The Secret Garden Leaflet Artwork: B. Robillard 2011
“There is no description, no image in any book that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all of the life to be found around them in a real forest.” “The land is where our roots are. The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.” -- Maria Montessori Fall, 2012
Volume III, Issue 1
Now We Are Six ... Counting from our home-based days, Secret Garden opened its doors to a new school year for the 7th time this September.. Over the last few weeks the simple rhythms of daily entry -- placing lunchboxes in cubbies, hanging up coats on hangers, removing outdoor shoes & changing into indoor ones, then crossing the threshold into the primary classroom have become familiar to the children. With guidance and practice, even our littlest ones are making strides in self-mastery: “I did it myself!” they exclaim as they button, zip, hang, and “wiggle-wiggle-push” their feet into slippers & shoes. The returning children, meanwhile, do for themselves competently and reach out to help the younger ones as well. It is quite a beautiful process to watch! Like the children, we felt a sense of achievement at the beginning of this school year, having come through another set of summer renovations & new family orientations with an increasing sense of competence at activities that were brandnew to us not so long ago! We are also excited to undertake some brand-new adventures in 2012-13, as we debut our new parent-tot program this fall.
Google Doodle Celebrates Montessori Birthday
We celebrated the beginning of a new cycle with delicious food & camaraderie for all ages at our Welcome Family Potluck held on September 21. All of the families of our 15 new & returning students gathered together on a beautiful fall evening for our traditional picnic. The children of course already know each other’s names & faces by this time, but opportunities to connect as adults are much rarer. We treasure these opportunities to come together as a whole community at the beginning and end of each year.
Daily Work in the Classroom Clockwise from top left: Addison learns the life cycle of the ladybug; Owen serves himself an applesauce pancake for snack; Michael is beginning pencil & paper subtraction; Aurora works with the color tablets.
In honor of Maria Montessori's 142nd birthday (August 31, 2012), Google produced a "doodle" using classic Montessori materials to spell out the now-famous name. Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page didn’t meet until college, but soon discovered they had both begun their education in Montessori schools. In interviews as adults, they both credit that early experience of being free to choose their own activities as a key to fostering their creativity, confidence, & “out of the box” thinking.
‘Sprouts & Seedlings’ Program Announced in Bucks County Herald Jessikah Humphrey’s return as a full-time staff member and our new Sprouts & Seedlings program for toddlers & their parents or caregivers was reported in the Bucks County Herald on Sept 27 just as this newsletter was going to press!
Board of Trustees Corner
Secret Garden Celebrates ...
As a nonprofit, Secret Garden Montessori is formally governed by a Board of Trustees, composed of a mix of staff, parents, and community members. The Board tends to the mission, long-term vision & financial health of our school, making its decisions collectively. The 2012-13 Board of Trustees so far: Jennifer Isaacs - Chair & Treasurer, Alumni Parent, Staff Sylvia Bors - Secretary, Alumni Parent Barbette Robillard - Staff, Montessori Parent & Teacher Jessikah Humphrey - Staff, Alumni Parent Norma Bowers - Staff Gregory Nungester - Community, Alumni Parent Laurie Stone - Community, Montessori Parent & Teacher We are actively seeking community members and current/ alumni parents to consider Board service this year. If you are interested in joining the adventure of guiding a nonprofit Montessori school through the next three years, please plan to attend our first meeting of the school year on Thursday, October 18 at 7 pm. The Board meets on the 3rd Thursday of each month except for September, December, & June; term of service is three years. A representative of the Parent Council will be appointed to attend regularly, and Board meetings are typically open to all parents.
… the wedding of Leslie Roessner, former SGM parent & 201011 Assistant Teacher, to Jens Strauf this summer. Ceremonies took place in the Westphalia region of Germany on June 23 & in Nashua, NH on August 11. Fellow Secret Garden parents Jessikah Humphrey & Tammi Lyons were in attendance at the Stateside wedding. Warm wishes to Leslie, Jens & Adriana!
Thank You for these Donations of Time, Energy, & Things Michael’s mom Michelle Johnson for Officer Jenny’s new desk … Former parents Cathy Masiello & Tammi Lyons & Lira’s parents Leigh & Dustin Parent for plant care over the summer … Former parent Mara Tippett of Sunbeam Toys for balls for our new physical education curriculum. … Former parent Jenn Brennan for the cute little painting smock she brought by. … Barbette’s husband Bob Potterfield for finding & wiring up an affordable industrial-grade printer/fax/copier for us, donating a more powerful computer, & maintaining the website -- not to mention expanding the tile floor in the kitchen area … Addison’s mom Weslee Parker for the little benches with green pillows for the classroom & our new parent-tot niche, and Addison’s sister Gabbie for helping out with painting … All the families who came out for our summer work days, especially the amazing chair-fixing team of Zoltan Somogyi, Quintin Van Liew & Leo Macdonald & the gardening/bubble-blowing crew of Robyn Crawford, Lisa Hintelmann, & Joan Macdonald … Secret Garden alumni Olivia Humphrey & Sophia Perkins for painting the bench … Flemington Department Store for the circular rug for the parent-tot niche. … Mina’s mom Anna Trueman for the blind-cleaning kit for our Friday Corner Cleaners … All our 2012-13 parents for the office & arts & crafts supplies brought in at the beginning of the year … and all readers of this newsletter for your support of our mission to bring authentic Montessori education to our beautiful river valley.
