MMS ‘Best. Summer. Ever.’ returns June 15-July 22

best summer ever 2015 with dates“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” Joseph Chilton Pierce

The MMS “Best. Summer. Ever.” series returns for 2015 as we present a special Adventure Play Camp offering a creative and educational experience for children. The camp will run Monday-Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., from June 15 to July 22.

Led by Montessori faculty, the camp will feature outdoor activities, imaginative child-driven play, sports, water games and endless fun. At this time, the camp will be limited to current MMS students. Tuition is $75/week, with a minimum of four weeks registration required.

For more information, please contact Michelle Scarbrough, scarborughmichelle@gmail.com or Susie Newhouse, E_snewshouse@yahoo.com, or call Beth George in the MMS office at 304/342-7870.


MMS students releasing 50 classmates into the wild

Mountaineer Montessori School lower elementary students will be releasing more than 50 of their classmates into the wild tomorrow.

The “classmates” – trout fry that the students have observed, nurtured and fed in their classroom since November – have grown into mature fish, and will be returned to their natural habitat at the Morris Creek Watershed in Montgomery on Wednesday, May 20, at approximately 10:15 a.m. Starting at 9 a.m., they will be carefully removed from the classroom fish tank, which students have monitored to ensure proper water chemistry and other conditions. They’ll then be transported to Morris Creek.

The project is a program of “Trout in the Classroom,Chicken art and fish 001” an educational outreach effort of Trout Unlimited. The MMS program, spearheaded by MMS parent Brent Best, extends the school’s science curriculum into the field, connecting students to local watersheds and the environment.

For information on the project, contact Lower Elementary Lead Guide David Pushkin at the MMS office: 304/342-7870; on-site contact at the trout release is MMS Guide Amanda Cox, 304/395-3444 (cell). Alternate contact: JoEllen Zacks, 312/622-3008 (cell).


M-M-Good! MMS “M” shirt line expanding

margolis familyIt’s time to get your “M” on all over again! MMS is placing another order for the world’s coolest t-shirts, featuring original artwork from our wonderful school sign by the renowned artist Charly Hamilton. This year, we’ll be expanding sizes available to include infant/toddler and offering a semi-fitted v-neck shirt for women.

To get your “M” on, complete this form and return it with your payment by Wednesday, May 20 to Beth George in the MMS office.  T-shirts will arrive by June 1. (Please note that in the past, the child shirts have tended to run a little small and the adult shirts seem to run large, so you may want to take that into consideration when ordering.)

 

 

 

ORDER

Schroder-Family-768x1024Infant (6 mos;12 mos;18 mos; 24mos): $12 each/ Toddler (2T-4T) and Youth (S-M-L): $12 each/Adult (S-XXL):  $18 each/Women’s (S-XL):  $18 each

QTY                SIZE               PRICE EACH                    AMT DUE                             

 

 

 

TOTAL AMOUNT ENCLOSED:____________  Make checks payable to “MMS”

Name:

Phone:

Email:

 

 

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On your mark, get set, Race for Education!

The Race for Education is back!

Race for Ed BannerMountaineer Montessori School students will lace up their running shoes and head to Triana Field on Friday, May 15, to raise money for our school. Proceeds will fund new Montessori educational materials for all class levels, primary through middle school. We thank MMS parent Diana Jacobs Johnson for chairing this wonderful event.

 

 

Primary classes: 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Lower elementary classes: 9:45-10:45 a.m.
Upper and middle school classes: 11:00 a.m.-Noon

Students are inviting friends and relatives to support this great fundraiser with a tax-deductible donation. To help out, or for more information, please contact the MMS office at 304/342-7870.

Event update from Chair Diana Johnson:

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The last MMS Race for Education raised $12,000 for our school!

