msb guidepost october 2012

THE MONTESSORI SCHOOL OF THE BERKSHIRES – OCTOBER 2012 A recent Montessori listserv discussion revolved around talking to our children about what happens at school. As Montessori parents we rely on an incredible amount of trust about what our child is learning. We don’t have many black and white paper products (quizzes, report cards, graded reports, tests) to indicate successes. But many of us have children who don’t share elaborate accounts of their daily learning experiences. In discussing how to engage our children to reElect about the day, Susan, a mom of an eightyearold and a sevenyearold reminded us to honor the child’s perspective and stay focused on the relationship. I asked her if I could share her poignant account in the MSB Guidepost, and she kindly agreed. Enjoy. ~ Meagan I think it is important that we not ask questions, like how was your day, or what did you do today. Of course, this depends on the child, as some children respond to questions and some just talk freely even without the questions. I <ind some kids just shut down around the subject. Maybe it's stress? Or something else. I can still remember the feeling when I was a kid and my mom would ask me questions. It was like if I answered a part of me would be sucked away. Like people who are concerned about getting a photo taken of them because a part of them will be lost. Maybe what I was feeling, what I perceived, was my mother's urgency in getting the answer. It was like I would be devoured. I can see this sometimes in my own kids and their reactions to me. This is more prevalent with my daughter, than my son. And the crazy thing is that I get triggered by her lack of response. I want her to talk to me, and she just hides her head in a book to escape like a turtle in her shell. Cognitively, I think I know what's going on, but emotionally, it's hard to experience her need to escape. I tend not to ask questions anymore, and especially not right when I see my children after school. That time is for connection. I need to collect them; bring them back to me, so to speak. When they were younger, I would get down on one knee, give them my full attention (one at a time), give a great, big, warm hug and tell them how wonderful it was to see them. I would be 100% present for them. Then if I could, I'd play with them, even in front of the school. Later, in the car, I might just be silent, or if they seemed open to it, I would tell them about my day. I might share something speci<ic, or tell them about something I did that was brave, or sad, or silly. I might share a mistake I made and what I did about it. I might Montessori GUIDEPOST Away from “How was your day?” by Susan Minzter Continued on page 3... Listening to each other in the classroom 1

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The Montessori School of the Berkshires newsletter - October 2012


Page 1: MSB Guidepost October 2012


A  recent  Montessori  listserv  discussion  revolved  around  talking  to  our  children  about  what  happens  at  school.    

As  Montessori  parents  we  rely  on  an  incredible  amount  of  trust  about  what  our  child  is  learning.    We  don’t  have  many  black  and  white  paper  products  (quizzes,  report  cards,  graded  reports,  tests)  to  indicate  successes.    But  many  of  us  have  children  who  don’t  share  elaborate  accounts  of  their  daily  learning  experiences.

In  discussing  how  to  engage  our  children  to  reElect  about  the  day,  Susan,  a  mom  of  an  eight-­‐year-­‐old  and  a  seven-­‐year-­‐old  reminded  us  to  honor  the  child’s  perspective  and  stay  focused  on  the  relationship.

I  asked  her  if  I  could  share  her  poignant  account  in  the  MSB  Guidepost,  and  she  kindly  agreed.    Enjoy.              ~ Meagan

I  think  it  is  important  that  we  not  ask  questions,  like  how  was  your  day,  or  what  did  you  do  today.    Of  course,  this  depends  on  the  child,  as  some  children  respond  to  questions  and  some  just  talk  freely  even  without  the  questions.

I  <ind  some  kids  just  shut  down  around  the  subject.    Maybe  it's  

stress?    Or  something  else.    I  can  still  remember  the  feeling  when  I  was  a  kid  and  my  mom  would  ask  me  questions.    It  was  like  if  I  answered  a  part  of  me  would  be  sucked  away.    Like  people  who  are  concerned  about  getting  a  photo  taken  of  them  because  a  part  of  them  will  be  lost.    Maybe  what  I  was  feeling,  what  I  perceived,  was  my  mother's  urgency  in  getting  the  answer.  It  was  like  I  would  be  devoured.  

