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

Upcoming Events

Monday, October 8
Parent Day
Tuesday, October 23
Parent Workshop
"Positive Discipline
Techniques for Toddlers and
Preschool age Children"
Thursday, October 25
Fall Harvest
5:30 - 7:30 PM
Expanded Calendar in Session
Thursday, October 31
APA Halloween Coffee
8:30am (weather permitting)
Halloween Parade
9:15am Preschool & Elementary
Early Dismissal 11:30-11:45
In-service Day
Expanded Calendar in Session

Albrook News

Welcome Back to School

Dear Albrook Families,

As September comes to a close, we are happy to report that the hallways are once again filled with positive energy. The children are adjusting to their new schedules and classrooms, and the new students are acclimating to Albrook. As each day goes by, the trust builds, and the confidence immerges. The tears of trepidation eventually turn into smiles of accomplishment. Please know that we understand your concerns as you¬¬ drive off and leave your child in our care, but also know that we've got this!

The same positive energy that fills the hallways was also brought to our Family Picnic on Friday, September 14. Thank you to all who came out in support; it was a fabulous way for the new families to feel welcome. We extend a special thank you to our Albrook Parents' Association for all their hard work and commitment. Your efforts made our first school community event an incredible success.

The Albrook School is more than just a school; it is a caring, supportive family. Former students love to visit and share their accomplishments with the teachers that instilled in them a love of learning. Alumni come back and work at our summer camp each year. As evidenced by our Family Picnic, Albrook has an active parent community, with individuals working together and volunteering in a variety of ways to support our staff and students. These relationships have evolved over time, and we take great pride in their development. We encourage you to be active in our community building events, to become involved in the APA (Albrook Parents' Association) and have fun forming new friendships. Any of the APA board members will be happy to guide you in a direction that suits you.

Each year The Albrook School focuses on a schoolwide goal and this year our goal is Global Stewardship. It is a beautiful segue from last year's theme of empathy and respect. Inherent in Montessori philosophy is respect for oneself, respect for each other, and respect for the environment. This premise is reinforced daily in the Montessori classrooms. This year, we are enhancing our studies with a focus on stewardship at a global level.

We have introduced some procedural changes for visitors to Albrook. Each year, we partner with the Bernards Township Police department to review and update our security measures. As a result of this review, we need all visitors and volunteers to check in at the front desk to register and receive a clearance badge. This allows us to account for everyone in the building and to be able to better communicate with first responders in case of an emergency. We truly appreciate everyone's cooperation and support with this new log-in procedure.

On a final note, please know that our doors are always open and our administrative team and staff are here to answer any questions or concern you may have. We are looking forward to a very successful year.

Ms. MacNeill and Mrs. Ponzio

Albrook Summer Camp

By: Ms. MacNeill

On June 18, our summer camp doors opened to a summer of record-breaking temperatures, humidity, and an abundance of rain showers. However, the weather did not deter our young campers! They embraced all the opportunities camp offered from participating in the exciting programs to making new friends, to taking swim lessons and enjoying afternoon free swim.

Below are some of the exciting programs the happy campers were involved in, and remember, that camp registration for the 2019 season is only a few months away!

Explore the World
Campers in this program traveled down south, virtually, to the continent of South America. The children learned about the landscapes, biomes, and animals of the different regions of the continent including Bolivia, Uruguay, Peru, and Argentina. In addition to creating biome maps and completing research on the iPads, the students explored the music, food, and crafts of the continent.

Creative Writing
This program might just have inspired the next Mo Willems or Kate DiCamillo! Campers in this program engaged their imaginations and honed their writing skills. The students wrote stories, which they then illustrated, and created the cover art. It was an absolute pleasure to witness the pure joy and pride in the young campers face as they shared their work with their appreciative audiences.

Fun with Soccer
Young campers honed their shooting, dribbling, and passing during the Fun with Soccer camp session. They enjoyed their time moving the ball up and down the field while also learning the importance of teamwork and sportsmanship. The highlight of the meeting was the "Glow in the Dark" soccer games.

Cooking Around the World
In this program, campers explored cultures and holiday traditions through the foods of several different countries. As the children chopped, mixed, and kneaded, the hallways filled with delicious aromas, tempting many of us to try to sneak a taste! The children also made flags of the different countries and assembled their own recipe books to share at home.

Nature Classes for Young Campers
Guided by a number of seasoned teachers, the young campers and toddlers spent their time in Nature class making their own discoveries while studying weekly themes such as, exploring the amphibians of the world and finding hidden animals and plants in ponds and streams. We also enjoyed seeing these students grow in confidence during their daily swim lessons.

