Nurturing Academic Passions with Hands-On Learning - The Bend Magazine

Nurturing Academic Passions with Hands-On Learning

The Montessori program at Incarnate Word Academy (IWA) can be traced to three dedicated and committed women, Mrs. Irene Meaney, Mrs. Ellen Flood, and Mrs. Jean Adams.

Figure 1: Students in Sister Stainslaus' Montessori Class engaging with their works during the 1965-1966 school year.

The Montessori program at Incarnate Word Academy (IWA) can be traced to three dedicated and committed women, Mrs. Irene Meaney, Mrs. Ellen Flood, and Mrs. Jean Adams. As a result of their encouragement, and the work of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament, the first Catholic Montessori school in Corpus Christi was opened in September of l965 and has continued to flourish ever since.

IWA continues the legacy of Dr. Maria Montessori, who felt that the goal of education should not be to fill students with facts, but rather to cultivate the student’s own desire to learn. The Montessori philosophy may be summed up by the student’s request to “help me do it myself.”

Figure 2: Sister Elizabeth Close and Instructional Aide Belinda Saldana show parents the classroom activities in Montessori Primary.

Montessori teachers at IWA work to support and guide students as they become autonomous learners, engaged in the development of their unique selves, as competent, responsible, and adaptive citizens. 

The Early Childhood Montessori learning environment is divided into four basic areas: practical life (everyday living), sensorial (materials focusing on one or more of the senses), language, and mathematics. Additionally, music, Spanish, art, technology, and religion are integrated into the curriculum and further enrich each child’s experience.

Figure 3: A student works with the Montessori Grammar Symbols. Each symbol represents a part of speech the child has learned.

The Montessori program at the Elementary Level also responds to the needs of 6 to 11-year-olds with exploration and order. This is the age that children begin to explore and make sense of their environment.

Montessori classrooms at IWA incorporated a delicate balance between freedom and structure. Students move from one activity to the next without prompting from the teacher, learning to be responsible and accountable. Each classroom is prepared with a three-year span of curriculum, allowing students to progress at their own pace. The multi-age grouping exposes the student to a variety of work and lends itself to the development of social and emotional skills which foster collaboration and leadership.

Figure 4: Students practice multiplication tables using a Multiplication Bead Board.

Upper Elementary Level students cross the bridge between primarily experiential learning and abstract understanding of concepts. New thinking brings a growing sense of membership in society while acknowledging the need for peer interaction. Working on group projects, using community resources, and expanding field studies become important new elements in the curriculum.

The net result of careful progression through the Elementary Level Montessori program is a child who is independent and naturally curious, with a love of learning and achievement. 

Discover for yourself why the Montessori education model has continued to be relevant for the past 10 decades.

If you think your child would benefit from a structured, safe environment that encourages independent thought and embraces their uniqueness, please contact the IWA Director of Marketing and Enrollment, Claudia Rybalka, at 361-883-0857, ext. 165 or visit