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

Upcoming Events

Friday, September 3rd
Orientation - New parents and students
will be invited to attend an orientation
Monday, September 6th
School Closed - Labor Day
Tuesday, September 7th
Elementary, Kindergarten full day classes begin;
Stepping Stones phase-in begins;
Esoabded /care Begins
Wednesday, September 8th
New students to preschool phase-in
half day session) - dismissal 12:15-12:20
Thursday, September 9th
All students in preschool classes attend
full day program begins
Tuesday, September 14th
Albrook Parents' Association Meeting 8:30am
Thursday, September 16th
School Closed - Yom Kippur
Expanded Care and Stepping Stones Plus in session
Friday, September 17th
Albrook Family Picnic - 5-7pm
Thursday, September 23rd
Back-to-School Night - 6:30pm (parents only)
Friday, September 24th
Early Dismissal 11:30-11:45am - In-service Day
Expanded Care and Stepping Stones Plus in session

Albrook News

In-Person Campus Tours

The Albrook School is offering In-Person Campus Tours by appointment only. Our In-Person Campus Tours is located in the Our Campus section of our web. For quick access, please click on the link Our Campus.

A Reflection of the 2020-2021 School Year

Dear Parents,

We were pleased to have been able to open our doors for summer camp in July of 2020, where we developed conservative safety protocols that shaped a successful summer camp and provided much needed normalcy during a pandemic. We were ready to begin in-person instruction with the knowledge that the model used in summer camp would serve us well during the academic school year. In the fall, our doors opened with optimism and a bit of trepidation. The responsibility for the health and safety of the children remained our top priority. We recognized that during a pandemic we needed to prioritize the health and well-being of our students to meet their social-emotional and academic needs. We were keenly aware that our families were placing a great deal of trust in us as students returned. It has been a journey in which we have all grown as teachers, administrators, caregivers, family members, and parents. Although an arduous journey, we felt comfortable knowing we had our parent community partnership and support as we navigated each new day's challenges.

As the pandemic lingered on, the importance of in-person learning became readily apparent. The students were not deterred by mask-wearing or cleaning protocols; social engagement was paramount. The teachers focused on developing a classroom community even with physical distancing. The emphasis of Albrook's Social-Emotional Curriculum helped the teachers gauge the impact COVID-19 was having on their student population, enabling them to craft lessons to support our students as the year unfolded. With home support and an engaging learning environment, our students were provided with the best possible scenario during this trying time.

We recognize the critical role our Albrook Parents' Association played in keeping our whole community connected to the school during the absence of parent visits. We applaud and acknowledge them for all the community-building events throughout the year. The Trunk or Treat event was organized with all the safety protocols to ensure the first event of the year was a safe outing for all to enjoy. The timing of our Spring Fun-raiser couldn't have been planned better. We all needed to enjoy a day of fresh air and fun with an event hosted on the school grounds. The virtual auction was a great success. We appreciate your contributions towards the creative and valuable art projects, priceless gifts, and donations made directly to the school from the heart. As a non-profit school, we depend on your generosity and are never disappointed. We are grateful for all the efforts that the class parents extended this year, too.

The staff has been honing our technology skills during the pandemic. The staff continues to evolve professionally, working to build on their technical knowledge. Technology has helped us to remain connected and has allowed students to continue to learn. Zoom meetings, Google Classroom, Google Drive, and a remote teacher server have all become a part of our repertoire. We've invested in charging carts for Lower Elementary, new Chromebooks for the Kindergarten students, updated computers and WiFi systems. We currently have a library of virtual resources at our fingertips. The teachers will continue to use this newfound knowledge to enhance learning where appropriate.

This year's theme of "Every Action Matters" was pertinent in every way. Lessons of inclusion, sensitivity, service, and kindness were emphasized. In a time of crisis, we are the role models for the children. Focusing on the needs of others is inherent in Albrook's nature. As such, we increased our collections for the Food Bank. The elementary students were inspired to do additional service projects as part of their self-directed learning. They collected donations for St. Hubert's, Antarctica's wildlife, Union County Food Bank, and designed and built a butterfly garden close to the building for all to enjoy, while others offered their talents as mentors. The children also focused on nature and the importance of caring for the earth we inhabit. We are so proud of the efforts made and the way our community responded with donations.

As the preschool year came to a close, we transitioned into hosting Albrook Summer Camp. We are delighted by the response to the Albrook Summer Camp programs. Our summer camp is proving to be the next step in gaining a sense of normalcy. The warm weather, the joy of the children playing in the pools, and the excitement gracing our halls are music to our ears.

Although we are not out of the woods yet, we are planning next school year from a place of strength and promise. As it stands now, we will still be grouping the children in pods, and all of our staff and students will be wearing masks indoors. Additional cleaning protocols and temperature taking will also continue. In addition, our extra activities/field trips for elementary and club programs are postponed. We will reassess after the winter to see if we can initiate additional programs in the spring. As new recommendations from the Bernards Township Health Department are forthcoming, we will be communicating the changes.

Words seem so inadequate to express the appreciation we feel in our hearts for your support and partnership through this year. As we had shared during the elementary graduation, "It is amazing what can be accomplished when a community works together with empathy and respect." We are so proud of all we have accomplished together.

