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Why Montessori?

December 16, 2015 Leave a comment

IMG_0283Why Montessori?

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.

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Let There Be Peace: Winter Festival 2014

December 23, 2014 Leave a comment

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.

Regards,
John DeMarchi

May Peace Prevail on Earth

Peace Pole

Our new Peace Pole elevates our Play Garden.

A Peaceful Classroom is Active

March 10, 2014 1 comment

Peaceful Classroom

A key aspect of Montessori education is the concept of the peaceful classroom. When I first learned of the concept, I was skeptical. Isn’t learning supposed to be active?

Over hundreds of visits to Montessori classrooms, I have learned that ‘peaceful’ and ‘active’ are not opposites.  There is a flow to children’s engaged energy when learning.

Evergreen is a peaceful place because it is an active place. Children are absorbed in the present moment– not in the next one.  In the words of Tara Brach, a leader in the Mindfulness Movement, adults struggle to achieve what children do naturally: “When we look closely, we find that [adults] pass a great deal of time within the mental frame of being “on our way to the next thing”—completing a task that has been hanging over us, getting to our next meal, disengaging from a phone conversation.”

In a classroom, children can be fully engaged and present in the ‘doing of learning’.  It’s something I am striving to for myself.

Regards,

John DeMarchi

Fifty Years Since The March

August 22, 2013 Leave a comment

marchonwashingtonI hope to visit the Mall on Saturday for the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington. You can see more about the schedule of events this weekend and through the week including an address by President Obama here. It will be a good time to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial where you can find one of my favorite MLK quotes from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964:

“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.”

As Evergreen School prepares for our 50th anniversary celebration as one of the first Montessori schools in the Washington DC region next year, it has been startling to notice all the other milestones from 1964. From the beginning of Evergreen School, the passage of the Civil Rights act of 1964, MLK’s Nobel Peace Prize and the creation of the Black Student Fund (see blog post below), fifty years can feel close or far away.

With progress and set backs, we march on working to fulfill the dream for our children and students.

Have the audacity to believe.

Montessori Schools and Bullying

bullying and MontessoriOf all the toxins found in schools, bullying may be the most poisonous. Only recently have the consequences of bullying been researched and understood.  According to the DoSmething.org, approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying, 1 out 10 students drop out of school because of repeated bullying and 9 out of 10 LGBT youth reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.

I recently watched a small part of the 2011 documentary Bully.  It’s a heartbreaking look at how the average American student cannot defend himself or herself against ridicule.
Can anything be done?  At Evergreen, we take the view that our first priority is establishing a class culture of collaboration, trust and respect.  By having multi-age classrooms, standards of behavior and school rules are reinforced by students as well as adults.  Bystanders are empowered to speak up. And because children work with materials at their own level, we minimize the competitive atmosphere present in other schools.

The foundation of confidence is laid in early childhood.  Your child’s Evergreen years are a critical part of his or her development.

We frequently hear that Evergreen is a kinder, more welcoming environment than many other schools.  My own experience bears this out; Evergreen is special place.  Yet, we are far from perfect.  Unkind words, exclusion, and even physical violence can happen.  Our children are still developing their social and emotional control mechanisms.  What is our anti-bullying strategy?  Monitor appropriately. Intervene immediately. Don’t ignore minor incidents. Clarify expectations (“We do not ever …”). And finally, provide a safe space for reflecting after an incident.  Most importantly, we check with a victim to make sure he or she feels secure.

By taking a proactive approach to bullying we can raise awareness and ensure that everyone can grow in an environment free of stress and harassment.

Regards, John

Celebrate Peace!

January 17, 2013 Leave a comment
Peace Assembly at Evergreen School

Little Friends for Peace

Evergreen welcomed MJ and Jerry Park from Little Friends for Peace today.  The Parks led two energetic assemblies to celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King and his work promoting peace.

During the assemblies, children sang about conflict resolution, rode a Peace Train and learned how peace starts inside us all.  Mrs. Park even brought the “gift of peace.”  Children saw their own reflection inside the gift.

The Park’s mission  is to teach peace skills to children and their adult leaders to counter systemic violence. Through an open and responsive approach to our participants’ goals and by fostering connections among participants and partner organizations, we seek to empower a community of peacemakers with the knowledge and strategies for improved intrapersonal, interpersonal, and communal lives.”

According tot he Little Friends for Peace website, the organization was “named for the disarming nature of peacemaking and the little part we can all play in spreading peace, LFFP was founded in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1981 by MJ and Jerry Park. A teacher and social worker/nurse (respectively) by profession and together parents of six, this dynamic duo decided to teach peace skills part-time to live out their personal convictions. In 1988 they relocated to Mount Rainier, MD, continuing LFFP’s operation in the DC metro area while maintaining national programmatic partnerships with organizations based in Minnesota and El Salvador as well as several other national networks.”

Read more about MJ and Jerry Park and the Little Friends for Peace here.

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