Back to school announcements and updates
Mountaineer Montessori Message September 7, 2020
After months of being apart and countless hours of hard work, the big day is almost here!
We are thrilled to welcome our students back to school tomorrow. Some things may look and feel a little different, but who we are and what we can do together never changes.
Please take a few minutes to watch this important welcome back message from members of our school community. They share the excitement and gratitude we all feel for the opportunity to come together for our 44th year of excellence and innovation in education.
We can’t wait to see you tomorrow.
MMS to continue operations as a child care center, offer remote learning on September 8, 2020
A new school year starts in just a few days. We have been working toward this important moment for many months. Our preparations have been as grand as expanding to a second campus to the small, yet important, adjustments that will help individual classrooms run smoothly and safely.
Our summer camp preparations, back to school nights, participation in numerous trainings and professional development seminars, and staff workdays have given us the time and experience necessary to adapt to our new classroom environments and safety procedures. Everyone at MMS is absolutely committed to a safe, strong and successful school year.
Our 2020-21 plan is outlined in our Back Together handbook, which was released a month ago. It is available on our website, and we encourage all parents to review this critical information once again before Tuesday.
As you may be aware, the West Virginia Department of Education has adopted a color code system to determine how and when schools in each county may operate. West Virginia’s school re-entry is guided by metrics developed by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR). Based on a four-color system – green, yellow, orange and red – each county is assigned a color based on the prevalence of COVID-19 within its borders.
Be sure to read the latest issue of the school newsletter for critical back to school information, staff announcements and calendar updates.
Mountaineer Montessori Message August 18, 2020
A safe and healthy school year depends on what we all do today.
As we prepare our buildings and classrooms for students, it’s also time to prepare ourselves and our families.
The MMS “Back Together” handbook outlines some of the measures families are expected to take in the weeks up to and during the year ahead. (Please refer to the handbook and details below.)
Getting familiar with and practicing new arrival procedures in one activity your family can begin today. In today’s Mountaineer Montessori Message, the Hicks family demonstrates what arrival will look like starting on September 8. Please watch this video with your students (more than once!) and rehearse your new morning routine.
Creating and maintaining a healthy campus environment will require the commitment and participation of our entire school community—students, teachers and families.
MMS will adhere to strict safeguards on campus and we emphasize a comparable level of diligence by our families outside of school. Individual decisions can affect our entire school community, some of whom are essential health care workers, have pre-existing medical conditions, or are elderly. We implore families to follow CDC guidelines and exercise responsible judgment about interactions, travel, and other activity with public health ramifications. Staying healthy is one of the best ways we can model the Montessori peace philosophy at this time.
Thank you for helping us get our new year off to a healthy start!
Please print and save this daily health screening chart:
Back to school volunteer opportunities
“The child should live in an environment of beauty.” Maria Montessori
At MMS the environment is the “third teacher” in the classroom, and we have always been proud of our beautiful learning spaces. This year, we are asking your help to sustain this tradition by taking part in the preparation of our buildings and classrooms for back to school. As announced, MMS is implementing major facilities changes at all levels that necessitate improvements, moves and enhancements.
Right now, we are looking for volunteers to move furniture, clear out classrooms, and paint some spaces at the Staunton Avenue campus. This is a great opportunity to get a sneak peek at our new facility!
Please note that these volunteer opportunities are for ADULTS ONLY. MMS cannot provide childcare, and for safety reasons, cannot accommodate children on the premises at this time.
Volunteer shifts start Monday, August 10. Please take a moment to look at the openings on the Google form, and sign up there. We will need firm commitments for planning purposes. We greatly appreciate your help!
Next week, additional volunteer slots will open for work needed at both campuses and for all class levels, Primary, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary and Middle School.
This post will be updated with that information.
Thanks in advance for helping your school get off to a beautiful start to the new year!
Mountaineer Montessori Message August 7, 2020
Back to school is always a time of great anticipation for students, teachers and parents. The beginning of this school year will be even more momentous and meaningful for all of us.
MMS has dedicated the past months to creating the foundation for a safe, strong and successful year ahead.
The extraordinary investments we have made in facilities enhancements, as well as new protocols and policies, to support learning in a new dynamic are outlined in “Back Together,” our back to school handbook.
Among the major changes is the expansion to a second campus, which will double classroom space for all students. Students will work in small groups that are effectively half of our traditional class size.
