Círculo Montessori (Círculo). Circulo is a dual language pre-k and elementary program, based on Maria Montessori’s theories of child development, in which children learn in a “prepared environment” designed to maximize independent learning and exploration. The prepared environment includes five distinct areas: practical life, sensorial learning, mathematics, language arts, and cultural activities. Hands-on experiential learning, such as that used in a Montessori classroom, has proven very successful in dual language settings to help students grasp meaning from experience as well as from language. Dual language programs have also been found to enhance students’ self-esteem and academic achievement.

Upper School. Within a dual language approach for middle and high school students, Escuela emphasizes the four cornerstone skills through experiential learning activities that correspond to thematic units. During each thematic unit, students might use their math skills by conducting a statistical analysis; their written and oral skills by performing interviews, writing reports and giving presentations; and their social studies skills by developing solutions to problems through use of historical and current information. Learning takes place both inside the classroom and outside in the community in an effort to make all lessons meaningful and applicable. As part of their graduation requirements, students must also perform 360 hours of service that benefits the community and enables students to apply what they have learned.

El Centro Cuepopan (The Center of Spirit Blossoming). This extended-day program for youth between 1st and 9th grades and their families is designed to provide youth with activities during after-school hours when they are frequently unsupervised at home, and to bring more parents into the school to connect them to their children’s education. Youth activities take place Monday through Thursday and include a Study Skills Hour, Music and Dance Workshops, Computer Lab, Youth Leadership Training and Arts/Culture Workshops.

Family Service Worker. High-need families who enroll at Escuela are matched with a Family Service Worker (FSW). Through an extensive enrollment and assessment process, the FSW helps parents develop a comprehensive plan to meet their families’ multiple needs. The FSW also facilitates linkages to on- and off-site programs such as Centro Cuepopan’s adult classes, housing, health, and other services that can address each family’s special needs. Occasionally, the FSW advocates on families’ behalf to secure assistance. Once services are in place, the FSW contacts families periodically to reevaluate their plans and determine future courses of action.

Oficina de Salud (Health Office). The on-site health office provides students and their extended families with immediate health care for minor injuries; immunizations; health screenings; referrals to all health care needs including dental, mental, acute and chronic conditions; health education; and assistance with referrals to health insurance sources. A Physician’s Assistant staffs the office and participates in the development of Escuela’s Healthy Decision Making program through provision of health related workshops for students and families.

Flor y Canto (Music and Dance Program). Escuela has introduced Suzuki violin classes and classes in Mexican Folk Dancing for children in the Montessori program. Escuela also sponsors the Ninos de Tlatelolco Ballet Folklorico dance group, made up of Montessori students. Ballet Folklorico preserves Mexican culture through the practice and presentation of the beautiful art, colorful costumes, and regional songs of Mexican folk dancing. Students in the Upper School have also developed in their afterschool program an Azteca Danze Groupe to explore, learn, and share the dances of their indigenous heritage.

Escuela’s Academic Program – Other Success Factors

The Casa. Each student is assigned to a multi-age class called “casa,” essentially, a cohort of students with whom students will share their classes for several years. Each casa will assume a name related to an indigenous nation, such as Casa Apache or Casa Oaxaca, providing students with a unique identity and a special link to some aspect of indigenous culture and heritage. One faculty member is assigned to be the core advisor for students in the casa. At the beginning of each day, each casa will meet in a talking circle to share current issues -- personal, as well as academic. With the guidance of the faculty member and peer feedback, students will learn problem solving that will help them face the stresses of adolescence to encourage and strengthen them as learners. Students in the lower casas also will take their thematic classes together. The casa teacher will teach at least one of the students’ daily thematics. The casa teacher also supervises the students’ preparation of their quarterly portfolios and oral presentations. This entire casa structure reinforces a personal teacher/student relationship, as well as a strong sense of community among the students in each casa.

Support Staff. A core function of all support staff is to have direct personal interaction with the students and their families and to support the concept of everyone in the school being part of a large, extended “familia.” Two Family Service Workers help youth and their families who have special needs for assistance. The office personnel help students, faculty and family with administrative needs. A Physician’s Assistant provides primary health care and preventative health education. All personnel participate in in-service training and professional development related to working with at-risk youth and their families.

Personalized Curriculum and Scheduling. Personalized curriculum, scheduling, and assessment contributes to the implementation of Escuela Tlatelolco’s bilingual portfolio-based education model. Escuela’s philosophy is that learning is developmental and individuals may be developing in different ways and at different rates. Movement through Escuela is designed and paced by ability and motivation, rather than by age or perceived grade level. In the lower levels, students will follow a core curriculum based on common interdisciplinary courses organized around core themes. Personalization comes with the development of projects, portfolio and the selection of electives. 
Block Scheduling. Block scheduling gives the student more extensive time to be engaged in the various classes. In the Upper School, the school day begins with the Talking Circles for each casa in all levels. Mid-morning through lunch will consist of “common” activities for students in all grades and a required common advisory period. The afternoon includes the majority of the early college courses for grades 11 and 12, other classes, and ongoing workshop periods for reading, writing and mathematics remediation.   

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2949 N. Federal Blvd

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