We appreciated all the supportive emails, the kind feedback, the lovely lunches throughout the year, and the gift of time during the APA Teachers Appreciation luncheon. But most of all, we thank you for all that you have done to help us continue to be "Montessori at its Best."

We wish you a peaceful, relaxing, and fun-filled summer. To those who are moving to a new learning environment, we wish you continued success. You will always have a place in the heart and memory of your Albrook family, so be sure to keep in touch. For all of our families returning, we look forward to seeing you all in September.

With much love and appreciation,
Ms. MacNeill & Mrs. Ponzio

Spring Fun-Raiser

By Mrs. Lipani

albrook spring event

On Saturday, May 1, the Albrook community gathered together in-person for the first time in over a year to celebrate the first Annual Spring Family Fun-Raiser Event. We were so lucky to have sunshine and great weather for this festive occasion!

Upon arrival, each family walked up to the soccer field. Along their way, they were able to stop and admire all of the beautiful Class Art Masterpieces that were available for auction. After setting up their own picnic area, families shared a delicious pizza from Ridge Pizza, as well as other snacks and drinks.

albrook spring event

DJ Randy provided the entertainment for the afternoon with music, dancing and games for everyone. Parents, children, teachers and staff ALL joined in the fun. And the Hoola Hoop contests were certainly the BIGGEST hit!

The event was capped off by a visit from the Five Brothers Ice Cream Truck. Everyone was able to order their own tasty treat, and we all felt like kids again!

The energy, camaraderie and sense of gratitude for a successful school year were evident throughout the afternoon! And the accompanying pictures are a perfect snapshot capturing the wonderful mood. This past year has not been without challenges, but our school community has grown stronger together. You won't want to miss this event next year! Wishing everyone a happy summer!

The Kindergarten Celebration – Every Action Matters

By Mrs. Tarangul and Mrs. Dignam

The show must go on! It has been a tradition at Albrook School that the Kindergarteners perform in a play at the end of the year. Ms. Albers started this practice to make sure that each child would gain the confidence to speak on stage. Although this has not been a typical year, we were delighted to announce that the kindergarten play had been filmed . The Albrook production was viewed by the kindergarteners and their families on June 10, their graduation day. COVID-19 did not curb their excitement about the characters, their costumes, and the play. The graduation festivities closed with a presentation of the kindergarten albums. These are compilations of their work during the school year, lovingly assembled by their classroom teachers.

kindergarten celebration

Elementary Play

By Mrs. Lipman

The annual elementary play is a beloved Albrook tradition. Each year, all elementary students come together to perform a musical theater production. For months, they rehearse and perfect lines, songs, and choreography, culminating in a wonderful performance. This year, despite COVID-19 restrictions, we managed to keep this tradition alive. The elementary children performed the play, Could You Hug a Cactus? Based on a collection of poems, this show was written specifically for this unprecedented school year and allowed for great flexibility. Each class pod was given particular sections of the play to perform. After many rehearsals, each class had a day devoted to filming their parts. All pieces were then put together to create the final video production for friends and family to enjoy.

In typical fashion, many hands went into making the play a success. Staff and parents helped to collect props and make costume pieces. This year, the upper elementary students also created all of the set pieces and backdrops. Renoir student Caroline, choreographed several of the dance pieces for the show.

The students enjoyed watching the play with their classmates and enjoyed an in-class celebration once the filming was complete. It was a pleasure to watch all of the children shine on both stage and screen.

Staff Workshop: Capitalizing on¬ your Strengths and Recognizing Weaknesses, presented by Ginny Cusack – Montessori Coach

In April, we had the opportunity to look back on our accomplishments and get a fresh perspective on moving forward during our staff workshop with Ginny Cusack, Montessori Leadership Coach. We had a chance to complete a character strengths profile before the workshop. While there, we brainstormed with our co-teachers how we could use our strengths in new ways. It was refreshing to get ideas of how to be our best selves in the classroom by thinking of new ways to do things. Our team generated many ideas and it has been great to try something new with the children!

Stepping Stones:
Ginny Cusack's name is one that often comes up in Montessori circles, so I was excited to attend her recent workshop. Prior to the workshop, we answered some questions online to develop our character strengths profile. It was interesting to see how accurate the results were. We then learned some ways to use our character strengths in everyday life.

Preschool:
Assessing our character strengths was a helpful and insightful tool to measure our approach to a variety of situations. It was enlightening to learn how our strongest characteristics are taken from different facets of our personality. We learned how understanding our strengths helps us to feel positive.

Elementary:

  • "It helped us to focus on the most positive sides of ourselves that we take for granted and use it for our betterment."
  • "It was great to discover my character strengths and learn how to leverage them to grow further."
  • "It provided fascinating insights into seeing personality traits in terms of strengths and lesser strengths."
  • "It was interesting seeing how we each had different strengths but how they complement each other."
  • "I was impressed with how many strengths I had in common with my colleagues. I felt that the assessment of my strengths was very accurate."
  • "It was invigorating to have a fresh perspective on how to use our strengths. After the workshop, I thought about how I could apply this with the children."
  • "It was a great workshop to remind ourselves to think positively about our strengths."