While things may be different, we know they can still be amazing for your child and we are absolutely determined to provide a wonderful educational experience for your family.
Our plans are centered on in-classroom, on-campus learning, five days a week, for all students. It is imperative that families read this entire plan carefully as soon as possible.
MMS Jennifer Carriger will be calling every MMS family individually in the days ahead for a personalized, one-on-one back to school session.These calls will be an opportunity for you to review the plan together and for you to ask questions.
Embracing obstacles as opportunities requires us to stretch beyond our comfort zones. But if any community can do it well, it’s ours.
Montessori education nurtures the very skills that our school – and our world – need now more than ever: problem solving, imagination, innovation, resiliency, flexibility, creativity and empathy. If you’re a part of our community, we know you already have these qualities inside of you.
Many of our new procedures were introduced during Campessori, the MMS summer program. The most surprising observation from these nine weeks was that there were few surprises. Children transitioned well and thrived within the restructured Campessori, giving us confidence, insight and the equivalent of a full school quarter (nine weeks) of experience for roll out in the upcoming school year.
As Maria Montessori said, “follow the child.”
“Back Together” is a living document. We will expand, revise and update this handbook to meet changing conditions and new directives, as well as to provide further guidance as required. Now, more than ever, your patience and partnership will be essential for a successful year.
Founded in 1976, MMS has built a proud tradition of excellence and innovation in education, continually evolving and growing to elevate our programs and community. If the past is any indication, and with your support, we have every confidence that we will continue to raise the bar in the year ahead.
Mountaineer Montessori Message August 3, 2020
MMS has adjusted our 2020-2021 school calendar based on the new September 8 start date ordered by Governor Justice. In order to keep 180 instructional days for students, we have extended the last day of school to June 11 and re-configured our school breaks.
We are planning for staggered start days, with a few changes this year due to new safety protocols and procedures.
Our first three days of school (September 8-10) will be half-days, with early dismissal each of those days. We will start full days on September 11, with our noon-2:50 p.m. Plus Program for three- and four-year-olds beginning then as well.
We plan to phase in after-school Plus on October 1, once we have had time to adjust to new routines and procedures.
The revised 2020-2021 calendar highlights are available here. All dates are subject to revision, and we will inform you right away if changes are needed. Thank you for your support and patience.
Please note that we will hold parent conferences in late October/early November and again in March. Conferences will be held via Zoom over the course of several afternoons. School will not be closed on conference days. We still plan to provide Parent Education sessions throughout the year – those plans are still in process. We will send more details once school starts.
- Primary and Lower Elementary (308 20th Street) – 7:50-8:15 a.m.
- Upper Elementary and Middle School (4801 Staunton Avenue) – 8:10-8:30 a.m.
- Primary Morning Friends – 11:50 a,m.-12:10 p.m.
- Primary and Lower Elementary – 2:50-3:15 p.m.
- Upper Elementary and Middle School – 3:10-3:30 p.m.
Summer program lays foundation for a strong school year
Planning, preparing for and presenting our Campessori summer program has given MMS a three month head start on implementing enhanced safety procedures and lays the foundation for a strong back to school in September.
We’ve gained invaluable insight, hands on experience, and practical feedback from our students, families and teachers over the summer, which will guide our new procedures and policies moving forward. The children have transitioned well to this year’s Campessori structure and response from families has been so positive that our summer program was extended for a total of nine weeks (Elementary)/eight weeks (Primary).
As announced on Monday, MMS is doubling classroom space for all students and staff by housing Upper Elementary and Middle School classes at the St. Agnes School in Kanawha City. We are thrilled to provide expanded learning environments to meet social distancing guidelines this year and accommodate our growing school enrollment and programs in the years ahead.
Expanding our learning environments was central to the MMS 2020-21 Re-entry Plan. Now that the critical facilities issues have been addressed, our Re-entry Task Force will convene next week to finalize policy and protocol recommendations. We are grateful for your continuing support and honored to have your family as part of our school community. Please know we are fully committed to offering a safe, strong, and successful educational experience to all students in the year ahead!
Mountaineer Montessori Message July 27, 2020
MMS is pleased announce our expansion to the St. Agnes School in Kanawha City for 2020-21 school year.
Beginning in September, Upper Elementary and Middle School classes will be housed at the St. Agnes campus at 4801 Staunton Avenue, SE, in Kanawha City. This move will enable MMS to double classroom space for all students, both at the new campus and the main MMS building at 308 20th Street, SE, in the year ahead. MMS plans an eventual relocation of all students to the St. Agnes facility.