We trust all of you have had the opportunity to look over the Kick-off Packets, which were sent home last week announcing our “Race for Education” fundraiser. Please note that label sheets are due on Monday, April 27. The last time we did this fundraiser we raised $12,000. Our goal this year is to reach that and possibly surpass it!  All funds raised will be put toward educational materials for our classrooms. You will enable us to reach this goal, if we receive from you an average of 14 label names per student.  Thank you.

Here are some examples of the materials that will be purchased with the money raised during this fundraiser:

  •  Primary classes could use mats for the seasons, continents, and land/water as well as handwriting chalkboards.
  • Lower Elementary would love to purchase some geography pin maps, grammar boxes, National Geographic nonfiction readers, and an encyclopedia set.
  •  Upper Elementary could use a printer and a podium for student presentations. We will be expanding our Upper Elementary space next year and will need tables and additional materials to accommodate a larger group of students.
  •  The Middle School is in need of cooking knives and other cooking equipment.
  •  Nancy has requested a laptop and some easels for the art program. She could also use a wagon and a water jug with a spout for P.E.
  • Plus Program’s wish list includes creative building materials, board games, snap circuits and tetherball.
  • Last, but not least, our birds would love a new birdcage.
  • We could use donations of stamps for this fundraiser. You can drop them off in the office anytime! Thank you!!!

Thank you in advance for participating in this fundraiser so we can purchase some of the items on our staff’s wish lists!

Race FormPlease note the sample of our mailer  so that you will be aware of what the potential sponsors will be receiving from our school.

As you consider names of potential sponsors, here are some tips:

1)       In order to list someone as a potential sponsor, a) the family must personally know the individual (please, no movie stars!); b) sponsors must have the potential to contribute at least $5.00, and you feel quite sure that they will; c) the sponsor cannot be school age (i.e., K-12).  The exception to ‘c’ is when students have an older sibling who has a part time job, and he/she has agreed to sponsor the younger sibling for at least $5.00.

2)           A sample list of potential sponsors is shown on the label sheet below. Potential sponsors may be family members, relatives, close friends, and neighbors. Special emphasis should be placed on out-of-state relatives and friends. Also, the people you do business with are a good source of names, i.e., barber, dentist, doctor, piano teacher, etc.  Please note that if a couple is living “under the same roof,” you must list them both on one label (i.e., Mr. & Mrs. John Doe) not two labels. Don’t forget to list your own name. 

3)           It is all right for children in a family to include the same sponsor names on their label sheets.  For example, three children from the same family can list their grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., on their own individual label sheet.

If you have any questions about this fundraiser, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Thank you in advance for all your help!

Diana Johnson: djohnson@bowlesrice.com 

 

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MMS Glass Classroom to spotlight a ‘new vision for education’

10409392_1463503593898798_6694979448923789261_nWhat do the founders of Google, Wikipedia and Amazon have in common? All attended Montessori schools—distinctive learning environments that foster academic excellence, innovation and a lifetime love of learning. The Wall Street Journal describes the approach as the “Montessori mystique,” while the Harvard Business Review calls the CEOs who run America’s top companies the “Montessori mafia.”

The curtain will be pulled back on this unique approach to education this summer, when Mountaineer Montessori School (MMS) presents “The Glass Classroom: A new vision for education” on June 19-20 at the Charleston Town Center Mall during FestivALL.

The two-day event will feature classroom demonstrations, interactive educational activities and public conversations, giving local children and their families the chance to touch, feel and experience the “Montessori magic” for themselves.

 

Print

Kanawha County Public Library

Brown Bag Lunch Series: The Glass Classroom-A New Vision for Education

Wednesday, June 17, Noon

Charleston Town Center Mall Sears Court

Friday, June 19

2:30 p.m. Grand opening and ribbon cutting

3:00-5:00 p.m. Educational demonstrations and interactive activities

Saturday, June 20

1:00-3:00 p.m. Educational demonstrations and interactive activities

 

An exhibit that gave American a new vision for education

The original "glass classroom."

The original “glass classroom.”

