Posts Categorized: General
Are we meeting our mission?
As a parent you make up the Montessori Society of Huntsville. By choosing MSH, you asserted that you value education and want the very best, most authentic learning experience for your child. Whether your initial tour was with Tinsley, Jennifer, Adriane or me we hope that we expressed our MSH mission clearly. You can find this mission in the parent handbook, on our website or hanging in every classroom. We are grateful that you have chosen to join us on this mission.
The Montessori School of Huntsville educates children to prepare them for a life of purpose, integrity, and academic accomplishment. We develop independent learners, critical thinkers and tomorrow’s leaders.
While this is a challenging mission, it is the imperative by which we make our decisions everyday. We want the curriculum your child learns to be Montessori in nature, but not antiquated. By incorporating brain gym, providing extracurricular activities like Soccer Shots and Engineering Club, and by utilizing web based (STAR) assessment, we are informing our practice with cutting edge educational research that addresses the needs of students of the current generation.
We encourage each child by maintaining our commitment to providing individualized lessons and meeting each child where he or she is developmentally, recognizing when they are sensitive not only to academic lessons, but also to social and emotional learning opportunities. Our teachers are teaching your child, not subjects or age levels.
We want to reach out to you and need you involved from the most basic level of washing cot sheets all the way to taking on the mantle of board leadership. You will often hear me say, “if you see something that needs doing, most likely you are the best person for the job!” In every day, we hope you will experience us reaching out to you to know your child better and provide him/her the best possible education. Our relationship with one another is vital to your child’s growth. Your participation is vital to the school’s success.
Every day we want your child to experience art, music, movement, their own language and other languages. While we may offer a structured lesson only once or twice a week, we are constantly working to learn new ways to inject those opportunities into the prepared environment, through independent follow-up work and by making your aware of community offerings.
To accomplish our mission we observe not only the students, but each other so that we can reflect and improve our practice. We take our responsibility of preparing future leaders very seriously. This week we will reach out to you with a satisfaction survey and we look forward to receiving your input on our success in this mission.
And always we want to embody the teaching of Dr. Montessori and faithfully execute our duties to our students while educating families and the communities about the benefits of a Montessori education. You support our mission by participating fully in society meetings, parent education opportunities and by sharing your experience with friends, families and colleagues so that other children can benefit from our MSH mission. As always, we are immensely grateful for your support in our mission.
“Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.” – Pauline Kezer
In schools everywhere May is poignant time. Graduations mark milestones that are exciting for the student moving forward, but so bittersweet for the teachers and families who still see the student as a young child. Here at MSH we are not sending our students out into the world, but instead we are bridging to new classrooms and new schools. We still feel the same pride and love for those we serve and the sting of sadness as we must say goodbye.
This May we will bridge in other ways. We say goodbye to our dear friend, Tinsley as she bridges from our assistant head of school to the world of parenthood. While we know that being a mom is the most important job in the world, we already feel the loss that will follow when she says goodbye on May 23. She is a cheerleader for MSH and the Montessori Method. Although you won’t see her sweet smile each morning, you can rest assured she will be cheering us on and spreading the seeds of Montessori in our community.
You may have noticed a recent change at the reception desk at MSH. I am excited to welcome Jennifer Stark to the role of Administrative Assistant. She has already started in this position and I can see the great heights that she will help us reach. After working as an extended care teacher and part-time office manager, we are happy to welcome her full-time to the administrative team. We will put her degree in English to great use in the many hats she will wear in her new job.
In addition, we will have 2 more joining the team. Karen Nielsen and Adriane Castro will both serve as part-time office managers. Both bring so many wonderful skills to the position. Adriane brings her experience as a registered nurse, along with an abundance of energy and enthusiasm. Her focus will be ensuring all DHR, Health Department and other regulatory agencies’ standards are met or exceeded, as well as chairing the fundraising committee. Karen brings her accounting degree and interior design experience and will focus on accounting, serving as librarian (a job she has voluntarily fulfilled all year), and chairing the legacy committee. The legacy committee will have the daunting task of preparing for MSH’s 50th anniversary in 2015.
Change is part of life. However, the seeds of learning, community and friendship planted here at MSH will continue to grow and thrive. Time spent in a Montessori school ensures deep roots grown in the soil of creativity, independence and self-efficacy. As our little saplings enter their new stages of life, we look forward to watching them bloom!
Allison MacKenzie, Head of School
We are pleased to announce that we are going live with the Financial Aid for School Tuition (FAST) application process for the 2014-2015 school year! MSH has recently become a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) and has set an annual budget so that we may diversify our school’s demographics by allowing families who otherwise could not afford tuition to be able to receive a quality Montessori education. We know that families who choose to send their children to our school make many sacrifices to ensure a bright and successful future for their kids.
