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

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Albrook News

Stepping Stones Plus Program

The NEW Stepping Stones Plus Program offers working parents an opportunity for additional hours. The program is available from 7:30am - 5:30pm during the 2017-2018 calendar year (when school is open). If this new program serves your needs, inquire at 908-580-0661 or email Nancy Ponzio at

Daily Lunch Service

By Smart Lunches

Smart Lunches is our school's lunch delivery service. It is a convenient online lunch service that makes it easy for parents to save time and feed their children delicious, nourishing school lunches. You can customize your child's menu by indicating their preferences and dietary needs. The menu includes a variety of hot and cold choices that rotate both seasonally and daily. The chef's recipes are all 100% nut-free, and sensible about salt and sugar.

All Aboard!

by Mrs. Antoniello

train ride

The Gladstone Train Station was all a buzz. The train coming from Lyons was carrying four teachers, three Stepping Stones children and three chaperone moms. Once they reached their destination of Gladstone, they met up with their friends from class. Yes, we were finally on our annual train field trip! The children waved good bye to their parents (after lots of picture taking) and boarded the train heading back to Lyons (feeling independent without the aid of mommy and daddy).

The children were thrilled as the train seemed to race through the stops. As we passed through some lovely scenery, the children each spied something different and called out in pure delight. They each gave their mock ticket to the conductor who obliged them by punching out their tickets, which made them laugh with delight as they carefully clutched their souvenir.

Finally, at our destination, each child was greeted by the familiar faces of moms and dads and even some grandparents. The excitement didn't end there. We all went off to have a delicious picnic at Harry Dunham Park (thank you to all the parents for supplying all the wonderful food and treats).

After that, some children went off to play in the park with Mom and Dad and eventually went home exhausted with the days' events. I am sure they all carried a cherished memory of their train ride together.

I, myself, went back to school with my own beautiful memory of my first train ride with our Stepping Stones children and will always reflect on their smiling faces and the joy such a simple thing as a train ride could bring.

Good Grief Walk

by Ms. Antoniello

On Sunday, June 4, several Albrook teachers completed a two mile walk at Giralda Farms in Morristown for Good Grief. Located in Morristown and Princeton, Good Grief is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bettering the emotional lives of families who have lost a loved one. It especially works to provide comfort to children dealing with the devastating loss of a parent. Ms. McCusker, the head of Stepping Stones, has volunteered with the organization for many years and created "Team Albrook" for the day of the walk.

With beautiful weather, fun music, and hundreds of walkers and runners of all ages present, the event was a definite success. It felt inspiring to play even a small part in such an important cause, and it was great to represent Albrook in something so meaningful. Way to go, Team Albrook!

Mindfulness in Pre-K 1

by Ms. McCusker

I will remember many moments and lessons during our time together in Pre–K. Since 'mindfulness' was our focus this year at Albrook, we created a simple mindfulness curriculum. Initially, my goal was to introduce and expose the children to the language and ideas of mindfulness. However, their level of interest, understanding and ability to articulate their experiences went beyond my expectations. I would like to briefly highlight some of these mindfulness lessons.

During the year we focused on 'Mindful Tasting'. We ate a small piece of food e.g. Cheerios, fruit or chocolate very slowly, and discussed the experience. It amazed me that they could articulate that they could not really taste the apple when they sucked it, but had to bite it to get the juice out!

We then moved on to 'Mindful Listening'. Here, we would sit very quietly for one minute without talking and then report what we heard. Initially this was a little difficult, but with practice we mastered it.

Next, we moved on to 'Mindful Seeing' which we called "The Observation Game". A child would stand in the center of the circle and we would all observe closely things that were unique to him. The child would then hide while I asked the children questions about him e.g. what he was wearing and color of his hair, eyes, etc.

