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

Upcoming Events

Friday, May 10
Grandparents Day
Monday, May 13
Grandparents Day
Thursday, May 16
APA Meeting and Thank You Breakfast
Wednesday, May 22
through May 24
Frost Valley
Monday, May 27
School Closed
Memorial Day
Friday, May 31
11:30-11:45 dismissal
Teacher Appreciation Luncheon

Albrook News

Elementary Students Perform Musicville

By: Mrs. Lipman

On the night of April 5, the elementary students performed the play, Musicville. This new children's musical, with book, music, and lyrics by Denver Casado and Betina Hershey, tells the story of two friends, Maiden Melody and Radical Rhythm, who must save their home from the Sorcerer of Silence. The show was filled with upbeat, Broadway-style music and humorous dialogue. The final performance was the culmination of months of work on the part of students, parents, and staff. Children worked hard to learn their lines, songs, and choreography and also assisted with scenery design. Parent committees and Albrook staff members spent countless hours painting scenery and creating props and costume pieces. The week leading up to the production was spent in rehearsal, working to make each moment of the show the best it could be. Elementary teachers became stage crew, moving scenery and running the sound and light board. On the night of the show, it was wonderful to see each child put his or her best foot forward and perform with such confidence and poise. It was also a pleasure to observe the teamwork and responsibility present backstage. The evening ended with a reception for all the families to celebrate the children's performance and all of their hard work. It was a great event for the school community.

Alumni Reunion at Elementary Play

By: Naomi Taylor

There were many familiar faces spotted at the Elementary Play on Friday, April 5. A large group of alumni came back to visit their loving teachers and support their former classmates in what was a very successful night. The Elementary Play is always an impactful part of the curriculum and is a bonding experience for everyone involved. Through rehearsals, onstage and in the music room, students not only have fun and share laughs, but they also work together as a team on a product that everyone involved can be proud of.

As I reconnected with my fellow classmates, we reminisced on past plays such as Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and Mary Poppins, and we realized how much we have grown, physically and mentally, since then. It is always a bittersweet moment coming back into Albers Hall, and realizing how much we have matured and developed. As we recall all the fun times we had on that, now tiny stage, we are just as comfortable and friendly with each other as we were four years ago.

Whether you come to The Albrook School for a year or for eleven years, there is always a group of friends that will silently have your back. I rarely speak to the friends I made at Albrook, but I always find that when we see each other, once a year at most, it is easy to slide back in the laughs and jokes. They will always reserve a place in my heart because of the time and work we spent on this common goal together. The Albrook Elementary Plays and Mrs. Lipman are the reason I am who I am today and I can never be grateful enough for what they have given me.

Montessori Model UN

We are so proud of our Upper Elementary students who attended this year's annual Model Montessori UN conference in New York City. We would like to express our deep appreciation to Ms. Hicks for guiding our students in preparation for this wonderful opportunity. Through involvement in this long process, the students explored and studied four countries: Niger, Zambia, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau and explored some of the global issues affecting them. They spent time researching and writing position papers on the Food and Agricultural Organization, trade, and decolonization in order to propose solutions to the problems in the abovementioned countries.

MMUN: Reflections from the Participates

MMUN was an amazing experience; it was so much fun to step into the shoes of a United Nation's delegate. -Clara A

MMUN was such a great experience for me; my favorite part was Friday night where all the delegates come together and have fun dancing to the music while enjoying the singer and DJ on stage. I loved it! -Darya T.

MMUN was an excellent experience. I loved the experience in the committee rooms and in the official MMUN building. -Joshua G.

MMUN was an amazing experience. Speaking in the UN was definitely a great privilege to do. I loved it so much! -Caitlin H.

MMUN was a great experience. I loved making new friends and sharing my ideas with other people. It was very fun, and I liked it. Rishi S.

MMUN was exciting and fun experience. I was excited to make friends and learn new things about the world. I learned how to solve problems and how to persuade others while having a fun time. I think this year was the best MMUN. Even though I am not in this school next year, I hope to go again. -Eshaan R.

MMUN was amazing! Finding a resolution was a really great experience, and you could make a lot of new friends during doing so! It was great! -Emma S.

MMUN was fun. It was great knowing new people. I learned how to work together as a team. I also learned how to come to an agreement and make resolutions to help people. It was nice to hear other people's ideas and do things as a team. -Kyle Y.

We would also like to thank Ms. Hicks for executing a flawless plan which made the transition and stay for the students and parents in New York during the MMNU conference, a carefree experience.

On behalf of the students and staff we express gratitude to all the parents who supported this event. Our students are truly richer for this experience.

Language Begins with Practical Life

By: Mrs. Delia

Language is introduced from the time of birth. Excited parents and happy friends and relatives greet infants with language from the moment that they are born. A child's first experience is with receptive language, hearing it. Communication then begins with non-verbal gestures that develop into verbal language skills and expressive language begins for a child. Listening to people speaking, along with processing the patterns and pronunciation of language, is the beginning of language. Children benefit and grow when they are immersed in a language rich environment. The Montessori classroom provides an extremely rich language environment filled with songs, active dialog, stories and books as well as the Montessori materials.

