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

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Monday, July 15
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Monday, July 29
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Friday, August 9
End of Summer Camp

Albrook News

Stepping Stones Children take Significant
Steps as the School Year comes to a Close

The month of May is always a bittersweet month for the Stepping Stones teachers. On the one hand, it is bitter-sweet as many of our three-year-old students will be moving to a bigger pond outside our little Stepping Stones arena. However, it is also sweet as we have the honor and pure joy of witnessing the children blossom individually and as a community.

As a result of this growth in maturity and confidence, we can plan fun, exciting events outside our classroom. Take a look at a few pictures that capture some of these adventures.

Preschool takes a Walk in the Park

This year, our spring class trip included all of the preschool classes together. Each class crossed Somerville Road, while a Bernards Township Police officer stopped traffic, and walked to Harry Dunham Park. The first order of events was a large gathering on the playground. Children enthusiastically played with their classmates and friends from other classes. The teachers and chaperones witnessed much camaraderie and excitement.

After the playground, the children went inside for a presentation by The Lizard Guys. There were many scaly and fascinating reptiles in the room. The children saw a snake, turtles (one was over 30 lbs), a leopard gecko and the crowd favorite: a python named "Tinkerbell." The children asked questions and had the opportunity to touch many of the reptiles.

Later, the classes all gathered under the pavilion for a giant picnic. The pace of the walk back to Albrook felt slower; the children had experienced a full day of outdoor fun and adventure. Our police officer, Mr. Martain, was so kind to direct traffic as Ms. MacNeill welcomed everyone back to school.

A big thank you to Officer Martain for all his assistance.

Albrook has the Spirit on Spirit Day

By Ms. MacNeill

On Tuesday, the sun was shining and there was a lovely cool breeze. It was a perfect setting for our Spirit Day celebration. The Albrook students gathered around the peace pole as Mrs. Marvi led us in songs of peace and we shared the ways we have touched the lives of others with our Global Stewardship initiative. The children are very proud of how they have made a difference by caring for and respecting the earth and reaching out to help others around the world.

We talked about all the contributions each class has made. Some spoke of planting, others composting and collecting garbage and all participated in service projects. There was one common theme among all their efforts: they've worked hard as a community to make a difference.

Our APA officers and volunteers were also recognized for all they give all year long. It was our final day of pizza and the parent volunteers also invited the children to enjoy ice pops, compliments of our APA. What a positive impact the celebration had on all who attended.

Heifer International

By Mrs. Fritsch

The kindergarten classes read the book, Beatrice's Goat, it is about a young girl who wants to go to school. Her family doesn't have enough money for that wish to happen until they are given a goat by the Heifer organization. The young girl's job is to take care of the goat. She sells the milk to earn extra money, and this small income allows the girl to attend the school.

The kindergarten classes have been busy doing jobs with their families to earn money for the Heifer organization since January. The children have been cleaning rooms, folding laundry, shoveling snow, sweeping floors, and many other chores to help at home. They also learned about the different coins they earned. We recently counted up all of their earnings, and we had $230.25. The children were very excited. They voted on what animals they could buy with it. They decided on a llama, a flock of chicks and a family of rabbits to donate to families in need. The children learned that they could work together to do something positive for our school's Global Stewardship goal.

A Father and his Daughters Provide a Lesson in the Cello

On Friday, May 31, The Albrook Elementary students had the distinct pleasure of observing a performance and lesson by Mr. Jenkins and his daughters Sophia and Chelsea. Mr. Jenkins provided the elementary audience with background information about the parts, the history, and the importance of the cello to the orchestra. Afterwards, Chelsea played cello scales, Sophia and her dad played a duet, and Sophia played a solo. The students were very impressed with the performance; in fact, you could hear a pin drop they were so riveted. The enthusiasm continued with a follow up question and answer session. A special thank you is extended to Mr. Jenkins and his girls for sharing their talent with us.

