Why Montessori Gifted Prep?
Montessori Gifted Prep is Chicago's premier Montessori preschool providing results-oriented personalized education, flexible extended care options, and fun extracurricular activities for 2 - 6 year old children. Montessori Gifted Prep is designed to prepare your child to reach their full potential.
At Montessori Gifted Prep, we provide a foundation for academic excellence and encourage the love of learning inherent in every student through participation and engagement. At Montessori Gifted Prep, lessons are experienced, not just taught. New ideas and skills emerge from the pages of books and are turned into unforgettable experiences by our qualified, Montessori-certified teachers. The teachers and staff ensure each student’s success in a caring and structured environment, which includes:
- Premium academic curriculum for ages two to six, placing an emphasis on critical thinking, reasoning, problem solving, creativity and mental control (holding information in the short term memory while performing a mental operation)
- Full day schedule offered including before and after-school care (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
- Personalized learning plans that educate the whole child based on goals, learning styles, interests, parent input and skill level
- Student uniforms contribute positively to students' behavior - less focus on fashion in the classroom and more focus on learning
- Low student-to-teacher classroom ratio
- Inspired teachers who use experiential, interdisciplinary learning to teach children what to ask instead of simply what to answer
- Attention to the child’s social and emotional development to support the development of independence, resiliency and awareness of the needs of others
- Technology that is embraced into the classroom
- Self-correcting classroom materials (e.g. flash cards, puzzles, flip cards) specialized for each level of development
- Expansive array of extracurricular programming tailored to student interest
- Foreign language instruction in Spanish and Mandarin
- Performing arts instruction in choral music and movement
- Year round syllabus available
- Individualized placement process for graduates
Montessori Gifted Prep was established by JC Mountainbear in response to the lack of high-quality, full-time childcare and educational options. With low-performing neighborhood schools seen as an unattractive alternative and the cost of some private schools out of reach, many parents see CPS' selective enrollment programs as the best public education option in the city. In the hopes of getting their children into CPS Gifted and Classical elementary schools, parents who could not afford to send their children through private school for years K-12, but wish to invest in their child for preschool (ages 2 - 6 years), turn to Montessori Gifted Prep. With a 15% acceptance rate in Chicago Public Schools' classical and gifted kindergarten programs next year, one of Montessori Gifted Prep’s goals is to help preschoolers prepare for CPS Gifted Elementary Schools through personalized learning experiences.
Our individualized curriculum and commitment to helping teach your child will lay the foundation for their success. Montessori Gifted Prep is the only Montessori school in Chicago offering a results-oriented curriculum designed to prepare graduates for the Chicago Public School Gifted and Classical elementary school programs. We are building a framework to help students express their giftedness, establish their humanity, and maximize their potential.
Montessori Gifted Prep aims to be a leading Montessori & enrichment program center in the world, utilizing the best in technology, fundamentals of the Montessori philosophy, and the latest test preparation materials relating to early childhood learning.
Everything that the School does – from welcoming families to teaching students to supporting school growth – comes out of the core belief that academic achievement must drive every element of a school. Academic rigor and excellence are the pathways to a better future. Montessori Gifted Prep’s actions are guided by the following core values:
- Academic Performance Drives Leadership
- Academic Performance Drives Design
- Academic Performance Drives Culture
- Academic Performance Drives Decisions
- Academic Performance Drives Governance
- Accountability Drives Academic Performance
JC Mountainbear, Founder and Head of School
"Mr. JC" is proud to bring a different set of experiences to preschool education. From growing up in a low-income housing development in the Bronx, NY, he has held leadership positions in global Fortune 500 companies. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Michigan and a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. JC has enjoyed an outstanding career helping shape the strategy of organizations including Citigroup in New York City, Intel Corp. in the Bay Area, California, Deutsche Bank in Sydney, Australia, Bank of America in Charlotte, NC, and Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.
As someone whose life was transformed by his educational experiences, JC has remained committed to schools. JC is certified by The Montessori Leadership Institute in “Building a World Class Montessori School” and he trained at Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, IL for the Montessori Early Childhood Teacher Certification. Over the course of his career, he has continued to be an active leader in education, both nationwide and in his immediate communities. Holding a 2nd don black belt in Kung-Fu, he has successfully founded and lead martial arts schools for children in Ann Arbor, MI and San Jose, CA. Furthermore, since 2012, he has served on the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University’s Dean’s Advisory Board Committee, where he was recognized by Kellogg as a global leader who makes contributions of lasting significance.
Now striving to make an impact and transform the lives of children in Chicago, JC wishes to teach the critical thinking skills that he gained in over 15 years of international business to the youth of Chicago. He has visited and studied the educational programs of over 20 preschools in Chicago, ranging from the independent elite private schools to the Chicago Public School system's marginalized schools in the city's south side, and developed a comprehensive, innovative curriculum designed to embrace the unique experiences of urban youth and guide them into the types of well-rounded students that the elite schools such as Chicago Public School’s gifted/classical program and private schools covet.
His goal is to create a preschool to open doors for all students with the belief that all young children could attain high levels of academic success and strong moral character if provided with quality educational resources designed to engage young children and social interaction beyond the traditional school curriculum. He is committed to transforming preschool education through Montessori teaching methods, innovative technology solutions, and passionate, engaged parents, so that all children have the opportunity to succeed.
During his spare time he serves the Ronald McDonald House, caring for families whose children are receiving treatment at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He maintains a healthy humility & will never forget where he started out in life; however, this will never stop him from believing where he and others can go in life. This world needs influential changers, and that's where his passion lies.
Angie Zhang, Academic Director & Toddler Lead Teacher (Ages 2-3)
"Ms. Angie" is the Academic Director at Montessori Gifted Prep and Lead Teacher in the 2-3 year old classroom. Angie is originally from Xi’an, the capital city of Shaanxi Province in central China, and she completed a B.A. in English from Xi’an University of Science and Technology. She holds a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from Oklahoma City University, and has completed the requirements for the American Montessori Certificate at Oklahoma City University. She also holds a master degree in TESOL (Teaching English to speaker of other languages). Prior to joining Montessori Gifted Prep, Angie taught at Westminster School, a leading Montessori preschool in Oklahoma City. She has also been teaching Mandarin at Oklahoma City Chinese School for two years. In her spare time she loves to travel, watch movies, listen to music and play in the arts. She believes that “Every child has a different learning style and pace. Each child is unique, not only capable of learning, but also capable of succeeding.”
Yanneth Guendica, Primary Lead Teacher (Ages 3 - 6)
"Ms. Yanneth" is the Lead Teacher in the 3-6 year old classroom. Yanneth brings over 20 years of early childhood teaching experience and believes that it is important that the School is a warm and welcoming place - children really do learn better when they are happy and secure and surrounded by caring friends and teachers. But children also learn more when they are challenged, and Montessori Gifted Prep prides itself on challenging children to think critically, creatively, and independently. Yanneth enjoys cultivating an environment that fosters the success of all students by facilitating the development, communication, implementation, and evaluation of a shared vision of excellence in teaching and learning which is firmly grounded in Montessori philosophy. She believes that all students have different learning styles and they deserve to be respected. All in all, her goals as an educator are to provide her students with a rich environment, and experiences that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Yanneth received her undergraduate degree at Universidad Libre in Colombia and her Master's degree from the Russian University of People' Friendship. Yanneth is fluent in Russian and Spanish and also studied Early Childhood at the Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center in Evanston, IL. During her spare time she volunteers with Subsequent Pregnancy Project Option. She also loves animals and music.