By Chelsea Pyne
Understanding. Patience. Trust. Fun. Compassion. Nurturing heart. These characteristics are what Head of School Tim Montgomery calls necessary for every educator to possess. Better yet, these core values are the foundation and fill every classroom of The Piedmont School (TPS) and John Yowell Academy (JYA). The latter being the new high school program started at The Piedmont School in 2015.
Mr. Montgomery, a Kernersville native, joined The Piedmont School five years ago with a crucial agenda on his mind: create individualized environments in which students not only excel, but enjoy the process of learning. He wants past students to visit his office with smiles on their faces, happy to return to a place that fostered their creativity and academic growth. As a matter of fact, they have.
Mr. Montgomery was the perfect man for giving The Piedmont School a new start. Growing up with learning difficulties, he directly relates to the student body’s needs. Before heading the school, his career began with a sports photography business that extended across Western NC. Although he did not know it at the time, photographing student athletes and being around schools was the beginning of a new chapter. Mr. Montgomery explained, “I made the decision twenty years ago that I wanted a different legacy. From teaching, to coaching, and eventually going into administration. When I made the move into education, I was drawn into working with exceptional children. That was the path that opened up its way to me; working with extremely bright students who struggled in school for whatever reason.”
Kernersville born and bred, Mr. Montgomery attended Sedge Garden Elementary, Glenn Junior High, and graduated from East Forsyth High School. At that time, there were very few options for students who needed alternative learning methods. “Math was difficult for me, so I am able to identify with our students’ feelings there. I remember the anxiety of going to math class and the self-esteem problems that I had to overcome even as a smart kid. When presented with the opportunity to work with students who faced similar obstacles, I felt very prepared. In the past two decades, we have figured out how to identify many of these obstacles. We know not to place emphasis on labels, but rather to embrace and enhance our students’ learning differences. Once our students learn how to learn, based on the way that they learn, we marvel as they grow and flourish both academically and socially. I am very comfortable in this environment because I can personally relate to our student’s struggles in the classroom.”
The success the students have achieved at The Piedmont School and John Yowell Academy speaks for itself. So much so that the demand to enroll has created a new movement. TPS/JYA is in the midst of a capital campaign– one that is encouraging the expansion of facilities to accommodate the growth in enrollment. In order to keep the student-teacher ratio low, TPS/JYA needs more space and amenities. Mr. Montgomery and his faculty are adding pieces to the campus to better serve their community. Since TPS/JYA cannot feasibly enroll every student in the Triad who could benefit from being in their classes, the school has started holding workshops for other area public and independent school educators. In February, area teachers are invited to attend a free educators workshop provided to share some of the highly successful strategies used at TPS/JYA.
“I wanted our school to have the feel of any other school. When I arrived at The Piedmont School we had 35 students, we now have almost 100. Based on this rapid growth, and our desire to expand our offerings to our students, we expanded our curriculum to include music, art, and drama. Our school did not have an athletic program when I arrived five years ago. We now are members of an interscholastic sports league that allows us to field teams in soccer, basketball, volleyball, cross-country, and flag football. Within the last few years we have been able to clarify who we are by providing solid academics while at the same time enhancing the student life experience.” With the capital campaign in full swing, the students can expect more out of their education. Mr. Montgomery has plans to build a much-needed gymnasium, and continue expanding the school’s infrastructure by adding two new science labs, new rooms for music, art, drama, and several new classrooms geared to accommodate the John Yowell Academy.
A twelve-minute drive from downtown Kernersville will put you on the campus of TPS/JYA. The Piedmont School is located at 815 Old Mill Road in High Point. For more information call 336.883.0992 or visit www.ThePiedmontSchool.com.
The Piedmont School has often been described as a positive, upbeat place with happy students and happy teachers. Mr. Montgomery added, “Before attending The Piedmont School, many of our students felt like school just did not work for them. Now, they love their school, and they appreciate the learning experience. I am exactly where I want to be when I am here at school. I want my students to know that I care about them personally, and that I want each of them to achieve successes far beyond their wildest dreams.”