Earth Day 2021

stepping stones

"Adapt to the pace of nature: her secret is patience." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Albrook's classrooms celebrated Earth Day with a variety of activities, some of which are highlighted below.

Stepping Stones
To celebrate Earth Day in Stepping Stones, we sang Happy Birthday to the Earth at circle and talked about how to treat our earth respectfully. We read the book Some Bugs, by Angela

DiTerlizzi. We also collaboratively planted some milkweed outside and are watering and watching it grow.

Degas
For Earth Day, the Degas class did research on simple actions that each of them could take to help the earth. After making a list of 20 actions, they each chose one or more and created a flyer to encourage others to take action.

Homer
The Homer class planted milkweed for earth day. The seeds have sprouted. Soon we will be ready to find a special spot on the grounds of The Albrook School. In the fall the Monarch butterfly can lay their eggs in a safe environment. We will watch, wait, and observe.

Miro
The Miro class decided to plant Milkweed for caterpillars to enjoy. Each child planted a few seeds so they can bring home their own milkweed to plant in their garden. We are observing our plants in our classroom as they send down roots and send up shoots and will be sent home when they are ready to plant!

Van Gogh
The Van Gogh classroom also planted milkweed, so crucial for Monarch butterflies.

O'Keefe
Mrs. Dignam and Mrs. Murphy reported that the O'Keeffe class went for an Earth Day nature walk. We took time to observe the changes outside as the signs of spring were abundant. We planted milkweed for the butterfly garden, and we planted radishes so we could watch them grow. However, the most significant moments were when we were silent. We sat in Ms. Albers outdoor classroom, and we listened. When the creatures were comfortable the children were able to hear nature sing.

Every Action Matters at Albrook

Stepping Stones
Along with the broader school community, the Stepping Stones class embraced the theme of "Every Action Matters" this year. Below is a sample of the concepts we enthusiastically set out to foster in our youngest students.

  • Awareness and understanding of actions we must take to help us safely navigate this pandemic, such as wearing masks, giving our friends some space, and the importance of frequent hand washing.
  • We continue to focus on acts of kindness and their consequences. "Look, your friend is happy that you let her have a turn on the bicycle. That was a kind thing for you to do."

Looking back and pondering how our youngest students did in these areas, we are proud and delighted to say they have done remarkably well.

They responded well to the new protocols for navigating the pandemic. Our toddlers love to wash their hands and the feel of foamy sanitizer! They also graciously made and continue to make great efforts wearing their masks at all times indoors as this is not an easy task.

In emphasizing acts of kindness, it is lovely to observe the children mature in this area. In times of conflict, or if a child gets hurt, often another child will recognize that their peer is sad or hurt and reach out to comfort them. There is no greater gift to a teacher than to stand back and observe these self-directed empathetic and kind actions. We are immensely proud of all our toddlers and all they have accomplished this year!

Homer Class
"Every Action Matters" was the Albrook's community goal for this year. The Homer class focused on working as a team throughout the year. From planting, card making, and keeping our room organized and neat, to organizing each student's personal space. The students have been part of a collaborative effort that depended on the individual contributions of each of us. The children learned that every action matters and even the slightest effort can make a difference. Each child was encouraged to do his or her best. Each small action was a piece of a giant puzzle and we celebrated it all. The Homer students understand that they are part of a classroom family and a school community that reaches beyond our classroom walls. That kindness is essential, and every small act of kindness goes a long way toward making our world a better place.

Miro Class
miro class This year, the Miro class really took the motto, "Every Action Matters" to heart. In our classroom, we held many discussions of what it means to be accountable for your actions. Around the circle we passed an apple from person to person. The children were directed to speak unkindly to the apple, saying things like, "I don't want to play with you" or "You are not my friend". Then we passed a second apple, and said kind words to it such as, "You can come to my birthday party" and "I love working with you". After we had passed both apples, we cut them both open. Once cut, the apple that we spoke kind words to was a nice, healthy apple on the inside. The apple that we spoke unkind words to was a sad, bruised apple on the inside. The lesson the children learned was that even though you may not be able to tell on the outside if your words are hurting someone, it can still hurt them on the inside. Every action matters.

O'Keeffe Class
"Every Action Matters" in the O'Keeffe classroom. Our students contributed to the prevention of COVID-19 by washing hands more frequently, wearing masks, and socially distancing. These small efforts to reduce the spread of germs allowed our school to stay open all year. In the fall, each student planted one bulb, creating a beautiful garden in the spring. Our murals reflected the painting and drawing talents of all the students in one piece of art. The students picked up trash in the classroom, pushed in chairs, and put away materials to keep our environment clean.

Kandinsky Class
The Kandinsky class has been busy this year, focusing on our school goal of "Every Action Matters". Here are the moments of global stewardship and global citizenship that the children found particularly meaningful and memorable.