I  can  see  this  sometimes  in  my  own  kids  and  their  reactions  to  me.    This  is  more  prevalent  with  my  daughter,  than  my  son.  And  the  crazy  thing  is  that  I  get  triggered  by  her  lack  of  response.  I  want  her  to  talk  to  me,  and  she  just  hides  her  head  in  a  book  to  escape  like  a  turtle  in  her  shell.  Cognitively,  I  think  I  know  what's  going  on,  but  emotionally,  it's  hard  to  experience  her  need  to  escape.

I  tend  not  to  ask  questions  anymore,  and  especially  not  right  when  I  see  my  children  after  school.    That  time  is  for  connection.    I  need  to  collect  

them;  bring  them  back  to  me,  so  to  speak.    When  they  were  younger,  I  would  get  down  on  one  knee,  give  them  my  full  attention  (one  at  a  time),  give  a  great,  big,  warm  hug  and  tell  them  how  wonderful  it  was  to  see  them.    I  would  be  100%  present  for  them.

Then  if  I  could,  I'd  play  with  them,  even  in  front  of  the  school.    Later,  in  the  car,  I  might  just  be  silent,  or  if  they  seemed  open  to  it,  I  would  tell  them  about  my  day.    I  might  share  something  speci<ic,  or  tell  them  about  something  I  did  that  was  brave,  or  sad,  or  silly.    I  might  share  a  mistake  I  made  and  what  I  did  about  it.    I  might  

Montessori G U I D E P O S T

Away from “How was your day?”by Susan Minzter

Continued  on  page  3...

Listening to each other in the classroom


Page 2: MSB Guidepost October 2012

This October, the Montessori School of the Berkshires officially kicked off its Annual Fund Campaign. The campaign has twin goals of raising funds to ensure continued programming next year, as well as broadening the MSB’s base of support within our school and local communities.

The Annual Fund Campaign provides an avenue for parents, grandparents, alumni, and other friends of the school to make contributions that directly offset operating expenses. A successful annual giving campaign helps keep tuition increases to a minimum and, unlike tuition, Annual Fund

contributions are tax-deductible.

The Annual Fund supports:

the financial aid program

faculty development and salaries for our exceptional guides

music, theater, and art enrichment programs

the carefully prepared environment of each classroom

field trips and community learning opportunities

our beautiful 40 acre campus and LEED-certified building

and our dedicated and talented staff

Like all independent schools, MSB relies on philanthropic support to help provide for the projects and programs that assist us in nurturing the children you have entrusted to us.  We respectfully ask every MSB family to participate in the Annual Fund Campaign each year at a level that is personally significant.  The volunteers on the Annual Fund Committee are working to ensure that we reach 100% participation from our parent community.  

If you have any questions, please reach out to any Committee member, or contact Marya LaRoche, Director of School Advancement at: [email protected].

2012-2013 Annual Fund CommitteeMarc  MaurinoCampaign  Co-­‐Chair  &  AE  Class  CaptainSharon  MozianCampaign  Co-­‐Chair  &  CHII  Class  CaptainMary  HanniganToddler  Class  CaptainGiovanna  FessendenCHI  Class  CaptainRachel  BeckwithElementary  Class  CaptainKay  LothropElementary  Class  CaptainRob  AkroydDevelopment  Committee  ChairChurch  DavisChairman  of  the  Board  of  Trustees


Page 3: MSB Guidepost October 2012

Continued  from  page  1...

see  if  they  would  like  me  to  ask  about  their  day.    Or  I  might  say,  "How  about  you  ask  me  a  question,  and  then  I'll  ask  you  the  same  question  back."    There's  no  formula,  but  I  found  my  kids  were  more  open  to  sharing  information  this  way.

