Starting point of our journey:
In the early 1990s, committed parents convinced the Protestant church to open the doors of the new kindergarten as a Montessori children’s house. Children should experience with all their senses and discover and learn on their own initiative. The school should also build on this foundation for their children. They wanted a place where children could learn with enthusiasm and develop their individual abilities. A school where independent, lifelong learning, joint, creative thinking as well as self-reliant and compassionate action would be promoted. Therefore, these mothers and fathers took a decision that would not only change the lives of their own children. With an irrepressible will, they founded a very special school that was to become “a paradise for children”.
Sense of freedom
With the founding of the ‘ Montessori-Förderkreis Herzogenaurach e.V.’ in March, the team of parents sought new supporters and friends for a Montessori primary school. With enthusiasm and based on deep conviction, they promoted the creation of an environment in which children can learn independently and responsibly. High-quality materials, self-corrective work aids and a protected framework provided by educators were to help the children to choose and deepen learning content themselves. Whether in a group or alone. Each according to his or her own pace of work and individual abilities. And the most important thing: everyone should achieve the learning goals. They would have four years to do so.
During the intensive planning of the school, the parents received support from other Montessori institutions and got to know the later headmaster Monika Bohley. Alongside Lauf, Nuremberg and Erlangen, Herzogenaurach was to become the 4th Montessori school in Middle Franconia.
Financed by their own efforts
21 parents financed the establishment of the school in the first year from their own resources. At that time, as today, public schools were only approved and supported by the Free State of Bavaria after one year. At that time, the monthly school fees were 130 D-marks.
Small baggage – low rent was important
The former officers’ mess building No. 1610 of the US Army at Herzo Base offered itself and was to be transformed into a single-form entry primary school. Parents’ hands laid floors, painted walls, glazed shelves and erected them.
Nothing stood in the way of government approval.
The first day
Only six months after the foundation of the association, on 7 September to be exact, the first day of school life began for 16 children.
The new classroom
34 new registrations after only one information evening. A new classroom had to be built quickly. This renovation was also done by the parents alone. The Sparkasse supported the association with a donation of 500 D-Mark. 43 new members joined and three new teachers were hired.
In September, the first grade started with 23 children and the second grade with 16 children and two teachers each.
Pioneering work confirmed
Already after the third year, the school experienced a first breakthrough: there were more applications than school places. Waiting lists were set up and reserves created for the upcoming expansion.
Always well advised
Besides working with the children, the school saw the propagation of Montessori pedagogy as a central task. Thus, among other things, the Montessori diploma course and information evenings were offered where parents could learn more about the applied pedagogy at school and at home.
The long-standing cooperation with the Montessori expert Claus Kaul had a crucial influence on the development of the school, both internally and externally. The ideas, e.g. around parent training or later around the secondary school, find their origin in this. He continues to support the educational team in the systematic implementation of the Montessori principles.
All good things come in fours
In the fourth year after its foundation, there were already 4 classes with a total of 83 pupils.
Consolidating and deepening
Teachers, parents and experts started the project week with the support of sponsors. Children and teenagers were to have even more experiences close to nature and everyday life, discover technical and handicraft skills, get to know other cultures or be able to express themselves creatively and musically.
Midday supervision until 2 pm was introduced. Since then, the children always enjoy going to their “Mitti”.
Sustainable, ecological, social
A reform school like the Monte is a natural part of a celebration of ideas, concepts and products for sustainable, ecological and socially conscious living in Herzogenaurach.
Since then, a committed group of students and educators have been bringing relevant topics from the classroom to the Ökofest in the form of exhibitions, small cosmic stories and handicraft activities.
Growing with each other for each other
The mark of 100 students was reached.
With the ever-growing number of students, the commitment of the parents continued to contribute decisively to the success of the school. To this day, parents bring a treasure trove of ideas, talents, know-how and drive to the school, making it possible to accomplish tasks while keeping school fees affordable.
Parental work also has a lasting educational value: our families, who help shape and participate in the children’s school life, bring motivation as well as a sense of responsibility and create a lively community. In the end, identification with the school always benefits the children.
Then as now, the focus is on the children. Open, trusting cooperation between parents and the educational team is a proven basic prerequisite for the children’s personal development and their learning success. Regular individual discussions, class parent evenings and pedagogical further training have become essential elements that help to be a valuable guide and companion for the children.
Montessori Schule Herzogenaurach
… so that we can develop.
The school had grown into an entity with a profile and a clear mission. With the little caterpillar and the butterfly, a trademark was born that was to express the mission and values of the primary school visually.
In addition to free work, thanks to the growth came the opportunity for another core element of Montessori pedagogy: grade mixing.
