The Albrook School--Montessori at its best
The Albrook School--The Albrook School--Montessori at its best

Upcoming Events

Thursday, February 8
Friday, February 9
Parent Conferences
School Closed
(Expanded Care in session)
Friday, February 16
International Day
9:15 am
Monday, February 19
Tuesday, February 20
Wednesday, February 21
Mid-Winter Break
School Closed
(Expanded Care in session)

Albrook News

The Albrook School Acknowledges Years of Service

By Ms. Hicks

The Albrook School has a strength that is not often seen in schools, especially one with a large preschool. Length of service at Albrook is often talked about more in decades rather than just years. I am proud and thrilled to share the recognition that was given during this year's staff holiday party.

Ms. Francese and Ms. McCusker were acknowledged for their twenty-five years of service to Albrook and now join their colleagues of Ms. MacNeill, Ms. Zeitlin, Mrs. Marvi, Mrs. Tarangul and Ms. Hicks.

We are also delighted to inform you that Mrs. Comperiati, Mrs, Delia and Mrs. Flaherty received recognition for completing twenty years at Albrook and Mrs. DeBue was recognized for ten years.

What is it that keeps teachers working for decades at the Albrook School? Is it because they like to work with teachers who give their all to every child regardless of time or need? Is it because they are proud to be in a school that truly lives the Montessori philosophy? Is it because they like to keep learning and Albrook has the growth of the staff in their mission statement. Whatever the reason, it is wonderful to have a staff who wants to keep learning and working together to guide our children to make the most progress and move toward their potential socially, emotionally and academically.

This was a special year indeed acknowledging all these teachers for their love and loyalty to our school. How fortunate we are to have such low teacher turnover and we are proud to celebrate it.

"Have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit."

John Steinbeck

Financial Aid for 2018-2019

Procedure and Criteria for Awarding Financial Aid/Scholarships:

A limited number of scholarships are offered each year to students in the Kindergarten and Elementary Programs. Applications must be submitted to FAST; it is Independent School Management's (ISM) FAST (tuition assistance for School Tuition) program. FAST provides a need-based tuition analysis service. A report is generated and supplied to The Albrook School indicating what a family should reasonably contribute toward tuition. All applications must be submitted to FAST no later than February 23, 2018. All information is kept strictly confidential.

The Administration and the Board Scholarship Committee review all the financial aid applicants and award scholarships based on the following criteria:

  • The family's demonstrated commitment to Montessori Education
  • Student's personal potential within the class and program
  • Financial need based on expected family contribution (a measure of the family's ability to pay for the child's education)
  • Academic merit

The dollar amount of scholarships awarded is affected by the total amount of money designated for scholarships for that school year and the number of applicants awarded scholarships.

When you complete the online application, you will go to: The application process is self-guided. You may partially complete the application and save your work and then return back to it at a later time. FAST offers online email help and a 24/7 helpline is provided. The nonrefundable fee for the application is $41.00 and is to be paid for at the end of the session by the applicant using a credit card. VISA, MasterCard and AMEX are acceptable. After completing the online application, you will be required to mail or scan all of your 2017 tax documents for both state and federal taxes with all the schedules and W-2's to:

Independent School Management
Attn: FAST Processing
1316 North Union Street
Wilmington, DE 19806-2594

Put THE ALBROOK SCHOOL's name on the outside of the envelope to ensure quick processing of your application.

All families submitting applications will be notified of the results before April 1.

Discipline Tool Kit

  • Remember that if a child is engaged in a positive activity, she will not misbehave.
  • Give simple choices, when appropriate, so the child feels some control over his own life. "Would you like to set the table or would you like to wash the lettuce?"
  • Put a few weather appropriate outfits in low drawers, or on a low closet rod, so the child may choose what to wear.
  • If there is no choice, don't offer one. Don't ask a yes/no question if you won't accept "No!" as an answer. Instead of asking "Do you need to use the bathroom?" say "Let's use the bathroom before we go. I'll wait for you." Instead of "Let's go home, OK?", Inform, "It's almost time to go."

Asian Theatrical Traditions in Elementary

by Mrs. Lipman

As part of their study of Asia this year, both lower and upper elementary explored different theatrical forms native to this continent. The lower elementary students focused on a unit of study that culminated in a shadow puppet performance. Upper elementary students studied the Japanese Kabuki theater and created original pieces in this style.