Community Outreach & Education
spiritual act. In words that echo the mystics and prophets of many faiths, Maria Montessori once wrote: “We shall walk together on this path of life, for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” Having borne witness to two of the 20th century’s most horrible European wars and seen her own schools shut down on the order of Italy’s fascist government, Dr. Montessori was also a firm believer in globalism. Puzzle maps and images of childrenfrom faraway places with different beliefs had a place in her curriculum long before “diversity” and “multiculturalism” became educational buzzwords.
The Menhla Kadampa Buddhist Center of Lambertville NJ will continue its Wednesday evening classes at Secret Garden. Parents and interested community members are welcome to attend on a drop-in basis. Details may be found here.
Revolutionary Thoughts The Montessori approach to education is a secular one, and Secret Garden is not affiliated with any religion or creed. Yet Montessori schools can be found in synagogues and churches all over the United States and Europe, and are very common in India, where Hindu temples & Islamic mosques predominate. Why this panglobal religious appeal of this nonsectarian philosophy? Perhaps it is because founded upon the core conviction that education is a
Above all, she gave credit to the notion that a child’s early experiences actually help create the adult they will become. Although widely accepted in the present day, this was a progressive view at the time. As a doctor and an educator, she was convinced that children permitted to flourish and fulfill their wondrous potential would grow into individuals capable of engaging with grave social problems & finally solving them. “Education is the best weapon for peace” was her rallying cry. She also wrote in passionate detail against the school system current in her time, asking: “How can we expect democracy when we have reared slaves? These people who have been diminished in their powers, made short-sighted, devitalized by mental fatigue, whose bodies have become distorted, whose wills have been broken by elders who say: ‘your will must disappear and mine prevail!’-- how can we expect them, when school-life is over, to accept and use the rights of freedom?” These are powerful words for the 21st century. Dr. Montessori called upon educators to understand that “we must now help humanity … We must be nurses in a hospital, as vast as the world itself.” Her healing metaphor reminds me of the crucial importance of what we do each day. -- Jenny Isaacs
Switch to Renewable Energy & Save $ Choosing green energy is a simple, 5 minute process as long as you have your current bill handy You will get the same electric bill you do now, but Viridian supplies electricity that is either 20% or 100% renewable -- and will donate $2.49 monthly to Secret Garden for as long as you are a Viridian customer. It’s easy!
Video of The 3-Year Cycle Unveiled This gorgeous short film shot & edited by Barbette’s son Zac Potterfield -- a former Montessori student himself -- is now available for viewing on the front page of our website and at this link. Alumni parent Key Wilde provided the accompanying original music & did the voice-over, while Barbette & Jenny collaborated on the script. We are all so pleased with the polished, informative results! The video will be shared with other Montessori schools to help educate parents everywhere about the nature of our curriculum and the importance of the 3-year cycle.
Just visit this website and click on the “Become a Customer” leaf. In 5 minutes you’ll be signed up for greener electricity and supporting Secret Garden Montessori at the same time.
Gardening & Eco-Team Corner Our flower garden at Old Frenchtown Field has been spruced up for autumn, with mums tucked in next to the late-blooming sedum & catmint. Our next gardening project will be to develop a small raised bed right in front of the entrance to the classroom so that the children can plant & tend vegetables year-round, using the four square garden method. We will need some organizers for this project, as we will require donations of wood to frame out the bed, soil & compost to fill it, and a morning’s worth of labor to install it. Fall is the ideal time to start a new garden, so we hope to identify our working group before the first hard frost. Please let Jenny or Jessikah know if you are interested in participating!
Aside from the Parent Council, which is made up of ALL parents at Secret Garden, we have only one designated committee: the Eco-Team, which is charged with maintaining our school’s green vision and overseeing all our sustainability efforts -- including both our gardening/environmental curriculum and our practices as an institution. The work of last year’s Eco-Team ón Secret Garden’s “Growing Greener” project will be showcased at the Frenchtown Green Fair on Saturday, Sept 29, right across the street from the school. This year’s Eco-Team will begin meeting in October.
Secret Garden Montessori
1110 Harrison Street Suite D Frenchtown NJ 08825
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908..628.9639 [email protected]
A certified green, authentic Montessori school serving families in Hunterdon & Bucks Counties
IMPORTANT UPCOMING DATES - PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS NOW Sat, Sept 29 @ 11 am Frenchtown Green Fair Join us at Old Frenchtown Field for a family-friendly celebration of all things green! Mon, Oct 8
Thurs, Oct 18 @ 6 pm Parent Eve/Board Mtg All parents are encouraged to attend Fri, Oct 19 @ 9 am Morning Coffee Recap of previous evening, plus social time
Fri, Nov 16 @ 9 am Mon - Fri Nov 19-23
Fri, Dec 21 Caroling Trip to Homestead House Parents welcome to attend Mon, Dec 24 - Fri Jan 4 Thurs, Jan 17 @ 6 pm Fri, Jan 18 @ 9 am
Thurs & Fri, Nov 8 & 9
NO SCHOOL Parent Eve/Board Mtg Morning Coffee
NO SCHOOL Mon, Jan 21 NO SCHOOL
Thurs, Nov 15 @ 6 pm
Parent Eve/Board Mtg
Secret Garden Montessori is a registered 501c3 nonprofit and does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or physical disability in the acceptance of students or the employment of personnel.