Why do we celebrate Winter Festival?
Winter is the darkest season. But the darkness of winter draws our attention to light. At Winter Festival we celebrate the light that each of us brings to our family, our classrooms, our school and our community.
Winter is the darkest season. Winter is also the coldest season. But the coldness of winter draws attention to the warmth in our hearts. With this warmth, each of us has the power to thaw bigotry, intolerance and ignorance. At Winter Festival we celebrate the love inside each of us.
As Maria Montessori said, “Love is the most potent.” Love is the most powerful.
And just as the song goes, “As long as you love me so, Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”
Why Montessori for the Kindergarten Year?
At Evergreen, the school year in which children turn six is called the Third Year because it is last one in the three-year Primary program cycle. Children at this level are the equivalent age of children in traditional Kindergarten programs.
Children in the Third Year at Evergreen benefit from small classes and an excellent student-teacher ratio. By the time they are in the Third Year, children are exceptionally well known by their Evergreen teachers. In addition, the highly individualized Montessori approach ensures that children at this level are learning lessons perfectly matched to their level.
The Third Year is an incomparable opportunity for social/emotional development. A child who has spent two years as an understudy to the older children is now ready to be class leader, role model and mentor. This is the year in which a child’s confidence and self-assurance solidifies. Our Third Year students work hand-in-hand with their teachers to set the tone in the classroom for all the other children. One reason why Montessori classrooms are so peaceful is because of the strong leadership of Third Year children. Kindness and collaboration are the norm. When conflict occurs, Third Year children are well equipped to act as problem solvers and mediators—and teachers are nearby to guide or intervene as well.
Academically, the Montessori Method of education is a cumulative experience. The curriculum is intended to be a presented in three-year cycles. What children learn in the Third Year is built on what they have learned in previous years. The Third Year is where the child internalizes concrete experiences and builds a strong educational foundation. Third year children are proud to be able to write sentences and stories; they use math materials to add four digit numbers and multiply. The value of the first two years is not fully realized if the child does not continue working with Montessori materials to their ultimate purpose. The materials build upon one another; become more and more abstract; and require more concentration and independence. Third Year work is high level and exceeds typical Kindergarten class standards.
Children who complete the three-year cycle in the primary class make easy transitions socially and academically to our Elementary classroom or first grade.
The Montessori approach to educating children is based on what we understand about children’s cognitive, neurological, and emotional development as shown to us through years of research. Some of the key aspects of our program include:
- Montessori is focused on teaching for understanding. The Montessori materials give the child concrete sensorial impressions of abstract concepts.
- The approach promotes organization and focus as being just as important as the academics.
- The mentor/mentee is a critical feature. The mixed-age class allows older children to be leaders and teach the younger children.
- In Montessori schools, children from different neighborhoods who share common values have come together to create the school community. Children who grow up in a Montessori environment often speak of close-knit relationships with classmates and their families.
- Montessori supports personalized learning. Children learn at-their-own pace without unhealthy stress or artificial competition. The child can move as slowly or quickly as needed to understand a concept.
- Montessori students study other cultures creating the foundation for global citizenship.
- Children are treated with a deep respect as unique individuals. The school is keenly focused on the child’s intellectual, social, and emotional development.
- Montessori teaches kindness, peacefulness, grace, and courtesy.
- Montessori children learn through their five senses. Materials are hands-on, allowing children to explore, investigate and research. They become actively engaged in their studies rather than being spoon-fed information.
- Montessori addresses different learning styles and helps children learn how to study.
- Montessori challenges children and sets high expectations. Children develop self-discipline and an internal sense of purpose and motivation.
Montessori children are typically engaged, and curious learners who look forward to going to school. They have a high level of self-confidence and independence, a lifelong love of learning, and feel close bonds with friends and teachers.
Why Evergreen for Elementary?
At Evergreen, the Elementary program is designed specifically for the developmental needs of children aged six to nine. Children in the Elementary program are the equivalent age of traditional first through third grade. Our Montessori elementary classroom, however, is very different—and has many important advantages—compared to traditional schooling.
