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Learning Resource Team

The Learning Resource Team at Free Horizon supports the unique educational needs of students across all grades. The LRT team includes special education, counseling, gifted and talented and intervention. Our special education team of two SPED teachers, speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist and school psychologist serves students on individual educational plans and tier two and three intervention. Our math and reading interventionists serve students needing additional help. Our school counselor facilitates 504 plans, small groups, weekly peace lessons and one on one counseling.

Exceptional Learners

In keeping with the Jeffco Choice Enrollment Policy, Free Horizon Montessori is obligated to review the educational needs of each child and ensure that the school has the ability and resources necessary to meet a student’s educational needs. Generally, testing and evaluations is not a required path for enrollment at FHM. However, special categories of enrollment as listed below may require such testing. Like all Jeffco Public Schools, FHM utilizes the Response to Intervention/Instruction (RtI) model, which supports all students by adjusting instruction within the regular classroom along with frequent progress monitoring to ensure growth.

Early Kindergarten Readiness: 

Early kindergarten entrance is granted only to those four year olds who qualify under Jeffco Public Schools' Early Access program.   Students applying for Early Access must submit an application and other supporting documentation and participate in two testing days.  The application deadline is typically mid-February each year.  Students must score in the 98th percentile or above in order to qualify for Early Access.  For more information, visit the Gifted and Talented page of Jeffco Public Schools website by clicking here.

Students with Special Needs:

FHM welcomes the opportunity to benefit both students and community by accepting students with special needs. A special needs student is any child who may require time, energy, education and programming beyond the scope of our regular program. Designated areas of special needs are as follows: physical, cognitive, social, emotional and work/study skills.

Any student with special needs must be able to function in an integrated and inclusive classroom and be able to access our core curriculum and instructional methods without the need for one-on-one extra supports, which is aligned with state and federal mandates to educate students in the least restrictive environment. FHM utilizes a Learning Resource Team (LRT), which includes the following professionals: Special Education Teacher, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, Psychologist, Speech and Language Assistant, and Instructional Assistant, to meet the various needs of our students. This team supports teachers in individualizing education for all students with a primary focus of supporting students who have diagnosed conditions requiring Individualized Education Plans (IEP’s), Individualized Literacy Plans (ILP’s), and 504 Plans.

It is our priority to meet the needs of every student enrolled to the best of our ability. For a special needs student just entering FHM, the following criteria must be followed:

  1. Review of the child's most recent IEP, 504 Plan or other accommodations plan by our Learning Resource Team.
  2. Conversation between our Learning Resource Team member(s) and/or Head of School with the child's current teacher.

In addition, one or more of the following might take place, depending on the outcomes of the previous items:

  1. Parent meeting with Head of School, Teacher and LRT Representative to discuss the student’s needs and FHM’s overall ability and staffing to meet those needs. 
  2. Student visitation for a minimum of one-half (½) day to allow for teacher observation as well as evaluation of program compatibility.
  3. Student observed at their current school by member(s) of the Learning Resource Team and/or FHM teacher, and/or Head of School.
  4. If further objective assessments are necessary, parents will be asked to seek out testing and provide written reports of student’s assessment and needs according to an objective professional (Note: this may or may not be available through FHM or Jefferson County professionals at no cost to the family.) Costs of testing beyond the scope of school/county resources are the responsibility of the student’s parents. 
  5. FHM staff will collaboratively determine whether FHM's Montessori learning environment best meets the child's identified needs.
  6. If enrolled, evaluation of the continued suitability of the FHM learning environment will occur on an annual basis.

Finally, and most importantly, parents should note that while FHM understands that “labeling” a disability is often necessary as part of determining educational needs, we do not believe that “labeling” serves the child in realizing his/her educational potential. Labels, whether positive or negative, limit a child’s ability to take risks outside of the externally defined expectation and in so doing inhibits the development of self-efficacy and subsequent learning. To that end, we ask adults not the use of learning/ability-associated labels in our school environment.

Gifted Students:

Identification: Determining giftedness is a multi-faceted approach, which includes both objective and subjective tests. These are completed by parents, teachers, and trained psychologists.

  • Gifted students measure at least one standard deviation above the norm on standardized tests of intelligence. IQ does not solely determine giftedness.
  • Gifted and talented students are those whose abilities, talents, and potential for accomplishment are remarkably higher when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment. These may be seen in areas of intellectual ability, specific academic aptitude, creativity, productive thinking, leadership and human relations skills, visual and performing arts, and psychomotor abilities.
  • Gifted students manifest specific personality or learning characteristics that may require adaptation of curriculum or instruction. Checklists are used to assess the level of adaptation and are completed by both parents and teachers. Some standardized measures are also used to assess psychological and social traits common with gifted students.

What does Free Horizon Offer Gifted Students? 

  • The Montessori curriculum is designed to support both risk-taking and assure challenge of studies. We do this by balancing interest and meaning with the demonstrated ability level of individual students. Instead of following a dictated curriculum by grade level, we use a scope and sequence and allow students to progress at the highest level of ability, regardless of grade. In short, our curriculum engages the mind to the limits of one’s capability.

  • Inclusive Instruction: Montessori education embraces a multi-age classroom that allows for cooperative learning and challenge in the four pillars of learning (physical, psychological, social, and cognitive). As such, we do not believe that separation and isolation from one’s social/emotional peer group is required to support the needs of a gifted student.

  • Advanced Learning Plan (ALP): If a student is determined by Jefferson County public schools to be “gifted,” then we are mandated to implement an ALP. This plan defines goals and evaluates progress in reaching such goals on a yearly basis.

  • Individualized Education: While an ALP document is required for students identified as gifted, all FHM students are individually monitored for progress in reaching their academic goals. Progress is measured by observation, authentic work samples, unit assessments, and standardized assessments.

  • Integrated Curriculum: True learning must integrate interest and hard work. It requires teachers to make lessons meaningful while still guiding the student in the skills necessary for success. These skills move from concrete (hands-on) learning to abstract understanding and serve to expand awareness and understanding at a broader level. A good example of this is when you talk to a friend about your own reading. Do you say, “Wow, I’m reading at a 12th grade level!”? No, instead we talk about what we read, what it meant to us, what we think about it, and how it changed our lives. The same is true for math – we talk about how we use it, not necessarily what it is. These examples demonstrate how true learning is used and expanded each and every day, and Montessori education is renowned for this successful approach to education.



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