Securing additional space to provide social distancing for students and staff has been a top priority for the MMS Re-entry Task Force. The split campus for 2020-21 will create twice the space for our school, giving all children and teachers ample area for learning. Beyond the immediate school year, the St. Agnes facility will also enable MMS to accommodate continued enrollment growth, which has increased more than 80 percent in the past 10 years. We expect 144 students in 2020-21.
The St. Agnes School, which was open for more than 90 years, also includes many attractive amenities that support the Montessori curriculum, including two acres of greenspace, a gymnasium, and a commercial kitchen. MMS is entering into a long-term lease for the school building and grounds.
“We are honored to continue the long tradition of excellence in education established at St. Agnes,” said MMS Director Jennifer Carriger. “This wonderful facility aligns with the priorities outlined in our strategic plan, helps us serve a growing number of families in our community, and answers our immediate concerns for social distancing and safety.”
Work will be underway soon at the St. Agnes facility to ready expanded Upper Elementary and Middle School classrooms. Classrooms will also be rearranged and/or reassigned at the current building to allow for doubling of space. Now that expanded facilities have been secured, our Re-entry Task Force will reconvene to finalize procedures regarding arrival, dismissal, administration of the Plus Program and other back to school issues.
MMS administration and Board of Directors also continue their efforts prepare for a safe, strong and successful school year. Additional safety protocols and policies will be finalized in coming weeks.
We are thrilled to share this good news with you, which follows many years of hard work seeking additional space for our growing school community and meets challenges arising from COVID-19.
Please continue to watch for important updates is the days and weeks ahead. As always, we appreciate your support and encouragement and look forward to seeing you in September.
Feedback may be directed to Jennifer at email@example.com
Mountaineer Montessori Message July 21, 2020
A top priority of the MMS Re-entry Task Force and Board of Directors has been securing expanded space to meet CDC guidelines and enable social distancing for our students and staff.
We are pleased to announce that additional classrooms have been identified in Kanawha City to house selected levels for the 2020-21 school year.
This expansion will essentially double the learning space available for each MMS student in the year ahead. The board is finalizing arrangements and details will be shared as soon as they are available.
You can learn more from Director Jennifer Carriger in today’s Mountaineer Montessori Message, which also includes important calendar and Campessori announcements.
We are grateful for the dedication and commitment of MMS administration, board and task force members and thrilled to share this positive news. We are also thankful for the support, encouragement and patience of our school community as we continue our work towards a safe, strong and successful school year together!
Mountaineer Montessori Message July 13, 2020
Updated back to school plans for the 2020-21 school year are being shared with MMS families today by Director Jennifer Carriger. The working plan was developed by the MMS Re-entry Task Force, composed of parents, teachers, administration and board members, and approved by the full Board of Directors on July 10. (As a reminder, the first day of school has been pushed back to September 8 in response to an order by Governor Justice.)
In a video presentation, Jennifer walks us through the planning process and what learning will look like at our school under various scenarios (DRAFT MMS Back to School Scenarios 7-13-20), with the goal of in-person learning for as many students as possible for as many days as possible while meeting all guidelines from the CDC, Kanawha-Charleston Health Department and the WV DHHR.
“Without safety, nothing else can be achieved,” Jennifer notes.
The MMS plan is based–and all decisions have and will be made–to align with four guiding principles:
- Montessori learning
- Family partnerships
- Constant and ongoing monitoring
The presentation offers a look at:
- How MMS is working towards safe re-opening
- What is planned
- What parents can expect
- How we will work together to succeed
Parents are encouraged to take notes as they watch this presentation and forward any questions or input to Jennifer (firstname.lastname@example.org) at your earliest convenience. Your feedback will be forwarded to the task force and help MMS further refine and adjust the plan in the weeks ahead. Please look for updates from Jennifer and MMS as we continue our hard work to lay the foundation for safe and strong year together!
Back to school update, July 10, 2020
Dear MMS families,
As you may be aware, Governor Justice has extended his emergency declaration order closing schools up to September 8, 2020. The order impacts both public and private schools.
Our Re-Entry Task force has prepared a scenario-based planning document that was reviewed and approved by the MMS Board of Directors today. We are also working to finalize a new school calendar for the 2020-2021 school year that reflects a new start date of September 8.
