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The Journey From The Child's Place to Montessori Academy of Cincinnati
As parents, Pat and Ken Elder were very interested in Montessori education when they enrolled the first of their two children in a Montessori preschool program in Pennsylvania. The family moved to Cincinnati a few months later and the Montessori journey continued with the second child in their search to find the right Montessori school. Pat gained much respect for the philosophy and discovered many ways to implement it through this search. As a result, she enrolled at Xavier to study Montessori and began the dream of opening her own school.
Her dream became reality when she opened The Child's Place in Deerfield Township in 1987. During the design process, the architect asked if they wanted to build a two-classroom building, and Pat responded, "Why? What would I do with a second classroom?" Little did she know that by 2001 her little gray building would grow into three 3-6 classrooms, lower and upper elementary classrooms, a computer lab, an extended care room, a lunch room, and an activities room. At this time, the elementary students campaigned for a name change to reflect their growing age, and the new name became Montessori Academy of Cincinnati (MAC).
In January of 2005, MAC moved into a 51,000 square foot building with many rooms for every age group. The new building is one mile from the original location and can now accommodate middle school ages. The pre-primary wing includes three large classrooms, a kindergarten pullout room and an extended care room. The Elementary wing includes two lower elementary classrooms and one over-sized Upper Elementary room. The 5,000 square foot Middle school area has observation rooms for all classrooms, three tutor rooms, a library, computer lab, science lab, kitchen, cafeteria (food-service provider), a large outdoor playground, and a full-sized gymnasium that provides seating for 400.
Meanwhile, the original smaller gray building didn't sell as planned so the Elders decided to move in another family-owned childcare, now known as The Child's Place. As an infant-toddler environment, The Child's Place accepts babies as young as six weeks. The child-teacher ratio is 4:1. The toddler room serves children from 18 - 29 months and the ratio is 5:1. Lead teachers have Montessori Infant-Toddler certification and the assistants have some training as well. The oldest age group is called Transitional Preschool and serves children from age 30 months until they are ready to move to a 3-6 class. The ratio here is 7:1 and the lead teacher has 3-6 certification.
The Child's Place now can handle the waiting list for MAC as well as provide space for a more flexible schedule for parents who need partial-week or half-day options. There are six classrooms at The Child's Place with a total enrollment of 110. There are nine classrooms at MAC with a total enrollment of 250 students and the two buildings provide care for working parents from 7:00 a.m. until 6:30 p.m.
Few schools provide the additional complementary spaces for students that MAC does. Their spacious rooms invite the children to relax and enjoy their learning. The fifteen classrooms between Montessori Academy of Cincinnati and The Child's Place has helped Pat answer her long ago question,"What would I do with a second classroom?"
"The Crucible" of the 21st Century
A Review of CMS Spring Conference
Keynote Speaker: Joann Deak, PhD
Joann Deak, an educator, psychologist, author, and expert on child brain development, introduced us to her idea of "crucible events" during her keynote speech at the CMS Spring conference. She started by reminding us that "Every interaction a child has during the course of a day influences the adult that child will be." As educators, a large number of those interactions take place in our presence and under our influence. Therefore, we are, more than ever, helping to create the future that we hope to see through our daily interactions with our students. It is then, our job to maintain a positive, peaceful, and educational environment in our classrooms. However, as Deak explored the idea of "crucible events" we saw that it is the interactions outside of the classroom that we must frequently contend with in helping to shape "the adult that child will be."
When Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible about the Salem witchcraft trials of 1692-93, he explored the pain and hardships of women who were subject to the accusations of witchcraft. "The Crucible (events)" of today, as Joann Deak describes them, are the hardships faced by children, and therefore shaping their developing brains. So what exactly constitutes a crucible event or moment? The death of a loved one or pet, a divorce of one's parents, molestation and other abuses are some crucible events that shape the development of a child. However, smaller moments such as the eye roll of "the queen bee," the exclusion from a game on the playground, or the off-handed comment made by a teacher. Therefore, the billions of neurons or "rubber bands" as Deak refers to them, are constantly being stretched and pulled based on the choices children are given, the interactions in which they are involved, and the events of which they take part.
