Despite its origins serving low-income families in Italy, the child-directed Montessori education model has developed a reputation for being inaccessible, an option only for children from wealthy families.
That’s not the case at Cosmos Montessori, a public charter school in Minneapolis, Minnesota serving students from 3-years-old through first grade. Cosmos is a Spanish/English bilingual school founded by Veronica Vital, who has more than 20 years of teaching experience in public and private schools.
Ultimately, Vital decided to return to her roots in education – she started her education career as an assistant in a Montesssori classroom in 1996 – and worked with the national nonprofit Wildflower Schools to open her own Montessori school.
“I think every day is a new opportunity to teach children, to empower them,” said Vital.
Cosmos is a public charter school; there is no tuition for kindergarten or first-grade students. Running Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, Cosmos offers a nurturing environment where students and staff speak English and Spanish throughout the day. Each day begins with a morning welcome and ends with a reflection. In between, learners have outside time and participate in a range of group activities, including music, drawing, coloring, dance, gardening, yoga, mask making, watercolors, finger knitting, textile work, and science projects.
“The biggest difference that it makes in our lives is that knowing every day from when we drop them off till when we pick them up, they’re in a space that is safe for them in all different ways,” says Rosa Alexander, a parent at Cosmos Montessori.
“I feel nothing but very lucky to be your teacher,” said Vital.