Our yearlong project was visiting "Our Tree". We chose a tree near the horse farm and regularly visited it. We carefully observed and discussed the changes of the leaves and climate throughout the year. Each season we took a photograph in front of the tree and periodically, we would look at the photograph to remind us what the tree looked like the previous season. The children waited patiently for spring when they would be able to roll down the hill.

I wish the Pre-K 1 children continued joy and peace as they continue on their journey of mindfulness.

Albers Hall Becomes a Theater

by Mrs. Lipman and Mrs. Ferguson

This project began as just an idea. Our APA along with Mrs. Lipman imagined a projector in Albers Hall--one that would fill the back wall of the stage with lovely images for the elementary and kindergarten plays, making scene changes seamless. They also envisioned large backdrops for International Day and other special events, along with dynamic presentations given by students and staff. All would be possible with such projections. The APA raised money for this project through the "Broadway Comes to Basking Ridge" event generously donated by the Sharpe family.

Following the initial vision and fundraising, work began to bring the project to fruition. Many different elements had to be addressed. Cables would have to be installed in the ceiling of Albers Hall. Connectors from the laptop to the projector would need to be placed in the front of the room on the stage side and in the back of the room for convenience. An electrician would need to install outlets to power the projector in the ceiling of the stage. A 20 X 10 screen would be painted on the back wall of the stage to view movies and images.

Mrs. Ferguson researched, speaking with different companies and educating Albrook in the technological complexities of projected backdrops. After numerous conversations and consultations, we were able to find a company to do the job. Reid Sound, located in Windsor, New Jersey was chosen to install the projector and run all the cables needed for the job. They also installed the connections needed in the front and back of Albers Hall to run the equipment. An electrician was hired to install the outlet for the projector. Next, special screen paint was ordered to turn the back stage wall that normally held our backdrops into an amazing cinema viewing screen. We are so fortunate to have Mr. Bill, who so skillfully measured, taped, and painted the area to create our now amazing cinema screen.

After two years of work, the digital backdrop is now a reality. Albers Hall has now truly become a theater (minus the reclining chairs). The teachers enjoyed its unveiling at the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon where Mrs. Tomaru presented a beautiful video of thanks on the new screen. Mrs. Lipman was then thrilled to utilize digital backdrops in this year's kindergarten play. She was able to easily represent several locations with just the touch of a button. The children loved standing in front of the new scenery for the play. The installation of a digital projector will greatly enhance presentations at The Albrook School for years to come. We thank the APA for making this possible.

Jack Mahala: Albrook Alumnus, Baseball Standout

The Mahala children all attended The Albrook School with the family's tenure spanning twenty years with all eight children attending Albrook from Stepping Stones and with most through Upper Elementary. Jack Mahala, the third oldest in the family and following the baseball path of his brothers, Thomas and Kevin, has just completed a standout senior year as a pitcher for Seton Hall Prep. Recently, Jack led his team to a victory over top-seeded Milburn in the Greater Newark Tournament. This win was the fifth straight championship for Seton Hall Prep in the GNT. Jack's brother Kevin pitched the first victory of the winning streak.

"My brother (Kevin) started the streak when I was an eighth grader," Mahala said. "I watched him pitch in that game and now being the one pitching is a surreal moment for me." 5/20/17 (Kevin is currently playing Single-A ball with the West Virginia Power - the Pittsburgh Pirates' affiliate.)

Jack finished his season with a 6-1 record and only gave up 4 earned runs over 45 innings. He also posted 48 strikeouts and a .62 E.R.A. Jack has been invited to pitch in the Senior All Star Game for the top seniors in NJ. Bonnie Mahala, Jack's mom, says that Jack is extremely humble about his success. Jack will continue his baseball career and his studies at Harvard this fall. We look forward to hearing about his adventures both on and off the field.

Jack will continue his baseball career and his studies at Harvard this fall. We look forward to hearing about his adventures both on and off the field.