  • Freya- My favorite memory was raising the monarch butterflies.
  • Theodore- My favorite memory is when Andy and I did the presentation on Chinese/Lunar New Year. Nathan and I also presented about the Japanese language: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji.
  • Mishti- My favorite memory is when we celebrated Diwali by making the diyas. I also liked learning about starfish.
  • Oliver- My favorite memory is hunting for cicadas outside. I also liked making the lotus flowers when we studied Asia.
  • Andy- My favorite memory is when we protected the trees from the spotted lantern flies. I also loved learning about the Timeline of Life and doing animal research.
  • Marcela- My favorite memory is when we studied Wangari Maathai and made the dresser for the spring event. I also liked researching black leaders and their contributions. I also enjoyed our planting projects and contributing to the Somerset County Food Bank. Another one of my favorite memories was doing a lot of peace lessons and the Sri Lanka lessons.
  • Tommaso- My favorite part was when we worked really hard on Asian animal research and when we did black leader research. I also liked doing the Sri Lanka research with Marcela.
  • Nathan- My favorite memory was when we did Asian animal and country research. I researched my heritage of India and Korea.
  • Aayan- My favorite moment was when we planted the bulbs and when we planted beans and tomatoes.
  • Gavan- My favorite memory is when we got the powder and made rangoli on the walkway. I really liked doing animal research. I researched the giant panda and the red panda. I also liked country research. Another favorite memory is when we made the dresser for Wangari's Trees of Peace. I also really liked making gifts for Ms. Albers and Mrs. Sinck.
  • John- My favorite memory is raising butterflies. I was excited to watch them.
  • Sophia- I liked that we learned about Australian animals and made the clay models.
  • Milo- I liked doing the Hanukkah presentation with Marcela.

Service Projects at Albrook

Butterfly Garden Project

By Isabelle

My butterfly garden project was really fun to plan and build. When the plants flower, they will attract a lot of butterflies. Ms. Vazaios and I have been working on this project for a while. We had to wait a few months to get started with planning the project further. I decided to put the garden towards the school's front by the benches where everyone can enjoy it.

We finally planted them recently. I did this project because the butterfly garden at the soccer field has seen better days. First, I called my grandma and interviewed her about what good native plants I could plant here. Then, I went to the store and purchased the plants my grandma suggested.

After that, I brought them to school and asked Ms. MacNeil if the school would purchase the materials and tools I needed to build the garden. My proposal list consisted of one garden bed frame, soil, a hose, and a nozzle for the hose. Ms. MacNeill approved the materials, and they were ordered. When they arrived, we built the garden bed frame and filled it with soil. Then, we set up the hose to water after planting the flowers and shrubs. We finally planted the plants, and I was so happy to finish my service project for the school.

Heifer International

This year the Kindergarten students continued to support the Heifer International organization by enrolling in small jobs around the house. In addition, the children were encouraged to find extra jobs or chores to earn money to contribute to children and families in need.

The class read a story called Beatrice's Goat, about a young girl in an African village named Beatrice who desperately wanted to go to school. Beatrice could not go to school because she did not have enough money to buy a uniform. Then, her family received the gift of a goat and were able to earn extra money. The additional cash earned enabled her family to purchase a uniform for Beatrice to attend school. This story resonated with our students and encouraged a different thought process when thinking of others in need.

During the process, students enjoyed sharing about the jobs they did at home to earn money for their project. After we sorted and counted the contributions, the total raised amounted to $260.00. Next, the students voted on what they would like to purchase and donate. A gift of a Water

Buffalo received the most votes. This gift will provide a family with a way to plant crops faster, distribute manure to help fertilize crops, and opportunities to produce milk to sell and use to nourish their family. Another example that demonstrates the ripple effect of "Every Action Matters".

Congratulations to all of our kindergarten students for reaching into their hearts and touching the lives of others. We are so proud of you!

Supply Drive for St. Hubert's Animal Shelter

By Madeline and Ines

We did a free choice project in our class based on the question, "How can we help homeless animals?" We had our presentation in class where we did a skit about someone who had to give up their dog to an animal shelter because they lost their job. We also did a pie chart based on the amount of homeless animals in the world.

Our final project was a service project. We wanted to give food to a place that helps animals. We found St. Hubert's Animal Shelter that was only 25 minutes away. They take care of homeless animals and help them find homes. We found out that they needed food and cat litter, so we talked to Ms. MacNeill and sent out an email to the whole school to ask for supplies. We made signs and decorated boxes to collect the donations. A lot of people donated. We got two carloads full of supplies and brought them to the animal shelter on Monday, June 15th. They were very happy! Thank you to everyone who donated. We really appreciate the help.

Research Reports from the Kandinsky Class

World Peacemakers/Leaders

By Marcela

I have enjoyed learning about world peacemakers and leaders . My class has learned about a lot, including Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Wangari Maathai, Harriet Tubman, Katherine Johnson, Malala Yousafzai, and many more.

We learned about how Rosa Parks stood her ground on the bus and didn't get up from her seat for the white man, and how Martin Luther King, Jr. led people in many protests for black equal rights. We learned about how Wangari Maathai led the Green Belt Movement so the trees from Kenya (and all around the world really) would come back. All she had to do was plant nine little tree seedlings, encourage people to plant them too, stand tall, don't give up, and have hope. We learned about how Harriet Tubman was a conductor in the Underground Railroad who helped many people out of slavery and even helped protest for womens' rights . We learned how Katherine Johnson was a computer (not a machine but a person who does math) for NASA who planned the path of astronaut John Glenn's orbit around the Earth. We also learned she contributed to the 1969 Apollo mission to the moon. Lastly, we learned about how Malala Yousafzai never gave up standing for what she believed and how she got shot in the head in her school bus for writing a letter about what she believed, survived, and is still standing strong.