In order to create their shadow puppet performance, lower elementary children learned about different types of puppets, particularly those that come from Asia. They then read folktales from three different Asian countries (Indonesia, India, and China) and used these to create scripts. Once the scripts were completed, the students made audio recordings of the lines of their plays in order to focus on the physical maneuvering of the puppets during the performance itself. Each child then made his or her own shadow puppet for use in the presentation. After a rehearsal process, the children performed their puppet plays for parents and friends.

The upper elementary students began their unit of study by learning about key elements of Japanese Kabuki theater and its presentational style. The students then collaboratively wrote original scripts that incorporated these elements. Focus was placed on stock characters, acting with great physicality and grand gestures, musical accompaniment, frozen poses, entrance of characters along the "hanamichi" or runway through the audience, and speaking directly to the audience. The students also studied the makeup traditionally worn in Kabuki theater and made their own masks to represent this makeup. The final performances were very enjoyable and showed the children's creativity and sense of humor.

Albrook's 2017 Giving Tree

by Ms. MacNeill

In keeping with tradition, the Albrook Giving Tree was set up in the reception area decorated with lights and ornaments and special red hearts. Each heart hosted one of three wishes from young boys and girls. So many of these young children are less fortunate than we are, and most likely these were the only gifts they received over the holiday season or indeed throughout the year. The hearts held three wishes: a need, a want and an educational item. One five year old boy wished for a pair of jeans, a small train and a book called The Polar Express.

Over the years, our school has partnered with various charities and organizations. This year we partnered with Christmas is For Children again. This organization is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing love and joy over the holiday season to some children in need. Christmas is for Children has been bringing the spirit of the holiday season to families since 1991.

For over twenty-four years we have had the privilege of observing the overwhelming response and generosity of our school community; this year has been no exception. Every want, need and educational request was filled. Our Giving Tree was a wonderful success! Thank you to all our wonderful families for supporting and brightening a child's heart and holiday season.

Mrs. Janani presents "Developing a Growth Mindset"

by Mrs. Dignam

Each month the preschool teachers attend a group meeting intended to inform or enrich. In November, we were fortunate to have Mrs. Janani (Sattva's mom) present "Developing a Growth Mindset" to the preschool team.

Mrs. Janani's presentation is based on the book, "Mindset, The New Psychology of Success" by Carol Dweck. Mrs. Janani has given this presentation multiple times, most recently at the Bernardsville Public Library. Children and adults can have either a fixed or growth mindset that impacts their performance and motivation.

Mrs. Janani stated, "When we believe that success is based on innate ability, we are said to have a fixed theory of intelligence, otherwise known as a fixed mindset. When we believe that success is based on hard work, learning and perseverance, we are said to have a growth theory of intelligence, also called growth mindset."

As Montessori teachers, we are taught not to stifle creativity, excitement and wonder. We are careful with how we speak to the children. Mrs. Janani reminded us to praise the effort given by the child as they learn.

Mrs. Janani is the owner and teacher at Kumon in Bernardsville, NJ

Parent Toddler Class

By Ms. McCusker

Hurray! Albrook's first Parent and Toddler class was off to a flying start at 3:00 pm on Tuesday, January 9. After a little hesitation and assurance that moms were not going to leave, ten little crawlers, wobblers and walkers settled down to the business of work.

It was amazing to observe children ranging from as young as 12 months to 24 months eagerly exploring the specially prepared activities with guidance from the ac accompanying parent. After working for a half hour, much to everyone's delight and surprise, everyone quietly satin a circle while Mrs. Marvi introduced the guitar and some songs. The session was then completed by the children sitting and having a healthy snack.

One of the wonderful aspects of this 8 week session class is that we all get to learn together, children, parents and teachers. Each week we will take one Montessori concept that we practice throughout our school and parents can reinforce it at home with children of all ages.

In our first session, we focused on 'The Work cycle'. For this concept, one activity is taken out, worked on, and replaced on the shelf before another activity is taken out.

We eagerly await next week's session to see what our youngest students can teach us.

Empathy and Respect Within the Upper
Elementary Classroom- Reflection on
Martin Luther King Day and Peace Lessons

by Ms. Vazaios and Mrs. Lipman

We were excited to learn that this year's goal would center around Empathy and Respect this year. These themes resonate deeply within the core of our Montessori philosophy where we place equal value on the emotional, academic and social needs of the child. Throughout the year, we have had an opportunity to explore the themes of respect and empathy during peace and literature lessons, impromptu teachable moments that arise from daily experiences, and a workshop on Martin Luther King Day.

Through grand conversations, dramatic roleplay and literature analysis, the children have explored numerous topics, including: regret/empathy, respectful listening, rumors/gossip and misunderstandings, perceptions influenced by facts versus emotions, and bias/prejudice/stereotypes and racism. Some great new books that we have discovered include: Each Kindness, My Mouth is a Volcano, Mr. Peabody's Apples, and The Skin I'm In. These pieces of literature have served as good catalysts for meaningful discussions and follow-up activities.

In the spirit of empathy and respect, we decided to use our class time on Martin Luther King Day this year to begin a unit of study on prejudice and racism that will continue in the weeks to come. After a historical review of the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, we began the morning workshop with writing prompts asking students to define the word "racism" and to reflect on any instances they have observed or experienced related to this. We went on to ask the students to consider various statements and scenarios to determine their opinions and points of view. For example, students reflected on whether they strongly, moderately, or minimally agreed or disagreed with statements such as "I think about my race or ethnicity often." or "Racism was a problem in the past that no longer exists." It was great to raise questions for children to self-assess as well as dismantle common myths or misperceptions. We ended the morning with an integrated vocabulary/technology lesson that explored key vocabulary terms related to racism via Quizlet. We are excited for future lessons that will address how to find your voice when you observe racism and how to become a bystander with regard to racism.

Overall, we were deeply touched by the enthusiasm and strong desire of our students to share their personal feelings, experiences and wishes for the future. As educators, we feel privileged to guide our students to handle complex issues in modern times. We have faith in Dr. Montessori's cherished belief in the power of the child. We are hopeful that these educational experiences will pave the way for Dr. Montessori's vision of the child being "both a hope and promise for mankind" to become a reality.

Reflecting on the Albrook Experience: The Jarbath Family

What inspired you to choose the Montessori Method?

We wanted to provide our daughters with an early education experience that would instill a love of learning, inspire the imagination, and inculcate a spirited independence. We believed that these foundational attributes would serve our daughters well as they progressed through their academic life and, indeed, life in general.

Why did you specifically select Albrook School?

Albrook is a very special place for us. We researched several alternative Montessori schools in the region but selected Albrook for several reasons. Firstly, Albrook has very talented and committed teachers – they embody the balance between pedagogical science and art – two dimensions of great importance in effective teaching, especially with young learners. Albrook also possesses a warm and inviting physical environment that esthetically and functionally blends in with its natural surroundings. The Albrook School facility and grounds are particularly conducive to exploring and learning; it is a wonderful place for early education.

Did you feel that the school partnered with you in the guiding of your child's learning?

Albrook effectively partnered with us in directing our daughters' early education. The constant feedback, invitations to classroom activities and newsletters fostered a constant connectivity between the school and, very importantly, the home learning environment and activities. We were able to very often complement and reinforce what our daughters were being exposed to in the classroom or in frequent nature treks (the outdoors classroom).

What grade did your child complete prior to leaving Albrook?

One of our daughters completed kindergarten and our younger daughter completed three years of preschool at Albrook.

Did you feel the knowledge your child had gained at Albrook prepared him/her for the next level of their educational journey academically, socially, emotionally?

The knowledge and experience that our daughters gained at Albrook during their early formative years has served them well. They are both thriving academically, socially and emotionally at their current school. Indeed, our eldest daughter had one of the best PARCC test results in the entire state of New Jersey for a third grader; she and her younger sister are regularly recognized for academic excellence at their current school. They are socially very integrated into the fabric of their school and emotionally well-grounded too.

Are there any special memories of Albrook you would wish to share?

I was particularly fond of the opportunities to visit my daughters' classrooms and participate as a guest in the teaching and learning environment. Those are truly memorable experience that both my daughters and I cherish very much.

Do you keep in touch with any friends from Albrook?

Yes, we maintain contact with several friends from Albrook. Albrook is a great place for social interaction for both students and parents alike.

