Wednesday Weekly
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June 5, 2013
Marie Dugan, Interim Head of School
Marie's Message    
Weekly news and notes from Head of School Marie Dugan 

Celebrating the Class of 2013
Yesterday was a proud day for all of us at Wilmington Montessori School. We celebrated the graduation of the 10 members of the class of 2013.

It was a beautiful morning that began with a breakfast for the graduates, their family members, and WMS teachers and staff. The delicious muffins were baked by fifth-graders and their families, who also coordinated decorations and served the food.  At the breakfast, Liz Madden presented special certificates to each child. The certificates described each graduate's unique gifts and interests, which were carefully identified by the 9-12 teachers. Specials teachers also recognized each graduate by sharing lists of each child's distinguishing traits, along with an acrostic poem based on their names.

Following the breakfast, 9-12 students spent time signing each other's memory books, then gathered outside in the Peace Park to remember their time at WMS. The class held hands, singing a song about friendship and love, before it was time for the sixth-graders to head to the gym for the graduation ceremony.

As each graduate entered the gym, we were all impressed by their poise and confidence. The annual tradition of watching a slide show of memories of each graduate throughout the years brought forth both laughter and tears from the graduates and their guests. The class of 2013 then came onto the stage as the formal ceremony commenced. 
Check out our album of graduation photos on Facebook!

I was so proud as Grant Farabaugh spoke about the sixth-graders' trip to the United Nations and their fundraising efforts for the organization Save the Rain, through which they raised $607. This project is a perfect example of how WMS empowers students to care for others and make a positive difference in the world around them.

The graduates continued another WMS tradition by reciting the poems they wrote, entitled "Where I'm From." Each poem was different, but reflected similar sentiments - the child's gratitude for their families and their love for WMS. These poems will be compiled into a book that is placed in the admissions waiting room (next to Theresa's office). I encourage you to read them next time you're in the building.  Here is a sampling of a few lines that reflect the graduate's feelings about our school:

WMS taught me to go my own unique way,
to be confident in my every action,
to enjoy every moment.
- Crescentia Jung

I am from becoming a more open person
to hoping I will stay that way for the rest of my life. 
From singing with my friends at recess
to singing with them on the bus. 
From getting to know people on the sixth grade trip
To getting to know them even more in Odyssey of the Mind.
- Dharini Simon

I'm from the greatest feeling ever
Having SO MANY amazing friends
Sometimes even Amigos
I'm from all of those wonderful things
But most of all
I'm from WMS
A place I will always cherish
- Dylan Garvin

Don't be fooled, where I'm really from is WMS. The place that carried me
through all the rough and hard times and situations.
There is only one school like this where I served my meerkat years and loved
them all. That place is WMS.
- Ahmad Taylor

After the poems were read, the big moment arrived - it was time for me to present the graduates with their diplomas. I am so proud of each of them! 

Finally, as the ceremony drew to a close, friends and family members selected by the class of 2013 came to the stage to bring the graduates their "graduation baskets," another WMS tradition. The bags were full of fun gifts for the graduates, who were then ready to celebrate!

Before leaving the gym, each graduate selected a paper crane from the jar that was filled by each child and staff member on Peace Day. These cranes will help them remember their days at WMS and the community they will always be part of.  Thank you to everyone who helped make this a splendid day for these wonderful children.


Thank you for a wonderful year!

This is the last Wednesday Weekly of the 2012-13 school year. If you will be joining us again in the fall, look for news and updates from the school throughout the summer, including information about WMS's 50th anniversary year. Yesterday was the last day of classes; however, child care continues through June 14 and Camp Montessori begins on June 17. There are 215 students (and counting) registered for camp this summer. I will be here all summer, except for some vacation time, and I will be here when students return on September 3.  


Staffing for 2013-14

There are a few changes in staffing for the new year. Other classrooms will continue with this year's staffing. Here is an update.


Room 5 - Preschool

Joyce Hutchison has decided to retire as a lead teacher at WMS. Joyce has been at WMS for 13 years, and I am particularly grateful for her leadership of the new preschool classroom we opened in January. In a short amount of time, she was able to create a peaceful community in Room 5. Joyce will continue to be present in our school next year as she serves as a part-time substitute teacher.


Room 15 - 5-7 Class (Kindergarten/First Grade)
We are excited to welcome Erin Wehler to WMS, who will lead the class with current 5-7 teacher Jill Pyle. Erin brings with her a multitude of experience as an AMS-credentialed early childhood teacher. She comes to WMS from Starmaker Montessori School in Maryland, where she has taught for 11 years and has also recently taken on some administrative responsibilities. Erin attended WMS as a child and looks forward to returning and bringing her two daughters to the school as well.

