For New and Prospective Ellis Families

Published on: 4/30/2024

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Charles Ellis Montessori Academy is a part of the SCCPSS Choice Schools program. 

To learn more about the SCCPSS Choice Program process, visit the SCCPSS Choice Program website (For kindergarten through 8th grade).

To learn more about the SCCPSS Pre-K process, visit the SCCPSS Pre-K website (For Pre-K only). ​​


Charles Ellis Montessori Academy


  • Wonderment & the Joy of Childhood: Montessori Education values a sense of wonder and the innate desire to learn about the World and how it works, through joyful exploration and discovery. 

  • Respect, Diversity & Harmony: Montessori Education values self-respect, respect of others and respect for our environment. This requires that we understand, celebrate and protect the diversity within our community and our environment. We resolve our conflicts through empathy and honest dialogue.

  • Stewardship: Montessori Education encourages us to first be stewards of our own actions, and then to work with others as we care for our Montessori community and our World.

  • Self- Reliance & Academic Empowerment: Montessori Education values self-responsibility and self-reliance for personal and academic growth. The individual is empowered to be a self-motivated, self-disciplined and independent learner. The ideas, interests and skills of each person positively contribute to our Montessori community and the World.

  • PEACE: will prevail when we live by these core values.


Dr. Maria Montessori & a Brief History of the Montessori Education

Dr. Maria Montessori was born August 31st 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy. She was a determined young woman who pursued her interests in math, science and medicine to become Italy’s first female medical doctor in 1896. It was during her tenure as a doctor in Rome that she was first drawn to the educational needs of children. Working with children in poverty and those children who had been placed in asylums, she discovered that when they were given an environment that was rich in materials, the children were able to self-educate. Responding to the request of landlords in the slums of Rome, whose properties were being vandalized by unattended children, Dr. Montessori opened the first Casa dei Bambini (The Children’s House) in January 1907. She continued her observations of how children learn naturally through engagement with a prepared environment, and she developed materials to meet their learning needs. She was a prolific writer and described her “method” meticulously. With the success of her new educational approach, Dr. Montessori was invited to speak throughout the world and consequently Montessori training centers were established to train teachers in the philosophy and pedagogy of Montessori Education. 

Maria Montessori was witness to the devastating effects of two World Wars and her vision was that education was vital to establishing lasting peace. In 1947 she addressed UNESCO on the issue of “Education & Peace” and in 1949 received one of three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.

She continued to advocate for the world’s children up until her death on May 6th 1952. Her legacy continues to this day in Montessori schools throughout the globe.

History of Charles Ellis Montessori Academy

The school was first opened as part of the Savannah Chatham School System in 1928. Many visitors fondly recall the early days of this neighborhood school. Charles Ellis School established itself as a Montessori magnet in 1988 becoming the first public Montessori school in the state of Georgia. In 1992 a grant was received to pilot one of the first Pre-K programs in Georgia. In 2001, the school expanded to include the Montessori Middle School program, thereby becoming the only public school in Savannah-Chatham County to consolidate the elementary and middle school programs; a model of the current K-8 schools that exist today. Charles Ellis Montessori Academy celebrated its Silver Jubilee as a public Montessori school in 2013. 

Child-Directed Work

An integral component of the Montessori environment is teacher observations.  The purpose of these observations is to assist the teacher in determining what is needed by the children at different touch points (or sensitive periods) in their development. These observations will help guide the teacher in developing a plan of lessons to maximize a child’s development.  

Montessori Education supports children in choosing meaningful and challenging work of their own interest, leading to engagement, intrinsic motivation, sustained attention, and the development of responsibility to oneself and others. This child-directed work is supported by the design and flow of the Montessori classroom, which is created to arouse each child’s curiosity and to provide the opportunity to work in calm, uncluttered spaces either individually or as part of a group; the availability and presentation of enticing, self-correcting materials in specified curricular areas; teachers who serve as guides and mentors rather than dispensers of knowledge; and uninterrupted work periods.  At Charles Ellis Montessori Academy, this philosophy is expressed through our Core Values (page 3), the Guiding Principles and Learning in the Montessori Environment expectations. 

The Guiding Principles of Montessori Education:

  • The goal of a Montessori Education is to nurture self-motivated, self-disciplined and independent life- long learners.

  • Montessori Education is a child-centered approach to teaching and learning facilitated through a developmentally appropriate environment and curriculum. 

  • Learning is an active process. Children learn by doing. They learn most easily through repeated exposure, consistent modeling by others, and repeated opportunities for practice. 

  • Children learn in different ways and at different rates. An effective Montessori school must remain highly flexible and be prepared to individualize and adapt education to the learner. 

  • Children will learn to understand and accept the consequences of their actions. Discipline based on logical consequences will allow children to learn to predict the response their actions will cause, and alter their behavior to produce the desired result. Clear parameters for behavior are focused on kindness, honesty, cooperation, and respect for all. 

  • Children will learn independence and self-knowledge by being involved in reflection, self-evaluation and setting goals.

  • Children are encouraged to pursue their interests. Children are taught that they are a part of the world and the universe. They are taught that they belong to an international family and have civic responsibilities in their own country. They are a link in the biological world. The children study the cultures of others, the history of life, and care of their environment, so that they can find their place and make a positive contribution to the world.

  • The home and school are extensions of each other. Parents and guardians are the first and most important teachers for the child. Montessori practices support a positive home environment.