The Mountaineer Montessori project is part of a national centennial celebration of the “glass classroom,” an actual working Montessori preschool classroom that was conducted at the San Francisco Panama Pacific Exposition for four months in 1915. Walled by glass that allowed visitors to watch the children in action, it was one of the expo’s most popular exhibits, drawing tens of thousands, including Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.  In honor of the 100th anniversary, schools across the country are staging special events and educational activities.

The “glass classroom” gave the world its first real look at Montessori education and helped launch the Montessori movement in North America.

“We hope our ‘glass classroom’ will give families here the chance to see what Montessori is all about and offer a model of true education reform for West Virginia,” says Mountaineer Montessori School Co-Director Jennifer Carriger.

 

What is Montessori?

Montessori is a scientifically-based, empirically-validated and time-tested approach to education, named for Dr. Maria Montessori, the first female physician in Italy and a pioneer in the study of child development and psychology.  Many of Montessori’s discoveries, at the time controversial, are now considered common knowledge in the fields of child care and education. A humanitarian and devout Catholic, she was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Maria Montessori and a young student.

Maria Montessori and a young student.

In 1907, Montessori founded the Casa dei Bambini, a school for mentally ill and disabled children in Rome.  At that time, the mentally and physically challenged were usually believed to be incapable of academic learning.  However, Montessori found that when offered the appropriate environment, guidance and materials, the students were capable of great things.  Observing that all young children have an innate curiosity and desire to learn, Montessori said: “free the child’s potential, and you will transform him into the world.”

Based upon her scientific observations, Montessori dramatically transformed the prevailing approach to education for all children. “It is not true that I invented what has been called the Montessori Method. I have studied the child, I have taken what the child has given me and expressed it, and that is what is called the Montessori Method,” she said.  The Montessori philosophy directs the “guide” (teacher) to work with the “whole child”: academically, emotionally, physically, socially. In a Montessori school, children work independently and at their own paces, with time dedicated to collaborating with peers, resolving conflicts, and participating in community services in addition to all of their academic studies.  The Montessori approach encourages older students to work with, mentor, and inspire younger children.

 

 

Montessori today

Montessori has been called the original "brain-based" education because it is based upon scientific principles of human development.

Montessori has been called the original “brain-based” approach to education because it is based upon scientific principles of human development.

Today, neuroscience confirms what Montessori discovered a century ago. “Montessori is the original brain-based approach to education because it is based upon scientific principles of human development,” says Dr. Stephen Hughes, past president of the American Academy for Pediatric Neuropsychology.

Montessori has grown to be the single largest pedagogy and education movement in the world, with an estimated 20,000 schools on six continents, including 4,500 in the United States.  While many specialize in preschool (ages 3 to 6) education, Montessori programs can start at birth and go through 12th grade.

Most Montessori schools are private, nonprofit, non-sectarian organizations, but a growing number of religious and public schools (500 in the United States) are also adopting the program.  The largest school of any kind in the world, City Montessori in Lucklow, India, has more than 50,000 students!

MMS is West Virginia’s largest, oldest and most established Montessori school. Founded by education pioneer Mary McKown in 1976, the school has served an estimated 1,000 area students over four decades.  Today, MMS offers its rich academic and arts curriculum to 120 students ages 3-14 on campuses in Kanawha City at the University of Charleston (308 20th Street) and South Hills (804 Myrtle Road at the Unity of Kanawha Valley Church). In response to growing community interest in alternatives to conventional education, MMS has expanded its programs in many areas, including the addition of a middle school in the fall of 2014.

Student-centered learning

“When it comes to education, one-size-fits-all doesn’t,” says Co-Director Suzanne Sanders

When it comes to education, one-size-fits-all doesn't.

When it comes to education, one-size-fits-all doesn’t.

