Montessori education especially at the preschool level is indicative of the public expectation that ALL children are afforded the benefit of an educational setting that ensures the academic, emotional and social well being of our youngest and most promising members of our society.
Thank you for your consideration and for your work to protect and develop our most valuable resource our children!