Nature Discovery
The Nature Discovery program turned our campers into young naturalists who headed out and discovered the wonders of insects in their own backyards. Guided by a naturalist, the students learned about the life cycle of insects, explored biomimicry, and developed a better understanding of how nature can inspire us to create and design a better world. They studied time-tested patterns and strategies and made projects and crafts to enhance their findings.

Fun with Mathematics
Math is fun, and the campers who attended this program thought so too! The campers spent the session exploring and working with all the great math materials to learn new concepts. At one point, the students were using their newly acquired math skills to estimate how many Skittles were in a jar. It was a real joy to observe the children's excitement about their work.

Drama
The Drama program was a great success! The campers worked together, embracing their roles and growing in confidence with each day. It was truly amazing to see the growth and confidence each child showed at the end of session performance.

Engineering
The Engineering program invited the young campers to put their imagination to work while exploring different types of engineering. First, these future engineers studied force and motion and then researched, designed, built, and launched their own rockets. Then, they used the principles of simple machines to design and develop their own suspension bridges and work in small groups to solve different challenges. Some campers also studied chemistry by experimenting with chemical reactions between common household materials. After the session was over, the students brought home a book of science experiments to share with their families.

Even with the challenges, Mother Nature threw our way, summer camp was full of fun and friendship. We believe that the experiences our campers gained from the new challenging and age-appropriate programs and topics built confidence, self-esteem, and a stronger understanding and respect for the world around them.

Albrook Family Picnic

By Anne-Marie Kim

An estimated 200 people showed up at Harry Dunham Park on Friday, September 14 for the Albrook Parents' Association Family Picnic!

The soggy weather failed to deter the dozens of children who ran freely in the park, played on the playground and in the sandbox, and munched on the vast assortment of goodies brought by each of the families. The parents enjoyed hanging out under the covered pavilion and on the grass, having a relaxed and casual dinner. The fun started at 5:00 and only reluctantly ended around 7:00.

Thank you to everyone who came and brought delicious treats for all of us to enjoy! The sense of community we enjoyed was heartwarming and beautiful. Our Albrook teachers came and enjoyed the festivities as well, and the constant buzz of conversation showed how much fun everyone was having.

In the spirit of Global Stewardship, the leftover food (and there was quite a bit) was gratefully received at the nearby VA Hospital. We were so pleased to share the Albrook families' generosity with the broader community.

The next APA event will be the Fall Harvest on Thursday, October 25. This event provides families a chance to carve a pumpkin, enjoy pizza and cider, and have fun! Space is limited, so please make sure to sign up as soon as you receive the flyer in your children's backpack.

Thank you again for all of your support! We are excited to see everyone again soon!

Some Thoughts on global Stewardship

by Nina Marvi

One of the earliest geography lessons what we give in the Montessori classroom is the land and water lesson. For this, we use the sandpaper globe which shows the continents in sandpaper and the water as a smooth blue surface. The child can experience the concept of land and water in a very tactile way. We also explore the concept of land, water, and air through touching soil and water and then breathing in the air. In this way, we move on to sorting and identifying animals that belong in each arena. Simple but effective. It is a little bit of Montessori magic which allows for accurate manipulation of objects such as birds, fish, and other animals to develop an understanding of a concept and encourage further investigation. And what's this got to do with global stewardship you might well ask? Well, everything, I would contend.

Across the Montessori curriculum, we see opportunities such as the aforementioned lessons for the development of a deep appreciation for the natural world. We present a wealth of experiences in zoology and botany as well as physical science, which foster a sense of wonder. Crucial to this approach is the idea that living things of the earth and resources at our own fingertips, such as land, water, and air, need our care. We depend on them. Plants and animals depend upon them. Not only that, water, land, and air are shared with others globally. All children, in every corner of the globe, need this land, water, and air and this is the point.

We take pride in seizing these teachable moments as they present themselves. As an extension of the water, land, and air lesson, the Miro children were invited to enjoy a glass of water. The problem was that the water was kind of dirty with large floating particles that had been placed there in advance as part of the lesson. Our classroom family looked on in dismay as they were invited to drink. (We knew they wouldn't!) Would any child living anywhere on the earth want to drink that? We had made an impression. Just a start to scratch the surface. What about those animals that live in the water? What if their water is dirty? How about animals that live on the land? Do they like garbage? What about the ones in the air? Could the air get dirty? What is pollution? You get the idea.

As a school, Albrook has long been committed to being environmentally responsible. We reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost, taking care to use environmentally friendly cleaning solutions. This year, with the renewed focus, we shall strive to emphasize ideas of global stewardship. We will explore how taking care of the "water, land, and air" in our own towns can have broader implications. Global stewardship will be introduced in the smallest of ways, but we hope, with considerable impact.

In the words of Maria Montessori,

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

Watch out for news on how each classroom is approaching ideas of global stewardship each month in The Albrook Almanac.