I  also  think  the  quiet  time  just  before  bed  is  time  is  a  great  time  for  re<lecting  about  the  day.      Kim  John  Payne,  from  Simplicity  Parenting,  closes  the  night  with  "Thorns  and  Roses."  These  are  composed  of  four  questions:

1. What  is  the  best  thing  that  happened  to  you  today?

2. What  is  the  worst  thing  that  happened  today?

3. What  are  you  not  looking  forward  to  tomorrow?

4. What  are  you  most  looking  forward  to  tomorrow?

You’ll  notice  the  questions  are  in  the  stages  of  "good,  bad,  bad,  good,"  leaving  the  child  with  anticipation  of  tomorrow.    You  can  do  this  with  other  topics  as  well:    What  was  the  bravest  thing  you  saw  today...  the  saddest...  the  most  amazing?    Parents  should  answer  these  questions,  too!

I  <ind,  as  we  can  slow  life  down  and  be  with  our  children  (which  is  often  dif<icult  with  all  the  outside  demands  and  pressures),  

these  conversations  happen  organically.    In  moment  of  play,  your  child  might  share  something  with  you.    We  just  need  to  allow  for  these  moments,  for  these  conversations,  to  happen.    Only  asking  questions,  usually  leads  to  shut  down.

I  think  when  we  get  attached  to  wanting  the  answer,  our  children  can  feel  our  desire.    Once  we're  willing  to  let  go  of  needing  that  answer,  we're  more  likely  to  get  one.    When  my  child  shuts  down,  and  I'm  feeling  that  knot  of  tension  within  me,  what  I  think  is  really  going  on  is  that  I'm  wanting  connection  with  my  daughter,  and  I  feel  don't  have  it.    I  fear  that  this  is  what  the  teenage  years  will  be  like.    I  fear  if  she  (or  he)  doesn't  tell  me  what's  going  on,  I  won’t  be  able  to  help  her  or  help  her  be  safe  in  this  world.    Many  feelings  can  come  up  in  these  moments,  and  once  we  can  identify  what  is  really  going  on,  then  we're  not  as  attached  to  the  outcome.    And  then  we  can  better  understand  what's  really  going  on  inside  our  kids.

Really,  it’s  often  the  unexpected  moments  when  kids  will  talk.    Often  it's  when  you're  doing  something  else.    Perhaps  you  are  on  a  walk  together.    Or  when  you  see  something,  it  reminds  you  of  a  story  from  when  you  were  a  kid,  and  you  share  the  story  with  your  child.    

Just  this  evening,  I  was  sitting  with  my  daughter  at  the  

kitchen  table.    She  was  drawing,  and  I  was  doodling,  and  she  started  talking  about  how  she  got  in  trouble  again  for  doodling  in  school.    So  we  talked  about  doodling  for  a  while.  It  was  just  one  of  those  peaceful,  lovely  mother-­‐daughter  moments.

Then  my  husband  and  son  called  from  another  room.    When  my  daughter  and  I  came  back  to  the  table,  I  continued  as  if  everything  was  the  same.    Yet  it  wasn't.    The  connection  was  broken.    She  said,  "Mommy,  your  talking  is  interfering  with  my  concentration,"  and  walked  over  to  get  some  headsets  (no  music,  but  to  keep  noise  out)  and  put  them  on.    I  tapped  on  her  headsets  playfully  to  see  whether  she  was  in  a  playful  mood.    She  wasn't.    So  I  just  sat  there  and  continued  to  doodle.    About  a  minute  later,  she  started  to  add  to  my  doodle,  and  then  took  the  headset  off  and  we  continued.    She  just  needed  some  time,  I  guess,  to  get  back  to  that  place  where  we  were  before.

Pausing  and  observing  what  is  going  on  allows  these  moments  to  happen,  and  ultimately  it  allows  us  to  better  understand  our  relationships  and  our  connections  with  our  children.