Joann Deak explained her theory of "brain rubber bands" in her "brainology basics." She told us that you don't choose your rubber bands; whether they are big or small, flexible, or with less plasticity. It is true, however, that no matter what your rubber bands may be, no one brain has the same bands. When a band is larger, the aptitude is greater; the result is a positive emotion. The adverse, then, is true as well. When a child has large rubber band in the area of math, they feel successful, and therefore, most likely avoid a "crucible moment." However, when a child has a small rubber band in a specific area, they are more apt to experience a "crucible moment." It comes as no surprise then, that a child will, when given the choice, always go with their "big rubber band."
As Montessorians, we always try to "follow the child." Joann Deak encourages us to not only follow the child, but to follow and find the varying rubber band sizes in each child. Deak told us that we must "use our connections to children to say, 'I know it is hard, stretching the rubber band, but it will help.'" When we, as educators are able to help stretch rubber bands, assist with brain development, and therefore foster an environment in which a child feels most successful, we will then have at least some control over the "crucible moments" that are inevitable in the lives of children in the 21st century.
Montessori and 21st Century Skills
Notes from a panel with Jim Stergios from the Pioneer Institute, Shari Tishman from Harvard Graduate School Project Zero, Amy Hammond from National Association of Independent Schools, and Mark Powell, Technology Director and Montessorian
At the annual American Montessori Society's conference held recently in Boston, 21st century skills were defined as "the three C's" - critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. Panelists, who were education experts mainly outside the Montessori world, agreed that Montessori schools are already building these skills.
First, the panelists were in favor of multi-disciplinary learning - that is, not dividing the academic skills into "science", "math", and so on, but studying reading with science, and learning math and history together. Montessori schools have always built learning this way. We use cultural subjects (social studies, science, history, and geography) as jumping off points for writing assignments or measurement work. Life is not divided into one-skill-at-a-time problems. Multi-disciplinary projects encourage critical thinking and are fundamental to the Montessori method.
In addition, interesting multi-disciplinary projects invite group work, or collaboration. These projects take time and students use their skills and teammates to create the end result. Another way Montessori encourages collaboration is through mixed age classes. An expert on the panel said that he is surprised traditional schools do not do this, because mixed aged children naturally collaborate. Older children help younger. Younger children learn by watching and receiving lessons from older students. Overall, children at Montessori schools learn to get along with others of different ages and abilities.
Lastly, when children do a big, multi-disciplinary project, it often ends with them presenting their learning to the class. In this way, they are practicing their communication skills. Oral presentations build confidence and the ability to speak in front of others. Group sharing also helps. Montessori schools emphasize writing skills as well. Writing cogent and brief but meaningful text is important, even if in the future more writing may never appear on paper.
Montessori schools face some challenges with regards to 21st century skills, although the panelists did not discuss these much. One thing is certain, however, and that is that Montessori schools are building critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills in students. We look forward to the future they will create.
Backyard Biologist:Raising Butterflies
Spring is the time for birth! Many animals give birth in the spring so their children will have a better chance of living during the warmer months. Animals are born in all sorts of ways. Some are born from eggs. Some are born live. Some are cared for by their parents. Some are born and take care of themselves. All animals, in turn, grow up and give birth to their own young. This is called the cycle of life.
Butterflies go through special changes to make new little ones. One of the best ways you can learn about the life cycle of butterflies and moths is to find a caterpillar and raise it to an adult butterfly or moth. How exciting to watch what will develop from your find! Monarch or Painted Lady butterflies can be purchased for a school project, or for even more fun, find a caterpillar in your garden, the woods, or a field. You can borrow a butterfly field guide from the library to find out what type of creature you have.
Here's what you need to do: Containers, food, and directions are usually supplied when you buy live caterpillars from a supply house. All you need to do is follow the directions carefully. If you look for your own caterpillar, you will have to be ready to improvise. When you find a caterpillar on a plant, you should take part of that plant too, as it might be the caterpillar's "host plant". When you find a caterpillar, place it in a jar, plastic bag, or other container with some of the plant leaves or flowers where you found it. Most caterpillars will eat only one kind of plant, so make sure to have extra pieces of the food plant stored in a plastic container in your refrigerator. If your caterpillar is still eating and growing you will have to keep it supplied with fresh food, and clean out its droppings at least every second day.
