Upon first visiting Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Virginia, one cannot help but sense the overwhelming inspiration and genius of this visionary statesman. He named the place “Monticello,” which in Italian means “little mountain,” but the term Monticello (pronounced mon-ti-chell-o) has become symbolic of much more than a place. When any observer experiences the awe inspiring architecture, the immaculate grounds, the creative décor, and the refreshing vistas of Monticello, he or she instantly realizes that there is a yearning inside each of us for more light and knowledge.
Jefferson’s lifelong quest for education and drive to acquire books is well documented. The donation of his personal libraries established the prestigious library at the heart of the University of Virginia. His home was always filled with the latest gadgets and inventions. Even the Library of Congress bears his imprint. It seems like his quest for enlightenment was insatiable, and he firmly believed that a nation that was well educated would be the happiest and most prosperous of all people under heaven.
“I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the conditions, promoting the virtue and advancing the happiness of man. (Thomas Jefferson to Cornelius Camden Blatchly, 1822. )
Nor was Mr. Jefferson an elitist when it came to enlightenment. His objective was never merely to consume learning upon himself—his aim was always to encourage better education for the masses as well. Indeed, he believed that the proverbial tide of knowledge was meant to raise all of the boats in the harbor, not only his own. In an 1808 reply to the American Philosophical Society he declared, “I feel ... an ardent desire to see knowledge so disseminated through the mass of mankind that it may, at length, reach even the extremes of society: beggars and kings.”
With these Jeffersonian principles in mind, we have developed the following mission statement for Monticello Academy:
The mission of Monticello Academy is to provide a superior education for K-9 students by:
Placing a high priority on academic achievement and college preparation;
Fostering traditional American values of hard work and strong moral character;
Encouraging parents to resume their rights and responsibilities to influence the education of their children;
Restoring strong art, music, and physical education components to the school curriculum;
Utilizing state-of-the-art technology to enhance instruction and learning;
Assisting students to gain knowledge, motivation, confidence, skills, and a lifelong love of learning.
We believe that the traditional public education system is decreasing in effectiveness, accountability and parent involvement. Therefore, the three main objectives to fulfill the mission of Monticello Academy are that:
Students must master and move beyond academic fundamentals,
The school must clearly demonstrate its ability to accomplish this, and
Parents must have a meaningful role in decision making regarding their children and school programs acknowledging that they are the primary stakeholders of the school.
We believe that students will rise to clear and reasonable expectations. A learning environment which cultivates the value of learning and the need to pursue knowledge through a rigorous curriculum and proven methodologies is the key to success at Monticello. Monticello will use the Core Knowledge model, an educational reform based on the premise that a grade-by-grade core of common learning is necessary to ensure a sound and fair elementary education. Accordingly, Monticello will meet and exceed state curriculum requirements in a well defined, measurable and sequential manner. We believe that music, art and physical education not only improve cognition and performance, they are also key elements that help make school enjoyable.
We believe that performance must be measured in a clear and relevant way. In traditional public schools, standardized test scores are often “norm-referenced”, meaning scores are adjusted to produce an expected range as compared to other students of similar income, ethnicity or gender within the district or the state. Since Monticello is an independent school district drawing students from a large geographical area, norm-referencing is eliminated, thus giving a more accurate assessment of the school’s performance. We believe that all students can excel regardless of income, race or gender, and that such factors should not create limitations for the student through lowered expectations or stereotypes.
We believe that real parent influence in education is not only a basic right, but also the key to effective education reform. While we acknowledge that teachers are the pedagogical professionals, we recognize that parents know their children and the community best. A symbiotic and synergistic relationship should exist between teacher and parent to best meet the needs of the student. Parents must have a meaningful role in the education of their children.
We believe that the appropriate use of technology can assist in achieving all three objectives including enriched learning, teacher training and support, performance measurement, and school-parent and parent-parent communications. To that end Monticello has partnered with the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) to help provide some of the most advanced technological applications in the world.