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April 10, 2013
Marie's Message    
Weekly news and notes from Head of School Marie Dugan 



WMS's annual auction is scheduled for the evening of Saturday, April 20. I am writing to you today with a personal request for you to join us.

Have you seen the beautiful posters around the school? They were designed by Room 11 parent Gilles Auffret! The items for bid are quite amazing. You can be sure to get some wonderful treasures like priceless classroom gifts from the children and their teachers (including a handmade quilt, cookbook, and lots more), weekend and week get-aways, merchant gifts, and many more. My daughter Joanne, a photographer in New York City, donated three sets of her children's books and her ABC gift boxes from the MOMA Museum. A beloved former teacher Tissa Lewis and her husband Ed have offered their condo on Amelia Island. I have been there. The sunrise and sunset over the water is breath-taking!


The auction committee has been working since September to create a wonderful evening and the WMS staff and teachers have received free tickets so all of them can come, thanks to the generosity of WMS parents. Please join us, and please invite alumni, grandparents and other friends - all are welcome! Tickets cost $50, including food, entertainment and an open bar. We thank every committee member and every donor for their hard work and donations.


It is the children who benefit from the auction. The revenue is an important part of our operating budget, which depends on this event to stabilize our finances. Please plan to come. Tickets are easy to buy online and the elementary students are taking turns selling them in the lobby before and after school.

Wait until you see the decorated gym auction night. Laurie Muhlbauer, our art teacher, chairs the decorating committee. I look forward to welcoming you on April 20. Let's make this auction the best-attended one we ever had! 


Click here for more auction information.

Marie and Lakshmi
Marie and Lakshmi
WMS celebrates Holi with special visitor

For the past two days, WMS has celebrated the Indian festival of colors Holi in the Great Room. This parent-run event included a puppet show and opportunities for children to dress in Indian garb and paint each other's faces.

Yesterday, WMS also welcomed a special visitor to the festivities. Lakshmi Kripalani, now 92 years old, was taught by Dr. Maria Montessori as a young educator in Karachi, India. Perhaps the only living student of Maria Montessori, Lakshmi visited classrooms and shared stories of her interesting, and sometimes very difficult, life as a Montessori teacher.
Early in her teaching career, Lakshmi lost her job at a small school in India, despite being popular and well-respected. With help from her family, she opened a school in her home. Other local schools did not appreciate the competition and sent their children to throw stones at her home, one of which crashed through a glass window, injuring a young girl. Lakshmi stepped outside with the girl, whose head was bleeding, and spoke to onlookers, saying, "This is what you're teaching your children? If you want my school to close, just tell other parents not to send their children here. Without children, there will be no school." Her announcement had the opposite effect when the next day, Lakshmi was greeted with 30 new children, whose parents had removed them from the schools that encouraged the rock-throwing.    
Several years later, when Lakshmi was just 27 years old, India gained its independence and Lakshmi and her family were forced to flee their home in West Pakistan for a refugee camp in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. They were packed into a truck, then forced to live in tents with only small food rations. 
Many more Holi photos coming soon to the WMS Facebook page!
When children and their mothers went to collect their daily portion of milk, it was chaotic. Children fought and the mothers could not control them.  Lakshmi immediately saw a remedy for this chaos - education - and told the camp's commander the refugees needed a school.

He laughed at her and said, "We can barely feed you, and you want a school?" She told him that she didn't need money - just permission. He gave her bullhorn and told her: "If you think you can build a school with this, go ahead."


She spoke into the bullhorn, saying, "We've lost everything and our children have lost everything. If you want a school for your children, come help." 


That afternoon, children and parents spent several hours carrying stones out of a shed that became the refugee camp's school. Lakshmi used flour and chili powder to divide the room into sections and used branches to write on the ground. Buds, flowers and pebbles were used to teach math.

Lakshmi, who later moved to New Jersey where she founded a teacher training program and several Montessori schools, said again and again how lucky she has been to have so many unique experiences and opportunities to share Montessori education. We at WMS also feel lucky to have spent the day with this amazing woman and educator.  Thank you for visiting us, Lakshmi! 

