Garrett Wilhelm and Rodney Berthold want to “disrupt education.”
They mean that in the most forward-thinking way as they get ready to open Berthold Academy for the Gifted and Talented, a new school in Reston, in September.
Wilhelm and Berthold have decades of Montessori teaching and administration experience between them. The two most recently worked at nearby The Boyd School, and then decided to create a visionary school that would serve a population that needed it.
The Berthold Academy will serve grades 1 to 8, with plans to add a high school in coming years, said Wilhelm. The school has a renovated facility at 11480 Sunset Hills Road.
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.
“There are 57 Montessori schools in Northern Virginia,” Wilhelm said. “Four or five have elementary programs. Two have middle schools, and there are no high schools. This will be the only first-through-eighth grade program in Northern Virginia.”
What sets Berthold Academy apart is the attention to educating the whole child, says Berthold.
In addition to offering a personalized education based on observation, the school is focused on social and emotional growth, spiritual growth and how to be a good person, he said.
“We celebrate all races, religions, ethnicities, cultures,” he said. “We place an importance on the process of learning and the joy of learning. Work then becomes play and not a chore.”
Some of that growth will come from being out in in the Reston community, which the founders says is a great fit for their philosophy. Wilhelm and Berthold plan community service projects and learning experiences at many Reston organizations and, of course, natural areas.
Still, there will be state-of-the-art technology at Berthold as well. The school has partnered with Zerion Software of Herndon, which is helping them start a Maker Lab and give networked ChromeBooks to each student for collaborative learning. Students will also work on coding, app development, robotics and 3D printing, says Wilhelm.
Other features of the new school:
Art – An art room with specialized teachers. Students will learn “art as a means of expression as well as history and analysis,” says Berthold.
Music – Both of the school’s founders are musicians. Wilhelm says the music room will have a “Bach to Rock” setup, with students learning technique as well as musical notation. There will also be a listening library so they can tune in to noteworthy contributors in music history.
Library – Each classroom will have a mini library, and the school will have a general collection. Berthold has a speciality in comparative literature, so expect deep analysis in literature.
Physical Education – The school is partnering with the YMCA Fairfax County Reston for after-school care, as well as PE facilities. The students will visit the Y for swimming, tae kwon do and personal training, says Wilhelm. There will also be yoga taught with a certified local instructor at the school building.
Gardens – The school will have a community garden.
Tuition for 2016-17 is $15,850 if you register by Aug. 31.
Want to learn more?
The school has a booth at the Reston Farmers Market at Lake Anne on Saturdays, where the administrators are on site to answer questions.
There will be an information session Sept. 1 at the school building, 6:30 p.m.
School begins on Sept. 7, and there will be a ribbon cutting on Sept. 17.
Contact Berthold Academy online or by phone for more information.