A few words from Sophia: "Before I started to play the cello, I listened to songs that had the cello in them. I decided to try to play. As soon as I picked the cello up, I realized that I was passionate about it, and when I played it, I felt like I was speaking through the cello instead of words. I love the cello and am always happy to practice or play."
A few words from Chelsea: "Playing the cello takes a lot of time. I practice almost every day, even on the weekends. I really like to play songs and scales."

Dear Friends, Teachers, and Families

Thanks so much for supporting us by buying our Rainbow Loom items. We raised $687.48. We will donate the money to St. Peter's Hospital Children and Cancer Unit along with two Rainbow Loom kits. This has been a fun and exciting experience for us. We worked hard and taught each other various Rainbow Loom techniques. We want to thank you for supporting this cause.

Signed,
Emil, Hudson, Maia , Agustin, Julia, Che'

Adventures at Frost Valley 2019

By Isabelle, an elementary student

Every year the elementary students go on a field trip to Frost Valley YMCA camp in the Catskill Mountains of New York. We boarded the bus on Wednesday morning, May 22, and we stayed at Frost Valley until Friday, May 24.

When we got off the bus, we brought our stuff to our cabins and ate lunch. Then we went outside to meet our guide. Each classroom got its own guide.

The lower elementary did water ecology, outdoor living skills, new games, gardening, a hike, and cooking. Some of the activities the upper elementary children did were climbing, canoeing, and hiking. Everyone enjoyed a campfire with s'mores and an activity called Action Auction.

After we met our guide, we went to new games in the fields. Then the Yeats kids went on a hike. In the middle of our hike, we did rock painting. Rock painting is when you wet two rocks and rub them together (one of them has to be colored), and that makes rock paint.

On the 2nd day, the highlights for most kids were water ecology because we enjoyed catching water bugs and salamanders. We also went to cooking that day, and we made chips and salsa. So good! That night we went to Action Auction. The guides gave us so many funny challenges.

On the last day, we went to outdoor living skills. Outdoor Living Skills is when we make shelters out of sticks, leaves, rocks, and things we find on the ground. Both teams did very well. At the end of that, we saw two owls and a red-tailed hawk. They were so cool.

The children always look forward to going to Frost Valley. Every year the kids make so many fun memories.

Elementary Highlights from Frost Valley 2019

Julia- I liked water ecology because it was a good experience to catch pond creatures and hold them.
Isabelle- I liked Action Auction when we did the "awkward family photo." It was fun and funny. Cian- I enjoyed building the shelter in outdoor living skills. It was fun.
Aryan- I learned about the "3-rules of survival" during outdoor living skills.
Sebastian- I liked outdoor living skills because I worked together with my friends to build a shelter.
Sam- I enjoyed catching pond creatures and learning about them in water ecology.
Saanvi- I liked the campfire because I don't get to roast marshmallows every day.
Anishka- I liked water ecology because I got to discover a variety of extraordinary animals.
Tommaso- My highlight from Frost Valley was catching salamanders and a leech with my bare hands.
Theodore- Catching salamanders was fun.
Nathan- I liked outdoor living skills because carrying sticks was fun, and when the shelter was finished, it looked cool.
Che'- I liked catching salamanders with my bare hands.
Emil- I enjoyed catching the minnow, the salamanders, and the dragonfly nymphs with my hands.
Madeline- I liked seeing the forest salamanders in outdoor living skills. I was surprised that they lived in the woods and not just the pond.
Ines- I loved making houses out of wood and sticks in outdoor living skills.
Shelby- I loved acting out the short prompts in Action Auction, such as doing the "awkward family photo."
Hudson- I loved watching a friend chase a wild turkey.
Maia- My favorite thing was catching salamanders in water ecology.
Maddie- I liked watching when my friend caught a frog, and it jumped out of the net in water ecology.
Claire- I liked canoeing and learning about how to paddle and steer it.
Alina- I liked orienteering because we hiked in groups and explored parts of Frost Valley we've never seen before.
Darya- I really enjoyed their food, it's always the best. The best part of Frost Valley was the activities and the guides.
Eshaan- My Frost Valley highlight was sleeping in a bunk bed, playing GaGa with older kids, and the good quality food.
Clara- Frost Valley is really fun; it's hard to choose just one highlight. This was my sixth and last year going, and I'm really going to miss it.
Hailey- I liked canoeing on the lake, being in the boat with Claire, and seeing the island and the geese.
Lucille- I liked canoeing because we did races and I learned how to control the boat. Victor-The food was very good, and I really liked rock climbing.
Alice- My favorite part was rock climbing because I made it up to the top.
Caitlin- Canoeing was super fun because we almost crashed into a goose. I liked the rock wall because it was the first time I made it all the way to the top.
Zander- I loved orienteering because we used a compass to find things, and we hiked a long distance.
Emma S.- I liked canoeing. I liked controlling the boat and Alice, and I went really fast. It was fun learning how to turn the boat really fast.
Aria- I liked orienteering because my group went into the woods and learned how to use compasses.
Emma Y- The best part of Frost Valley was good food.

