Mount Madonna School (MMS) middle and high school program provides graduates with a comprehensive mathematics and science curriculum that prepares them for selective universities and beyond.
“The school’s math and science paths put our students at an advantage,” said Shannon Kelly, upper school director.” The robust offerings give our students the opportunity to explore various scientific disciplines, teaching them to engage with complex issues and go far beyond the basic class requirements.”
All students are provided with a math path to complete Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus BC or AP Statistics. MMS faculty work with individual students to develop math skills and confidence and address the “math anxiety” that many students face.
“I worked for 35 years with class sizes of 35 students,” said high school math teacher Sam Lee. “It made it difficult to address individual needs. Here [at MMS], with smaller class sizes, it’s very easy to give students one-on-one attention. At the other schools I’ve taught at, we’ve had to group students according to aptitude, and rely on class leaders to help others — yet there is nothing like being able to sit next to a student, identify the breakdown, and work on filling the gap.”
MMS faculty believes this one-on-one attention is vital for recognizing a student’s strengths and bridging gaps to help every student be as successful as possible.
“Our teachers are committed and accessible,” Kelly said. “It is not uncommon to see students working with teachers during lunch. Students often come into class with a narrative about not being good at math. Our teachers work hard to try to shift that mindset.”
Middle school math and science teacher Hilary Alvarado said that it is her goal to help students understand that everyone has the ability to learn math to high levels.
“Speed is not important, and mistakes are expected and that is okay!” commented Alvarado. “Students have opportunities to present their various strategies to the class, giving all students multiple ways to approach a math problem.”
The Mount Madonna School engineering program includes coding classes for sixth and seventh grade students and technology, engineering and art (T.E.A.) classes for eighth graders, complemented by a full series of engineering courses for ninth through 11th grade students.
“One thing that stands out about our engineering program is that we can often design and build projects that fill actual needs at the school,” explained science and engineering teacher John Welch. “These might include props for performing arts, equipment for other classes or environmental stewardship projects. This gives students real experience in the design process, such as identifying needs and constraints, interviewing users and testing. And it’s very rewarding to see their designs being used.”
The engineering program exists in addition to the traditional science canon and marine science program, which are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards and Ocean Literacy Principles.
“My goal as a middle school science teacher is to spark curiosity and build excitement around learning scientific concepts,” Alvarado said. “Our middle school science program is unique in that we offer daily hands-on labs and other activities, thus exposing students to as many scientific concepts and principles as possible.”
Welch loves being able to give individual attention to his science students and tailor lessons to their needs.
“I love that MMS culture supports exploring ideas and solving problems without getting stuck by the fear of making mistakes,” Welch commented. “This is very important in science.”
At its core, Mount Madonna School understands that math and science programs are important for much more than success in college. It is about imparting an understanding of the world.
“I love teaching both math and science,” Alvarado said. “Science, because it helps students make sense of the world around them, and math, because it gives them a language to interpret our world.”
Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,
Nestled among the redwoods on 380 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believes a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The program, accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) and Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.