School News


New Website Launch mcsslc.com

Posted by Jemmyn B.
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Montessori Community School is very excited to announce our brand new website.

Our new website has been specially developed in order to work well on computers, tablets and phones. The new website will be released in phases. Right now you will see a new look and an easier way to access information. Within the next couple of months we will be updating our parent education area. Additional features are in the works which will allow even better communication between parents and teachers plus a special interface which will allow any parent to network with the school and see what their child is doing.

See the new website now mcsslc.com

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Montessori: Your Daily Dose of Resilience-Building by Melissa DeVries, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

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Montessori:  Your Daily Dose of Resilience-Building

Raising children in the twenty-first century is a most rewarding challenge. In modern society we have increased access to mass media and greater sprawl within families. Youth are increasingly influenced by sources of information beyond parental control. Thus, our task as parents is to figure out how to balance sheltering our children while still preparing them for the future.

Research has identified many key elements that predict better quality of life in adulthood; academic achievement, absence of medical and mental health problems, financial stability, and rewarding social connections with others. Yet most of us at one point or another face situations that create vulnerabilities in these areas. So this begs the question, how do we bounce back? And more importantly, how do we teach our children to demonstrate the same perseverance when faced with stressors?

Everyday I work with families who are striving to bolster the skills and abilities of their children. They seek to help them to adapt to current stressors and challenges, and to acquire characteristics likely to help them lead a successful life in the future. My method of teaching is based on building resilience.

Drs. Goldstein and Brooks, authors of Raising Resilient Children (2002) stated, “Resilient children can cope effectively with stress, pressure, and everyday challenges. They appear capable of bouncing back from disappointments, adversity or trauma. They learn to develop and set realistic goals for themselves and those in their lives. They are capable of solving problems and interacting comfortably with others. They possess self-discipline and a sense of self-respect and dignity.” Temperamental differences can play a role in how resilient children are, but this mindset can also be taught in everyday interactions.

One of the most inspiring lessons I have learned through teaching others is that there are so many consistencies between the guideposts of Resilient Parenting and the tenets of the Montessori Method. Let’s examine a few:

First, resilience-minded parents teach their children to solve problems and make decisions. This allows children to have a sense that they can control what happens to them. This mentality fosters independence and a sense of responsibility. The Montessori classroom allows children to develop self-reliance by making choices and dealing with the consequences of their choices. Children develop awareness and trust in their decision-making through the feedback loops of choices and consequences.

Second, resilience-minded parents discipline in ways that promote self-discipline and self-worth. This helps children to appreciate mistakes as opportunities for learning rather than indications of failure, furthering the child’s emerging sense of ownership and responsibility. Positive feedback, encouragement, natural and logical consequences are all powerful teaching tools. The Montessori classroom also encourages children to learn from mistakes and successes by allowing for independent decision-making. Children make choices and experiment within a well-prepared environment that promotes creativity, confidence, and a sense of purpose. It is appreciated that children need time and practice to master new skills and that unnecessary help actually hinders development. Montessori truly embraces the “help me help myself” attitude.

Numerous other similarities can be drawn out between the Montessori Method and resilient parenting practices such that I consider Montessori a model of resilient education, with well-trained teachers to serve as additional charismatic, influential adults in our children’s lives during the school day. As parents, we are in a unique position to extend these teachings. Parents can adopt a mindset of resilient parenting “to foster strength, hope and optimism in our children” everyday.

Melissa DeVries, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist

Please join us on March 4th from 6:30pm - 8:00pm as Melissa DeVries, Ph.D., an MCS parent and our school psychologist, shares more about raising resilient children and how a Montessori education supports resiliency.

Aspens and Magnolias Performing Arts Showcase 2014

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Aspens and Magnolias Music and Dance Performing Arts Showcase “Commotion in the Ocean” on Tuesday was absolutely delightful!

*Please watch for an announcement of upcoming Arts Showcases to display Art Specialist Kindra Fehr's work with our Kindergarten through Middle School students later in the Spring!*

Willows & Sequoias 2014 Performing Arts Showcase

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The Willows and Sequoias Music and Dance Performing Arts Showcase “Commotion in the Ocean” on Tuesday night was a great show! The performance began with both classes singing a variety of songs and this was followed by four group dance numbers - two from each class.

As usual, we had our little extroverts who danced and sang with such enthusiasm and on the other end of the spectrum those who were more shy and reserved. It is all a learning experience and we were absolutely delighted to see them growing and celebrating together.

Many thanks to all the parents, grandparents, and family friends for coming out to support your children. They are all beautiful and talented. We are very grateful to be working with them!

By: Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan

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Winter Camp - Icy Oceans

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The theme for Winter Camp this year was “Icy Oceans - the Antarctic and Arctic Oceans." With Corey heading the camp and Kellie assisting her the children had the opportunity to be involved in many fun-filled activities.

There were science experiments where the children learned how snow turns to ice, why icebergs float, how glaciers move and how temperature and salinity affects the melting of the ice.

The children also learned more about the location of the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans and why they are so cold. They participated in exploratory activities about Giant Jelly Fish, Polar Bears, Narwhals, Emperor Penguins, Ring Seals, The Northern Lights & the conditions that create such amazing colors, plants and organisms that grow in ice and on the ocean floor, and so much more!

This was definitely a fun filled six days and all the children had a wonderful time. Our thanks to Corey, Kellie and all the teachers who participated.

by: Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan

The Kindergarten Year in Montessori by Edward Fidellow

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An MCS Kindergarten student works on the Addition Strip board discovering "Ways to Make 10"


Kindergarten is the harvest year for all the planting and intellectual tending that has gone on for the preceding years in preschool. The kindergarten child’s learning explodes into an avalanche of reading and writing and math. All of the earlier preparation (practical life, sensorial) now finds academic outlets. The kindergarten child not only gains a wider breadth of knowledge but a deeper understanding of what she has learned and now is able to use this knowledge to enhance her own intellectual pursuits.

A Montessori education is not just cumulative in its learning; it is exponential in its understanding. The learning that happens in kindergarten is not just adding another year’s knowledge but multiplying what is learned and applying it to what is to come.

It is common for Montessori kindergarten graduates to be able to read well (and write) and to understand math far beyond addition and subtraction all the way to multiplication, division and geometry.

To miss this formative year that sets successful life patterns is to miss the ultimate advantage of this unique preschool experience.Maybe even more significantly, the lifetime patterns of responsibility, goal setting, having a work ethic, working through mistakes, inquiry and curiosity are being firmly set.


The kindergarten year in a Montessori classroom is also the year of mentoring. It is the year when the five year old is able to really help her classmates. This mentoring year is significant for two reasons. First, when you teach others, you really master the subject for yourself. Second, when you are asked to teach you demonstrate your mastery of the material. It is this mastery that produces the profound feelings of self-confidence and assurance that is the hallmark of Montessori students. Real achievement and real achievement demonstrated builds real self-esteem.

Leaving the Montessori program before kindergarten often places a child into an educational setting that is not as advanced; nor one that allows for the initiative that has been carefully cultivated during the earlier preschool years. The child is often introduced to a different curriculum one that lacks the individual intellectual satisfaction that comes from exploring and discovering the wonderful world of learning found in Montessori.

The essence of successful life is to be able to make wise choices. The Montessori kindergarten student is at a major threshold of exercising that wise decision making power. To lose that opportunity is to lose a significant part of the hard won success of the preceding years.

The great gift of an education is not the accumulation of facts and statistics but the lighting of the fire of learning, discovery and joy. It is a gift that Montessori children have the privilege and pleasure of opening and using for a lifetime.

by Edward Fidellow

Check back soon for more information about our Kindergarten program here at MCS!

Upcoming Open House

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on Wednesday, 18 December 2013
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Our Annual Admissions Open House is coming up.  If you are interested in learning more about any of our programs we invite you to join us.  Call the school for more information.

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The Old Elm Tree Lives On!

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As we mentioned in a previous email a few weeks ago, we had to have most of an old elm tree which was located in the Outdoor Classroom cut down as it was shading part of our photovoltaic panels. This was a great loss for some of the teachers and students.

One family decided to spearhead a fundraiser in order to hire a wood carver to change the stump into something beautiful that all the school could enjoy. They asked me what I thought of the idea and although I loved it I felt that it was not the time of year to ask families if they would like to give money to the school for this project. I suggested that we wait until the Spring and then consider it. As it turned out this family who has asked to remain anonymous was so fired up that they decided to fund the project themselves as a gift to the school.

So for the past two weeks Jim Valentine, wood carver extraordinaire, has been working on our elm and the carving is near to completion. I would invite you to check out his work on Facebook and of course to visit our beautiful carved tree.

We feel so blessed to have been given such an incredible gift and know that it is going to be such a special place for our children to gather and enjoy for many years to come. We are truly grateful to our family who made this wonderful gift possible.

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A Letter of Gratitude to the MCS Community

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Dear Montessori Community School,

As you all know we have been collecting items for Syria such as coats, warm clothes, diapers, baby formula, and shoes. Thanks to all your help and generosity we were able to ship a 40 foot container and have enough items to fill a second 40 foot container and ship it.

These items will be going to Syrian people who have been forced to flee their homes due to the ongoing war and live in refugee camps near the border of Turkey. These people have lost their homes, members of their families, income, basic requirements to support their families and most of all, their sense of security. They are living in tents, some with nothing between them and the ground but a piece of carton. They have no electricity, some have no access to clean water or even food.

My Syrian friend who is working with many Syrian humanitarian organizations found that NuDay Syria can pay, through donations, for shipping containers overseas if we can fill them. So she decided to help prepare those helpless people for winter which is quickly approaching. Her project was called Keep Syria Warm.

Thanks to all the help from the community we were able to collect thousands of coats and sweaters, winter boots, medical supplies for the injured , baby formula and basic needs.On behalf of all the Syrian refugees anxiously awaiting these supplies, and myself, thank you to all of you for helping us send that container. It wouldn't be feasible without your kindness. Also a special thanks to Robyn and Ramira who supported the project. 

MCS Holiday Giving Projects

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Dear Montessori Community School Families,

Please find below a list of the Giving Projects that our classes have chosen to support this Holiday Season. We sincerely thank all of you who have already donated. If you have not had the opportunity and would still like to help any of these adults or children who have great need of support please feel free to donate to any of the projects. You may well be drawn to one more than another and we want you to know that anything you can give to any of these projects will be so gratefully received and will make a real difference in the recipients lives.

Oquirrh: Thanks to all of our parents and families who donated to our November charity, the YWCA!

Wasatch: We will be collecting items for children and teens at the Christmas Box House through Friday, December 13th.  If you would like to help, we are looking for clothing, toys, books and athletic gear for youth and children.  Thanks to all of our families who have shown their support!

Willows and Aspens: We are happy to announce that by your generous support, we have been able to collect a full bin of books for PCMC Hospital’s “Traveling Library.”    A big Thank You goes out to parents and families who donated to this special charity.  We will continue to collect books for the library through Friday, December 20th.

Toddlers: Help a refugee family in need make a new start here in Salt Lake City.  This family is from Mynmar and has only been here only about a month.

We are still looking for items such as pajamas, underwear, sweaters and toys for the children (boy, age 3 and baby boy, age 1).  Mom and Dad are also in need of sweaters and warm clothes (Mom, size S and Dad, size M).  Please sign up outside the Suns Class to help this family in need.

Sequoias: We are collecting items of all sorts: clothing, hygiene items, educational toys, books and games for the Volunteers of America non-profit organization.  They would be so grateful for any donations. Please see the list of suggested items outside our classroom next to the donation bin.

Magnolias: The Ghalley-Sarki Family, from Bhutan (Mother is 23, with son 6 and daughter, 2)

A refugee family from Bhutan is in great need of a necessary living articles- new and gently used.

Please look through your wardrobes if you have extra warm clothing (socks, coats, sweaters) in childrens’ (6/7) and toddlers’ (2/3) sizes; and clothes for Mom (age 23)- size Small.  We are also hoping to provide children’s toys, ie: basketball or soccer ball, and other educational games/toys.  Household items: pots and pans, and hygiene items are also needed.

We thank the families who have donated, and we hope that we can collect many more items before Friday, December 20th.  Any item you are able to donate will make such a difference to this family.

