About Chesterbrook
image childen girls smiling

Chesterbrook Montessori School History

Chesterbrook Montessori School serves Arlington Virginia and surrounding communities. Our director, Judy Balcazar Mercill opened the school in September 1971 with twenty-six students in Memorial Baptist Church on North Glebe Road. In 2008, it became apparent that space was limited and Chesterbrook added a second campus at Arlington Forest United Methodist Church, on Arlington Boulevard. We opened an additional Primary classroom and a Toddler classroom at this campus. Chesterbrook presently provides Montessori education for ninety students, ages eighteen months through six years.

Silouette of Judy

Maria Montessori's
Philosophy and Overview

Scientific observation has established that education is not what the teacher gives; education is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment. The task of the teacher becomes that of preparing a series of motives of cultural activity, spread over a specially prepared environment, and then refraining from obtrusive interference. Human teachers can only help the great work that is being done, as servants help the master. Doing so, they will be witnesses to the unfolding of the human soul and to the rising of a New Man who will not be a victim of events, but will have the clarity of vision to direct and shape the future of human society. - Maria Montessori, Education for a New World

Click here to visit our classroom Image of Maria Montessori interacting with a child
Her History

small icon of globe on a deskMaria Montessori, born in 1870, was the first woman in Italy to receive a medical degree. She worked in the fields of psychiatry, education and anthropology. A true humanitarian, she believed that each child is born with a unique potential, and the educator’s role is to prepare an environment conducive to revealing that potential. Her main contributions to the field of education are:

  • Preparing the most natural and life-supporting environments for children
  • Observing the child living freely in the environment
  • Continually adapting the environment in order that the child may fulfill his or her greatest potential, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Montessori pioneered the concept of the “absorbent mind” and “sensitive periods” as aids to the development of the child. The “absorbent mind” refers to the ability of the young child to unconsciously absorb the sensorial experiences in their environment. “Sensitive periods” are intensive periods in a child’s development whereby he is able to learn effortlessly. These concepts in combination underlie the prepared environment of a Montessori classroom. An example of a sensitive period is the desire to learn language. The Montessori classroom abounds with language experiences. Children are free to speak to one another throughout their day, and are exposed to fine literature in the form of stories, poems, and songs. Another “sensitive period” is the desire to learn manners. The children practice lessons in grace and courtesy everyday in the classroom.

Maria Montessori’s contributions to education were revolutionary. She observed the child and supported his natural development by preparing an appropriate classroom environment.

...”To aid life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself is the basic task of the educator.”
- Maria Montessori

From the Montessori Institute

small icon of globe on a deskMontessori is a revolutionary method of observing and supporting the natural development of children. Montessori educational practice helps children develop creativity, problem solving, critical thinking and time-management skills, to contribute to society and the environment, and to become fulfilled persons in their particular time and place on Earth.

The basis of Montessori practice in the classroom is mixed age group (3 ages—6 ages in one class), individual choice of research and work, and uninterrupted concentration.

Group lessons are seldom found in a Montessori classroom, but learning abounds. As you read through these pages you will discover the unique practices that make Montessori the fastest growing and most successful method of education today.