La Tierra Charter School Offers Fresh Approach To Student Learning In The Valley

La Tierra Students at La Tierra show their academic prowess at the statewide Battle of the Books in Santa Fe. Courtesy image

La Tierra Charter School Offers Fresh Approach To Student Learning In The Valley

ESPAÑOLA  – La Tierra Montessori School of the Arts and Sciences, a charter school which opened in the Española  Valley in 2011 offers students an integrated approach to learning that includes Montessori, the Arts and the Sciences.

La Tierra offers a comprehensive and holistic education for kindergarteners through eighth graders, based on the Montessori learning methods. Suzanne Lynne, La Tierra’s “Head Learner,” or school principal explained that La Tierra is designed to offer students an environment which embraces the whole child, allowing self-directed discovery and learning. Students are provided larger blocks of time for lessons and a more relaxed environment for covering curriculum. Lynne explains that by using larger time blocks and an integrated Montessori approach classes integrate many topics into a single lesson.

As an example Lynne described a mixed fifth-sixth grade class which students learned the Pythagorean Theorem and used their new knowledge to design the size and dimensions of planting beds in a new hoop house the school built. Lynne described this system as providing direct problem-solving opportunities. “Students have the latitude to take an idea and run with it. We are not firmly locked into a set curriculum” said Lynne.

In addition to a Montessori based curriculum, La Tierra also incorporates Agricultural Science into students’ learning. The campus has 7.6 acres available for agricultural development and students have the opportunity to study at the Four Bridges Travelling Permaculture Institute during the school year.

La Tierra, which just completed its third year of operations moved to their current location at Ohkay Owingeh’s old John F Kennedy middle school at the start of this past school year. Previously it was located at the Oñate Center in Alcalde and the old Española Middle School.

The school is now flourishing, with over 120 students enrolled for the upcoming school year and most classes filled. A lottery system is in place for those seeking to attend La Tierra Montessori School during the next school year. Lynne said the school still has space in their eighth grade level classrooms.

Roger Montoya, a member of the La Tierra School Board and director of moving art Española  explained how a partnership between Moving Arts and La Tierra allows students to spend almost 3 hours per week in the Moving Arts dance and music programs. Montoya describes La Tierra Montessori school as “a beautiful possibility where a school exists in which children are able to love education and be excited about learning. It is a system which provides students fluidity and flexibility, where students are not locked into a set learning system. It holds an opportunity for students to grow into themselves.”

La Tierra Montessori School is a state chartered school, rather than chartered within the local school district. The school is also exploring the possibility of adding a Montessori based preschool sometime in the future.

This summer La Tierra is running a summer education program for kindergarten through second grade students. Families looking for a more holistic or are spaced education for their children in the Valley may be very interested in looking into La Tierra. For more information contact Suzanne Lynne at 852-0200 or at their website at