Ottawa's largest and oldest Montessori school will open the first local high school devoted to the educational philosophies the school uses for younger grades.

Ottawa Montessori School director Pat Gere hopes to have 40 students enrolled next year, with tuition costs of $15,000 dollars a year.

Gere said the new high school — called The Element — will use Montessori principles of mixed aged classes, and more student choice. 

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OMS director Pat Gere shows parent Barbara Roblin the pre-school learning classroom. OMS wants to open Ottawa's first Montessori high school. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)

Gere said Junior high students start the year with a canoe trip on James Bay with a Cree elder, and said high school students will do the same.

"When they come back to school and we ask them to study Canadian history or to understand native people's and their rights… they are engaged," said Gere.

Gere said high school students want authentic experiences, so they'll have to do an internship.

Elements of Ont. curriculum to be taught

"You need to know how to provide for yourself as an adult.  We see that just as essential as getting an 80 per cent in math," she said.

The school will be located near Tunney's Pasture, with a classroom that will be set up like a library with areas for regular lessons and other areas for students to debate and discuss ideas freely.

"That doesn't happen where the tables and chairs are all set up in rows. That's not the way our life is going to be when we leave high school. So the students will have a lot of responsibility but also a lot of independence," said Gere.

Gere said high school students will also be taught all the required elements in the Ontario curriculum.

Barbara Roblin's 12-year-old daughter is dyslexic and Roblin said she's considering sending her to The Element. 

Roblin said she's impressed the school describes education as compassionate and joyful.

"That's a profound statement in respecting the children who come to learn there. That makes me feel very good about where my child is," she said.