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A Welcome Letter from School Director, Britney Peterson

Dear MCS Parents,

With open arms and hearts, we welcome you to the 2018 – 2019 Academic year. I always love the energy of the new year and this one is no different. Our hallways are filled with excited students, parents and teachers greeting old friends or meeting new ones. Each material, even down to each individual pencil, has been intentionally placed with care. The floors, walls, materials, etc. are clean and ready to begin a collection of new memories of the year; filled with new adventures, friendships and accomplishments.

For most of us, a new school year signifies creating and refreshing goals. We appreciate the support from our parent community as our administration has undergone some changes. We are hopeful the structure of our revised administrative team will bring about opportunity for growth as a school while we still each strive to protect Robyn and Bob’s (MCS Founders and Owners) vision of an authentic Montessori school founded deeply in community.

Each year we choose a theme for our staff to practice and this year our administration chose the theme “Trust.” We recognize the importance of building trust with our parents, our teams, and most importantly, our students. We invite you to join us in our efforts to develop relationships of trust to ensure the success of each and every one of our students.

I would like to extend gratitude to the following for their time and efforts spent preparing our school for the new year:

  • Our custodial team; Lian, Betty, Felipe Sr. and Felipe Jr., who spent countless hours cleaning and sanitizing our entire school to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment. They also put in extra time and effort to help us rearrange our spaces to best meet the needs of our students and staff.
  • Our IT team; Jemmyn and Brandon, who ensure our systems are set up to support all things technology related.
  • Our office staff; Marisa and Sabine (with immense help from Ashlee) for preparing labels, master lists, schedules, calendars, and a number of other resources that are crucial to the smooth operation of our school. We thank Ashlee who ensures every detail necessary is given the attention it needs.
  • Our business team; Ramira, D’Anne and Kathy, for handling the on-boarding of new students and families with immense love and care.
  • Our Emergency Preparedness team; Ashlee and Margaret, for ensuring our staff were properly trained and for overseeing the proper care and maintenance of our building to ensure the safety of our students at all times.
  • Our entire teaching staff; classroom, specialty and extended day teachers included, for their meticulous preparation of the environment. Also, for those who have recently undergone new training of various kinds to expand upon their teaching skills.
  • Last but not least, Robyn, for sharing her vision and teaching us all to keep the needs and success of the students at the forefront of our minds! She has carefully guided us to this wonderful place and her vision inspires us to improve year after year!

I thank you for giving us the opportunity to educate your children. My door is always open and I feel confident that our administrative team is equipped to meet your needs this year. Please, do not hesitate to stop in to chat!


Britney Peterson
School Director

Spring Camp 2018

This year’s Spring Camp brought students on an exciting adventure through the rainforest! Campers participated in a number of crafts and sensory learning activities that immersed them in the magical world of South America.

On Monday, our students worked to answer the question, “What is the rainforest?” They studied the many layers and characteristics of the rainforest and created their own paper trees.

Tuesday, we learned about the animals and insects that call the rainforest home. Early childhood and elementary students were able to create snakes galore with various fun materials, while the Toddlers finger painted their very own sloths and sang “Five Little Monkeys”.

Wednesday brought the exploration of the rainforest’s native plants and birds. Campers created vibrant parrots out of paper plates and colored beautiful pictures of Toucans.


Thursday was very special, as friends learned about food and products from the rainforest – and were able to participate in a tasting of the bounty it provides! Both Early Childhood and Elementary, as well as Toddler campers were able to taste and/or smell items like ginger, chocolate, allspice, mango and coconut! It was so much fun seeing the children make the association between the rainforest ecosystem and the things we use in our daily lives.

On Friday students participated in a Conservation Safari, complete with paper plate safari hats, duct tape binoculars, and their very own passports! Campers finished the day with a special viewing of Fern Gully, and were able to reflect on the magic of the rainforest and how we can help conserve and protect it everyday.

Thank you to our phenomenal camp director, Candace Leikam, for putting together an amazing experience for our students – and to our wonderful staff who helped provide a week of fun and discovery!

-Crystal Wells

Technology in the Home

We recently had the privilege of hosting a Parent Education Event where a panel of experts prepared and presented information related to the use of screens in the home.  Below you can find some important take aways from that event.  Should you want further information from the event, you can find copies of the handouts on the Scholastic News table in the school lobby.

Current research indicates the use of screens and an investment in social media my be impacting children’s ability to regulate emotion and the things kids are missing out on are worth taking a second look at as we establish the patterns around media in the home.  Dopamine, oxytocin and seratonin levels are impacted by screen use and in turn, other areas of the child and family are being impacted.  The argument that we live in a time that its impossible (or even difficult) to escape the use of technology is worth considering. But does it have to be all or nothing? Like all parenting decisions, we recommend mindfulness in creating structure around your family’s approach to technology in the home.