“Dr. Maria Montessori came up with her educational approach more than a century ago, and she was way ahead of her time,” Sanders says.  “She realized that ideally, children should learn at their own paces and be driven by their own interests, with adults as guides. For instance, a child who’s interested in automobiles would best learn about mathematics and science while researching what makes a car run.

“This concept of a student-centered education is finally being incorporated, in small ways, into the traditional education system. However, due to the large sizes of schools and the standards-driven curricula, most schools are still more about building a collective group-thought and scoring high on tests. This explains a lot about the failures of traditional schooling because in reality, each child has a distinct learning style that suits him or her. Mountaineer Montessori lets the children follow their own paths, with guidance from adults, to develop socially as well as academically.”

 

Why Montessori?

Photo credit: The Boyd School

Photo credit: The Boyd School

In addition fostering academic achievement, Montessori schools excel at cultivating the skills needed for success in the 21st century: innovation, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration.

That’s where Montessori is at its best.  Montessori graduates were noticeably overrepresented in a six-year study of successful executives who had either invented new products or launched innovative companies.  Among their notable characteristics were a Montessori education and the ability to follow their curiosity.

“It was part of that training of not following rules and orders and being self-motivated, questioning what’s going on in the world, doing things a little bit differently,” explained Google co-founder (and Montessori alumnus) Larry Page in an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters in a 2007 interview.

Some may attribute the success of Montessori students to their families’ socio-economic status, parental educational attainment and involvement or other factors, but a landmark study of inner-city Milwaukee students with comparable backgrounds found that Montessori students outperformed peers on standardized tests in reading and math, “engaged in more positive interaction on the playground and showed more advanced social cognition and executive control.”  The study, reported in the Sept. 29, 2006, issue of “Science,” also found that in higher grades, Montessori-educated children “wrote more creative essays with more complex sentence structures, selected more positive responses to social dilemmas and reported feeling more a sense of community at their school.”

Parent and student perspective

 

"We are living in an age of knowledge."

“We are living in an age of knowledge.”

“We are living in an age of knowledge.  Only the highly educated will be positioned to succeed,” says Brian Glasser, a Rhodes Scholar and founding partner of the law firm of Bailey & Glasser LLP.  All four of his children attended Mountaineer Montessori. “The Montessori method gives children the intellectual discipline to understand how learning is a personal responsibility.”

“It’s not sit down, book, paper, pencil. It’s get your hands on it.  Do it. Figure it out,” explains seventh-year student Jamie Coleman as she worked with classmates on a project to map the historic Carriage Trail in South Hills. Hands-on, student-led projects in “real world” settings are one of the hallmarks of Montessori.

“When people are talking to you, you’ve kind of got a picture of what it is, but you’re not really sure. Having the outdoor experience and doing what they’re actually teaching is much better and you have more understanding and learn a lot more,” added middle school classmate Jasmine Phillips.

Hands-on, project-based learning is a foundation to the Montessori curriculum.

Hands-on, project-based learning is a foundation to the Montessori curriculum.

Lower elementary (ages 6-9) student River Schroeder-Neal says, “We get to take care of our environment here.” And classmate, Iris Charbonniez says, “We are independent at Mountaineer Montessori.”

Chace Boland, a primary (ages 3-6) student, says that “The thing I like best about my school is that there are all kinds of people there from so many places, and I’m friends with them all. I make new friends every day. The adults lift you up. They encourage you, not discourage you. They support you, and they are fun. I love working on maps, and I love working on Practical Life lessons. My mom says she didn’t know about the maps of the world at my age, and the only continent I have left to do is Africa and all the countries in it. I’ve learned to focus more. I love my school.”

His mom, Sarah Halstead, concurs: “We are thrilled with the Mountaineer Montessori program. Our son has learned so much in his first year, and he’s excited about learning.  We appreciate the focus on personal responsibility and accountability, and the emphasis on caring for others. The nature of the lessons in different topical areas offer Chace and other kids amazing opportunities to ask questions, to work independently and together to explore and experiment, and to master information and skills that are so important in life. The expertise of the teachers is assuring. He loves his classmates and he recognizes that his teachers all follow the same principals. He likes the consistency and support, and as parents, we do too. We can’t imagine a better, more loving and intellectually stimulating place for our child.

