2014 Performing Arts Showcase Featured
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!
Aspens and Magnolias Music and Dance Performing Arts Showcase “Commotion in the Ocean” on Tuesday was absolutely delightful!
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.
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.
The Kindergarten Year in Montessori Featured
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.
Open House for 2014-2015 Featured
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.
See more work from Jim Valentine
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.
The Toddler Parent Education night on Positive Discipline was a great success. Thanks to Ms Meghan for co-ordinating the information and setting up the program and also to Ms Nanette, Ms Sophie and Ms Kenzee for their informative and often entertaining presentation. At various points during the evening parents asked follow up questions. The teachers always had great suggestions but reminded the parents that sometimes certain approaches will work and other times not and it is important to keep trying new tactics. It was stressed that it is vital to always be respectful of each child and to try not to get into a power struggle as this always ends up with one winner and one loser. It was also suggested that if a child was pushing them to their limits that they try to have the child take a break to calm themselves and if possible take a break themselves.
It is always heartening to hear other parents speaking of their struggles and frustrations so that it is clear that most people are experiencing the same issues and that this is normal stage of development for each child and that there are many ways to help make the process more manageable and hopefully enjoyable. There is no doubt that Toddlers are sometimes challenging but they are also so delightful, capable, inquisitive, lovable and growing and learning at such a rapid pace. We are most fortunate to have these children in our school community and our Toddler teachers are amazing. We are constantly impressed with their knowledge, patience and loving attitudes.
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.
by Edward Fidellow
It is amazing to observe the breadth of accomplishment that a Montessori environment fosters. Courage is not traditionally thought of as an educational outcome but then again Montessori is not traditional. For children, courage is the ability to try new things even if I am afraid. And as they mature courage becomes the ability to do what is right and to do what is good.
For a child everything is new. That is the reality of childhood. The awesome task and purpose of childhood is to create the adult. Life takes courage to navigate and to become a fully functioning independent adult. And it is this kind of courage that must be nurtured and practiced for it to become a practical virtue.
We tend to identify courage with physical courage – running into a burning building, pulling people out of rivers etc. However, real life every day common courage demonstrates itself in intellectual, emotional and spiritual settings. The courage to do what is right, to do what is good for others, to use our gifts, talents and opportunities well and wisely is the kind of courage practiced and displayed in a Montessori environment.
We well understand that the opposite of courage is fear. But for a child fear doesn’t yet have a definition. It is represented by an indistinct but palpable feeling of unease. For a child fear is “defined” by the unknown, the unfamiliar. (That is why Montessori children love and are so at home in their environments because of its constant sameness and familiarity.)
For the child conscious fear starts from the unknown – the dog, the dark, strangers and then becomes attached to the inability (and frustration) of not being able to handle and control the environment – bringing it back to sameness. (Perfectionist children come to this earlier than others.) Then this fear attaches itself to the perceived rejection that comes from disapproval. The child, unconsciously thinks, that if I only do what is absolutely safe or what receives guaranteed adult approval I don’t have any reason to fear or face disapproval.
One of the hardest concepts for a new Montessori teacher to understand (and embrace) is that of not correcting children in the middle of their work. (This is particularly difficult for perfectionists and controllers.) Unless the child is damaging the material or endangering others or himself or being rude you let them continue. There are two outcomes to not correcting the child in the midst of the work. One, the child discovers his own mistake and corrects it which produces a sense of accomplishment and control. The second outcome is far more subtle. Because you are not corrected at every turn, you do not freeze up; you do not constantly look over your shoulder; you are not waiting for the next shoe to drop. You gain breathing room to make mistakes – that’s how we learn. In this way mistakes do not become the end of the universe or the world as we know it. The child is willing to try something new (which is an act of courage) without being weighed down with the fear of failure or reproof.
Not being corrected (all of the time) is the strange and unique Montessori training ground for courage. In trying something new the child gets to practice courage every day. Eventually, the child becomes use to trying new things without the overpowering fear of failure. The child learns to work his way through mistakes which becomes a normal part of life and the learning process – which is a significant part of adult life.
Life requires courage to live fully. The Montessori classroom provides daily opportunities to develop and practice courage.
Becoming a Montessori Parent
by Edward Fidellow
This Montessori parent, and school administrator, joins her three Montessori children on a field trip this fall.
There are seven simple steps to becoming a Montessori parent. When we say simple we don’t mean that they are not challenging. It is a lot like the definition of bull riding. “The object is to keep the bull between you and the ground.” Simple – but challenging.
