DVMS Parent Newsletter
February 2014 - Vol. 6, Iss. 6
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We are so excited to announce that the most musical, fun and entertaining band in Canada, The Skydiggers, will be playing a benefit for Strata Montessori School on Friday, April 4 in our gym. In the past, Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer, Chantal Kreviazuk, Dan Lanois and even the Skydiggers in an earlier incarnation have all helped us out. These nights are legend, and so much fun, and help us to build what all of us recognize is a truly remarkable community. So now we need your help. Please come out and show your support. Tickets are available in the office.

In 1914 Ernest Shackleton and his 27 man crew were stranded for over 500 days in the Antarctic after their ship was crushed by ice. January's polar vortex has given us all true insight into their suffering. Here's to a warm and early spring.

Tony Evans
Dundas Valley Montessori School
Strata Montessori School

Important Dates. Put 'em In Your Calendar

Monday, Feb. 3
DVMS Re-Enrolment Packages Distributed

Tuesday, Feb. 11
New Adolescent Student-Parent Orientation Q&A

Thursday, Feb. 13
Valentine's Bake Sale for Tuleeni
Strata Admissions Packages Due

Friday, Feb. 14
PD Day. No School

Monday, Feb. 17
Family Day Holiday. No School

Tuesday, Feb. 18
DVMS Re-Enrolment Forms Due

Tuesday, Feb. 25
Strata Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences

Wednesday, Feb. 26
DVMS Show Me Day

Event and Information Details

DVMS 2014-2015 Re-Enrolment
Re-enrolment packages will go out on Monday, February 3. We ask that you submit your re-enrolment by Tuesday, Feb. 18. There are a number of families at all levels on a waiting list for spots at DVMS and we want to know which of our families are returning before offering them a spot. If you wish, you may complete and submit your re-enrolment forms online. 2014-2015 Fee Schedules for both Casa and Elementary can also be found at dvms.ca under the "Fees & Forms" tab.
We especially want to extend our thanks and appreciation to all of our amazing DVMS families who continue to choose Montessori and DVMS for their children. Thank you.

New Adolescent Student-Parent Orientation Q&A
This event, from 4:00 - 5:00 on Tuesday, Feb. 11, will give DVMS senior Upper Elementary students and their parents a chance to ask any questions about the program after their shadowing day and before the applications are due on Thursday, Feb. 13. Students potentially transitioning to Strata will begin spending shadowing days at Strata beginning the week of Feb. 3. (Note: this event takes place during the time that DVMS afterschool care is available for younger siblings). Parents of year 6 students are reminded that they are welcome to arrange an observation day in the Strata environment.

Tuleeni Valentine's Bake Sale
As most of you know, for many years DVMS has been helping to raise funds for the Tuleeni Orphan's Home in Tanzania. This year, we have moved our annual Tuleeni bake sale from the Holiday concert to Valentine's Day. A note from the organizing committee:
The Upper Elementary is holding a bake sale on February 13th for the Tuleeni Orphans Home. The Tuleeni Orphans Home is in a small village in Tanzania. The Home gives shelter and food to children who's parents are not able to take care of them or have died of AIDS or other natural causes. The money goes to paying for the children's food, clothing, medicine, and building onto the home to house more people. The home has 100 children each from 2 - 20 years of age. The name Tuleeni comes from the meaning "care for us." The bake sale will be held in the gym at 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. Please feel free to bring in baked goods by Feb.12th to the morning of the 13th.
Thank you,
Nina Veselovsky, Promotions Committee

The Casa kids will also be participating. A note from the Casa staff:
Guess what Casa parents? You don't have to make Valentine cards this year! Hooray!
We've come up with a very special, meaningful craft. Each child in each Casa environment is going to make a unique, thoughtful card to send to an orphan at Tuleeni. Your kids will make them during the week of February 10th and we will mail them out on the 14th proper. We're expecting this will have a very positive, empathetic impact on the students and create a connectedness to children in a far away place who are less fortunate.

