DPS International School plans to add Montessori program

The school houses a mix of English Language learners and neighborhood students; new program will not target English Learners

Dayton Public Schools plans to open a Montessori program at the International School at Residence Park, which is the district’s combined school for neighborhood kids in Residence Park as well as English Language students.

The Montessori Program will be open to students who aren’t English Language learners. Priority will be given to students in the greater Residence Park area, but students currently on the wait list at DPS’ River’s Edge Montessori school will have an option to enroll.

The American Montessori Society describes Montessori education as student-led and self-paced within a multi-age classroom. There is a focus on multi-sensory learning and passionate inquiry, with students following their own curiosity and taking the time they need to fully understand each concept.

Dayton school district officials said the school will continue to offer classes for K-12 students who are new to the United States and need extra language support.

DPS is planning to add the program because of the waiting list at River’s Edge, and they chose the International School because it has space.

The district says the classrooms will be organized by age, with a 3-6-year-old program, a 6-9-year-old grouping and a 9-12-year-old grouping.

The school is the old World of Wonder building on Oakridge Drive, which was closed in 2019 as DPS cited low attendance. World of Wonder’s enrollment dropped after a May 2016 stabbing at the school, but after falling to 312 students in December 2017, enrollment had bounced back to 406 in April 2019, just before the school closed.

Elizabeth Lolli, DPS superintendent, said so far this year, 617 students have attended the International School, which accepts both students who need help with English language proficiency and students who live in the Residence Park neighborhood.

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When Rachel Underwood, academic coordinator for K-12 English learners at Dayton Public Schools, presented the proposal last year, she said Dayton Public had the second-highest percentage of recent immigrants to the district in the state, second only to Columbus City Schools.

The idea for the international school is to enroll students who need help with learning English, likely for about a year, before they transfer back to their neighborhood school. The building is also the neighborhood school for Residence Park.

“It is anticipated that students will need an average of one full year at the school before transferring back to their home school, but the exact timeframe is dependent upon each individual student,” Lolli said.

DPS sends preschool through sixth grade students to local elementary schools. Students are then assigned to a middle or high school depending on interests, or if they can get into a magnet school like Stivers School for the Arts.

Lolli said as of March 16, 441 students are enrolled in the International School. Of the 617 students who have attended, 112 students left the district, and 64 transferred back to their neighborhood schools.

Interested parents should complete the Montessori program interest form, which is available at www.DaytonPublic.com, DPS said. The principal of the International School will then contact parents with more information.

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