Bottom line, we all have a lot to learn about the advantages versus the disadvantages of screen time and we are a new generation of parents, paving the way.  The best way to navigate such circumstances is to stick together, share our successes, and keep trying.  Inevitably, we will make mistakes but here’s to creating balance and growing healthy, happy and creative kids!

Below is a quick guide for your reference:


Risks of overuse or early use of screens:

Infant, Toddler and Early Childhood aged children:

  • Language delay (acquisition and use)
  • Behavior concerns
  • Low threshold for frustration
  • Short attention span
  • Lack of interest
  • Aggression
  • Sleep and self-soothing issues
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Cognitive delay
  • Memory issues
  • Delayed social development.

Elementary and Adolescent aged children:

  • Increased attentional difficulties
  • Reduced engagement between parent and child
  • Reduced face-to-face interactions, outdoor play (with benefits of problem solving, creativity and exercise), reading, homework completion, participation in chores, and sleep
  • Earlier sexual debut and sexual risk taking behavior (by those who view sexualized media content) due to accelerating the normal rise in sensation seeking seen in adolescence
  • Sleep disturbance (most significantly those with increased daytime and nighttime screen use, especially for those with a television/electronic devices in their bedroom)
  • Sleep deprivation is in turn linked with higher rates of obesity, diabetes, academic underachievement and behavior problems including hyperactivity
  • Increased verbal and physical aggression and propensity for later violence (for those viewing violent content), misinterpretation of others’ behavior as negative or hostile, decreased empathy, less pro-social behavior, increase in violent reactions to confrontation
  • Increased exposure to foodstuff based advertisements (average is 1 public service announcement on health/nutrition for every 26 food commercials; young children have been shown to select items they have seen advertised over those not)
  • Increased rigidity of gender roles and stereotypes (depending on content viewed)
  • Decreased satisfaction with appearance/body image, unrealistic/stereotyped/unhealthy views of beauty and health, focus on thinness and sexualized appearances as being preferred
  • Increased fear, sadness, anger and/or depression in response to viewing news media
  • Difficulty telling real from fake news viewed through media; ⅓ of children admit not questioning the source of their news and ⅓ take no action to verify the truth of news they suspect may be inaccurate
  • Activation of sexist beliefs about sexual harassment, dating violence and sexual assault myths

Positive uses/benefits of the use of screens:

  • Using technology as a way to review and master information taught FIRST by a teacher or parent (i.e. teaching a math concept first, explaining the steps, allowing the child to practice using pen and paper, manipulatives etc. THEN practicing said math concept using a quality math program or application that is designed to aid in the retention of this concept).
  • Television, games, etc. can be a great way to reinforce themes of relationships, managing emotions, problem solving and resolving conflict if they are offered age-appropriately.

Structuring screen time in the home:

  • Co-watch/co-play with your child whenever possible
  • Choose media that supports your family’s values
  • Ask questions about your child’s understanding of what they are seeing. Assess their understanding of reality vs fantasy. Explain advertising and other concepts that may influence your child’s belief systems
  • Set limits on all media access (tv, video games, cell phones, social media, apps, etc)
  • Understand the rating system of video games (and tv/movies). IMDB Parent Guide is great for movies/tv explaining every instance of violence/gore, profanity, substance use, suspense, and sexual content. Appreciate that sexualized content/pornography is embedded into higher rated video games
  • Do not allow children to play video games with unknown users on the internet
  • Create screen free times and screen free zones within your home (bedroom and dinner table are 2 spaces highly recommended to be screen free for ALL family members)
  • Activate a network of trusted adults (extended family, family friends, coaches etc) who can engage your children through social media and support them when they need help
  • Have ongoing communication about digital citizenship and online safety
  • Create a family media plan based on…
      • open communication
      • clearly defined rules and consequences
      • parental modeling of good digital behavior and media access
      • clear expectations, with consideration of exceptions (e.g. do the rules change when family is visiting, when on vacation, when sick, when behind in schoolwork, when friends are over or when at a friend’s house, summer break/holidays, when there is a babysitter). Ensure that all adults responsible for caring for your children are up to speed on the media plan
      • Time limits
      • Age-appropriate application of parental controls/content filters and monitoring of digital access
      • Understanding that supervision and honesty is a component of the plan


Signs that indicate you may need to change your child’s screen use:

  • Social and relational skills seem off to you.
  • Your child exhibits some these symptoms:
    • Irritable
    • Depressed
    • Excessive tantrums, mood swings
    • Low frustration tolerance
    • Defiant
    • Trouble sleeping
    • Disorganized behavior
    • Learning difficulties
    • Poor short-term memory
  • Your child’s symptoms are causing major problems in school, at home or with peers.
  • Your child’s symptoms improve after 3-4 weeks of strict removal of electronics.
  • Symptoms return with the re-introduction of the electronics.
  • Less Reading
  • Less Brain Downtime=fatigue
  • Less Sleep