Thanks for reading my article about world peacemakers and leaders.

Special Presentations

By Theodore

Over the course of the school year the Kandinsky class has had many special presentations. The first was Marcela and Milo doing a report on Hanukkah telling the class what Hanukkah is about and telling why Hanukkah lasts 8 days. The second was when Andy and I did a report on The Chinese New Year AKA Lunar New Year showing the zodiac. The third was when Tommaso and Marcela gave a report on Sri Lanka and Tommaso brought in a cup made in Sri Lanka. They also told us what clothes people traditionally wear in Sri Lanka. The fourth was when Nathan and I did a report on Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji which are the scripts of the Japanese language and showed the class the alphabets. The fifth was when I did a report on the army ribbons and ranks telling how a lower rank soldier can have more ribbons than a higher rank. Also Milo brought in a small army base and two army men to show the class to go along with my presentation . The last one was when Nathan brought in his clay Pokemon models to show the class. He told what clay he used and the YouTuber he follows. I think all of the presentations were interesting because all of them had a lot of detail.

Energy Experiments

By Nathan

During our science unit, students learned about and made science experiments. At the start of the course of the year, students took turns learning and teaching science experiments. Earlier this year, in 2021, students of the Kandinsky classroom made very interesting energy experiments. The students had a week to prepare them, and they were all on time. The experiments were mostly about potential and kinetic energy, but the students used different forms and concepts. Some used tension, others used perpetual motion and some actually used heat energy or air energy. Tension is when you pull or weave things tightly so it creates potential energy. Perpetual motion is an energy that keeps repeating. My favorites were the tension experiments but the air powered one Milo did was also pretty cool. Our science unit is coming to a close but students still like experimenting.

Asian Animal Report

By Tommaso

The students in the Kandinsky classroom have done a huge project on Asia. We researched more than 15 animals ( from the Blue Friends ) each! And all of them being from Asia! These animals include the panda, the Asian elephant , the Bengal tiger , the rhino , the orangutan , the leopard , the red panda, the camel , the king cobra , the crocodile , and many other cool and fascinating animals. They have paired up with partners to better understand the researching and to get help from more experienced friends. ( I personally teamed up with Freya Crowther ) The students worked really hard on this project and they will never forget it.

Silk Road Report

By Tommaso

Earlier this year, the students of the Kandinsky classroom learned about the Silk Road in Asia. They started with a great presentation from Mrs. Bavan. A little later we started doing presentations about the Silk Road. They learned that the Silk Road is a very cultural place. Children colored, wrote, explained, learned, edited, benefited, and most importantly enjoyed.

The Silk Road is an old trading road in Asia. It has been used for many substances like silk, pottery, spices, camels, money, and other goods. The Silk Road passes through many countries and 3 continents. Although the students are coming to an end with the Silk Road project, they still enjoy remembering the great project.

The students loved the subject and are starting a new subject of Asian animal research. Many students learned and benefited from this subject. They now enjoy reviewing it and remembering the Silk Road.

Australian Animals

By Sophia

My class and I have enjoyed learning about Australian animals . We have made clay models and they are all so good. We have done so much research about the animals in Australia. I learned about the blue-ringed octopus and my class has learned about many others. We have learned about the koala, the sugar glider, the red kangaroo, the gray kangaroo, the platypus, the crocodile, the emu, the Tasmanian devil, the wombat, the echidna, and the kookaburra. There are so many others but I don't have space. The reason I chose Australia research is that the Australian animals can be weird. Some are cool. And that makes them unique. The animals are also unique because they live in different climates and habitats. Did you know that there are more marsupials in Australia than on any other continent in the world? It also has the Great Barrier Reef. It has a bunch of different fish living there. How are all the fish still alive? Because all the fish are colorful like coral so they can camouflage. That's the reason the fish can survive. I have really loved learning about Australian animals!

Learning Through Robots, What Fun!

We embrace the STEAM curriculum while encouraging students to enjoy the fun aspects of learning through creating games, solving problems, and interactive learning. Our coding lessons develop teamwork while students solve algorithms and complete tasks in a group setting. The children are learning different computer languages while striving to move forward to the next level. The development and implementation of our curriculum in STEAM are constantly evolving. All STEAM lessons are set at an age-appropriate grade level to encourage the process of creating while learning. Our robots are part of the Wonder Workshop program. Science, Math, Language, Art, and Engineering are all part of this learning process. Students share their knowledge and skills during activities, while developing respect for their work and the work of others.

Lessons start from learning code on the computer to incorporating coding that enables the robots to move. Through math and engineering, students create courses that others will decipher. Working together and creating code enables children to complete the challenge. We strive to achieve a strong foundation of independent thinking, creative problem solving, and collaboration through our STEAM curriculum.