To help, please sign up indicating which items you would like to donate on the list outside the Magnolias classroom!

Middle School: Our students are collecting coats, in particular adult size coats for the Road Home. These can be new or gently used. With the freezing temperatures that we are experiencing lately you can imagine how hard it would be if you did not have a coat to keep you warm.

MCS visits the "Adopt-A-Native-Elder" Rug Show, Deer Valley, Utah 2013

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“Weaving all begins with a string, and the string tells a story. For the base of the loom is the earth, and the crest of the loom is the Sky; and there is rain, sunlight, thunder, lightening and roots in between. With weaving, and with everything in our culture, there is a purpose.”

---Native Elder, Julius Chavez

 

 

Each year we have the opportunity to take a field trip to the Navajo Rug Show and visit with our Grandmother Elvira and other Native Elders.  It is our tradition to invite our 3rd year students in Early Childhood and Lower Elementary to join us on this occasion in honoring these special women and men. This is a wonderful event and tradition, hosted by the Deer Valley Resort in support of the “Adopt-A-Native-Elder” non-profit organization.

The purpose of this yearly event is to observe the traditions of our Native Elders, and to show support to our own Grandmothers as we join in the celebration of their traditional living and centuries-old skills.  Through storytelling and music, jewelry making, and of course, the extraordinary artistry that is weaving; together we can appreciate the truly remarkable traditions of our Native Elders.

As we entered the gallery, we began our journey together and found ourselves surrounded by rich colors and warm hearts.  While we took in the beauty of each hand-woven rug, we listened to the stories and legends of the Dine people and learned about their traditional way of life.  We heard songs from some of the attending Elders, and as we listened, another group of Elders showed us the steps that are taken to create a traditional rug.   It was truly an educational experience to witness first hand the life cycle of wool; as it is cut, carded and twisted into yarn, then dyed, and skillfully and artfully woven into a magnificent, authentic Navajo rug.

After the program, we went to visit with our own Grandmother Elvira.  Each year she makes the long journey from her home and family in Arizona to participate in all of the activities at the Deer Valley Rug show and a very important part of her time in Utah is the opportunity to visit with our MCS children.  Grandmother Elvira spoke to the children, and told them that they were her own Grandchildren.  She spoke to them in love, saying that she prays for each of them, that they will be healthy and grow big and be happy.  She then presented us with a gift of Cedar Beads, meant to protect us and create harmony with nature.  The children made a gift to her also, cards and drawings that we collected and presented in a large pink valentine.   She held it close to her heart, and gave her blessing to the children.  Grandmother Elvira and the other Native Elders have so much to teach us.  Through their stories, we can learn to be brave, to be passionate, to be grateful and to love.

 

 

It has been our opportunity as a school to support our Navajo Grandmothers by way of our annual food drive and proceeds from our Spring Fun-Run.  These donations go far in providing firewood throughout the winter, grocery certificates, and Walmart certificates that allow them to purchase basic necessities such as clothing and household items and even yarn for weaving beautiful rugs that are sold to provide further income.

We were so happy to visit with our Grandmother Elvira. Our students have created sent special cards and letters for our Grandmother Emma as well and they will be send to her, along with some gifts at Christmas time.

This year we have had to bid a loving farewell to our Grandmother Rosaline who died at the age of 94.  We think of her often and wish her family well.

 

 

As we return from a holiday marked by tradition and thanksgiving, we wanted to share our experience with all of our MCS families.   We are grateful for the opportunity to give, to love and appreciate, to teach our students and our children the importance of knowing the world’s people, the needs of others, and the importance of family.  In truth, we are all connected by the uniquely lived-in fibers of humanity.   We can grow as human beings, and we can cultivate the human spirit if we are able to identify with one another, share our gifts and love.

A special thanks to all of our parents, students, teachers and staff who made this field trip possible, and a great success.  In the words of Kindergartener, Carolyn Altman: “It was a hit!”

Written by: Kellie Gibson

Children of Ethiopia Education Fund

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The Children of Ethiopia Education Fund, or COEEF, is a Utah-based organization that provides crucial access to materials, uniforms and an absolutely vital private education to many children in Ethiopia.  Fiercely dedicated to the protection  and instruction of young girls, COEEF provides a new kind of life in an otherwise perilous, sexist, underprivileged and poverty-driven region of the world.   We share the mission of this organization as we mark our 6th year of support to such a pivotal duty of the world’s edification.  COEEF takes its place in the school within our Service Learning Program, a program designed to give our students a channel to ignite character, build trust and connect with others through acts of true service.

 

 


COEEF was created by a local SLC couple: Norm and Ruthann Perdue, when they traveled to the country with a humanitarian mission.  During their service, they learned of the great educational disparity in the upbringing of an Ethiopian child: with classrooms crowded, unfinished and ill-prepared.  At the time, less than half of all Ethiopian citizens were able to read, and only half of all Ethiopian children had the opportunity to attend school.  The two saw an immediate need for assistance, and they began working on a plan to improve these conditions.

While in Ethiopia, they learned of a child, 12 year old Kidest, whose father had died and whose mother had abandoned her shortly after, unable to manage under the strain of raising her alone.  Kidest had been adopted by her grandmother, who managed to send her to a private school, the “Ethiopian Adventist College” with the mere wage that was paid to a hard-labor employee of the school.  When Ruthann and Norm became  aware of this situation, they connected with Kidest's grandmother and found her bereft in her struggle to finance her granddaughter's education.  In her old age, she suffered physical fatigue, and she expressed that she did not know how much longer she could go on working to support Kidest in her pursuit of higher education.

This sadness would soon turn to joy, as after hearing her story, Norm and Ruthann decided that they would share some of the burden.  They made a request to the school and discovered that for a donation of two-hundred dollars, they would be able to finance the girl’s yearly tuition, supplies and school uniform.  This act of generosity would make them the first sponsors of the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund.  When they returned to their home in Salt Lake City, they shared their story with everyone who would listen; and by 2001, they had convinced enough of their associates to become involved that they would return to Ethiopia to enroll 30 children in private education institutions.  Shortly following this exceptional milestone, COEEF appointed a board of directors and was officially incorporated as a non-profit organization.

 

 

Participation and arranged donations in support of the COEEF service program are available to all MCS parents, students and volunteers.  Our school is responsible for the education of 7 young girls and we seek to make the greatest contribution we are able to this established purpose.  By raising money during our Annual Spring FunRun, our students help us finance this commitment, and everyone is able to share in the excitement of giving an immeasurable gift.

It is said, “Educate a woman and you will educate a nation.”   We are proud to be continued sponsors of COEEF and we intend to remain loyal in our stewardship.

* At this time, COEEF is collecting school supplies materials for the children they support in Ethiopia.  If you or your child are interested in donating to this season’s care package, please drop off your donation at our front office and their delivery will be arranged to COEEF headquarters before humanitarian representatives travel to Ethiopia in early October.   If you are interested in making a personal donation to COEEF, or becoming a child’s sponsor, we recognize you and invite you to visit the COEEF website to arrange for your own stewardship.

Written by: Kellie Gibson, September 20, 2013

Lower Elementary - The Age of Collaboration

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The Lower Elementary years are dedicated to the construction of abstract concepts through classroom exploration and individual discovery.   As our students advance from Early Childhood, they are ready to take on a more theoretical approach to learning, with the curiosity to question and the imagination to find their own answers.  Unlike the Early Childhood environment, where children are introduced to small concepts that gradually evolve into larger ideas, Lower Elementary students assume major theories, and from there they are able to explore the individual concepts that make up a larger framework.

 

 

The Lower Elementary curriculum features a classic sequence developed by Maria Montessori during her exploration of these years, titled:  “The Five Great Lessons.”  As one of the most important and unique curriculum developments of the Montessori design, the Five Great Lessons tell the story of the Universe, the Earth and life on Earth.  In succession, these lessons incorporate the following themes: The Elemental Story of the Universe, The Timeline of Life, The Story of Civilization, The Story of Language and The Story of Numbers.  As a believer in the child’s ability to progress humanity, the Five Great Lessons teach peace and tolerance.  These lessons are presented every Friday to our Lower Elementary students, and can serve as a reference for virtually all other forms of discovery and learning.

 

 

As a socially sensitive period, elementary children are looking for a place of their own within the classroom and within a group.  Through her observations, Maria Montessori discovered that as children arrive at the second plane of development, they develop a great thirst for social interaction and growth.   It is because of this innate thirst that the Lower Elementary students are often given the opportunity to work in groups.  Group work fosters communication, collaboration and the habit of contribution.   Through friendship and shared interests, children find their capacity to belong.

 

 

Lower Elementary truly is an explosive intellectual period, with great focus on human civilization, language and fundamental scientific principles; these are the subjects that guide each student through a journey of discovery.   It is a discovery of earth, and the story of our race; and it is through these years of exploration that the elementary student will gain an appreciation for diversity and human heritage, and then find joy in becoming their own person.

 

By Kellie Gibson, September 27, 2013

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The "Six Pillars" of the Middle School Program Explained

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The Middle School program offers a highly advanced preparatory experience for both High School and for the child’s emergence into adulthood.  As part of the third developmental plane, the youth of our Middle school seek to realize their place in a school society and their community at large.  Driven by challenge, the Middle School student is at an age of empowerment- he or she is looking for a platform to invest acquired knowledge and individual talents in order to improve his own condition and strengthen his community.  To meet his ambition, the Middle School student seeks out opportunities to advance his intellectual capacity and apply it to life.

The Montessori Secondary program is built on the “Six Pillars” [Paul Epstein] which are designed to serve the needs of the child in their third developmental plane.  These are: self expression, trust, cognitive growth, commitment, responsibility and gender identity.  These pillars are integrated through an intense curriculum presented to the Middle School student through themed study cycles.  This six-week cycle begins with a study period that lasts about four weeks, allowing the MS student to identify effective personal study habits and analytical processing skills.  The fifth week is meant to give the student an opportunity to self-evaluate, which provides an introduction to the practical life exercise of test-taking.  This week is meant for the MS student to examine personal performance, observe skill mastery and identify curriculum areas where further study or practice is needed.  The sixth week, or “Immersion Week,” involves the student’s ability to spread their intellectual wings.  It could be planning a trip to a National Park, attending a career-building conference, or visiting a historic site- it is the MS student’s opportunity to integrate subject material from weeks past and process it through experience.

This week, the Middle School headed to Cedar City for a visit to the renowned “Shakespearean Festival.”  During their Immersion Week, they have been attending plays, holding class workshops, and practicing performance techniques with a theater expert, Jake Johnson.  In addition, they were also able to visit a national monument, Cedar Breaks for a few pictures.  For the trip, they planned their event schedule, budgeted for every meal, and took turns cooking for each other.   Here we have a few pictures of the Middle School students during their time in Cedar City:

The program at a glance features a staggering course of study in all areas, but especially in that of Literature, Science, Practical Life and Economics.  In Literature, the Middle School student has the opportunity to study traditional language and build vocabulary; she will practice grammar and learn the organization of professional writing as well as the authenticity and resourcefulness of creative writing.  In Science, the MS student learns to identify the properties of cells, the structure of matter, the Earth’s Lithosphere and plant classification.  These principles become solidified as students engage side-by-side in natural hikes, outdoor surveillance and community gardening.  Practical Life and Economics seem to go hand in hand for the Middle School student, as with each new learning cycle, the class takes on a new “business venture” in order to raise money for a year-end Historic trip to Boston.  These ventures include the refinement of skills such as gardening or cooking which are applied to the turning of a profit.  Unique to Middle School, students participate in a weekly “Montessori Market,” for which they prepare and sell home-made items and natural goods.  For these ventures, the MS student keeps accounting records, develops marketing tactics and principles of design, and practices negotiation strategy.

Not only are students of the Middle School immersed in the academic, but they grow on a different level through their study of guitar and music, outdoor appreciation and yoga.  As the MS student is fast becoming an increasingly social being, much time is spent together through community learning and building.   This group learning allows the practice of effective communication, positive relationships and skill building.  What evolves is a respectful and diplomatic environment, with ambitious, forward-thinking leaders who seek to improve the world in their own way.

