Middle School Program – Milwaukie Campus

Opens September 2024!

“Success in life depends, in every case, on self-confidence, and the knowledge of one’s own capacity and many-sided powers of adaptation. The consciousness of knowing how to make oneself useful, how to help mankind in many ways, fills the soul with noble confidence… with dignity.”

Maria Montessori

Montessori for 7th & 8th Grades

We are thrilled to announce the opening of our new campus in Milwaukie, Oregon. A mere 4.5 miles south of our Woodstock Campus, our Milwaukie Campus inhabits 12 acres of woodland, open fields, and oak savanna. The property also features a natural pond, and a tributary of the Willamette River. This beautiful campus will house our Middle School and two additional Toddler classrooms.

Modeled after Maria Montessori’s Farm School, our middle school program will provide the ideal mixture of intellectual, practical, and ethical work, that allows the young adult a safe space to sculpt their emerging identity, understand their place in society, and create opportunities to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

Take a Campus Tour/ Info Session

You can join our Middle School Program Director and Sciences & Humanities Guide, Peter Oviatt, at our Milwaukie campus for an overview of what a Montessori Middle School is, and how this specifically prepared environment works in tandem with an interdisciplinary curriculum to support the teenager’s passage to adulthood. We will tour the expansive grounds and address Sunstone’s vision for the Milwaukie campus, which is slated to open in September of 2024. Please click below to schedule your campus tour and info session.

Who is the adolescent?

We see adolescence as an exciting time with immense opportunity. Our campus and curriculum are designed to engage the intellect and build the character of the middle school student as they begin their crucial transition to adulthood. Our caring community responds to the individual needs of each student.

What does your Adolescent Need?

As a progressive thinker and accomplished researcher, Dr. Montessori built an educational system grounded in empiricism (careful observation of each student and their family culture), and informed by current understandings of adolescent development. She designed a curriculum that remains flexible to contemporary issues in our world, while foregrounding the adolescent’s need for personal expression, and to apply their mathematical mind and social drive in the service of their community. These principles make Montessori education so powerful in our dynamic, contemporary society; they owe to the ongoing success of Montessori middle schools.

What kind of adult do you want your adolescent to become?

How do you expect them to get there?

Our middle school is faithful to Dr. Montessori’s developmental approach to education, which has guided so many adolescents into joyful, self-confident and capable adults. To connect with and engage adolescents, our middle school centers on a generative feedback loop between work and community:

What is Work for the Adolescent?

  • Work is an outlet for personal expression, and interpersonal communication.
  • Work brings students into “the zone,” and allows them to go deep into projects (i.e. work that is not restricted by disciplines, assessments or common curricula).
  • Work challenges the intellect, engages the mathematical mind, and tests organizational skills.
  • Work allows students to apply and build on previous academics, showing students that their actions can contribute to society.

What is Community for the Adolescent?

  • Community shows how independence and interdependence always rely on each other.
  • Community is small, responsive and safe. It is a space where all voices are heard, and all emotions can be felt.
  • Community is humbling and empowering. It is a place where adolescents feel secure enough to take risks that will form their adult identity and prove their worth. 
  • Community supports tolerance and helps build the patience to see other perspectives, while staying true to core values and critical thinking.

Center for Study & Work

Dr. Montessori referred to the place where adolescents conduct work and build community as a Center for Study & Work. It consists of six interconnected components:

Social Organization

Dr. Montessori referred to an adolescent program as “a school of experience in the elements of social life.” Social organization is the activity that runs through all aspects of the Center for Study & Work. It is students exercising their freedom to create work plans, lead projects on and off campus, schedule their time, and consider their needs alongside those of their peers. If the work of the adolescent is to become an adult who contributes to society, social organization is of utmost importance.

