At Fiddlehead Montessori Elementary, we are committed to the development of the whole child, providing an enriching environment for each individual to grow to their full potential academically, emotionally, socially, and globally, while cultivating independent learners though the teachings and curriculum of Maria Montessori.
Our vision is for each child to graduate with the ability to become a self-directed learner, creative problem solver, and have increased curiosity about the world in which we live.
Maria Montessori believed that teaching children in small groups or individually naturally accelerates their learning. Research shows that children who complete a six-year curriculum cycle at a Montessori elementary school are typically two to three years ahead of their public school peers.
The Montessori environment provides a sequence of developmentally appropriate academic and social experiences in which children naturally build their confidence and academics through increasing levels of freedom with responsibility. Children are able explore their own interests through independent projects several times a year.
Fiddlehead values and encourages community among our families and local organizations. We provide opportunities for parents to volunteer in school, to gather for monthly social or school events, and to help give to the community outreach organizations and local citizens of Anacortes.
Multi-age classrooms build the expectation that differences between children are normal and celebrated! Fiddlehead embraces families of any race, national or ethnic origin, religion, or sexual orientation. Family members are invited to come and share their cultural background, family history, and especially favorite family recipes.
Fiddlehead staff teaches and models peaceful problem solving skills. We assist children with language to resolve conflicts both in the classroom and on the playground. Children take care of the classroom environment, consider the impact of their words and actions on others and frequently collaborate or help one another.
Our school seeks to reduce its environmental impact by recycling, reusing materials (cloth vs. paper towels), composting, and cleaning with sustainable non-toxic products. Teachers and students participate in public service projects. We emphasize respect for nature and humanity as we share and conserve our planet’s resources.
Our Leadership and Story
Creating Fiddlehead Montessori, by Kelly Linnemann
When our daughter Rumi Kai was 18 months, I introduced two of my good friends and they started a Waldorf-inspired cooperative school. This introduced me to the teachings of Rudolph Steiner, and showed me that there were other philosophies to learning besides the public school system. The school has grown over the last seven years from my friends’ home to a school of over 50 families with multiple homeschool enrichment programs offered. The school is called the Greenwood Tree (GWT) and is in Mount Vernon, WA. I have been a part of the GWT since it’s inception, and I know what it takes to build a school. Rumi is currently enrolled in that school three days a week. The Greenwood Tree Community has created a wonderful experience for us while educating our children in a loving and supportive environment. Nevertheless, I have always wanted a full time option for my children and other children in Skagit Valley.
As a preschooler and kindergartener, Rumi attended San Juan Montessori (SJM) as well as the GWT. At that time, I was introduced to the teachings and philosophy of Maria Montessori. I was drawn to this philosophy, and to the idea of a full time Montessori Elementary school in Anacortes. I tried to find another family or families to join me in the vision, but could not find anyone who wanted to invest their time and energy into such a tough endeavor. Although no one wanted to commit to the work, many were interested in the idea. I put the idea to rest and continued to believe in an alternative option to public education for my children.
During Rumi’s last year at SJM, I met Heidi Velin. After hearing her credentials and experience, I asked her if she would teach Rumi on the days she was not at the GWT, and Heidi agreed to homeschool Rumi. Over the past three years, Heidi and I have built a strong friendship and complete respect for each other.
During the years that Heidi and I have know each other, my son Teo started at SJM, and is currently in his last year there. He has thrived in the Montessori school setting, and again, I began putting the word out that I wanted to start a Montessori elementary school in Anacortes. I saw the need for our children and for Skagit Valley to have another option besides public education, religious-based schooling, or homeschooling.
This time I got some serious interest! Especially from Heidi Velin, and another great friend and mother of two, Jaime Diamond. These women were not only interested, but willing to work hard to make this dream come to fruition. They also, luckily, had amazing support from their husbands. They have been instrumental and invaluable in the process of creating this school. On January 19, 2016, we had our first meeting to discuss the possibilities and the steps we would need to take in order to make our dream a reality. We have spent the last year researching, interviewing, planning, learning, growing, and fighting to making this dream come to life. In May, 2017, Corinna Carter, mother of three, became our fourth board member.
I believe that our community, our children, and future generations will benefit from having the option to go to a Montessori elementary school, and I feel so grateful that we going to make this happen. I am excited to see that the Fiddlehead Montessori will open its doors in September of 2017. May it grow and flourish—not only for my children, but for many, many more.
Our Director and Teacher, Heidi Velin
In 2013, Heidi moved to Anacortes from her hometown in Southern California, where she had taught in the elementary school system for 10 years, finishing her tenure as a master teacher/trainer. For many years she had been searching for a new community, and finally the opportunity arrived to pursue her dream of living in the Northwest and tending to her daughter full-time.
However, she quickly learned that she missed being with children in the classroom, and soon started an enrichment program for home school families. She founded Cedarwood Homeschool in Fall 2013, and this marked the beginning of her reorientation toward education. Cedarwood provided Heidi the opportunity to work with children in small groups and individually, and even hold class outside. The pace was dramatically different than that of the traditional/conventional classroom- she began to notice a certain calmness that totally changed the ways her students experienced learning.
She was initially inspired to experiment with Waldorf curriculum, which emphasizes storytelling, singing, dancing and even baking with children of all ages. This in turn inspired her to research more alternative pedagogy (educational philosophy), and she found Maria Montessori’s method the most attractive. After more than 10 years in professional education, Heidi feels she has found her true passion. She is currently interning at Cedar Tree Montessori in Bellingham, and is completing her lower elementary certification from Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific Northwest.
Our pedagogy is based upon the work of Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori, which has been handed down through teacher education and certification programs such as the American Montessori Society (AMS). All our lead teachers are AMS trained and certified.
At Fiddlehead Montessori all teachers have a profound respect for each child’s uniqueness. We take seriously the idea that education should be student-based, and student-inspired. The teacher’s role is not to impart information for the student to memorize and regurgitate; it is to follow the student’s own academic interests and guide them through their own unique way of learning and integrating knowledge. We support each child’s interests and passions and give each child the skills to pursue whatever path he/she chooses. The other main contribution from the teacher is providing students with a global narrative, or “big picture,” whether that be the story of the cosmos, the coming of humans, the great religions, or the history of mathematics.
Fiddlehead Montessori teachers will provide a rich educational environment, with lots of opportunities to “try on” experiences inside and outside of the classroom. The child’s job is to construct the adult he or she will become. Children learn to understand and get along with others different from themselves. They are the hope for civil discourse and peaceful cooperation in the democratic nations of our modern world. Conflict resolution is modeled, taught and practiced in Montessori classrooms. Teachers help children use this process in the classroom and on the playground.
Children pass through developmental stages in a certain sequence. Academic and social education will be appropriate for each stage of development. Children learn through their senses. Montessori materials are multisensory. After many concrete experiences, children are ready to form abstract concepts. Children learn best by exploring a topic in depth, rather than skimming many topics at, say, exactly 45-minute increments. This is one well-established fact that we take seriously. Fiddlehead students are allowed as much time as they require to pursue a given academic topic or skill.
Montessori teachers believe that children naturally love to learn and are, for the most part, internally motivated. Self-esteem is built by increasing independence. Montessori classrooms provide freedom within limits and independence with responsibility. Children learn at their own paces and levels, following developmental stages. The teacher is a facilitator or guide, rather than an authority in the classroom. The deepest and most rewarding learning experiences take place in the absence of the teacher, oftentimes with only an initial introduction to get them started. Multi-age classrooms build diversity. They offer younger children the chance to learn from older students and older students the opportunity to nurture and help younger children, which reinforces their own learning.