Team Albrook Good Grief Walk

By Alyce Antoniello

On Sunday, June 2, several Albrook teachers completed a 2-mile walk at Giralda Farms in Morristown for Good Grief's Run and Walked for Hope. 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.

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.

To learn more about the work Good Grief does and about possible volunteer opportunities, please visit www.good-grief.org.

Preschool Students Display their Anatomy Lesson

The Preschool classes paraded around The Albrook School hallways adorned in their Anatomy lesson. They created a human body costume of organs and systems. They made a stop at various locations around the building to speak about the function and importance of each organ.

Homer Class Tries Yoga

Mrs. Modale graciously offered to do a cultural presentation for the Homer class. She captivated the interest of the students with mindful Yoga experience. Each child had their own matt, and the teachers were amazed by the focus and attention span of the children.

Swimming at Albrook

Albrook Kindergarten students had a wonderful time at their pool party. The warm and sunny day gave students a chance to get cool in the pool!

Teacher's Appreciation Luncheon

The APA put out quite the display of fabulous homemade dishes for The Albrook staff to enjoy. It was a beautiful expression of love and so appreciated by everyone in attendance. Also, Mrs. Grzyb, an elementary parent of one of our graduating students, Josh, put together a beautiful video presentation starring the Albrook students. At the end of the luncheon, a video presentation was extended to Mrs. Laidlaw, who is retiring after 26 years of service to The Albrook School.

Albrook Annual Spring Event

By Mrs. Vineis

The Albrook School's April 26th Global Stewardship Spring Event was a wonderful evening when parents, faculty, alumni, and friends of the Albrook family gathered to celebrate together.

We decided to do things a bit differently this year and hold the event in Albers Hall. Ms. Albers gave her grand approval of the transformation from open gym to fun party atmosphere.

Upon arrival, guests were greeted and offered passed hors d'oeuvres and a signature cocktail or sparkling wine along with live music. The silent auction, priceless gifts, raffle baskets, and (back by popular demand) wine wall opened for business.

A warm welcome from our APA President, Anne-Marie Kim, and Ms. MacNeill officially opened the night to a delicious Tapas Style dining experience with the band continuing to play.

Global Stewardship being our focus this year, we invited everyone to sign our registry by the truly beautiful wall map located at the back of Albers Hall.

Our evening continued with an exciting live auction led by the ever-talented Mrs. Tarangul, where parents enjoyed the priceless beautiful masterpieces created by the students. The live portion concluded with Keep Us Connected, when guests were encouraged to keep up their paddles to help the school "keep us connected" to the ever changing global communities we love so much.

Finally, we got on the dance floor to enjoy music by Not Enough Jeffs, a fabulous live band. The night out seemed to be especially welcoming at our familiar, beloved school.

Many people worked so hard to pull together such a wonderful Spring Event. It really was an incredible effort of everyone coming together. We'd like to extend a big thank you to everyone who contributed to the event's success, including our generous sponsors, donors, guests, our planning and set-up committees, and the administration, teachers, and staff, all of whom worked tirelessly to put on the

What the Albrook Logo Embodies

By Anita Albers, Albrook Founder

The Albrook logo has a picture of the globe, our world, floating in an oversized heart resting on an open book. "We learn to love the world." It certainly is a good representation for the spirit that reigns at Albrook. Celebrating many cultures comes naturally to our school community, since we have teachers from different continents and a diverse student body from around the globe. The emblem of our school is not just a phrase, but a meaningful attempt to instill in the children a sense of belonging to the big family of "mankind".

