We want Family Star to be more than just a place you come and drop your child off. We want our community to know they are fully supported here.
FACTS & FIGURES
Montessori, Early Head Start, and Head Start programs
Young learners served
Young learners speak language other than English at home
Young learners served live below the poverty line
Young learners have a diagnosed disability
When you see something you think desperately needs to change, it sits with you until you’ve had enough and get yourself into action. That is a common experience for any learner-centered leader who has sparked a transformation in their community. And, it was no different for the leaders who started Family Star in 1988 (officially opening their doors in 1991). A group of local community activists saw the achievement gap between low-income and high-income children, along with the overall deterioration of their Five Points neighborhood, as two things that were too big to ignore. After establishing themselves as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, the community supported them in sending five neighborhood women to become certified Montessori teachers for infants and toddlers.
Thirty years later, Family Star continues to expand upon its original mission—“to discover the child in inclusive Montessori environments and inspire a movement for educating the human potential.” Family Star isn’t a 9-5, Monday-Friday learning environment serving children in a single building. Rather, Family Star is a 24/7/365 community focused on providing a two-generation model of services—serving young learners and adult caregivers alike.
Family Star bases their learner-centered practice around Montessori principles—cultivating learner agency by focusing on “independence, creative thinking, concentration, fostering an intrinsic love of learning”—while at the same time operating as an Early Head Start and Head Start program. They focus on improving upon the social determinants of health—work that reaches far beyond the conventional walls of a school. Food collaboratives, family nights, crisis funds, and home-based learning are all provided by Family Star. They firmly believe that education is about far more than knowledge acquisition. It’s about creating stronger communities.
The socially embedded nature of Family Star’s work is most strongly exemplified in the story of a young learner and his father who found himself incarcerated and homeless. Family Star was able to support this family in crisis by helping the father find stable housing and employment through their community connections and his children were provided with the help they needed to continue their development and growth.
Family Star’s focus on community transformation allows them to look beyond what it conventionally means to educate young people. From their Montessori roots, they have iterated upon the model to match the needs of the unique population they serve—providing a personalized, relevant, and contextualized experience that a copy-and-paste implementation plan would never accomplish.
As Family Star continues advancing their work, they want to reach as many families as possible without sacrificing the quality of their services. The learner-centered, community-first approach they have grown into over the last three decades must be sustained in order to achieve their grand mission. They aren’t looking for the overnight solution. Rather, they are looking to create a multi-generational solution that will thrive for decades to come.
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