At the bottom of the container, place one or two folded paper towels, facial tissue, or newspaper. Change these whenever necessary. Do not let the container become too wet. You can tell if this happens if moisture condenses or collects on the inside.
After feeding is complete, the caterpillar will spin a silk button, shed its skin, and become a chrysalis (pupa) if it is to be a butterfly. Provide sticks or stems on which the butterfly chrysalis can attach.
If the caterpillar is that of a moth it will spin a silk cocoon and change into a pupa. Provide facial tissue for moth caterpillars to attach their cocoons to.
Some butterflies, such as Monarchs or Painted Ladies, and various types of moths will develop directly and come out of their chrysalis in 10-14 days. On the other hand, some butterflies, such as Swallowtails and some moths, notably woolly bears, must overwinter and emerge as adults the following spring.
-Melissa Culyer (reprinted with permission, 2003)
As you know, the Cincinnati Montessori Society is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring together parents, teachers and schools in order to promote and support the Montessori philosophy. It is governed by a volunteer board of trustees of Montessori parents, teachers, students, administrators and others interested in supporting Montessori education.
Each year, as we vote in new board members, we examine how we are serving our customers and what else we can do to support and promote Montessori Education in Cincinnati.
Your feedback is very important to us - comments, compliments and critiques!
- What do you like and/or dislike about our service?
- What ideas do you have to make our organization better?
- What areas do you think are important for CMS get involved in?
Executive Board Members
The Cincinnati Montessori Society is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring together parents, teachers, and schools in order to promote and support the Montessori philosophy. It is governed by a volunteer board of trustees, comprised of Montessori parents, teachers, students, administrators and others interested in supporting this method of education.
Calendar of Events
Montessori for the Modern Classroom
June 21-25, 9am-5pm;
Xavier University Montessori
2 graduate credits, visitwww.xavier.edu/montessori
or call the Montessori office
____________Montessori Music Heritage
at Queen of Angels
4460 Berwick St.
Cincinnati, Ohio 45227
Workshop I: July 19-21
Workshop I/II: July 19-23
This is an opportunity for all Montessori teachers, as well as music teachers working in a Montessori environment, to experience the Montessori music curriculum for children from
three to twelve years
____________Developing the student leader
July 19-24, 9am-5pm;
Xavier University Montessori
2 graduate credits, visitwww.xavier.edu/montessori
or call the Montessori office
____________Pushing Against the Age:
Montessori in Today's Culture
July 26-29, 8:30am-12:30pm
Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education
For additional info, call Crystal Dahlmeier at 859-431-2075
Seeking a Montessori-certified teacher for junior high program.
Bachelor degree in education, K-8 certification, required. Junior high
certification a plus. Benefits negotiable. Salary based
Send resume/letter of interest to:
Cornerstone Montessori School
2048 Alexandria Pike
Highland Heights, KY 41076
Prince of Peace School
9-12 Teacher (Full time)
Jr. High Teacher (Part time)
AMS or AMI Certification
Health Benefits, 50% tuition grant at Xavier University, paid sick days,
reduced tuition for staff children
Sr. Suzanne Rose, SND; firstname.lastname@example.org
Children's Meeting House
3-6 Montessori teacher
Montessori certification is required and experience is a plus. We offer a
competitive benefits package.
To apply, please email a resume to email@example.com
or fax to Lisa at 513-697-4191.
Montessori Academy of Cincinnati
Seeking a math teacher for 6th year and middle
(which will include HS Algebra I). State Certification/Licensure through
8th is required, high school certification a plus. Montessori Certification
9-12 and experience
are also required. This is a part-time position. For more information please call Pat Elder at 398-7773.
A photographic review of the CMS Spring Conference-
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Co-Editors - Heather Gerker
School Happenings - Dee Butler
Teacher's Section - Sarah Fullen
Parent's Place and Current Events - Julie Kugler-Ackley