Wildflower is launching schools in and around Philadelphia! Known for its diverse neighborhoods and history, Philadelphia is a city filled with possibilities. As a racially and economically diverse city, Philadelphia is rich with the history and opportunities to grow schools that can address its educational inequities while upholding the values and traditions for which the city is known. It is a fertile ground and culture to adapt the liberatory principles of Montessori to the needs and values of its diverse neighborhoods.
On April 18, the DC Public Charter School Board voted unanimously to fully approve the 15-year charter agreement of the DC Wildflower Public Charter School (DCWPCS). This full charter approval vote will enable the Founding DC Wildflower Board and Staff to transition from planning to implementation as they prepare to open their first site, The Riverseed School.
Wildflower seeds are everywhere, including in the hearts and minds of educators all across the country. Much like the relationship between bees and the flowers they pollinate, Wildflower schools spread through the leadership of entrepreneurial educators as they shape the blooms of new teacher-led schools in their communities.
How do you bring an affordable Montessori education to communities that historically haven’t had access to it?
It’s a question at the heart of Wildflower, and one that innovative Teacher Leaders grapple with regularly. Through the years, Wildflower schools have addressed the tension by embracing strategies such as city and state-subsidized tuition vouchers, creating tuition-free public charter schools, and pursuing school district partnerships. But recently, various teachers across the network have unlocked a piece of the puzzle that they hope will pave the way for an even greater number of students to access a Wildflower education. They are co-locating their schools in the epicenters of the communities that need them most: affordable housing complexes, shelters for women and children, and transitional housing.
The seeds of a series of Wildflower microschools have been planted in Washington, DC. Through conditional approval in April 2021 – DC Wildflower PCS, only one of five applications the DC Public Charter School Board approved – the first microschool will open in Fall 2022 as The Riverseed School in Ward 7 or 8.
Every year, a new group of Wildflower schools peeks through the soil for the first time. But what a year this has been. In the best of times, the challenges, uncertainty, and personal growth of designing and launching a new school are immensely demanding. Yet Wildflower Teacher Leaders rose to meet the storm of challenges this year with resiliency, grounded in purpose, experience, and love for the families they serve.
Despite a challenging year for childcare centers overall, and certainly new obstacles created by the global pandemic in the creation of new programs, Wildflower’s budding New Jersey hub has continued to plant and tend to its seeds.
We started off this year with the exciting news that Dr. Erika McDowell agreed to come on as our new New Jersey state Site Entrepreneur. Before joining Wildflower, Erika served as an Executive Director and Director of PBIS (positive behavior intervention and supports) and Youth Court for The School District of Philadelphia.
“Nobody’s life is safe…we are in mortal danger…people have to take to shelters…humanity itself is vanquished and enslaved.”
-The Formation of Man, Maria Montessori
This quote, written by a great teacher over one hundred years ago, rings true today. To say that we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis might be an understatement to some. Many of us are waking up overwhelmed by the toxins in our world right now and are not sure what we are going to perish from first.
Four days went by with no arrests as our city burned. No arrests, after the public murder of George Floyd only a half mile from one of our schools. Words have been hard to come by to describe our anguish. How many black and brown men, women and children sit in jail awaiting justice with far less evidence – for minor infractions, for just living – while the police officers who killed George Floyd sat free, in the comfort of their homes?