School of the Woods

The School of the Woods was originally founded as a nursery school in 1962, a few years after Montessori education resurfaced in the United States.  The school received its name to honor the work of Dr. Ernest Wood and Hilda Wood in developing the school’s curriculum.  The School of the Woods formalized its commitment to the Montessori Method of education in 1973 by associating with the American Montessori Society.  In 2002, the school added a twelfth grade.  In that same year, the school received accreditation from the American Montessori Society, the Texas Alliance of Accredited Private Schools, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

School of the Woods

1321 Wirt Road, Houston, TX 77055                                                     Ms. Sherry Herron, Head of School

713-686-8811                                                                                       Ms. Sara Sornson, Director of Admissions

www.SchoolOfTheWoods.org

Religious Affiliation

None.

Location and Facilities

A student’s environment is an important factor in the Montessori Method of education, and the School of the Woods’ location reflects this part of the school’s curriculum.  The school’s 5-acre campus is located in a wooded area of Spring Branch, just one mile north of I-10.  Texas Parks and Wildlife designated the campus’s grounds a Wildlife Habitat in 2003 and the school buildings are designed after cottages.

Each classroom is fashioned after the Montessori method to be orderly and accessible to the age group, with natural light and Montessori materials.  In the summer of 2002, the School of the Woods purchased a second 5-acre plot of land as the future site for a new high school at the corner of Wirt and Westview; development of this building is ongoing.  School of the Woods does not have any on-site athletic facilities.  The school’s teams compete at Memorial High School and have access to the gym at neighboring Holy Cross Lutheran Church.

Admissions

The School of the Woods features a rolling enrollment program, with all prospective students placed in a waiting pool.  The school determines re-enrollment for its current students in February and notifies the parents of students in the waiting pool by April 1st whether or not their student has placed.  Students may also be placed throughout the year if vacancies occur.  Students are required to submit academic records from the last two years for applications to elementary to high school.  Students applying to grades 9 through 11 must also submit 1) teacher recommendations 2) a photo of the student 3) a completed student questionnaire 4) ISEE score results.  The student and his/her family will also participate in an interview.

Academic Tracks and Curriculum

Since the School of the Woods’ inception in 1962, the school has followed the principals of Dr. Montessori, an Italian physician and educator (1870-1952).  The Montessori Method emphasizes the natural development of the student with the teacher acting as a guide and not as an instructor.  Each classroom is open and orderly and is filled with Montessori materials, such as the pink tower of blocks.  Students are allowed to develop at their own pace, but within the specific limits of the classroom environment.  From ages 2 ½ to 12 years, students participate in mixed age classrooms, where older students support younger students.

Instead of the traditional grading system, the School of the Woods implements a mastery learning system, which requires a student to master the current lesson with a very high accuracy rate before moving onto the next lesson.  Middle school students must demonstrate a 90% mastery of each subject through presentations, test scores, two independent study projects, and a different elective each month. Students also work as interns with handicapped students for two weeks and in local businesses for one week.

The high school integrates the Montessori Method and the Texas requirements of essential elements where students must earn more than 24 credits to receive a high school diploma: English (4), Math (4), Science (3), Social Science (4), Foreign Language (2), Health (2), Technology (1.5), Fine Arts (1), Academic Electives (1), Speech (2), Computer Technology (2), Community Outreach (1), Career Education (1), Other Electives (.5).  Students must complete core classes with an 80% mastery of the material to receive credit for the courses with an Honors designation.  Students may choose to challenge themselves in specific classes and complete additional assignments to receive credit for the courses with a Gifted/Talented Honors designation.  Seniors may enroll in a college level class to receive three or four college credit hours

Special Needs

The majority of the student population at School of the Woods has a diagnosed learning difference.  As such, accommodating the unique needs of these students is an integral part of the school’s curriculum and environment.  All high school students have direct access to the principal who serves as their counselor.  High school students who need more time, alternative assessment, or extensive coaching in any course will receive credit for the course with an Academic designation, as opposed to Honors or G/T designations.

Foreign Languages

Students may take Spanish, French, or American Sign Language (ASL).  Spanish is offered up to level five, while French and ASL are up to level four. High school students must earn two foreign language credits in order to graduate.

Arts

Students may participate in before and/or after school programs in addition to the school’s curriculum.  During the school day, students can choose between art classes such as painting and drawing, industrial design, and photography.  Students may also participate in drama, gymnastics, and dance.  The school offers after school music instruction for an additional fee in African drums, guitar, piano, and harp.

Technology

Students must bring a laptop to school with them.  The school recommends a Mac since the technology department employs a Mac specialist; however, students may choose whatever computer they wish.  The school has strict usage parameters that students must obey while using their laptops during the school day.  Students also have access to a library and media center.

Extracurricular Activities

The school’s student council is called the “Orchestrators,” and they are responsible for hosting events such as Prom and Homecoming.  Other school-sponsored activities include speech and debate and philosophy.  In general, students may start any club that they desire so long as they gain the school’s approval.  Students also plan monthly socials where they may attend plays, movies, or dances. School field trips include trips to the symphony and museums.  The school also has students government committees and allows older students to present science, history and computer lessons to younger students.

Athletics

The school fields interscholastic teams in four sports: baseball, swimming, track, and volleyball.

Parent Involvement

Parents may join the Parents’ Organization, which helps to raise funds, encourage volunteers, and support teachers. Students prepare monthly progress reports for their parents and also set up parent-student-teacher conferences three times a year.  The students evaluate themselves in three areas: academic growth, individual “response-ability,” and group “response-ability.

School of the Woods Fast Facts

Overview  
School Type Montessori
Religious Affiliation Nonsectarian
Uniforms Dress Code
Date Founded 1962
Endowment N/A
Grades Served PreK-12
Enrollment 378
     Grade 12 21
     Grade 11 21
     Grade 10 21
     Grade 9 21
     Grade 8 25
     Grade 7 17
     Grade 6 24
     Grade 5 18
     Grade 4 23
     Grade 3 32
     Grade 2 25
     Grade 1 27
     Kindergarten 38
     Pre-Kindergarten 65
Student to Teacher Ratio 8:1
Faculty with Advanced Degrees (#/%) N/A
Minorities in Student Body 22%
   
Curriculum  
Academic Tracks Offered Montessori
Advanced Placement Courses Offered N/A
Languages Offered Spanish, American Sign Language, French
Calendar (Semester / Trimester / Other) Semester
Interscholastic Sports Programs 4
   
Graduating Seniors  
National Merit Semi-Finalists (#/%) 1
Average SAT Scores N/A
     Mathematics N/A
     Critical Reading N/A
     Writing N/A
% Students Admitted to 4 Year University 100%
   
Admissions  
Prime Entry Points Age 2 ½, Age 6, Age 9, Age 12
Ages 2 ½ to 6 $6,111- $14,772
Ages 6 to 12 $11,268 – $11,457
Ages 13 to 18 $13,842 – $16,425
Off-campus field studies $800-2,500
Students on Financial Aid N/A

 

Excerpted from General Academic’s publication, “Houston Private & Select Public Schools: Survey, Analysis, and Research, 3rd Edition.”

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