Good Shepherd Montessori School

A Contemplative Space Called “The Atrium”

Children at Good Shepherd Montessori School spend 2 hours/week in the quiet, contemplative space called “The Atrium,” a term taken from the early Church, the structural space between the body of the church building and the street in which  catechumens (seekers of the faith) took their religious instruction before entering into the community of faith.

At GSMS we take seriously the vocation of educating the whole child, including the spirit of the child. Children are, by nature, spiritual beings and are in relationship with God long before they arrive at the school’s door. We honor that relationship by providing time and space for the child to explore, cultivate, and enjoy it.

We believe that the religious formation program that best supports and celebrates the spiritual development of the child is the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Since 1954, the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd movement has responded to the deep desire in children to ponder life’s biggest mysteries:  who am I? Where did I come from? How did the universe get here? What happens when we die? In the Atrium, children are presented with materials, Scriptures, and liturgy that help to explore spiritual matters that are important to children and, we find, essential to the human experience,

As in the classroom, the Atrium follows the Montessori method; small groups of mixed-aged children are given presentations of hands-on materials. After the short lesson and a conversation prompted by “wondering” questions, the child is free to work with the materials and respond with artwork, song, calligraphy, bookmaking, conversation with a friend, or written work in a journal. Sitting in silence is encouraged as is reading Scripture alone or with small groups in a shared reading.

The purposeful, peaceful environment of the Atrium provides a calm counterpoint to the hubbub and inane “busyness” of our larger culture and sets the stage for a lifetime of seeking out a time and place of stillness in one’s life in order to hear the still, small voice inside each of us. We believe that this will serve the child well, and lead to a healthier, more peaceful world.

To explore further, feel free to call the school and ask to speak with a Catechist and/or schedule a tour of the Atrium.