New 3-6 Class (preschool and kindergarten) 

Betsy Haas has accepted a new position at WMS as the leader of a pilot 3-6 classroom at WMS. Her experience as a preschool and 5-7 teacher makes her the perfect person to lead this new program! Please contact Liz Madden to learn more.


Rooms 12 & 14 - 7-9 Program

Carol Wiswall and Melissa Connelly will continue as co-teachers in our second and third-grade classroom.  Sadly, Cheryl Jones is leaving WMS after eight years at the school. We will all miss the gifts she brought to the classroom as a talented teacher, particularly in the realm of writing. We wish her the best in the next steps in her teaching career.


Rooms 9 & 10 - 9-12 Program

Joanna Breger and Shelley Robyn will return to the classroom as lead teachers, along with Melissa Sugzdinis who will return to the classroom as a full-time lead teacher after spending the last two years leading our professional development program and subbing in the classroom on a regular basis. Cheryl Wilsey-Cleveland, who started at WMS last fall, will be leaving the school to pursue an opportunity to teach at a community college.  We thank her for her service to WMS and her contributions to our community this year and wish her the best. Lisa Lalama will continue to oversee curriculum and programming for the 9-12 Program.

Important Surveys - Please respond by Friday!
All-school year-end survey  
Many thanks to all of you who have filled out our 2012-13 parent survey! If you haven't filled out yours, there's still time. Please submit your survey using the link below by 4 p.m. Friday. Your feedback is truly valued! 

Survey link:

This survey was created through a combined effort between WMS staff and Board. Those who fill out the survey can receive one hour of co-op time (please submit a co-op form for this as you would any other co-op work with a copy of the "Thank You" page that appears when you complete the survey) and will be eligible to win a gift from the school store!  Please direct any questions about the survey to Noel Dietrich at If you choose to include your contact information to be eligible for the prize, it will not be shared or connected with your responses.

NAEYC survey - licensing requirement!
All toddler, preschool and kindergarten parents should have received a paper survey from your teacher last week. These surveys are part of the self-study portion of our re-accreditation process for the National Association for the Education of Young Children.  It is important that we have a high response rate to ensure the validity of the results. These surveys are also due by 4 p.m. Friday. Extra copies are available at the front desk if you've misplaced yours. If you would like a copy sent to you electronically, please contact Liz Madden at 
Thank you for all of your input!
Mark Your Calendars
5-14Pre-camp child-care days
7WMS Student Photography Show (Part of the June Art Loop in Wilmington)
Opening Reception
- 5-8 p.m. -
Louis L. Redding Children's Gallery, 800 N. French St., Wilmington
Photos will be on display through June 30.
8 Family Fitness Day at Retro Fitness - 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. -  
17  Camp Montessori Camp Montessori Week 1 begins - sign up today
Sewing Design
Nature Explorers
Dance Dream Discovery

Board News


Dear WMS Community Members,


Thank you for a wonderful year! Our families brought so much joy to WMS this year with skating parties, a cultural potluck, the Delaware Marathon Relay, a beautiful teacher appreciation week and the list goes on. The Board too has been busy, and we wanted you to know what we have been doing since our last newsletter in January.  


Strategic Planning

The biggest Board news is our 2013-16 Strategic Plan. We have crafted this plan with the help and participation of our teachers, staff and parents through surveys and a focus on Montessori excellence. The process began with Israel Floyd, former chair of the WMS Board, who led the planning committee. Independent School Management (ISM) offered guidance starting in February, as we surveyed parents, faculty, key administrators and the Board of Directors. You can see what you said - the Parent Survey results have been posted on the Board Portal of the WMS website. One message came through loud and clear: our parents appreciate our teachers.

In mid-March, ISM's strategic planning expert Terry Moore led a group 
including the Board and our education directors Liz Madden and Lisa Lalama through a visioning process based on financial realities that identified 20 actionable items that will provide a strong foundation for WMS as we move into our 50th year.      

The entire strategic plan will be published in the next weeks. Highlights include a focus on STEM (cross-disciplinary, integrated science, technology, engineering and math), technology and arts, finance (balanced budget and staff compensation) and marketing. While the Strategic Plan has pinpointed areas for WMS to focus on in the next three years, the specifics will be developed with the help of our faculty, staff and parents. The STEM initiative is already well underway, and you will hear more about other initiatives in the coming months.



