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

Parent Sharing

A school is more than just the walls and the books and the playground equipment. At its best, a school is a community in which all members come together to support the children as they grow and learn, fostering a love of learning. It is parents, and teachers, and administrators working together to raise children who will go out into the world and make it a better place.

We wanted to share letters that we received that speak to our community and the difference all of us have made in the lives of our families.

Alumni Focus: The Casamassina Family

by Mrs. Michelle Casamassina

I had done a great deal of research on Maria Montessori, and believed that her teaching method was something we wanted to expose our daughter to. The practical life and building block aspects made so much sense for educating a small child. We had only moved to the area a few months before Abby joined Albrook. A friend had mentioned the school during a get together, and once I did some research, I wanted to find out more. As soon as we visited the school, we knew we wanted to be there!

Even as a baby, Abby showed she was a child that learned through exposure to new things and had a huge curiosity of all her surroundings. Albrook and its staff provided this type of environment for a child to explore within boundaries. Boundaries that helped guide, but not restrict. The expectations placed on the children during Stepping Stones was a process that helped them reach their own accomplishments. They were exposed to the concepts of responsibility and respect so early that it naturally became the norm.

Abby completed 5th grade at Albrook. We only moved her prior to completing her 6th year because the school for her future, Kent Place, had entries at that level.

Albrook prepared Abby to feel comfortable going into almost any situation. She was never afraid to make new friends, and always felt confident at being herself, a strong girl with the right level of self-confidence. Additionally, she excelled on her entrance exams and has just grown from there in her academics. We contribute this preparedness to her Albrook experience.

There are soooo many special memories that it is hard to choose even a few!

  • Our GS troop planted a peach tree in Ms. Albers' yard
  • Abby played the bird lady in Mary Poppins
  • Ms. Yamawaki found a green lump of a meatloaf we left in the oven when cooking with the GS for charity
  • Abby's first day of Stepping Stones and first day of Kindergarten.

Abby, my husband and I, all made life-long friends through Albrook. Abby keeps in touch regularly with most of her upper El class actually, and often sees them at various sporting events. Even our Girl Scout troop that was started at Albrook during Kindergarten is still a part of our lives!

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.

The Noll Family: A True Montessori Family

by Mrs. Tina Noll

The Albrook School is a very special place. It truly is "Montessori at its Best!" I am fortunate to have been a parent there for 10 years and continue to be active within the school community.

At the age of three, my husband Frank and I both attended The Christopher Academy; a Montessori School located in Westfield, New Jersey where we were classmates. After college, we started to date, got married, and had children. We had discussed that we would love for our children to go to a Montessori school so that they could receive a great educational foundation like we had. My three children, Bianca, Alanna and Andrew, attended Albrook when we moved into the area 18 years ago. Bianca started in second year of Lower Elementary, Alanna in Kindergarten, and Andrew in Pre-School. We loved the fact that the children were going to be in mixed aged classes and learn at their own pace. The warm, friendly environment along with the nurturing teachers helped us make our decision even easier. All three children graduated Upper Elementary and went to Gill St. Bernard's School. The girls graduated from Fairfield University and work in the Recruitment Field. Andrew is a Sports Broadcasting major at Syracuse University and enjoys working summers at Albrook as a Camp Counselor.

There are many fond memories both the children and I have of Albrook. The school plays, Frost Valley and The Fashion Show, to name a few. My children and I made wonderful friends while there and continue to stay in touch with our lifelong Albrook friends!

As a parent, one never knows if they are ever making the right decision when it comes to raising their children. I know that I made the right choice by sending my children to Albrook! I would do it over in a heartbeat!

Our Experience at The Albrook School

By Rebecca Fang and Kenneth Chan, November 2015

We are delighted to share our experience at The Albrook School. We have three children—Max (15 years old), Erika (14 years old), and Augustin (10 years old).

Max and Erika had attended Albrook for 6 and 7 years respectively, and Augustin had attended Albrook for 1 year, when we relocated to Shanghai in summer 2009 for an international job assignment. We repatriated to the US in summer 2014, after living and working abroad for 5 years. Currently, Max attends Stuyvesant High School and Juilliard Pre-College; Erika attends Marymount School of New York; and, Augustin has returned to The Albrook School.

Albrook is our children's first school. Like most parents, we dutifully researched the different types of school and environments before deciding on a Montessori education at Albrook. We are certain that other parents have performed similar due diligence; hence, we will not belabor the life-long benefits and strengths of a Montessori education. Instead, we will focus on our experience at Albrook specifically.

We are most impressed by the quality of the teachers at Albrook. They are dedicated, caring professionals with high degrees of perceptiveness. We are repeatedly amazed by how the teachers at Albrook can project (accurately in our opinion) a child's traits and then help guide the child's development. There have been multiple occasions where the teachers made us aware of aspects of our children's personalities and how these should be nurtured or adjusted. Behind the scenes, the teachers constantly help the students to further develop their strengths and at the same time overcome their weaknesses, with a view toward the children's respective growth. The teachers are pro-active in keeping the children engaged and challenged; there has never been a boring moment at Albrook for them. One peek into any classroom at Albrook and one will see a group of happy, engaged children.

The educational approach at Albrook aims to develop the whole person. In addition to a solid foundation in academics, children are taught at an early age to do things themselves, to explore, to be aware, to learn to collaborate with others, and more. From tying their own shoes, putting on their own jackets, and putting away their own work in Stepping Stones, the children develop responsibility, ownership and an eagerness to be independent, and would soon demand "Let me do it!" From failed attempts to successful projects, the children learn to explore and experiment, and, in the process, develop confidence and learn how to learn on their own. From studying the different continents and cultures, the children learn about diversity and global issues, thereby developing compassion and perspective. These are life-long skills that will serve the children well, long after they've left Albrook.