For  more  information:


Page 4: MSB Guidepost October 2012



CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: 1) Abelli serving water during lunch. 2) Hannah-Sophia exploring in the garden. 3) Niilo “hanging” out during recess. 4) Raphael “hanging” out at the ROPES course. 5) Children’s House students gathered for Peace Day. 6) Parents enjoying the swings while waiting for the Peace Day song. 7) Claudia sharing lettuce harvested from the garden.


Page 5: MSB Guidepost October 2012

PARENT GROUP NEWSThe  Parent  Group  has  taken  shape  based  on  the  needs  of  the  parent  community.    Over  the  past  few  months,  we  have  been  actively  re-­‐structuring  our  leadership,  enabling  more  opportunity  for  volunteerism  in  distinct  areas  that  will  work  for  the  greater  good  of  the  school  and  its  supporting  families.    

We  are  pleased  to  announce  the  new  MSB  Core  Teams:  School  Support  Team,  Greens  &  Grounds  Team,  Communications  &  Outreach  

Team,  Social  Events  Team,  and  Resources  &  Revenue  Team  (descriptions  below).    In  the  near  future,  we  will  be  hosting  a  Fall  Parent  Group  meeting.    This  will  be  your  time  to  learn  about  all  the  ways  you  can  become  an  active  part  of  the  Parent  Group  community.

We'd  also  like  to  express  our  enthusiasm  about  our  Fall  After-­‐School  Enrichment  Series.    There  has  been  amazing  activity  happening  between  the  hours  of  3:00  and  4:00  pm,  Monday  through  

Friday.    We  are  so  grateful  to  the  teachers  who  are  offering  their  knowledge  and  services.    There  has  been  something  for  everyone,  from  hand-­‐stitching  to  comic  strip  making,  robotics  to  explorations  in  nature.    Thank  you  to  all  who  are  participating.    We  look  forward  to  offering  more  after  school  enrichment  in  the  winter  and  spring  months.    If  you  are  interested  in  teaching  a  future  class,  please  contact  Jen  Salinetti  at  (413)  243-­‐6122  or  <[email protected]>.

Mission: To foster community among parents and help parents support the school and its staff.

School  Support  TeamThis  team  is  made  up  of  the  Class  Liaisons  and  Chaired  by  the  Class  Coordinator.    Class  Liaisons  work  with  classroom  guides  collecting  cooking  ingredients,  ]lowers,  or  other  materials.    They  assist  guides  to  communicate  volunteer  opportunities  and  special  events.    Class  liaisons  are  expected  to  be  present  at  classroom  socials  to  foster  connections  with  other  parents,  and  may  coordinate  additional  social  events  on  their  own.    Collectively,  this  team  organizes  the  activities  for  Teacher/Staff  Appreciation  Week  in  the  Spring.  Greens  &  Grounds  TeamThis  team  will  enhance  and  beautify  the  school  in  various  areas  as  needed.    Several  times  a  year,  workdays  are  scheduled  to  clean  out  and  plant  ]lower  beds,  clear  woodland  trails,  

and  assist  with  garden  upkeep.    This  team  also  coordinates  with  MSB’s  Facilities  Manager  to  organize  work  crews  for  special  projects.

Communications  &  Outreach  TeamThis  team  will  foster  school  communications  through  the  MSB  Newsletter,  website,  the  Parent  Group  Facebook  Group,  and  other  methods.    The  team  collects  updates  from  the  other  Team  Leaders  in  order  to  compile  the  Parent  Group  contribution  to  school  communications.    The  team  is  also  responsible  for  working  with  the  Director  of  Education  to  create  the  school  yearbook.  Social  Events  TeamThis  team  will  plan  school-­‐wide  events  to  build  a  sense  of  community.    Annual  and  special  events  include:    Back-­‐To-­‐School  Family  Potluck  

Picnic,  End-­‐Of-­‐Year  Ice  Cream  Social,  Family  Game  Nights,  Parent  Socials,  and  Family  Outings.