Book Recommendations:

Jean M. Twenge- IGen- Why Today’s Super Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood

2018 All School Assembly

Each year we attempt to come together as an entire school at least twice per year.  We begin each year with a gathering for International Day of Peace, where we meet on the green space to sing together before walking the campus to see the prayer flags made by each student at MCS.  Typically, our second gathering is in the gym and consists of some kind of science or cultural presentation. This year was especially enjoyable! This morning we had the pleasure of hosting Ballet Folklorico Quetzalcoatl, a local Mexican Folk Dance group, for our 2018 All School Assembly.  The group presented a variety of dances, music and costumes, all of which were delightful!

The first number was called Son Jarocho, is from Veracruz and is the main manifestation of the veracruzana party, whose origin is a mixture of Spanish airs influenced by African rhythms, executed with jarana, requinto and harp among others.  The typical attire, which we were able to see today, consists of wide and white skirt with lace, blouse with white tulle blanket, black apron decorated with flowers, necklaces, a laced fan, rebozo, white shoes and a red ribbon headdress with red and white flowers for women. The men wear trousers, guayabera, white hat and shoes, with a red scarf on the collar adjusted with a ring.


Among today’s numbers, several were from Nayarit, located on the coast line of the Pacific Ocean.  There are several types of Nayarit songs, all representing ancient native music, filled with theatrics in costumes and dance.  Impressively, the women danced with bottles atop their heads and the men with machetes!  The machetes were a crowd pleaser, to say the least.

Today’s dancers represented Jalisco, located in the western part of Mexico.  These songs are popular melodies that people can sing and dance to. Originating from the mix of Spaniard and Native music, the harmony is rhythmic, loud, and at contreremps, expressing the vitality that caracterizes the people from it’s region.

All in all, this cultural presentation was extremely satisfying, so much so that many of our toddlers found themselves off their seats and dancing to the beat.  While it can be a feat to gather our entire school in one place all at the same time (and even more of a challenge to find a presentation that satisfies children ages 1 to 12) we were overly pleased with today’s performance and the opportunity we had to gather together as a school.

Sustainable Living Tip: Buying In Bulk

Dear MCS Families and Friends,

Happy New Year! The Sustainability Committee is excited to announce that each week we will be writing about a tip for sustainable living. This week’s tip will focus on buying foods from the bulk bin section at the grocery store. While shopping from the bulk bin section can take a bit more time, it does reduce packaging waste, save money, and provide many non-processed/minimally processed food options. Most major grocery stores have a bulk bin section. One way to make buying from the bulk bin section nearly waste free is to bring reusable sacks. Below is a list of links for retailers that sell bags especially made for bulk food shopping. These bags are virtually weightless, so won’t they won’t add to the cost of your purchase. I personally recommend the Kootsac bags sold on Etsy. The Kootsac bags are durable for heaving items like beans and grains and easy to wash.

ChicoBag Hemp-Cotton Bag


Earth Junky Eco Reusable Bag

Hands on Hemp Produce/Bulk Bags

Simple Ecology Organic Produce/Bulk Bags

At home, you can store your bulk food items in jars or other airtight containers.

We look forward to sharing more tips with you. Please let us know if you have any great ideas!


Becoming Familiar with MCS Safety Policies and Procedures

In an effort to help you get started on the right foot we would like to remind you about some of our safety procedures here at MCS. We ask that you remain mindful of them as they play a very important role in keeping our students safe and accounted for at all times.  These policies and more can be found in our Toddler/Early Childhood Parent Handbook and our Elementary Parent Handbook.

and Pick-Up
For safety measures, all students need to be signed in and out each day. Sign-in/out sheets are located outside of each classroom. We ask that you park, enter the school, sign in/out your child and check your child’s bulletin board for special announcements. Only parents or persons with written authorization (either listed in the child’s Emergency Medical Release form or through the Alternate Pickup form) may pick up a child.

The sign-in and out sheets not only tell us who dropped off and picked up on a given day; they also tell us which students are in the building in the case of an emergency.
If your child has an appointment during the school day and will be picked up and then returned to school, please sign her/him out and back in at the Office front desk.

Alternate Pickup Procedures
If someone other than the parent/guardian will be picking up your child, please fill out an Alternative Pickup Form for authorization. These forms are available in the Administrative Office. A staff member will ask the person you have designated to pick up your child to provide identification (i.e. driver’s license) if that person is
not recognized. The safety of your children is our highest priority.

