Vineyard Montessori School graduates first ever eighth grader

Matthew Coggins says goodbye to Montessori to attend Falmouth Academy.

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Vineyard Motessori School's first ever graduate Matthew Coggins receives his diploma on stage at the Tabernacle. — Rich Saltzberg

For the first time in its history, the Vineyard Montessori School graduated an eighth grader, Matthew Coggins.

Matthew began attending the school when he was 3 years old, but when it came time for him to graduate from third grade (the school used to be only kindergarten through third grade), he knew he wanted to continue his education there.

“I didn’t want to leave,” Matthew said. “I had learned that the Montessori School is the way to go.”

And with that, the school curriculum expanded to accommodate older students. In fifth grade, Matthew attended the Montessori Model U.N. Conference for the first time — he was hooked. He said the conference totally changed his life, and from then on he knew he would stay at the Montessori School until high school.

The Vineyard Montessori School is known for its cabin setting and its free-motion curriculum, traits that Matthew said have fostered a special independence in him.

“There is obviously a big difference between Montessori and other schools,” Matthew said. “Montessori middle school is all project-based. You really get to focus on what you want, although you get a good understanding of all the basic needs, like math and reading.”

Because the school uses multi-age integrated classrooms, Matthew said he has often found himself needing to set a positive example for the younger students.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, because there is a lot riding on me being able to be a role model for the younger grades, but to me that is a good thing,” Matthew said.

He explained how although he was the only kid in his grade, he still found great friends in the grade below, and enjoyed the responsibilities he inherently had as the oldest kid in the school.

One of Matthew’s teachers, Ty Johnston, said all the teachers and parents expected the best behavior from Matthew because he was whom the kids would look up to.

“It is a big weight on his shoulders, but Matthew has always been so good with the younger kids; he enjoys helping them, and is very compassionate,” Johnston said.

In the future, Matthew said that although he is interested in politics and international relations, he is going to keep an open mind, and is prepared to use his skill sets in many different ways.

“I definitely recognize my strengths and my weaknesses. But that’s something that Montessori has taught me, it has taught me a lot about myself,” Matthew said.

Soon Matthew will return to Manhattan to take part in bureau training at the U.N. Instead of participating in the summit, Matthew will be facilitating and helping organize the summit. He said that normally the positions are reserved for older kids, but he has so much experience in Model U.N. that he was chosen for the job.

Matthew said he will most likely be a repertoire, a person who collects notes from various delegations and reviews them for appropriateness and accuracy.

As Matthew looks toward his future at Falmouth Academy, he said he is excited to be around like-minded students whom he can collaborate with.

“Leaving the Montessori schools is definitely bittersweet, but I am really looking forward to forming bonds with more people, and can’t wait to be in a new environment,” Matthew said.

“I will always have such fond memories of the school to look back on, it has really been my whole life up to this point, and I think I have been very well taught and well prepared for the future.”