Please Note: All funds raised for Tuleeni at DVMS are wired directly to the account of the orphanage.

No School Friday, Feb. 14 and Monday, Feb. 17
Friday, Feb. 14, is a PD day. DVMS staff will be prepping for the Canadian Association of Montessori Teachers "Pot-Pourri" Day, an event for Montessori guides that DVMS is hosting on Saturday, Feb. 22. Click here for details of this day-long, roundtable event.
And if you're looking for something to do on Valentine's Day, DVMS has regularly scheduled ice-time at Grightmire Arena (Market St., Dundas) from 2:00 - 3:00 every Friday. Come out and join us for a DVMS Family Skate on the PD Day.
Monday, Feb. 17, is the Family Day statutory holiday.

Elementary Activities
  • Lower Elementary will continue either skating or hockey at Grightmire Arena until Feb. 6/7. Skating is on Thursdays from 1:00 - 2:00 and hockey is on Fridays from 2:00 - 3:00. Parents are welcome to join us for skating (and to help tie skates ;). Please ensure that skates are laced, loosened, and ready to put on with ease. A well-fitted, CSA approved helmet is required for skating.

  • On Friday, Feb. 21 and 28, all Lower Elementary students will be participating in a Jump Rope program, at DVMS, run by DVMS parent Liz Way, owner of jumprope.com.

  • Upper Elementary students will continue curling at the Dundas Valley Golf and Curling Club, from 12:30 - 2:00, until Feb. 6/7. Upper East (Terrence) curls on Thursday afternoons and Upper West (Kathleen) on Fridays. A great big thank you to the parent driver volunteers who make this activity possible.

  • Upper students will be skating, at Grightmire Arena, on Friday, Feb. 21 and 28, from 2:00 - 3:00. They will require skates and a CSA approved helmet (please see us if you need either of these items, we may have a few spares)

Strata Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences
Strata Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 25, from 4:00 - 8:30. Strata families, please sign up for your 20 minute conference time by clicking here.

DVMS Show Me Day
DVMS Show Me Day will be on Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 2:30 - 4:30. You are invited to come to school and have your kids show you what they do. They may give you a presentation or show you some of their favourite work. During the second term, Show Me Day takes the place of classroom observations. Please sign up for a 30 minute Show Me slot by clicking here. (Note: We ask that you please restrict your Show Me day attendees to parents only. Thank you).

March Break Camps
We will be holding Casa Camps during both weeks of the March Break, and an Elementary Camp during the second week of March Break.

  • Casa Camp Week 1: Habitat Explorers with Marissa (March 10 - March 14).
    Each day of camp will be an exploration of a different natural habitat through a variety of activities including music, games, and crafts. Campers will have the opportunity to investigate the plants and animals of different regions and how they are adapted to their environment. Please send an over-size t-shirt with your child to use as a paint smock for the week, as well as a packed lunch each day.

  • Casa Camp Week 2: The Five Senses with Elizabeth (March 17 - 21)
    Over the course of the week we will discover each of the five senses. We will bring one sense to life each day by playing games, exploring our outdoor environment, creating crafts, and by using the Montessori Sensorial materials.

  • Elementary Camp (Week 2 Only): Outdoor Adventures with Kathleen (March 17-21)
    We will spend as much time outdoors as we can, experiencing shelter building, outdoor survival, hikes, creek exploration, nature scavenger hunt, outdoor arts and crafts, snow sculptures, and more (or less, depending on the weather).

Please click here to register for March Break Camps.

