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Online Newsletter Issue No. 15
Fall 2013

It seems as though Fall is finally here! With the weather turning, pumpkins appearing, and the costume ideas buzzing around in our classrooms, I hope that you are finding time to appreciate the beauty that a change of seasons brings.

Along with the weather change there are a few other changes happening with CMS. First, we've changed our address! If you are a member school you should have received this notice via snail mail (along with an updated W-9 for your records). Our new address is PO Box 176307, Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017. As always, we can still be reached at


The CMS Annual Conference is still happening in Spring and still in the month of March, however it's a little earlier. In 2014, the conference will be held on March 1st! We are currently accepting presentation proposals. Submit yours now; the deadline is November 1. 


October brings with it children who are more comfortable in their environments, who are busy finding workspace, respecting each other's work, learning how to use the materials, and who are adapting to the rhythm of the classroom . As the leaves continue to fall, hopefully you are finding joy in the changes in nature and an overall sense of comfort and rhythm in your classrooms and communities.

Heather Gerker

CMS President

We are currently accepting proposals for breakout workshops. Submit your proposal by November 1st for consideration.

CMS requires that all prospective presenters agree to the Rules of Submitting a Workshop Proposal before submitting.

A Montessori Experience in Costa Rica

By: Eileen Richter, Country Hills Montessori, Ft. Thomas 


After reading Crystal Dahlmeier's article about visiting the Forest School in Scotland, it brought back memories of my own journey last September to Costa Rica. Whenever I travel, I tend to seek out schools of any kind, but particularly Montessori schools. I enjoy finding similarities of our Montessori philosophy and the uniqueness of a particular city or a culture's influence on its students. When I arrived in Costa Rica and we drove around, I saw some of their traditional schools, usually in a town square with a soccer field and a church. Then my husband and I rented a car and drove on some very rocky roads to Monte Verde (green mountain). There is a beautiful cloud forest there (similar to a rain forest).

We hiked in the forest, learning about and seeing/ hearing the native animals there - Howler Monkeys,hummingbirds, huge Blue Morpho butterflies, and Quetzal Birds, just to name a few. We then visited a small coffee plantation.The owner of the plantation did not speak English, but his daughter interpreted for him. She asked me what I did for a living. When I told her I was a Montessori teacher, she said, "Oh, my daughter goes to a Montessori school here in Monte Verde." I was shocked to hear of this in a little town on the top of a mountain with access to a cloud forest within a mile! She told me where it was, and that they would love to give me a tour there.

So, the following day, we went to The Friends School, started by Quakers who moved to Costa Rica during World War II to avoid the draft in the U.S. Costa Rica has no army and has a philosophy of peace and diplomacy to resolve conflict. What a great place for a Montessori school and sure enough, there was a little 3-6 Montessori classroom! We toured the whole school which housed children from PreK through Grade 12. We were visiting at lunch time, so the Montessori teachers and children invited us to see their room. It really felt like home, especially when a few of the children were so pleased to be able to give us a tour of everything! The school even invited us to come for a year and have our children attend their school. Wouldn't that be fun? The visit was a wonderful highlight of my trip. Though I'm not sure we could swing a year in Costa Rica, I can always dream!
A Prepared Environment for Optimal Group Development? 
Considering Dynamic Governance for Montessori Organizations

By:  Loreen Golden, Ohio Montessori Alliance 


Our ability to provide quality Montessori education for children is greatly influenced by our ability to work together, as a school, faculty, Board, or student/family/regional/statewide organization.  Recognizing the essential role the prepared environment plays in a child's development, the Ohio Montessori Alliance (OMA) has spent a year considering and experimenting with structures that align with Montessori principles, to support our organizational development.  What follows is a reflection, and an invitation...

The potential for the Ohio Montessori Alliance (OMA) was birthed through dialogue...a quiet truth that existed within each of us that transformed into a palpable presence within the safe space and energy created by the group --
"We are all in this together, and working together is necessary for real change to happen."   The magic of Life is that you never know how it will express itself through a particular form or being, and so we waited in wonderment of what would unfold, and set about the task of nurturing our development. 