In a Montessori classroom, learning to read starts with Practical Life. Works in this area are key to the development of pre-reading skills. Activities are designed to be worked with from left to right, top to bottom, as when reading. They all contain a beginning, middle, and a completion, as in a story. Teachers use these parameters when designing and setting up all lessons. Materials used are always identified using proper terminology, expanding the child's vocabulary. All works in Practical Life help to develop the concentration and sense of order required not only for learning to read, but for success in all future academics. Practical Life unlocks an initial door to learning to read.

The goal of the Montessori Language area is to support the child's natural process for acquiring and perfecting language. Language is categorized as either expressive or receptive. Expressive language is the ability to communicate one's ideas to others. Speaking and writing are expressive language skills. Receptive language comes from the outside. Receptive language is the ability to listen and read ideas from outside sources and to be able to process the information.

The Montessori classroom develops all areas of language for your child. It begins with nomenclature, the naming of objects and events. Along with this comes the development of sound recognition, followed with sound- letter correspondence. Written language begins with the Montessori sandpaper letters, with which children link sound and symbol. A child in the Montessori environment will learn to write 3 letter phonetic words, and then read them. In this manner, the expressive part of language is acquired first. This is demonstrated in the joy of listening to a child relate his own personal ideas and opinions, and hearing the way that s/he perceives the world. Children in a Montessori classroom learn to categorize thoughts and patterns through both verbal and written language. Maria Montessori understood that children have sensitive periods for reading and writing. The Montessori classroom provides the foundation for a child's spontaneous explosion into reading and writing. Its sequential language materials progressively help the child to develop all written expression and reading skills. As they begin to gain confidence in their reading ability, children move on to also perfect the skills of reading comprehension, proper sentence structure, further vocabulary development, and the development of writing skills. They become creatively expressive authors, comfortably able to communicate not only verbally, but in written form as well.

Global Stewardship in the Homer Room

By: Mrs. Laidlaw and Mrs. Comperiati

Global stewardship is a state of mind. With knowledge, reinforcement, and practice it can become habit. We have diligently worked in the Homer Room this school year to make this happen, to develop global stewardship in our students as a way of life.

All Homer students bring water bottles to school each day, a practice which has drastically reduced the number of plastic drinking cups used in our room each day.

Our somewhat unusual classroom pets (Popcorn the corn snake and Jackie, a fat-tailed Gecko lizard) foster an appreciation for animals that are not considered "cute and cuddly" but which, like all living things, play an important role in the world's eco-system. Caring for Popcorn and Jackie also promotes an understanding of the basic needs required by all of earth's creatures. Over the years we have had the pleasure of observing students who were initially uncomfortable with snakes grow especially fond of Popcorn. The understanding that all life has value plays a vital role in the development of global stewardship.

Most recently we have, as a class, viewed the eaglets hatched earlier this spring at Duke Farms in Hillsborough. A webcam placed above the nest provides a live stream of action and can be viewed at dukefarms.org/making-an-impact/eagle-cam/

A number of books have been read this school year on recycling, energy and water usage, the environment, and how not to be a "litterbug." These books have led to numerous group discussions with a focus on how we, no matter our age, can make an impact on helping Earth, our home. One day a few weeks ago, Mrs. Comperiati decided to interview the children who were present on this topic. She asked, "What can you do to help take care of Earth?" Following are the responses.

Yewon: "I can shut off water when I soap my hands and brush my teeth."

Sattva: "I can recycle and throw trash out, and help other families."

Todd: "I can make myself like a conveyer belt and use a bucket to pick up trash and dump it into recycling."

Theo: "I can tell people not to cut down trees because they give us clean air."

Angelina: "I'm going to help clean up my yard when the neighbor's trash blows into it."

Adam: "I turn off the water after I wash my hands."

Rhea: "I can plant a seed and cover it, and it will grow – maybe even into an apple tree."

Ranjit: "I can make dirty things clean using a brush."

Nina: "I can plant a garden to help feed Mom, Dad, and Maya."

Brantley: "We can save energy if we turn off the light switch."

Brayden: "I can pick up garbage and put it into the garbage can."

David: "I can grow up and be a fireman and my fire truck will rescue people."

Adriana: "I can pick up recycling and throw it into the right recycling."

Amrita: "I help clean our playground by picking up sticks that could hurt someone."

Mikayla: " I clean the earth when I pick up garbage."

Anti-Bias Curriculum: What Does That Mean?

By: Mrs. Marvi

The very least one might expect of a Montessori approach to Education, is that our students have the opportunity to learn what it means to be Global Citizens and to recognize the interconnectedness of all on this planet. Lofty ideals to be sure and yet we as educators must avoid being lured into a self-congratulatory sense of complacency which leads us, perhaps, into feeling that because we are Montessorians; we are enough. We daily 'walk the walk' and 'talk the talk', ensuring that we prepare classroom environments where conflict resolution is the order of the day as manifested by our 'Peace Curriculum '.

