At Freedom Montessori, there are no desks.
Students work independently on interactive assignments designed to teach not just academics, but also language, culture, sensory and practical skill development.
That is the Montessori way.
After three years in existence, Freedom Montessori has plans to expand this fall. The private school is trying to raise money to outfit a new classroom for 6- through 9-year-olds. Tickets for a fundraiser Saturday are gone, but the school is accepting donations.
The $15,000 classroom will be added to one toddler classroom and two rooms for 3- to 6-year-olds.
Director Jamie Laymon said parents asked for the school to grow.
"They're like, 'OK, what's next, Jamie?'" she said. "It was always our long-term goal to have more grades in the school, but we didn't think it would come this quickly."
The school started with 36 students in 2005. It's now at capacity with 52, and space for new students next year is limited.
Students work one-on-one with teachers, and every child works at his or her own pace. Children are encouraged to learn from each other without competing.
"It's not all strictly academics," Laymon said. "It's about grace and courtesy and understanding who you are, how to help your environment and how to help your community."
Freedom Montessori got its start at the request of Herb Crump, the pastor at Freedom Temple Ministries.
Crump was impressed with the results he saw in his son, Joshua, after he attended the Montessori program at the Children's School at Sylvia Circle. Joshua excelled in school, developed confidence and was elected student body president in elementary school, so Crump asked Laymon about bringing Montessori to the Freedom Center.
"I always felt that the church ought to do more than just have Sunday morning services," he said. "In order for any church to be effective, we must be holistic in our approach to meeting the needs of society. That includes not just the spiritual needs but also addressing social needs and educational needs as well."
Rock Hill now has at least three Montessori options -- Freedom Montessori; The Children's School at Sylvia Circle, a public school in the Rock Hill school district; and DaySpring Academy, a private Montessori middle school that opened in August.
"When your child comes home and says something about a stegosaurus, for instance ... the things that they're learning at such a young age is just phenomenal," said Kimberly Boggs, whose 6-year-old son attends Freedom Montessori. "The level that they're learning at is just wonderful."
Students also are sold on the idea.
"My favorite thing about school is we usually do something in fine arts every week," said 6-year-old Hunter, reciting a weekly schedule that includes time for music, Spanish, Christian and physical education.
Hunter already reads at a fifth-grade level.
"Wednesday is my favorite day because we get to do art," he said. "I get to paint."