Happy Summer!

Now that the end of the school year is here and I take a moment to reflect on all that we have accomplished over the last nine months, I am humbled by all we achieved.  Our community came together, protected each other, and flourished. For our children, our teachers, and our families, this has been a year of triumph, a year of success, and a year of growth. Our students were adaptable, responsible, and absolutely overjoyed to be together at school every day.

This time of year is certainly a happy time. The weather becomes more pleasant and we are all able to enjoy some time relaxing without being tied to the strict schedule of school, sports, dance, music lessons, scouts, etc.

As my first year as interim head of school comes to a close, I would like to thank all of you for your support, feedback and encouragement throughout this year. I look forward to next year and all of the promise and excitement a new school year brings. I am grateful for your dedication to FWM.

 Here is some information for you as the school year ends:

  • FWM teachers will send Summer Learning Resources and a Suggested Summer Reading List to all families next week.
  • Please encourage your children to read over the summer. Summer vacation allows us to relax, but is also a critical time to ensure students keep learning.
  • New school year instructions and supplies lists will be emailed to families in August. 

Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy, and fun-filled summer!

Stay safe, 

Gina


Approaching the End of the School Year

Another school year is quickly coming to an end. For those of you with children in toddler, primary and elementary, I’m sure you’re amazed at how your children have blossomed as the year has gone by. We share both joy and tears as our elder Montessori students move to the next level. 

As Montessori teachers we stay true to our traditions of celebrating the community and bringing closure to the school year by honoring the students’ achievements with recognition of the time spent in their current level.

For the parents of our graduating 8th years, you are probably filled with mixed emotions of joy and bittersweet sentiment as your child prepares to leave FWM and move on to high school. 

When I talk to parents, I often hear them say how quickly time “flies” and how it seems “just like yesterday” their children began their educational journey.  

With 8th year graduation, moving up, and bridge-crossing ceremonies planned for the week ahead, our students, their parents, and their teachers have much to celebrate!

I hope you spend time this long weekend celebrating your child and family. Please take a moment this Memorial Day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Virtual Art Show

We are thrilled to present FWM’s second Virtual Art Show! We invite and encourage you all to click through each of the icons in the gallery to see the beautiful creations done by the children. At the end of the virtual art show, please continue through the slide show to see photos of our young artists at work!


In Gratitude

One Day. One Purpose.

After twenty-three years as a member of the FWM community, I continue to be humbled, graced, and inspired by you, our Fraser Woods families. Your commitment to Fraser Woods and your generosity to our first FWM Giving Day totaled $17,206!

Thank you for coming together, for one day, in gratitude to celebrate what Fraser Woods Montessori School means to our community.

A note about Finishing the School Year Strong:

Governor Lamont has announced that masks will no longer be mandated for vaccinated people in CT, beginning on May 19. However, both the CDC and the CT Department of Public Health are recommending that schools “Finish Strong” by continuing all of their current mitigation strategies through the end of the school year. In alignment with these recommendations, FWM will continue all of our current COVID protections, including masking, through the last day of school.

Thank you to all for your patience and support. We have made it through an unimaginable year with the help of the whole community. Thank you, all!!


Collaboration – Another Hallmark of a Montessori Elementary Classroom

When Dr. Montessori was developing her teaching methodology, as a scientist she observed specific characteristics that marked each age group:

The individualistic nature of the child from birth to 6 years old evolves into an elementary-aged child with a complete social personality that desires peer interaction.

What does peer interaction and collaboration look like in a Montessori Elementary classroom?

  • The elementary teacher gives lessons with the child’s need for socialization in mind. The teacher often selects a small group (children can be the same age or grade, share a common interest or level of readiness).
  • You will find the mixed-age groupings in all levels in a Montessori school, but at the elementary level, mixed-age grouping is intentionally designed to support collaboration because it is a need that is highlighted at this age.
  • Children in LE and UE have the freedom to communicate. There is a “hum” in each classroom because the Montessori classroom does not have an expectation of classroom silence that is expected in many traditional environments. Together, students plan, organize, and consult with one another all day long.
  • Students have the freedom to move about the room and choose their own seating arrangements, work on the floor, or spread out and work in the hallway.
  • An air of peer cooperation fills a Montessori elementary classroom. Peers supporting and “tutoring” one another happens very naturally. A student who may be challenged by a concept in math can ask a peer for help. Older students are natural mentors for younger students, as younger students observe the work they will be doing in the future.

There is so much beauty to see in a Montessori classroom and I am grateful to witness it each and every today!


Teacher Appreciation

Each year the National PTA designates this week in May as Teacher Appreciation week. Looking back into the history of Teacher Appreciation Day, I learned that discussions for a day to honor teachers started in 1944. Then in 1953, Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded the 81st Congress to declare a National Teachers’ Day. Finally, Congress declared March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day. It was in 1985 when the National PTA established Teacher Appreciation Week as the first full week of May.

Through all the challenges we’ve faced this year, educators and families have stuck together to show students a bright path forward and our amazing Class Parents have been working on a lovely surprise for all of our teachers in honor of Teacher Appreciation!

The restrictions of operating school during the pandemic left us without our traditional Parent Association. For those of you who are new to FWM, it is our Parent Association that is the beating heart of Fraser Woods. Our Parent Association members volunteer and work tirelessly to promote a sense of community among our families. They are also the communication link between the parent community and the school (both faculty and administration). The time and gifts our parents volunteer to FWM, at essentially ALL of our school’s events, allows our school and our students to thrive.

Parents and teachers together make Fraser Woods Montessori School the warm, welcoming, and inclusive community we are.

Wishing families a Happy Mother’s Day!