School Closures due to Severe Weather or Emergencies
The start of school may be delayed due to a temporary loss of heating, water or electrical power or severe weather such as heavy early morning snow. School may also be canceled before the scheduled end of the school day for the same reasons. MCS follows the Salt Lake City school district’s decisions unless our needs dictate measures beyond their decision. The Head of School will decide whether we will have a late start, early closure, or school closure after consulting with Facilities. If the Head of School is not reachable, a member of Facilities and a member of Administration will make the decision. In the event of an emergency or when MCS is closed or its opening is delayed by an unusual situation, notification will be made through School Messenger. School Messenger will use one or more of the following methods for notification: email, text messaging, and/or voice mail.

Safety Procedures
While the Montessori philosophy allows for “freedom within limits,” and we want to encourage students to feel comfortable and able to explore in their environment, we keep the safety of our students foremost in mind at MCS. We have a number of procedures in place to ensure that safety:

  • Outside doors are only unlocked during arrival and dismissal times and are locked at all other times.
  • We have a sign-in and sign-out procedure for parents dropping off and picking up students. We also have a signout sheet in the office for families taking their students out for an appointment in the middle of the day with plans to return later. This procedure ensures that the correct person is picking up the student in the afternoon and also gives us a sense of which students are in the building at any given time.
  • We ask all staff to be vigilant and watch for people we do not recognize and to ask anyone we do not recognize how we can help them.
  • We have a required check-in for visitors at the front office, where they sign in and wear a badge notifying our staff of their visitor status.
  • Every classroom has an emergency evacuation plan posted. We practice emergency evacuations once a month, either in classrooms or schoolwide with an alarm.
  • We utilize a texting emergency notifications system in the event of a schoolwide emergency or unannounced school closure.
  • We have phones in every classroom by which the office can issue a schoolwide page in the event of an emergency and with which each classroom can contact the office immediately in the event of an emergency.
  • We have placed buzzers on all upstairs outside access doors that notify us when the doors are opened. Our IT department is currently in the process of designing a more sophisticated entry and exit tracking system through the doors.
  • We have various surveillance cameras placed throughout the school and school grounds.
  • Our teachers are required to be First Aid/CPR certified.
  • At the beginning of the year students receive lessons including a tour of school and general safety guidelines. These lessons will be reviewed as needed.
  • We utilize head counts at various times throughout the school day, particularly when children are in transition (i.e., when children leave the playground and once they arrive back in class).
  • Children check in to use the bathroom. If a child does not return within a reasonable time (age dependent) a teacher will check on them.
  • We often implement a buddy system (pairing younger students with older, more experienced students) for times students are in line, traveling or transitioning. We also place one teacher at the front of the line and one at the back of the line when processing. In elementary classes these precautions are taken at varying levels, depending on the ages and needs of the students.
  • Our most recent Loss Prevention evaluation was performed in July 2016.

Emergency Notifications and School Messenger

Our school has an Emergency Action Plan, which includes procedures for reporting emergencies and evacuating the facility. This document details for the staff the procedures to be followed in case of fire, earthquake, power outage, etc. Evacuation plans are posted in prominent locations in each room or area of the building. The Montessori Community School holds monthly fire drills and semi-annual disaster drills which are documented.

If there is an emergency or disaster that requires us to leave the school building, we will evacuate to the MCS field. If we are unable to access our field, our back up evacuation site will be All Saints Episcopal Church, which is located directly east of our building, or Hillside Middle School, southwest of our building. Each classroom has emergency contact information, medical releases, and an emergency backpack with a first aid kit. The teachers are trained to take those items with them during an evacuation. In the event of an evacuation, MCS will use our emergency text notification system to communicate with parents. The children will remain with and be accompanied by their classroom teachers at all times and we will maintain required ratios to the best of our ability. No child will be left alone or unsupervised. The shed on the MCS field contains stored water, snacks, emergency supplies such as blankets and diaper changing supplies (for Toddlers), and blankets.

MCS uses School Messenger as our emergency notification system. School Messenger has multiple data centers in different regions; they employ a variety of delivery methods (email, text messaging, and voicemail); they have a solid infrastructure to eliminate any single point of failure in communication. They are used to delivering millions of messages quickly, with over 4000 customers throughout the U.S., including various school districts in Salt Lake City, and a customer renewal rate of 98%.

Families will automatically be opted in to receive these notifications via email, text, and voicemail, and can opt themselves out should they choose not to receive them, though School Messenger will be our primary form of communication in the event of an emergency. We encourage families to include at least one out of state emergency contact in their list. Emergency contacts will only be included in communications concerning incidents that affect the greater community in the case that parents are unavailable to receive them themselves. In order to ensure that we have the most current contact information in School Messenger and the most effective communication, please inform the Office any time there is a change in your emergency contacts names and/or phone numbers, or when you have made a change to your own contact information in Montessori Compass.