A former director of Reston’s Sunset Hills Montessori School is co-founding a new elementary and middle school slated to open its doors in or near Reston next fall.
Reston resident Garrett Wilhelm, who for years worked at Sunset Hills and most recently was director of The Boyd School’s Westfield campus, and Rodney Berthold, formerly the middle school dean at The Boyd School, are teaming up for the Berthold Academy for the Gifted and Talented.
Berthold Academy will be the area’s first Montessori school that focuses only on grades one through eight, said Wilhelm. Most Montessori schools start with or are strictly preschool programs.
“There are 57 Montessori schools in Northern Virginia — 23 of them in Reston/Herndon/Great Falls,” said Wilhelm. “There are only four in Northern Virginia that do elementary and middle school grades. None of them are elementary and middle school only.”
Montessori education is an approach developed by Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori that emphasizes independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological, physical, and social development.
Wilhelm says that method is ideal for children in elementary and middle school. Rather than lecture-based learning, students in mixed-age classrooms learn through self-directed discovery and small collaborative groups.
The school is not going for full accreditation by the American Montessori Society because it wants to mix in its own curriculum to prepare middle schoolers for traditional high school, Wilhelm said.
Tuition is expected to be about $15,000 a year. Fifteen students are already enrolled, and the first-year goal is to start with 40 students, said Wilhelm.
Berthold Academy already has a lineup of unique classes and speciality teachers, including:
- Yoga and Mindfulness – taught by certified yoga teacher Jessica Simpson
- Culinary Arts – taught by Emilia Cirker, a recent contestant on TV’s “Next Food Network Star.”
- Music Production – taught by Mix Major’s DJ Enferno, who has worked with musicians such as Madonna.
- Entrepreneurial Education – taught by founder of IFormBuilder, Sze Wong.
- IT/Coding/Programming – Taught by the team at IFormBuilder
- Gardening (Farm to Table) – A full gardening program taught by Emilia Cirker in which the children will learn the value of growing, harvesting, and cooking organic produce.
- STEAM program and Spanish instruction.
Wilhelm said the he and Berthold are very close to signing a lease for school space in Reston.
Want to learn more? Attend an information session Feb. 11 at The Harrison Apartments, 1800 Jonathan Way, Reston at 6:30 p.m. Babysitting will be provided.
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