Resources  &  Revenue  TeamThis  team  will  plan  events  or  activities  to  raise  funds  for  the  Parent  Group.  All  monies  raised  goes  toward  Parent  Group  sponsored  activities  and  school  gifts.  The  primary  revenue  generating  activities  supporting  the  Parent  Group  are  the  Winter  Oasis  Dinner  Parties,  passive  fundraising  programs  (like  Box  Tops),  and  After-­‐school  Enrichment  Programs.    Other  fundraisers  may  be  conducted,  in  consultation  with  the  school’s  Advancement  Of]ice.    Past  fundraisers  have  included:  Flower  Bulb  Sales,  Restaurant  Nights,  Berkshire  Grown/Local  Goods  &  Gifts  Catalog,  and  Back-­‐To-­‐School  Supplies.  


Page 6: MSB Guidepost October 2012

HEAD OF SCHOOL NOTESIt  was  a  pleasure  to  have  such  a  great  attendance  at  our  ]irst  annual  State  of  the  School  on  September  19.    I  used  a  presentation  software  called  Prezi  which  allows  for  a  dynamic  demonstration.    However,  unlike  Power  Point,  it  doesn’t  have  slides  that  I  can  share.    So  I  will  do  my  best  to  encapsulate  the  information  here.

We  looked  back  at  the  school’s  evolution  and  equated  it  to  Maria  Montessori’s  Planes  of  Development:  Infancy  (birth  to  six),  Childhood  (six  to  twelve),  Adolescent  (12  to  18)  and  

Maturity  (18  to  24).    We  have  moved  through  our  infancy  plane.    With  this  phase  of  our  development,  we  parallel  Montessori’s  description  of  the  infant  because  in  our  ]irst  three  years  we  were  the  “unconscious  creators”  as  we  set  up  individual  parts  of  the  school.    We  then  moved  to  our  second  three-­‐year  cycle,  as  we  began  to  set  up  systems  and  functions  using  the  individual  parts  created  in  the  ]irst  three  years.    We  are  now  poised  to  transition  into  our  next  plane  on  route  to  maturity.

I  highlighted  four  areas  of  growth  for  the  school,  ]inance,  governance,  enrollment,  and  facilities.  

Facilities• Opened  doors  in  2006  at  Aspinwell  complex.

• A  year  and  a  half  passed  before  we  even  had  a  sign  on  the  building.

• Found  our  dream  property  in  2007.• Secured  ]inancing  in  2008  and  began  building  process.

• Current  facility  has  performed  beyond  our  expectations.

• Added  swing  set,  parking  lot  lighting,  and,  through  a  generous  donation,  supplemental  heat  and  AC.

• Built  and  maintain  gardens,  chickens,  and  utilize  campus  for  various  family  events.

Finance• In  2006  started  as  an  LLC.  • In  2007  began  the  transition  to  a  non-­‐pro]it  entity.

• Fundraising  entered  the  picture.• We  formed  a  Board  of  Trustees  which  began  ]inancial  oversight.

• In  2008  secured  ]inancing  for  the  building  project.  Included  both  direct  money  from  the  USDA,  90%  guarantee  from  the  USDA,  as  well  as  various  other  guarantees.

• Established  and  built  the  ]inance  committee.

• Have  grown  in  growth  and  capacity  by  re]inancing  our  mortgage  with  a  different  bank  resulting  in  $47,000  annual  savings.  We  maintained  the  direct  money  from  the  USDA  however  the  bank  only  required  an  80%  guarantee  and  fewer  other  guarantees.

Enrollment• In  2006  opened  the  doors  with  20  students  and  ended  with  34.

• In  2007  expanded  into  the  elementary  grades.  Total  students:  45.