We model respect and reverence for each individual child and strategize with all; introducing the language skills and various concrete tools in order to help each child meet each difficulty with a positive empowering approach. Take the 'Peace Rose', for example. This is a tool which helps the children to 'take turns talking', when a conflict arises.

We encourage each child to walk in the shoes of their peers and foster the development of empathy as they consider their own needs as well as those of their peers. In these ways a sense of fair mindedness and even a sense of what equality means is fostered. We draw from a rich curriculum which leads us to study far and near and to explore the brilliant tapestry that is humanity.

There is more work to be done. As Montessorians, our commitment to Education as a tool for peace must include analysis of our efforts and commitment to Anti-Bias Education. We look to ourselves to ensure that we are implementing an Anti-Bias Curriculum which not only celebrates diversity and difference but one that provides age appropriate lessons and community building exercises which highlight individuality and difference as well as the bonds of commonality that connect us all.

It is important to note that children are keen observers. They often acutely perceive that which might be outside their own frame of reference whether it is related to matters of color, language and ethnicity, religion, gender stereotypes or what have you. That which is perceived to be different can be approached with curiosity and interest. Our goal is to capitalize on these teachable moments and to respectfully prepare developmentally appropriate music, literature and other materials which comprise this Anti-Bias Curriculum.

Much research shows, that children can develop tendencies towards prejudice and bias at an early age. If Peace, as Montessori believed, is to be a primary goal of Education it is incumbent upon us to continue to be proactive in sowing the seeds of tolerance, equality and respect for diversity in our school.

Informal Interview with our Alumni Duncan Wang

Duncan is a past student of Albrook who joined Upper Elementary in 5th grade for 2 years. He left June 2018 to continue his educational journey at Gill St. Bernard's. During his spring break this year, Duncan returned to Albrook for a visit and spent the day catching up and working with his former class mates and friends in Upper Elementary. While observing Duncan giving a lesson to Josh on 'the energy cycle' I asked him would he be open to sharing a little about his experiences at Albrook and his transition into his new school.

Duncan felt that Albrook prepared him for the transition to his new school. He said that "Math is now super easy" and socially he has made new friends easily. He also pointed out that he was prepared in the cultural subjects but now is also learning chemistry in science which can be a little tough. Other new subjects which he is enjoying are French and woodworking.

Duncan shared that his greatest memory of Albrook was time spent with his friends. He loved working with them and hanging out during recess. He still keeps in touch and is close friends with Alex since he has left.

For afterschool activities, Duncan has the opportunity to continue fencing and tennis which he has been doing for a few years.

Congratulations to Albrook Parent-Toddler Class Graduates!

By: Ms. McCusker

On Tuesday January 29 - 3:00 pm, 7 anxious little toddlers entered the Stepping Stones Picasso classroom for their first Montessori school experience. Many children initially stayed very close to their parent, looked under their eyelids at their teachers, Ms. McCusker and Ms. Behar and would only do a work if their parent did it first.

Eight weeks later the scene was very different. The children were confidently bringing their parent to activities they wanted to work with and were beginning to explore the materials independently. Their true little personalities were beginning to shine through. Parents could now sit back a little, observe and had the opportunity to connect with each other. They shared many stories and tips for navigating a day in the life of a young toddler.

Congratulations to our graduates! We look forward to having you as part of our Albrook Stepping Stones community In September. Keep up the good work!

The Beauty of Technology

As many of you know, our daughter Maddie in 2nd grade went into the hospital on Christmas day and underwent emergency open heart surgery for a localized issue in her left aorta. Maddie came home with a PICC line in her arm and a requirement for us to limit her exposure to any sickness going around school for 6 weeks. This had a huge impact to our family and to our daily routine as we could not send her to school for this time.

While continuing to drop off Emma for school in Upper Elementary, Ms. Ferguson approached us with information that the school was in possession of a robot that was designed to help with situations just like ours. Ms. Ferguson set up Keebot, a telepresence robot, so that Maddie could keep up with the learning in her classroom. Using Keebot's tablet video screen, Maddie was able to see all her friends and teachers and continue learning even when she couldn't be there. The end result was an experience that made Maddie feel like she was still part of her classroom. Using Keebot, Ms. Baird and Ms. Balaji accommodated Maddie with a classroom lesson each day (sometimes even twice a day!), gave individual one-on-one math and spelling lessons, and even provided her a reading buddy lesson with Eshaan from Upper Elementary. Just as important as the learning aspect of Keebot, was the social interaction that she received from her friends which she wouldn't have had otherwise.