Frost Valley

frost valley upper

by Aidan, an Albrook student

This year was the first time I went to Frost Valley, and I absolutely loved it there. We were in the great outdoors every day, doing a wide variety of activities. We did things ranging from hiking and rock climbing to harvesting vegetables and making delicious snacks out of them. I also had a very good time canoeing, even though it was raining. I was with my friends and teacher at all times. Overall, I think that Frost Valley taught me how to do many new things. Frost Valley gave me a wonderful, outdoor experience and I can't wait to return next year.

Frost Valley Reflections from Lower Elementary

Eshaan: "Water ecology was very fun because we caught salamanders, water scorpions, and little fish. There were also a lot of frogs. We studied them closely in buckets."

Tyler: "The campfire, team-building, and water ecology were my favorite activities. I liked the skits, songs, and s'mores by the campfire. Team-building was fun because we worked together and we caught lots of water creatures during water ecology."

Caitlin: "I liked the songs, skits, and s'mores by the campfire. During water ecology, I caught salamanders, tadpoles, snails, and water bugs at the pond."

Emma: "I enjoyed seeing the skits and eating s'mores by the campfire. I also enjoyed water ecology. I caught salamanders, tadpoles, leeches, water bugs, and water striders at the pond."

Kyle W.: "I liked outdoor living skills because we got to work together to make a cool shelter with stuff we found in the woods so we could be safe in the wild."

Claire: "I liked the s'mores and songs by the campfire, especially roasting the marshmallows. I also liked water ecology because we got to use nets to catch all the cute bugs."

Chloe: "I liked team-building because we all helped each other by sharing ideas to figure out how to do something."

Tanya: "I liked the campfire best because we got to eat s'mores and I liked the team-building games because we used team work. Water ecology was fun because we learned about water creatures."

Alina: "I enjoyed being with upper elementary and participating in activities with them, especially canoeing and flying squirrel."

Joshua: "My favorite activity was flying squirrel. I liked canoeing, but I was worried we might tip over. I was happy we were with upper elementary."

Miya: "I liked all the activities because most of them I hadn't done before. Canoeing was my favorite because I liked being on the water and seeing the geese."

Cory: "I liked most of the activities, but rock climbing the best. I thought the trip was awesome. Canoeing was also fun."

Darya: "I think canoeing and flying squirrel were really fun. It was the first time I did both. I loved the food at Frost Valley and I really enjoyed being with upper elementary and doing their activities."

Matthew: "Flying squirrel was fun because I liked going up in the air, it felt really cool."

Clara: "My favorite memory of Frost Valley was cooking because it is something I do at home and it makes me feel."

frost valley

Charter Day

by Ms. Hicks

What a pleasure it was to see so many alumni visit The Albrook School's booth on Charter Day! What was even more special was to hear how well all the alumni are doing today! We even had an alumnus assistant from our summer camp program visit us with his family. Tim Purnell is the Executive Director of the American Montessori Society as of August 1, 2017.

The highlight of the day was the opportunity for forty of our students to perform on the stage in the center of Basking Ridge. The preschoolers sang songs from Group Sing and the elementary students sang excerpts from this year's play, School House Rock, under the direction of Mrs. Marvi and Mrs. Lipman. The audience area in front of the stage swelled with the many parents who came to cheer the Albrook children on.

"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter." Rachel Carson, Silent Spring"

Our Thanks

teacher lunch

In the blink of an eye, the school year is coming to a close and we take a moment to look back on a wonderful year. The success of this year is due to the loving support of all our parents and the APA. From all the loving hands and hearts that worked in collaboration to provide community events for everyone to enjoy, we deeply appreciate your time, energy and expertise. To all the parents who were dedicated to the Pizza Present and Material Making projects, a sincere thank you.

All of the events from the Fall Harvest, Book Fair and the Spring Event added opportunities for our community to build a stronger connection.

