CFMS Adolescent Program

Educating the Whole Child Through the Whole of Childhood

Christian Family Montessori School, an AMI-accredited Montessori school located on the grounds of a historic cemetery in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC, is proud to announce the launch of an Adolescent Program for 7th and 8th graders in Fall 2024.

Maria Montessori described adolescence as a transition from “a child who has to live in a family, to an [adult] who has to live in society.” The CFMS Adolescent Program provides a safe and supportive environment in which to take this journey. With the guidance of a seasoned educator, and working in both classroom and community, CFMS students blossom into self-confident citizens eager to contribute their unique gifts toward the creation of a more just and peaceful world. 

Who We Serve

The CFMS Adolescent Program will serve 7th and 8th graders who have previous experience in Montessori learning environments. 

Located in the Petworth neighborhood of DC, our school is accessible to families from across Washington DC and surrounding areas.

CFMS welcomes everyone. We are an inclusive, affirming school community committed to principles of inclusivity, equity, and social justice. We are home to families from different racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds and affirm and welcome children and families with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions.  

Tuition rates for the Adolescent Program are not yet set, but they will reflect our values of accessibility and affordability (CFMS tuition rates are currently 70% below those of other comparable Montessori schools in our area). In keeping with existing practice, we anticipate awarding tuition assistance to all who need it.

A Montessori Approach to Middle School

For parents of 21st century adolescents, Montessori’s work resonates in striking and unexpected ways. Observing a world characterized by endless change in all areas of life, Montessori believed that survival and success depended on an individual’s knowledge of self, and the ability to apply that knowledge effectively with minimal friction and duress.

The Adolescent Program will prepare students academically for high school while providing a supportive environment in which the natural vulnerability and curiosity associated with adolescence inspire self-discovery and meaningful connection with others. 7th and 8th graders in the CFMS Adolescent Program will:

Why Choose the CFMS Adolescent Program?

We know Montessori...and more

CFMS is a well-established community of Montessori practitioners, experts, and learners. For nearly 45 years, the school has prepared children to meet the academic, social and moral challenges in front of them through a high-quality Montessori education. 

The Adolescent Program is led by a team of seasoned educators with deep expertise in Montessori methods and practice, traditional common core instruction, curriculum design, K-8 school administration, and experiential learning. Our team has launched and run successful adolescent programs at leading Montessori schools across the nation; our Lead Guide, Lori Wilen, has 30 years of education experience in teaching, supporting educators in program and curriculum development, interdisciplinary approaches, and small group instruction. Read more about our team below.

We are a small school dedicated to the success of all students

Small schools are uniquely powerful places to educate adolescents. Small schools provide unparalleled opportunities for one-on-one mentoring and support, a highly effective network practice for young adolescents who are experiencing heightened vulnerability and intense emotions. Small schools foster extraordinary relationships between and among adults and students, both in the classroom and beyond it; these bonds are a meaningful source of support for young people who are beginning to seek authority outside the family unit to help shape their choices and give meaning to their world.

Research shows that middle school transitions can have a negative impact on student achievement, as students confront an array of academic and social challenges they are not yet equipped to overcome. Adolescents who remain in a consistent, supportive environment through 8th grade fare better academically, not only during middle school but in the years beyond. Read more about research highlighting the value of K-8 schools here.

We foster adaptability

The world is changing at an astonishingly fast pace. Today’s adolescents will live and work in a world we can’t quite imagine yet. “It is necessary that the human personality should be prepared for the unforeseen, not only for the conditions that can be anticipated by prudence and foresight,” in the words of Montessori. The CFMS Adolescent Program prepares students for their continuing education in high school, while also cultivating the flexibility and adaptability they’ll need to find fulfillment as productive, thoughtful citizens of the world for decades beyond.