Written by: Kellie Gibson, October 10, 2013

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A Closer Look at our Early Childhood Program

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The Early Childhood classroom is made up of several major components which construct the foundation for a Montessori education, the first of which is the Prepared Environment.  Doctor Montessori said: "Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment. "  A prepared environment refers not only to carefully selected materials set about a well-organized classroom, but to a lively and a passionate space, dedicated to the child in love and gratitude.  Peace and order are essential to the classroom, as is respect for the success of each individual learner.  The teacher becomes the essential link in this carefully prepared framework, as she provides a crucial connection between the child and the environment which will deliver his true self.

A second component of the Early Childhood Montessori classroom environment is the mixed-age group model.  The assembly of this division is in line with Dr. Montessori’s research on what she called the four planes of development.  This becomes a great benefit to each child, and it is due to the model’s dependence on the principle of imitation.  Children learn by example, so we can attest.  What is it about the multi-aged classrooms that benefit both the younger and the older child?  It is a unique opportunity to seek out answers in an experienced and collaborative group of community learners.  The younger students learn as they go, they grow gradually more accustomed to the culture and expectations of their class society, while at the same time developing their concentration skills.  The students in their second year practice learned concepts and develop greater intellectual and social aptitude.  The older students truly become leaders, remarkably responsible and well-prepared to impart their own understanding to a younger child.  This creatively established education model allows the child and their peers another strategic avenue to take on challenge.

These components serve the great development of Maria Montessori’s discovery of “The Absorbent Mind.”  This, we know is the child’s own capacity.  It is an intellectual capacity, but it incorporates an emotional, physical and social intelligence.  In the Early Childhood years, it becomes a conscious acceptance of one’s own environment, in which the child takes in, or “absorbs” what they need, and in fact a great deal more, to survive.  The Absorbent Mind involves each child’s potential to understand the complexities and qualities of their own world.

Competency is learned, and confidence is earned.  It is the child’s choice to truly become a Montessori learner.  It is the purpose of our work to lay the foundation, where a child may develop within their own character, with reason and grace.  The children we serve are brave, intelligent and generous on their own accord; however it is by the spectacular design of our own Maria Montessori, that they make themselves independent.

By Kellie Gibson, September 5, 2013

Welcome to the Toddler Environment

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This year, our teeny Toddlers from our Suns, Moons and Stars classes are making great strides in a school-wide practice of "Grace & Courtesy."  Our Toddlers are learning some of the most important life lessons of all, and that is how to be thoughtful of our friends and those we love.  Grace and Courtesy are learned through sharing a toy, taking turns on the slide, and being patient while a friend finishes a special work.  These lessons are also incorporated during lunch and snack time when children say "Please" and "Thank you" or "No, Thank you" while practicing table manners.  There are so many opportunities to exercise the principals of Grace and Courtesy both at home and at school, and we encourage parents to practice with their children.

As we settle into a new school year, our Toddlers are learning to adapt to new environments.  Being away from Mom and Dad can be tough at their tender age, but our teachers are working with the young ones to help them become comfortable at drop-off time.  Currently, our Toddlers are learning about their school environment, in the classroom and on the playground.  They are having fun with the new materials that our teachers have set out for the new school year.  Our Toddlers are also learning friends' names this week, with songs from our wonderful teachers.

A health update on our friend Nico-  He was delayed in his intensive chemotherapy, because his blood count was too low.  As of a few days ago, Nico was back on the regime and all is going well.  His parents, Jeff and Shannon are hoping that he will have completed this series within a month from now.  We are all hoping that Nico can come back to school sometime in October.  Get well, Nico!

Written by Kellie Gibson, August 30, 2013

MCS Continues Tradition of Celebration of International Peace Day with our Silent Peace Walk

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In true Montessori form, the students of Montessori Community School celebrated the International Day of Peace today with our Silent Peace Walk.  The International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is observed annually on the 21st of September. It is dedicated to world peace and specifically the absence of war and violence. The day was first celebrated in 1982, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and peoples. In 2013, for the first time, the Day was dedicated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to peace education, an obvious key beginning to peace for our world's future.

To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters in New York City. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from around the world, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan. There is an inscription on the side of the bell that reads, "Long live absolute world peace".

Maria Montessori is well known for her advocacy of peace education and was quoted saying, "Education is the best weapon for peace." She was nominated three times (1949, 1950 and 1951) for the Nobel Peace Prize and her legacy lives in the hearts of Montessori Schools world-wide.

At Montessori Community School we relish the opportunity to begin each new school year with an emphasis on Peace. Our Peace Curriculum is a valued and dynamic piece to our authentic Montessori curriculum.  This year, in honor of International Day of Peace, our students and staff decorated prayer flags and then walked peacefully as a community around our campus and to the front of the school where the flags were hung to show the larger Utah community our continued commitment to inner, community, and world peace.

Students at Montessori Community School begin early on learning the tools for finding personal peace and the value of peaceful relationships when they are given a lesson on the use of a "peace table."  The peace table or shelf is an area in the classroom where books and pictures are found that educate the child, at the appropriate age level, about peace educators and other aspects that support their personal education.  Oftentimes, you will also find activities that allow a child to turn inside themselves and teach meditation.  Students also learn about peaceful conflict resolution.  This is taught throughout our Grace and Courtesy lessons as children learn by example, are introduced to objects that act as a "talking stick", and discussion is supported in class meetings.

We are honored to support Montessori in her desire to teach peace to children around the world and hope you will take the time to view the peace flags created by our students and staff that will remain on our campus.

"Averting war is the work of politicians; establishing peace is the work of education."Maria Montessori

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Students Learn How Their School is Powered by Renewable Energy

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The Montessori Community School has just completed installation of one of Salt Lake City's largest private solar energy systems. The 52.2 kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) array will create enough energy to provide most of the school's electrical needs throughout the year. The system is expected to operate for a maintenance-free life of more than 25 years.

The project has a multiple objectives: To reduce dependence on outside electricity supply for the school, provide renewable energy education for students, lower demands on regional fossil fuel generators thus improving air quality, and raise community awareness about renewable energy options. A monitor screen in the school will track the system's performance in real time as a learning tool for students and the community.

Using conventional financing, the project is being funded by lowering electrical energy costs at the school, a grant from Rocky Mountain Power, and State and Federal TAX credits. It is expected to have a payback period of about 8 years.


See the featured article on Fox13Now.com

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MCS Introduces Installation of Solar Panels

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In early September 2013, Montessori Community School of Salt Lake City will complete installation of one of the largest private solar energy systems in the state.  When completed, the large 52.2 kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) array, will create enough electricity to provide most of the school’s energy needs throughout the year.

To add to the energy efficiency of the system, 197 Enphase micro-inverters (one per solar panel) are used to optimize energy output by working independently to harvest each panel’s potential, thereby mitigating the affects that periodic shade, snow and other factors may have on the collectors. A monitor screen in the school will be able to track the system's performance in real time as a learning tool for students and as a special interest feature for parents and interested public.


Dr. Bob Buchanan and his wife, Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan, who own and operate the school, applied for Rocky Mountain Power’s Solar Incentive Program earlier this year. Through this annual program, Rocky Mountain Power provides a rebate of a portion of the overall costs to selected residential and commercial electricity customers who install solar collectors. The system, which was designed and installed by Intermountain Wind and Solar, one of the region’s largest solar installers, is expected to operate for maintenance-free life of more than 25 years. Using quality American-made 265 Watt SolarWorld solar modules and an innovative tilted racking system manufactured in Utah County by TRA, Montessori’s new net-metered system is a renewable energy landmark for students, teachers, and the community atop this historic school building. These photo voltaic solar panels will provide an estimated 90% of the schools power and the remaining 10% will be supplemented by Rocky Mountain Power's Blue Sky Renewable Energy.

 



The project has a three-fold purpose, to reduce energy usage for the school, provide renewable energy education for its students, and raise community awareness of renewable energy options. The installation is expected to reduce the school building’s electrical energy use by more than 95 percent each year, and demonstrates the Buchanans' efforts to promote and support renewable energy in Salt Lake City.

As always, Bob and Robyn's vision is an inspiration to the Montessori Community as we have the opportunity to be a part of this incredible process. The project not only reinforces our commitment to green education but also allows our students the opportunity to learn and observe, on a daily basis, the science behind the process.

Warm appreciations and congratulations to Bob, Robyn, Rocky Mountain Power, and all others involved in this process.

Welcome Back!

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Welcome to the 2013-2014 Academic Year!

Last week we got off to a great start.  We started classes on Wednesday and our returning students had a great day reconnecting with their teachers and friends.  Then, our new students joined class on Thursday.  It's always so much fun to see how our returning students use their well developed skills in Grace and Courtesy to embrace new children in their class.  Montessori's vision of the beauty of multi-age classrooms is apparent from the first day as the new students enter a room where older or more experienced children work busily and with purpose.  Students assist their teachers in giving lessons and serving as a role model to those who are just joining the group.

The teachers are looking forward to talking about what you can expect in your child's class this year at Back To School Night. Even if you are a returning family to MCS, we encourage you to attend so that you can learn anything that might have changed this year.  Also, its a wonderful time to rub shoulders with other parents in your child's class. Children are in a sensitive period for social development and while this varies from program to program and child to child, it can be extremely beneficial for children to nurture their friendships outside of school.  Back To School Night is a great time to get to know the other parents in your child's class and open the door to interactions outside of school.  Early Childhood Back To School Night is tomorrow, Tuesday, August 27 at 6:30 pm and Elementary Back To School Night is on Thursday, August 29 at 6:30pm.

We look forward to a wonderful year and appreciate your continued support.

With Love,

Robyn, Ramira, and Britney

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2013-2014 School Calendars

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We are so excited about the upcoming school year!  We have missed many of our friends and are happy to have had our Summer Camp friends here to keep up company.  We hope you are all having a wonderful summer.  Below are listed the calendars for the 2013-2014 Academic Year.  Also, your Welcome Packet should be arriving shortly.  We invite you to take special note of the first day of school as some students start the 21st and some the 22nd.

 

SEE YOU SOON!

 

Click here for the 2013-2014 Toddler Calendar...calendar2013_2014toddlerspdf.pdf

Click here for the 2013-2014 Early Childhood Calendar...calendar2013_2014-ec_pdf.pdf

Click here for the 2013-2014 Elementary Calendar...calendar2013_2014elementarypdf.pdf

Click here for the 2013-2014 Middle School Calendar...calendar2013_14middleschoolpdf.pdf

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Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"

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YOUNG CHILDREN

September 2001


Five Reasons to Stop Saying "Good Job!"

By Alfie Kohn

NOTE: An abridged version of this article was published in Parents magazine in May 2000 with the title "Hooked on Praise." For a more detailed look at the issues discussed here -- as well as a comprehensive list of citations to relevant research -- please see the books Punished by Rewards and Unconditional Parenting.

Para leer este artículo en Español, haga clic aquí.

Hang out at a playground, visit a school, or show up at a child’s birthday party, and there’s one phrase you can count on hearing repeatedly: "Good job!" Even tiny infants are praised for smacking their hands together ("Good clapping!"). Many of us blurt out these judgments of our children to the point that it has become almost a verbal tic.

Plenty of books and articles advise us against relying on punishment, from spanking to forcible isolation ("time out"). Occasionally someone will even ask us to rethink the practice of bribing children with stickers or food. But you’ll have to look awfully hard to find a discouraging word about what is euphemistically called positive reinforcement.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, the point here is not to call into question the importance of supporting and encouraging children, the need to love them and hug them and help them feel good about themselves. Praise, however, is a different story entirely. Here's why.

1. Manipulating children. Suppose you offer a verbal reward to reinforce the behavior of a two-year-old who eats without spilling, or a five-year-old who cleans up her art supplies. Who benefits from this? Is it possible that telling kids they’ve done a good job may have less to do with their emotional needs than with our convenience?

Rheta DeVries, a professor of education at the University of Northern Iowa, refers to this as "sugar-coated control." Very much like tangible rewards – or, for that matter, punishments – it’s a way of doing something to children to get them to comply with our wishes. It may be effective at producing this result (at least for a while), but it’s very different from working with kids – for example, by engaging them in conversation about what makes a classroom (or family) function smoothly, or how other people are affected by what we have done -- or failed to do. The latter approach is not only more respectful but more likely to help kids become thoughtful people.