Since then, the school community was able to experience how older students helped younger ones and further consolidated their own knowledge in the process. The older ones learned to explain and communicate their knowledge by organising their thought processes. But the younger children also learned from the older ones with great willingness.
Mixed grades promote social competence: there are fewer conflicts, more mutual help, stimulation and cooperation and, above all, a strong sense of solidarity.
More space to flourish
The lease on the Herzo Base was gradually running out and due to the increasing popularity of Monte, the capacities were fully exhausted. The school, the association, the parents, even the students became engaged in the construction of a new school building in Niederndorf.
In June 1999, the school received both the government’s approval for the new building and the city of Herzogenaurach’s approval for the purchase of the property in Lohhofer Straße.
Learning with all senses
Montessori pedagogy is known for its mindfully prepared learning environment, high-quality materials and its aesthetic approach – a bouquet of fresh flowers is almost always to be seen somewhere. Setting up a classroom according to these principles is exciting. But when a completely new school building is to be planned, it is a unique opportunity.
When the architectural firm Babler & Lodde was commissioned to design a school for the senses, the teachers were particularly keen that the building should take into account the children’s freedom of movement and learning. Open, friendly and sunlit rooms and wide corridors as an extended learning environment were to be both a place for work and relaxation in their clear beauty.
Balancing act achieved
About 3 million D-marks were earmarked for land acquisition and construction, of which 2.2 million D-marks went towards building costs. The new construction had to be affordable and the architects actually succeeded.
The new school was built in only 10 months.
Later, the city of Herzogenaurach granted a subsidy of 15,000 D-Mark for the lunchtime supervision. The Sparkasse Erlangen took over the financing, which was made possible with a lower loan interest rate thanks to the parents’ loans.
Moving into the “feel-good school”
The new building also offered more space for another cornerstone of Montessori pedagogy: cosmic education. The fundamental question “Who am I in this world?” could be further explored by the children through stories, selected materials and experiences in nature or community.
A year to pause and celebrate
The school celebrated its 10th anniversary. Everyone rejoiced at and over the successful school building. This attracted not only new families but also many architects who visited excellent projects as part of the architectural tours of the Bavarian Chamber of Architects.
At the same time, the board fought for the necessary funding from the State of Bavaria.
Grade Mixing 2.0
A working group consisting of teachers, board members and parent representatives was set up. A conscious effort was made to exchange information with parents in regular, transparent and open discussions about the experiences and expectations of a completely mixed primary school.
Now it’s getting colourful
ith general decisiveness, the school year started with four learning groups in which all four grades were represented.
The classes Yellow, Green, Blue and Red were formed.
On their journeys of discovery, students should also learn a foreign language. Thus, English was included in the timetable from the first grade onwards. The children have always learned through play, with all their senses and full of enthusiasm.
In addition to lunchtime supervision, a dedicated team provided all-day care until 4.30pm for families.
Up to the Abitur
It was the birth of the Montessori-Fachoberschule Franken in Nuremberg. On the “Montessori” way, it had become possible for students to obtain the “Fachabitur” or the general higher education entrance qualification. Monte Herzo became one of the shareholders of MOS Franken GmbH.
All honour to the school
The school looked after 96 pupils, employed 21 staff and generated a balance sheet volume of 2.4 million euros – all under voluntary management. Members and the board agreed to transfer parts of the board’s tasks to a full-time management.
The team of teachers decided to include children with physical and mental disabilities in the school.
Vision: Montessori to the end
Parents and teachers, with the support of Claus Kaul, started the project to expand the school. They wanted a secondary school with comprehensive educational concepts up to the middle school leaving certificate. This was to pave the way for the young people to the Abitur (MOS).
Not only did the association members unanimously vote in favour of the secondary school, the government of Middle Franconia also gave its approval for the extension. The school extension team planned the gradual building extension with the architects Babler & Lodde and the start of the secondary school in autumn 2010.
With no reason
Montessori Primary School Herzogenaurach became Montessori School Herzogenaurach.
First class of the new secondary school
The first mixed-grade class 5/6 started the new school year, although temporarily in containers. Their goal: the intermediate school leaving certificate.
School charta against violence
During the values week, the children developed measures, methods and a set of rules to prevent violence and to create peace. The dispute mediators are a product of this time.
We stay longer
A mixed-grade class 1/2/3/4 was approved as a bound all-day class and started lessons.
The mixed-grade class 5/6/7 started the new school year. As in the previous year, the students completed a one-week internship in a company. This is still an uplifting and positive element of the secondary school’s pedagogical concept.