• In  2008  expanded  to  two  children’s  house  classes.  Total  students:  60.

• In  2009  maintained  60  students  and  began  monitoring  retention  rates  with  83%  retention.

continued  on  page  7...


Page 7: MSB Guidepost October 2012

Upcoming Events

Family  Sharing  &  Half-­‐Day  (noon  dismissal):  Thursday,  October  25  Staff  In-­‐Service  (no  students):  Friday,  October  26Admissions  Open  House:  Saturday,  October  27Admissions  Open  House:  Wednesday,  November  7Children’s  House  I  Pancake  Breakfast:  Saturday,  November  10National  Philanthropy  Day:  Thursday,  November  15Elementary  Historical  Dinner:  Friday,  November  16Children’s  House  II  Pancake  Breakfast:  Saturday,  November  17School  Closes  at  3  pm  for  Thanksgiving:  Tuesday,  November  20

To  support  our  ongoing  efforts  to  “be  green,”  please  let  us  know  if  you  would  prefer  to  receive  the  Montessori  Guidepost  via  email.    Thanks!

• In  2010  jumped  to  89  students  with  75%  retention.    Added  toddler  and  adolescent  programs.• In  2011  increased  to  94  students  with  a  91%  retention.

Governance• In  2006,  Meagan  and  I  opened  the  doors  as  a  “for-­‐pro]it.”• In  2007  began  the  transition  to  the  non-­‐pro]it  world  and  formed  a  board.• In  our  evolution  of  growth  and  capacity,  we  will  continue  to  grow  the  board  with  diverse  talents  in  order  to  share  the  responsibilities  of  our  needed  evolution.    Over  the  years,  the  board  has  recognized  that  we  needed  to  ]ind  a  board  chair  other  than  me  so  as  to  allow  me  to  fully  function  as  the  Head  of  School  and  work  more  ef]iciently  and  effectively  with  the  board  in  order  to  evolve  us  as  a  school  and  organization.    We  have  progresses  to  this  point  and  I  am  happy  to  announce  that  Church  Davis  has  stepped  into  the  Board  Chair  role  and  Carter  White  has  stepped  into  the  Vice  Chair  position.

These  areas  are  not  mutually  exclusive  of  one  another.    They  are  all  interconnected  in  intricate  and  speci]ic  ways.    A  huge  thank  you  to  everyone  for  all  of  your  continued  support,  interest  and  enthusiasm.    The  school  would  not  exist  without  it.                   Todd Covert

Head of School Notes continued...


Page 8: MSB Guidepost October 2012

PO  Box  422Lenox  Dale,  MA  01242

It  is  with  great  sadness  that  we  say  goodbye  to  a  wonderful  member  of  our  school  community.  A  parent  of  two  children  in  the  elementary  classroom,  David  Ripley  passed  away  from  a  heart  attack  the  morning  of  August  31.  

David  was  a  kind,  intelligent,  unique  and  extremely  creative  individual.  His  creativity  and  joy  in  life  is  well  re<lected  in  his  wife,  Renee,  and  their  two  children,  Craig  and  Linda.    When  I  <irst  met  David  during  a  parent  sharing  day,  he  told  me  he  had  worked  as  an  acupuncturist  and  he  struck  me  as  a  jack  of  all  trades  for  building  and  making  things.  David  loved  working  on  his  house,  as  well  as  on  just  about  any  kind  of  artistic  or  crafts  project.  

David  was  also  the  kind  of  guy  who  could  talk  to  just  about  anybody  as  well  as  entertain  with  his  wry  sense  of  humor.  If  you  ran  into  him  on  the  street,  he'd  be  just  as  likely  to  talk  about  the  latest  book,  video  game,  music  album,  or  project.    

We  miss  you,  David,  but  you  are  not  forgotten.  You  live  on  in  the  minds  and  hearts  of  your  family  and  friends.

In Memory of David Ripley by Aaron Eliassen