Seeing Eye Dog – Morristown, NJ

By Mrs. Fritsch

The Van Gogh students were introduced to the new German Shepard puppy, Dennis, that Brodie Fritsch is raising for the Seeing Eye in Morristown. This is the fourth puppy that Mrs. Fritsch and her family have raised. They belong to the 4H club, Puppy Tails. Gaston, the black lab, has spent the year and more because of COVID-19 with them but returned for his formal training in the Morristown facility shortly after coming to Albrook for the presentation. The children learned the differences between regular pet dogs and the training that a service dog requires. They were told the importance of helping others in need and it is a gift that is cherished by the people that receive the puppies. The puppy is their vehicle to live an independent life even when their sense of sight is gone. It also helps the children reinforce the schools theme that "Every Action Matters", without families helping raise the puppies the Seeing Eye Organization would not be able to offer such a service.

What a Treat!

The gift of someone's talent is a gift from the heart. The Albrook Staff received such a gift from Mrs. Masi on June 16th. The stage was set and the staff was ready for a bit of lighted-hearted entertainment. We were all treated to Mrs. Masi's theatre groups' production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). The performance was captivating, engaging and exactly what the Albrook staff needed at the end of a challenging year. We want to express our sincere thanks for the opportunity to laugh, and share in the shear brilliance of Mrs. Masi's theatre company's talent. We loved it!

Moving Up Ceremony

By Ms. Antoniello

On Thursday, June 24th, lower elementary students and families celebrated an end of year musical recital and Moving Up Ceremony in Albers Hall. This was the first recital performed in person for the 2020-21 school year which made it especially memorable and exciting. Led by Ms. Crawford, the first and second year students treated the audience to a variety of songs, played on glockenspiels and other percussion instruments. A video of the third year students showing their talents as they played their recorders wrapped up these enjoyable performances.

After the recital, the Moving Up Ceremony for our third-year graduates took place. Each graduate received a certificate of completion for all the hard work they have put in these past three years as lower elementary students. We wish them all the best of luck as they embark on new and exciting adventures!

Graduation Letters: Students Reflect on their time at Albrook

Alice

Hi, everyone! I'm Alice. I moved here from Switzerland in 2018. I really enjoyed all my 3 years at Albrook. When I first came, I didn't know English at all so I was sent to lower elementary for the mornings and in the afternoon I would go back to my class.

Thanks to Ms. Baird and the other lower elementary teachers I can now speak fluent English. And thanks to Alina and Victor who came up to me on the first day, I became more social and made friends. I want to give a big thank you to Ms. Vazaios and Mrs. Lipman for making me understand how a Montessori school works. Sra. Flaharty, thank you for being so kind and giving us a snack when we go to your class. It's a pleasure to have Spanish class with you. Sra. Zarate, thank you for teaching us your art skills. You have a great sense of humor. Ms. Crawford, thank you for your wonderful music. I appreciate your talent with music, and you're great at teaching it. Mrs. Smith, thank you for letting us have so much fun at your gym class. We learn so much sportsmanship from you. Mrs. Sink, thank you for helping with injuries of all types. It was really kind of you to offer help when that man went unconscious in front of the school. To all the teachers of the younger kids, thank you for having all that patience to care for them. And to all the people in the office, thank you for keeping the school so organized. We would not be so successful without you. And of course, Ms. Albers, thank you for being so kind to all of us. You are so loving and energetic and caring. I love how you take care of your plants every day. Thank you.

Now, about my time here, it was wonderful to make new friends here and learn new things. Alina, you volunteered to teach me how to play Capture the Cone on one of my first days. Caitlin and Caroline, you both helped me with problem solving when I needed it. Reading buddies was really fun and I was sad we couldn't do it this year. In my first year here, I went to Frost Valley, which was probably my best experience here. I really enjoyed being with my friends with no parents and we learned to trust each other a lot more. During that time, I had found out that horseback riding was my passion. I still do it and it's one of my favorite things of the week. I'm also starting gymnastics after this summer, and I'm very excited about it.

I wish I could stay here forever, but since I can't, I am going to Willow School for 7th and possibly 8th grade. I'm very excited since Alina is going there, too. After that I don't really know where I'm going. There is also a possibility that I might return to Switzerland, which I don't really want to do. When I grow up, I want to be a horseback riding coach because I love horseback riding and I want to show others how great it is. Thank you, Albrook, for showing me the light in life.

Alina

Hello and welcome to my graduation, my name is Alina. I have been at The Albrook School since second grade, and I have had a lot of wonderful teachers.

I would like to acknowledge some of them that have helped me get through difficult times, problem solving, and any work that I didn't know how to do.

The teachers are Ms. Baird - who introduced me to Aria Saksena when I first started attended Albrook, we became really close friends, and I still talk to her today. She also taught me the adverb game, which I really enjoyed and taught me how to do the long bead chains, and many more works.

Mrs. Balaji - when we first learned about COVID-19, we had to go into virtual learning. Everyone was nervous, a little scared, and confused, but Mrs. Balaji helped us through it, and gave us fun projects to do at home. One of them was building a tower made of raw spaghetti, marshmallows, and a couple feet of string. It was really fun, and I remember doing it with my mom.

Ms. Lipman - while we were virtual, Ms. Lipman wanted to do a play, so she gave us our roles, and our script, and we practiced our lines, and we put on a play while doing it over a computer! I was very impressed by her patience, her enthusiasm, and just wanting to take a jump without looking, and she landed it! She made the play happen and when I watched it when it was completely edited, and put together, I smiled.

