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By Lynn Fisher, WSM Head of School 

Lynn FisherEvidence is growing that all children find solace and re-gain balance with exposure to nature.  The opportunity to explore outdoors in an unstructured, unscheduled manner not only builds coordination and strong healthy bodies but also calms children and helps them focus. In addition, children with frequent opportunities to play outdoors grow their problem-solving skills and develop their curiosity. There are also studies reinforcing the connection between outdoor learning and school success in science, writing, gardening, botany, ecology, etc.

Connecting with nature takes time, intentional, unhurried time. The earlier young children are exposed to prolonged time outdoors the more familiar and comfortable they will be with nature and its rhythms and the more connected they will be to the land as they mature.

This spring take your babies and toddlers outside, and not just in a stroller. Spread a blanket on the grass so your baby can see the sky, experience the wind, smell the grass. Let your toddler get dirty, find treasures, experience freedom.  Teach them the vocabulary of nature: the names of the trees and flowers, insects, weather, and share their delight in the joy of discovery.

 

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Parenting the Montessori Elementary Child

Does your child follow the ground rules at school, but constantly challenge your expectations at home?

Join WSM Head of School Lynn Fisher for a four-week class: Parenting the Montessori Elementary Child. See below for details and register online TODAY at http://goo.gl/Mre7hI or stop by the Toledo Campus office for a paper registration form.

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letter_lynn

March Madness has a whole different connotation at West Side Montessori this spring! Many exciting developments are in process.

LynnFisher_WSMThe Board of Trustees conducted a three-day strategic planning marathon with Independent School Management (ISM) Senior Consultant Walker Buckalew last week. This was the culmination of months of data gathering, including surveys of parents, faculty, administration, board, and students in grade levels 5–8.

One very positive piece of feedback we have already received is the results of the ISM surveys that were benchmarked against private schools across the country. All aspects of our school culture rated extremely high with parents, teachers, and students all in congruence. The strategic plan will be finalized this spring after our upcoming American Montessori Society re-accreditation on-site visit that begins this weekend and continues through Wednesday, March 25.

We are excited to host seven Montessori leaders from across the country as they examine all aspects of our school operations. They will be especially visible on Monday and Tuesday on both campuses.  Please feel free to stop and chat and welcome them. Their visit is the climax of a year and a half of focused preparation that supports our on-going self-evaluation and continual improvement.

We’re confident that West Side Montessori is a winner in any bracket and look forward to sharing the results of more of our March Madness activities in the near future.

Warm Regards,

Lynn Fisher
Head of School

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!