Frequently Asked Questions

Listed below you will find some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Carroll Creek Montessori Public Charter School (CCMPCS). You may click on the subject links to read about more specific areas of our school.

General Questions | Spanish Program | Montessori | Pre-Kindergarten Program | Lottery | Special Needs | Fundraising

GENERAL QUESTIONS
How did Carroll Creek Montessori Public Charter School (CCMPCS) start?
The initiative to open Carroll Creek Montessori Public Charter School (CCMPCS) started with a group of parents interested in a Montessori public education with a dual-language Spanish component to serve their children as well as other children in Frederick County, especially second language learners.

What is MMCI?
CCMPCS is operated by a non-profit organization, Monocacy Montessori Communities, Inc. (MMCI). In the state of Maryland, a non-profit organization is required to oversee and run a charter school.

MMCI is responsible for financial audits of the school, oversight of the school’s budget, holding the school’s building lease, insurance and unexpected expenses that the school may incur.

MMCI also operates Monocacy Valley Montessori Public Charter School (MVMPCS). The MMCI community includes families from both schools; CCMPCS is a sister school to MVMPCS.

What is a Charter School?
A charter school is a public school that is free and open to all district students of the appropriate grade levels. It is financed by public tax dollars and authorized by the local school board. While it is usually conceived of and run by a non-profit corporation of parents and/or teachers, a charter school is accountable to the local school board. Some bureaucratic regulations are waived (the degree varies by state) to enable the sponsors to experiment with different academic programs, schedules, etc.

What grades are served?
CCMPCS serves students ages three through eighth grade in several multi-age classrooms (3 and 4-year-olds and kindergarteners together in Primary classrooms; 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders together in Lower Elementary classrooms; 4th, 5th and 6th graders together in Upper Elementary classrooms; and 7th and 8th graders together in the Middle School classroom). Mixed ages facilitate constant interaction, problem solving, child to child teaching, and socialization. Children are challenged according to their ability. Older children spontaneously share their knowledge with the younger ones.

What is the Student-to-Teacher Ratio?
The student/staff ratio at CCMPCS varies depending on the age level. Primary classrooms have a ratio of 13:1 for 100% of the core instructional day (all time outside of specials, lunch, and recess). Kindergarten classrooms have a ratio of 15:2 in the afternoon after pre-K has dismissed. Lower Elementary classrooms have a ratio of 15:1 for 100% of the core instructional day (all time outside of specials, lunch, and recess). Students in Upper Elementary and Middle School classrooms are developmentally working toward a higher level of autonomy and therefore have a higher student to staff ratio during the school day to promote their independence. In these classrooms the ratio will be 15:1 for a minimum of 50% of the core instructional day and will not exceed 30:1.

In the CCMPCS Montessori classroom, students work independently or in small groups. Instead of students relying solely on a teacher to learn, their learning is primarily self-directed. The teacher or instructional assistant typically offers an initial brief instructional moment or presentation, and then functions as a resource, moving among students during work periods to offer one-on-one and small-group support. To facilitate this kind of self-motivated learning, the Montessori classroom is not "over-adulted." Montessori teachers and assistants are trained specifically to observe a large number of children and provide assistance where needed.

Am I required to volunteer if I have a child attending CCMPCS?
As a charter school with less total public funding than district schools we are especially dependent upon the efforts of volunteers to maintain the operations of our schools. Two-parent families are expected to offer and document 30 volunteer hours per year; single-parent families are expected to offer and document 10 volunteer hours per year. However, these hours are the least required and many volunteers far exceed these minimums.

There are many ways to volunteer: volunteering in the school library during the school day, sharing a specific skill or experience with students in the classroom, chaperoning field trips, serving on the governing bodies for the school (the CCMPCS Governing Council or the MMCI Board of Trustees), serving on a committee or project team, helping to prepare classroom materials, helping to maintain the facilities and grounds, work from home projects, translating materials into Spanish, coordinating school and community events, fundraising, and more.

Does CCMPCS offer Before and After Care?
MMCI contracts with Clubhouse Kids.  They are open normal operating hours on weekdays for Before School Care from 6:30 am until school begins, and open again in the afternoon for After School Care from school dismissal until 6:30 pm.

Does CCMPCS offer transportation for my child/children?
Transportation to CCMPCS is the responsibility of parents/guardians. In accordance with FCPS transportation policy, FCPS does not provide transportation to a school other than a student's district school. However, FCPS does provide transportation for students receiving special education services who have transportation as a component of their IEP.

How did CCMPCS choose its logo and name?
The logo for CCMPCS is the symbol of water for many ancient cultures from a petrolglyph. The following video details the story of how Carroll Creek linear park brought people together as a community, which is where the school's name originated. View the “Story of Carroll Creek Linear Park Community Bridge”.

