About the Adolescent Experience

  • AE student with guide This two-year program for 7th and 8th grade students is designed to usher healthy, self-confident, well-prepared young adolescent students into the next phase of their development. The focus is on asking large questions, researching, interpreting and connecting all of the disciplines. In all academic subjects, students do personal and group work integrated by overarching themes. We provide opportunities for adolescents to gain self-knowledge, belong to a community, and learn to be adaptable, while empowering them with academic competence and a vision for their own future. 

    Adolescent students apply and integrate all subjects through work on and with the land. They engage in elements of farming as an economic enterprise through the care of plants and animals, the maintenance of simple machines, and the understanding of land use. They also participate in local internships, class businesses, community service, trips, and elective classes. During this time, young adults are seeking to understand their place in society and how they can make a difference in the world. Continuing to build on the sense of justice and fairness that began to develop in their elementary years, young adolescents are often drawn to causes that involve high ideals, and prefer projects that require action and meaningful contributions.

Adolescent Experience - Classroom Schedule

  • Student with guide While there is some variation depending on the day of the week, here is a sample schedule for a day in the Adolescent Experience.

    7:30 - 8:00 | Arrival

    8:00 - 11:30 | Morning Work Cycle

    11:30 - 12:00 | Group Time

    12:00 - 1:00 | Lunch and Outdoor Time

    1:00 - 2:45 | Afternoon Work Cycle

    2:45 - 3:00 | Dismissal

    3:00 - 4:30 | Tutorial (once weekly, as needed)

    During the morning and afternoon work cycles, students choose lessons and activities that suit their interests.  Special activities such as art, drama, music, and band also happen during this time.

In a short period of time I have been witness to some very positive changes.  My daughters are hungry for learning
AE students on couch
 Julie Haagenson

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Julie Haagenson

Adolescent Experience

Julie comes to The Montessori School of the Berkshires with fifteen years experience working with adolescents. Julie was a head teacher at the Center Montessori Middle School Program in Bradenton, FL. She earned her American Montessori Society Secondary I Teaching Credential from the Houston Montessori Center. Julie also completed her Master’s of Education specializing in Montessori Integrative Learning from the TIES Program at Endicott College. Julie now serves as an adjunct faculty for the program. Prior to entering the world of Montessori, Julie worked for six years with troubled teens at the Academy at Swift River in Cummington, MA. She worked in the wilderness program, as an individual and group counselor, and finally as director of the school’s service-learning program based in Costa Rica. Julie was able to incorporate her passion for working with young people with her love of travel, outdoor adventure, culture, dance, and music. While in Costa Rica she gave birth to her twin boys who now attend MSB.

 Lori Nadig

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Lori Nadig

Adolescent Experience

Lori holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelors of Science in Biopsychology. She has worked in a wide variety of fields from the medical field to the corporate world. Her areas of expertise include writing and consulting work focusing on finance, investment, and academic science. Lori came to Montessori education through her daughter Zoe (MSB Class of 2014) and her son Tyler, who is in his final year of the Adolescent Experience. Lori first started working with adolescents while in college and truly loves working with this age group. When not teaching, Lori enjoys knitting, reading anything she can get her hands on, and hiking with her family.

Specialists in Adolescent Experience

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

 Sheela Clary

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Sheela Clary

Languages

Sheela is a long-time language teacher, having taught in both public and private school settings, in New York City, Boston, Italy and with the Peace Corps in Papua New Guinea. She works with both the Elementary students on Latin and its connection to English, and with Adolescent Experience students on Italian, Spanish or French, as they choose. She has a Masters in Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University, and is working on an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Sheela grew up in Egremont, lives in West Stockbridge, and her three children attend MSB.

 Aaron Eliassen

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Aaron Eliassen

Learning Support Guide, Elementary and Adolescent programs

Aaron is a graduate of Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, with a self-designed major in psychology with a focus on empathy building. He grew up in Cambridge, MA, and before coming to the Berkshires eight years ago, worked in the Boston area for eight years at a therapeutic after school program. Aaron earned his certificate in Montessori training from MEI in 2012 while working at MSB and spent seven years an elementary guide. In his new position of learning specialist, Aaron will be focusing his time on students who need additional tools and support to achieve their full potential. Outside of school, he particularly enjoys art projects and social skills groups with children. In his spare time Aaron likes to play games of all kinds, watch movies, hike in the woods, canoe, do art (especially painting, drawing and sculpture), swim, and go to the gym. Aaron and his wife also like to travel in their spare time.

 Andrea White

Phone:

Email:

Degrees and Certifications:

Andrea White

Learning Specialist

Andrea White is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Certified Autism Specialist and is the owner of Berkshire Speech & Language, a speech-language pathology private practice based in Williamstown. Andrea did her undergraduate work at Oberlin College in art history & applied art. She has Master’s degree in elementary and special education from Lesley University in Cambridge and a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology from The college of New Jersey. She has also completed the Certificate (Earned With Distinction) in Educating and Supporting Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) at University of California at Los Angeles and has received certification from the Hanen Centre in Toronto. In addition to working with children and their families, Andrea adores hiking and traveling with her husband and teenage son.