Root Academy is a preschool through elementary program that integrates three pillars: Montessori philosophy, Spanish language immersion, and Martial Arts. The Academy provides a balanced and inclusive learning environment so that children of all abilities can reach their full potential. Our culture at the academy inspires independent thinking, creative problem solving, and a deep sense of empathy and connection that prepares students to actively engage with their local community and the surrounding world. We are invested in learning about each child and supporting them in whatever ways are necessary so they can be happy and successful in school. We do not have any behavior or academic expectations for students prior to enrollment.
Root Academy was co-founded in 2016 by Heather MacKenzie Graham and Jarreau Elizabeth Gardner, who shared a vision about a new way to approach education.
Heather MacKenzie Graham was originally inspired to find a way to integrate martial arts with academics while teaching and managing a martial arts school in 2012. Over time she observed that children who maintained their training over longer periods of time benefited with great confidence, enhanced physical ability, a calm sense of self, and greater respect for themselves and the people in their lives. In many cases even children struggling with severe physical, mental, emotional challenges were able to show marked improvement in their ability to work in a group with their peers, their academic work, and their empathy for others. Over these years, she also observed that many children who had made incredible improvements in their lives would stop attending lessons. Many would return several months or a year a later stating that they should have remained because the benefits of training were so incredible. Root Academy was born from the idea that if traditional martial arts were integrated into academic learning then the consistency of training could more effectively impact the student's life.
Montessori was chosen to guide the curriculum and classroom environment of Root Academy because the Montessori philosophy supports students of all abilities in discovering their truest interests, greatest strengths, and deepest motivations. Teachers tailor the learning pace to each child’s style and ability so that each child can discover his or her internal motivations for learning. Foreign language study (Spanish immersion) contributes to greater understanding, appreciation and respect for other languages and cultures, enhanced knowledge of how language works (important to reading acquisition), and improved performance on tasks that call for divergent thinking, pattern recognition and problem solving.