Mark Your Calendars



9-11           DAIS Art Show (featuring art by
                  all 9-12 students)                          

11              Parent Education: Standardized
                  Testing & Classroom-Based
                  8:30 a.m., Room 26
                  More Info 


                  Toddler Spring Sing Fling
                  11 a.m., Great Room 

15               Photography Show:
                  Love, Joy & Wonder
                  by Heather Siple

                  Reception at 2:30 p.m. 
                  Show open through end of school
                  year in the Great Room 
15-19          ERB Testing
                   More info to come from classroom 

17-19          Childfind Testing 
                   More info to come from classroom 

20               WMS's Lucky Pair: Auction &
                   Casino Games           
                   7 p.m., Gym  
                   Buy your tickets today!
                   More Info

22               Montessori Monday - Admissions
                   Tell a friend!
                   More on admissions events

24               Earth Day/Arbor Day activities
                   Details TBA 

25               Preschool Concert
                   9:30 a.m., Gym

                   Rummage Pre-Sale
                   For WMS Staff/Families
                   4-6 p.m., WMS Lower Level

27               Junque & Treasures 
                   Rummage Sale

                   7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
                   More Info

30               WMS Student Art Show begins
Spotlight on Kelly Rhodunda

by WMS Parent Dave Ropars


Kelly Rhodunda As we all know and rightly hear over and over, the most valuable assets we have at Wilmington Montessori School are our teachers. When families visit WMS, the beautiful facility and watching the Montessori method in action make parents want to enroll their children at our school. After they begin their lives at WMS, it is the teachers that keep them coming back. Let's "shine the spotlight" this week on music teacher Kelly Rhodunda.      


Last month's talent show by the 9-12 students was a wonderful example of the impact Kelly has on our students. Did you see the pride on the faces of parents when they saw their children singing solos, dancing alone, manning the sound board and spot light and also doing skits?  Did you see the confidence on their faces? Are these the same children that you sent to WMS when they were just toddlers? What has happened to these children to make them grow so much? And how did they learn to make all of this beautiful, magical music?    

As we watch musical performances at WMS, we see Kelly direct the children and coordinate their movements like a famous conductor or director. Surely Kelly used to be a Broadway star or director or something, right? I asked her to share some of her influences and how she came to be with us at WMS.

Kelly started at WMS in 1999. Marie Dugan was the Head of School and the final wing of the school had not been completed yet so Kelly had to share space with after-school teacher Mark Bomgardner. If you see a performance at WMS today, it would be hard to believe that Kelly started teaching music with "only a couple of maracas!" Marie saw the value of music in the curriculum and asked Kelly if there was anything she needed to get the music program off the ground. Marie found the money to buy Orff instruments (Xylophones, metalophones and glockenspiels) and then Kelly wrote a grant proposal to MBNA who supplied the money to buy most of the percussion instruments that we still have today. So the music program that we have today was built from the ground up by Kelly.  In the year 2000, the final wing of the school was completed and Kelly moved the music program into its own space. 

I asked Kelly when she knew she wanted to be a music teacher.  She told me that she was a trail-blazer of sorts....the first person on either side of her family to go to college.  Her dad was very supportive, telling her "I'll send you to college if you get A's." She knew he was serious and decided her best chance to get A's was in music. She started piano lessons at age 5 and took advanced placement classes in high school so off she went to West Chester University with a piano scholarship! 

In her junior year in college, two things happened that set her on the path to teaching music. First, she realized that as much as she loved music, she didn't have the passion for performing that her peers had. Second, she had the opportunity to observe a music teacher, Roseann Kello, in the Kennett School District. "When I witnessed the joy on the children's faces, I was hooked!" she said.

This is the same joy you see on the faces of WMS children today. Perhaps it was serendipity but the year that Kelly graduated from college, Ms. Kello went on sabbatical and Kelly stepped in to "fill her shoes" and learn the practical aspects of teaching music.      

Kelly spent four years teaching in the Colonial School district where she was named "Teacher of the year" by her school. She then moved back to Kennett and spent three more years there teaching and, at the same time, earning a master's degree in Educational Leadership.  