The reason praise can work in the short run is that young children are hungry for our approval. But we have a responsibility not to exploit that dependence for our own convenience. A "Good job!" to reinforce something that makes our lives a little easier can be an example of taking advantage of children’s dependence. Kids may also come to feel manipulated by this, even if they can’t quite explain why.

2. Creating praise junkies. To be sure, not every use of praise is a calculated tactic to control children’s behavior. Sometimes we compliment kids just because we’re genuinely pleased by what they’ve done. Even then, however, it’s worth looking more closely. Rather than bolstering a child’s self-esteem, praise may increase kids’ dependence on us. The more we say, "I like the way you…." or "Good ______ing," the more kids come to rely on our evaluations, our decisions about what’s good and bad, rather than learning to form their own judgments. It leads them to measure their worth in terms of what will lead us to smile and dole out some more approval.

Mary Budd Rowe, a researcher at the University of Florida, discovered that students who were praised lavishly by their teachers were more tentative in their responses, more apt to answer in a questioning tone of voice ("Um, seven?"). They tended to back off from an idea they had proposed as soon as an adult disagreed with them. And they were less likely to persist with difficult tasks or share their ideas with other students.

In short, "Good job!" doesn’t reassure children; ultimately, it makes them feel less secure. It may even create a vicious circle such that the more we slather on the praise, the more kids seem to need it, so we praise them some more. Sadly, some of these kids will grow into adults who continue to need someone else to pat them on the head and tell them whether what they did was OK. Surely this is not what we want for our daughters and sons.

3. Stealing a child’s pleasure. Apart from the issue of dependence, a child deserves to take delight in her accomplishments, to feel pride in what she’s learned how to do. She also deserves to decide when to feel that way. Every time we say, "Good job!", though, we’re telling a child how to feel.

To be sure, there are times when our evaluations are appropriate and our guidance is necessary -- especially with toddlers and preschoolers. But a constant stream of value judgments is neither necessary nor useful for children’s development. Unfortunately, we may not have realized that "Good job!" is just as much an evaluation as "Bad job!" The most notable feature of a positive judgment isn’t that it’s positive, but that it’s a judgment. And people, including kids, don’t like being judged.

I cherish the occasions when my daughter manages to do something for the first time, or does something better than she’s ever done it before. But I try to resist the knee-jerk tendency to say, "Good job!" because I don’t want to dilute her joy. I want her to share her pleasure with me, not look to me for a verdict. I want her to exclaim, "I did it!" (which she often does) instead of asking me uncertainly, "Was that good?"

4. Losing interest. "Good painting!" may get children to keep painting for as long as we keep watching and praising. But, warns Lilian Katz, one of the country’s leading authorities on early childhood education, "once attention is withdrawn, many kids won’t touch the activity again." Indeed, an impressive body of scientific research has shown that the more we reward people for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. Now the point isn’t to draw, to read, to think, to create – the point is to get the goody, whether it’s an ice cream, a sticker, or a "Good job!"

In a troubling study conducted by Joan Grusec at the University of Toronto, young children who were frequently praised for displays of generosity tended to be slightly less generous on an everyday basis than other children were. Every time they had heard "Good sharing!" or "I’m so proud of you for helping," they became a little less interested in sharing or helping. Those actions came to be seen not as something valuable in their own right but as something they had to do to get that reaction again from an adult. Generosity became a means to an end.

Does praise motivate kids? Sure. It motivates kids to get praise. Alas, that’s often at the expense of commitment to whatever they were doing that prompted the praise.

5. Reducing achievement. As if it weren’t bad enough that "Good job!" can undermine independence, pleasure, and interest, it can also interfere with how good a job children actually do. Researchers keep finding that kids who are praised for doing well at a creative task tend to stumble at the next task – and they don’t do as well as children who weren’t praised to begin with.

Why does this happen? Partly because the praise creates pressure to "keep up the good work" that gets in the way of doing so. Partly because their interest in what they’re doing may have declined. Partly because they become less likely to take risks – a prerequisite for creativity – once they start thinking about how to keep those positive comments coming.

More generally, "Good job!" is a remnant of an approach to psychology that reduces all of human life to behaviors that can be seen and measured. Unfortunately, this ignores the thoughts, feelings, and values that lie behind behaviors. For example, a child may share a snack with a friend as a way of attracting praise, or as a way of making sure the other child has enough to eat. Praise for sharing ignores these different motives. Worse, it actually promotes the less desirable motive by making children more likely to fish for praise in the future.

Once you start to see praise for what it is – and what it does – these constant little evaluative eruptions from adults start to produce the same effect as fingernails being dragged down a blackboard. You begin to root for a child to give his teachers or parents a taste of their own treacle by turning around to them and saying (in the same saccharine tone of voice), "Good praising!"

Still, it’s not an easy habit to break. It can seem strange, at least at first, to stop praising; it can feel as though you’re being chilly or withholding something. But that, it soon becomes clear, suggests that we praise more because we need to say it than because children need to hear it. Whenever that’s true, it’s time to rethink what we’re doing.

What kids do need is unconditional support, love with no strings attached. That’s not just different from praise – it’s the opposite of praise. "Good job!" is conditional. It means we’re offering attention and acknowledgement and approval for jumping through our hoops, for doing things that please us.

This point, you’ll notice, is very different from a criticism that some people offer to the effect that we give kids too much approval, or give it too easily. They recommend that we become more miserly with our praise and demand that kids "earn" it. But the real problem isn’t that children expect to be praised for everything they do these days. It’s that we’re tempted to take shortcuts, to manipulate kids with rewards instead of explaining and helping them to develop needed skills and good values.

So what’s the alternative? That depends on the situation, but whatever we decide to say instead has to be offered in the context of genuine affection and love for who kids are rather than for what they’ve done. When unconditional support is present, "Good job!" isn’t necessary; when it’s absent, "Good job!" won’t help.

If we’re praising positive actions as a way of discouraging misbehavior, this is unlikely to be effective for long. Even when it works, we can’t really say the child is now "behaving himself"; it would be more accurate to say the praise is behaving him. The alternative is to work with the child, to figure out the reasons he’s acting that way. We may have to reconsider our own requests rather than just looking for a way to get kids to obey. (Instead of using "Good job!" to get a four-year-old to sit quietly through a long class meeting or family dinner, perhaps we should ask whether it’s reasonable to expect a child to do so.)

We also need to bring kids in on the process of making decisions. If a child is doing something that disturbs others, then sitting down with her later and asking, "What do you think we can do to solve this problem?" will likely be more effective than bribes or threats. It also helps a child learn how to solve problems and teaches that her ideas and feelings are important. Of course, this process takes time and talent, care and courage. Tossing off a "Good job!" when the child acts in the way we deem appropriate takes none of those things, which helps to explain why "doing to" strategies are a lot more popular than "working with" strategies.

And what can we say when kids just do something impressive? Consider three possible responses:

* Say nothing. Some people insist a helpful act must be "reinforced" because, secretly or unconsciously, they believe it was a fluke. If children are basically evil, then they have to be given an artificial reason for being nice (namely, to get a verbal reward). But if that cynicism is unfounded – and a lot of research suggests that it is – then praise may not be necessary.

* Say what you saw. A simple, evaluation-free statement ("You put your shoes on by yourself" or even just "You did it") tells your child that you noticed. It also lets her take pride in what she did. In other cases, a more elaborate description may make sense. If your child draws a picture, you might provide feedback – not judgment – about what you noticed: "This mountain is huge!" "Boy, you sure used a lot of purple today!"

If a child does something caring or generous, you might gently draw his attention to the effect of his action on the other person: "Look at Abigail’s face! She seems pretty happy now that you gave her some of your snack." This is completely different from praise, where the emphasis is on how you feel about her sharing

* Talk less, ask more. Even better than descriptions are questions. Why tell him what part of his drawing impressed you when you can ask him what he likes best about it? Asking "What was the hardest part to draw?" or "How did you figure out how to make the feet the right size?" is likely to nourish his interest in drawing. Saying "Good job!", as we’ve seen, may have exactly the opposite effect.

This doesn’t mean that all compliments, all thank-you’s, all expressions of delight are harmful. We need to consider our motives for what we say (a genuine expression of enthusiasm is better than a desire to manipulate the child’s future behavior) as well as the actual effects of doing so. Are our reactions helping the child to feel a sense of control over her life -- or to constantly look to us for approval? Are they helping her to become more excited about what she’s doing in its own right – or turning it into something she just wants to get through in order to receive a pat on the head.

It’s not a matter of memorizing a new script, but of keeping in mind our long-term goals for our children and watching for the effects of what we say. The bad news is that the use of positive reinforcement really isn’t so positive. The good news is that you don’t have to evaluate in order to encourage.

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Embark on a Reading Adventure....

Posted by Britney Peterson
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For the most part, Montessorians do not hugely advocate homework.  When parents ask what their children should be doing at home we commonly respond with a list of practical life activities that can benefit the child.  Some of these might include helping with the meal menu and preparation, planning activities or outings for the family, care of self, tree climbing and art projects. However, almost any educator will stress the importance of reading on a regular basis. Reading is enormously beneficial for a number of reasons.

 

 

Books have the ability to expand a child's world in a large variety of ways. Reading is a chance for children to experience more of the world.  Conflict and resolution are introduced through a variety of themes, giving children the opportunity to learn coping skills, resiliency, cause and effect, logic, consequence of action and tolerance. Children build imagination, vocabulary and creativity along with a sense of curiosity and adventure. Exposure to different methods of illustration might engage a child artistically.  Development of grammatical skills and an understanding of appropriate use of language might spark the interest of a future writer.  The possibilities are endless....

Reading with our children creates opportunity for bonding and intimacy. Also, it increases opportunity and skills involving communication.  Reading promotes the development of an extended attention span, a huge benefit for young children preparing to enter school. And, believe it or not, reading skills (top to bottom, left to right, etc.) help develop the mathematical mind.

This being said, it can be difficult to keep our children excited about and engaged in reading throughout the summer months.  One of the most important things we can do to assist our children to continue to grow their reading skills is to provide them with literature that they enjoy and appreciate.

But, as parents we don't always know exactly what types of books are appropriate for our children at their ages.  Most children love to be read to and its quite simple finding appropriate books to read TO them.  However, choosing books that are developmentally appropriate and nurture our children's sense of self can be somewhat more difficult.  This is especially true as children are in the process of becoming independent readers.

A few excellent sources for finding the right books for your child can be found below:

Montessori By Hand

Reading Rockets

Education.com

Some fun family reading tidbits to keep in mind include:

  • When a child starts to "memorize" the words in a book, it is cause to celebrate.  Encourage children to point to the word they are reading and their ability to learn words by sight increases.
  • REPETITION IS GOOD!  There are numerous benefits to a child reading or listening to the same book over and over.  More than anything they are developing an important sense of order.  Once they've met an important need, they'll move on...until then, use it as an opportunity to ask things like, "What do you think will happen next?" and other comprehension relevant questions.
  • I've found that with my more advanced readers they still enjoy being read to.  The benefits are great as children develop comprehension and fluency skills.  To get your child reading you might take turns....ie, you read a page and then they read a page.
  • Audio books are fantastic.  It's awesome to listen to a book together.  Narrators engage children in a way that can stir up emotion or engage listeners as we feel familiar with the characters.
  • Invite your child to draw a picture of what you read.  This is a great way to build comprehension and is a wonderful conversation starter.
  • Children mimic behavior so one of the most generous gifts we can give our children is the gift of watching us read for pleasure.  Visit the library together and create a cozy space in your home where you can all read.  Even non-readers benefit from looking through books as they sit next to a group of family readers.

HAPPY READING!

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A Farewell from Robyn & Ramira

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A parent recently brought to our attention an article in Slate magazine about preschools. The article (read here) explores the question of whether preschools really give children an advantage in life. In an interesting reference to Montessori, the author cites Angeline Lillard’s research, which finds that “classical” Montessori programs--those that follow the mixed-age groupings, do not perform testing, and mainly present concepts with hands-on Montessori materials--do provide an advantage, more so than “supplemented” Montessori programs, which can segregate by age and mix traditional Montessori materials with activities like pretend play and direct instruction. Children in the classical Montessori program “exhibited better working memory, planning, reading, and vocabulary skills, and they displayed a better understanding of fairness and willingness to share.”