To love the world also means to take care of the earth as it sustains us. The teachers' guide the children to become stewards of the environment, gain a harmonious, respectful relationship with nature so they also feel part of this gigantic globe that some people call "Mother Earth". Our beautiful logo is embedded on a flag that flies proudly above our school property. As Maria Montessori so aptly stated, "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."

A Farewell to My Albrook Family

From Judy Laidlaw

Teacher image

It is with bittersweet emotion that I make this 2018-19 school year my last at Albrook. While I know in my heart that it is the right time to move on to the next of life's chapters, at the same time it is so very difficult to move away from what has become both home and family in my life.

Twenty-six years ago, when I signed my first Albrook teaching contract, I could never have imagined the gift I was gaining. Being part of this incredibly supportive and loving community of staff, students, and parents is not just a job. It is truly a gift in one's life. Through personal times of both extreme happiness and extreme loss, my Albrook family has been there for me.

Determining when to retire from full-time preschool teaching was based not only on reaching the milestone age of 70, but also on recognizing how much I long to be able to spend more time with my family. While I will continue to teach and mentor future Montessori teachers-in-training, I will, at the same time, also have the gift of weekly scheduled time spent with grandchildren. There will also be the gift of uninterrupted weeks with family in Maine, the state of my birth and where I shall ultimately move to in a few years for full retirement.

Yet, while I look forward to this next of life's chapters, it is undeniably difficult to leave Albrook. Quite simply, this school is in my heart, and that will never change. If Montessori philosophy has a fault, it is that at no point within a classroom of three-year cycles is there an optimum time to leave! My goal is to maintain contact with as many as possible of the families and staff, both past and present, who mean so much. To all connected with Albrook in any way, I say, not a farewell but rather Thank You for all these 26 years have given me.

Embracing Global Stewardship

By The Topor family

Global stewardship: The Albrook School's official theme for the 2018-2019 academic year, and a theme all Albrook families are encouraged to embrace. Here is how 2nd grader Sebastian Topor and his parents tried to live up to this challenge.

We started with health, because without healthy minds and healthy bodies little can be achieved. That is why in October 2018, Sebastian and his mom, a public health professional, presented to the class the importance of child immunization. They talked about the way vaccines work, the importance of herd immunity, the flu vaccine and differences between the flu and the common cold. It turns out Albrook kids were already well informed about these topics, asked some great questions and most importantly had their flu shots for the season!

Later that fall, inspired by research for a class project on well known primatologist Jane Goodall, our family joined the Jane Goodall Institute; a global wildlife and environment conservation organization and signed a petition to protect the Endangered Species Act. Sebastian became a member of Roots and Shoots, an organization created by Jane Goodall for children to help care for the environment, animals, and communities. He also became a chimpanzee guardian and got the class to watch a live video conference with Jane Goodall herself via Skype.

We then decided to take our vacations in the spirit of global stewardship by visiting and learning as much as possible about national parks. These national treasures have been described as "America's best idea". After each vacation, Sebastian presented to the class the best moments and pictures from the trip.

Our first vacation of 2019 took us to Guadeloupe, a beautiful volcanic island in the Caribbean and home to a national park famous for its active volcano La Soufriere, rainforests and biodiversity. Some of the wildlife found there, such as the agouti, is an endangered species. While visiting the Guadeloupe Zoo, Sebastian had a very funny encounter with a red-faced spider monkey who strongly objected to his bright orange t-shirt!

For spring break in April we went to southern Utah and northern Arizona and visited three National parks: Zion, Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon. There we hiked through breathtaking landscapes, learned about energy conservation while touring the Glen Canyon Dam and Sebastian earned three junior National Park Ranger badges by performing various activities at each park. Furthermore, in an effort to preserve and protect wildlife in Grand Canyon National Park, Sebastian symbolically adopted a mountain lion. We loved every minute of our vacations.