 

Teacher perspective

Montessori nurtures children to discover  and become the person who they were meant to be, says a MMS faculty member.

Montessori nurtures children to discover and become the person who they were meant to be, says a MMS faculty member.

And for the faculty, Montessori creates a space that allows them to be the teachers they wanted to be in the first place.

The focus is much more on “leading children toward independence, with more freedom to go where they need to go rather than where the testing goes,” says an MMS faculty member who previously taught in public schools. “Instead of just checking boxes for a list of standards, a Montessori education guides children to discover and become who they were meant to be.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Greenbrier ‘Badges for Charity’ to benefit MMS

downloadMountaineer Montessori School is honored to be selected as a participant in the 2015 Greenbrier Classic Badges for Charity program. This is the fourth year that MMS has been included in the charity partnership. The Greenbrier Classic runs June 29-July 5 at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs.  Through May 1, 30 percent of ticket purchases to Greenbrier Classic, A PGA TOUR, FedExCup event, may be designated as a donation to MMS.  Proceeds will benefit the school’s scholarship fund and specialty programs.

Launched four years ago, the Greenbrier Classic Badges for Charity has generated more than $340,000 for area non-profit organizations. To make a purchase to benefit MMS, go to Badges for Charity and select “Mountaineer Montessori School” at checkout

 

 


Jennifer Carriger and Suzanne Sanders named MMS Co-Directors

Jennifer Carriger MMS Co-Director

Jennifer Carriger
MMS Co-Director

Suzanne Sanders MMS Co-Director

Suzanne Sanders
MMS Co-Director

Jennifer Carriger and Suzanne Sanders have hit the ground running as the new educational leaders of Mountaineer Montessori School.  They bring rich and extensive experience in Montessori, public and charter school education, organizational leadership, and non-profit management that will serve our school well at this transformational time in our history.

 

 

 

 

Jennifer Carriger:

Jennifer Carriger was honored as Teacher of the Year by the WV Learning Disabilities Association in 2014.

Jennifer Carriger was honored as Teacher of the Year by the WV Learning Disabilities Association in 2014.

Jennifer has been the MMS reading and learning specialist since 2008, providing screenings and support for students in reading, spelling and writing. The co-founder of the Appalachian Reading Center, Jennifer was honored as “Teacher of the Year” by the West Virginia Learning Disabilities Association in 2014. Jennifer also brings ten years of public school experience, serving students with learning differences in Madison County Schools in Madison, Va., and Boone County in West Virginia.

Jennifer earned a BA in international studies, a BS in secondary education and an MA in special education from West Virginia University. She has pursued additional graduate studies at the University of Virginia and Marshall University, and holds permanent WV certification endorsement for students ages 5-12 in social studies, learning disabilities, mental impairment and behavior disorders.

Jennifer has completed advanced professional training in the Wilson Reading System (Levels I, II and Advanced), “Handwriting Without Tears” and special education. She is the past president of the WV Learning Disabilities Association. Jennifer and her husband, David Carriger, are the parents of two MMS students.

 

Suzanne Sanders:

Suzanne Sanders founded the state's only Montessori middle school program in August 2014.

Suzanne Sanders founded the state’s only Montessori middle school program in August 2014.

Suzanne has been a part of the MMS community since 2011, leading our upper elementary class for three years and founding our middle school program in the fall of 2014.

Prior to joining our faculty, Suzanne was the upper elementary lead guide at the New School in Lancaster, Pa., the school director and lead early elementary guide at the Manuel Antonio Montessori Academy in Costa Rica, and the lead early elementary guide at the Compass Montessori Charter School in Wheat Ridge, Colo., where she worked with the elementary team to meld state standards and the Montessori curriculum. Suzanne also brings a rich background in business and sales to MMS.

