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Letter from Lynn

It is hard to believe that it is already time to plan for the 2015-16 school year! I find it appropriate to reflect on a few highlights from this year as well as future plans. The first half of this year has been action packed at West Side Montessori. In addition to the numerous outstanding educational and extracurricular programs for children and families, the Board of Trustees, faculty, and administration are engaged in important self-evaluation and strategic planning endeavors featured in a school update that follows.

Lynn FisherThe admission office is diligently preparing for re-enrollment, which will begin in early February. For the first time, the re-enrollment process will be handled online through our SchoolForms online, the same system introduced for pizza and extracurricular sign-ups. Watch for detailed instructions on how to enroll online soon.

Be sure to complete the re-enrollment process by Monday, March 2, in order to reserve space and secure the returning family tuition rate. The admission office anticipates limited space availability at several grades for next fall. Starting March 3, open spaces will be offered to new families.

I hope you have plans to attend our annual Open House on Sunday, January 25, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at both Toledo and Perrysburg campuses. It is a prime opportunity to visit the classrooms and programs that are the next step in your child’s Montessori education. If you are interested in seeing your child’s current classroom, please call your campus office to schedule an observation during regular school hours. It is the best way to help you understand and support your child’s Montessori experience.

Finally, I am looking forward to West Side’s 40th anniversary next year! It will be an exciting year of celebration and special events.

As always, please feel free to contact me with your questions or concerns. If you have specific questions regarding re-enrollment, you may contact Anne Spenny, Admission Director.

Warm regards,

Lynn Fisher
Head of School

Highlights This Year

  • Completion of the nature trails in our woods accelerates outdoor learning activities for all ages.
  • RisaGenerous support of The Victory Center by the Toledo Children’s House honors WSM’s Music & Literacy teacher Risa (pictured right).
  • Natural playground enhancements, including outdoor musical instruments and a large new play structure for Lower Elementary.
  • Girls on the Run, a new extracurricular healthy lifestyle program for third through fifth grade girls, took off with all participants completing two 5K events.
  • GOTR17Middle School received the top awards at the 25th annual Student Watershed Watch Summit following the students’ water quality field work.
  • Student learning and teacher support has been elevated with the addition of a full-time Director of Elementary and Middle School Education and a non-teaching Perrysburg Campus Director.
  • Additional Student Services staffing directly supports our mission to engage and inspire all children to discover their potential.

Self-study Data

ams-accreditedIn preparation for our upcoming re-accreditation site visit by the American Montessori Society, March 22–25, our extensive year-long self-study produced the following data:

  • WSM currently has 31 Montessori certified classroom teachers and three Montessori interns.
  • A broadband compensation program has significantly boosted low teacher salaries over the past few years and helped to increase the average tenure to nine years.
  • Because of their parents’ passion for Montessori education, 46 faculty children, from Little House to Middle School, are enrolled this year, a quality indicator for private schools.

Board of Trustees Update

The West Side Montessori Board of Trustees focuses on planning and finance and takes actions that will have long-term impact. Current board actions include:

  • Engaging in a strategic planning process with a senior consultant from Independent School Management (ISM) from March 9-11. ISM will conduct online surveys with all parents in early February as part of the planning process. Details will be provided soon.
  • Investigating the cost to move forward with Phase 3 of the Toledo Campus by hiring an architect to work with administration, faculty, trustees, and parents to draft a design. Projecting cost is the first step in determining the feasibility of raising enough money for a capital campaign to fund the project.

By Lynn Fisher, WSM Head of School 

Lynn FisherNational news has focused on educating children for the jobs of the future with a strong emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Developing habits of mind that will give children the curiosity, confidence, and skills to pursue careers in these fields can be nurtured from a very early age.

The more opportunities babies, toddlers and pre-school age children have to explore, problem-solve, and test their skills, the more prepared they are to tackle abstract thinking when formal schooling begins. As children mature they need constant challenges just above their comfort level but within their ability to achieve. Put a desired object just out of reach of a six month old baby and watch problem solving in action!

Children need to be encouraged to ask questions and take appropriate risks, feel rewarded for their efforts, learn how to sequence, persist, and feel satisfaction as a result of their own actions. Mistakes are important learning opportunities. Confidence grows when achievement is celebrated in the context of the effort expended, not in the context of pleasing adults.

Many children believe they are not good at certain school subjects such as mathematics and science. By nurturing their problem-solving skills and persistence in all areas, confidence to try subjects they perceive as difficult will grow. Encourage questions. After all, science is inquiry so encourage questions as much as answers.  Make sure success is attainable but don’t give in and hand your child everything in life.

Our future depends on the ingenuity, creativity, persistence, and problem solving abilities of today’s children. Give them the tools to lead us all to a better tomorrow.