Winter Hikes with Kids

by Mrs. Leslie Edwards

It is that time of the year! With the excitement of the holidays behind us, everyone is suffering from some cabin fever. Rather than heading to the mall, bundle up, get outdoors, and try a winter hike at one of these great locations:

Duke Farms – Hillsborough

This outdoor wonderland features 18 miles of picturesque trails, some paved and some gravel, leading through woodlands and gardens, around lakes and lagoons, and alongside fountains, sculptures, and a waterfall. The property, formerly owned by heiress Doris Duke, features family scavenger hunts, a tram ride, an orchid greenhouse, and an organic cafe.

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge – Harding

The Wildlife Observation Center off of Long Hill Road in Harding offers an easy loop that runs about a mile through the woods and includes some bridges, marshy sections, and water. There are a few benches along the way, too, and wildlife to spot. The refuge even offers multiple entry points and paths.

Jockey Hollow – Morristown

Known for its Revolutionary War reenactments, Jockey Hollow is also home to meandering, wooded hiking trails along babbling brooks and rolling hills. The main trail is a loop that runs more than five miles, but when your little troops are tired out, you can turn around and head back. Older children will love that the houses on the property are relics of another era.

Columbia Trail—High Bridge to Washington

The Columbia Trail strings together forests, farms and parklands as it stretches 15 miles among the small towns of High Bridge, Califon, Long Valley and Washington. Most of the corridor parallels the South Branch of the Raritan River. After passenger trains and rail cars laden with iron ore ceased running this line, the Columbia Gas company constructed a pipeline under the former rail bed. It then transferred the surface rights to the parks departments of Hunterdon and Morris counties for a recreational trail. We hiked part of this trail last week and saw several bald eagles soaring above the river and trail.

Loantaka Brook Reservation – Morristown

This park is a great choice for young bikers, scooters, and strollers because its trails are mostly paved. The reservation is divided into four areas: Seaton Hackney Stables, South Street Recreation Area, Loantaka Brook Park, and the Loantaka Way trail, all totaling about 570 acres and five miles of trails. Step into this reservation a short way from the bustle of downtown Morristown, and you're immersed in the sights and sounds of nature.

Watchung Reservation – Mountainside

Head out for an afternoon in the lower Watchung Mountains, strolling along scenic Lake Surprise and the Blue Brook. With 13 miles of trails ranging from easy to moderate, Watchung Reservation also features a playground, rest-rooms, and plenty of parking. The historic abandoned village is another draw for young explorers. Trailside Nature Center houses exhibits on wildlife and habitats found in the reservation and often hosts activities for young children.

Empathy Labyrinth

by Ms. Balaji

Labyrinths are an ancient form that has fascinated people for a millennia. A labyrinth lets you see where you are at all times and connects you to your heart. Similarly, empathy lets you see where you are all times and connects you to your heart as well. The Empathy-Labyrinth combines both elements and makes for a deeply profound and meditative experience as you journey on your ultimate path, connection!

The Empathy-Labyrinth is a kinesthetic tool that guides you step-by-step through the process of self-empathy. You will gain greater clarity about your feelings and needs/values. As a result, it connects you to your heart, letting you live a more blissful life. Our friends in Kandinsky embarked upon one such empathy labyrinth journey during our peace circle time. We decided to go out and explore various ways to help us create a peaceful environment. As a classroom, we discussed some key areas that might need additional support to strengthen our community. Our mission was to come up with various ways to integrate teaching empathy and compassionate communication skills to resolve differences. With a set mission in our mind, we walked through the Labyrinth.

As a follow-up to this activity we asked our friends to write in their journal about their experience and come up with some suggestions for us. We were fascinated to read what they all had for us to share:

  • Plants and flowers help add an aesthetic appeal and will make our environment calmer.
  • We must respect each other's space and be mindful not to disturb it.
  • Talk softly, so we don't disturb others who are working.
  • Try and use "I feel-" statements to express our feelings.
  • Everyone makes mistakes, learn to hold their hand and guide them without hurting their feelings.
  • Complement our friends when they help you. We can express how happy you are to have them as a friend.
  • Connect with others from your heart.
  • Reveal what truly matters and how you can act on it.
  • Transform judgment into compassion, understanding, and peace.
  • Discover choice and freedom regarding conflicts

We were very pleased to see how our journey to the Labyrinth motivated our Kandinsky friends to come up with various ways to make our community peaceful!

