Introduction and exposure to various cultures begins at a very young age at Hershey and continues throughout the entire program. From
0-6 years old, children experience various languages and cultures through lessons, songs and holiday activities in the classroom. Parents
are invited to share their diverse ethnic or cultural backgrounds through presentations. In addition, children begin formal Spanish lessons
from the age of 5 years. In the Elementary program, children receive weekly lessons in Spanish which involves exposure to a wide variety of
the world's Spanish-speaking cultures and includes cooking, games, songs and various activities which bring the language to life.
Once they reach the adolescent program, their exposure expands to include Spanish. Immersion experiences and friendships with students from
other countries motivate second language learning:
- Spanish studies are available;
- Spanish is the predominant second language;
- High school credit is given as mastery is achieved;
- Immersion in Spanish-only lessons is accompanied by:
- Computer lab programs
- Daily conversations in Spanish
- Hands-on projects
- Cultural experiences
- Literary study
- Exposure to Spanish-speaking students who come to study and live at the Hershey farm
The integration of language skills into all aspects of study and living is a hallmark of Montessori education. Specific language and its appropriate use
is an important part of every learning environment. Language enrichment, self-expression and the development of vocabulary are part of every day
at every level.
Communication begins with intention and reciprocity. At the Parent-Infant level, parents and children focus on attending to each other. Clear vocabulary is
offered for all that the child experiences in the environment. Every communication is an opportunity to refine language skills and to develop clarity of expression.
When they enter the Primary Community children begin to explore phonetics, and many learn to write their own ideas with movable letters in a very short
Writing and reading begin early in Montessori programs due to the materials and their appeal to the children. These children learn precise vocabulary
as well as the beginnings of grammar. In the Elementary classes the children become deeply engaged in work they choose involving research, creative writing,
literature and poetry. In this way, language skills are encouraged not in isolation, but in the context of math, science, humanities and social
interactions; handwriting and composition skills are developed in the service of broader interests.
In the Adolescent program, reading comprehension skills, vocabulary acquisition, writing skills and oral expression skills are incorporated
into every class and every project.
- In Humanities projects students learn research and writing skills. They read primary and secondary source material. They write analysis papers, character monologues, dramatic scripts and essays.
- For science projects, students read text material, newspaper articles, care manuals, and popular non-fiction. They write research reports, lab reports, newsletter articles and care manuals.
- Math lab sessions include reading comprehension skills, seminar discussions and writing solutions in paragraph and essay form.
- During workshop times, students receive direct assistance in reading, writing and research skills as well as have opportunities to write short stories and novels.
Presentation and Public-Speaking (Adolescent Only)
Public-speaking typically challenges even the most accomplished adults. Gaining early practice in this arena builds self-confidence and the possession of an
important life skill. Early Elementary students present their research reports to their classmates and by Upper Elementary, students are presenting skits,
plays and basic PowerPoint to the rest of the community.
Adolescents create group presentations at the end of each project which are given to the community. These presentations come in all forms: lab
reports, data analyses, PowerPoint presentations, dramatic re-enactments, visual arts exhibitions and demonstrations. In the process of preparing
and giving presentations, students learn public-speaking skills such as:
- Confidence in front of an audience
- PowerPoint and multi-media
- Creative dramatics
- Collaboration in performances
Dialogue about Big Ideas (Adolescent Only)
Frequent, guided, intellectual discussions are incorporated into community life to provide the opportunity for students to process experiences
through dialogue. Seminar discussions develop independent thinking and articulation of big ideas and become a key vehicle for analytical
inquiry and the exploration of ideas.
Seminars take place:
Seminars demand the cultivation of an open mind and a productive exchange of perspectives. In doing so, students are required to speak up and
offer opinions. Intellectual processing and confidence in expressing one's ideas are some of the important life skills developed through this forum.
- Within the framework of every project
- As a whole-community event
- In math sessions
- While discussing literature
- In applying philosophical principles
- In solving community issues
Service to others and to one's community is an important aspect of social awareness. Serving others contributes to growth in perspective and cultivates wisdom and
compassion. Internal support for the school community is such a natural part of the Montessori environment that it is taken as a matter of course rather than
The younger children engage in daily activity that involves caring for the physical environment and for others. Children in the Young Child and
Primary Communities routinely prepare and serve each other food. Children offer assistance to those younger than themselves without prompting. Elementary students
walk younger children to their classrooms, assist with Young Child Community lunch and work as partners with new or younger children for orientation and
Because of their naturally keen interest in justice and their sense of themselves as citizens of the world, Elementary students regularly
initiate philanthropic activities and contribute to the preparation of meals for Project Hope, a local shelter, and the whole-school enterprise of
raising funds for Water Wells in Niger.
At the Adolescent level, volunteerism is incorporated into the weekly schedule and is a community-wide expectation. Hershey students learn the
importance of serving others who need help by making genuine contributions to their community.
On Friday afternoons, students and staff assess the community tasks that need to be accomplished. Small groups are formed to complete tasks. Tasks
include cleaning stalls, harvesting and processing produce, publishing newsletters, splitting firewood, baking, attending to the B&B,
repairing broken items and hosting visitors.
Some students volunteer their Friday afternoons to work in a special program for Alzheimer's patients at the Corinne Dolan Center at Heather
Hill. Others do odd jobs for our friends and neighbors in the way of yard work, barn work or child care.
During Thanksgiving week, all staff and students make a special visit to organizations in the wider community to offer their help, including the Cleveland Food Bank.