Montessorians excel at establishing conditions that enable Life to flourish...the question before us was, "How can we transfer our shared knowledge of the critical role the prepared environment plays in an individual's development to nurture the development of our Montessori-community-as-an-organism?"

Considering structures for our prepared environment, we quickly recognized that traditional hierarchical organizations are based on the same understanding of the world as is conventional education: "Newtonian images of the universe [where] we manage by separating things into parts, we believe that influence occurs as a direct result of force exerted from one person to another, we engage in complex planning for a world that we keep expecting to be predictable, and we search continually for better methods of objectively measuring and perceiving the world."(Pg 7) This recognition echoes the words of Edward Deming, who, "revered around the world as a pioneer in the quality management revolution...would often say, 'We will never transform the prevailing system of management without transforming our prevailing system of education.  They are the same system.'" (Pg xi & xiii)  This system and its underlying assumptions has served a phase of humanity's evolution, but is not accurate or comprehensive enough to help us interact with change and each other, at the pace and scale necessary for the Earth's survival. 

An alternative paradigm for understanding life is emerging through discoveries in a variety of fields (quantum physics, biology, chemistry, partnership studies, chaos and complexity theory, systems thinking, etc.) that echoes the indigenous wisdom of our ancestors, and aligns with the truths observed by the scientific mind of Dr. Montessori.  This paradigm focuses on holism and integration, rejoices in
complexity and interdependence, and recognizes "relationship [as] the key determiner of everything."
(Pg 11)  It is in this paradigm that the OMA sought an organizational structure to serve as our prepared

For the past year, the OMA Board has been experimenting with Dynamic Governance, "a decision-making and governance method that allows an organization to manage itself as an organic whole" [Pg 2].  Based on equivalence and Systems/Complexity theory, Dynamic Governance (DG) seeks to leverage the
creative forces of self-organization, which allows the overall organization, as well as each of its members, to "achieve their full potential". (Pg 20)  Some benefits of DG-as-a-prepared-environment include:
  • establishes a "power-with" governance structure
  • maximizes inclusion and efficiency
  • builds autonomy and enhances alignment
  • fosters engagement, productivity and commitment
  • encourages creativity and innovation
  • creates energy and harmony around decision-making
Although we have only "dipped our toes" in the DG waters, we have noticed that, similar to how the
prepared environment shapes the development of the child's brain and personality, the practice of engaging with others within the structure of DG seems to guide and shape our optimal development, as individuals and an organization.

A little over a year into our growth, I've had a chance to glimpse the form of Life that seems to be unfolding within the OMA:  This past week I fumbled.  As one of the leaders of the OMA, I missed an important detail; dropped a major ball.  With full trust in the safety and wisdom of the group, I sent out an SOS -- sharing my failure and seeking help.  Within an hour, support and resources appeared, and multiple solutions emerged where none had seemed to exist.

I believe the structure of DG has helped the OMA organize for change by building our capacity to manage crucial conversations, cultivate a learning culture, tap the group's collective intelligence, harness system's thinking and the healing power of inclusion, embrace complexity, and develop a "win/win", "both/and" approach to decisions-making.

Striving for real and sustainable impact, the OMA Board has committed to a two day training in Dynamic Governance with John Buck, by embedding it within our Annual Meeting, an opportunity we wish to share with all interested individuals and organizations throughout the Montessori community...

If you are someone who is excited about Montessori education (parent, administrator, directress, student, alumni, grandparent, etc), we welcome you to join us at the OMA Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio, on October 26th and 27th, to:
  • gather and grow as a community
  • deepen our connections, as well as our understanding of the work before us
  • better understand this new paradigm

and consider ways to leverage Montessori Education, Dynamic Governance and "collective impact", as complementary tools for architecting a new culture, within our schools, faculties, Boards, and student/family/regional/statewide/national organizations...and perhaps, the world. 


More information here.

The Parent AND Child Perspective of Montessori Education 
By: Nagla Karim & Adia Molloy
Cincinnati Country Day School Montessori
For our parent article in this edition, Montessori parents collaborated and interviewed their children about what makes their classrooms unique and special. The parents share their answers here and provide their own insights as to why they are excited about the
Montessori Method.

