Upper Elementary
(Ages 9 – 12 years) (Grades 4 – 6)

Montessori observed that children between the ages of nine and twelve are capable of more abstract thought, including the ability to think hypothetically. Upper Elementary is a time when children cross the bridge from using hands–on, manipulative materials to acquiring a fully abstract understanding of concepts. Whereas the child in Lower Elementary has been using three or four materials to compute multiplication problems, the older student transitions to paper and pencil. The Elementary guide (“teacher”) is a trained observer, watching carefully to find the exact moment when the child makes the leap to abstraction with a particular concept. The guide meets regularly with each student to support her in setting goals and self-assessment. Time management, organization, and setting reasonable, responsible goals (executive function skills) are a priority at this level.

An important component of the elementary program is what we call “Going Out.”  This occurs for a group of children when exploration of a topic exhausts the resources of the classroom. A “Going Out” is a planned undertaking by a small group of children.  They find a resource in the community, schedule the outing, arrange for their own transportation and supervision (by staff or parent volunteers), prepare themselves for the experience, conduct themselves with dignity while out in public, and return to share their research with the rest of the class.  Not only a research opportunity, each “Going Out” is an entire course of study on independence, responsibility, and good citizenship.

Upper Elementary students are honing their leadership skills. In addition to planning “Going Out” trips, students develop their own community service projects, fundraising efforts, and opportunities to mentor younger children.

Upper Elementary Faculty:

Monique Gourd

Upper Elementary Teacher

Monique and her family relocated to Tampa in 2020 when her husband accepted a faculty position in Computer Science at the University of Tampa. Monique worked as a Lower Elementary Teacher, Spanish Teacher, and Upper Elementary Assistant at the Montessori School of Ruston in Louisiana. She is working to complete her AMS training in Upper Elementary through the Houston Montessori Center. She and her husband have a son and daughter who are both Montessori students. During her free time, Monique loves to travel with family and host friends and family at her home.

Denise Hudgens

Reading and Writing Specialist for Lower & Upper Elementary

Denise is a Florida native and moved to St Petersburg from Tampa in 2003. She attended USF and holds a B.S. in Environmental Science. She also has her AMS Early Childhood Credential and has been teaching in both primary and elementary classrooms for over 15 years. Outside of school Denise enjoys gardening, music, art, and spending time with her son, Nathan.

Iain Goddard

Upper Elementary and Middle School Science Specialist

Iain has taught science at Alegria for several years and teaches as he wished he had been taught science while he was younger. He has his PhD from MIT in Engineering and focuses his classes on chemistry, mechanics and electricity, depending on the year. There are weekly labs that involve the students in hands on activities. This is a highly anticipated class as the children transition from lower to upper elem.

Lourdes Mora

Spanish Teacher for Upper & Middle School

Lourdes was born and raised in Ecuador. She has her Bachelor of Arts in Teaching English as a Second Language from Cuenca University. As an ESL teacher, she has experience working at both elementary and high school levels, as well as in activities outside of the traditional classroom. Her first teaching experience was during high school when she worked as a volunteer elementary religion teacher at her church for 2 years. Additionally, for 5 years, she worked in one of the most important hydroelectric projects of Ecuador, Sopladora. Lourdes is currently pursuing her Lower Elementary Montessori Training Certification for children age 6-12. She is excited to continue teaching Spanish and the Hispanic culture at Alegria. When Lourdes is not teaching she enjoys painting, reading, and taking care of her flowers.