Madison School Board Approves Montessori Charter School For 2018-19 School Year

Lots of work and a long time coming! We cannot wait to open our doors in 2018/2019 for all the children and families who might not otherwise have the opportunity. This is what it’s about. This is what it’s always been about. Way to go Melissa Droessler and Carrie Marlette and ALL the children and community members who believed enough to stick with the hard work!


MADISON, Wis. (WSJ)–The Madison School Board voted Monday to establish a public Montessori charter school — the first of its kind in the district.

However, the board delayed the school’s opening until the 2018-19 school year, and the school’s creation remains contingent on the school’s founders supplementing their proposal during contract negotiations to address key areas that still concern district administrators and some board members.

The vote to establish the public charter school was 6-1, with TJ Mertz the sole opponent.

If all goes as planned, the vote means Isthmus Montessori Academy (IMA), 1402 Pankratz St., would change from a private, tuition-based school to a public, tuition-free one in the fall of 2018. That’s a year later than founders Melissa Droessler and Carrie Marlette and many of the school’s large group of passionate supporters had desired.

Consequently, some supporters left Monday’s meeting grumbling and even angry over the delay. Droessler stayed optimistic in her comments.

“We are thrilled at the board’s support and truly hope to operate in good faith with the district for a successful partnership,” she said.

The North Side school was founded in 2012, and Droessler and Marlette have been working with the district ever since to turn it into a public option. They have said they want to make the Montessori method available to as many families as possible, not just to those with financial means.

They believe the Montessori method, which includes multi-age classroom groupings, customized learning plans and self-directed learning, will help the district close achievement gaps while expanding options for students, especially those with special needs…

click link for more —>Wisconsin State Journal

Madison MLK Day Events

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, sit with three of their four children in their Atlanta, Ga, home, on March 17, 1963. From left are: Martin Luther King III, 5, Dexter Scott, 2, and Yolanda Denise, 7.

Life’s most urgent and persistent question is: what are you doing for others?
— Martin Luther King, Jr.

Every year, on January 16, the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was born, people across the nation join together to recognize the achievements of someone who really changed our country. Here are some events across Madison that celebrate an amazing human being:

Monday, January 16, 2017

9 a.m.: MLK Youth Service Day 2012: “A dedication to service … A discovery of science.” Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, 330 N. Orchard St. The event for middle and high school youth will both honor and reflect on the life of King and learn how science and service can intersect. There is no cost to attend, but registration is limited to the first 300 registrants. Information: 608-729-1200.

1:15 p.m.: The Figure Skating Club of Madison will celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a service project of making blankets for Project Linus. After their project the club will perform a free show from 1:15 to 2:50 p.m. at the Madison Ice Arena, 725 Forward Drive. The public is encouraged to bring a pair or two of socks to donate to Middleton Outreach Ministry. A public skate will follow from 2:50 to 3:50 p.m. Free skate rentals will be available. Information: 608-204-7606.

6 p.m.: The 27th annual City/County King Holiday Observance will be held at the Overture Center Capitol Theater, 201 State St. The keynote speaker is the Rev. C.T. Vivian, who helped found the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference and helped organize the first sit-ins in Nashville in 1960 and the first civil rights march in 1961. Vivian rode the first “Freedom Bus” into Jackson, Miss., and went on to work alongside Martin Luther King Jr. in Birmingham, Selma, Chicago, Nashville and the March on Washington.

In addition to the keynote address, the event will feature the presentation of the annual City/County Dr. King Awards. Music will be provided by the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir led by noted local music director Leotha Stanley. This event is free and open to the public.

School Board Public Hearing on IMA’s Charter Proposal: NBC15 Story And Video

Last night’s school board public hearing on IMA’s charter proposal is in the news today: Madison’s WMTV Channel NBC15 has a story and video:

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)–The Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education will decide this month whether to make Isthmus Montessori School the district’s first public Montessori school.

A public hearing was held this afternoon and people had the opportunity to express their opinions about this issue.

Montessori schools have a different approach to teaching than public schools. Chief of Staff for the Madison Metropolitan School District Kelly Ruppel said the board needs to make sure the systems are compatible before approving the application.

“That’s the intent and the reason why we need a plan ahead of the proposal,” Ruppel said. “So we know what it is you’re proposing and ensuring it’s in line with our values as a school district.”