In 1998, Kelly and her husband Bill welcomed Alexa (WMS class of 2011) into the family and Kelly, with the new baby and Bill's busy work schedule, wasn't sure she wanted to work full time. Again, perhaps serendipity was at work. Kelly's younger brother was attending WMS as a preschooler in Dolores Morra's class and Kelly's mom saw a job posting for a part-time music teacher. And, as Kelly said, "The rest is history!"  

Asked to describe "the best part" of her WMS experience, Kelly said there were many but narrowed it to these three: 

  • "It's been a home away from home for my children Alexa (graduated in 2011) and Will (5th grade).  They both started as toddlers so between the three of us, we have 22 years at WMS!"
  • When Will was young, Kelly needed to spend a lot of time at home taking care of him. Linda Zankowsky, the Head of School at the time, gave Kelly permission to "go be a mom." And so she did, returning in 2002 when she was able to teach again full time.
  • The freedom she was given to develop the music program.

 As a result of all of the experiences that Kelly brings to our school, you can tell that every student has the opportunity to participate in the shows fully and they feel great about their contribution. Next time you see Kelly in the hallway, let her know how much you appreciate the way she makes every student feel special!


Kelly Recommends: Music in the Wilmington Community


Kelly recommends that WMS families enjoy the rich musical experiences available in our area. Here are a few coming up this weekend:   

A Midsummer Night's Dream performed by First State Ballet Theatre - Saturday, April 13 @ 7 p.m. and Sunday, April 14 @ 2 p.m. - The Grand Opera House - Purchase Tickets


Tchaikovsky's World performed by the Delaware Symphony Orchestra with WMS father David Amado, Music Director - Friday, April 12 @ 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 14 @ 2 p.m. - Laird Center for Performing Arts at The Tatnall School - Purchase Tickets and Learn More

Parent Education
Encouraging Our Children Toward Independence 

Parenting Tips
by Certified Parent Educator (and WMS Great-Grandmother)
Yvonne Nass 


Everyone has expectations for their child. In fact, I think it begins in utero.

Our expectations set the standards for what we expect from our child. When those expectations become unrealistic because of age, development or interests, they become discouraging. When a child feels he or she can't meet the expectation, the child stops trying or can begin cheating and lying.

 Maria Montessori based her education on "following the child." Take the time to watch your child and know when that child is ready to grow.  Listen to his or her interests. Break a job down into small tasks so the child can feel successful. Celebrate what the child can do and set the expectation of the next step.

Children are expected to live in the world of adults and act like adults. That is an unrealistic expectation.



For more information about this and other parenting topics, contact Yvonne Nass at

TestingFree Parent Workshop: Classroom-Based Assessment & Standardized Testing
  April 11, 2013
Tomorrow - 8:30 a.m., Room 26 

Learn more about the ERBs and other testing and assessment tools used at WMS:
  • What kinds of assessment tools are used in WMSStandardized Testing classrooms?
  • What is standardized testing and what do the results mean?
  • How do WMS teachers use these results to help ensure that your child gets the best education possible?   

    Attend this FREE workshop to find out the answers to these questions and more.  

Register Now Button

For more information, call 302-475-0555 or contact
News & Notes
Wilmington Montessori School Lucky Pair Auction & Casino Games Night - April 20, 2013

auctionAuction News


Get ready to bid on some great items at the  Lucky Pair Auction & Casino Games event which is now less than two weeks away!  The 2013 Auction catalog is available online now.  Look through it early to select the items you might be interested in bidding on.

Auction Item Stats:

  • More than 140 auction items and counting
  • Items' total retail value is over $30,000
  • Four week-long vacations up for grabs (two in the catalog, more details at the event!)
Auction Catalog Available Online (Download PDF)



Pre-Auction Raffle - going on now!
Raffle Winners to be announced 4/19  


iPod Touch / VIP Parking Spots Raffle - 2 Tickets for $5

1st Place Winner -  Apple iPod Touch (16GB 4th Generation)
2nd / 3rd Place Winners - VIP Parking Spots for the night of the Auction

Safari Themed Gift Basket Raffle - 1 Ticket for $1

Raffle tickets, along with auction tickets, are currently on sale. Purchase them before or after school in the lobby. Auction tickets can also be purchased online. Drawing will be held Friday, April 19 at 3:30 p.m. in the Great Room.  Winners need not be present to win.  A special thanks to the Ventresca family for the iPod Touch for this auction!


