Apple Montessori Schools throughout New Jersey are now entering the second week of distance learning, having successfully adapted their unique hands-on educational philosophy and curriculum for online access in record time in response to the closing of all schools in New Jersey as a result of the Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Pandemic.
Starting last week, Apple Montessori’s 15 New Jersey schools began offering at least two hours of daily live instruction via Zoom, covering core academic subjects such as reading, spelling, science and math, as well as specialty classes (e.g., yoga, music, art, and sign language). Live instruction is also supplemented by a library of pre-recorded videos of academic lessons for their infant, toddler, pre-school and elementary students.
Apple Montessori has also provided educational resources for use at home in addition to activities and games. Students aged four-years-old and up receive videos of teachers providing instruction paired with educational worksheets that exercise the concepts from the lesson. As an additional resource for parents, schools have also started providing support group conference calls for parents with infants and toddlers to discuss daily challenges and brainstorm solutions.
Apple Montessori has a unique educational philosophy and a hands-on learning approach that presented equally unique challenges for adapting teaching methods for an online platform.
“It is truly impressive how quickly our team was able to adapt to this crisis and create a comprehensive online curriculum for our students,” said Joanne Mooney, Apple Montessori Founder. “This new online approach with interaction between teachers and students continues to provide a critical sense of community during these uncertain times. We have once again demonstrated we are a modern Montessori school able to stay true to the core principals of our educational philosophy while adapting to the ever-changing environment in front of us. We want to thank our parents and staff for all their efforts during this difficult time.”
Danielle Selby, who is Apple Montessori’s Director of Training, Policies & Procedures, leads a ten-person training team responsible for adapting the existing curriculum for an online format. Daily implementation of the program would not be possible without all the regional directors, directors, teachers and co-teachers in each school that Apple Montessori has retained to ensure continuity for their students during this unprecedented period of uncertainty.
Apple Montessori materials are unique in that they have to do with a practical life, hands-on learning approach (e.g., pouring, spooning, sorting, basting, tweezing, etc.). Teachers are sharing resources with parents about how to make these materials at home by using regular household items – such as cupcake pans for sorting or putting colored sand in a flat plastic bin for tracing letters. Parents have been supportive in the process of transitioning from classroom to distance-learning.
“As a first-year teacher at Apple Montessori Schools I never dreamed I’d be working from my living room, dining room and sometimes my basement,” said Ms. Lisa Wiener, a teacher at Randolph Apple Montessori. “However, for the last two weeks I have. My first week was challenging I made several phone calls to my children to hear “”we miss you” “. Each night I would look at our class picture and remember their little smiles. As fate would have it, I am so fortunate to work for this company. Our trainers, directors, assistant directors and management have spent countless hours working so we are able to have distance learning.”
“The first day we went “”live”” was like a dream come true,” Ms. Wiener continued. “Facing me were all the smiles and children I had missed. I don’t know who was more excited me or them. We have just finished up our first week of distance learning and I am proud to say it was a success. The children have adapted so well. They are able to continue to learn, grow and feel loved. Our parents have supported our efforts and we truly are one big apple family.”
In addition to the two-plus hours of live interaction between teachers and students per day, the staff collectively produced about 50 pre-recorded video academic lessons in the first week. They will be adding video lessons on an ongoing basis in order to have a growing repository of content for parents to access as needed. Parents and students seem to be adapting to and embracing this new approach.
“I am so impressed by how the school is handling this current situation,” said parent Melissa Andres, who has children at the Oakland and Wayne locations. “I’m actually shocked with how well prepared both schools are at this time. These are the times I realize how important Apple is for our children and our family!”
“Everyone at Apple Montessori Schools is working incredibly hard – pushing content, making interesting schedules, finding exciting links for activities and story time – and all of their efforts are tremendously appreciated,” said Natasha Shah, a Morris Plains parent with a child who is enrolled in the program. “Naya has more activities than most of my colleagues’ kids and I’m proud to send her to Apple Montessori Schools! It’s been refined and fine-tuned into a wonderful program that all the kids seem to be enjoying. Naya is so excited to see her teacher and friends via Zoom and feels like a big kid using the laptop/computer to access all the content.”
To find out more about Apple Montessori visit applemontessorischools.com.