The first step to becoming a Montessori parent took place when you enrolled your child in a Montessori program. That in itself is a challenge. Most of us weren’t raised in a Montessori school. The whole concept is foreign and takes a bit of courage to step out of the norm and our comfort zone. We may have chosen the program because it wasn’t like our school experience (which is why we chose it.) Or we chose it because we saw something unique in a Montessori child we knew. Or we were just plain lucky and stumbled on to a Montessori school and were fascinated by what we saw. Even then we had to deal with the question, “If this is so great, how come the whole world isn’t lined up outside the door to enroll?” (Which is the same question Montessorians keep wondering about too!) But you made a complex and challenging decision to become a Montessori parent. And here you are. So how do you get the best out of your decision? You go to step two.
You begin to understand the core philosophy of what Montessori is all about. Fortunately, you don’t have to become a Montessori teacher to be a good Montessori parent. (You don’t have to know how to manipulate all of those materials and you don’t have to keep fifteen children from climbing the walls.) The most significant Montessori concept is to respect the child. I can almost hear the wheels turning “Of course I respect my child, I love them very much that’s why I have them in Montessori, I want the best for them.” Of course you love them – but respect is different. Respecting the child is first, to respect the nature of children. Children are not mini adults waiting to be molded. They are like tadpoles and caterpillars that have their own form and function of life waiting to become what they are intended to be. We are often impatient for them to become because we don’t realize that childhood – with its curiosity, playfulness, messiness and all – is part of the process of them transforming themselves into the adults they will become. We have to respect that process – which doesn’t mean they always get to do what they want. One of the operative words in Dr. Montessori’s writing is the word “train”. We do need to train our children but we need to train ourselves “not to destroy that which is good” in the nature of our children. The second part of respect is to respect the personality of your child. Your child is not a blank slate. They are already imbued with the unique characteristics of who they are. The artistic bent is already there. The math bent is already formed. The leader, the follower, the giver, the taker, the extrovert, the introvert are already dna’d into your child. Right or left handed, right or left brained are already formed.
So how do you cooperate with nature? You become an observer. That is the next step in becoming a Montessori parent – you train yourself to observe. What does your child gravitate to? What gives them great joy? What occupies them endlessly? These are all clues to who your child is becoming. You are fortunate that you have a trained helper in your child’s Montessori teacher. Your next parent conference should ask more than what has she done but who do you see her becoming. It is hard to cooperate with nature if you are not aware of the nature of your child.
Our third step is to become their champion. I know. I hear you say, “Of course, I’m their champion. I love them.” And so you do. But are their goals your goals? Translation: Do you have goals for them that do not take into account who they are. (There are many jock fathers who do not have jock sons.) Yes, you have many wonderful goals for them to be caring and loving, honest and faithful, upright, truthful, etc – and these are worthy, significant and meaningful goals which they should attain to. But the expression of their lives – career, vocation, work – is best met and fulfilled according to their gifts. When your five year old says, “I want to be a fireman.” He may be reflecting the latest book or television program he’s seen. However, if you continue to ask the why questions, “Why do you think that would be a good job? Why do you think that you would enjoy that?” you may discover that your child is not drawn just to the excitement but to the fact of wanting to help people or he likes the aspect of being part of a team. All are important clues to his personality. Your child needs you to champion and encourage his personality (especially, if it is different than yours.)
The fourth step is to practice what they learn at school – grace and courtesy. Please and thank you, may I, excuse me, please forgive me and a host of other considerations practiced (and modeled) at home will go a long way to giving your child every advantage in life. People respond favorably to a child with great manners.
Fifth, practice independence. Independence is the ability to be self-governing and that comes from making choices, living with the consequences and having responsibilities. As often as possible give your children choices. “What do you want for breakfast, cereal or eggs?” “Do you want two spoonfuls of carrots or one?” (Don’t offer choices where there are no choices. “Do you want carrots? They say no and you serve them anyway.) Give your children chores they can accomplish – making their beds, putting dirty clothes in the laundry, dishes in the dishwasher, etc. Chores build responsibility; responsibility builds independence; independence builds confidence.
Sixth, give them the gift of time. Give them time to accomplish their chores. Give them time to be children. Give them time to breath. Give them your time.
Seventh, practice humility. They have a lot to learn from you. What is easy for you as an adult is mystifying and beyond challenge for them. Let your words be seasoned with grace. Look for the good in what they do. Their motives are often pure; their actions imperfect. Yet, we have a lot to learn from them also. And when you are wrong (when, not if) practice the humility of saying, “Please forgive me.” It will not destroy your authority or their respect for you. It will teach them one of the great lessons of life – when you fail, whether it’s in a relationship, school, career or life – own the failure and start over again – to succeed another day.
