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The Adolescent Experience

They might tell you they're all over the map. And that can be true — quite literally — for the students in grades 7 through 9 who make up Omni's Middle School, known as the Program for Adolescents.

Though their academic home base is Omni's 13-acre campus in Waxhaw, you might find them conducting field research at a geological site, horse-back riding on a nearby farm, or lugging instruments and amplifiers into the science lab for a community “Coffee House” performance. On a given weekday, they sell organic produce they've grown at the Blakeney campus. And class trips take students and faculty to the mountains of North Carolina or museums in Virginia — experiences that enhance their class work in botany, physics, and much more.

The waxhaw campus

Omni's Waxhaw Campus is located 20 miles south of the Blakeney Campus in Waxhaw, North Carolina. To the casual observer, it is a serene and picturesque farm with a modern main building, pond, garden, barn, and ample wooded space. In Montessori terms, the campus is a safe and nurturing prepared environment, consistent with Maria Montessori's vision for adolescent growth. It is a place for holistic human development — classrooms for conventional learning, a natural habitat abundant in opportunities for field study, and an authentic community where teens can develop and test mature social and economic interaction.

"The Waxhaw Campus is certainly unique," says one parent. "It is an academically challenging Middle School in a Walden Pond setting. It gives the students an opportunity to evolve into unique individuals on their own terms. They get to test their adult wings in authentic ways, but with a sturdy safety net."

transitioning to adulthood

Like all students in what Maria Montessori termed the adolescent plane of development, Omni's 12- to 15-year-olds are transitioning to the adult realm. Their bodies and minds are undergoing powerful changes — and they are beginning to sort out and tackle grown-up roles, relationships, and responsibilities. Though often unsure and untested, they are thirsty for intellectual stimulation, creative expression, independence, and internal validation.

Middle School students receive a rigorous grounding in language, math, science, the arts and humanities, and in the completion of adult work known as the "occupations" curriculum. Classrooms in the main building are used for traditional study, and include an art studio, library, and science and computer labs. Classroom work is integrated with field study, interaction with visiting experts, work on and off the farm, and a range of other experiences.

The students' daily ritual is not unlike those of more traditional schools. Possessions are stowed in lockers, classes start and end at regular intervals, homework is assigned and assessed, and the comprehension of knowledge and concepts is demonstrated through the student's work and presentation of knowledge to the community. The approach, however, is thoroughly Montessori — where the end result lies not in a letter grade or diploma, but in the development of intellect, creativity, and independence. Guides provide direction and guidance, with the goal of developing students who work freely and independently.


Monday through Friday
8:30am – 3:45pm

Bus transportation to the Waxhaw Campus departs the Blakeney Campus at 8:05am and returns at 4:30pm.