Lander University's Montessori Education program is being put in the national spotlight, thanks to a special feature on public television's "Informed with Rob Lowe" series. The five-minute segment takes a look at Lander's successful Montessori program, and its approach to the unique teaching and learning method, over the past 18 years.
"The producers of the Informed Series approached us about doing this segment," said Judi Neufeld, dean of Lander's College of Education. "They had read about the excellence of our teacher education program in a newspaper article and the producer's assistant called me to learn more."
The segment was released to PBS stations this summer, and will be available to them through July 29, 2019.
The segment will include teacher preparation and training, and Lander's ongoing success since implementing the Montessori program in 2001.
"In the past three years, we have averaged 30+ students in the program," Neufeld said. "The majority of our students are involved in school districts across the Southeast."
In 2015, Lander and Greenwood School District 50 partnered in establishing and operating a Montessori Early Childhood laboratory school at Lakeview Elementary.
Students in the program can work toward both a bachelor's and a master's degree.
"We have had eight students complete their year-long practicum at Lakeview and many more complete their 207 (sophomore level) clinical placement," said Barbara Ervin, associate professor of education and Lander's director of Montessori.
So far, Lander is the only university or college in South Carolina to offer a Montessori education curriculum, and one of the few accredited university-based Montessori teacher preparation programs in the U.S.
Part of the PBS segment will also focus on the Montessori method.
Montessori classrooms are self-paced where children progress at their own rate. Teachers emphasize independent learning and choices. And classrooms are filled with hands-on materials designed to intentionally build concepts in math, language, geometry, science and social studies.
"There is little, if any, whole group instruction," Ervin said. "Lessons are individual or small groups, and classrooms are multi-age, not single grade. So classrooms have three-, four- and five-year olds or grades 1-3 in a single class."
Neufeld added that while she is not yet sure when the PBS show will run, she can't wait to see what it will do for Lander's Montessori program.
"They will run the segment at their pleasure," Neufeld said, "but we are excited about the nation-wide exposure it will provide."