Nothing is better than watching your kid head to school happy. We got the kids together to talk about what they love most about their days. Recess factored heavily, as it does for kids, but we were pleasantly surprised to find out that free time outside was not all that made our kids' days so enjoyable. The things we value most about Montessori are the things that our kids also love.

Learning About Letters and Teaching Each Other
"I love learning how the letters sound. I enjoy learning about the small letters and the big letters in a very gradual manner." Jaida, age 5.

The kids all agree that in their Montessori classroom, learning letters ruled. From the movable alphabet to reading early readers to lessons on letter sounds, there are lots of ways to learn to read in the classroom. The interesting thing, unique to Montessori, is that it is not just the teachers that inspire the kids. They are motivated by watching the older kids and also by getting
to be the experts and teach the younger ones.

"I get to teach the younger kids in M1 the discipline and tell them how to listen to the teacher." Jaida, age 5.

This peer interaction extends beyond the academic curriculum, teaching them to work with and learn
from their peers and to share their expertise when others need help.

Math:  Building Competency and Confidence Through Autonomy
"There's lots of math work and lots of different ways to do the math, like the bank." Abigail, age 4.

The academic fun isn't limited to letters; the kids love being challenged in all of their subjects. The math curriculum in the Montessori starts simple and builds quickly in complexity. In building a solid foundation, the kids understand the concepts behind the numbers and learn to have confidence in doing the work and in their ability to complete and fully understand it. They trust themselves to proceed to harder challenges like addition and subtraction even at the younger ages. The math work is a great example of the self-reliance and pride they are building when it looks like they are building block towers or strings of beads.

"I like that you don't always have to follow a teacher. Even in sports time when we're not at school
the grownups tell us what to do, but in school we get to pick the work out ourselves. That's the best
part." Briana, age 5.

The confidence in their abilities extends beyond the math and reading curriculum. Our kids feel empowered to try new instruments like the violin, drums, maracas, and sometimes even the piano. They love progressing in swimming class and can't wait to ditch the floatation devices and do it on their own. They are learning to trust themselves and not to be afraid of new challenges.

The Focus Is On the Future
"The learning curriculum gets us to know more about our jobs." Briana, age 5.

The Montessori curriculum, and yes, that was the word chosen by a five year old, explores what jobs are out there and how what they are learning now is incorporated into those jobs. It also gives them an awareness of the world around them, giving relevance to the school work tasks and making learning more engaging.

Overall, the curriculum is great and most importantly, the kids are making friends, or "BFFs" as Abigail says, and having fun learning. What more could you ask for?
"I wish we had school every day!" says Meszie, age 4.  When asked by her brothers, "What about Christmas?  
Do you want to go to school on Christmas?"  Meszie's answer: "Yeah, we can open presents at lunch time!"


Are you a Montessori parent who would like to share your experience with the Montessori Philosophy with CMS? Do you know a parent that would like to share? Let us 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. If you are interested in serving on the board or have talents to share, please contact us.
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?
Please send us your thoughts.
In This Issue
Call for Presentation Proposals
A Montessori Experience in Costa Rica
A Prepared Environment for Optimal Group Development
The Parent AND Child Perspective of Montessori Education
Montessori Community Calendar
New Professional Development Requirements from AMS
It's Not Magic...It's Physics!
Teacher Profile
Job Board
Have Something to Share?
Executive Board Members

Heather Gerker, M.Ed.


Vice President
Kristen Patterson, M.Ed.

Susan Flaspohler, M.Ed.
Membership Secretary
Meri Fox
Recording Secretary
Valerie Dyas, M.Ed.

Cincinnati Montessori Society
on Facebook
CMS Facebook Like
Montessori Community Calendar

Professional Development Workshop Opportunities, Montessori School Open Houses, and more!

New Professional Development Requirement from AMS

American Montessori Society (AMS) requires that holders of AMS credentials issued on or after July 1, 2013 complete 50 hours of professional development every 5 years for the credential to remain active. The first 5-year period begins with the date the credential was issued.