We successfully revised our WMS Bylawsreestablishing elections for Board members. We were thrilled to bring Meredith Amado and Drew Matalonis onto the Board in March. The online elections process seemed to go well, although we will make improvements next year. We also thank retired Board members Paul Szkotak, Susan Thomas, Jackie Ivy and Nimrit Kang for their service to WMS in 2012-13.

Facilities Committee

The Facilities Committee is working on a full facility five-year assessment, planning for

maintenance and improvements. We look forward to benefitting from their focus on our building

and grounds.



We are all contributors to the enrollment picture at WMS, through re-enrolling our own children and encouraging our friends to come and stay at WMS. Thanks to everyone in this community, particularly Theresa Conaty, our admissions officer, the WMS re-enrollment picture is much stronger this year than last year at the same time.  



The new WMS website will be unveiled this summer, thanks to the hard work of Noel Dietrich, our communications officer. Marketing will be an increasing focus as the strategic plan progresses.

Search for a New Head of School

News coming soon!  



The Development Committee has matched the $500,000 2012-13 challenge for a total of $1 million raised, thanks to the generosity of Judy and Bill Scheide and the Longwood Foundation. Judy and Bill specified that they would like to help our teachers through their gift, and WMS was able to offer a bonus to all staff this year.

Work has begun on a larger fundraising initiative for WMS's 50th Anniversary. We plan to exceed the second $500,000 match for 2013-14, aiming to fund strategic plan initiatives and build a healthy endowment. The silent phase of the comprehensive capital campaign is in the planning stage.


In partnership,

The WMS Board

End-of-School Reminders

Summer Reading Program

The Delaware Learning Lab's Summer Reading Program 2013 offers intensive daily reading instruction for students ages 5 and older. Instruction is individualized for each student and all instruction is one-on-one. The four-week program at WMS will run from June 17 to July 12.  Children will receive one hour of instruction per day (longer sessions may be scheduled for older children for an additional fee). More information about payment and registration can be found on brochures that are available at the front desk or from Trish Harkins.

Questions? Contact or call 302-250-5244. Children enrolled in Camp Montessori may also attend the reading program and will be escorted to their sessions by camp staff.

As the school year draws to a close, don't forget to submit your co-op hours as soon as possible to avoid getting a bill. Co-op hours can be submitted online (preferred) or by using a paper form, available next to the main co-op board across from the library or the board at the top of the Aspen Wing. Questions? Email

Key Cards 
If you will not be returning to WMS for the 2013-14 school year, please turn in your keycard at the front desk as soon as possible.

School Calendar
Our 2013-14 school calendar is now available online. This calendar includes dates on which school is open and when breaks occur. We hope this will assist you with your planning for next year. Our school events calendar for next year will be available in a few weeks.

Saturday Access to the School
WMS will not be open to families on Saturdays during the summer, starting after June 15. Families who wish to access the school are welcome during camp hours, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The building will be closed on the Fourth of July and during the week of August 26. 
Community Service
9-12 students deliver 280 pounds of peanut butter to the Food Bank of Delaware

Last Friday, students in the 9-12 Program went to the Food Bank of Delaware and helped sort and box more than 2000 pounds of food. Some students also helped with food boxes for senior citizens.  The Food Bank was grateful for the 280 pounds of peanut butter donated by WMS families - thank you to everyone who contributed a jar or two.

News & Notes
photoshowWMS Photo Show
Retro Fitness Family Fitness DayretrofitnessFamily Fitness Day at Retro Fitness Concord Mall -
June 8  
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Bring your family to Retro Fitness (located in back of Concord Mall through a separate entrance near the Sears Automotive Center) for a day of teamwork, friendship and physical activity.  

Family Fitness Day will be a day of fun for all ages (even toddlers are welcome but may not be able to participate in some activities) that will include "Family Fitness Bootcamp" run by professional trainers, family fitness challenges (with prizes), freebies, a visit from the Talleyville Fire Company and all-day access to the gym. The event's theme is Disney's The Incredibles, which will be showing in the Retro Fitness theater throughout the day. Wear your WMS gear and be sure to stop by WMS's table in the vendor area to say hello! Please note that your "family" can include friends, as well as relatives.
Admission for children 10 and under is free. Tickets for ages 11 and up are $10 and can be purchased at the door. For more information, please contact Noel Dietrich.

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.