SPANISH PROGRAM
Do all students at CCMPCS receive Spanish instruction?
Yes, at CCMPCS, all students pre-K-8th grade receive Spanish instruction. Beginning in Pre-K, students are introduced to Spanish language and to cultures of Spanish-speaking countries. Spanish instruction continues through middle school with students receiving credit for Spanish I & II coursework. CCMPCS invites native Spanish-speaking families, native English-speaking families, and Spanish/English bilingual families, as well as families whose native language is a language other than English or Spanish to apply because we believe that our school provides the opportunity for all students to develop skills in Spanish and English beginning at a young age when children are most receptive to language development. CCMPCS is the only public school providing this opportunity to Frederick County students.

Staffing is an integral part of achieving our instructional goals at CCMPCS. As of the 2017-2018 schoolyear, 100% of CCMPCS classroom teachers are either MACTE-certified Montessori guides or are enrolled in a MACTE-certification program. We also continually strive to increase the percentage of the CCMPCS staff who are bilingual. We do currently have a number of bilingual staff members, including native speakers. The top priorities for placement of fluent Spanish-speaking staff are our primary classrooms to create a strong foundation for our youngest students and our Spanish classroom to provide strong Spanish instruction for all CCMPCS students. Every primary classroom has at least one fluent Spanish speaking staff member and the Spanish classroom is staffed by a fulltime Spanish teacher and fulltime Spanish assistant who are both fluent in Spanish.

Is Dual-Language Immersion currently an option at CCMPCS?
No. The original plan for CCMPCS as dictated in the original Charter application indicated a model with two options regarding Spanish instruction. In this model, students would either be enrolled in a Dual-Language Immersion classroom in which core subject instruction would take place in both Spanish and English or an Enrichment classroom in which instruction would be in English and students would spend time each week learning Spanish and about Hispanic cultures. However, because of staffing and enrollment limitations, CCMPCS has not been able to bring this vision to implementation. These reasons include the inability to hire sufficient numbers of staff that had all of the required qualifications of being bilingual, MSDE certified and highly-qualified, and Montessori certified and recruiting sufficient numbers of native Spanish-speaking students through the limitations of the lottery system.

For more information about Spanish at CCMPCS, contact the Education and Curriculum Committee at Education@CarrollCreekMontessori.org.

MONTESSORI
What is the basic approach of Montessori?
• It is natural for children to want to engage in meaningful work that is relevant to them.
• Children will be self-directed when given the opportunity to do so.
• Children will operate with as much independence as possible.
• Children will remain engrossed in their work for long periods of time.
• The work itself should be rewarding for children; external rewards and praise are counterproductive because they teach the child to look to others for validation.
• Children learn from natural consequences.
• Children should be taught to advocate for themselves.
• Children will teach each other and learn from each other.

What would I see in a typical Montessori classroom?
• Long uninterrupted periods of time for work.
• Students working individually or in small groups on a work plan the student created or helped to create.
• Small group or individual instruction.
• Multi-age classrooms spanning three grade levels.
• Teachers working with students to make decisions about their learning.
• Busy classrooms with many different activities occurring at once.
• Students freely moving around the classroom as needed.
• Self-directed students working without frequent adult intervention.
• Classroom sizes of 25-30 students.
• A peace-loving environment where everyone is expected to treat themselves, others, and the materials with respect.
• Children pursuing their interests in a variety of ways (projects, clubs, etc.).
• Many field trips (often planned by students).
• Teachers observing students and modeling the behaviors of a lifelong learner.

What elements of a traditional classroom will I not see in a Montessori classroom?
• Extrinsic reward systems such as sticker charts.
• Competitions between students.
• Desks in rows.
• Extensive teacher-directed, whole-group instruction.
• A large number of paper and pencil tasks.
• Silent classrooms: learning involves interactions with other students.
• Extensive homework.

How does a Montessori teacher differ from a traditional teacher?
The Montessori method promotes active learning in the classroom by defining the teachers' role as support persons for the students’ pursuit of knowledge. Teachers are not the primary source of knowledge. The Montessori teacher’s role is that of a facilitator--guiding the student within the environment. The teachers serve as an example of appropriate, respectful behavior.

The teacher is rarely the center of the class's attention. Rather than lecturing, the teachers move among the students as they work, observing and responding to students in one-on-one interactions. Montessori teachers are trained observers and use anecdotal records for a more authentic assessment of a student’s skills. They repeat lessons when necessary and give new lessons when students appear to have mastered the material and are ready for the next sequence.