Learning in the Montessori Environment  

Montessori best practices promote a highly engaging learning environment where students are self-directed learners and learning opportunities are facilitated through individual and small group instruction. Student work plans accommodate the academic needs of individual students and guide the teacher in differentiating instruction. 

Teachers supported by classroom assistants and other faculty, are expected to maximize instructional time and to protect the learning environment by minimizing disruptions. The 3-hour work period is optimal for each day.  An agreed upon sequence of lessons, at each developmental level, as well as each child’s individual needs guides the curriculum.

A schedule is posted in the classroom and all materials must be prepared and accessible at the beginning of the instructional day. Charles Ellis Montessori Academy follows all state and district curriculum standards and instructional frameworks. Peer instruction coaching is acceptable as an extension of Montessori practices but must not supplant direct lessons by a certified teacher. Peer instruction can be used to reinforce previous learning, can be used as an assessment tool for identifying mastery and can be utilized as another learning perspective for a student. Peer instruction must always be guided and assessed by the certified teacher. Lessons using the Montessori materials and Montessori curriculum are aligned with the Georgia Standards of Excellence to guide the student in mastering skills and concepts. 

At the Erdkinder level (seventh and eighth grades) a spiral curriculum is implemented to expose students to many interrelated topics, repeatedly over time. The Montessori Erdkinder program expands upon learning fostered in Elementary programs and includes core curricular courses of language arts, mathematics, sciences, and social studies that are cognitively challenging in scope. In addition, students take specialized courses including world language courses, visual and performing arts, health, and fitness, among others and participate in field studies linked to themes, academic work, and service learning. Practical Life at the Secondary level includes student use of checklists, work plans, planning calendars, and/or study guides that promote executive functioning skills such as time management, organization, and decision-making.

Recess is an essential part of each student’s school day. Monitored by staff, recess happens mostly on the playground or, when raining, in the classroom. While recess is a time for unstructured play it is also an opportunity for students to learn cultural games that are connected to current classroom studies. Recess cannot be denied to students in Grades Prek-5 as a punishment for behavioral issues. All students are expected to participate in recess activities unless restrictions are in place per a doctor’s note. 

The Montessori Prepared Environment and the Montessori Materials 

Montessori prepared environments provide a structure for the daily work of the child. The young child has an innate sense and need for order. Consistency of routine allows the students to engage in the work cycle without disruption and interact in socially positive ways. Routines connected to self-care, care of the environment and care of others, provide opportunities to build virtues of responsibility and compassion. 

The Montessori Prepared Environment is based on the principles of order, beauty, and precision, both in the external environment and within the internal environment of each human being. The classrooms are highly organized learning environments that engage children in purposeful interactions with the Montessori materials and the community of learners. Simplicity and beauty in the environment provide children with a sense of peace and connection to their learning. An uncluttered classroom punctuated with objects of beauty and interest, provide points of inspiration and stimulate curiosity. Teacher observations aid the teacher in choosing the necessary materials needed at various stages of the child’s growth.  

As students grow and progress through the elementary levels, this sense of order nurtures time-management skills, self- reliance, and citizenship. Children take pride in doing things for themselves.  They learn through movement and must actively explore and examine their classroom, school, community, and world.  Montessori environments encourage children to move about freely, but with purpose.  Children may select an activity and work with it as long as they are using it appropriately.  Work with materials is often repeated as children gain confidence and move towards independence with concepts. 

The Montessori Environment is a supportive community.  As children grow older and more capable, they accept a greater sense of responsibility.  They take an active role in helping to care for the environment and to meet the needs of the younger children in the class and in the school community.      Families are encouraged to organize the home environment to reflect similar principles, so that the child is an active and contributing member of the daily life of the home.

Montessori Materials 

 The Montessori Materials sometimes referred to as the “Didactic Apparatus” are tools that lead the child to the discovery of concepts and skills, and aid the child in constructing their understanding of the universe and how it works. The Montessori Materials provide a precise framework for progressions into higher levels of learning and act as a jumping–off point for student-based research, experimentation and innovation. Montessori didactic materials used independently by the child at his/her own choosing helps develop internalization of the concepts being learned.  This continues from primary into the elementary levels.  The prepared environments and Montessori materials at all levels allow for continued growth towards abstraction. 

Montessori Multi-Age Classes

Dr. Montessori was a pioneer in the study of child development. Montessori education recognizes  the essential stages & elements of child development and the sensitive periods for learning certain  skills and concepts. The three-year cycle of each level allows for staff, families, and the community to develop lasting relationships that benefit everyone.  Trust built over time allows for a connection between the school and home.  While state & district requirements are set, Charles Ellis Montessori Academy  strives towards authenticity in meeting the needs of these key developmental periods.  Numbers of students per class/teacher are determined by State Guidelines.  

3 - 6 yrs:  The Children’s House (Primary)

At Charles Ellis Montessori, our Primary Classes include four and five year olds/PreK and Kindergarten students.  Student ratio to adult at this level is no more than 12:1. 

6 - 9 yrs:  Lower Elementary 

Our Lower Elementary Classes include six, seven, and eight year olds/ First, Second, & Third Grade Students.  Student ratio to adult at this level is no more than 12.5/1.

9 - 12 yrs:  Upper Elementary 

Our Upper Elementary Classes include nine, ten, and eleven year olds/Fourth, Fifth, & Sixth Grade Students.  Student ratio to adult at this level is no more than 15:1.

12 - 15 yrs:  Erdkinder (Secondary)

Our Erdkinder Classes include twelve and thirteen year olds/Seventh and Eighth Grade Students.  Student ratio to adult at this level is no more than 14:1.


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