sedona charter school

sedona montessori school sedone montessori school sedona montessori school

The program is a first-through-eighth grade Montessori School for approximately 200 students. The Montessori teaching philosophy challenges the convention of a classroom as rows of desks facing a blackboard. It respects the individuality of the student and emphasizes personal responsibility. Recognizing that students learn at different rates, the Montessori method encourages individuals work at their own pace. It holds that children learn more from direct experience, and favors structured activities over a lecture format. Through extensive meetings with both teachers and administrators a program for the school developed.

The Montessori philosophy was the guiding principle for the design. The parti for the project is a U-shaped form wrapping a large central courtyard. The three classrooms and the office are distinct enclosed volumes united by a continuous plinth element and unifying roof form. Each classroom serves two or three grade levels and forms a distinct community within the school. The classrooms are large, flexible spaces that can accommodate a variety of activities simultaneously, allowing some students to work individually while others participate in group work. The classrooms are glazed along their long sides, and have clerestories in the center for ample natural light. At the clerestories the scissor truss structure of the roof is exposed allowing the children to grasp the structure of their environment. Consistent with the Montessori philosophy, the program called for a garden space, so the students could cultivate the vegetables that would make up their lunches. The continuous roof form is interrupted at the garden space, dividing the seventh and eighth grade classroom from the rest of the school. This gap in the roof opens a vista to a distant sandstone cliff, and expresses the semi-autonomy of the older students.

Taking advantage of the mild northern Arizona climate other program elements are located in the open air—under the roof, but not enclosed. There is an outdoor classroom which provides a change of setting for the students. A covered play area provides a place for the younger children to play out of the direct sun. All of the circulation for the school moves between and around the other program elements under the roof. The central grassy courtyard provides the primary outdoor play area for the school and is a community gathering place for all school events. This project was a collaboration between architect Wilson Peterson and landscape architect Steve Biasini.