Hearing about this article now seems appropriate, as we are continually assessing ourselves in an effort to remain as authentic to Montessori’s vision as possible.  In 2012-2013 we have been excited about various projects and activities that promote this goal:


  • We sent four teachers--Lara Althouse and Evi Bybee from Early Childhood and Bonnie Bracken and Brandi Allen from Lower Elementary--to the new AMS (American Montessori Society) Montessori teaching credential  program at Westminster, which began last summer. While they already had one Montessori certification, each teacher chose to pursue further education by working towards an AMS certification. They will be doing their practicum in their classrooms in 2013-2014. Kate Savage is currently finishing her two-year training with the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. She will be doing her onsite training in Louisiana in June and is sitting her final exams later this summer. This summer Lauren Bornschein is beginning the Master’s in Montessori Education at Westminster, and two of our Toddler teachers are beginning their Infant/Toddler training with the Institute of Guided Studies out of South Carolina.  We are excited about these teachers’ training because having certified teachers is key to a “classical” Montessori program, as the teachers are the main observers and guides for the children’s progress.

  • In keeping with Maria Montessori’s emphasis on global education, and caring for the community beyond ourselves, we took Service Learning into the SLC community with Upper Elementary’s work with the Bicycle Collective and the Humane Society. Middle School students spent an entire immersion week on service projects of their choice, ranging from the Sarah Daft Home to Wasatch Community Garden and The Stable Place (for more on their immersion experience, click here. Lower Elementary students continued their service learning within the classroom and the school building, watering the school plants, cleaning their classroom and taking care of their classroom pets.

  • At the school wide level, we raised awareness about giving to others through the Fun Run.  Sadly, one of our Adopt a Native Elder grandmothers, Grandmother Roseline, died this year and after a relationship of seventeen years we will miss her greatly. The children raised over $6500 for the  Adopt a Native Elder and the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund (COEEF) organizations. We were so grateful for everyone’s efforts in supporting the seven young women who would not be able to attend school in Ethiopia without our assistance and in supporting our Navajo grandmothers, whom we have supported for seventeen years. Though the concept of raising money to give to others can be abstract,  in order for the children to feel more of a connection, we made a real effort this year to educate the students about the people the money they raised would go to. Our contributions make such a profound difference in all of their lives.

  • As an extension beyond our conscious, pre-planned efforts to involve the community in service learning, the community, particularly those involved with Toddlers, came together to support Nico in many ways.  Many people took it upon themselves to plan and carry out special events to raise funds to assist his family. Ms. Sophie, one of our Moons class teachers played a pivotal role in the fundraising efforts. This was the perfect example to our students as they observed a need and saw the community come together to fulfill the need. Another example of this was when one of our families had some crippling financial needs this year. Many families in our school supported their Facebook appeal.

  • We have appreciated everyone’s patience as we spent the year developing our new website, which we plan to launch for the 2013-2014 academic year. The new website will have an updated Parent’s Center that will combine parent education resources with classroom updates. We are also excited to be adding an alumni section, which will allow past graduates to touch base and to let us know how they are doing. We plan to gather more information in general from our alumni about how they fared in the transition from Montessori to a non-Montessori environment.

  • As a school we set the goal this year of improving our communications, among teachers and with parents. We streamlined our weekly email newsletter, and encouraged families to refer to that one centralized location for all classroom and school announcements. We added a second set of narrative evaluations at the Toddler and Early Childhood levels in order to increase feedback parents receive from teachers. We continued having two sets of parent/teacher conferences and teacher office hours, when parents can come in with their questions about their children in the classroom.

  • Aimee Brewer has surpassed all our expectations in her role as a stellar PSA President this year and we are infinitely grateful. Though she maintains an extremely busy work and family schedule she brought her innovative ideas to our annual school/family events. We wish her and her family the best in their move to the East coast this summer; we will miss them all dearly.

  • We are so fortunate and grateful that Ann Beverly is stepping forward to take over the role of PSA President next year.  Ann was instrumental as the Chair in the Green Committee’s efforts this year, with extensive help from Jaymison Peterson. The Green Committee planned events such as the MCS Clothing Swap. They also initiated a school wide glass recycling collection on Wednesdays this year. We thank and appreciate them for their efforts in keeping our school “green.”

  • We also want to thank Stephanie Thatcher for her leadership with the LegoRobotics team this year. The Virtual Vikings took 8th out of 20th overall and earned an Honorable Mention from the judges at the Lego FIRST Regional Competition in January. We want to thank Stephanie for her time and dedication in continuing the program, and we look forward to the efforts of the Upper Elementary students next year.

  • We are so appreciative of all the parents who are generous with their time and energy.  A variety of people coming together to serve one another in multiple ways as we seek to nurture the whole child is the true essence of community.  Each of your individual efforts helps make our school unique.  Many, many thanks for your continued contributions. We would not have such a warm, giving and caring community without you.


We are delighted that most of you will be continuing this educational journey with us next year, and we look forward to an exciting and fulfilling year. For those who are leaving us at this time, we are thankful for having had the chance to walk the same path while you have been here and we wish you the best.


Best wishes to all of you for a safe and happy summer,

Robyn & Ramira

 

 

 

Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan

Head of School

 

Ramira Alamilla

Associate Head of School

 



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MARK YOUR CALENDARS - IT'S TIME FOR THE MCS FAMILY CARNIVAL!

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Tickets are on sale in the office now for our Annual MCS Family Carnival!

Many thanks to those who have organized this exciting event!

"I'm so glad we are all good at different things."

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"I'm so glad we are all good at different things."

Today I was performing a task alongside a collegue of mine and I expressed how much I loved the task to which she responded with the above comment.  This struck a deep chord with me as I was preparing to write this webpost about the beauty of authenticity. All of the greatest improvements throughtout history have come from people who were able to think outside the box.  Anyone who has spent any amount of time with children knows that they are small people with BIG vision.  I applaud those parents who have embraced the uniqueness of their children and are making an effort to give them the continued gift of being unique in a society that largely embraces conformity.  As children discover their world they do so with their whole selves.  An engaged child often uses more than one sense to discover and their entire little bodies are prone to form or move in order to fully engage.

Maria Montessori described ages 0-3 as an unconscious absorbent mind.  This means that a childs brain works like a sponge-absorbing almost everything in their environment and then the information sinks deep into their psyche, developing various observations and ideas of the world that will likely remain with them into adulthood.  This theory speaks to the importance of the early years...hence; our Toddler environment.

Maria Montessori then described the ages 3-6 as those of a conscious absorbent mind.  The sponge is still in tact-the child absorbs exorbient amounts of information using multiple teqhniques and senses.  But, their consciousness now plays a role in decifering information.  These children begin to be led and guided by their personal interest and intrigue.  Children begin to gain the ability to think and reason.  Their desire to participate as part of a community develops as the find themselves repeating tasks in an effort to master their bodies and minds. The beauty of this is evident in a normalized Montessori Early Childhood environment.

The transformation to an elementary aged student, about 6 years old, is like a huge explosion into a much bigger world.  They can see and recognize a world outside themselves.  These children begin to discover that they have something to contribute to a larger community.  The elementary years find a child with big thoughts and big ideas paired with the ability to take ACTION! At 6-9 years old they find satisfaction in collaboration and their big ideas grow as they learn to combine ideas with their peers.  Big idea plus big idea equals enormous idea.

Although we see a child become slightly more "me" oriented around nine years old, we now have a child with the ability to transform their ideas into other ideas as the skill to abstract grows.  They see the change they are capable of making.  Now, we are looking face to face at these big thinkers who have, hopefully by now, experienced the satisfaction of making some signifigant contribution(s) to whatever society they feel they are a part.

One of the most disheartening things about society, to me, is its huge impact on taking away big ideas.  No matter how big the box, the truth remains, we don't all fit inside it.  Our world thrives on originality.  Our children deserve the opportunity to be empowered by the big ideas floating around inside their little bodies.  Having all this wonder and hope and excitement about the world can hardly make a change if we take away the ability to apply them.  How can we do that in a system that expects the same things from each person?  The video below supports the idea that our children deserve to have a voice and we, at Montessori Community School, are proud to have the ability to give it to them.  We are more than the private school down the street. What do our children want from their education?  Are they able to voice the importance of their needs and wants?  Are we listening when they do?

I invite you to take three minutes to hear one perspective on the subject and when you are done watching pat yourself on the back with the knowledge that just by reading this post or watching this video you are taking steps in the right direction as we strive for a better, more authentic education for our big thinkers!

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In Honor of Teacher Appreciation Week...

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The Spiritual Preparation of the Montessori Teacher


The curriculum and the philosophy of Montessori are both based on her careful observation of individuals.  As she watched the children develop and explore their environment she brought essentials in to the environment that would support their natural development.  This action clearly supports her theory that entering a classroom and guiding a child in their development as a whole person means the teacher must be well prepared.  The teachers personal preparation and commitment to the students and their paths is extremely important.  Maria Montessori was the ultimate example of careful observation, preparation and honoring the spirit of the child.  But, as anyone who has participated in a Montessori training program can attest to, that preparation is necessary of any Montessori teacher.


“The real preparation for education is a study of one’s self. The training of the teacher who is to help life is something far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training of character, it is a preparation of the spirit.” (The Absorbent Mind)


According to Montessori, to work effectively with children, we must tear out our most deeply rooted defects, especially those that would hinder our relations with our children. In true humility we must look at ourselves to identify our strengths as well as our weaknesses.


In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I feel a great desire to share my own understanding of the deep and ongoing preparation that our teachers commit to in order to be present and attentive to our children.  First of all, this preparation requires a moral preparation as well as a spiritual preparation. In an effort to model appropriate behavior and interactions, they must be non-judgemental and able to see a situation from many angles.  A Montessori teacher is required to observe the children and attune to their needs while she acts as a natural part of their environment and presents lessons in such a way that she entices each child, each day, and in each area.  Her depth of understanding the emotional status of each child must be sharp.  Her ability to assess, during her presentations, what a child is understanding must be present at all times.  There is no space in a classroom for judgement or prejudices.


As you know, ours is a program which teaches many practical skills. Therefore, assessing the needs of the children on a daily basis is a necessity in being prepared to follow their needs. They must let go of anger and pride as they step into the classroom each day.  They learn to model peaceful conflict resolution and learn to sit on and meditate with decisions in an effort to be fair and constructive. They learn to trust the process and see even the slightest change in their students.


My experience has been, and continues to be, that these wonderful people who are drawn to the philosophy of Montessori have a special gift.  Sending love and appreciation to the amazing teachers here at Montessori Community School.  Your dedication to Montessori, our children, and your own personal growth does not go unnoticed or under-appreciated.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.



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Bringing the Montessori Method Home

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"(Parents) alone can and must save their children.  Their consciences must feel the force of the mission entrusted to them by nature for...in their hands lies positively the future of humanity, life."

Maria Montessori



The philosophy of Montessori has, at some point, called to each one of us.  Over the years I have seen parents and teachers "fall for" Montessori for a variety of reasons and with a variety of intentions or hopes for its outcome.  Whatever the reason we chose this particular journey, it has probably become as clear to you as it has to me that a Montessori education is bigger than the 8 hours a day that our children spend inside the walls of Montessori Community School.  Our children are coming home with the ability to think  with initiative and innovation.  They have the desire to extend their learning outside the classroom.  From the time they are small, children are naturally learning.  They begin life touching and tasting everything in their path in an effort to learn as much as they can about their environment.  For a child who has been in a Montessori environment, their desire for knowledge has not changed much from the time they were infants.  They seek knowledge everywhere they go!


One of the most popular questions I get from parents is "how can I support the Montessori philosophy at home?"  What are we to do?  How do we keep that flame alive so their desire for knowledge continues to grow as they learn the tools necessary to obtain knowledge? As a Montessori mother I can assure you that the items below will make your job bringing Montessori home a whole lot easier as well as making your child’s Montessori experience more rich and meaningful than if it were to stand alone as a “school” experience.


