I am in awe every time I hear Evergreen teachers explain the Montessori approach to math and language learning. Three times in the last two weeks, our teachers demonstrated what makes their methods so effective– at Open House, Kindergarten-Year Night, and Elementary Discovery Night.
As I listened to Ms. Liotta, Mrs. John, Mrs. Sesko and Mrs. Hatziyannis, I recognized what sets Montessori teachers apart from non-Montessori teachers: they think a lot about the science of learning. Their starting point is the way a child perceives the world, the way he takes in information through the senses, the way he organizes experiences, and the way he connects prior knowledge. The learning objective (multiply these two large numbers, read this non-phonetic word, identify parts of speech, etc) is an outcome of his experience– not the focal point. And in the end, these teachers’ students learn skills far beyond what I ever believed is possible.
We are so fortunate to have such brilliant teachers.
You can learn just about anything by playing with blocks: physics, geometry, leadership, project management, team work, cooperation and more. I am thrilled to introduce new outdoor construction blocks called Outlast Blocks to the playground and Rain Garden at Evergreen School this week. The blocks are made by Community Playthings to be safe for Toddlers through Elementary. The blocks will add one more creative play option to our playground. The blocks support the play theory of ‘loose parts‘ that has guided the Evergreen playground design for many years.
Here’s our new play structure– The Tree House– being installed. It is about as natural and organic as anything you would find in an Appalachian forest. As an Evergreen parent wrote… “How COOL is that!”
This 18-foot tall play sculpture was custom-designed by Bill Hutchens and is being installed by Marcus Sims and Allan Hill. The Tree House consists of four platforms, rope ladders and a slide. It is made of black locust trunks and Osage Orange branches and pressure treated decking lumber.
When I told some children that we were going to call it The Tree House, they corrected me: “It’s a fortress.” “It’s a tower.” “No, its a pirate ship.” It’s as mutable and whimsical as imagination itself.
Do you know the feeling? racing heart? sweaty palms? It’s unnerving to speak to a ballroom full of strangers. But on Saturday night, my daughter Isabel didn’t have any trouble. I asked her if she wanted to say a few words at her friend Jordyn’s Bat Mitzvah. She grabbed the microphone and answered, “Of course. We’ve been friends since we were two.”
Isabel and Jordyn went to preschool together at Georgetown Hill eleven years ago. Our families have stayed in touch ever since. Isabel’s words—since we were two—remind me of the power of friendships that form in places like Evergreen. Her words remind me of our obligation to nurture these relationships, plan playdates, reach out and make and sustain connections. They help our children feel tethered. Being part of a school community is important– but it can take 11 years or more to recognize just how much it means to your children.