Montessori Testimonials: Parents

Throughout the years, we have heard from many parents about the impact Forest Bluff School and Montessori education has had on their children. One of the best ways to get to know our school is by reading some of these Forest Bluff Montessori testimonials, written by parents, community members, and our alumni.

Forest Bluff Montessori School students outside playing, Montessori testimonials

“I’m specifically impressed by Forest Bluff’s dedication to the Montessori philosophy and the emphasis it places on providing a stimulating environment that allows for independence, promotes creativity, fosters a sense of community and affirms a child’s sense of self. It has been a pleasure watching our girls grow and develop during their time in the Young Children’s Community. Choosing Forest Bluff Montessori School is one of the best decisions we have made for our children.”

Forest Bluff Montessori School students outside for class, Montessori testimonials

“With a graduate and two students currently enrolled at Forest Bluff, it has become very apparent how our children are benefiting from this approach to education; Montessori goes beyond academics by nurturing self-reliance, concentration, confidence, leadership, and an insatiable curiosity about the world around us. Forest Bluff children have a remarkable sense of respect and compassion for others, and they are given the tools to work through conflicts rather than avoid them. This school not only prepares students for high school, it prepares them for a life of purpose and meaning.”

Forest Bluff Montessori School student with parent, Montessori testimonials

“There are clear expectations for the parents of Forest Bluff children, although not in the way you might expect. Rather than serving as snack providers, “homeroom moms” and event planners, parents are expected to participate in opportunities that help us be better parents. Our children aren’t the only ones getting an education — we are given constant support and guidance to help us understand the development of our children and how we can encourage their emotional, social and intellectual growth at home.”

Montessori Testimonials: Community

At Forest Bluff School, one of our goals is to help our students grow into productive, integral members of their greater communities. This process begins early and involves a great deal of interaction between our students and the Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, and broader communities. By reading Montessori testimonials of community members, you can get an idea of how unique our students are among their peers.

Dear FBS Parents and Families,

You made a considerable leap of faith when you chose Forest Bluff, trusting that this curious institution would nurture and guide your child into the best version of themselves – and, perhaps most daunting to veterans of “traditional” schooling, that it would do so without relying on those familiar evaluative tools, tests and grades. I’m an unabashed convert to the FBS philosophy – and not just because I’m the husband of a Forest Bluff alum and teacher and the parent of a current student. It’s more because in my ten years at Lake Forest Academy, my colleagues and I have worked with dozens of FBS alums and seen in them such consistently excellent ability, character, creativity, and vivacity that we can draw only one conclusion: Amazing things happen over on West Scranton.

Montessori Secondary level students at Forest Bluff School

Here’s what we see when FBS alums move on to high school. More than the average teenager, they know who they are. This is not to say that they begin ninth grade as finished projects, but that they have learned to approach problems independently and willingly, know (consciously or intuitively) how they prefer to work and learn, and are comfortable taking initiative and acting on their own behalf.

This security in their own skin might explain why a staggering number of Forest Bluff students – a number out of all proportion to their representation in our student body – have held major leadership positions (Prefect, All-School President, class president, Discipline Committee chair/representative, club leader, etc.) Adolescents with a stronger sense of self have the confidence to stand up to the undeniable peer pressure to conform – and paradoxically, those same peers recognize that strength of character and elect classmates who possess it to the offices of greatest responsibility.

And while it’s understandable to think that the idea of a different routine and new expectations might unnerve the FBS students, their Montessori background helps them approach unfamiliar concepts and novel forms of evaluation with confidence and interest. In my English classes, Forest Bluff students bring a freshness of perspective to their interpretive thinking. They tend to produce answers that appeal to them rather than fixate on generating the answer they think the teacher is looking for. This tendency reminds me of a maxim from my days as a college counselor – that doing what you think colleges want you to do is actually exactly what they don’t want you to do. So that novel approach that FB students have is welcome to teachers who are looking not for the right answer (and often there isn’t just one), but for the active thinking at work behind that answer.

You and your child are now about to leap out of Forest Bluff and into high school. It’s a leap for which they’ve been superbly prepared. The wonderful paradox about Forest Bluff is that by eschewing some of the conventional notions of work and evaluation, it has, in fact, equipped your child with exactly the skills and outlook essential for both academic success and abiding happiness. It is a splendid legacy for the school to have bequeathed to each of its students, and one I appreciate freshly each day at LFA.