The Monarch Butterfly

By Elaine Dignam

Can butterflies encourage mindfulness? Peacefulness? We think so. For many years, the Albrook classrooms have raised Monarch butterflies in the fall. The Monarch caterpillars are gathered from their natural habitat, which is the milkweed plant. Finding a caterpillar in nature is exciting. We have our own milkweed growing at various areas of the Albrook campus, and we can watch as the children discover the caterpillars themselves.

The beauty of raising a caterpillar found in nature is that we must rely on the natural resources to ensure its survival. This brings awareness to our community and our environment. When we deplete our surroundings of milkweed, our beloved Monarchs cannot survive. When the milkweed is plentiful, our caterpillars thrive.

This year, we are striving to educate even our youngest students about Global Stewardship. Raising a tiny caterpillar and watching it grow will heighten a child's empathy for the fragility of the smallest creatures. It gives us great joy to watch our children observe the "hungry" caterpillars. It is not uncommon for children to gather around a feasting caterpillar to watch it eat and move. They are excited to witness the transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly. When we release the butterflies, the children will often wave, cheer, and call them by their given names.

A fascinating fact about the fall Monarch is that they all migrate to Mexico and overwinter there. Many of the butterflies, which originate from east of the Rocky Mountains, miraculously travel thousands of miles to their destiny. The children love the idea that a monarch raised in our classroom can travel across much of the United States and Mexico. Monarch butterflies contribute to the health of our planet by pollinating many types of wildflowers. Additionally, they are a food source for some birds, small animals, and other insects.

If you would like to encourage this awareness at home, plant milkweed in one area of your garden. The Environmental Education Center in Basking Ridge gives away milkweed in the spring. When the milkweed plant grows, check the underside of the leaves for caterpillars. Raising the caterpillars indoors dramatically increases their likelihood of survival. Another option is to plant wildflowers or even parsley and dill. Parsley attracts the swallowtail caterpillar. We raised a swallowtail butterfly in our summer camp classrooms thanks to finding a caterpillar in the cut parsley from a neighbor's garden.

Life is Long

By Etta Marshall

We often hear the old adage, "life is short." I would argue that life is actually long. Adults and children are fortunate to have the opportunities to try different things, experience different stages, grow and learn and change their minds during a lifetime that is quite long.

As I proudly enter my fifth year as a member of the Albrook family, I cannot imagine living through my children's formative years without this amazing community of wonderful parents, teachers, children, and administration who we consider to be family. I am struck by this feeling of comfort every time I enter the building and am proud that "Albrook parent" has been a huge part of my identity for the past four years.

But throughout those years, as a stay-at-home-mom, I struggled with my identity. Before my first son was born, I had worked every day since turning fifteen. It was a major part of who I was. One of the many things Albrook does well is prepare our children with the tools they need to achieve success as they move on. I believe that my years at Albrook alongside the wonderful parents and teachers actually did the same for me as for my kids. Albrook has given me the strength and confidence to take my own next step in my long life journey. In fact, it is through conversations with fellow parents that I identified a great need that exists for children, and my idea was born.

My son, Cole, loved working with the digital music app GarageBand. He wanted so badly to create music and learn. His kindergarten drawing of what he wanted to be when he grew up was a deejay. As a former teacher, I recognized that value and benefit of nurturing my son's interests and amplifying his enthusiasm, but it was very hard to find an expert to help him. I heard similar frustrations from fellow parents about how their child wanted to launch rockets or learn to cook global cuisine. There were many barriers beyond just finding the right teacher or class, such as, transportation or child frustration in a group setting waiting their turn if they got stuck. So I thought, why not line up experts in unique and fun areas and bring them right to our homes!

I worried it was too soon to go back to work, but there was always this desire inside me to create something. Ms. MacNeill actually gave me the final push of confidence by sharing with me the many benefits to a household with a working parent pursuing his/her passion. Those Albrook teachers; they always know how to help everyone be their best! And so, it was after great soul-searching that I launched Blue Sky Kids (www.blue-sky-kids.com). We match up children with experts to provide one-on-one sessions in your home. These experts specialize in areas such as robotics, blogging, coding, cooking, yoga & mindfulness, book publishing, rocketry, app development, and more! Sessions are completely individualized, designed for each child's interest and level. This is a business that allows me to help the community I have grown to love so much.

I have spoken with so many moms and dads through the years who have put careers on hold to stay home and raise children, and I've observed that some, like me, feel a loss of identity. It is a strange feeling to encourage your children daily to be their best while feeling a bit lost. I would encourage anyone who might feel similarly to remember that life is long. It is also nice to know that doors of Albrook will always be open to me, as they are to you, in whatever capacity you can participate. There are amazing opportunities at our school to be involved at various times. So, there will always be the opportunity for me to go back "home" to Albrook during this long life journey.

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..