Suzanne earned a BS in sports medicine from Penn State University, and holds the following Montessori certifications: AMS Elementary Education I, Montessori Center of the Rockies, Boulder, Colo.; AMS Elementary Education II, Center for Montessori Teacher Education, New Rochelle, NY; and AMI Orientation Programme to Adolescent Studies, Cleveland, Ohio.

Suzanne is the mother of a former Montessori student.

Looking forward:

Jennifer Carriger and Suzanne Sanders MMS Co-Directors

Jennifer Carriger and Suzanne Sanders
MMS Co-Directors

In February, Jennifer and Suzanne participated in AMI Montessori School Administration Sessions in Atlanta.

Although our accelerated transition into the co-directorship is not something we could have anticipated or planned for, we have eagerly jumped into our new roles, and feel energized and uplifted by the outpouring of support from our special community, say Jennifer and Suzanne.

For the remainder of the school year, the two are maintaining their positions at the school (Suzanne as our middle school guide and Jennifer as our reading and learning specialist) while serving as co-directors. They are currently recruiting for new faculty to assume their classroom duties in the fall, and working on the following:

  • meeting with all staff members to assess classroom needs for the rest of this year and beyond
  • mentoring teachers-in-training
  • coordinating communications among and between staff, families and board
  • analyzing standardized test scores
  • organizing enrollment, staffing, and budget information for the upcoming school year
  • meeting with lead teachers to discuss individual student needs
  • assisting with field trip preparation and other special events for the children
  • meeting with board members and community members to further the school’s strategic plan
  • recruiting staff for next year and developing a plan for continuing education for staff members

We are grateful for Jennifer and Suzanne’s extraordinary service to our school community, its students, faculty and parents, and as MMS approaches its 40th anniversary, are excited for their vision for our future as the state’s premier Montessori school and a nationally-recognized leader in excellence and innovation in education.

Mountaineer Montessori Logo Master NEW you tube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Students, alumni, win state chess championship, regional spelling bee & math counts competition–on the same day!

March 21, 2015, was a day for the record books at Mountaineer Montessori School. Our students and alumni racked up three very impressive victories that reflect their commitment to education and pursuit of excellence. We take great pride on congratulating:

Sohan Kukkillaya, far right, is the state chess champion in the K-3 division, and the MMS Gilliland Knights won the state team championship.

Sohan Kukkillaya, far right, is the state chess champion in the K-3 division, and the MMS Gilliland Knights won the state team championship.

MMS alumnus Varun Kukkakillaya is the regional spelling bee champion for the second year in a row. He is the brother of chess champion Sohan Kukkillaya.

MMS alumnus Varun Kukkillaya is the regional spelling bee champion for the second year in a row. He is the brother of chess champion Sohan Kukkillaya. (Photo by Chris Dorst, Charleston Gazette)

MMS alumnus Nikolas Milhailidis, far left, is one of four students chosen to represent West Virginia in the national MATHCOUNTS competition. His sister, Vera, is a fourth year student at MMS.

MMS alumnus Nikolas Milhailidis, far left, is one of four students chosen to represent West Virginia in the national MATHCOUNTS competition. His sister, Vera, is a fourth year student at MMS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Shadow Night is March 17

MMSShadow NightMarch 17-1One of Mountaineer Montessori School’s  most cherished traditions returns! “Shadow Night” will be held for lower and upper elementary students and their parents on Tuesday, March 17. On Shadow Night, students are the teachers, sharing Montessori lessons and favorite activities with their parents. Two sessions will be held: 5:30-6:15 and 6:15-7:00 p.m. Parents should refer to their students’ schedules that were provided by the MMS office. Look for your personal invitation and get ready for a very special evening of learning and sharing with your child and our school community.