You will receive more details by Monday, including a video presentation describing our planning steps and our school re-entry plan. In the video, I will go through each part of the re-entry plan to help you get a clear sense of how re-entry will occur and what modifications will be made to the school’s physical space, procedures and protocols in order to keep our school community safe.
Many thanks to the Board of Directors, the Re-Entry Task force, and all of you for your continued support of our MMS community.
Take care and stay safe,
Mountaineer Montessori Message July 3, 2020
MMS Director Jennifer Carriger is back with an update on the status of back to school planning at MMS.
The Re-entry Task Force has had its initial meeting and is moving forward apace to develop a road map for a safe year together at our school. Thanks to the many parents who participated in the Re-entry Survey distributed in June. Your responses provided valuable insight and ideas for the year ahead.
The task force has divided its work in to six main areas of focus:
- Policy and Calendar
- Facilities and Supplies
- Health and Wellness
- Education and Training
- Gatherings, Visitors and Events
By the end of today, all of the subcommittees will have met to develop a plan of action for their area of responsibility. Their recommendations will be incorporated into a school-wide Re-entry Plan that will be reviewed by the Board of Directors. The goal is to distribute this plan to our community in two-three weeks.
The Re-entry Plan will be built on three pillars:
- Being together as a school community
- Keeping our students, families, faculty and staff safe
- Continuing to deliver a high-quality Montessori education to our students
The MMS task force, Board and staff continue to participate in professional development and online training; closely monitor developments; and research and gather recommendations and guidance from public health, education and medical organizations.
As with our remote learning updates, a page on our website will be dedicated to re-entry information. The link will found under the “What’s New” box on the home page.
Campessori, our summer program, is in full swing. We are delighted to offer this opportunity to our families, which provides wonderful, in-person enrichment activities to your children and offers helpful insight and practice for August.
Please watch for updates on steps you can take to help prepare your child and family for back to school as well as announcements on the Re-entry Plan.
Thank you again for your support and patience. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Jennifer at email@example.com.
Stay safe and have a happy Fourth of July! We look forward to being together with you in the new school year.
Mountaineer Montessori Message June 19, 2020
It has been a year that we all will remember. We are so proud of the students, teachers and families who sustained the learning, creativity and discovery in the face of the unknown over the past months. We ended the year on very strong and positive footing, and are deeply grateful for each and every one of you!
The spirit of Mountaineer Montessori was kept bright with remote learning and parent education as well as the signature events and traditions that are part of the MMS experience. Thank you to all who helped make the fourth annual MMMS Talent Show , 21 st Tie Dye Day, Eighth Year Graduation, and our Virtually Epic Spring Gala successful. And could there have been a better way to wrap up the year under any circumstances than the end of year parade? It was wonderful to see your bright faces pass in front of the school for nearly two hours in the rain!
Campessori 2020 is off to a great start this week! Our school yard and classrooms ring with the joyful sounds of “happy campers.” There are still a few spaces available in selected weeks… please contact Alasha Al-Qudwah firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to register your child.
Planning for 2020-21
Preparations for the new school year are underway. Our top priority is the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and families. As we pursue every possible avenue that will allow us to carry out our school’s mission while adhering to safety and health guidelines and recommendations, we want to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Please take a minute to complete a short survey and return it by Tuesday, June 23 . Your feedback is important.
So far, 2020-21 planning has included participation in multiple meetings, phone conferences, webinars, and discussion groups with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, the WV Department of Health and Human Resources, American Montessori Society consultants and member schools, and the National Association of Independent Schools. We are also monitoring announcements from Governor Justice, the state department of education, and Kanawha County Schools.
We are creating a re-entry task force in order to prepare the start of the school year, which is scheduled for August 17. The re-entry task force will include representatives from our MMS staff (administration and guides), representatives from the Board of Directors, and representatives from the parent community. We will continue to consult with the Health Department, DHHR, WVDE, Kanawha County Schools, American Montessori Society, and other outside agencies and consultants as well.
If you are interested in joining the re-entry task force, please email Jennifer at email@example.com by Tuesday, June 23. Task force meetings will take place via Zoom on Tuesdays from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.. The first meeting will be held on Tuesday, June 30 . We will meet more often as needed.
All parents, please take a moment to answer the following questions that will help us get this important work started. We ask that you complete the survey by Tuesday, June 23.