While all of this information is already 4 months old, it is all still fresh in our minds. We would like to say thank you to everyone who helped out our family during this time setting us up with meals for 6 weeks, taking care of our dog Hazel, coming over and washing our dishes, and especially all the love and support. We would also like to thank the school for the get well cards sent by the classrooms and also say thank you to Kerry Armus from KCI who enabled The Albrook School to purchase the Keebot. We love you all and couldn't imagine a better place to send our children to school.

Thank you,
The Schock Family

International Day

by Mrs. Marvi

The celebration known as International Day has long been a proud tradition at The Albrook School. On February 15, our school community joined together in this festival of food and song. This is indeed a high point in our calendar. So what's the idea behind it?

It is no secret that it is a crucial tenet of Montessori philosophy that students explore the world at large. Even our youngest students sing the 'Continent Song 'and very concretely develop impressions of our planet studying points far and near. Our students learn to appreciate diversity and to study cultural differences and similarities with curiosity. They discover that the fundamental needs of all people across the globe are identical, while language, clothing and customs- for example, vary. This process of bringing each child to an understanding that this planet is shared is part of what Maria Montessori called Education for Peace.

Peace, in Montessori's view, was the ultimate goal of education. We, as Montessorians embrace this ideal. Our hope for the future is indeed that each child; as they develop their potential as individuals may realize their place in the brilliant tapestry that is our planet. International Day serves as a vehicle for these lofty ideals.

We prepare for International Day in a variety of ways. Our musical component is studied and practiced weekly during music classes and Group Sing. The children sing songs in a variety of languages and learn about the countries the songs originate from. Maps, flags, food and customs are often the order of the day as we gear up for the big event. The Kindergarten children rehearse announcing the International Day Songs on stage and prepare to don national costumes and attire. Even our Stepping Stones students rehearse their part on stage. This is truly a program that encompasses the whole of the Albrook student population and one that speaks to the core of who we truly are. From toddlers to Upper Elementary students; all have their part to play. We are indeed proud of the focus and discipline – not to mention the enjoyment that was in evidence.

After the performance students and parents alike were treated to delicious examples of treats from around the world. No celebration would be complete without food after all.

We are most grateful to all who joined with us to make the International Day program such a great success. We are already looking forward to next year!

International Day with the Stepping Stones

After International Day is usually a perfect time when the Stepping Stones teachers can step back and reflect on how far our Stepping Stones children have come. The month of September is often filled with tears on and off as the children phase in and adjust to being away from their parents or to a new school environment. A number of our toddlers started the year not knowing any English. Each month that goes by we see increasing independence and self-confidence. The children practiced very hard for a number of weeks to prepare for their performance. In our classrooms we started by singing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes in English and then added the Spanish version. Other days we simply practiced walking in a line down to Albers Hall and worked on how to safely navigate the stairs and stage single file. Eventually, we put it all together and starting singing the song on the stage. Often we would invite someone to be our impromptu "audience". The children should be so proud that they were confident enough to get on the stage in front of a very large audience!

Food Bank Network

The Albrook School received a sincere note of thanks from the Food Bank Network. They appreciated the 200 backpack food bags for distribution to students who participate in the program. A well done effort by our students and their families. You've made a difference!

Global Stewardship in Stepping Stones

Global stewardship is a combination of words we do not hear too often used with our youngest students in Stepping Stones. However this year, the Stepping Stones teachers have become more conscious and proactive in implementing concepts relating to the care of our environment.

To give us focus and direction we have used The Earth Book by Todd Parr. Here the author offers concrete, simple examples of how we can look after the earth. Recycling, taking out the trash, turning off faucets, turning off lights and watering plants are the main tasks we enroll the children in helping with on a daily basis.

By regularly carrying out these tasks, and simply explaining why we do them, our hope is that these simple ways of helping the environment will become second nature to the children and they will have a good foundation of understanding to build upon for further advanced lessons.

Reflections on the NJMAC Conference

By Ms. Baird

The 2019 NJMAC Conference was a wonderful chance for us as Montessori educators to touch base with colleagues from around the area. It is amazing how a brief encounter can be so uplifting, rejuvenating, and affirming when we are all in the moment and soaking up the energy generated by so many inspired individuals and ideas.

I was particularly energized to attend the morning workshop presented by Kate Garzon of Princeton Montessori School entitled "Peace Education Beyond Primary: Global Citizenship Education for the Elementary Years." Kate has received her M.Ed. in Global Education as well as her AMS credentials for Early Childhood and Elementary I and II. Having lived and worked in both Canada and the U.S., Kate is particularly qualified to view Montessori Peace Education as supportive of teaching children to be citizens of the world. Kate shared many comparisons of the Montessori Elementary curriculum side by side with a Global Citizenship curriculum, showing remarkable parallels and strikingly similar goals and outcomes. Kate championed Montessori education as well as programs such as those developed by Oxfam for preparing children to make a difference in an ever-changing world.