Thank you, Albrook School, for inspiring us to live life the Montessori way!

Useful links for young explorers:

http://www.rootsandshoots.org/
https://www.nps.gov/kids/jrrangers.cfm
https://www.nationalgeographic.org/idea/citizen-science-projects

The Earth Day Experience in the Albrook Classrooms

The Picasso Room borrowed The Earth Book by Todd Parr from the Monet Room. We read the book at circle time so the children could be introduced to some ideas to help our planet. For example, one suggestion was to remember to turn the water off while brushing their teeth.

Earth Day began in the Monet Stepping Stones room with Kellan greeting everyone with "Happy Earth Day." This led us to invite the children to read one of their favorite books, The Earth Book. Before Ms.Wolff read the book, we sang Happy Birthday to the Earth. Throughout the morning, we emphasized the actions taken in the book. We then observed the children carrying out the suggestions, e.g. turning off faucets and going to the recycling.

The O'Keeffe class had a parent presentation on birdhouses during Earth week. We learned the value of the birdhouse as shelter due to the diminished amount of trees in our environment. The following day, our class took a trip to Ms. Albers' garden. There we observed all of her birdhouses; we silently watched and listened to the various birds in her garden.

The Upper Elementary class celebrated Earth Day by working in The Children's Garden. Students prepped the vegetable beds by weeding and had an opportunity to plant some cool weather crops, including potatoes, onions and garlic.

The Van Gogh class celebrated Earth week. After learning about Earth day and sharing ideas about ways to help the earth, we started to implement our ideas. Armed with gloves, we began cleaning up litter on the grounds at Albrook School. The children were so proud of their work that we began to help clean the community. We spent two days during our recess time collecting trash and recycling with our gloved hands to help the earth. The next day, we learned the life cycle of a plant and planted radishes, beans and our tomato plant into our Earth Box. We concluded our week on a rainy Friday, by planting herbs and flowers inside. We had a wonderful week helping the Earth.

The Degas Class up-cycled yogurt drinks containers to make Mother's Day gifts. The children washed and decorated empty containers and turned them into vases, complete with tissue paper flowers. What a perfect idea to take care of both our moms and Mother Nature at the same time.

On Earth Day the Homer room celebrated by reading the story The Earth Book by Todd Park. We then made a project of our hands holding the earth. The children discussed all the different ways people can take care of the earth.

At Albrook, we are blessed with a beautiful campus which truly comes alive in Spring. What better way to celebrate spring and Earth Day than to explore the many varieties of daffodils and other spring bulbs popping up at our very fingertips. In keeping with our schools focus on Global Stewardship all classes engaged in special activities such as these, to honor our environment near and far.

miro class

The Miro classroom marched outside for Boot Day and investigated signs of spring including Ms. Albers' and the Children's Garden. We tasted some perennial herbs before embarking on a spring cleanup of the patio. In addition, we planted lettuce and radish in our Earth Boxes. We sang songs for the season which included, The Earth is Waking Up!

In Pre K 1, we read the same book and did a fun art project involving shaving cream and food coloring, so that each child could make their own Earth to take home.

The Lower Elementary classes celebrated Earth Day by joining the Albrook community for group sing, which spotlighted many earth-related songs. Following group sing, the lower elementary children went for a walk around campus. We looked for signs of spring as well as observed the wildlife around us such as swallows in the field and a red-tailed hawk above us. We visited the three ecosystems in our area: field, woodland, and marsh and discussed them in detail. We really enjoyed the hyacinths in bloom, and, overall, it was a relaxing and rejuvenating walk celebrating the nature around us.

The Upper Elementary class celebrated Earth Day by working in The Children's Garden. Students prepped the vegetable beds by weeding and had an opportunity to plant some cool weather crops, including potatoes, onions and garlic.