"How beautiful a day can be when love touches it!" Love and appreciation was definitely in the air at the Teacher and Staff Appreciation Luncheon. We were all deeply touched by all the thought, time and energy that it took to put this wonderful afternoon together. A roller coaster of emotions was experienced while watching the video of appreciation from our students, compiled for our enjoyment by Mrs. Tomaru. The creativity in making this video and the loving message from the students will be a treasured keepsake. We wish you all a Fun Filled Safe Summer.

Picture from the Kindergarten Play

kindergarten play

Spirit Day at Albrook

by Mrs. Dignam

"May Peace Prevail on Earth" are the words engraved on our peace pole. It is a reminder that although we have many objectives at The Albrook School, our peace curriculum is always at the center. We had the opportunity to celebrate our school spirit. We gathered at the best place we could, which is around our own peace pole. Children and teachers alike wore their school shirts. At a glance, the crowd was a colorful mosaic of pale blue, tie-dye and red Albrook shirts.

Mrs. Tarangul led the children and teachers in a variety of favorite songs dedicated to peace. Stepping Stones children through Upper Elementary sang and celebrated our school spirit. The conclusion was our school song, "We are Albrook," written by Mrs. Marvi. After we sang, Ms. MacNeill addressed the children and thanked them for a successful school year.

Additionally, she took the opportunity to thank our dedicated APA officers. The children echoed the thanks with three enthusiastic cheers for the parents.

The entire school then gathered on the Building B playground for a picnic lunch. We were fortunate to have a beautiful, sunny day. To be sure, the children were all excited about the highlight of the event in their eyes: the APA provided popsicles for all.

The Albrook School 2017 Summer Camp

by Ms. MacNeill

Enjoying Sunshine, Swimming, Running, Playing Soccer, Exploring Nature and the World, Experimenting, Building, Estimating, Designing, Cooking….. Albrook Summer camp offers all of this and so much more.

The Albrook Summer Camp offers a wide variety of programs that tap into the creative, curious young mind. Come have fun and learn in our beautiful air-conditioned classrooms, and enjoy our outdoor activities on our numerous playgrounds. Your child will be happy to take part in daily swim lessons. They will build fond memories experiencing afternoon free time in the pool with friends. The Albrook Summer Camp has two pools: a water confidence pool for the younger child where children are able to stand and learn to swim and a deeper pool for older children to build on their swim techniques and endurance.

The Albrook staff has designed unique programs for 4 to 10 year olds to engage their imagination while building confidence.

Cooking around the World offers your child an opportunity to explore foods from countries and cultures around the world, through hands-on chopping, mixing, kneading and tasting.

Exploring Nature invites your child to put on his/her naturalist hat and explore the wonders of nature while learning how to respect, embrace and understand the natural world around them. Each session will have a fun, engaging theme to guide hands-on learning and projects. This year's themes include: Insects, Mammals, Birds and Woodland Reptiles.

Our Engineering Program invites all of our future entrepreneurs and scientists to have fun while learning. One session will allow children to joyfully study physics through launching rockets and hands-on experiments with force and motion. Students can also develop a love of chemistry while exploring states of matter, including solids and liquids.

Explore the World sessions provides an opportunity for the older camper to have fun while exploring materials in the classroom, researching in the Computer Lab, studying the amazing biomes of the world and the diverse cultures in the continent of Europe.

Our engaging Creative Writing Program will allow your child to engage his/her imagination while building on writing skills. By the end of the summer camp session, your child will proudly have a published masterpiece!

Your child will have an amazing time with our Fun with Mathematics session, exploring new math concepts with hands-on Montessori materials, as well as further developing skills with the computer. Topics of study will include: geometry, measurement, mathematical operations and problem solving skills.

We are excited to offer a sports session this year. Fun with Soccer will help your child to master basic soccer skills: dribbling, passing, shooting, while still developing teamwork and sportsmanship.

The Drama Program will allow your budding actors and actresses to enjoy and express themselves on stage. Parents are invited to an end of session play performance where the students will display their new acting techniques.