Entrepreneurship in secondary education
Young people deal intensively with social issues, moral values and themselves – they are looking for their place in society.
Especially at this time, teenagers need a living and development space where they can experience an introduction to cultural life in addition to working with and in nature. In this sense, Maria Montessori called it an earth-children plan or an experiential school of social life, respectively. According to this, internships in real companies as well as manual activities are promoted just as much as intellectual and thinking ones.
Teenagers set up the school company with the aim of generating profits through entrepreneurial activities, which can be used for other school projects.
Starting signal for the expansion
With the building approval from the Erlangen-Höchstadt District Office comes a funding notification from the Free State of Bavaria of about 2.8 million euros. The total costs were 3.9 million euros.
Construction began with the groundbreaking ceremony on 9 October 2012.
The mixed-grade class 7/8 is approved as a bound all-day class.
Student company makes it possible
The consistent implementation of the youth school took time. In the meantime, however, the student company generated enough to realise the construction trailer project. A rather dilapidated construction trailer was to become the first project of the youth school. The pupils planned the renovation, raised the necessary funds and designed the construction trailer according to their own ideas.
Just made it!
The containers could finally make way: The new part of the building was completed after a nerve-racking year. The school year had already started, but everyone was relieved and grateful to be able to move into the new rooms.
The children from the afternoon care moved into the newly christened FreiRaum. The new refectory, an important community space, offered plenty of room not only for lunch.
Of fire-eaters and trapeze artists
To dare to go beyond oneself, to experience new things together – these were the basic ideas for the circus project. The pupils practised for a week in a circus tent with professionals – and the results were impressive.
Sought – found
The city of Herzogenaurach leased a 2,500 square metre plot of land at Nutzungsstraße 50 for the construction trailer project. Although electricity and water connections were still missing, this was solved thanks to the help of a neighbouring association and the commitment of some parents. The 7th and 8th graders planned a work shop with storage space, the ground was paved, raised beds were created and many fruits of intensive work were harvested.
Cooking, washing and more
16 days school camp with self-catering. That means: working together, learning through experience, spending a lot of time together. The stay welds together, brings independence and personal growth.
Not only the building grew, but also the number of students and thus also the number of staff. The task at hand was to adapt the organisation to this growth. The first step was to create a full-time board with a volunteer board of directors as an advisory and supervisory body.
At that time, the voluntary board decided to divide the management into two departments and two persons. Then, in December, a second executive director was hired. Five women were employed in the administrative team.
Clear profile of the umbrella organisation
At the federation level, the umbrella brand was created: LEARNING. LIVING. FUTURE. with common principles and a Montessori promise of all members.
Only one “chaperone” left
“Chaperone” is introduced. In this, a small group of students are allowed to organise and undertake an errand or exploration completely on their own, depending on their interest or work focus. They even take care of choosing the adult who will accompany but not guide the students for safety reasons.
With the support of the parents’ council and the Herzogenaurach bookstore Bücher, Medien & mehr, parents have started a school library, also called the Monte library. By means of donations, shelves and books could be purchased in order to bring the joy of reading and discovering books even closer to the children of the primary school.
For the first time, grade 10 took the exams for the Mittlerer Abschluss. Pass rate 100%!
The majority of the graduates made the jump to the MOS to challenge the Abitur.
A disproportionate number of students from the primary school want to transfer to the secondary school in the following school year.
More and more children are spending more and more time at school. Parents are renovating and expanding the schoolyard into a stimulating place with spaces for rest and exercise.
Divided by two
The number of grade 4 students transferring to secondary school was so high that two grades 5/6 were planned for the following school year.
Due to the growth of the last few years, the board of directors and teachers developed a clear organisational structure, direct communication channels and clear rules for decision-making processes.
Healthy and delicious: School lunch 2.0
“How can our school lunch be tasty and healthy?” Coaching brought new ideas and improvements to this question. Veggie Week and cooking classes were just a few answers.
At the Political Brunch, the school, together with other representatives of private schools, invited state parliament candidates, freely following the motto “We enrich the school landscape”. The appeal was made to the politicians that non-state schools also need reliable framework conditions and sufficient funds to promote contemporary pedagogy, e.g. in terms of digitalisation.
Board – New building
And today? The number of pupils has increased more than tenfold since the school was founded. Our school has more prospective students than school places. Our first students can celebrate their Abitur at MOS. Today we know, as Maria Montessori and our founders did, that school can be different. And we can witness how the children and teenagers develop confidence in their own abilities, courageously go new ways and take responsibility for themselves and society.
Outlook for paradise: A journey without end…
With these perspectives we continue our journey. Fascinated. Together. Powerful. we set out for new destinations.