Slow down, model appropriately, and STOP hurrying our children: Our children are watching us.  And they are in an environment where they are learning appropriate social behavior.  They are learning skills necessary to recognize and communicate their needs and desires.  In our homes we can give them a voice!  The moments we spend effectively communicating with our little ones will serve them for a lifetime.  In addition to hearing their voice and giving it a fair amount of power, we need to SLOW DOWN.  Let us all make a committed effort to teach our children to stop and smell the flowers.  Lets show them that the only job worth doing is a job done well.  Effort and desire produce meaningful results.


Preparation of the environment: Preparing an environment where the child can continue their patterns of growth and discovery is essential to supporting our children’s Montessori experience.  This is because our children are in a state where everything in their environment is of essence to their experience as an individual.  Our school environment allows the child space to learn in many aspects but often our home environments are set up to suit the needs of the adults.  Montessori said, “(The child) absorbs the life going on about him and becomes one with it....The child’s impressions are so profound that a biological or psycho-chemical change takes place, by which his mind ends by resembling the environment itself.”  Providing our children with an age appropriate, enriched environment is part of the gift we can give them in support of their Montessori education.


Give our children space to explore their passions: These little ones are learning to find enthusiasm and joy in different tasks.  They are given freedom to explore topics of interest.  When we hear their voice and honor their passions, we support their love of learning.  A child who has developed an interest in plants desires nothing more than a parent who will listen and actively encourage their passion by providing them books, field trips, and conversations about plants.  A person truly masters a skill or subject when they can teach another person about it.  I urge you to give your children space to teach and share their passions with you.


Accept their contributions: Our children are being taught to be contributing members of a community.  How can you allow your child this opportunity at home?  Their ability to contribute is usually beyond what we might think they are capable.  When we maintain our space as a family community we then have the opportunity to explore, play, and learn as a community.  My experience has been that to be an effective Montessori Parent, I have no choice but to understand and fully embrace that I have three little individuals on my hands. Their ability to truly and effectively contribute to society is one that makes me feel honored and privileged.


I don’t advocate for having a house full of Montessori materials.  Our little ones spend many hours in a day working on academics.  They are most served at home when we allow them to participate in practical tasks and explore their surroundings.  When I invite you to bring Montessori home I certainly don’t want anyone getting the impression that I think our children should be home working on math.  I am saying that we can indulge their love of learning by hearing what they are interested in.  We can support their development of imagination by reading wonderful, adventurous books with them.  We can support their love of nature by hiking and camping and exploring with them.  We can teach them the beauty of the earth by walking slowly with them.  We can nurture their ability to build meaningful relationships by seeing them and hearing them and touching them.  We can teach them to be confident by looking them in the eye while they speak to us.  We can teach them to resolve conflicts peacefully by modeling peaceful conflict resolution.



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Green Committee Update by Chair, Ann Beverly

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Thank you to all the families who participated in the Children’s clothing swap last week. We had a record amount of clothes donated! I hope you all got to update your growing child’s wardrobe a little bit.

 

 

Glass recycling Wednesday is getting off on the right foot! Each week we continue to see more and more glass coming in for us to recycle. Keep it coming! I hope you find this a useful service.

 

I wanted to publicly acknowledge the Green Committee members who have made our efforts to green MCS a success this year. You are all amazing and passionate about improving the school and the environment for our children.

 

One Green Committee member needs a little extra acknowledgement, Jaymison Peterson. With out Jaymison’s efforts the clothing swap just would not have happened. She sorted and folded so many kid tee shirts I think she will be folding in her dreams for quite awhile! Throughout the entire swap Jaymison was there, straightening and organizing, in order to make it easier for all of us to find what we needed, in the right size! And the wonderful signs for Glass Wednesday, you guessed it, Jaymison made them! Most Wednesdays she is one of the members taking the glass to be recycled. She is a vital part of the Green Committee and I hope she knows how much I appreciate her efforts and commitment to our Committee and to MCS. Thank you Jaymison!

 

And, thank you to all MCS parents and students for making the Green Committee a success again this year.

 

Ann Beverly

Chair, Green Committee


 

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Donate to an MCS family in need!

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GLASS RECYCLING!

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FUN RUN!

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As you are aware our Annual Service Fundraiser –the Fun Run- will be held on Wednesday, April 17th.  Our goal for this year is to raise at least $6500 for our two special Navajo grandmothers, Emma and Elvira, as well as our seven students from Ethiopia.

As we have 220 students enrolled at this time this means that if each child could aim to raise $30 we would reach our goal. We are aware that this will be an easy target for some families and more difficult for others and want you to know that anything you can offer will be so gratefully received.

The Adopt A Native Elder program has an excellent website that we invite you to view at this link- www.anelder.org The website gives so much information about the work of the organization. We are aware that there are many other grandmothers who would really benefit from sponsorship and therefore if we meet our goal this year we hope to adopt another grandmother.  We have been sponsors for Grandmothers Emma, Roseline (who recently died), and Elivira for about seventeen years now and know how much our support has helped provide a higher quality of life.  As you know from some of our Weekly Email newsletters we hear from our grandmothers on a regular basis and having spent time with each of them on the reservation Robyn and Bob know what great an impact our commitment and support has on their lives.

Recently we received new photos and thank you letters from our sponsored students in Ethiopia. We include two of their photos here.  Along with the correspondence we received a recommendation to watch the following link -http://youtu.be/cYumqw7idQY On the video you will see that one of our students, Bethelhem Eyob, (who is one of the girls shown in the photos attached) speaks about her experience at school and her gratitude for her sponsors (in this case our school). In a recent communication from Rick Egan at COEEF he wrote, "Bethelhem Eyob is a brilliant student, and so I thought you may be interested in seeing a short video we put together from our last visit to Ethiopia. It includes a short interview with your student,  Bethelhem Eyob, talking about Mr Solomon and St Michael's School where she attends.

Once again we thank you in advance for your support.

Warm wishes,

Robyn and Ramira

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ZUMBATHON FOR NICO!

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Shakin' it for Nico!

 

 

Deacon, Drake, Meghan and Sophie volunteer their time at the Zumbathon.

 

 

A small crowd of attendees before the madness began!

 

 

Shakin' It for Nico!

 

Excited children watching their parents dance!

 

Alyana and Lauren, volunteering in Child Care, bust out a move.

 

For those who participated in the Zumbathon last Friday night, we cannot begin to thank you enough.  The energy was incredible and seeing the event come together, as a community of loving adults put their dollars AND their enthusiastic energy into this project, was a touching experience for many.  We raised well over our anticipated goal and some of our staff members are looking forward to presenting the money to Nico and his family next week.

 

This event is just one reason we are all proud to be a part of the Montessori Community School...when we bring together our talents, our good intentions, and our positive energy-we can do amazing things!

 

Special thanks to the following:

Sophie Lake -MCS teacher, event organizer, event volunteer

Cinthya Barajas - MCS teacher, Zumbathon instructor/event volunteer, event organizer

Ralynne Purdy - Zumbathon instructor/event volunteer

Jena Marston - Zumbathon instructor/event volunteer

Meghan Burrows - MCS teacher, event volunteer

Alyana Kay - MCS teacher, event volunteer

Lauren Bornschein - MCS teacher, event volunteer

MCS Facilities - event organization, set-up

Drake Jones - MCS student, event volunteer

Tanner Jones - MCS student, event volunteer

Deacon Jones - MCS student, event volunteer

And especially to all the community members (MCS Community as well as many SLC Community members) who participated in the event!

 

Many, Many Thanks!

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It's time for the 6th Annual MCS Fun Run!

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6th Annual - Montessori Community School Fun Run

Wednesday, April 17th 2013

(Please note the change in date from the school calendar.)

 

The two main service projects that our school is involved with are the Adopt A Native Elder program and also COEEF (Children of Ethiopia Fund).

 

 

For the past seventeen years our school has raised money, in various ways, for the Adopt a Native Elder program, to provide financial assistance for our three adopted Navajo grandmothers- Roseline, Emma and Elvira who have chosen to remain living on a reservation and spent their lives living in the  traditional life style as role models for their children and grandchildren.  For the past ten years our school has also raised money to pay full tuition to allow our  girls in Ethiopia to attend school. Only 25% of girls in Ethiopia are afforded the opportunity to attend school and COEEF has built schools in Ethiopia for the express purpose of providing education only for girls.

 

For the past six years the main fundraising event to support our grandmothers and young girls in Ethiopia has been our Spring Fun Run. All of our students participate in the event.  The children collect pledges from family and friends who are interested in supporting these two programs and the children run laps on the Lower Field to earn the money that has been pledged.  100% of the money earned goes directly to our grandmothers to whom we provide certificates throughout the year for them to buy food, clothing, general incidentals and firewood and for the tuition for our students in Ethiopia.

 

There is still a great need within the Adopt a Native Elder program for support of other grandmothers and we hope to be able to adopt another grandmother. That will be determined based on the funds raised at the Fun Run this year. Last year we only raised about half of what we had raised the year before so we do not want to over commit ourselves. Over the next couple weeks, the teachers will be talking to the children about service to others and in particular about our grandmothers and the students we support in Ethiopia. Our grandmothers and students will surely appreciate anything you can give.

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In Memory of our Beloved Grandmother Rosaline

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It is with extreme sadness that we advise you of the death of one of our beloved grandmothers – Grandmother Roseline Jackson.  She was 94 years old.

Approximately seventeen years ago our school began our relationship with the Adopt A Native Elder program and at that time we adopted Grandmothers Roseline, Emma and Elvira.

Approximately eighteen months ago Bob and I had the opportunity to travel to Arizona with the Adopt A Native Elder group on one of their Food Runs.  Each day we visited a different area of the Navajo reservation and our three grandmothers – Roseline, Emma and Elvira lived in two of these areas so we were able to spend several hours with each of them and get to know them on a more personal level.  It was such a pleasure to meet Grandmothers Roseline and Emma for the first time.  We really appreciated the opportunity to learn first hand so much more about the history of Navajo and the lifestyle that they have lead.

Grandmother Roseline was a wonderful warm and charming woman with a really funny sense of humor. She has had many health issues over the past two years and has been hospitalized a few times. Each time she has bounced back and has continued to have her positive attitude and sense of humor. I have kept in touch with her regularly and know how much she appreciated all the assistance we were able to provide her. Over the past few years she has felt the cold very badly and she needed to keep her wood fire going all year long so was especially grateful for all the firewood that our school provided for her. Her family also expressed their extreme gratitude for all of our assistance.

Written By: Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan

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Summer Adventures Camp 2013!

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Summer is quickly approaching and registration is officially open for our currently enrolled students.  If you are not already signed up for "Full Year" we invite you to stop  the office to pick up a registration form. Please ask Lynn or Liz if you have any questions.

 

See the flyers below for information about this years Montessori Community School Summer Adventures Camp. Students will study Tanzania and Kenya.

 

Registration will close on March 29th so don't delay.  Space is limited.

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Decades of Music, Dance, and Art - Performing Arts Showcase

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We had the wonderful opportunity to catch a glimpse of what our students have been up to this year in Music, Art, and Dance at the Performing Arts Showcase last Friday evening.  Another huge shout out to the students who worked hard and gave their best effort!  Our students are amazing.  Also, another heartfelt thank you to Kindra, Laura, and Katie for their hard work and dedication.

 

 

 

Narrators Oliver & Joshua welcome the crowd of excited families.

 

 

 

Upper Elementary students charm the audience with song.

 

 

 

Middle School students jam on their guitars with Ms. Laura.  Their rendition of "House of the Rising Sun" was incredible!  Great job, guys!

 

 

 

Lower Elementary Wasatch students dance to Diana Ross's

"You Keep Me Hangin' On." They had great form!

 

 

 

Upper Elementary grooving to Michael jackson!

 

 

 

Upper El student, O, has great moves....what a crowd pleaser!

 

 

 

Another group of Lower Elementary Wasatch students shine on stage!

 

 

 

Lower Elementary Oquirrh students groove to "Beggin."

 

 

 

Upper Elementary bringing the stage to life with the Beach Boys!