As defined on the Oxfam website, "A global citizen is someone who is aware of and understands the wider world - and their place in it. They take an active role in their community, and work with others to make our planet more equal, fair and sustainable." (https://www.oxfam.org.uk/education/who-we-are/what-is-global-citizenship) Kate provided examples of how our curriculum already supports global citizenship, and how we can emphasize its development even more with awareness and a few extra tools and resources. Overall, Kate highlighted an aspect of the Montessori classroom that has always been present and infused it with a new relevance and framework that is extremely applicable and important in today's world.

As a teacher at Albrook, I found this workshop to be particularly powerful with respect to our school goal of Global Stewardship. I would like to thank Kate for providing us with a challenging and thoughtful viewpoint from which to assess our own progress and development across many levels.

NJMAC – Keynote Speaker

by Ms. Yamawaki

When a child draws a picture and shows it to you, what would you say? Good Job, beautiful, or I love it? You must be proud of your work? Would you give the child a sticker, a lollipop, a dollar, or 20? The presentation by the keynote speaker, Mr. Alfie Kohn, has got many teachers thinking about the topic of rewarding. In his speech, "Punished by Rewards: Second Thoughts about A's, Praise, Stickers, and Contests," Mr. Kohn argued that praise could be just as counterproductive as punishment. According to Mr. Kohn, both praise and punishment are forms of manipulation, which are limited to producing temporary compliance. If they are not effective, why are they so common? Because they are easy! In order to cultivate an intrinsic interest in learning and good citizenship, we need to take a look at each individual situation with fresh eyes and respond accordingly. It was a great opportunity to examine our default practices and start an on-going conversation on this topic.

NJMAC—Stepping Stones

It is always fun to attend NJMAC and be a student for the day. I also enjoy socializing with colleagues from other schools and sharing ideas. My favorite workshop was "Montessori Learning For a Curious Toddler Should Be…." I really admire the two teachers who gave this workshop and I always make sure to attend any workshop they direct. As always, I came home with some very practical ideas that I can implement in my classroom after a quick visit to the store.

My morning workshop was "Culturally Sensitive Practice: Reflections on Designing Infant/Toddler Environments from NY to Beijing." The leader of this workshop came to the US as a young child from Venezuela and did not know any English. Her teacher would tell her mother that she had behavioral problems and "didn't listen to the directions." It had never occurred to the teacher that this young child simply could not understand the directions. After 25 years in early childhood education, the leader of this workshop is now an Infant/Toddler Coordinator for a teacher education program in both NYC and Beijing. After viewing a variety of photos via a PowerPoint presentation, it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between Montessori classrooms here and in China. She ended by providing a link on Google Drive so that we could not only have the presentation, but could also all share ideas in the future!

Spring Event

by Mrs. Vineis

Happy Spring everyone! The month of April brings us a few exciting things to look forward to; Spring Break, the elementary play, and our annual fundraiser - The Albrook School Spring Event.

To emphasize this year's theme, Global Stewardship, The Albrook Parents Association is delighted to announce the installation of our beautiful World Map in the Albers Hall.

Since we all share the planets' magnificent resources, it's important for each of us to do our part. Even the youngest children focus on the water, land, and air that we all share. They develop an excitement for conserving these precious resources in small ways. The children even begin to recognize that we share our planet with abundant plant and animal life.

In keeping with our school motto, "We learn to love the world," our students develop an appreciation for the diverse origins and cultures of our Albrook family. They also develop an awareness that the fundamental needs of all peoples across the globe are the same.

Ms. Albers will officially open the map with the kindergarten children and highlight Germany as the country of her birth. Over the next couple of weeks, parents will be invited to mark their country of birth and sign the registry book (located next to the Peace Candle), and a sticker will be placed on the map to signify the vast diversity and cultures we represent as a community.

Please join us on April 26th to celebrate the diverse origins and interconnectedness of all people across the globe and the resources that are shared by all.

Family Art and Science Night

by Maia and Hudson, Lower Elementary Students

Family Art and Science night was a big hit! All of the classrooms displayed their art in Albers Hall for others to admire. The Homer classroom did a recreation of "Breezing Up." The Renoir classroom did a small diorama of Frida Kahlo. The Kandinsky and Yeats classrooms both took part in a project based on the basic elements of art where they combined lines and colors on the children's names. It was very fun to do the projects and the results were even better. The Miro classroom painted fantastical characters using the shapes of Miro. The Picasso classroom made pictures of flowers using fingerprints as petals of the flowers. The art was very colorful and it was fun to see it come to life.

The science experiments laid out among all the classrooms were very fun. The Lower Elementary classrooms had many science experiments. Among them were dissecting flowers, the volcano, parts of a fish, works about the solar system, magnetism, chemistry experiments, and much, much more. In Upper Elementary there were bridges, food chains, and more. As participants, we thought the chemistry and magnetism were outstanding. This was the first time Albrook combined science and art night. I think they balanced it very well.