Research on the Benefits of a Montessori Education

Maria Montessori believed that our first duty of education is to stir up life, but leave it free to develop. She said that more than a century ago and today Dr. Steve Hughes, a neuropsychologist and a pediatrician who is also a Montessori dad, firmly believes that the Montessori Method strengthens certain brain functions that help expand cognitive development. Dr. Hughes claims that neurological development is strengthened by learning through the Montessori Method, especially the areas of social development and executive function. Skills like organizing, planning and prioritizing, starting tasks and staying focused on them to completion, accepting other points of view, self-monitoring, and self-regulation. In a Montessori classroom, children develop executive function skills through different activities such as: waiting, looking for material by going through a maze created by other students doing their activities on the floor, searching the shelves for work that interests them, etc.

Dr. Steve Hughes states:
“Montessori children are independent moral agents. They have self-control, advanced academic skills, empathy, and they understand complex systems. They understand that we are all connected. They know all human beings have the same needs, and they also know that whatever comes out of a smokestack is going to land on someone, somewhere they love the earth. They are attached to reality. They are tomorrow’s leaders and they will change the world.”

Please enjoy this short video of Dr. Steve Hughes’ talk on research that supports the benefits of a Montessori education.

Looking ahead:

Fraser Woods Montessori School Calendar for the 2021-2022 school year.

Reminder: We have no school on Monday, May 3rd.


Earth Day 2021

Celebrating Earth Day 2021

Irene Baker, a Montessori Educational Consultant at Montessori Services wrote a wonderful article for Montessori Services that talks about how we can celebrate Earth Day every day.  I shared the highlights with you here.

Earth Day (April 22) is an annual reminder to go outdoors with our children and celebrate the beauty and bounty of the Earth. The first Earth Day was held in the US in 1970 when concern about the environment and interest in ecology was on the rise.

When appreciation and care for Earth are introduced to children early, these habits become everyday practices. Did you know that turning off the tap when brushing your teeth saves 18 glasses of water? You might help your child(ren) fill 18 glasses of water to see just how much they could conserve each time they brush their teeth!  Then use the water to water your plants!

Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Every Day

There are so many fun and interesting activities to do with your children to appreciate nature and to help protect Earth and its resources. Your family can:

  • Plant a container herb garden.
  • Consider saving food scraps for composting.
  • Sprout seeds for eating.
  • Visit a local farmers’ market. (Eating seasonal, local foods means fewer miles traveled, and less energy used to preserve and deliver food.)
  • Go for nature walks and pick up trash.
  • Save a tree by using dishtowels and cloth napkins instead of paper products.
  • Cook a one-pot meal together: stews, soups and casseroles use less energy.
  • Experiment with using vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda as natural cleaning products.
  • Create art projects together from natural and recycled materials (such as a pine cone bird feeder).

Older children might enjoy:

  • Making a worm box.
  • Keeping a conservation diary for a week, noting when someone in the family:
    • turns off lights
    • walks instead of driving the car
    • takes a shorter shower
    • turns off the TV and plays outside

Maria Montessori understood the importance of nurturing children’s connections with the beauty and wonder of the natural world. She wrote, “There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all of the life to be found around them in a real forest.” ( From Childhood to Adolescence)


Children Learning from Peers – Another Hallmark of a Montessori Education

Maria Montessori knew children learn by “imitation models.” She created multi-aged classrooms that facilitate peer tutoring and collaboration. In mixed age classrooms, younger children learn from older children by asking them questions while watching them work. Older children who are teaching younger children repeat and consolidate their knowledge and skills and learn and hone their social skills.

At Fraser Woods Montessori School, we take this one step further. Our Middle School students perform community service by going into the classrooms of our younger students and they work one-on-one with their younger peers.  The pandemic has prevented this from happening this year. But that did not stop our 8th year Leadership class from finding a way.  The 8th years, under the guidance of their advisor Mrs. Lamb, are working with our Primary teachers and our Upper Elementary teacher to bring back our Reading Buddies program and community service virtually.

Reading Buddies is an opportunity that pairs middle school students with kindergarten students for shared or paired reading time.

Reading Buddies allows our young Kindergarten readers to see and hear what being fluent looks and sounds like as they have a peer model demonstrating reading skills. These developing readers can also gain a positive role model with some careful pairing. Our older students mature and develop social and emotional skills like patience and empathy as they work with their younger buddies.

Our Middle School students who will work with our Upper Elementary students on their classwork are creating a beautiful bridge to welcome our fifth year students to our Middle School.

When older students are given the opportunity to be better, to work for something larger than themselves, and to mentor younger peers, they can thrive.

We have seen these relationships extend beyond just one school year and carry over beyond reading books. Powerful moments of connection happen, and as a result, social and emotional lessons are inevitable. What wonderful outcomes; just from just sharing a book.

Please check out the What’s Happening segment of this communication! Our 8th year Leadership class is up to more good!

 

Staff Update:

Today I am writing this bittersweet message to inform you that Danielle Ulacco will be leaving FWM at the end of the school year. She and her family will be moving out of state because her husband’s career is taking their family to New Hampshire. We, at Fraser Woods, are very happy for this opportunity for the Smith family, but we are also very sorry to say good-bye.

FWM will be forever grateful to Danielle for the love, joy, laughter, and learning she has poured into all the children whose lives and learning she touched over the years. FWM is also indebted to Danielle for the creation of our MakerSpace and its curriculum. The key to success in Maker Education is that it be integrated into your school’s culture and curriculum. Danielle made this a success for our school.

We appreciate all of Danielle’s many contributions to the FWM community and we are working together to keep her connected to FWM by working remotely as our part-time Marketing person. We are also working together with Danielle to find a candidate to be our MakerSpace teacher and IT person.

Please join me in wishing Danielle and her family well as they begin this new chapter in their lives!