Grandparents' Day 2019

By Ms. MacNeil

grandparents day

On the morning of Friday, May 10 and Monday, May 13, The Albrook School doors opened with a warm welcome to all our grandparents. They were invited to Albers Hall for a little meet and greet over coffee. During this time, the elementary students performed some snippets from the play, Musicville.

This was a perfect opportunity for all our young students to settle into their classrooms and prepare to welcome their much anticipated guests. After the performance, the Upper Elementary students guided the grandparents to their grandchild's classroom.

I had the privilege of going around to the classrooms and observing many hands and minds eager to share their work and learning environment with their grandparents. It was also a pleasure to observe how present the grandparents were during their visit.

To bring this beautiful event to a close all the preschool classes and our guests met in Albers Hall for a group sing. Guided by Mrs. Marvi, the students sang some folk songs from around the world. It was a pleasure to hear our guests join in on a few old favorites: This Little Light of Mine, We Shall Over Come, and This Land is Your Land. The enjoyment was clearly evident as many hands were clapping and toes tapping to the beat!

The students enjoyed having their grandparents visit, and we extend a BIG thank you to all of you for taking the time to joins us for this special event, especially our guests who traveled a distance. We look forward to seeing you all next year!

grandparents day 2019

Navigating Sportsmanship in Phys. Ed.

By Mrs. Dignam

As the year comes to a close, we want to let everyone know some of the skills beyond gross motor that we are working on in gym class. We talk about sportsmanship often to our students, but we felt it needed further clarification.

When playing a competitive game, we discuss how everyone, of course, wants to win. This is normal and understandable. However, we've also been discussing the many additional benefits of competitive games such as: teamwork, skill building and fun.

If our only objective is winning, then when we lose, the entire experience will have been negative. If, on the other hand, we can identify the benefits of sports and games, when we lose, we will always walk away knowing we gave our best effort and we experienced fun. This can happen even if the outcome was not what we wanted. Additionally, it is important to experience a team's loss; this is another reason for competitive games. The students are learning to navigate uncomfortable feelings and disappointment.

In the end we always try to remember that "it's just a game" and whether we win or lose, we do so with respect.

Rainbow Loom Brings Friends Together For a Good Cause

By Mrs. Domotorffy and Son

rainbow loom

The winter and spring months brought plenty of rain to NJ and the "Rainbow Loom Craze " to The Albrook School. The friends had many opportunities to enjoy indoor recess together and it was during this time the Kandinsky Classroom would turn into a Rainbow Loom factory. Packing the Rainbow Loom kit every morning became just as routine as packing the backpack and lunch box. The friends eagerly traded their newest designs and shared not only the most recent techniques they had discovered, but also all of their Rainbow Loom materials.

"We should have a Rainbow Loom Club!" "We could sell our jewelry and raise money for a good cause!" And so they did!

Encouraged by their teachers Ms. Baird and Ms. Balaji, and under the nurturing guidance of Ms. MacNeill and Senora Zarate, the friends developed a plan, and followed through from start to finish. The friends chose to donate proceeds from the Rainbow Loom sale to a children's oncology program. They became even more motivated when after doing research, they learned the high cost of medical care.

The friends met for five, one - hour sessions after school, to create beautiful Rainbow Loom earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and keychains, each one unique and carefully designed. While friendly chatter, singing, laughing and sharing a snack slowed down production at times, the friends reaffirmed their commitment each week to continue making looms at home.

They easily surpassed their original goal of raising $200 and continued to raise the bar to $600. This simple act of weaving together rubber bands not only fostered the children's creativity, but taught the valuable lessons of teamwork, patience, perseverance, commitment and friendship as the friends worked towards a common goal.

A great big THANK YOU to all the parents, teachers, staff, and friends who not only purchased a rainbow loom but empowered and encouraged Maia, Julia, Agustin, Che, Emil and Hudson to use their talents and skills to make a positive change in the lives of others. A total of $687 will be donated to the Children's Oncology Program at Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick to support the Child Life Program.

Elementary Students Perform Musicville

By: Mrs. Lipman

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. 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 Cheng

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, 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. 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.

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

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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..