If professional development hours are not completed within the 5-year period, the credential will be considered inactive until the requirement is met. The credential holder must keep a record of his or her professional development and be able to provide print or electronic verification of the event host, location, date, topic, presenter(s), and number of hours attended.

To maintain an active credential, verification of professional development is to be submitted to AMS 30 days in advance of the 5-year anniversary of the issuance of the credential, and every 5 years thereafter.

For more information on professional development opportunities that meet AMS guidelines and a calendar of events, visit the AMS website.
It's Not Magic...It's Physics!
by Kira Hinkle

Kira Hinkle's second and third grade class at The New School Montessori explored Newton's first law of motion in a classic
science demonstration.
  • Balance a raw egg on top of toilet paper tube.
  • Set the tube on a pie pan.
  • Place the pan above a glass of water.
  • Knock the pie pan and tube out of the way.
With the support of the pie pan and the toilet paper tube removed, the egg drops into the glass of water as the force of gravity acts upon it. 

It looks like a magic trick, but it's not magic. It's physics. Cosmic Education is fundamentally about presenting the world in a way that the child is in awe, enraptured, and mesmerized by her surroundings. The elementary child constantly asks, "Why?" Cosmic Education is about taking the elementary child's desire to explore the bigger picture and running
with it.

Perhaps it would be easier, cleaner and simpler if we limited our exploration of the physical sciences to demonstrations as opposed to hands-on experiments. However, a Montessori education is built on a foundation of "learning by doing". Did we break any eggs in our first law of motion experiment? We went through seven in thirty minutes. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

If our students merely watched a demonstration, the mystery in the experiment would have remained. It would not have felt real - like a rehearsed magic trick - not an example of the lawsof nature.

Our Montessori roots call us to let the child use hands and mind in tandem. We find that by trusting the child and letting him participate fully, we take away the smokescreen and allow him to discover our awesome universe for himself.

Is the egg falling into the glass magic? Of course it isn't. However, the after effect of a child making connections between an experiment and our world can be a pretty magical thing!

See movies and photos of Kira's science class here.

Read more blogs about education from New School Montessori staff members here.
Teacher Profile

In the next several editions of the newsletter, we will be highlighting Montessori teachers around Cincinnati. If you know someone who would be a good teacher to highlight, please email us with their contact information. 


TEACHER:  Molly Wilkins


CURRENT SCHOOL: Dater Montessori



WHY DID YOU CHOOSE MONTESSORI: I'm from a family of teachers. I always knew I wanted to teach. When I observed at the Xavier Lab School it made sense. I saw the respect given to children in this educational setting and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. The farther along I went in my studies the more I became committed to Montessori. It found its way to my soul!

YOUR FAVORITE TEACHING MOMENT: I have several favorite moments, but I get "juiced-up" each year after I set up my classroom in the summer. Of course, I've moved the shelves around for hours to make sure that there are no "runways", I can make observations from any part of the environment while seated and try to view it as the children will. I only truly know that it works when the children arrive!  Other moments happen when children return to visit, whether they're 7 or 25. I enjoy listening to their stories of what they remember about their experience. This reassures me how important it is to have fun at school. That's what they remember the most. 
YOUR FAVORITE STUDENT STORY: I find joy when I hear children proclaim, "This is the best day ever!"

AN INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOU: I am a kidney donor to my brother Michael.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE MONTESSORI PHILOSOPHY: Educating the Human Potential (straight from Dr. Montessori). I can't say it any better.

YOUR INTERESTS AND HOBBIES: I enjoy the "idea" of reading more than I actually do (that's a gift I get from my Dad). I am drawn toward water sports and enjoy the outdoors. My thrill this summer was Zip-Lining. I enjoy the fruits of my labor when my vegetable and flower gardens are thriving.

ANYTHING ELSE: I would like to extend an invitation to teachers and interns to visit my classroom and visit as many schools as possible. Go to your administrators and request an observation. We have so many gifted teachers in the Cincinnati area. Go visit, observe (without judgement), talk to each other, and most of all, listen.  
Job Board

Have Something to Share?

Are you a CMS member school? Does your school have an event coming up or other news to share? Tell us the exciting things happening at your school - we'd love to include it here!

Space is limited so contact us soon if you are interested.

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