Come Explore The Albrook School Library and Peace Library

by Mrs. Sinck

Our Peace Library was created in 2008 through Ms. Albers' vision and inspiration. Our peace library has grown over the years. These books focus on any topic relating to peace such as: empathy, kindness, peace around the world, International Peace Day, mindfulness, conflict resolution, friendship, and emotions. There are many books available for all age levels. For example, you might enjoy I Am Peace - A Book of Mindfulness or Each Kindness for the preschool or kindergarten level . Other examples might be Paths to Peace or Old Turtle and the Broken Truth for the elementary level. With Empathy and Respect as our school goal this year, our peace library is a wonderful way to incorporate these goals into our daily lives. Our library is a peaceful environment for the children to explore and all afternoon preschool and elementary children visit the school library once a week. But did you know that it is available for everyone to use? Parents are welcome to come and explore our peace library as well as the parenting section, or check out additional books of interest for your children.

Thanksgiving Food Drive 2017

by Ms. MacNeill

Thank you for the overwhelming response to our food drive. The food drive was a great success due to the continued generosity and support of you, our parents and families here at Albrook.

From the moment the drive was published, little friends carried, pulled, and dragged bags filled with the much needed food items. It was truly heartwarming to observe our young students enrolled in the art of doing and giving.

Our words of appreciation are echoed in the thank you from the staff at the Somerset Food Bank. They shared, "Due to a large number of families in need, there is a greater demand for the food service from our Food Bank and indeed Food Banks all over the state. Since our doors opened in 1982, the number of families we serve has increased. It has become increasingly difficult to keep our shelves stocked. It is only through the constant support and generosity of people like the families at The Albrook School that enables us to keep our doors open to serve those less fortunate in our community."

Thank you for your love and support and for helping to make a difference in someone's Thanksgiving Day!

APA News

by Mrs. Marshall, APA Vice President

Formerly an annual event at Albrook, the Holiday Breakfast was brought back this year, much to the delight of our Albrook families. Teachers, students and parents gathered on Saturday, December 2nd, to celebrate the holiday season. Held in Albers Hall, the morning was an opportunity for good food, warm drinks, cheer, and togetherness.

The Holiday Breakfast opened to delightful seasonal music played by Mrs. Tomaru and upper elementary students (Miya Tomaru and Darya Tahmasebi on violin; Aidan Vineis, Cordelia Lucid, Douglas DeBue, and Darya Tahmasebi on piano). As Albers Hall filled with adults and children, it felt like a winter wonderland, with decorations that the preschool classes had worked so hard on all week and beautiful centerpieces provided by the school's Girl Scout troops. Even Santa Claus himself cleared his schedule to visit and hand out delicious candy canes to the children of Albrook. Families enjoyed coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and a buffet of breakfast food. We then were treated to a riveting magic show by the magnificent Mr. Lipman. Student and parent volunteers participated enthusiastically; one parent even braved sharp knives being juggled over his body! Next, students joined Tommy Majkowski, Ms. Hicks, and Mrs. Fritsch for some cozy seasonal story time.

The breakfast closed with a beautiful Group Sing; current students and alumni gathered around while Mrs. Marvi played guitar, and they all sang a lovely chorus of holiday tunes. What a wonderful way to kick off this holiday season for our community!

Upcoming APA events

March 9, 2018 at 6:30pm
SPRING EVENT, Bridgewater Manor (adults-only)

June 1, 2018
Teachers' Appreciation Luncheon

Thank you to the APA

Many thanks to Mrs. Vineis and Mrs. Marshall for resurrecting the annual Holiday Breakfast for The Albrook School. They coordinated a large team of parent volunteers who all worked so well together to make this event a fun and delicious one for both children and parents. It took many hands to serve a breakfast for all, arrange entertainment and coordinate such wonderful holiday décor. We love and appreciate community building events at Albrook.

The pumpkins, mums and hay bales were very elegantly displayed at all the outside entrances in the fall thanks to the decorative eyes of Ms. Tessieri. Now she has assisted by adding a holiday flair by transforming our school for our winter enjoyment.

The Albrook School is what it is today because of the wonderful dedication of parents. We thank you.

Reflecting on the Albrook Experience: The Rodriguez Family

What inspired you to choose the Montessori Method?
We moved to NJ from Florida and were looking for a school for Max to go to. Initially, upon our move, we lived in Millburn, where he attended a nearby Montessori school until we decided where to permanently settle. That's where we heard about The Albrook School. The teachers at that school raved about Albrook. We did some research and realized that we really wanted him to attend this school. Within a year, we moved to Basking Ridge and Max began attending Albrook.