Learning should be fun, and I believe the experiences our campers will gain from the new challenging projects, activities, and age appropriate subjects will build confidence and self-esteem. Having fun while making new discoveries about themselves and the world around them is what summer is all about! With warm weather and bright days upon us, it is time to make summer plans. You can register for The Albrook Summer Camp online through either School Speak or Or, if you prefer, stop by the main office to register. Feel free to invite friends to our great summer camp.

Schoolhouse Rock Live Comes to Albrook

by Mrs. Lipman

This year the elementary students performed the play, Schoolhouse Rock Live. Based on the 1970s television show, Schoolhouse Rock, the play told the story of a nervous new teacher on the eve of his first day of teaching. This teacher was visited by an array of characters who reminded him how to teach various school subjects. The show featured fun, upbeat musical numbers about everything from science and U.S. history to math and grammar. In order to make the show more meaningful to our Albrook students, Mrs. Lipman incorporated numerous Montessori elements. For instance, the song, "3 is a Magic Number" featured a giant 3 chain, and all grammar songs used representations of the Montessori grammar symbols. Students, staff, and parents all worked very hard to make the performance a success. The children definitely learned the main lesson of the show—school should be fun!

Grandparents' Day

by Ms. Hicks

Grandparents' Day is one of my favorite days at The Albrook School. Since I look forward to visiting my grandchildren at Grandparents' Day at their school, I know how exciting it is to see your grandchildren welcome you to their world and show you how proud they are of their work. When I approached the door to my eleven year old grandson's class last month, I was delighted to watch him hurry across the classroom to give me a big hug for coming. It made my day!

We had many grandparents charmed when their grandchild was able to teach them for the morning. The students relished the attention and were so proud of their accomplishments.

Our Grandparents' Day started with refreshments and then some excerpts from this year's elementary play, Schoolhouse Rock, put on by the elementary students. Then the morning ended too quickly with a preschool group sing back in Albers Hall. The smiles on both the children and the grandparents were recorded in photos as I visited each classroom. Many grandparents floated out the door as they basked in the love they received that day.

Mindfulness Tasting

by Ms. Behar and Mrs. DeBue

"Mindfulness" is a word we seem to hear everywhere lately. We were thrilled when it was selected as our school goal this year. Mindfulness and Montessori seem to naturally go hand in hand. Throughout the school, we already do so many activities related to mindfulness but we now do even more. Mrs. Marvi created a booklet with some great ideas on using mindfulness in nature. In addition, the Stepping Stones teachers recently attended a Mindfulness workshop at the NJMAC conference this year so we had many wonderful ideas to incorporate into our curriculum.

One of our favorites in Stepping Stones is mindful tasting. We have tasted a variety of things throughout the year. Most recently we decided to taste limes at circle time. The children all had a chance to hold the lime, to feel the weight of it and note the somewhat bumpy texture. All of the children said they liked the limes and would like to taste them again, but they also noted that they liked the taste of lemons better (we tasted lemons about 2 months ago and they just loved the lemons).

Mindful food tasting can easily be done at home, too. You can do it with any food, but a fun idea might be to plant some vegetables and herbs with your child and then taste them apart from a meal. Another time you can use these vegetables and herbs to cook a meal along with your child. Bon appetit!

Mindfulness in the Kandinsky Room

By Ms. Fienemann

In the Kandinsky classroom, we have introduced many mindfulness techniques throughout this school year. The children can use these techniques at our peace table or during our mindfulness time period each day. Here are quotes of what some of the students have especially liked: "My favorite mindfulness is silent reading because it is fun and peaceful. That is why I like it. My favorite spot to read is the rug." Xander "One of my favorite mindfulness things is rock painting on the peace table. I like it because I feel like I am the only one in the classroom." Jane "My favorite mindfulness thing is mindful coloring and that's it. The reason why I like it is because it makes me peaceful and when I color with Alina I feel calm." Alexis "My favorite thing in mindfulness time is coloring. I like coloring because it is fun. I also like silent reading. It makes me peaceful. These are the things I like for mindfulness time." Kyle "My favorite mindful thing to do in mindful time is coloring because it feels quiet and looking at coloring pictures feels good. That is why I like mindful coloring." Aria "My favorite mindfulness activity that we have done is either the filling a bucket and feeling box or the rock painting. Feelings and filling a bucket because you can share happy feelings. Rock painting, because it looks cool and it makes me feel peaceful." Aarav

