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In the News…

Photo Credit: Dan Gross, The Gazette Newspapers

Photo Credit: Dan Gross, The Gazette Newspapers

In between covering crime and political hearing, Aline Barros, a reporter for the Silver Spring Gazette took time to visit Evergreen School. She learned about our history, our Montessori program and  plans for our 50th anniversary.  Like many adults, Aline didn’t never imagined how much learning, concentration and growth can take place in a student-centered, loving classroom.  A link to her article is below…

“Students at Evergreen School in Silver Spring are making time to celebrate their school’s 50th anniversary between cooking classes, music sessions, Spanish classes, and library period…”  Read more of Aline’s article article here

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People and Purpose: The Good Life

Evergreen SchoolHere at school, every so often– when the weather is just nice enough– it seems like the right time to ask an existential question: what’s the point of all this?

It must be spring time.

Schools like ours love to dig into big questions about Mission and Identity. Who are we? What do we value? and What sets us apart?

Beneath some school’s verbose Mission statements and punchy belief statements, deeper than their platitudes and clichés, lies their vision of The Good Life.   What does it mean to live well? How do we prepare our children to do so?

You will not be surprised that Evergreen believes the Good Life requires core academic skills:  reading, calculating, problem solving, analysis, inference and synthesis.

But more, the Good Life is filled with loving relationships with the people who surround us and endow our lives with meaning.  The Good Life is about people and purpose. What can we do today to make it likely that our children will become compassionate husbands and wives, moms and dads, neighbors and friends?

For us, cooperation-based, multi-aged Montessori classrooms are the best place to develop self-assured and self-actualized young people.  With our emphasis on developing confidence and competence, children view themselves as capable of doing hard, meaningful  things.  They become secure with their identity in a stress-free, supportive classroom community rather than a socially competitive one.

To lead the Good Life, according to the Evergreen formula, one must have unquenchable curiosity, an appreciation of beauty, a sense of duty to others, engagement with the world we live in and a vision for a better one.  It starts with knowing and loving ourselves.

Regards,

John DeMarchi

Thanksgiving Card Art II

November 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Thanksgiving Card Art

Our new Thanksgiving cards went into the mail yesterday.  The cards were designed by Ms. Nina Mahboubi and her nest class.  After creating a wash of vibrant fall color, students blew a river of India ink across the paper’s surface to create a barren winter tree silhouette.  Who needs another picture of a turkey or a cornucopia anyway?

Some viewers see flames in the background and others recall a warm fire on a cold winter night. What ever feelings our card evokes, we say there is much to be thankful for this year– children’s art especially.

Here is a link to last year’s design, too

Teaching Resilience

September 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Teaching Resilience The following are my remarks from this year’s Back-to-School Night.

Recently, I heard about a new business management book called Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks by August Turak. I immediately thought of Evergreen teachers. If you’ve spend time with them like I have, you will see in them traits like selflessness, devotion and authenticity that make all the difference for the children in their care.

Our teachers are the stars of Back-to-School Night.  But before you move on to your child’s classroom, I want to prepare you for some wonderful moments to look forward to.  While at Evergreen, your children are going to experience hundreds of firsts: their first loose tooth, first time tying shoe laces, for toddlers: first time using the toilet, multiplying, performing in a play, reading a book, and more and more.

These moments are unbelievably precious. I can’t tell you what a joy it is for us to be part of your son or daughter’s childhood—and to share them with you.  These firsts are why Evergreen is such a magical place.

I also know, down the line, there will be other kinds of firsts in your child’s life.  There will be set backs and hurdles.   Things go wrong, like the Back-to-School Night two years ago when the fire alarm went off… right about now… and we had to evacuate the building for 50 minutes.  Things go wrong, you know this.  Did you only receive “A’s”?  I didn’t. Did you get into your first college choice? I didn’t.  Your child might not either.

That’s why our mission is to help children build resilience.  Resilience is far more important that grades. Here is how we develop resilience: At Evergreen, we know that adversity does not lead to despair when children believe they have control in their lives.  We strive to help children recognize that they have agency in the world.  That is why our students have so much choice in their day.  Challenges are individualized so every child is working at an appropriate level.

Speaking of resilience, if you saw Alma, one of our Primary students, stoically getting a bandage after a fall on the pavement on Monday, you would well understand the wisdom of Wendy Mogul’s book, Blessings of a Skinned KneeAdversity gives us the chance to know what we truly can do.

At Evergreen, we explicitly work to develop independent, confident children—not just successful test takers. So tonight, in your child’s classroom, you will learn how our teachers, like Trappist monks, work with patience, love and wisdom to bring out the potential in your child.  Enjoy your classroom time. And welcome Back to School.

Montessori Education: let’s discuss…

April 15, 2013 1 comment
Montessori ConversationLast week, a parent sent me a link to a lively conversation about Montessori education in an online forum.  I was fascinated to read what people had to say about the benefits and drawbacks of Montessori.  In 100 or so comments, I read some keen insights, great misconceptions, wild exaggerations and splitting of hairs.  More than anything, I saw parents engaged in a honest, fretful dialog to help them figure out what kind of education system will best meet the needs of their children.

 

I weighed in (or is it waded in?) with my two cents: For me, the key aspect of Montessori is the belief that children naturally want to be engaged with interesting topics, materials and challenges. They want to have choice and control in their lives. They want to use their hands and senses to explore the world around them. They want to create art and music and towers and castles. They want to be able to work alone at times and with a partner at times. All in all, we see that the needs and desires of children are a lot like yours and mine.

At our school, habits of character, a sense of self and joy in learning are even more important than the academic foundation that develops in each child. It is so important that we provide a warm, safe environment with caring teachers where children can feel secure and grow in confidence.

You can weigh in, too. The DC Urban Mom forum is here.

A Creative, Talented Person

November 6, 2012 Leave a comment

We have a new  program view book  to share with prospective Montessori families at our November 16 Open House.  I am so grateful for the work of Kelsey Stephens in Minnesota who designed it. She has done a remarkable job capturing the joyful energy of our school.  It is such a pleasure to work with creative, talented and enthusiastic people like her. Thank you, Kelsey!

 

The Evergreen School Fall Open House takes place on November 16 from 9 to 11 am.

After Hurricane Sandy

October 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Talking to Children about Hurricane SandyLife feels back to normal at Evergreen after being closed for Hurricane Sandy.  We are so fortunate that the storm left the DC area unscathed. Children came into school today ready for the predictability of our routine.  We quickly regained equilibrium.  Teachers told me that there were no discussions of the recent storm in circle time nor were there conversations on the playground or at lunch. I appreciate our parents’ care shielding their young children from media images and news reports.  Pictures of burning homes or waterlogged streets can be disturbing to old and young alike.

The lack of discussion of the hurricane doesn’t mean children have not been affected.  Some children may have relatives in New York or New Jersey.  Some may have anxiety about another storm.  Children are deeply aware of stress in the adults who surround them. Please be ready to talk to your child about the storm.  Let them know that being prepared is the key to safety.  Fire drills, tornado procedures and our emergency plans are in place to ensure that we are safe at Evergreen.   Most of all listen to their worries and reassure them with love.

Please speak to your child’s teacher if he or she seems worried, too.  It helps us so much to have insight into what you are seeing at home.  We can also point to additional resources to support your child.  I am so glad that everyone in our community is safe– let’s not wait until Thanksgiving to appreciate all of our blessings every day.

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