Charter School is a 'Wonderful Place for Learning'

Monarch Academy will hold open houses for interested parents and students March 2, 3, 17 and 23.

Karen Hughes describes herself as “one of their biggest cheerleaders” for , the Glen Burnie charter school three of her four children attend.

That’s because she said she can see the difference Monarch has made in her daughters’ education, so much so that she can’t wait until next year when all four girls will be students.

As an example, she pointed to her first-grader Claire’s knowledge of negative numbers from a lesson on the temperature, even though she had not learned about negative numbers in math class. Someone had asked the girl what 14 subtracted from 10 was, and Hughes was about to reverse the order for Claire, when to her surprise, she replied: “Negative four.”

“It’s such a wonderful place for learning. With my daughters, I can see a connection every day,” said Hughes, an Arnold resident.

And with Monarch’s upcoming open houses, Hughes said she would encourage anyone interested or curious to check out the school. The school will hold daytime open houses from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. March 2 and 23 and evening open houses from 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 3 and 17.

“I really can’t say enough good things about them,” she said of Monarch’s staff. “They welcome parental involvement. They tease me that I’m like a quasi-teacher because I’m there so much. But they’re in line with my philosophy on teaching—5-year-olds can’t be sitting at a desk.”

Monarch relies on the expeditionary learning model of education, Principal Maurine Larkin said. While traditional schools might spend a little time comparatively on one subject before moving onto the next, expeditionary learning schools examine topics in-depth and in many disciplines.

As an example, students learning about the American Revolution would examine more than just the key battles and important figures. They might learn about the science of gunpowder or even money from the 18th century in math class, Larkin said.

Hughes said she learned about this educational method from her sister and brother-in-law, both of whom are education professors and whose children attend expeditionary learning schools.

“It appealed to me especially with it being a public charter school,” she said. “We’re not private school people.”

Of the open houses Monarch held already last month, Larkin said, “I think they went well. We had about 25 to 30 parents show up, and they were very interested and asked a lot of questions.”

In both the daytime and evening open houses, students act as tour guides and take the prospective students and their parents around to different classrooms.

Monarch, a partnership between the county school system and the Children’s Guild, a Baltimore-based nonprofit education foundation, opened in 2009 with kindergartners, first and fifth-graders. Each year, a class is added to the elementary levels and the middle school. That is, second and sixth grades were added in 2010, next year, third and seventh grades will be added. This will continue until the school fills out with fourth- and eighth-grade classes in the 2012-2013 school year, said schools spokesman Bob Mosier.

This method of expansion will mean Hughes’ oldest daughter will be able to attend next year. She currently is enrolled in a public school.

“It has a lot of quizzes and memorization. I felt she wasn’t getting a true education,” she said. “My oldest daughter was upset she’s had to wait this long to attend [Monarch].”

Before Larkin’s arrival at Monarch, she was a principal at and Odenton elementary schools and an assistant principal at Park Elementary.

“I’m just so thrilled to be here,” she said.

Editor’s Note: This story has been revised. An earlier version stated incorrectly the sequence in which grades were introduced at Monarch Academy. The school opened in 2009 with kindergartners, first and fifth graders and added second and sixth graders in 2010. The school will add classes in grades three and seven next school year and become a full K-8 school when it adds fourth and eighth grades in the 2012-2013 school year.

Elyse Knight March 03, 2011 at 01:40 PM
My son attends Kindergarten at Monarch, and we are so thrilled with the teaching strategies and his progress in school. He looks forward to going to school everyday and really feels like he is part of a community. I can not say enough wonderful things about this school.
lisa fagley March 03, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Monarch has provided a wonderful learning environment for my daughter, Emily, who is in the sixth grade. Emily is so excited every day to go to school. The teachers are so caring, encouraging and constantly involved. Emily's grades have improved since 5th grade, where every day seemed to be a struggle for her. What made the difference? I believe Monarch provided just the right environment and teaching philosophy to spark her interest in learning. Isn't this a key part of successful education? I am very pleased with the school and I would highly recommend it to other parents.
LeAnn Reigrut March 03, 2011 at 02:27 PM
My daughter is also in Kindergarten at Monarch. One of the only downsides of the school is that it is not in a "community", but they more than make up for it with the community that the school builds with its staff and students. I would definitely recommend this school
Christine Davis March 03, 2011 at 02:57 PM
My children have always attended catholic schools in Anne Arundel County. Although we've always been happy, hearing about a new way of hands-on teaching sparked my interest. I run a child care center and received literature on Monarch when they were opening in 2009. I loved their philosophy and teaching style. The environment sounded perfect for my youngest child. We took a tour last summer and transferred her at the beginning of her 5th grade year. She loves it. She truly enjoys the expeditionary learning style and the staff is amazing. She is kept interested and engaged. It's important to me that they are teaching our children what is important to their success in the future. She knows she has the opportunity to return to her old school at any time, but is excited and looks forward to the next year at Monarch.
Maggie Peterson March 03, 2011 at 03:01 PM
I have a 2nd grader and a Kindergartener at Monarch and could not be happier. I am a career teacher and Doc student in Ed. and feel lucky to have found such a wonderful school which focuses on the whole child as a learner, embeds learning in authentic activities that children love and feel motivated by. My children's teachers are thoughtful innovative and caring professionals. I love this school!!
Kim Cluney March 03, 2011 at 10:01 PM
I'd like to correct some of the information in the article. The school started in 2009 with K, 1, and 5. This school year, they added grades 2 and 6. Next year, grades 3 and 7 will be added.
Maya T. Prabhu March 03, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Hi Kim, Thanks so much for correcting us on that. I've made changes in the article to reflect which grades were added each year. Thanks again and thanks for reading!
Jenn May 11, 2011 at 02:44 AM
I was surprised to find out that the MSA test scores for this charter school were not very good. I would have thought that with the innovative teaching methods and the increased parental involvement that the students would be doing better than my local public elementary school which was Title 1 the year before last, but apparently they are not.
C Hale May 19, 2011 at 11:25 PM
..Define "Not Very Good"..Admittedly the scores are not the greatest in the County, BUT the 5th grade program has only been around two years...i think the low score may partially be attributed the students prior learning experiences at other schools..i do not think the overall teaching ability and quality cannot be defined #1 by the MSA's and #2 by one set of results, i have a kindergardener there and as has been stated numerous times before i dare someone to find a larger body of kids in ANY county school that embraces learning more than the kids at Monarch....i have little doubt that if you watch the trend of scores over the next few years, and you get kids that have ONLY had the Monarch experience through their Educational Career, you will see the difference


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something