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School walls pose few constraints for Bryant Montessori’s middle school science class. Spring days include trips to Swan Creek watershed, a 290-acre park where students identify native and invasive plants, write poems and calculate how many miles walked.
Exploring the outside world plays an important role in Montessori instruction, which encourages independence, project-based learning and global citizenship.
“Bryant is highly academic, but it also develops community,” Middle School science teacher Wynn Brown said. “We start every year with a leadership camp where kids get to know each other and do service work.”
Bryant’s close-knit community develops from its classroom structure, where students learn in mixed grade levels, often with the same teacher for successive years. Students mentor and learn from each other and find lasting community and trust in their classrooms.
Bryant provides tailored spaces for all its students. Preschool and kindergarten students learn together in the Children’s House rooms, while older students cluster in classrooms for grades 1-3, grades 4-5, and 6-8.
In the younger grades, students work most often on floor mats – concentrating deeply on tasks they handpick. Stations like word games and counting blocks rotate out throughout the year as teachers add progressively harder tools to the shelves.
In the upper grades, hands-on learning transitions to project-based learning. Middle school students follow a block schedule, where classes meet every other day for extended periods of time, allowing for longer, concentrated time with each subject.
Any student enrolled at Geiger Montessori, Tacoma Public Schools’ other Montessori school for preschool-fifth grade, can enroll at Bryant middle school.
Laron Clapp transferred to Bryant for eighth grade. His younger brother attended the school and his family enjoyed the close community. Learning with sixth through eighth grade students together at first felt unusual. Soon he started appreciating how he can help others and get help himself.
“I feel like the whole class helps me out,” he said. “It’s supportive here, and people are really helpful to each other. My grades have gone up.”
Bryant’s staff strives to extend that sense of community beyond the classroom walls. Middle school students must complete 36 hours of community service. They also participate in field studies, from cleaning beaches on Vashon Island to working with adults with disabilities at L’Arche Tacoma Hope Community.
Students in Brown’s 6-8 grade science class demonstrate how easily mentorship happens. Before class ends, they advise each other on their upcoming trips.
“L’Arche is a farm for adults with disabilities. You take the No. 1 bus, walk about six blocks and then you’re at the farm,” an eighth grader tells his younger classmates. “It’s a really fun trip, but don’t wear anything you don’t want to get dirt or manure on. Open-toed shoes are probably a bad idea.”
Get to know Bryant
Innovation Model: Bryant uses the Montessori Method, an educational approach that emphasizes self-directed learning. The classrooms are mixed age, comprising three grades at a time (for example first through third grade or 3-years-old through kindergarten). Students work uninterrupted for long periods of time on tasks they choose from a range of prescribed options. The approach aims to cultivate concentration, leadership, self-motivation and a sense of community.
Grades: Pre-school through 8th
Teacher training: All Bryant’s classroom teachers are Montessori trained and accredited.
School Report Card
School Web site
Clubs and After School Programs (some only available to specific grade levels):
ASB - Associated Student Body
AVID for fifth and sixth graders
Battle of the Books
Peaceful Scientists Committee
•PTO Family Fun Nights
American Montessori Society •
International Montessori Association •
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