What is "peace education"?
"Peace education" is Dr. Montessori's name for her approach to the education of the whole child. CCMPCS created a learning community founded on the Montessori principle of "peace education," centered in the classroom and supported by staff, parents/guardians, and the wider community.

The essential elements of peace education are the fostering of self-respect, imparting conflict resolution skills, and learning about the world and the diversity of its people. CCMPCS teachers and staff model self-respect and conflict resolution skills, and students practice them daily in the classroom community. Every student at CCMPCS receives Spanish instruction. This provides a unique opportunity for exposure to a second language and culture at a young age, which enhances a student's sense of community in the world for years to come.

CCMPCS partners with parents and guardians in their children's education. Parents and guardians have the opportunity to enjoy a respectful, cooperative, democratic model as they participate in the CCMPCS community.

More about peace education >>

PRE-KINDERGARTEN PROGRAM
What age does my child need to be to enter Pre-K?
CCMPCS enrolls pre-Kindergarten (Pre-K) students at both the 3-year-old and 4-year-old age levels. Following FCPS guidelines, a child must turn three by September 1st to enroll at CCMPCS as a three-year-old and a child must turn four by September 1st to enroll at CCMPCS as a four-year-old. CCMPCS does not accept children who are younger than proper age per the FCPS cutoff dates. This is so the children will be appropriately-aged to continue in the school for the kindergarten year.

The school does not offer advanced placement for pre-K students; the mixed-age groupings allow the students access to advanced materials as soon as they are ready. Once students have been accepted into the school as pre-K students, they may remain in the school through 8th grade.

Is there a tuition or cost to send my child to the pre-K program?
There is no tuition to families for pre-K students (CCMPCS as a public school is free for all of our students!). However, CCMPCS does NOT receive funding from the county (FCPS) on a per-pupil basis for the pre-K students like we do for students in grades kindergarten through 8th grade. Nevertheless, CCMPCS includes the Pre-K students in our school for the following reasons. In Montessori education, the pre-K years are important foundations for children to acclimate to the Montessori environment and to prepare for learning and leading in kindergarten and beyond. The developmental period between the ages of 0-6 is called “the absorbent mind” in Montessori terminology and is a critical learning period. Also, part of the mission of the school is to serve all students in Frederick County, not only those able to afford preschool. If CCMPCS were to charge tuition for the pre-K program, even on a sliding scale, we would be required by Maryland charter law to hold a separate lottery for kindergarten and beyond. We find it preferable that students 1) are able to continue in their Montessori education into the elementary and middle school years and 2) are prepared to do so with the foundation of the Montessori pre-K experience.

The school and our non-profit, MMCI, hold a pledge drive and a variety of fundraisers throughout the school year as well as seeking grant money to supplement the public funding and meet the operating budget needs of the school. Parents can contribute to the fundraisers by helping in the organization and operation of the pledge drive, grant writing, and fundraisers as well as with financial contributions.

What are the student ratios in the pre-K/primary classrooms?
In accordance with Montessori tradition, our pre-K students are grouped with the kindergarten students in three-year age groupings. This classroom is referred to as a “primary” classroom in Montessori language. Each of our primary classrooms has 26 students: six 3-year-old students, ten 4-year-old students, and ten kindergarten students. Each classroom is prepared, directed and supervised by a lead teacher and an instructional assistant so the ratio of students to adults in the primary classroom is 13:1.
Unlike a traditional classroom where the teacher is the nexus of all learning, in the Montessori classroom the children learn from a combination of whole-group stories and songs, small group and one-on-one lessons, working with self-correcting sensory-motor Montessori instructional materials, and from lessons given by other students or by giving a lesson themselves.

The mixed-age grouping allows children to learn from their just-older peers, allows 4-year-olds to begin practicing leadership with their younger peers, allows all pre-K students to learn from the kindergarten students, and allows the kindergarten students to develop leadership skills and to practice skills they are learning by giving lessons on those skills to other students in their class.

What do the students learn in the pre-K/primary Montessori classroom?
Primary children do work in five areas: cultural, language arts, mathematics, sensorial, and practical life. Practical life is one area of education that sets the Montessori classroom apart from some traditional classrooms: children learn to care for the classroom and home environments (sweeping, mopping, cleaning, caring for plants and pets), manage personal hygiene and feeding (handwashing, dressing frames to learn to button, zip and tie, and serving themselves and cleaning up after snacks), and grace and courtesy to others (including student-led conflict resolution with peers, and a peace area for solitude and reflection).

What is a typical day for the pre-K students?
CCMPCS offers a 5-day pre-Kindergarten program (M-F). Pre-K students begin their day with the entire school body at 9:00am. The morning drop-off period begins at 8:45am. The pre-K day ends at 11:30. The children depart from school before lunch.