Did you feel that the school partnered with you in the guiding of your child's learning? Absolutely.

What grade did your child complete prior to leaving Albrook?
Max attended Albrook until he graduated from Kindergarten.

Did you feel the knowledge Max had gained at Albrook prepared him for the next level of his educational journey academically, socially, emotionally?
The educational experience for Max at Albrook was fantastic. He entered the public school system in 1st grade in Basking Ridge with a solid and strong base in both reading and math. Most importantly, he has a love for learning, a positive attitude, a caring & nurturing approach, and the ability to think for himself confidently. What more can I say? He has thrived academically as well as socially and is a very confident, happy, and caring young man.

Are there any special memories of Albrook you would wish to share?
There are SO many! Miss Albers as well as his teachers, Mrs. Tarangul and Mrs. Delia are still people we talk about often - they had such a great impact on his life. The structure and focus on independent work was great, yet he was able to just jump right into a structured public school system seamlessly. The activities and caring atmosphere at Albrook were also memorable. It was the perfect combination of education, discipline, and nurturing / caring - - the type that would help a child grow into a responsible, confident, and loving young adult. A strong PTO with involved and engaged parents was something that I, as a mother, was impressed by and involved in. The kindergarten "graduation" was a very special event with the play and reception. The book that the teachers make for the graduating kindergarten students is something we still pull out often.

Do you keep in touch with any friends from Albrook?
Absolutely. Max made lifelong friends at Albrook that he has remained close to despite having gone to different schools after graduating from Albrook. I made many lifelong friends as well that I still see and get together with often.

We love Albrook and it will always be, to us, the starting point in Max's education and social environment that shaped and set the stage for the amazing young man that he is today.

Activities to Make the Most of Winter

When cabin fever hits the children and adults this winter, try a few of these activities:

Visit your local library and check out books on winter themes. Then come home and take turns reading to one another.

Make greeting cards for residents of a local nursing home. Then take a 'field trip' to deliver them together.

Make a pine cone bird feeder using peanut butter and birdseed. Then hang it outside a window where you'll get to see the birds enjoy the treat each day.

Bundle up and take a walk during a snowstorm.

Make a graph showing each day's high and low temperatures for the week. Then make predictions about next week and see who's closest to each day's actual temperature.

Take a winter hike and let the children take photos of interesting things such as birds, mossy rocks, fallen trees, animal tracks, etc.

Create a winter scavenger hunt outdoors.

Play board games.

Fill a spray bottle with colored water and write in the snow. This is a great way for young children to practice their letters.

Invite another family over for "a make your own pizza night" with movies.

Set up a bird feeder and keep a bird watching log to see what birds visit the feeder.

Learn to cook or bake something new. Children might love kneading bread or stretching taffy or shredding cheese for fondue.

Former Albrook Student Publishes Book on Mindfulness

by Ms. Baird


The Albrook School has some exciting alumni news. Former student Mariam Trichas, currently attending Pingry as a high school student, has written and published a book on mindfulness. Titled Find Your Happy Place: A Guide to Mindfulness, this book is a compilation of research, history, and mindfulness techniques paired with inspiring and evocative photographs, many of which were taken by Mariam herself.

Mariam hosted a book signing and a meet the author event on October 7th at the Alhamra Art Center in Bernardsville. Mariam and her family reached out particularly to Albrook, inviting members of our community to come to this event in support and celebration. Ms. Hicks and I were so proud of Mariam and honored to have been invited.

Mariam's book is available on Amazon and at At the book signing, we purchased three copies, one for each of the Albrook elementary classrooms. Kudos to Mariam, who has several other literary publications and awards. We wish her all the best in the future!

Empathy and Respect in Preschool

by Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Dignam

"Look a little bug!" "Be careful!" "Don't let it fall!" These are a few phrases that we hear around the Albrook playgrounds on a regular basis. Our children dig for worms, and they put them back "home" in the ground where they will be safe. These interactions are important. "Respect and Empathy" begins with every living creature and our children embrace the concept.