One key difference at Evergreen is class size and student/teacher ratio. Children in the Elementary program at Evergreen benefit from a co-teacher model with two phenomenal teachers: Mrs. Hannon and Mrs. Hatziyannis. With our structure, children are exceptionally well known by their Evergreen teachers. In addition, the highly individualized Montessori approach ensures that children in Elementary are learning lessons perfectly matched to their level. Teachers individualize instruction to keep each child optimally challenged.
Academically, Elementary students are moving from the concrete world of their Primary years and developing the ability to think abstractly. They are able to ask deeper questions and seek connections. The elementary curriculum encourages and nurtures this natural curiosity through a sequence of foundational skills in language and math as well as basic core knowledge in the sciences and humanities. In addition, our elementary curriculum is global. World cultures and geography, art, history and more are woven throughout the fabric of the curriculum. In addition, students learn Spanish.
Teachers are guides, not lecturers. Children still benefit from active learning and hands-on experiences. In Elementary, our teachers lead simulations or virtual field trips in which students experience deeper learning through active participation. Children have choices and take ownership of their learning. There’s not a one-size-fits all curriculum that leaves some children bored and others frustrated. The classroom is full of materials instead of worksheets. Children solve problems and think, instead of memorize isolated facts with little context.
The mixed age classroom has academic and social benefits. First, children learn with and from each other. Older children model good work habits and produce exemplar work for the younger students to emulate. Second, instead of competing with each other, students grow into a community, and practice social skills every day. One reason why our Elementary classroom is so peaceful is because of the strong leadership of older children. They work with the teachers to set the tone in the class; they take responsibility to make sure everyone is treated with kindness. When conflict occurs, older children are well equipped to act as problem solvers and mediators—and teachers are nearby to guide or intervene as well. This kind of dynamic can’t happen in a single-graded class.
Finally, children benefit from a full outdoor recess every day. They have music, PE and art twice each week. Children who complete the three-year cycle in the Elementary class make easy transitions socially and academically to public and independent school fourth grade.
Ask any Evergreen student to find her heart, and she’ll immediately put a hand to her chest.
Our children seem to naturally know that the heart is the center of life and love.
It is the same way with our school. Ask any parent where to find the heart of Evergreen and consistently you’ll hear: it’s the teachers. Each teacher is guided by a passion for children, a passion for the Montessori philosophy, and a passion for the Evergreen community. While each brings his or her own unique personality to the classroom, each shares the same deep commitment to helping children develop confidence, independence and competency in a safe and loving atmosphere.
Day in and day out we seem the wisdom of Dr. Montessori’s methods in action. For a child to become strong and self-sufficient, he must engage in meaningful, challenging activities within his “zone of proximal development”—i.e., between what he can do with help and what he can do without. Knowing that a kind and supportive teacher is always nearby allows children to feel secure no matter the task at hand. And because our teachers know each student so well, the child’s work is always set to the right level of challenge.
I am grateful that the Evergreen community shares my appreciation for our teachers. Thanks to your generous support of the For’Ever Fund, two teachers were able to receive Montessori training and others were able to attend the American Montessori Society Annual Conference in Philadelphia this year. At the conference connected with other Montessori teachers from around the world, learned about the latest developments in education and renewed their commitment to the ideals of Dr. Montessori. Professional development is one of the most important ways that Evergreen has been able to maintain the strength of our program and remain the premier Montessori program in our area.
Supporting our exceptional faculty takes the commitment of our entire school community. I would like to sincerely thank you for your ongoing support. Thanks to our teachers’ work, Evergreen continues to make a difference in our children’s lives. I look forward to the year ahead.
Winter Festival is an Evergreen tradition since 1978 in which we celebrate love and warmth, friendship and light. This year’s theme is particularly poignant in view of recent events in schools around the world.
We are grateful to Music Director Caitlin Garry for leading the music portion of the program, Primary Teacher Rebecca Tobin for coordinating the art exhibit, Lourdes Barden Sims for coordinating the reception, Lourdes Buenaflor for the program, book drive and logistics, and all our wonderful parent volunteers!
Have a wonderful holiday and joyful New Year.
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