Another crucial aspect of the experience at Albrook is the 3-year education cycle, where there are three age groups in a classroom. This was one of Max's and Erika's favorite parts of the Albrook/Montessori structure. When they were the youngest in the group, they had the older students to look up to as mentors and role models. They could ask them for assistance as well as collaborate with them. In their second year of the cycle, they had developed a new sense of responsibility and independence, but could still look to the upper classmates for guidance. When they became the oldest in the group, they became the mentors and leaders; it is their turn to help guide the younger classmates. We believe that this experience helps the students to develop confidence, compassion, and leadership.

The strength of the foundation that Albrook provides was most evident when we first moved to Shanghai. We had decided to enroll the children in a British school to expose them to a different curriculum and system of education. Even though the school had accepted our children for enrollment, we were warned that their curriculum is typically 2 levels higher than the typical US school. The school was particularly concerned with Erika, since she had skipped a grade at Albrook; in essence, she would be attempting to learn course materials that are (in that school's view) 3 levels higher. Despite the school's concerns, Max and Erika were able to easily adapt to their new environments and curricula. In fact, they were awarded the Overall Academic Excellence Award for their respective grades their first year there. When asked how they approached the new curriculum and performed well, they replied that Albrook had prepared them well—not only in academics, but also in being inquisitive and knowing how to learn on their own.

Now as teenagers, the skills that Max and Erika learned, and values that they developed while at Albrook, continue to guide them well as they encounter increasing complexities in their lives. In our humble opinion, they are quite responsible, independent and self-directed. We no longer worry if their homework is completed or if they are actively engaged in school and learning. We are also confident that they know right from wrong and will make the proper choices. These are some of the skills and values that Albrook helped them to develop. We never knew that giving them extra time and waiting for them to tie their own shoes and put on their own jackets, and "letting them do it" could lead to such important results!

When we look back at our choice to provide the children with a Montessori education at Albrook, we couldn't be happier. We are grateful for the dedication and tutelage of the teachers at The Albrook School. We are most thankful for the leadership and vision of Ms. Albers, Ms. Hicks, and Ms. MacNeill for creating and perpetuating a caring, loving environment where the children develop strong foundations in academics, character and life skills.

Parent Testimonial

By Lynda Tomaru, mother to 12, 10, & 8 year old girls

Over the last decade, my husband and I have had the privilege of watching our three children blossom with joy, self-confidence, and independence while attending all programs at The Albrook School (from Stepping Stones, to the Mixed Classroom, and continuing into the Lower and Upper Elementary Programs.) We are most grateful to The Albrook School for providing an exceptional environment and Montessori curriculum where our children have been able to discover themselves while having fun learning. And as an extra bonus, we do feel their performance academically is a reflection of the sound habits they have acquired over the years (most from pre-school!)

Carried throughout all programs at The Albrook School, the three areas of the Montessori curriculum that have been the most significant to us are 1) the hands-on approach, 2) geography, and 3) how a child's interest is piqued and pursued. Our children have benefited tremendously from being allowed to use all of their senses to learn and develop their imagination. The focus on geography at all levels is astounding; not only are our children quite familiar with the locations of different continents, countries, and cities, but this education has helped increase a sense of familiarity when discussing current events from around the world or making new friends from abroad. And most beautiful of all, there is much consideration on the part of the teachers to explore a child's interests, be it subject matter or learning style. We have seen the glitter in our children's eyes when they have had the chance to pursue these interests (in the form of repetition for the younger ages and increased research for slightly older ages)—and the cheek to cheek smiles when mastering a new skill.

I regard the teachers and staff at The Albrook School as an extension to our family. With the exception of the Stepping Stones program, our girls had the same sets of teachers for the duration of each of their 3-year programs. This fosters a deep bond between families and teachers, which helped to create a strong sense of comfort and security for our children. This nurturing environment has allowed our children to truly discover themselves.

The Albrook School provides an environment that instills the importance of peace, respect, and courtesy to others. These ideals have simply become a natural way of life for my children. In this environment, I have also seen my children grow in self-confidence from their own learning experiences. This last decade at The Albrook School has given each of my children an opportunity to develop a strong sense of self, which I am confident will take them far, whichever path they choose to take.

Choosing Albrook

By Jeanette Daniel

When it came time to choose the very first school for our very little children, we were concerned about choosing just the right one. After a lot of research and many school tours, we found The Albrook School, and we're so glad that we did. After doing our research, we knew that the Montessori way was the perfect choice for our little ones. The environment is perfect for learning and growth and the tactile materials really help the children enjoy and understand what they are being taught.

Montessori teaching is wonderful but Albrook Montessori is even more exceptional! The teachers and staff are overwhelmingly caring, patient and compassionate. They make every child feel comfortable, confident and loved. The teachers tune in to each child's unique learning style to make sure that every child is learning and not getting left behind. They are truly wonderful.

Both of our children went to Albrook from Stepping Stones through Kindergarten. The skills and life lessons they learned at Albrook made it easy for them to segue into grade school. They were so well prepared that they found first grade to be a breeze.

We always want what is best for our children and we can say without a doubt that we made the right choice for our children when choosing The Albrook School. There isn't a more caring or nurturing educational program that we've found. Watching our children thrive and grow at Albrook put our minds at ease knowing that we set them up for a wonderful future.

Though our children are no longer at Albrook, they miss and love it so much, they return every year for Summer Camp!