Abstract Art

Fun Science

March Open House

by Mrs. Ponzio

March came in like a lion! However, The Albrook School was grateful to receive a window of time between snowstorms to introduce prospective parents to the Montessori philosophy, our administrative team, our facility, and two Albrook parent ambassadors, Ms. Kim and Mrs. Marshall.

It is always inspiring to observe young parents with a palpable excitement for their child's school experience and their future ahead. They come prepared with questions and are engaged and curious. The Albrook team, serving as guides to the parents, has plenty of Montessori classroom experience to share. Parents are thrilled to know that the teachers at Albrook are such seasoned professionals. It speaks volumes about their commitment to Montessori education and the Albrook community.

The Sunday Open House is a family event. It is an opportunity for working parents to explore all that Albrook has to offer with their children. At the March event, Star Lab, a portable planetarium was on hand for the children to explore. Guided by Mrs. Tarangul, our guests identified constellations and the phases of the moon. It was a fun-filled and educational time for all.

Most of our prospective parents arrive at our doorstep because they have been referred to Albrook by current or past parents whose children have developed a love of learning. These connections have created a bond within our community and a pride in our history. We are delighted that each year, the spring season brings us new promise and new students with a readiness to learn and grow. Let's all hope that March goes out like a lamb!

DJ Night

by Julia and Aryan, Lower Elementary Students

On Friday, January 11 at 7:00PM, the elementary students gathered in Albers Hall at Albrook School for DJ night. During DJ night, a DJ came and played music. Also, we hula hooped while the DJ played songs we requested. The teachers offered snacks like chips, pretzels, and water. In the middle of DJ night, we had hot chocolate. Everyone loved it. It was exciting to see old friends visit for DJ night. At the end, everyone went home feeling great.

Star Lab

by Mrs. Tarangul

star lab

The Star Lab was at the Albrook School the week of March 4-8. Every class had the opportunity to go into the Star lab and experience the night sky. The younger classes received a lesson on the different colors of stars and where to find certain stars in the night sky. The Star Lab was very dark at the beginning but everyone was brave and when their eyes adjusted to the darkness, were so surprised by the sheer number of stars. We found Polaris, the glittering North Star, Beetlejuice the red star on Orion's shoulder, and Rigel the blue star. We found the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper and watched them circle the North Star.

The elementary children studied the different phases of the moon and some star constellations. We looked at star constellations from Africa, Greece, and Egypt and found similarities. We discovered that the Big Dipper is also known as the Great Bear, the Plow, and the Wolf in different countries.

I encourage all parents to take their children out on a nice bright night to look up at the stars and see what they can find.

World Thinking Day

by Mrs. Higgins

On Saturday, February 23, Albers Hall became a world showcase as The Albrook School hosted World Thinking Day for the Girl Scouts of Basking Ridge. World Thinking Day is an annual event calling Girl Scouts to join together and take part in activities that promote changing the world for the better. This is the first year the Girl Scouts of Basking Ridge had the event. 125 Girl Scouts representing 15 troops participated, from kindergarten level Daisies to middle school aged cadets. Over 250 people were in attendance.

Each troop selected to represent a different country. They each created displays featuring cultural information and provided local food and drink. Participants enjoyed waffles from Belgium, pizza from Italy, and chips, guacamole, and salsa from Mexico. Then the Scouts took to the stage, putting on performances, featuring skits, singing and dancing all in celebration of the culture of their counties.

Ms. MacNeill graciously came into school that day to supervise the event, and all of the current Girl Scout troops representing Albrook participated. Ms. Albers was also in attendance. It's so appropriate that The Albrook School stepped up to host this event, especially as the school's focus this year is Global Stewardship.

As a current Girl Scout leader, co-organizer of the event, and Albrook parent, I am so grateful to The Albrook School for their generosity in hosting this inspiring and positive event for our children!

The Albrook School Spirit Day

by Ms. McNeill

Spread Love and Kindness was the theme of January's Spirit Day and the goal was "See the Difference One Person can Make". Our focus was to assist the Somerset Foodbank in their Backpack program.

In the week prior to Spirt Day, the children's discussions at circle time centered on acts of kindness. The children were asked to spread kindness towards each other and at home. These little acts of kindness were documented on doves and paper globes and hung on a tree in the reception area of our school. At home, the children did chores to earn money to buy food items for the Backpack program. These activities engaged the children and helped them to understand what is like to walk in another person's shoes.

On Monday, January 14, our school community gathered in Albers Hall. Ms. MacNeill opened the celebration with a warm welcome and shared that this was not only a community appreciation and sharing day, but it is also Martin Luther King's birthday. Ms. MacNeill discussed with the children the difference one person can make. Martin Luther King stated, "Life's most urgent question is, What are you doing for others?" Our kindness tree is an example of that belief. We feel privileged to have honored his legacy with a day of service.

Ms. Vazaios then discussed the merits of the Backpack program. She assured the children that their donations will make a significant difference in the lives of many children. The schools the children attend provide food during the week, but it was discovered that many children were still hungry during the weekend. The Backpack program places a kit of food in each child's backpack on Friday, so they have enough meals for an entire weekend. The Somerset Food Bank serves over 700 children each week. After the discussion, the children were invited to bring up their food items. They observed how all the food collectively amounted to so much more when they worked together.