We believe adolescents can do incredible things

Parents often fear adolescence. Our culture today reinforces the idea that teenagers are scary. For their part, children approach adolescence believing it will be tumultuous and unpleasant, an experience to be endured before the rewards of adulthood can be realized. The CFMS Adolescent Program instead celebrates the inherent wonder and joy of this transient moment. The vulnerability, social awareness, and creative minds of children at this age can be harnessed to do great individual and collective work. We celebrate the individuality and unique strengths of each student, while encouraging thoughtful collaboration with others in both the classroom and the larger community.

We support the growth and development of body, mind, and spirit

Spiritual formation in the adolescent is deeply introspective and involves many existential questions: Who am I? What do I believe? How do I want to live my life? Who do I wish to be in the world? 

Our goal in working with the adolescent is to affirm these questions, acknowledge their doubts, support their exploration, and give them space to discern their own path. It is not our role to tell them what to think, but rather to inspire them to think for themselves. In many cultures and religious traditions, early adolescence is a time to celebrate an individual’s choice to enter into a community as an adult member. CFMS celebrates the diversity and plurality that makes our school a reflection of our city and our world.

Adolescent Program Application Process

The first step in application is a conversation with the Adolescent Program staff, or attending a tour or Open House event. Space in the AP program is limited, with priority given to students with prior Montessori experience.

Program Launch and Updates

The launch of the CFMS Adolescent Program is set for Fall 2024. To stay informed about our progress and to express interest in the program for your family, click the button below: 

Meet Our Team

Program Designer and Lead Guide

Lori Wilen has been an educator in the DC Metro area for over 30 years. She has a Masters in Education in School Leadership from Harvard University and her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Spanish from the University of Maryland, College Park. In the fall of 2023, Lori will begin the AMI Adolescent Program Diploma Course to round out her knowledge of teaching and learning in the Montessori Method. During her career, she was a classroom teacher, an instructional coach, the Director of STEM for DCPS, and a curriculum designer and developer. She taught and led schools in the Expeditionary Learning model which included deep and meaningful work in the classroom, field work, and integrated content studies as well as a focus on supporting individuals and the ways we work together. Lori is also a yoga teacher and a mom to two amazing kids and a feisty dog.

Our Administrative Team

Keely began her career as a Montessori educator in 1998 and has led CFMS as Head of School since 2018. She has experience in a variety of administrative and classroom settings across her 25 years in education. Keely is passionate about supporting children and families especially in the most dynamic phases of development, early childhood and adolescence. She completed Montessori training at the Primary level through Seton Montessori Institute as well as the AMI Orientation to Adolescent Studies through IMTI. Keely holds a Masters Degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and completed her Bachelor of Arts at Wittenberg University. She currently serves on the Board of the Washington Montessori Institute and is an active member of the Washington Small Schools Association.  Keely and her husband Dan have made Washington their home since 2012. They are also the proud parents of two Montessori children, one now a Junior in college and the other a CFMS Lower Elementary student.

Kristi is the Director of Student Support. She began her work at CFMS in 1998 as an assistant in a Primary classroom and intern at the Center for Children and Theology. In 2001 she received her primary Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) diploma and Masters of Education degree from the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University Maryland and became a Primary teacher at CFMS in September of 2001. In 2011, Kristi helped to establish the All Day Montessori program. Kristi received her B.A. in German and Journalism from the University of Alabama, and studied at the Universität Hamburg in Germany. Kristi is trained in Level I of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. In 2021 she completed the AMI 12-18 Orientation Course.

Jan is the Director of Faculty Support. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University and completed her Elementary Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) diploma and Masters of Education degree at the Washington Montessori Institute at Loyola University Maryland. Jan dedicated more than two decades of her career to Arbor Montessori School in Atlanta where she served as Lower Elementary Guide, Upper Elementary Guide, Adolescent Program Founding Director and Guide and eventually as Head of School.  In 2018, Jan moved to DC to be closer to family and took a position as Assistant Head of School at Fiore Montessori in northern Virginia.  

Jan joined CFMS in the summer of 2021. She is responsible for teacher observation, evaluation,  and mentorship as well as leading our AMI accreditation process. Jan supports the parent-teacher partnership and effective communication of student progress.