Is there Before or After Care available for pre-K students?
Neither CCMPCS nor MMCI are licensed to provide before and after care for preschool children. Some of our preschool students who require morning or afternoon care arrange care with local daycare centers who provide morning transportation or our preschool families arrange afternoon childcare with family, friends or private daycare providers who pick up the children when the preschool day ends.

When FCPS schools have a two-hour delay or on delayed opening days due to teacher conferences there is no pre-K.

How does the Spanish language component work in the pre-K classroom?
At CCMPCS, all students including pre-K students receive Spanish instruction. Pre-K students are introduced to Spanish language and to cultures of Spanish-speaking countries. CCMPCS invites native Spanish speaking families, native English speaking families, and Spanish/English bilingual families, as well as families whose native language is a language other than English or Spanish to apply because we believe that our school provides the opportunity for all students to develop skills in Spanish and English beginning at a young age when children are most receptive to language development. CCMPCS is the only public school providing this opportunity to Frederick County students.

Are pre-K students required to be toilet trained?
Pre-K students must be toilet trained and able to use the toilet independently. Diapers and pull-ups are not permitted. CCMPCS personnel are not licensed by the health department to change soiled clothing. Children may change themselves into a spare set of clothing if they have toileting accidents. Parents will be called by the nurse to come pick up their children if the children do not have a spare set of clothing or are unable to change their own clothing.

LOTTERY
How do students get into CCMPCS?
In accordance with Maryland Charter School regulations, if a charter school has a number of applicants that exceeds the number of spots available, then the school must hold an annual enrollment lottery.

When does the lottery happen?
Prospective students for CCMPCS may enter the lottery online through the link on the school's website. The window for lottery applications opens in January each year and closes in early March. After the lottery takes place in March, families are notified of each child’s acceptance or waitlist positions. For more information on the next lottery, please go to our Lottery/Waitlist page.

How does the lottery work?
The lottery is a computerized system. CCMPCS staff and siblings of currently enrolled students are placed first into available slots. Then, family applications are pulled randomly. The system attempts to place each child on a family application in a slot for their respective grade level. If one child is placed from a family and not another, then that child goes on the priority/sibling waiting list. If none of the children in a family are placed, then all go on the general waiting list. A Frederick County Public School representative attends each lottery and certifies the results.

How will I hear the results?
The day following the lottery drawing, the acceptance and wait list results from the lottery for each family can be accessed using the MMCI account used to apply for the lottery. Families may also be contacted through any of the contact information submitted through their MMCI account (email, phone, mailing address) immediately following the lottery or at any time in the year when a slot becomes available. For more information about the current lottery, please go to the CCMPCS Lottery/Waitlist page.

May I attend the lottery?
Yes, the lottery is open for students applying to the school and their families to attend. However, attendance is not required for acceptance. For more information on the next lottery, please go to our Lottery/Waitlist page.

SPECIAL NEEDS
Does CCMPCS accept special needs students?

Yes. Because CCMPCS follows the Montessori approach, we educate the "whole child," which allows multiple entry points for learners. It is well suited to serving the needs of typical and accelerated learners, as well as those who are English Language Learners (ELL) and students with learning disorders or developmental delays.
CCMPCS operates in full accord with federal, state, and local laws and regulations regarding students with special needs. We are committed to providing an inclusive learning community, where every student develops his or her full potential and where individual differences are respected and embraced. We collaborate with FCPS to provide students identified with special education needs, related services, or English Language Learners (ELL) the full continuum of services within an inclusive Montessori classroom whenever possible and in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). Additionally, we are staffed to fully implement Individualized Education Plans in the least restrictive environment commensurate with other standard FCPS schools.

FUNDRAISING
What is money raised through fundraising events used for?
Money raised through fundraisers goes into the Student Activity Fund (SAF). This is a different account than the operating budget provided by FCPS. Student Activity Funds have two basic purposes, to promote the general welfare, education, and morale of all students and to finance the recognized extracurricular activities of the student body. This can include things like books, materials for projects, offsetting costs of field trips, playground safety, playground materials, site licenses for electronic resources, technological resources for children, some Montessori materials, in house assemblies, snacks during testing. It cannot be spent on teachers' stipends, community events, infrastructure or repair, some kinds of materials of instruction, or anything that does not directly benefit welfare, education, or morale.

Who decides how fundraising money is spent?
The principal, in collaboration with the Governing Council and teachers, determines how the SAF money is to be spent. These determinations will always be made with the guiding principles of serving the students' welfare, education, and morale.