The celebration concluded with songs about peace and unity led by Mrs. Marvi. The children went back to their classrooms with pride in their accomplishment and a good feeling in their heart.

Last year, the elementary students raised an additional $500.00 for the Backpack program by selling their elementary play posters. Additional food items were purchased and added to the Backpack program. The elementary students sorted, counted and packaged the items to assist the Somerset Foodbank with the project under the guidance of Jackie Taylor. We are happy to report that through our collections we were able to make 200 food kits!

We want to thank all the parents who assisted in the effort. The children from Stepping Stones through Elementary were involved in this project. Children at every age need to be taught about the importance and responsibility we all have in making the world we live in a better place.

Pre-K2 Art Night

by Mrs. Dignam and Mrs. Murphy

Pre K2 students and their parents enjoyed a delicious pasta dinner to kick off our Pre K2 Art Night. After the meal, Senora Zarate led the Pre-K2 students in an art project inspired by the works of Henri Matisse. While the students were making collages, their parents attended a presentation on our Kindergarten program.

Kindergarten teachers Mrs. Fritsch, Mrs. Laidlaw, Mrs. Murphy, and Mrs. Dignam discussed the curriculum and benefits of a Montessori Kindergarten program:

  • The kindergarten year is the culmination of the children's social, emotional and cognitive learning experiences over the previous three years.
  • The students become natural leaders in the classroom: mentoring, inspiring and passing along what they have learned to their younger peers.
  • By showing what they know, the children are processing the information at a deeper level.

On display, were examples of the Kindergartener's work as well as the materials used in the classroom. Through multi-disciplinary, collaborative activities, learning is a process of discovery. Our units on nutrition, Colonial America, Endangered Animals, and the Rainforest strengthen and develop math, language, and handwriting skills as well as encourage analytical thinking. The Kindergarten experience concludes with a play performed by all of the Kindergarten students at the end of the year. Ms. Albers started this Albrook tradition and we are always amazed to see the confidence with which they perform.

Following the presentation, parents had an opportunity to ask questions about the program. At the end of the evening, students were reunited with their parents to happily share their art projects.

Soccer, Dance, and Baking, Oh My!

by Lisa Perez

One of the ongoing traditions at Albrook is involving the students in after school activities. Our fall and winter clubs are always something to look forward to. We know because they fill up quickly! Clubs like Tae Kwon Do, So You Sewing, Music, and Chess offer something for children of various ages. All after school clubs run for 8 weeks except for Dance Club which runs for 12 with a "final show" showcasing what the children have learned complete with costumes and music. The students enjoy this extra time at Albrook learning something new; even challenging themselves at times giving them the proud feeling of accomplishment.

clubs

Global Stewardship: Three Simple Things You Can Do Now

Stop using plastic straws. In 2017, Americans bought an estimated 390 million plastic straws a day (NY Times). Plastic straws and plastic bags are particularly harmful to marine life because they are often mistaken for food and end up choking and killing an estimated one million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals a year.

Plastic straws cannot be recycled due to their small size, which clogs up the recycling machinery. So consider alternatives such as metal or glass straws made of extra strong lab glass, which often come with their own carrying cases and cleaning brushes or just go without.

Get a reusable water bottle and fill it with tap water. Only 1 in 5 plastic water bottles end up in the recycling bin and with Americans consuming an estimated 8.6 billion gallons of bottled water, there is a lot of waste going on! To produce all those plastic bottles, it takes 17 million barrels of oil! And it turns out that about 1/3 of bottled water brands violated water standards so their water is actually less clean than your kitchen tap!

Remember your own shopping bags. Like straws, those plastic grocery store bags are killing marine life and clogging up the North Pacific. If you must use plastic bags, please make sure that they end up being recycled in the special containers for this type of plastic. These bags cannot be recycled in most curbside recycling programs.

Parent Toddler Class

by Ms. McCusker & Ms. Behar

Hurray! Albrook's 2nd Parent and Toddler class got off to a flying start at 3:00 pm on Tuesday January 29. After a little hesitation and assurance that moms were not going to leave, seven little energetic toddlers settled down to the business of work.

It was amazing to observe children ranging from as young as 16 to 24 months eagerly explore the age-appropriate prepared activities with guidance from their accompanying parent. After a 45 minute work period, we all gathered in a circle for some songs. The session was then completed by the children sitting having a healthy snack.

One of the wonderful aspects of this 8-week program is that we all get to grow 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' where one activity is taken out, worked with then returned to the shelf before another activity is taken out.

We look forward to our next session to see what our youngest students can teach us.

Towards Becoming Better Global Stewards in the Upper Elementary

by Ms. Vazaios and Mrs. Lipman

"We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity."