Ms. Vazaios - she has been an excellent, understanding, kind, strict - also known as firm but loving teacher. She has been there when I needed help with work, when I was upset about work, she would ask me to take a deep breath in, a deep breath out, and take me step by step through it. She has taught me not only math and language, but stuff that is happening around the world as well. For example; racism, when people broke into the capitol building, when Gearge Floyd passed, when the world got our first female Vice President, Kamala Harris, etc. Thank you for being such a great teacher to me, I really appreciate it.

Ms. Kar - she has been so helpful to me with all of my math work and science. She is very kind, really funny, really smart, and likes to take pictures of us. I look forward to the school day because of Ms. Kar's humor at lunch and during the school day. I also look forward to the school day because when we are all done with our work, we get to play cool math games! When we are sad or frustrated, she has a heart to heart conversation with us, and we feel much better at the end of it. Thank you so much for being the amazing teacher you are.

To all of the special teachers - thank you so much for teaching me Spanish, computers, art, gym, music, and drama. I have learned so much of each subject, and I will really miss them.

To all of the staff - you have done an incredible job with keeping the school healthy and safe for us to be in-person. So thank you again.

To all of my friends - thank you so much for being there when I needed it the most, these past few months have been hard on my family, and you have all been there to support me. You have also been there for me when I needed help with my work and despite all of the challenges this year, I think I can say that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Caitlin

Hello, I'm Caitlin. I've gone to Albrook for 5 and a half years and have greatly enjoyed coming here. I remember that when I first visited Albrook, Ms. Francese was trying to remember what she wanted to do with me and I suggested the bead box. She told me, "You read my mind!" and for the rest of the day everyone was coming to me and saying hi. A girl came up to me, and even though she'd never seen me before and didn't know if I was going to Albrook or not, said, "Hi! My name is Tanya. Can we be friends?" Immediately, I knew I wanted to go to Albrook because everyone there was friendly and kind to me.

I quickly made lots of friends and was loving my time at Albrook. I loved reading My Father's Dragon with Ms. Fienemann, but I was always watching the other reading group too. Ms. Francese noticed and invited me to join them. Ms. Baird taught me about the timeline of life, I always enjoyed that and seeing how animals developed over time. During writer's workshop, Ms. Antoniello would always guide me and make sure I was putting full effort into my stories. I loved when we finally stapled together the stories because I felt a sense of accomplishment.

I had Mrs. Balaji for several years and she taught me botany. I remember being so confused when she said that pinecones had genders. When we went outside, Alice picked up two random pinecones and Mrs. Balaji said, "Alice has a male and a female pine cone! Good Job, Alice!" I couldn't see any difference between them though. My favorite part of gym was when Mrs. Dignam did the spaghetti noodle test on us. It was so relaxing and peaceful. This year, we had Mrs. Smith as our gym teacher. She came up with fun and creative ways of playing sports. She energizes us with music the whole time, too, and I liked that.

I have had Mrs. Lipman, Ms. Crawford, Senora Zarate, Senora Flaherty every year at Albrook. Mrs. Lipman has been my drama teacher every year and was my teacher in Lower and Upper Elementary for a couple of years. I have always enjoyed acting in the play with my friends. When Mrs. Lipman was teaching me grammar, I remember that she would frequently ask me, "How many bumps does M have?" because I was always putting extra bumps in my Ms. In music, I was so excited to get my recorder in third grade. Ms. Crawford also taught us alto and ukulele. I also really liked playing the sopranino, the tiny, little, high - pitched recorder.

Senora Zarate is an amazing art teacher. I loved every art project we did, especially the banyan tree and King Tut heads. They all turned out so pretty with lots of different colors and I loved making paper mache things. I have also had Senora Flaherty for all my years at Albrook. She's always been such a good Spanish teacher and taught me so much.

I have had Ms. Vazaios for 3 years now. She has been caring, understanding, and, like she always says, firm but loving. She's taught me so much and I'm really grateful for that. Mrs. Kar has been my teacher for only a year but it feels like I've known her forever. Every time I make a mistake, she would say, "No silly girl!" and then help me understand my mistake. Ms. Hicks has been a wonderful MMUN teacher. I loved doing MMUN with all my friends and then making new friends in New York.

Lastly, my family has always been there to support me and guide me. Teddy, my Mom, and my Dad have encouraged me when I'm feeling down, taught me so many new things, and just been kind to me my whole life. Next year, I will be going to Bernardsville Middle School and I'm really going to miss all my friends and teachers. I will continue to fence and do ballet. I hope to start contemporary and pointe dance now that I am old enough to. I will always remember my time at Albrook and have had such an amazing time here.

Thank you, everyone, for always being there for me.

Caroline

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened. - Dr. Seuss

Of all the 178 days of school I was late 99.9% of them. I may blame it on my alarm clock or my sister Marcela or the fact that I just don't like to get out of bed.

Hi. I am Caroline. I am a sixth grader here at Albrook. Or at least I will be for the next couple hours. I have been here for one school year. I am a competitive dancer and I have been dancing since 2011.