 

 

 

Lower Elementary Oquirrh students remind us that all you really need IS

love as they dance to this Beatles classic!

 

 

 

The wonderful people who made the whole show possible...thanks again to Kindra (Art), Laura (Music), and Katie (Dance).  A shout out to Margaret for taking on the role as the shows emcee.

 

Before and after the show parents had the opportunity to stroll the gym and check out the students amazing art projects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adopt-A-Native Elder Navajo Rug Show

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We are so grateful to Linda Meyer and the Adopt a Native Elder program for their outreach and efforts in bringing the Children’s Rug Show to MCS on Friday, March 1st.

In addition to displaying various crafts that Navajo children made, such as handwoven small rugs, homemade cards, jewelry, and stuffed animals (with their very own names!), the presenters shared information about Navajo history and culture. At one point five children sat in a circle around a Navajo woman while she showed them how to grind corn. During the demonstration she also shared about the three crops that Native Americans introduced: squash, beans, and corn. She asked the children if they knew what those plants looked like when they were growing and explained their interdependence. Corn grows tall and provides shade for the squash, which provide the natural trellis for the bean vines to wrap themselves around.

In the center of the gym, a couple of elders invited children to learn how to weave on the loom, and for some of the elementary-age students, this activity held their attention for a long time. An elder named Roger showed children how to use a drum, and told stories at certain times.

 

 

Similar to the squash, beans, and corn, we too are interdependent on one another for support and growth. Our children learn this from day one at MCS, living in community in their multi-age classroom. Every year we host the Fun Run, our primary school fundraiser specifically for the purpose of raising money for those in the global community who depend on us for our generosity. As a school we support our grandmothers in the Adopt a Native Elder program, as well as five young women through the Children of Ethiopia Education Fund (COEFF).


 

Thank you to all the families who stopped by during the Rug Show in support of learning more about the Navajo culture and who bought crafts to support the Adopt a Native Elder program. We also want to especially thank our Facilities staff for setting up and cleaning for and after the event.

By Ramira Alamilla

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ZUMBATHON FOR NICO!

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ZUMBATHON for NICO
make every move count

Friday - March 22, 2013 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm

Montessori Community School (in the Gym) 
2416 East 1700 South 
Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Minimum Donation $5 - Please contribute more if you can.

Come join us for a fun evening for grown ups (ages 16 and up) with the MCS community coming together in support of little Nico who 2 years old. Earlier this year he was diagnosed with high risk Leukemia and your contribution could help greatly.

Tips for Parents for a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference

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Parent Teacher Conferences will be held on Friday, March 15. There will be no school that day. Sign-up sheets for the conferences are on a table in the lobby, arranged by class, from Toddlers to Middle School (please check the top of each page for the name of the class).  As we do every year, we ask that you observe the following requests:

  • · Please sign up for one meeting time per child.
  • · Please be on time for your conference.
  • · Please help the teachers to stay on time.
  • · Please arrange for childcare during Parent/Teacher conferences.

We have included some additional tips that might be useful in having a successful Parent Teacher Conference:

  • Write down questions or things you would like to discuss and email the teacher(s) with your questions/comments before the conference.
  • Ask your child if there is anything they would like you to discuss with the teacher(s).
  • Keep the conference focused on the child and the purpose of the conference-use your time carefully.
  • Be open to suggestions from the teacher.
  • Be prepared to share suggestions of your own. No one knows your child like you know him/her.
  • If you are unclear about what the teacher is telling you about your child, ask for specific examples.
  • Remember that you and the teacher(s) are a team and your main focus is meeting the needs of your child.
  • Take notes so you can share information with your child after the meeting.
  • Make sure the teachers have the best contact information for you and that you have a clear understanding of the communication protocol.
  • Keep the teacher informed.  Things happening at home often affect children’s behavior at school.
  • At the end of your conference make sure that everyone understands what was talked about and what they can/have agreed to do to follow up.
  • Follow up.  If you have concerns that need to be followed up on, set up that time in advance.

Silent Journey & Discovery

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We had a wonderful Silent Journey and Discovery experience this month. Fifteen parents were in attendence.  We started in the lobby where we shared the routine and schedule and then headed into the classrooms.  Upon entering each new environment, attendees spent the first few minutes of their visit to access the environment in relation to the students at that level. With some prompting they looked at the nature of the materials in the space.  Then, when the bell rang, they were invited to sit down and engage with the classroom materials.  After visiting each classroom and working with the materials, attendees participated in a student-led Socratic Dialogue.  Following a wonderful lunch, we had an open discussion about the experience as a whole and staff members answered specific questions about the materials, the curriculum, and the Montessori philosophy.  Thank you to those who attended.  We are looking forward to hosting this event again in the Fall and we hope more of our parents will have the opportunity to experience this wonderful event.

 

SJ&D participants engage with materials from the Practical Life, Math, Language and Sensorial materials in an Early Childhood environment.

 

Upper Elementary teacher, Margaret, gives these parents a lesson on the Division Board during their visit to the Lower Elementary environment.

 

Parents work independently on Checkerboard Division in the Upper Elementary environment.

 

Participants explore the Middle School environment where they read about Middle School students experiences of different learning cycles.

 

Middle School student, Maddi Schmunk, and Upper Elementary teacher, Margaret, prepare for the Socratic Dialogue.  Maddi chose the topic quote and led the discussion beautifully. The topic of discussion was quote, "It's better to be a lion for a day than a sheep all your life" by Sister Kenny.

 

Socratic Dialogue

Two parents who attended the Silent Journey and Discovery share their experiences below:

"The Silent Journey and Discovery was a very emotional and powerful experience for me.  I did not attend a Montessori school as a child so I am only familiar with the Montessori philosophy through what I have read and observed in the last two years.  It gave me a great appreciation and understanding of the different developmental levels of the works.  I loved seeing the progression and advancement of the works through Toddler, Early Childhood and up through Middle School.  The grammar and math works were thrilling to learn and experience.  The focus on the sensorial aspects of each work creates a love of learning.  In addition to receiving an amazing education the students are also learning how to be independent, respectful and loving human beings.  I think every MCS parent should participate in the Silent Journey and Discovery to really understand and appreciate the experience and education we are giving our children.  I know that it made me realize that I will do everything in my power to continue my daughter’s Montessori education."

Tonia Hashimoto

Mother of Savvy Williams, Blue Class

 

"Having not grown up in a Montessori environment, it has been difficult for me to understand what exactly a day in the life of my Montessori students is like.  I try to take in as much as I can at pick-up and drop-off, with the occasional visit and guided lesson by my children, but there is no way to fully understand without an experience like the Silent Journey and Discovery.  It was an eye-opening voyage that I would recommend for every parent, and prospective parent.  I want to do it again.

 

Going through a classroom from each cycle really makes the whole Montessori experience come full circle from seeing how the Toddlers get their first understanding of space and shape, to Early Childhood and their practical life lessons, to Lower Elementary and their grammar materials which encourage socialization, to the Upper Elementary complex math problems, to a Middle School student-led Socratic discussion.  We only saw the tip of the iceberg, but the hands-on learning experience helped personify the school life of our children.  I was struck by the thoughtful organization of each room; how comfortable and serene a small space can feel.

 

I also enjoyed the roundtable discussion following our classroom journeys.  We were able to get some insight from teachers, staff, students and other parents.  Because Montessori isn’t the “traditional” schooling for kids in our country, there are obvious concerns and hesitations with going outside the “norm”.  Many of my concerns were put to ease and I feel my children are on the correct path for them at this time.  I appreciated the book recommendations and feel they will help in understanding the Montessori Method and perhaps assist me with decisions for my family down the road.

 

My kids have been at MCS for three/four years now and I feel like I have finally been able to look beyond the curtain of their daily journey, something that every parent should see and experience.  Now, when my kids and I have our chats at the end of the day, I can ask even more detailed questions and have a bit more understanding as to how their day went.  That is priceless.

 

Thanks again to all who helped facilitate the Silent Journey and Discovery."

Carrie Christensen

Mother of Lucas, Oquirrh Class and Emily, Blue Class

Montessori Community School Offers Better Alternative

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In a recent interview, Head of Montessori Community School (MCS) established in 1985, Robyn Eriwata-Buchanan, and a current MCS parent, Marie Bosteels, reveal the difference between MCS and other schools in the Salt Lake Valley.

 

Montessori is an authentic curriculum which has been practiced for over 100 years to meet the developmental needs of each individual student.  “We have multi-age classrooms where students are presented lessons with hands-on materials by trained Montessori teachers.  Certified teachers observe carefully and prepare the environment to suit each student in their classroom,” says Robyn. Essentially, students have the opportunity to gain a firm understanding of a concept before moving on to the next concept.

In addition, according to Robyn, it is commonly misunderstood that Montessori is a preschool program. On the contrary, the program offers an authentic Montessori education for children aged 18 months up to 8th grade.

Current parent, Marie Bosteels, shares her thoughts about MCS. “From an early age the children are empowered by learning independently through well-adapted materials with guidance from teachers”, Marie says. “They are confident that the knowledge of the world is at their fingertips.”

Beyond Montessori’s carefully developed curriculum, MCS also offers an enrichment program where students participate in a diverse selection of activities. “Students participate in Art, Music, Dance, P.E., Yoga, Drama, Outdoor Classroom and the Great Outdoors expeditions. Children can also participate in Spanish instruction at different levels,” says Robyn.

Like many MCS parents, Marie also has her children participate in the Enrichment Program. “We are driven to give our children a rich childhood, where they can explore and experience many areas of life. Thanks to the amazing program at MCS, I always knew that enrichment for my children happened at school,” says Marie. The Outdoor Classroom and the Great Outdoor Expeditions has supported her family’s desire to have an innate knowledge of the beauty, ecology, and flora and fauna that surround us. “My youngest daughter has a passion for art and because the Montessori materials are so unique and adaptable to the individual needs of each child, the teachers guide her to art projects that integrate reading and writing skills,” Marie says.

Marie shares her thoughts on the most important skills her children have gained at MCS. “Because Montessori adapts to the individual needs of every child, MCS has been the right place for all three of my children,” Marie says. “They have developed organizational skills, a sense of order, the ability to work independently, research, think and analyze, lead meetings and debates, conflict resolution, listening skills, mindfulness, staying connected with your passions, and goal setting. At MCS, my children have been learning and integrating these skills since their Early Childhood classes.”

When asked what sets MCS’s Middle School program apart from others, Robyn responded, “Our Middle School program is designed to meet the unique needs of adolescents.  Supportive of their sensitive period for social development, our program allows children to continue to progress academically at their own level while also focusing on life skills,” says Robyn. In addition, team building exercises, appropriate communication, and rendering service are a few of the skills they develop as they explore social behaviors in a small, protected environment.

According to Marie, there are experiences her children have had at MCS that may not have been possible elsewhere. “In Upper Elementary my oldest daughter was able to successfully lead a group discussion with parents. She made sure everyone had a chance to express their opinions and kept the conversation going during silent moments,” says Marie. “She has always followed her passions and inner voice, a quality I attribute to the MCS school environment, where children always have a choice within a well- prepared environment.”

The MCS is located on the South-West corner of Foothill Blvd. and 1700 South in Salt Lake City. The school is open from 7:30am to 6:00pm Monday through Friday. The school day for Toddlers and Early Childhood students is 9:00am-3:30pm. For Elementary and Middle School students, the school day runs 8:30am-3:00pm. “We offer Extended Day programs and Summer and Holiday Camps in addition to the regular school schedule,” says Robyn.

For those interested in applying, MCS accepts applications all year with limited availability. Parents should schedule a tour now for the  2013-2014 Academic Year. Tuition rates and application forms can be found on their website, www.montessorislc.com.