Meditation Presentation
Those of you who follow DVMS's Facebook page may remember that DVMS Mom Amanda Lakhanpal shared an article a few weeks ago on the positive impacts of meditation on students. On Wednesday, Feb.19, from 6:00 - 7:30 pm (social at 5:30), DVMS will host an event organized by the Lakhanpals on the benefits of meditation: "Stress Negatively Impacts the Executive Functioning of the Brain: Transcendental Meditation as Scientifically Proven, Practical Solution," with speaker Peter Cameron, MBA and certified TM teacher, in the DVMS gym. Peter's entertaining talk will touch on research findings in more than 350 peer-reviewed studies on the TM program's effectiveness in reducing stress levels, in addition to a wide range of life enhancing benefits. A TM course will follow on Feb. 22 (or other dates TBD) with local certified TM teacher Dr. Yotka Rickard, PhD.
Check the Event Page here and for more info and to RSVP.

Driving in the DVMS Neighbourhood
At the request of some of our neighbours, we'd like to remind our families to please slow down and take your time when driving to and from the school. DVMS is located in a residential neighbourhood and our neighbours informed us that there has been a recent change to the school bus pick-up/drop-off route that means more kids need to cross the roads in the mornings and afternoons. One child has told her parents that she is too scared to cross because of all the fast cars. Thank you everyone.

Thank You Parent Ed. Night Attendees
Many thanks to all of the families that attended the recent Parent Education Night. Montessori can be a bit mysterious, and these nights are intended to shed some light on what we do, how we do it, and why. The more we all know, the more we can all work together for our kids. The next Parent Ed. Night is Wed. April 16. Hope to see you all there.

Afterschool Athletic Activities for Kids
There are a couple of ongoing activities taking place in the DVMS gym outside of scholl hours that we thought you might be interested in:

  • Drop-in Basketball: DVMS Dad Colin Fox will be hosting a Drop-In Basketball Night for Lower and Upper Elementary DVMS students in our gymnasium, every Wednesday from 6:45-8:00 pm, starting on Wednesday, January 29. It will be a fun atmosphere focusing on basic skill development and play. No sign-up is required and cost is on a pay-what-you-can drop-in fee each night. Come on out and play some hoops in a non-competitive environment with your friends.

  • SportsFit: A local trainer named Ross Marchesano is using the gymnasium Saturday mornings for his SportsFit program. There is a program for 6-9 year olds and a program for 7-13 year olds. Please click here to view his flyer with more details.

Music and Learning at DVMS
Most of you know that DVMS has a rich musical heritage, from Tony's, Dylan's, and Chris's rock star days to award winning music teachers, music industry parents, elementary string ensembles,and a number of afterschool music opportunities: Dylan's School of Rock/Bang on a Can program, piano lessons with LRT specialist Marissa, and string and piano lessons with DVMS Mom Gosia McCarroll. Here's a great, 10-minute video from PBS about the benefits of music training to education. If your child is interested in taking music lessons, please get in touch and we'll set you on a musical path.

A Note About Snow Days
We had a surprise snow day this past Monday, with reaction ranging from "Yay!" to "Phew, we're buried" to "What snow?" DVMS takes advantage of the efforts of the Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, who base their decision to close schools on road safety. Since DVMS students and staff come from all over the greater Hamilton area (incl. Burlington, Brantford, Waterdown, Ancaster, and Hamilton mountain locations, as well as Dundas), road conditions are an important consideration. Click here to read more about the HWDSB closure procedure (you can also sign up for email closure alerts at the bottom of the HWDSB page).
Now that we are into our second term, we would like to talk about Grace and Courtesy and what a huge part it plays in the normalizing of our environment. We have 24 children all with their own unique personalities. Everyone has their own opinion and are beginning to (as they gain confidence) express their own thoughts and listen to those of others. As adults, we are the role models and it is extremely important that we give the children the opportunity and tools to be able to problem solve together. This may sound simplistic, but it is very easy as adults to solve problems for them. Now that we are well into our second term, we can think back to September and see the amazing progress between the children. We hear them talking, listening to each other, problem solving, assisting, comforting, and becoming a cohesive group. Recently, one little boy bumped into another student who burst into tears. With genuine concern, he immediately wrapped his arms around her and as he hugged her firmly, told her he was sorry. Her tears were replaced with a smile and thanks. No adult intervention needed. A very special moment!