Wow. What a year! We started not knowing what would happen and if we would stay open all year. We have not missed a day of in-person school. I am so proud of all of us that we were able to stay open and in person. I am grateful for all of our teachers that are fully vaccinated and that all of the Orange girls have had at least one dose.

I would like to thank my family for making this possible. My parents for giving me an option to go back to in person school and live a somewhat normal life. My sister for being happy to help with questions about Albrook.

I have been accepted into the most amazing school family. This year has gone by way too fast. It feels like yesterday that I met all of these amazing people. I can't imagine what next year will be without Ms. Vazaios, Mrs. Kar and all of my other teachers. I would never have gotten through this year without the help of my fellow orange friends; Alice, Alina, and Caitlin. To Mrs. Sinck, Ms. MacNeill, and Mrs. Ponzio you all have been there for me when I needed help. From just giving me an ice-pack to giving me 15 minutes of your time just to talk. It really makes me sad to leave you all. To all of my specials teachers; Mrs. Smith, Ms. Crawford, Mrs. Lipman, Senora Zarate, Mrs. Ferguson, and Senora Flaherty, thank you so much. You have made this an amazing year!

Mrs. Kar has helped me grow in my math skills. I have learned so much from the area of a circle to the probability of flipping coins. I am so happy that she joined us.

Ms. Vazaios has helped me learn so much. From what the symbols of words are to the volume of a cone. She has been an amazing teacher. I love that she cooks and bakes with us.

Mrs. Smith has been an amazing gym and aftercare teacher. In gym we have played so many fun games. From Battleship to volleyball. In aftercare, we have so much fun. We make bracelets and we listen to music.

Ms. Crawford has been an amazing music teacher. She has taught me all about the ukulele and how to play it. She has also taught me so much about the xylophone.

Mrs. Lipman has been an amazing drama teacher this year. We wrote our own Kabuki plays. We also were able to put on an amazing show for all our parents.

Senora Zarate has been such a great art teacher. We have been able to accomplish many amazing art pieces. From the half drawing animals to the Kabuki masks for Drama.

Ms. Ferguson has taught me so much about computers. From coding to Mylar discs. It is so cool to learn the timeline of storage on computers.

Senora Flaherty has changed my Spanish from a small bit to being able to get the gist when someone describes something or gives instructions using common language. I can't wait to come back and speak fluent Spanish with her. I will continue to learn Spanish next year.

Next year I will be at Gill St. Bernard's School as a seventh grader. I hope to make some amazing new friends but I will never forget the orange girls. I will continue to dance. I can't wait to burn these masks and say goodbye to these COVID-19 protocols. I can't wait for summer but I will miss everyone here.

International Day

By Mrs. Mulvihill

International Day is a beloved tradition here at The Albrook School. It celebrates our similarities as one human race and shows the beauty of the differences in our cultures and communities. Although this year we could not perform as we usually would, the children could still bring this joy through the gift of song, music, and dance.

Interantional Day

Throughout the year, the children learned the songs and dances while having fun at our weekly group sing and music lessons in the afternoon. The preschool students learned five different folk songs and sang in six other languages: English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Nigerian, and Russian! The Kindergarteners were dressed in traditional cultural outfits while introducing the songs as well. The cultures and customs of the different countries were discussed during class time so that the children gained a complete understanding of what it means to be from another country.

The elementary students, led by Ms. Crawford, studied the countries of Asia and each class performed a song from an Asian country. Not only did the elementary students lend their voices to the performance, but they also played recorders and even participated in a traditional dance!

Hearing the children singing together as one was perhaps more impactful this year than any other. The Albrook students have once again proven that even though we might be socially distancing with our person, there is no social distancing the spirit. Their voices, powerfully and joyfully, reached right through our computers and into our hearts and homes. We hope you enjoyed this year's International Day!

Black History Month

The Yeats Classroom

As part of our peace and anti-bias curriculum, the Yeats class focused on the story of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and legacy. We highlighted Dr. King's peaceful protests for change and how one individual can make a difference. The realities of racism and segregation were studied using age-appropriate stories that included accounts of the experience of African Americans and other people of color in the past and present.

These ideas were reduced to basic practices as we role-played what bias might look like in our classroom. "Snack is available for those with brown eyes today!" "Anyone with blonde hair may play on the soccer field." Trite, these examples might seem. However, they were one practical aspect of our approach. Indeed, our explorations of these possibilities rendered excellent discussions and increased awareness of how differences are perceived and how these can and have been exploited.

What are bias, prejudice, and racism? We continue to explore and address these issues in our community routinely. For example, in our subsequent studies, we focused on the stories of other individuals who made their mark in significant and historical ways in the quest for racial equality and equal opportunities for all. We noted the contributions of Harriet Tubman as well as Rosa Parks and George Washington Carver. Our focus also shifted to more modern figures of African American accomplishments such as Dorothy Vaughan and Misty Copeland, and Simone Biles. There were many examples of people of color that we highlighted and researched as part of our anti-bias curriculum.

Our studies are a work in progress, but that is the point! They provide a template for further exploration of the issues at hand through the Montessori curriculum, highlighting that all humans' fundamental needs are the same. A daily clarion call for Montessorians! All are equal! Yet individuals.

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..