If you will be a returning MSH family for the upcoming school year and would like to apply for financial assistance, you may submit your confidential FAST application between now and May 23. New families will be considered after May 23 through July 15. The cost of the application is $38 and is paid directly to FAST by either Visa or Mastercard. You will be asked to send in federal and state tax documents, and the application includes specific questions pertaining to your household expenses. Again, the information is completely confidential. FAST will use this information to make an Expected Family Contribution recommendation to MSH.
We are confident that working with FAST will be a great partnership, allowing MSH to offer need based scholarships through an efficient and confidential application process.
The link to the MSH application is on our website for easier access under the MSH Community tab. If you have additional questions, you may email Jennifer Stark .
Almost daily on our family Facebook feed you see the wonder and joy of learning on the faces of our students. Our future is in such good hands with the young leaders developing here at the Montessori School of Huntsville. Last week I saw the same light shining out of some students who are a few years older, eight of our amazing teachers and staff who attended the American Montessori Society’s annual conference. Every day of the conference each of us would greet one another with a flurry of “I just attended the best workshop.” The theme of this year’s conference “Unity in Diversity” touched deeply on our mission here at MSH to “develop independent learners, critical thinkers and tomorrow’s leaders.” Just as our children immerse each day in a prepared environment in which they learn from both older and younger classmates, we were in a beautiful convention center surrounded by Montessori educators who were eager to share their experiences and their inquiries about teaching and learning.
With so much negative press about today’s schools and teaching, it is so refreshing to be in an environment where teachers are willing to give so freely of their time to hone their professional skills. Not only did these eight teachers give up four days of the their spring break, many of our other teachers have given weeks and weekends of time to further their Montessori training or have spent evenings at school participating in webinars and book studies to grow expertise in providing students with the best possible learning experience. I am so proud of their commitment and grateful to be part of this community. Our focus on perfecting our craft has been a hallmark of this year and fundamental to our continued advancement.
If you have time, engage with our teachers to discover what they have learned this year. Ms. Alicia will be happy to talk with you about the emerging concept of a natural playground. Ms. Harber would love to share the insights she’s gained from hundreds of hours of work she has dedicated to her work with the Center for Montessori Teacher Education in North Carolina. Ms. Brandy can share such interesting details of how the toddler brain develops. These are only three examples of the myriad of learning experiences our teachers participated in this school year. I hope that you see the benefits of their lifelong learning reflected in the eyes of your child. Thank you for your support of these opportunities. We do it all with love for your children.
For the past 35 years I have been told that I talk too much. That problem intensifies when I am passionate about something. Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out how I can explain the beauty of the Montessori Method to families who tour, members of our community and the greater world in a concise and succinct manner. Task failed until last week.
Julie Bragdon, assistant head of school at Montessori School of Denver recently published an article in the Spring 2014 edition of Montessori Life entitled “What Every Family Should Know about Montessori.” Thank you Julie Bragdon for helping edit my conversation into the following five steps.
1. The Montessori method is child-centered. Children stay engaged and learn more.
2. Each child is encourage to reach his full potential which is entirely different than they can do whatever they want, a Montessori myth. A child in the Montessori classroom doesn’t have to stick with herd and a teacher doesn’t teach to the middle.
3. Hands-on learning occurs through special materials that provide a control of error so that students can monitor and adjust their own learning. Children become comfortable with persevering after making a mistake which inspires them to tackle continually challenging work. The method encourages children to learn through immersion, independent investigation, and multi-sensory learning. These buzzwords are now a part of best practices in traditional schools. They have been part of the Montessori Method since 1907.
4. Students complete their work in a variety of environments instead of being forced to stay in a desk. Even before brain-based learning and embodied cognition, Dr. Montessori recognized the connection between movement and learning. The Montessori classroom allows for that movement. Most adults don’t enjoy staying trapped at their desk all day. Why would we want that for our children?
5. The Montessori Method stays true to the belief that children learn best in a respectful, supportive environment. Teachers guide instead of dominate. The sage on the stage is no more, and feedback is authentic. Children are social creatures and have the opportunity to learn with and from each other.
We all want our children to be happy, successful, and prepared for the “real world.” The Montessori Method allows us to give the “real world” to our children inside the classroom with a loving teacher and a beautiful environment. Take time this month to share with friends why you chose a Montessori education for your child. Invite them to Fill the Chair and see the magic of learning at MSH firsthand.