Happy New Year!

Lynn FisherToday, the urgency of educating our young children in the languages and cultures of others is heightened. We’re all connected instantaneously via technology and personally experience the complexity of worldwide social, ethnic, religious, political, and natural systems.  Awareness and understanding increase the possibility of cooperation and collaboration to make the world a better place for all living things.

If you are fortunate enough to have family members or neighbors who speak another language or celebrate customs from another land, cultivate that connection, build a friendship. Ask them to share stories. Taste their food. Demonstrate appreciation for their differences.

Very young children are fascinated by the idea that others speak differently and live differently. And they are uninhibited, open to new ideas, new ways of thinking. It is the ideal time to begin their cultural education. They greedily absorb language and subtle meaning and have the capacity to learn new sounds easily.

Teaching young children a second language is a priceless experience that many American children are not offered until way too late in their school experience when they are self-conscious and new languages do not come easily. However, if you are resourceful and determined there are online options even for the very young.

Search the internet for pictures of other lands. Let your children hold a globe and talk to them about the world. Children as young as 3 years old are intrigued by discussions of far-away places. Borrow books and DVDs from the library.  If you have the opportunity to take your children to the ocean you can strike their imaginations by talking about the vastness of the water and how it both separates and connects us. A moonrise walk on a deserted beach is an amazing opportunity to talk about children on the other side of the world who are waking up to the sunrise.

Make a conscious effort to expose your children to what lies beyond. It is the best preparation for living in a connected world.

Spanish68  Spanish63

Welcome back everyone!

Lynn Fisher, West Side Montessori Head of School

Lynn Fisher
Head of School

School is well under way after just a few days. At the start of each new school year excitement and anxiety are both high. Many parents are scrambling to get their children to bed at a reasonable hour at night and make it to school on time in the morning. New West Side Montessori parents are practicing the intricate carline routes. Children are settling in to school routines. Teachers are adjusting to new students, teaching partners, and classrooms added at the last minute due to increased demand.

I’m always amazed at the personal time and energy our faculty invests over the summer preparing for your children. They engage in professional training, team retreats, curriculum workshops, making learning materials, and designing and creating their rich learning environments. When hundreds of new shoes step through the doors on that first day, a calm, gentle, focused, inviting, and challenging world awaits the children who proudly wear them.

Some of the things I’m looking forward to this year are meeting new parents and sharing the insights of an authentic Montessori education. I’m presenting this week’s First Thursday morning and afternoon programs designed for parents of children birth to 6 years old, titled, Montessori 101: Your Child’s Super Powers. On Tuesday, Sept. 16, I will present Montessori 201: Elementary Montessori, Sparking the Imagination. Parents, grandparents, caregivers, and friends are invited to any and all of our educational programs. Your understanding and support of our work is the cornerstone of our family-oriented mission and your child’s success.

All parents and friends are also welcome to join me at an informal Q & A after carline on Tuesday, Sept. 23, in the library for follow-up discussion, questions and feedback from your hallway window observations and/or West Side experience to date. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Warm regards,

Lynn Fisher
Head of School

P.S. See you at Sweet September Sundae on Sunday, Sept. 14, from 2-4:30 p.m. at the Toledo Campus!

woods

Head of School Lynn Fisher walks on WSM’s wooded trails.

The urge for adventure, exploring outdoors, is one of the joys of childhood. This summer, in addition to the zoo and our 12 amazing Metroparks of the Toledo Area, take your children for a walk on the wild side to one of the more isolated nature preserves in the area. One of my favorites is Irwin Prairie located on West Bancroft Street just west of Irwin Road. A boardwalk winds through the wet woods to Irwin Rd. and then crosses the wet prairie to an isolated observation deck.  There you feel like you are in a remote location. There are no crowds, no thrilling rides, but if you stay very still and listen very carefully a blue damselfly might land nearby or a frog dive into the water.

Traveling farther west and north of Airport Highway, at 10420 Old State Line Rd, west of Eber Rd., Kitty Todd Preserve has one of the highest concentrations of rare species of any nature preserve in the state. Explore the low lying wetlands and sand dunes any day between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and you may see wild lupine in bloom and glimpse an endangered karner blue butterfly. Have you ever seen an earth star? Before you go, have your school-age children use their Internet savvy to research some of the plants and animals found in the Oak Openings area of northwest Ohio. Or take a side trip to your local library to discover what awaits you.

Travel doesn’t have to be at a great distance to open children’s minds and hearts. What matters is leaving the comfort of the familiar and introducing them to a world apart from their own. Cultivate a sense of wonder in your children by stepping out and into the natural world where their senses will be reawakened and mysteries revealed.

Don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray!