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Archive for October, 2011

Education for a Crowded Planet

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment
Billions?

Billions?

It takes three Olympic-sized swimming pools to hold 7 billion M&Ms, according to the Washington Post (Kids’ Post 10/31/11).  And now, according to the UN, there are 7 billion people living on earth.  Each one of them is traveling along his or her own singular path through life.  Each person’s genetics, personality, experience, aptitudes and passions are as unique as his or her journey through life. For as many people as there are alive today, no two are the same.

We can look at education the same way.  If we are like M&Ms– each of us a different color, but tasting the same inside, then every child ought to have the exact same experience in school. Teaching would mean little more than following a recipe. Our school confectioners would test each batch of chocolate to be sure it tasted just like the last.

But if you believe that each child is a wonderful and unique individual, then education ought to be a personal, intimate and organic experience.  There wouldn’t be a formula that our teacher-chefs follow:  instead, there would be a smorgasbord of flavors, ideas, and activities every day in school.

In our time of global change, booming population and economic uncertainty, our children need problem solving skills and flexibility of thought. Creative approaches to scientific, sociological and ecological problems are essential. These can only be accomplished on a stomach full of nutrition ideas and a diet rich with inquiry-based learning.  A Montessori approach to education, like at Evergreen School,  fits perfectly with our need to respect the individuality of each child– especially in an era a population growth and change.

The Global Puzzle

October 28, 2011 Leave a comment
The Global Puzzle

The Global Puzzle

You can’t put together a jigsaw puzzle of the world with a piece missing. At Evergreen, there are many pieces to our global education puzzle. In addition to culture studies, map skills, flag projects and Spanish language instruction, the most important puzzle piece is the diversity of our multicultural family community.

It was such an honor to share in their traditions during our International Children’s Day Celebration on Friday. Without a doubt, our children are benefitting from the richness of their Evergreen experience.

Here, global education is about providing sufficient perspective on the world so students come to appreciate the complexity and interconnectedness of the world around us. That is why our students approach different cultural practices with curiosity, not judgment. And we fit together like small pieces in one giant, complete puzzle.

Clean Water Starts Here

October 25, 2011 Leave a comment
Evergreen Rain Garden

Evergreen Rain Garden

SILVER SPRING,Md.-  Evergreen School learned that adults like to play in a garden as much as children like to play on a playground.  And the entire school community celebrated when their rain garden won a top honor at the its 25th annual Keep Montgomery County Beautiful (KMCB) award ceremony held by The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) on October 19.

The contest was designed to encourage those in Montgomery County to undertake landscape activities and neighborhood beautification projects that improve the overall appearance of the County.  MCDOT supports beauty without toxicity by encouraging landscaping projects that utilize conservation measures which keep pesticides and fertilizers out of local streams and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay.

Evergreen’s landscaping project involved transforming its playground into a sustainable rain garden using only native plant species. The new landscape design prevents polluted run-off rain water from flowing into the storm water system and eventually into the Chesapeake Bayby channeling it from the school’s parking lot through a filtration swale and catch basin. Over the course of a year, thousands of gallons of dirty water are kept out of creek and river systems.

The project was completed through the collaborative effort of Evergreen parents, staff, students and volunteers, led by Lourdes Barden, a teacher at Evergreen school. Barden’s students assisted the project by conducting a water flow survey of the school grounds surrounding the play area. The landscape design was created by Beth Knox from Greener than Green Gardens, which specializes in ecological gardening practices.  Bryne Kelly, president of The Greensfield Company, a business dedicated to sustainable landscape architecture completed the excavation and earth-moving.

“It is an honor to be recognized for doing the right thing,” said John DeMarchi, Evergreen’s head of school. “Our garden project was a true community-wide effort, and now we are doing our part to keep tributaries and rivers a little cleaner.”

The rain garden, started in 2009 and completed in 2011, builds on the Evergreen community’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

Evergreen is recognized as a green school by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in part because of initiatives like using Clean Currents wind power, promoting no-waste lunches and having an active recycling program.

Evergreen is an independent, co-educational Montessori school for children from two years old through 3rd grade, located in Montgomery County since 1964. The school’s mission is to help each individual reach his or her fullest potential and to prepare them to be independent thinkers, lifetime learners and responsible citizens.

Everyday Reading

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Sunday was nearly a perfect day. First, I will tell you about the wonderful things: I spent the early part of the day picking up newly donated library furniture with Evergreen parent, Raj Jagannathan. Then I ran into three Evergreen children and their parents—Gabriel Goodwin and his dad, Greg; Lydia Ekzarkhov and her Jennifer and Dimitry; and Raj’s son Callum and wife, Jennifer. In the afternoon and evening, I spent time with my family, watched a lacrosse game, supervised my daughter’s homework and more.

It wasn’t until bedtime that I realized that I had not even unwrapped the Sunday newspaper. It dawned on me… I do not function well without my reading habits. Seeing the still-bagged newspaper at 10 pm gave me oddly distressed feeling. Perhaps you and your child also feel a little unwell without reading. Whether it is your nightly bedtime story or audiobook in the car, there is no better habit-forming activity than reading with your children.

A Good Day?

October 17, 2011 Leave a comment

How do you know if your child had an awesome day at school?  Number one: it is always a great day when you are jealous of the things he or she got to do.  Today in the primary and toddler rooms, children will be counting, grouping, sorting, saying, reading, creating, laughing, singing, moving, working and playing.  All the things we wish we could do more often.  And our elementary classroom will go to the Kennedy Center to see The Amazing Adventures of Dr. Wonderful and Her Dog!  — a musical performance about the Solar System and scientific method.

Number two: you know it was an awesome day when your child comes home with paint in her hair and a masterpiece in her book bag.

And three: it was an awesome day when your child comes home so tired that he can barely hold himself together until dinner.  Then, thankfully, its the four nightly B’s: bath, book and bed. Bliss.

Measuring Tools

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Forget about toys.  Children want tools.   Sammie loves the nuts and bolts in the main office.  Devon is mad about the tape measure in my office. Last week he measured everything. My desk.  Chairs.  The rug.  His head.

Some things are easy to measure like your weight, MSA scores, and Prince Fielder’s on-base percentage.  By now, everyone knows that there is a raft of data showing that a Montessori education is outstanding preparation for academic success.  But the most important things are harder to measure: happiness, peace and well-being.  Dr. Montessori’s mission was to create peace in the classroom and in the world. Her lessons are even more poignant today because there is new research that shows children need to feel safe in order for learning to occur.  At Evergreen, children are learning the skills for cooperation in peaceful classrooms so they can lead ethical lives of compassion and stewardship of our planet. It may be hard to measure, but kindness counts the most.

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