(Un)prepared Environment

Dr. Montessori was precise in her description of the optimal learning space for adolescents: a natural outdoor environment that can be explored, studied, nurtured, sustained and linked to surrounding communities and environments. Our campus is at once ripe with adult-directed lessons and activities (prepared), as it is a resource that students use to envision their own projects, and see these projects through to completion (unprepared). The prepared environment is not limited by our campus. Students will engage with neighboring businesses, parks, and community centers; they will tap into our extensive network of practitioners and workspaces.

Educational Program

Our educational program centers on what Dr. Montessori called “Plans of Study & Work.” These are projects with real-world consequences, in which students have to problem solve as a group and respond to a need that is connected to our campus or a surrounding community. Additionally, students attend math and language seminars, workshops in activities around “personal expression,” and regular meetings with their advisor. The educational program gives order and ensures that adolescents are engaged in work, all to attain the multifaceted goal of social, emotional, and intellectual maturity.

Prepared Adults

All staff are trained to work with adolescents. As adults-in-training, not only do adolescents pay close attention to adult behavior, they benefit greatly in working “side-by-side” adults. Adults also know when to stand back, and allow students to experiment and complete their work as they see fit. Finally, staff could never anticipate the breadth of interest from our student body, nor the depth of curiosity from each student. For this reason, we have a continually expanding network of practitioners and workspaces across diverse industries and activities (science and technology, entertainment, crafts, arts, sports, and beyond).

Production & Exchange

When students decide what to produce (farm products; crafts) and how to exchange these products (farmers’ markets; special events) they engage in work that is of value to their community, to themselves, and to their physical environment. Producing and exchanging products allows adolescents to learn about interdependence, and that the economic decisions they make contain consequences far beyond their personal bank account. Production & Exchange ensures that student’s work remains socially relevant. 

Residency & Hospitality

Residency & Hospitality includes weekend campouts, weeklong trips, student-organized community dinners, hosting foreign-exchange students, preparing communal lunches, and general care of our environment. These activities are central to building community at our middle school; they are instrumental to the dignity and self-worth of adolescents who need to contribute to their society as adults (in training).   

A Day in the Life

With the above components in place, your child’s day will look different from that of a traditional middle school. Here’s what you can expect:

Morning Gathering

We begin with a community-wide meeting to organize the day ahead, including time for individuals to do campus chores which may involve prepping communal lunch, setting up the science lab, or tending to the garden.


We then break up into small groups for seminars (which alternate between math, language and scientific concepts). Math seminar centers around large white boards on which students present and discuss how they solved problems that deal with specific mathematical concepts. Language seminar involves experimenting with different forms of writing, group discussion of texts, or working on oratory skills.

Sciences & Humanities

This is when we cover basic academic concepts related to our on-going Study & Work projects. For example, if students are doing a Study & Work project with goats, guides may lead lessons on evolution or the history of animal domestication. We often structure seminar activities around these classroom lessons.

Communal Lunch

Groups of students take turns planning and preparing communal lunch. This includes cooking food, setting the table, and clean-up. We save time for students to relax and read or go outside for physical activities.

Applied Sciences & Humanities

After lunch we work on the applied aspects of our Study & Work projects. This often involves work outside on our campus (perhaps engaging with nature, working on the farm or building a structure), or in our workshop or science lab. Students may also use this time to visit practitioner workspaces off campus.

Personal Expression

Personal expression is a time for students to get creative and use their bodies. This may involve painting/drawing workshops, archery class, woodworking or ultimate frisbee drills. This is often when outside practitioners come to our campus to lead activities.

Schedule a Tour

Group admissions tours for the 2024-25 school year begin in September of 2023. You can join our Middle School Guide and Program Director, Peter Oviatt, at our Milwaukie campus for an overview of what a Montessori Middle School is, and how this specifically prepared environment works in tandem with an interdisciplinary curriculum, to support the teenager’s passage to adulthood. We will tour the expansive grounds and address Sunstone’s vision for the Milwaukie campus, which is slated to open in September of 2024. Please click below to schedule your campus tour and info session. We look forward to sharing Sunstone with you!