Destination Imagination

By Mrs. Sloan

Destination Imagination, more commonly called DI, is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging children's imagination and teamwork. Each year they sponsor a tournament of fine arts, technical, community service, and scientific challenges. Elementary, middle school, and high school students form teams, select their challenge, and self-direct themselves in the solution to the challenge.

This year, six Albrook School students formed a team called the Ender Dragons and worked for 5 months in preparation for the Fine Arts Challenge of the tournament. The rules for the challenge required them to invent and act out a story in which a chosen color disappears from the earth. They also had to include a special effect in which something physically vanishes.

The Ender Dragon's play (which they wrote, acted in, and created the sets and costumes for) was about a distant future in which our sun had extinguished. No sunshine led to the disappearance of a yellow and frozen, uninhabitable planet Earth. The few remaining humans lived underground in the crust of the earth near lava flows. Our story begins when the play's narrator dramatically sums up the back story and indicates to the audience that a group of those humans are "suiting up" for a supply run to the earth's surface. Upon reaching the surface, they are attacked by 3-eyed mutant laser penguins. Oh, no! Luckily, two super-evolved creatures come to their rescue, the infinite Dodo and Mammoth Max. With the penguins defeated (actually vanished), the band of humans make friends with the dodo and mammoth. They accompany them on the supply run and then back to the underground bunker. Referencing a technical manual, the humans brainstorm ways to reignite the sun.

"Ah, ha! This catapult design should work. But how do we get the lava?" Mammoth Max rams the wall creating a crack leaking with lava. Infinite Dodo slurps up the lava and spits it into a cannon ball holder of the catapult. Fire! The lava re-ignites the sun and warm yellow rays shine down on the earth.

Community Building at The Albrook School

By Ms. MacNeill

We were fortunate to have a visit from Officer Jasina from the Bernards Township Police Department. He collaborated with the administration and reviewed our school's security policies and protocol. Officer Jasina was instrumental in advising us about the best ways to further enhance our school security. Part of our discussion with Officer Jasina was about the Teacher Response Action Plan (TRAP) training and how we could bring the training to our staff and other private schools in the area.

Recently we had the privilege of hosting a School Security Awareness presentation by the Bernards Township Police for our staff and administrators and faculty from other schools in the area. This turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to meet staff from the Sunshine, Tree House, and Gentle Shepherd preschools as well as meeting faculty from St. James, Pingry and Bonnie Brae schools.

The afternoon opened with a welcome and some opening comments from Chief Brian Bobowicz. Detective John Neiman and SRO Tracy Baldassare presented the TRAP presentation leaving plenty of time for questions and concerns. Officer Jasina shared the School Security Awareness presentation on the different elements of school security. The staff and faculty noted that the information shared was not only extremely useful but also empowering. The other schools in attendance had expressed appreciation to The Albrook School for hosting this event.

The officers were impressed with the number of attendees and their commitment to ensuring safe school environments. We appreciate the time and expertise of all the officers who presented. We are indebted to Officer Jasina for all his time and effort in making this presentation happen and we appreciate Chief Bobowicz's support in this endeavor.

"In today's rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being." —Eckhart Tolle



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.

The Prince of England has parents who know what is best for him.  Prince George is of age for his first day of preschool and his parents have chosen the Westacre Montessori School in Norfolk, England.

Raising a Future King the Montessori Way
Montessori schools give Prince George free reign

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..