Soldtona Montessori Charter School, (Soldtona, AK). Soldotna Montessori Charter School has a small population of students with diverse ethnic backgrounds. The school is located on the Kenai Peninsula and within the historic, cultural area of the Kenaitze Native tribe. The school infuses cultural studies throughout all learning. For example, intermediate students spend a great deal of time connecting their learning to their immediate environment and engaging in ongoing field trips that focus on the region in which they live. Weaved into that learning are the cultural aspects associated with the Kenaitze tribe. When students are learning about the watershed and testing water sources for health, lessons also include how it was used and vital to the native tribe. When students explore our forests and learn about forest succession and fire ecology, they are also taught the cultural importance of Ch’wala to the Kenaitze people. Students travel to coastal intertidal zones of the Kachemak Bay and experience a vast number of invertebrates and resources. During that experience, students are also connected with Athabaskan subsistence sites especially situated for their access to abundant resources.
Students and families are encouraged to share and connect their unique backgrounds with fellow students. Sharing provides our students the opportunity to understand how each one’s culture is important and valuable to our school family, and how influential these cultural differences and similarities are. Included within that sharing is the intent to foster each student’s sense of independence, interconnection, respect for self and others, care, love, peace, and understanding. We accomplish this by weaving our cultural studies into all lessons, including student service, to build positive experiences in understanding and helping others.