Please remember to check that your child has appropriate outdoor clothing each day and a change of clothing in their cubby. Labels in clothing and boots is very helpful!

Thank you.

Holly and Elizabeth.
Hello Casa North Parents.

The children are all settled back in after the Winter break and are working hard. Our first years are making fantastic progress with their sounds and numbers, and we know they feel great about it. That is one of the amazing things about teaching -- the explosion into language is such an exciting thing to witness. They've taken off step by step, are super enthusiastic, and are making leaps and bounds with giant pride.

The second and third years are continuing to positively model for the younger students and are inspiring one another to challenge themselves and do their best. Skip counting chains, quizing each other on addition tables, making labels for everything in the class, sewing my buttons back onto my shirts, writing about Neptune and Egypt. Intriguing stuff.

A lot of French has also been happening in the class and we're all enjoying it. The first years especially love talking about the colours in French and everyone is happy to play a game of French Bingo. At circle time, we have been working on les animaux, la famille, et la maison. Ask your child to name some rooms in the house, or how to say "sister" or "mother" in French. Continuing the dialogue at home will help them retain their learning while we work on our next topics.

We have a new adult friend in the class, a student teacher that your kids may have been speaking about. Here is a note and picture to you from her:

Hello Casa North Parents,

My name is Stephanie Goruk and I am currently training to become a Montessori Casa teacher with CMTEI - Canadian Montessori Teacher Education Institute. I am grateful to have been welcomed into your children's classroom to complete the Teaching Practice component of my training. It means so much to me to be gaining experience with Dylan at a high quality Montessori school. One and a half years ago, I entered the world of Montessori and decided to take an Assistant course. Since then, I have worked in two Montessori schools and made the decision to take the next step in training and become a qualified Montessori teacher.

To give you my very brief background: I grew up in Hamilton, and it's great to rediscover the area after living away from Ontario for about a decade. I have a B.Sc. in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of British Columbia. At the UBC Farm, I volunteered in a primary school gardening program. While living in Saskatoon, I initiated cooking classes for teens at a community centre. I have also worked as a tree-planter and head cook in tree-planting camps.

I'm looking forward to getting to know your children, and meeting all of you too!

See you soon,


Thanks for reading.

Dylan and Laura.
Imagine, if you will, a beautiful warm spring day. Birds are singing, the sun is shining, a gentle breeze blows in the air, and the temperature can only be described as perfect. It is time to plant our vegetable garden. But before we do, let's review all the work that led to this exciting day. Way back in January, when the weather was soooo cold (remember that?), we sat down and decided what plants we should grow. We thought about what we had learned with our botany jobs and talked about root, vine, and bush vegetables, and the characteristics of each one. We used our math skills to plot out our garden and determine how many of each vegetable would fit into one square foot. We decided to germinate some of our plants from seed and watched them grow in our lovely sunny window. Now we have all our plants, our gardening tools, lots of enthusiasm, and we are ready to plant. First we cultivate our soil, which is fun because we dig up lots of worms and see many insects, which prompts a discussion about vertebrates and invertebrates. We talk about the importance of bees and pollination in the garden, and the necessity for sun and water. Finally, we step back and admire our work. Later, in the summer, we will eat our work!

So, as you shovel your driveways and shiver in the cold, remember that spring is indeed coming, and the children are learning the basics of botany, zoology, math, and language that will make that wonderful spring day even more meaningful.

Pat and Serena.
I didn't get a chance to send best wishes with last month's newsletter being the Specialist Issue, so welcome back Lower South families. I hope everyone had a great break.

This second term is a short one, but there is still a lot in the works: finishing letter writing with a trip to the post office, the timeline of life (a huge project right now, wait 'til you see at Show Me), metric measurement in math - a great discussion item in daily life, and a focus on the elements of art with a study of the abstract artists. You'll have a chance to view their artwork at our gallery opening at the Thursday, February 13, Strata Cafe.