Becoming a Montessori parent is to become the best parent you can be.
Parent practice using materials in an Early Childhood classroom.
This 6th Year student volunteer models use of a pouring exercise in an Early Childhood classroom.
This parent builds words with the Movable Alphabet.
These SJ&D attendees receive a lesson on Checkerboard Multiplication.
This parent practices sentence analysis.
"Our little girl started this October in one of the Toddler classes. We felt and understood how this would be a good environment for our daughter--we saw a difference in her after only a week! The only thing to say after experiencing Silent Journey is we THOUGHT we understood how good of an environment this is for our daughter. The progression through the classrooms and the works is absolutely brilliant. There is no way we would want anything different for our precious little girl. The system set in place is orderly, focusing on progression, growth, and learning pertaining to independence, reading, math, social skills, morals, ethics, and problem solving. We noticed how 'hands on' and multi faceted every work is designed to engage the children on their level with their own learning abilities and processes.
We were also so impressed with the educators- the individual time, care, and attention they put into their students. They truly know and understand each individual child they work with.
We discovered how the works build. The one that stuck out to us the most was the math. Starting early with dimensions, and stacking blocks moving toward cubes and counting- and onto multiplying enormous numbers by using a mat and beads- Absolutely incredible.
Math was a subject I struggled with and I can remember the exact time (2nd grade) when I got left behind. We had to pass off times tables with the teacher in front of the whole class. I was too shy and embarrassed to perform those simple times tables in front of the class for fear of getting them wrong or not being able to have them memorized the way all the other kids seemed to be able to do. I struggled the rest of my life with the ominous subject. During Silent Journey, when I reached Lower Elementary, I got it. I actually got a little emotional watching and doing the hands on mathematics. Both my husband and I just kept saying that we wished we would have had this type of learning environment available to us as kids.
We know the school is expensive; however, we walked away from Silent Journey thinking it is worth every penny and we would pay it twice over to have our children here. In our minds, there is no other way that can hone in on every aspect of learning for each individual child and still be able to provide loving, passionate, engaging teachers to foster a child's learning and progression. Thank you so much for this amazing opportunity and for this incredible school. You really do 'get it' here. "
Chad and Ashlee Haslam, Parents of a Toddler student
"I think it should be mandatory that every parent go through silent journey! Even though Aria has been here for 7 years, Azur 3 years, and I have taught art on and off during all of that time, I never really got it as I did Saturday. Suddenly, all that I had read about Montessori or observed in the classrooms made sense. It builds on itself in a beautiful way as the student moves from one phase to another. I loved seeing how things made sense in a concrete way and then transitioned towards abstraction. I'm so honored to provide my children with this opportunity."
Kindra Fehr, Parent of Early Childhood and Upper Elementary students
Join us to experience our classrooms, from Toddlers through Middle School, to see for yourself how the lessons learned in our early programs set the tone and lay important foundations for later learning. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain a sense of how the Cosmic Montessori Curriculum unfolds for the child.
Read about some parents experience of the Silent Journey and Discovery from previous years:
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 to Lucas and Emily
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 to Savvy Williams
The Outdoor Classroom is a program that has been with the school for over seven years, and was conceived and developed by Ms. Donda Hartfield. This program is unique to our school, and gives our students a way to connect to their natural environment in a meaningful and expressive way. Spanning around the North- East corner of the school, our Outdoor Classroom is a beautiful natural trail, with gorgeous wildflowers, Utah-native plants, trees and geological treasures. The school also hosts a natural amphitheater, where Ms. Donda gives lessons and instructions before the children are free to explore on their own.
Through activities, lessons and especially time set aside to spend within the natural environment, our children learn about their world and it's beauty. They come to understand the fragility of a plant, the necessity of a flower, the purpose of a bee. Miss Donda has enjoyed many years of her students' discoveries, and she shares with us her teaching experience:
"When a student makes references such as, 'The leaves of the California poppy look like reindeer antlers' or, 'I found a see-through plant' I can celebrate that these students are taking time to observe their natural environment closely and therefore, they are learning about natural nuances and details that make our world uniquely beautiful and effective." She continues by saying: "When a student shows deep concern for a tree that has string tied to its branches for bird-feeder ornaments because 'It might be pulling down on the branches,' I know I can trust that she is learning to care for her environment." "It is through these kinds of observations that I can smile and know that these students are appreciating and relating with their surroundings in a memorable way."