 


 

 

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Tomorrow's Child

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Don't forget to take a look at the newest issue of Tomorrow's Child, which will be placed in your child's take-home file this week.  Some of the interesting articles that we recommend include:

  • The Most Shocking Thing I Learned as a Montessori Parent, by Terri Sherrill
  • Why Montessori for the Kindergarten Year, by Tim Seldin
  • Dear Cathie - Stars and Stickers, by Cathie Perolman
Along with caring for and loving our wonderful students we are always looking for ways to nurture our parent's spirits.  Merging Montessori and parenthood can be a tricky task at times.  Often parents find themselves trying to revisit the reasons they chose a Montessori education in the first place.  Our school spends a portion of our funds allocated for parent education on a Tomorrow's Child subscription for each of our families.  We invite you to nurture your spirit with the inspirations of Montessorians (parents, teachers, and administrators) across the country as they share ideas and reflections of their personal Montessori experiences.
As we consider the best use of funds in the future, we would love your feedback on the Tomorrow's Child subscription.  Please, if you are a regular reader, let us know.  What are you getting from your subscription?  Your feedback on this matter is, as always, greatly valued.
Happy Reading!
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An Update from our Middle School students from Teton Science School!

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An Update from our Middle School students from Teton Science School!

Monday, January 14, 2013
Today is the first day of our immersion trip and off to TSS (Teton
Science School) it is. We left at around 8:45 and arrived at around 3!
So, not too long of a drive. One TSS instructor named Katie, who is
super fun and nice, greeted us. We walked over to our meeting place,
inside a building with radiant heating. The floors are warm! There we
talked about our schedule and what we will be doing during the week.
When that was over we went to our dorms and got settled in. At 5:30,
we had a delicious dinner of fried rice, chicken & Mandarin salad,
tofu with broccoli and rice crispy treats. To be excused to get your
dinner you have to answer one trivia question with your table mates.
Each evening there is a program, today's was about team-building. We
played games with students from Montessori at Riverton So, good first
day!
- Elise

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The Right NOT to Bear Arms

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While reading the SL Tribune on Sunday, January 6, 2013, Robyn came across an article written by Angela Choberka, a fellow Montessori teacher in Utah, about the rights of teachers in Utah schools to carry guns in school.  Her view on the matter resonated truth for the Administration at MCS in that we believe heartily in Maria Montessori's stance on global peace.  Her curriculum is written so carefully as to include many lessons and practices that teach children to solve problems peacefully and with care and respect for their peers.  Montessori was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize and her legacy of peace in education continues to this day.  We are proud to share her philosophy at MCS.

Read Article Here

MCS Students Walk for Peace 2012

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SCHOOL EARLY CLOSURE/EXTENDED DAY CANCELLED!

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Due to the extremely dangerous road conditions and based on the forecast, which shows that the snow will continue throughout the day, we have decided to cancel Extended Day today, Friday, January 11, 2013.  We would like our students and teachers to travel safely home before it gets dark.  Please make arrangements for your child(ren) to be picked up no later than 3:30 pm.  We invite you to pick up your child(ren) even earlier than that if your schedule allows.
Also, Little Chefs has been postponed.  Ms. Sheila will contact you with the revised date.

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M.C.S. Middle School Service Learning Immersion Week

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The Middle School students recently completed their Service Learning Cycle.  Below they have shared some of their experiences from the Immersion Week.

The Humane Society

The Humane Society is an animal rescue shelter for homeless house pets. Elise and I volunteered there for our independent service project. We both wanted to help the same organization so we did two things for the same place, that’s why we also raised about seventy-five dollars and donated it to the organization. Elise and I walked four dogs and over twenty cats each, giving the pets fun and loving experiences.

- Emilia

 

The Bicycle Collective

The Bicycle Collective is a non-profit organization that takes in old and unwanted bikes then fixes them up and donates them to those in need. The M.C.S. Middle School class volunteered there for two and a half hours during our service-learning immersion. We fixed small kids bikes that will be delivered on Christmas Eve to homeless or poor children as presents. In all we fixed five and a half bikes, we also “killed” one, meaning we took it apart so they reuse pieces.

- Emilia

 

Tree Utah

One of the service projects we did as a group was with Tree Utah. Tree Utah is an organization that’s mission is to “improve Utah’s quality of life for present and future generations by enhancing the environment through tree planting, stewardship and education.” One of their main goals is to plant a million trees. What we did to help Tree Utah was paint dead tree logs to make signs so they could label the wonderful trees they planted in their eco garden. We painted ten logs and worked eight hours total as a group.

- Noah

 

Montessori Community School

What I did for my personal service project was I went around doing everyone’s school service and helping out the school. Some of the jobs I did were shoveling snow, sweeping the gym and put away dishes. We were planning to rake the field but there was a lot of snow fall and the next day it was really hot after it snowed so it was more like ice picking. Doing all this work took three hours total on my own

- Noah

 

Wasatch Community Garden

On the Tuesday of our immersion week Upper Elementary sixth years and us Middle School students went to the Wasatch Community Garden. The Wasatch Community Garden is a place where people that live in Salt Lake can have a plot where they can plant whatever plants they want. Some of the things we did to help this organization were mix compost, water plants, make green houses (that were really warm inside), feed chickens and feed worms. Our total amount of time that we donated was twenty-two hours!

-Elise

 

The Stable Place

On the Monday of our service learning immersion week we went to the Stable Place. The Stable Place is a farm that has horses, pigs, dogs, cats, a goat, and a goose that have all been rescued. Some of the things we did to volunteer were: feed and groom horses, walk dogs and played with cats, pigs and a goat. It was really fun!! Our total about of hours that we gave to this organization was twelve hours!

-Elise

 

Sarah Daft Home

For my service learning project my mom and I went to the Sarah Daft Home. The Sarah Daft Home is a home for old or disabled people who need help taking care of themselves. When we first arrived we vacuumed the halls so it would be nice and tidy for them. When we were done with that we went door to door giving the residents beverages to keep them hydrated and healthy. This experience was so fun but I think my favorite part of this experience was putting a smile on their face. I hope to visit them again soon.

- Maddi

 

Aquarium

When we first arrived at the Living Planet Aquarium we went into a working room. Our mentor, Melisa, told us we were going to do an assembly line to make goodie bags. The goal of this was to help out the workers so they wouldn’t have to do it by themselves. There were five stations; opening bags, putting toys in the cups, bagging, tie and curling ribbon. Once we filled up 3 huge plastic boxes we saw all the fun things the aquarium had to offer, such as eels, sharks, and otters.

- Maddi

 

Dixon’s Farm

For my service I decided to help out a local farm but they had changed their policy. For legal reasons I had to be sixteen to go. So instead I thought I would help my mom’s friend, Monica Dixon, we called her up and asked if she was going to be home Tuesday November, we told her it was for a school project. When we arrived at roughly 10:30 we went to say hi to Monica and the animals. She has three goats, chickens, a cat named Doodle and Daisy her horse.  The majority of her animals are rescued (Which means they were adopted from Situations were the animal was not being taken care of properly) which is why we decided to go her farm. We started by replacing the food for the animals, after that was done we changed the bedding in Daisy’s stall, changed the goats bedding, played with the goats and walked Daisy around the arena.  Over all I think we helped a lot in her day. And I really enjoyed myself.

-Bjorn

 

Camp Kostopulos

We went to camp Kostopulos, which is a place that people with mental and physical disadvantages can go to participate in ropes courses and other outdoor activities. They have a stable and the main thing we did there is cleaned the different stalls, clean out the snow in their dumpsters, bring the old hay to the dumpsters in wheel barrow, sweep the floors, muck the stalls, pick up the poop we also shoveled snow and cleared the ice. I think this was one of our greater services we got a lot done and I hope we helped in their day.

-Bjorn

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A Welcome Back Letter from PSA President, Aimee Brewer

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Happy New Year from the PSA!

I hope you all had a fun, relaxing break and are ready for a great 2013!

Since there are many new families who have joined the school this past fall, I thought it might be a good time to send along a few reminders and updates.

Feeling connected to your child’s school and teachers is something that is very important to many parents.  Below are a couple of great ways you can be involved in your child’s classroom:

 

  • From 8:30-9am each morning in the Toddler and Early Childhood classes and 8:00-8:30am in the Elementary and Middle School classes, parents are welcome to be part of your child’s class – if your schedule permits, you are invited to stay during this time and do some work with your child.  It’s a great way to feel a part of their learning experience as well as getting more familiar with the Montessori methods and “works”, and most importantly, your child will LOVE showing you a work and will be so proud when their parents stay to observe and participate.

 

  • Each class has office hours where you can check-in with the teachers. Please know this doesn’t just need to be used if you are having an issue or concern about your child, it is also  a great time to just say hi to the teachers and see what your child is working on.  If the office hours that your class has doesn’t work for your schedule, you can always call or email the teachers to set up a different time to meet.

 

  • Each class has a email address and if you have a question, concern, or idea and want to communicate with the teachers via email, please do so.  If it is an urgent issue, please call the school and ask to speak with the teacher as they usually do not have time to check email during the day.  The teacher email addresses are easy to remember and can be found below.

 

  • The teachers welcome parents who would like to come read a book to the class, do a cooking activity, share a talent or special tradition etc….if you want to do something with the whole class, just let the teachers know!

 

  • The school is always looking for new field trip ideas (or new presenters to come to the school), if you have any ideas, please let me or Ramira know!

 

Save the date:

 

  • As you may know, our school has a partnership with the Adopt-a-Native Elder program. The students communicate with our Navajo Grandmothers and the Grandmothers come to visit each year. Our youngest grandmother, Elvira, participates in the Deer Valley Rug Show each year and the children who attend have the opportunity to spend some time with her.   On March 22nd our school will be hosting a Navajo Children’s Rug Show at the school – if you didn’t attend last year you should plan to this year – not only are the rugs made by children gorgeous, but there are many activities for our children to participate in and learn so much about the Navajo culture. You can learn more about the program at www.anelder.org.

 

  • The annual Fun Run is set for April 1st – this is a really great day for the students, but also our main fundraiser for our Navajo Grandmothers and Ethiopian children. Community Service is an important part of the Montessori Education  as students learn to care and contribute to others , the value of volunteerism, and begin to recognize their connection to people all around the globe.

If you would like to be involved in the Fun Run or any other PSA events or committees, please let me know!

 

Finally, we are always looking for ideas for community building events – classroom specific events as well as school-wide events.  If you have an idea, please let me know (even better, if you want to plan a community building event and get hours towards your parent participation, that would be fabulous!).

 

Thank you for all you do to support the PSA and school at large.  There is such a great group of families that are part of the school and I look forward to the coming year!

 

Aimee Brewer

PSA President

 

Classroom Email Addresses:

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Letter from the Head of School, Robyn

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In the midst of this Holiday Season I give thanks for our precious children, dedicated and caring staff and our supportive families. This year we have had the highest enrollment since we moved to our current location and I attribute this to the fact that we have such incredible teachers and support staff and also such wonderful families who often make financial sacrifices to ensure that their children have all the opportunities that a true Montessori school has to offer them. These children will of course grow academically in our school and in addition they will grow in so many other ways. They will learn how to learn, to respect themselves, their peers, teachers and support staff and their environment, they will learn to become independent, free thinkers, learn how to be flexible and co-operative, to be innovative and to solve problems and so much more.

In our current world environment so many of these skills are just as important or more important as achieving academically. In the past many of us have chosen a career path early in life and have stayed in that field for an entire working career. Some of our current parents might end up having that  opportunity. However, with the speed of changes in technology and many other developments in our world there will be so many new and innovative opportunities in the future and people may change career paths several times during their working life. I believe that many Montessori students are likely to be some of the innovators- just as Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the CEO's of Google, who attribute their success to their Montessori education where they were encouraged to "think outside the box", are innovators.

Another aspect of Montessori education that will be so important in the influence it will play in our students lives will be the  fact that they have learned how to get along with others - to listen to each other, have their own opinions but  consider others viewpoints, be empathetic towards others, honor other people's choices, work towards peaceful outcomes and know how to communicate effectively with others.
They will also have learned to think of others and to have the desire to give to other who are less fortunate. I realize that parents have played a big part in donating to all the "Giving Projects" this holiday season and hope that you took the opportunity to include your children at the level of involvement that is age appropriate. I am grateful for the generosity of all our families who were in a position to contribute to those who have such great needs.
In closing, on behalf of all our staff I would like to say that we send our best wishes to you for a very special Holiday Season with family and friends. May your time together be all that you hope for.
Have a lovely break and we look forward to seeing you all in the New Year.
Arohanui,
Robyn

 

 

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A Wonderful Thanks To All of You...

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