Students at the Montessori School of Greater Hartford at the Millstream Farm in New Hartford.
Students at the Montessori School of Greater Hartford at the Millstream Farm in New Hartford.
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NEW HARTFORD — With only 10 students, the Montessori School of Greater Hartford’s campus at Millstream Farm is one of the smallest classrooms in Litchfield County.
The campus, with classes for seventh through ninth graders, has been operating for six years on the 30-acre Millstream Farm, located on 741 Steele Road.
The owner of the farm, Caren Ross, is also a teacher.
The program is very unique for students and much different than typical middle schools.
At the beginning of the school day in the morning, students do barn chores including taking care of the farm’s animals, including its goats, sheep, chickens, and bees.
“We do integrate our farm animals for some of the class lessons,” ninth-grade student Elliott London said. “In the spring and fall when the goats are producing milk, we use it to learn about how to make cheese. We have beekeeper suits where we learn about how to get honey. That’s the cool thing about this school is that we get hands-on experiences and that’s one of the many values I’ve gotten in school.”
Elliott said that the school teaches much more than just farming.
“People go ‘Oh, you go to school in a barn? Are you going to be a farmer when you grow up?’” Elliott said. “But there is much more than that here. There are personalized academics and real experiences. We learned about genetics and we get to do Punnett Squares, which scientists get to do.”
The students also learn about economics as they sell items from the farm, including jams, jellies, and honey.
“I feel like a lot of times I hear people tell me that middle school is awful and how happy they are they left it,” Elliott said. “But everyone here loves school. I never wake up in the morning and go ‘oh, I have to go to school now.’ I always look forward to it.”
The school’s classroom is located in a room right near the barn.
“Our program is really rich with hands-on experiences and academically rich,” Ross said. “This year they’re renovating their student lounge and they’re learning about problem-solving skills. These students are all very creative and self-motivated. We want to teach these students about things that happen that normally do not crop up in the classrooms with four walls. The students are all getting real-world experiences.”
For more information about The Montessori School of Greater Hartford go to https://msgh.org/our-programs/adolescent

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