Isthmus Montessori co-founder Melissa Droessler said they are optimistic about the final vote.

“I see this working everyday, when I worked for Milwaukee public schools, I saw it working everyday. so we see it work and I know..I know, it’s going to happen.”

The final vote is scheduled for January 30th.NBC 15

Cap Times: Isthmus Montessori Academy supporters urge Madison School Board to approve charter proposal

Today’s Cap Times in Madison has a story on Monday’s School Board Meeting:

Isthmus Montessori Academy supporters urge Madison School Board to approve charter proposal

About 40 students, parents, teachers and community members turned out for Monday’s school board meeting to share their thoughts about Isthmus Montessori Academy, the northeast side school seeking board approval to become the fourth charter school under district authority.

Madison Metropolitan School District charters are approved, monitored and accountable to the board. Other district charters include Nuestro Mundo Elementary School, Wright Middle School and Badger Rock Middle School.

IMA opened in 2012 and wants to become an MMSD charter to bring Montessori education to all interested families, regardless of income. The private school serves about 80 students from 3K to 15 years old. Currently, the average cost of tuition is $1,180 per month. If the school were to become a public charter school, there would be no cost to attend.

Maria Montessori developed the education model in the early 20th century. Montessori schools emphasize a free-flowing environment where students have a choice in their learning. Teachers structure their classrooms to allow students to explore concepts in three-hour time blocks. Children learn in “planes,” mixed age groups spanning three-year intervals. This model encourages younger students to learn from their older peers and gives older students a chance to reinforce and teach concepts they already covered to their younger classmates.

For over an hour on Monday evening, supporters praised IMA and the Montessori model as a space where children with varying cognitive abilities can learn and thrive.

Madison native Casey Schmitt urged the board to remember that the goal of district-sponsored charters is to produce innovative educational models that, ideally, benefit all MMSD students.

“When you have a Montessori school as part of the system, you’ve got a laboratory in shop,” Schmitt said. “Having an in-house Montessori will be extremely beneficial, not only to IMA but to the entire district at large in terms of development and collaboration.”

Suah Lim is from Korea and has two biracial children who attend IMA. She said IMA was the most diverse Montessori school she toured in the Madison area, but wants the board to approve the charter to make it more accessible to more students of color and lower-income families.

“I am in support of public Montessori so more minority children can access the wonderful Montessori method,” she said. “I also have other family and friends who would like to send their kids to Montessori, but they are not able to afford it.”

About a half-dozen IMA students spoke to the board about how much they love being a part of classrooms that allow them the autonomy to explore learning.

“I love my school because I can choose exactly what I want,” said Charlotte, 10.

In an interview with the Cap Times before Monday’s board meeting, IMA co-heads Melissa Droessler and Carrie Marlette expressed hope the board will approve the charter.

“There are many cities and rural areas where Montessori is a public option. We wanted to bring it to the children and families of Madison. Accessibility is our main goal,” Droessler said.

Marlette believes the Montessori model is one way to bolster academic achievement for all students.

“It meets so many different children at their own developmental needs that it would really naturally approach and probably ease, if not completely solve, so many of the gap issues that are existing right now in education,” she said.

The board will make the final decision whether or not to approve the charter proposal on Jan. 30.The Cap Times

IMA’s Winter Solstice Celebration

On December 21, 2016, we joined together at Johnson Park to celebrate the Winter Solstice. We lit candles and sang Here Comes The Sun — it was a wonderful way to mark the passing of the seasons and spend some time together.


This is Ms. Melissa singing I Love Snow while IMA’s kids light candles at the Solstice Gathering.


And here’s the Solstice sunset looking from Burrows Park to the lake.

Happy New Year from IMA’s 2016-2017 Staff!


