Renovations are getting underway at Breakthrough's future home in Takoma, and we are excited to share the details with you!

Renovations are getting underway at Breakthrough's future home in Takoma, and we are excited to share the details with you!

BM Renovations
BM Renovations

The first floor will be home to six classrooms: two will be located along the front of the building (facing Willow Street), and four will be located along the back wall. All of our classrooms will enjoy natural light from windows. As you can see in the photo (above right), the front of the building already has large windows installed. As part of the renovations, windows will be added along the back wall as well (above left)

Our primary students will have bathrooms in their classrooms, which will allow them to practice greater independence.

Our elementary classrooms are designed in pairs. Each set of two elementary classrooms are connected by a short hallway, which will allow students the independence to collaborate with a larger community beyond their specific classroom. Each hallway will be equipped with two bathrooms, one per elementary classroom.  

All our new classrooms will be spacious (around 1,000 sq. ft.) and will enjoy high ceilings that create a light and roomy atmosphere.

Our administrative team is in the final stages of purchasing complete sets of new Montessori elementary materials for our rising first graders as well as new furniture to outfit these classrooms. We are excited to watch these beautiful environments come together!

Facility Update from Chris Lohse, Interim Executive Director

As you know, next year Breakthrough will be adding a campus to facilitate our growth as a school.  Wanting to help nurture our children’s learning beyond the PK 3, PK 4 and Kindergarten services we’ve offered to date, we’ll be growing into grade 1 next year, grade 2 in 2019-2020, grade 3 in 2020-2021 and so on.  Today, I write to tell you a bit more about the history of the site selection, how we’re doing on our plan to open the space, and a little bit about what we think comes next.

Breakthrough's Charter talks a good deal about a commitment to serving all families with intentional respect for diversity & inclusion. How does this commitment play out in Breakthrough’s classrooms?

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Today's question is answered by Ebony Marshman, a founding Breakthrough faculty member, and guide in the Magnolia Community.


As a guide at Breakthrough, I find my work as it relates to diversity to be multifaceted. There is overlap in the work of fostering empathy in children, and teaching them to embrace and celebrate difference. When it comes to embracing difference, the lines can be fine between acknowledging and isolating what makes people’s experiences differ.  Part of recognizing that someone may differ from you is also the realization that to that same person, you are the one who differs. At Breakthrough, our classrooms are intentionally  inclusive meaning they are diverse; racially, ethnically, economically, and developmentally across ability level. In the Montessori pedagogy, the Primary child’s work of adaptation- becoming a person of their time and place- is critical to their growth and development. For our children at Breakthrough, this means becoming someone whose home is Washington D.C. in the mid 2010’s - with all of the complexity that entails.

Our school serves, and is served by people from all over the world, with differing stories to tell. While at school, diversity is the standard for your children.  When it comes to upholding the positive impacts of diversity in our children’s lives, our role as adults is to empower children to recognize and embrace difference, while celebrating one another. Because we are practicing Montessori in at a school that serves people of many different backgrounds, it is the work of the Breakthrough staff to frequently question and consider the ways in which we adhere to the dominant culture of the United States, while maintaining that it is not done at the expense of our students, staff and families. Each of the five areas of the classroom, offer means of doing just this.

With this in mind, let’s consider  the role of Practical Life in supporting the formation of functional independence in children.  In the instance of promoting grooming habits, it is common for schools to make available fine-tooth combs for combing hair. Though it is great for children to feel empowered to care for their own hair, the use of a  fine-tooth comb is not an option for many hair textures. A child’s inability to participate in that activity may reinforce negative messages society sends about what kind of hair grooming is acceptable, and can cause a child to question their sense of belonging. 

The question diversity poses for those who consider it is:  who is different (than me)? This  natural centering of self emphasizes the visual component of recognizing diversity but also illuminates that diversity can look different to everyone. Still, ‘diverse’ as a designation is most often reserved for describing identities and practices that are considered counter to dominant culture. This implies that what is normal is sameness and portrays diversity as a novel concept. Your children are already observing differences in people’s appearance  (even if not yet articulating it). As this is a crucial point as it relates to considering diversity in this society, young children are not too young for conversations that directly address race or skin color. In fact, research suggests that having these conversations are critical for children as they form their worldview. My practice  is to be true and brief when discussing topics that could be regarded as too complex for children. Your children are more than capable of digesting various realities of our society than given credit for. What I am constantly reminded of when seeking to explain things to children, is that  it is us, the adults, who overly complicate these things. 

Montessori is an international curriculum and although high fidelity Montessori classrooms all over the world may feel familiar, they should differ to reflect the cultures of the children within them. In our classrooms our children see diversity all around them. Whether it be in the characters of the books displayed in our classroom libraries, or in the faces of their peers and teachers. At Breakthrough, diversity is upheld in the richness of the stories we tell, and the realization that we all  protagonists in our own stories. 

New Facility Update

After many months of investigation and negotiation, we are excited to share a major milestone in Breakthrough’s effort to locate a permanent facility.  On 11/06/2017 we signed an agreement to move forward with a new campus located at 6856 Eastern Avenue, NW.  This new site will include approximately 41,000 square feet of indoor space, which, when fully built-out, will accommodate Breakthrough’s planned full enrollment of 405 children ages 3 through 12.

Public Montessori in Puerto Rico Needs Your Support: An Evening with Ana Maria Garcia Blanco

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25 years ago, Ana Maria Garcia Blano founded the Instituto Nueva Escuela, a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming Puerto Rico's public education system through Montessori. INE has grown to support 50 public Montessori programs serving more than 12,000 children across the island , achieving 0% rates of school desertion, drug incidents, and severe violence in its schools in communities of extreme poverty.

This September, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and the Carribean, 30% of INE's schools suffered severe structural damage.  The entire island is a Federal Disaster Area, and as of last week 80% of the territory is without power.  INE has launched a fundraising and reconstruction campaign to rebuild its schools


Come join INE founder and Executive Director Ana Maria Garica Blanco for an evening of inspiration and support

On November 29, the D.C. Montessori community will come together to learn more about the remarkable story of Montessori in Puerto Rico, to be inspired by Ana’s vision and fortitude, and to raise funds to support reconstruction efforts. 

When: 

Wednesday, November 29 at 7PM.

Where: 

Latin American Montessori Bilingual Charter School
1375 Missouri Ave NW, Washington, DC 20011


Cost: 

No charge—Suggested Donation: $25
 

Donate Now: 

Antrocket (INE's Puerto Rican crowdfunding campaign)
Puerto Rico Montessori2Montessori (GoFundMe)