Jon Freeman
English Dept. Chair/Assistant Dean of Students
Lake Forest Academy

Hello Ms. Barrett;
My name is Irene Moore, and I am a teaching instructor here at Beacon Academy. This week, I am teaching the interim "Hidden Messages in DNA," and I wanted to let you know how impressed I have been with a former student of yours.
Initially when I saw the roster of students, I was a little nervous because this student is a freshman: in fact, I had almost closed the class off to freshman, because it really is a content heavy, data-driven science interim, with many of the concepts I introduce at the college-level.  Well, thank goodness I kept the class open to everyone, because this student is simply terrific to have in class. He carries himself so well amongst the upperclassmen and asks questions not of clarification (he seems to understand immediately what I am teaching), but probing questions, questions of further inquiry. Or, he will simply look amazed, because he understands the either elegance, or relevance, of the information and will comment on it.
If these are the kind of students Forest Bluff produces, please send them all our way!
Irene K. Moore Ph.D.
Beacon Academy
Evanston, IL

Dear Paula:

Three Forest Bluff students investigate a brain while in a laboratory at Lake Forest College, as mentioned in a Montessori testimonialI write to share some of my observations about the Forest Bluff Secondary Students who came to visit me in the General Chemistry laboratory at Lake Forest College.

As I shared aloud with the parents at the most recent parents’ meeting, it was a pure joy to have the secondary students in the lab. In particular, the students demonstrated an enthusiasm for engaging the tasks I’d prepared without hesitation. When I asked them to record their observations for ten different ionic compounds (salts) in vials arrayed on one of the lab benches, the students immediately pulled out their pencils and got to work. My experience with college-aged students is quite different; often I need to urge them to begin their work multiple times. Perhaps this is because the FB secondary children haven’t been quantitatively (grade) punished for making mistakes and therefore haven’t learned to be overly cautious and hesitant.

When asked to use their new knowledge of the periodic table to make predictions of the chemical formula for ionic compounds, again all 15 students attacked the challenge with gusto. Even those who didn’t immediately understand the task sought out clarification from me and were then able to succeed. Even in their confusion they demonstrated better self-advocacy than I see in many of my college students.

Later, when I asked for volunteers to help with a demonstration of a flame test, 16 of the 17 hands immediately shot into the air (Mrs. Robbins refrained, but Mr. Robbins was swept up in the moment). All 15 secondary students eagerly volunteered.

They clearly enjoyed the academic challenge of exploring chemistry and were well prepared for the experience through the reports they’d prepared and presented to one another. I look forward to hosting the secondary students at Lake Forest College again in the future.

Jason A. Cody
Associate Professor and Chairperson
Department of Chemistry
Lake Forest College

Hello Mr. Robbins and Friends of Forest Bluff,

I cannot begin to tell you how much Camp St. Croix appreciates and admires your students. I have had the honor of meeting and assisting in the coordination of this group for the past four years.

Your students compare to no others! Their level of skills in critical thinking, leadership, manners and dedication of the task at hand, are just a few of their great qualities and assets. While at Camp St. Croix, this group has always gained the highest respect from our maintenance, grounds team, kitchen, and camping staff. The projects presented to them have been completed at a level of professionalism and skill that most contractors could not meet!

Montessori students outside for class at Forest Bluff School.

Your program at Forest Bluff should be a model for all youth. As a mother of three young adults, I see the importance and impact this program has on your students. The experiences are those that can not be taught within walls, for these students get to ‘live’ and ‘survive’ real work and problem solving that will make them better and stronger people as they continue to mature and grow. In today’s world, it is so important to provide and prepare our youth in these ways.

My staff and I look forward each fall to the return of your students. I hope this program will continue to be a part of your curriculum and forever use the safe and welcoming areas of Camp St. Croix and the YMCA Camping Services of Greater St. Paul.

Sue Elmer
Senior Program Coordinator
YMCA Camp St. Croix

Forest Bluff School designed and creates an environment and experience that augments the child’s capacity - making room for complex and dynamic thinking, creating, and collaborating. Mindful of developmental planes and deliberate in execution, this is a school where students live fully. You have to see it to believe it and reimagine what students are teeming to be and do.

Teachers, professors, and employers are wont for students and adults who can think and imagine with the dexterity, confidence, and capacity of Forest Bluff students!

Nicole Tantillo
Lake Forest High School