It was a great pleasure to attend the first Early Childhood lesson on "Land." Miss Donda said to the children: "Look under your feet- you will see the land." "I am standing on the land, you are standing on the land." Her lesson reflected the great importance of the land. The children were able to dig holes in the soil together, but were asked to then fill the hole back up. There lies a genuine metaphor here: if you use the land, you must return it. The children might not know at such a young age what they are cultivating by their participation, but they are becoming considerate and thoughtful citizens of our remarkable planet Earth. Just as the Montessori Classroom places great trust in the hands-on learning process, so does the Outdoor Classroom program at MCS. The children learn through what they are able to see, touch and smell, and through the rare feeling of human freedom that one gets from living presently in nature.
Miss Donda tells us: "There is so much to be gained from simply engaging in our natural environment. And by engaging, I don’t mean necessarily hiking up to the summit of a mountain. Engaging is truly listening and looking at the landscape, the rivers, the trees and plants, the sounds of the birds and the passing of the clouds. Engaging is attending to our own naturalness through the breeze and the movement of the leaves, as well as the rise and fall of your own breathing and the subtle, yet profound connection between the two.
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.
The Upper Elementary program is an essential piece of the complete Montessori education design. During the Early Childhood years and Lower Elementary years, students are learning through their hands-on materials and environmental experience, but as they approach the second developmental stage, they enter a more abstract process of cognitive learning and memory. Upper Elementary is the next step; it is a program which serves the child in his reach for a more complex intelligence. The UE program incorporates many areas of interest, including advanced literacy, cultural and historical studies, mathematical applications, core sciences, service, and applied life skills. The program invests in the child with regard to individual study habits, identifying personal strengths, developing and following core values and creating a sense of true community within school boundaries and beyond.
Language is a principal focus of the Upper Elementary program. The students learn through prepared lessons on vocabulary, grammar and word study; and are able to practice with Montessori prepared materials such as the Parsing Symbols, Sentence Analysis Charts and Synonym Matching cards. Students learn through their engagement in independent reading, journal and report writing and prepared oral speech. Group reading and literary analysis on written style, genre and technique provide students the opportunity to develop their own spoken language through impassioned discussion and group collaboration. Practiced writing skills are put to use each year as students select and promote campaigns for school improvement; this process allows for students to exercise responsibility and social awareness within their own environment.
The science curriculum for Upper Elementary has been tremendously influenced by weekly excursions hosted by the "Great Outdoors" program. As a core resource to our students, the programs allows students to study through field trip experiences to local ecosystems on hikes, day trips and expeditions. This program combines classroom and field studies through observation of local biomes and water systems, and participates in environmentally conscious service projects throughout the year. As Miss Amy tells us, the UE students have recently been studying the hydrosphere, which has included experiments that investigate the water cycle (making clouds and watching plants transpire), water as a resource (making our own mini-well and water wheels), and learning about water's physical and chemical properties (performing pH tests and learning about density). In the Great Outdoors program, they have kicked off the year studying watersheds by exploring the high places and learning about headwaters, what defines a watershed, and learning how to map out an area. Together, they have explored many beautiful places in rain, sun and hail, such as Bloods Lake (Guardsman Pass), Provo River Falls (Uinta Mountains), and Silver Lake (Big Cottonwood Canyon).
With a class culture geared toward service, the students participate in many programs that enhance the spirit of their home community. In light of a school-wide study on watersheds, the "GO" program recently adopted a segment of the Jordan River, which students help maintain and keep healthy in their bi-annual visits. Upper Elementary students are also responsible for the school's recycling campaign, for which they collect, manage and deposit all recyclable materials on a daily basis. UE students also participate in the school's fundraising efforts and events to support our COEEF (Children of Ethiopia Education Fund) stewardship, and our Navajo Grandmothers within our Adopt A Native Elder program.
The Upper Elementary students have been collaborating for the last few weeks, and are proud to be the titleholders of a new class name. Through a collective process and much deliberation, they have selected ‘Uinta’ to be representative of their class study and culture. Unique to Utah, The Uinta mountain range is the tallest in Utah, with Kings Peak being the highest point of our state. Our Upper Elementary students are well paired for such a title, as they hold themselves to a high standard in academics; but also in personal integrity, responsibility and proactive service. The Uinta class is diligent, with collaboration and dedication being key concepts in the success of the overall class. We are looking forward to another year of excellence in Upper Elementary.
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.
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.
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
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