We are looking forward to showing off some of our work at the Show Me Day this month (don't forget to sign up). This is a great time for you to sit back and let your kids run the show. The opportunity to share their work with their parents, and have nothing but positive, supportive feedback, goes a long way to building and maintaining the levels of self-confidence kids need to continue challenging themselves and learning from their mistakes. See you there!

I've had a great time over the past month working on skating and hockey with the children in both Lower Elementary classes. The progress they make from year-to-year, and from week-to-week, is astounding. Two boys who stepped on the ice with skates on for the first time last year, and who wouldn't let go of either an adult's hand or the boards, took about ten minutes to start skating on their own this year. This year, we had two little girls take to the ice for the first time. From being frozen, both figuratively and literally, to getting around the rink on their own took only three weeks. In the hockey group, last year we had 4 kids trying hockey for the first time, and this year there are 8. The camaraderie of the older kids stepping up to help the beginners is magnificent to see. The capacity children have to teach themselves what they want to learn is truly astounding, especially when coupled with learning from their peers. I want to say a big thank you to all of the parent (and grandparent) volunteers that come out to help with skates and equipment, and on the ice. We couldn't do it without you.

Back inside the school, Lower North is staying busy with timelines, from building trilobytes and cephalopods to independent work on various epochs from the cenozoic era. Both the kids and I are looking forward to having you all come in on Show Me Day later this month.

Upper Elementary East is committed to be our best for 2014! January has been a busy month, with students recommitting to the classroom expectations and refocusing on an effort to keep purposeful work a mainstay of our day. We have had discussions about reputation, both personal and class-wide, and how to create a reputation of a hard working, creative, and innovative classroom community. I have been proud to observe this effort result in small groups moving to abstract work in math, some acknowledging that they need to practice concepts more with the materials while others have jumped to the challenge of great work. We completed a timeline of Canadian History and several students are working on research for a play based on the events of the War of 1812. Other groups have presented on topics such as the periodic table of elements, the viking voyagers, and Japanese manga art. We have also spent a portion of each week on the ice at the curling club, skill building and playing short games. In February, we will release more information about our art exhibition which will take place during an upcoming Strata Café, so stay tuned!

BUT, the really important Upper East news is that Terrence and his wife Kate welcomed Zada Jill Millie into the world at 9:14 pm on Monday, January 27, 2014 - the Snow Day! Zada was a healthy 8lbs 1oz, and 21 inches, born under the Chinese Zodiac signs of Tail of the Snake with the Head of the Horse (Manga that UEE!). Tail is the outgoing sign, head is the incoming - this designation only counts for babies on the cusp of the the 2 week Chinese New Year which started Friday January 31, 2014 (Happy Chinese New Year everyone. Thanks for the dumplings Lenore). Zada was born at home after a short 5 hour labor. Mom and baby are doing fine, but are staying in the warmth. Sister and Casa East child Olive gave herself a giant hug when she heard the first cry and stayed up late to meet her new sister.

Although a very COLD beginning to the new term, Upper Elementary West returned from the holidays with great enthusiasm and willingness to work. Cubing materials, squaring materials, multiplying decimals, and calculating percent and simple interest has been our math focus this month. We have begun our speeches and we are looking forward to presenting them to our peers and parents at the end of the month. A note will come home with your child with their date and time listed. We are also starting our study of the Olympics and are looking forward to incorporating it into our work each day.

It is that time of year again when the sixes slowly start to make their way into the Adolescent programme. They will be shadowing the adolescents over the next month to get a sense of how the programme works and what to expect next year. An exciting, and a little scary, time of year for them!

Hopefully the temperatures will remain warmer and the students can go outside for recess from now on! If not, you might just find me huddled in the corner rocking back and forth. Two weeks inside all day is enough! That being said, please ensure that your child has the appropriate outdoor clothing for all of this snow.

If you need to contact me at any time, please do not hesitate to send me an email.