Upon assuming the role of Torit Montessori’s head of school in July – just in time for its milestone 15th anniversary – David Liebmann set his sights on expanding the school to include seventh and eighth grades.
“It’s a really exciting time for the school,” said Liebmann, who came to Torit with 30 years of experience as a teacher and administrator at five nationally recognized PK-12 and PK-8 independent schools, including spending the previous two years as assistant head of school at Kingsley Montessori. “With strong admission interest and enrollment, Torit had to place families on a waiting list in its early admission cycle this winter. At the same time, Torit students continue to statistically outperform New England independent school students on standardized testing, with a strong emphasis on developing and practicing academic skills while also giving students a broad, balanced, and challenging program of art, music, STEM, and world languages.”
Torit, which opened in September of 2008, offers Montessori education for infants, toddlers, preschool, kindergarten, and an elementary-school students in Grades 1-6. (Torit also offers an after-school program, as well as an elementary STEM summer program.) The school currently employees more than 30 teachers, each with an average of 10-plus years teaching experience, while around 38 percent of the faculty was born abroad. Most of the school’s approximately 110 students live on or around Beacon Hill, although more than 50 percent of them were born outside the U.S. Besides the traditional Montessori curriculum, Toit also offers its students of all ages ongoing instruction in Arabic, Mandarin, and Spanish, with native speakers.
“The idea is that students get exposure to all three languages every week from native speakers,” said Liebmann. “That really reflects the global aspiration of the school and the neighborhood. The kids have parents from all over the world, so we’re very much an international community. The neighborhood is really diverse, and we want to reflect that diversity.”
Upon arriving at Torit, Liebmann was immediately impressed by its 300 Cambridge St. location, which sits directly across the street from Mass General Hospital, and now, he’s striving to elevate the school to a level that he feels reflects what he calls the “aspirational” Beacon Hill neighborhood.
While Torit’s campus offers a library, gym, music rooms, science lab, and cafeteria, students can also take full advantage of the location’s convenient access to some of the best educational and recreational resources in the city.
Seasonal skating for Torit students started on Wednesday, Jan. 31, on the Boston Common’s Frog Pond. Students also visit the State House for their civics class and regularly enjoy strolls through the Public Garden in the spring, among other activities that take full advantage of the school’s central and convenient location.
“The fun thing for me is taking advantage of the resources in the area,” said Liebmann. “We hope to get the middle-school kids more involved in things like that.”
Liebmann said he expects his ambitious goal of expanding Torit to include seventh and eighth grades will become a reality by the fall of 2025 or ’26, “depending on interest and involvement.”
The curriculum for the middle school would be “student-driven,” he said, and “much different” than Torit’s current academic offerings for younger students (although like the younger students, seventh and eighth graders would also receive ongoing instruction in Arabic, Mandarin, and Spanish from native speakers).
“I see the middle-school program as something that’s highly academic and at the same time, very hands-on,” said Liebmann. “We see this as an opportunity to have a community-based approach to learning. We hope to have kids get excited about learning in a different way.”
Middle schoolers would arrive each day with a daypack and their laptops, before spending the first hour mapping out what they hope to accomplish that school day. The students would then head out into the city to find the resources and visit places to “engage their educational experience,” said Liebmann, while giving them “much more latitude in what they can study and how they approach it.”
The goal for the middle-school is to have a cohort of about a dozen students to start, and since students currently begin attending Torit as young as two months old and can stay there until age 12, Torit’s proposed middle school would be a “logical extension of that continuum,” said Liebmann. For more information on the Torit Montessori School, visit www.toritschool.org or call 857-350-4840.