Build­ing a com­mu­nity

Montes­sori stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in Mini-Re­al­ity lessons

The Covington News - - Sunday Living - By Jenny Thompson

Usu­ally schools don’t house a city hall, bank, bak­ery or nail salon, but on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noons the Montes­sori School of Cov­ing­ton does.

Melissa Smith, lower el­e­men­tary teacher at the Montes­sori School, ex­plained at the be­gin­ning of the year her class dis­cussed the dif­fer­ent com­po­nents of a com­mu­nity such as gov­ern­ment, ed­u­ca­tion, busi­ness and com­mu­nity ser­vice.

“That’s part of the Montes­sori cur­ricu­lum any­way — build­ing a com­mu­nity and be­ing a part of the com­mu­nity,” Smith said.

On Wed­nes­day af­ter­noons, her class par­tic­i­pates in Mini-Real or Mini-Re­al­ity time. Ev­ery stu­dent has a job such as mer­chant, bank teller or po­lice of­fi­cer.

“The first week they ap­ply for jobs, and they fill out a form and tell me why they should be hired,” Smith said.

Stu­dents re­ceive pay­checks for their work ev­ery week, must ap­ply for busi­ness li­censes and pay taxes — in Mini-Real bucks, of course.

Molly Cady, 9, is the class/com­mu­nity’s cur­rent tax col­lec­tor. She said she en­joys Mini-Real time be­cause it gives her a chance to chat with her friends.

Cady said her fa­vorite job to hold — the stu­dents oc­ca­sion­ally swap ca­reers — is the town judge.

“With a jury, you de­cide whether the cul­prit is guilty or not,” Cady said.

She said she likes to sit in the mid­dle of the class­room and watch what ev­ery­one is do­ing, but her town is usu­ally pretty tame. “Not much hap­pens,” Cady said. El­iz­a­beth Wie­mann, 8, is as­signed com­mu­nity ser­vice and of­fers com­pli­men­tary baked goods to the class. Wed­nes­day she of­fered iced cook­ies and blue­berry muffins.

She said al­though her good­ies are free she has re­ceived some tips.

Wie­mann said she en­joys Mini-Real time be­cause be­tween cus­tomers she can read.

“I like work­ing for the bank, city hall and I re­ally like mer­chants be­cause we get paid,” Wie­mann said, “but I like all the jobs.”

Smith said up­per el­e­men­tary and mid­dle school stu­dents sell snacks and Fri­day lunch and hold fundrais­ers such as book fairs to raise money for their overnight field trips.

“It lays the ground work for what they do in the fu­ture — for real money,” Smith said.

Early child­hood stu­dents also come into the class on Wed­nes­day to see what the com­mu­nity ser­vice work­ers are of­fer­ing and what the mer­chants are ped­dling.

“It kind of opens up in­ter­ac­tion and so­cial­iza­tion be­tween the age groups be­cause that’s im­por­tant,” Smith said, “and it bonds our school to­gether.”

Smith said Mini-Real time gives her a chance to talk to stu­dents about grown-up con­cepts such why some ca­reers pay more than oth­ers and why peo­ple have to pay taxes.

“We also talk to them about how you have to be very care­ful when choos­ing a ca­reer,” Smith said. “You have to choose some­thing that in­ter­ests you.”

She added that while stu­dents may not fully un­der­stand the im­por­tance of this com­mu­nity-build­ing project, lit­tle seeds of wis­dom are planted and will hope­fully be sown in adult­hood.

Pho­tos by Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Ex­er­cise: Brooke Wil­lis, left, play­ing the role of a mer­chant, of­fers her man­i­cure ser­vices to Pae­gan Tread­well, play­ing the role of a con­sumer, at the Montes­sori School of Cov­ing­ton Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

Left: Nine- year- old Molly Cady, left, and 8- year- old Lexie Branche de­sign a frog house to in­clude in a city beau­ti­fi­ca­tion project as they play the role of City Hall dur­ing the Montes­sori School of Cov­ing­ton’s Mini- real Thurs­day af­ter­noon. Above: Com­mu­nity Ser­vice worker Eka­te­rina Do­mashchenko, left, helps Sophia Paulsen and Alex Quin­lan se­lect their fa­vorite pa­per pat­tern for an origami cre­ation that she of­fers for free to class­mates dur­ing Mini- real on Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

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