Isthmus Montessori Academy wishes you all a Happy New Year! From left to right:

  • Ms. Melissa (Primary Guide / Head of School)
  • Ms. Maura (Nido Guide)
  • Mr. Chet (Administrative Assistant)
  • Ms. Anne (Nido Assistant)
  • Ms. Rachel (Elementary Assistant)
  • Ms. Abby (Young Children’s Community Assistant)
  • Ms. Brittany (Primary Guide)
  • Ms. Rachael (Primary Assistant)
  • Ms. Calla (Young Children’s Community Guide)
  • Ms. Carmon (Floating Assistant)
  • Ms. Ashley (Primary Assistant)
  • Ms. Carrie (Elementary Guide / Head of School)
  • Ms. Rebekah (Administrative Assistant)
  • Ms. Felisia (Floating Assistant)
  • Mr. Jesse (Floating Assistant)
  • Ms. Allison (Adolescent Guide)


Here Comes The Sun

On Wednesday, December 21 from 4:00 to 5:00 pm, we invite you to an informal Solstice Gathering beginning at the Johnson Park Gazebo in Maple Bluff (right across from our old school building). Families and children will be given a candle to hold as we walk through the snow to the Burrow’s Park Pavilion for a bonfire, songs, and making wishes for the New Year!

The weather is forecast for a wet evening. If that’s the case, possibly we try again next year? Possibly we meet sit around the fireplace at Manna Cafe?

The inspiration…

Some of the children in Ms. Melissa’s classroom have been interested in the calendar and the weather and the amount of sunlight and darkness. We discussed that the Winter Solstice is the day with the shortest amount of sunlight and that many groups of people celebrate this relationship between Earth and Sun in different ways.

If it’s a dry day, families may join their children on a walk and songs by the bonfire. What fun!

4:00-4:10 pm Johnson Park Gazebo
4:10 pm begin walking over to Burrow’s Park
4:30/4:40 pm Burrow’s Park Pavilion
4:40-5:00 pm Songs, wishes, and bonfire

5:00 pm Go home, eat a delicious dinner, snuggle in bed, and welcome the sun!

RSVP to Ms. Melissa please so that she knows how many candles to bring, and thank you:)

Adolescent Community Upcoming Events

The Adolescent Community would like to invite you to our upcoming events:

Presentation on Ancient Greece

Friday, December 16, 8:30 AM and 2:00 PM

Adolescent Holiday Sale
featuring handmade decorations, gifts, crafts, and festive music

Monday–Friday, December 19–23, 3:00–3:30 PM

We hope you can join us for presentations on various aspects of Ancient Greece — we’ve learned a lot in our History and Humanities seminar this semester and would love to share what we’ve learned with you!

Students and adults are welcome to come to our Holiday Sale. Items will be a range of prices and will make perfect gifts and decorations for your holidays.

Please contact Ms. Allison with any questions!

Best wishes,

The IMA Adolescent Community

December’s DEEP Meeting: Book Discussion of The Element


Dear IMA Families

December’s DEEP meeting is a book discussion. We have chosen the book, The Element, written by Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D. Our staff read this book at the beginning of the year and it led to many thought provoking and insightful discussions. Robinson’s writing is witty and inspirational as he shares the experiences of people who have found their element, the place where your natural gifts and your aspirations ignite your work. Each Montessori prepared environment provides a place where students can delve into their work with focus and concentration for longer and longer periods of time.

Please join us in reading The Element and then, meeting to discuss the book with others on December 20th at 5:30 pm. As always, refreshments and childcare will be provided. The PTO meeting will follow at 6:30 pm.

IMA’s Souper Supper

Souper Supper

Please mark your calendars for Isthmus Montessori Academy’s (IMA) semi-annual Souper Supper fundraiser. This community event helps raise money for items or programs needed at our school as well as charities in our community.

Our first Souper Supper will be on Thursday, December 8 from 5-7 pm.

The Souper Supper will be held at Isthmus Montessori Academy, 1402 Pankratz Street, Madison.

What is the Souper Supper?
As parents and friends drink their delicious soup, IMA students and staff present their arguments for which program, item, or charity should receive the money collected from entry fees to the supper. In addition to hearing about the different programs at IMA, the event also provides elementary and adolescent students the opportunity to write and make a presentation, as well as begin to understand ways they can work to help the community. For example, previously, guests at the Souper Supper voted to support the IMA adolescent program’s urban farm, which made the local news when it was completed!

Isthmus Montessori is also working toward being the first public Montessori school in Madison. Our goal is to give all children, regardless of their socio or economic background, access to the many benefits of a Montessori education. Every bit of support for our programs helps strengthen our school and move us towards achieving this goal. In addition to being a fun way to meet others in the school community, this is a great opportunity for you to invite friends and family who may not know about IMA!

Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Georgia Lieber or Courtney Seidel.

We hope you and your family will attend!

Best wishes,

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