In all Montessori classes the children have jobs. Some common ones are sponging the tables, sweeping the floor or caring for pets. Thanks to the American Montessori Society Conference last year, Mrs. Smith learned about a new job: soother. The "soother" takes the responsibility of caring for a distressed classmate. In our classes we have created an environment where the children think about how their friend might feel. Mrs. Marvi taught our children a song about walking in someone else's shoes. We feel we have primed our students to be aware, and we were confident that this new "job" would be worthwhile.

The first soother in our class was given guidance prior to her soothing responsibilities. We suggested that when a classmate was upset, she could offer that child a glass of water. We also said she could ask if they wanted a hug. We told her to do whatever she thought would help. The day arrived when we had a child in distress. We asked the child if he wanted the soother and he nodded "yes" decisively. The soother immediately took charge. She told everyone to "back up" and she cleared the space. She then asked if he wanted a drink of water, to which he said "yes." After he took a sip of water, she asked if he needed a hug. He did. She gave him a hug and asked him why he was sad, and he told her. She told him it would be OK.

This was the first of many soothing success stories in class. When each soother takes on the responsibility, we observe one child caring for another. Additionally, the rest of our students witness this interaction.

One of the requirements to feel empathy is to allow oneself to be vulnerable. Our children are being challenged in every class to be aware of their environment and to think and feel how others are feeling. When we walk around our campus and we see our children show respect for the tiniest insects, we know that they are relating to that creature with wonder and empathy.

Professional Development Workshops at Albrook

by Mrs. Marvi

Recently Albrook's staff had the opportunity to attend workshops on diversity and inclusiveness. These in-service afternoons and other meetings provided a practical forum for further exploration of our school goals of empathy and respect.

These workshops were presented by Dr. Emily Jones McGowan. Dr. Jones McGowan has an extensive background in the field of education and public policy. She is presently working with The Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at NYU Steinhardt.

During the workshops, Dr. Jones McGowan noted the positive learning environments that The Albrook School provides. Ours is a school climate where differences in many forms are prized. Each classroom environment is, after all, an environment of differences. We encompass different ages, gifts, talents, personalities, ethnicities and cultures. In addition, our Montessori curriculum, at its very core, invites us to delve deeply into cultures across the globe with a particular focus on how all humankind demonstrates the commonality of striving towards the fulfillment of its fundamental needs.

This, of course, doesn't mean that our work is done or that we have no other opportunities for furthering our efforts towards developing inclusive and equitable learning environments for all of our students. The bottom line is that we at Albrook are committed to ensuring that an appreciation for the diversity of our student population is prized and celebrated.

In keeping with Montessori's philosophy on the 'spiritual preparation of the teacher' we must all assess our approaches as educators and staff to our children. We daily hear Montessori's call to examine our actions. We face, at times, uncharted territory in terms of greeting the new or unfamiliar in our student population. Dr. Jones McGowan's exercises invite us to "have the conversation'; to discuss and confront our own discomfort with what might be unfamiliar and to recognize when and if we bring misconceptions or biases to the table.

As you can imagine, these workshops were especially eye opening for us. We recognized a need for a 'reset'. Albeit with the best of intentions we needed to adjust our approaches to not only acknowledge our own need to embrace discomfort but to model appropriate responses to the new and unfamiliar in our students.

In essence, if we examine our own attitudes and approaches to these matters we can truly put ourselves in the shoes of others, and truly empathize with those who may face adversity and disenfranchisement because of their differences in any arena.

We greatly appreciate Dr. Jones McGowan's generous sharing of her insight, time and expertise.

Montessori In The News

The Parent Perspective about Montessori, Introduction to Montessori Method

The Montessori Method is designed to educate the whole child, socially, emotionally, academically and physically. This style of learning creates innovative, creative thinkers from young children to adults.  It's an educational approach that is appreciated by those who have been fortunate enough to receive a Montessori education or who had parents who knew the true benefits and value of a Montessori education.

Forbes, a well known magazine, has an informative article regarding Montessori written by Justin Wasserman who is the Managing Director at Kotter International. Justin Wasserman helps leaders accelerate strategy implementation in their organizations.
Corporate Kindergarten

Montessori Madness
A video, by Trevor Eissler, informs us about why children enjoy a Montessori education. It is called "Take Five Minutes To Watch This Video," and we hope you will find it interesting.

The Montessori Mafia
By Peter Simms, reprinted from The Wall Street Journal

Google Founders Talk About Montessori

All I got out of Montessori..