- Maria Montessori

Dr. Montessori's vision of recognizing that the individual is part of a greater whole provides a wonderful framework to approach learning opportunities in our classroom. As teachers, we were excited to find out that this year's goal centered on global stewardship. We easily envisioned new lessons and experiences that would both help our students to evolve personally as well as create a more caring classroom. We chose two goals: becoming a better global steward towards the Earth and becoming a more aware, active global citizen.

Our first unit of study this year centered on becoming a better steward toward the earth. Using the Tunza Environmental series of books published by The United Nations Environment Program, students explored how children around the world face environmental challenges. For example, in the book Tessa and the Fishy Mystery, students explored the theme of ocean conservation and overfishing. This book is serving as inspiration for our Spring Event project. Through drawing, painting, and writing, students delved into this topic with enthusiasm and artistry. Each student wrote a heartfelt persuasive essay about a different environmental problem and researched an endangered animal to portray on a beautiful wooden sea chest.

We have defined global stewardship as not only an environmental cause, but also as an opportunity to demonstrate greater awareness of our humanitarian connection globally. With this in mind, many of this year's peace lessons are geared towards the theme of global citizenship with a focus on discrimination and racism. We would like to extend our gratitude to Ms. Jones who is a current Albrook parent. She has partnered with us on multiple occasions to help us design a curriculum that delves into racism in our Montessori classroom. Initial lessons focused on defining key terms associated with prejudice via a fun, technological Quizlet activity. Other lessons included debunking stereotypes through interactive hands-on materials where children had to match children to their bedrooms, a multimedia presentation on children's experiences with racism using our Promethean Board, and a drama experience where students were asked to evaluate subtle and overt racist comments. Each of these experiences prompted deep and thoughtful conversation among our class community. We were touched by the students' openness and willingness to engage with difficult topics and raise interesting questions. Future lessons will include overcoming stereotypes, different forms of discrimination, and exploring the dynamics of privilege and power. Our hope this year is to increase knowledge, personal awareness, tolerance and empathy towards others.

An Albrook Lifer

by Genevieve Strycharz

As an Albrook Lifer, starting in Stepping Stones and "graduating" in 6th grade, I have so many fond memories of my time at Albrook. Countless memories come to mind, but I fondly remember grand times on the playground, class with Ms. Vazaios, musical fun with Ms. Crawford, and our drama productions. Some of my dearest friends started at Albrook- in fact, one of my Maids of Honor, I met in Stepping Stones! Friendships at Albrook last a lifetime.

After Albrook I attended Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset. It was truly the perfect transition for me, and much of the same mantra is shared across both schools. I graduated from Rutgers University, lived in NYC for a few years, and am currently working at Rutgers Prep as the Director of Alumni Relations.

Montessori education has taught me to be observant. In everything I do I try to be observant and aware of what is going on around me. There are so many essential aspects of life that we can miss if we are not attentive. I genuinely feel reading a room, observing a situation and knowing intricacies can advance, assist and aid you a great deal in wherever your journey takes you.

Albrook has an incredibly active community, and that is hard to find. If the value of community was not instilled in me during my time at Albrook, I don't think I would be where I am today. Valuing your peers, faculty, friends, and everyone in between is truly invaluable.

The small class sizes also helped me tremendously. I learned how to work with my teachers and peers on both collaborative projects and individual scenarios, too. Albrook taught me how to interact with everyone around me, and I truly feel that the social skills, in addition to the academic learning, of course, shaped me to who I am today. When you are treated like an adult, even at a young age, you live up to the task.

8 Ways to Support Your Child's Creativity

Adapted from an article by Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

Kids are natural innovators with powerful imaginations. And creativity offers a bounty of intellectual, emotional and even health benefits. One study found that kids' imaginations helped them cope better with pain. Creativity also helps kids be more confident, develop social skills, and learn better.

Designate a space for creating. This doesn't need to be fancy or large but it should be a space where your child has control over what goes on in the space.

Keep it simple. Art supplies, Legos, simple toys are the best. No need to purchase the latest gadgets.

Allow for "free time." Make sure there is a period of time in each week for your child to have unstructured play time. Let your child control how he/she uses this time.

Help your kids activate their senses. Expose your kids to the world so they can use all of their senses. Take them to the library, museum and outdoors. Ask them to imagine what traveling to faraway places, such as the African safari. What animals would they encounter? What would the safari look like? What would it smell like? What noises would the animals make?

Discuss creativity. Ask your kids when they come up with their best ideas or have their most creative moments. If it's in the car while getting to soccer practice, honor that by keeping a notebook, iPad or even a tape recorder handy.

Cultivate creative critical thinking. As your kids get older, ask them how they approach certain problems and how they might do things differently.

Avoid managing. Children have an amazing innate ability to be creative when they play freely on their own, and unfortunately, the act of over parenting dampens or even wipes out that innate ability.

Help kids pursue their passions. Pay attention to your child's interests and make these materials and activities available to them.

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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..