Co-op Volunteers Needed 


Need co-op hours? The auction committee needs you! Beginning Tuesday, April 16, through Friday, April 19, there will be various decorating jobs available, such as painting. Some jobs will be able to be done at home, while others will need to be done at the school. On Friday evening, beginning at 6 p.m., there will be a push to get the lobby decorated and WMS families will receive double co-op hours. 

The Signup Genius form linked below also provides time slots on Saturday, April 20, during the morning/afternoon for decorating as well as that evening beginning at 6 p.m. for volunteers to help register guests and check them out at the end of the evening.

Whether you are volunteering out of the goodness of your heart or if you are fulfilling co-op, please click on the link below to see how you can help.  Feel free to email auction chairs Cathy Capper or Kerry Shweiki with any questions. 

Sign up to help with the auction.
  Rummage Sale - Primary Colors Display  Rummage Sale - Pink Display
Junque 'n' Treasures Rummage Sale
The rummage sale is just around the corner and donations continue to pour in.  Our pick-up team just picked up a huge donation of goodies this past week - the truck was filled to the brim.  Thanks to Sandy and Scott Battaglia for their generosity.


We are still accepting donations! Can't drop off? We can pick up! Contact Nancy Sakaguchi (email or call 302-475-4162) to make arrangements.


Also, get ready to set sale with us on Thursday, April 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the lower level of the school. This "pre-sale" is for the WMS community only!
The sale to the general public will take place on Saturday, April 27 from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. - be sure to mark your calendars and tell your friends.  Last-minute donations are always welcome and will be accepted up until 6 p.m. on Friday, April 26. We are also looking for clothing racks and hangers to be used for displaying items.

Co-op Volunteers Needed 
The Rummage Sale is in need of volunteers during the week of April 22 (rummage sale set up, help during the pre-sale and the Saturday sale).  Interested? Email  
Coming soon... Spring Book Club: NurtureShock 

The central premise of NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman is that many of modern society's strategies for nurturing children are in fact backfiring - because key twists in the science have been overlooked. This book has been featured on Good Morning America, Nightline, All Things Considered, Fresh Air and in Newsweek. 

To sign up for this book club, which will begin the week of April 22, please email by the end of this week. Please let her know which morning, Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday - works best for you!

Along with discussing this wonderful book and making new friends, you will also earn co-op hours by participating in this book club. 
Camp Montessori
Camp Montessori Programs Filling Fast

As predicted, Camp Montessori is filling fast!  The following specialty camps are close to full:  App Attack (ages 7-14), Magnetic Levitation Builders (7-12), The Perfect Zoo for You (4-7), and Dance Dream Discovery (3-5).


Tigers' (entering 1st & 2nd grade) traditional day camp is also almost full for three of the ten weeks.


Don't wait too long to register for a summer of sun, learning, creativity, and fun!

Photography Show Featuring WMS Students

Heather Siple can be found at nearly every WMS event, but often blends into the background with her ever-present camera. During her time as a WMS parent, she has documented our school through beautiful photography. Now, she'll be front and center at her own photography show titled Love, Joy and Wonder in the Great Room starting Monday. 

Stop by to see this beautiful collection of photos featuring the children of WMS before the end of the school year. Join us for an opening reception at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, April 15, in the Great Room, to meet Heather and learn more about her photography! 
Lacrosse 2012
Wanted: Lacrosse Coaches

Earn co-op hours while exercising! 
Physical education teacher Adrianna Cichonska is still looking for parent volunteers to assist with coaching boys and girls lacrosse for grades 3 through 6. No experience with lacrosse is necessary - although if you have experience, we would love to have your expertise! 

email Adrianna if you're interested.

The Wednesday Weekly shares WMS news and events that are relevant to the families in our community.  Please send submissions to by 4:30 p.m. on the Friday prior to the issue in which you wish to include your information.  Content may be edited for length and style and may be held for a future issue due to space constraints.  For more information, contact Noel Dietrich, Communications Officer.

Our Mission

Wilmington Montessori School is a collaborative learning community rooted in Montessori principles, inspiring the joyful discovery of self and a passion for learning and independent thinking. We empower children to be knowledgeable and responsible contributors to the global community.