Middle school ‘cultivating a culture of cooking’ with Thaibilly Kitchen

by Anna Patrick, Charleston Gazette

“You guys ready to start chopping?”

Raj Pongsugree asks her cooking class. The eager eyes of Jamie Coleman, Zahra Khan and Julia Carriger look back at their instructor as plates of ingredients color a large white counter top in the center of the kitchen.

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Photo by Anna Patrick, Charleston Gazette

On a recent Wednesday morning, Pongsugree is leading the first cooking class in a brand new middle school program for three of the four seventh graders enrolled in Mountaineer Montessori Middle School.

“So today, in honor of Chinese New Year, we’re going to do long noodles. You don’t cut them when you cook them. They are supposed to stay long in representation of life.”

“Long life,” Jamie chimes in.

“Right. Long noodles, long life,” Pongsugree responds.

She begins holding up ingredients. “It’s going to be a noodle stir fry with chives, a couple pieces of carrots and this,” she tells the students as she holds up a nondescript, shriveled black object. “It looks like seaweed but it’s not. This is called black fungus.”

Instead of receiving boos or signs of disgust, the three 12-year-olds look impressed.

Photo by Anna Patrick, Charleston Gazette

Photo by Anna Patrick, Charleston Gazette

Someone says, “That’s amazing.”

“It’s really textural and very chewy.” Pongsugree explains that in some Asian countries the fungus is used as a meat replacement, but lacks protein.

Quickly the trio are chatting and chopping as Pongsugree makes her rounds to ensure that Jamie is cutting the tofu thin enough for veggie dumplings, which are also on the menu. Zahra carefully chops up the slimly black fungi and Julia takes on the carrots.

Student Jasmine Phillips was absent that day.

In addition to catering, serving authentic Thai cuisine at The Empty Glass on Charleston’s East End every Tuesday, and fixing food at festivals, Thaibilly Kitchen offers a variety of cooking classes.

Co-owners of Thaibilly, Pongsugree and her husband, Michael Seeburger, instruct the classes, which are normally held at the Manna Meal kitchen located at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Suzanne Sanders, lead guide for Mountaineer Montessori’s adolescent program, said she was looking for a way to offer an enjoyable, hands-on learning experience for the students to get acquainted with a variety of cuisines and ingredients.

 

 

Photo by Anna Patrick, Charleston Gazette

Photo by Anna Patrick, Charleston Gazette

“I just thought it would a perfect pairing,” Sanders said. “She’s bringing in all kinds of new things that they are discovering.”

Pongsugree started the cooking classes in January by teaching the students how to make sushi. She will teach a class at the Charleston school one Wednesday of every month until the end of the school year.

“I like it because I really enjoy trying new foods. Any new food is really, really super exciting for me,” Julia said. “I also think that it is a really great experience because then you are going to be able to get more freedom and you are going to be able to cook for yourself.”

Even when Pongsugree is not around to teach an exotic dish, the students always cook together on Wednesdays.

“One of the things in this program is for them to start learning how to do adult-like things,” Sanders said.

“Every Wednesday of every week, two of the students choose something that they would like to cook for the whole group. They give me a list, and they have to stay within a budget. We go out and get things and they are responsible for cooking for the whole group. The other two clean, and, then, the next week we switch.”

After the Wednesday meal is prepared the students sit down family style with Sanders and fellow instructor Rachel Scarpelli to enjoy their meal.

Before the group enjoyed their Chinese New Year meal, Pongsugree taught the girls how eat with chop sticks. She said she’s already planning to fix an Irish meal in March to honor St. Patrick’s Day.

“She gives us a little history along with each food,” Julia said. “She’s a really good teacher and she’s really fun.”

Photo by Anna Patrick, Charleston Gazette

Photo by Anna Patrick, Charleston Gazette

“We’ve gotten rave, rave reviews from the students and the parents,” Sanders said. “They’re being exposed to foods that they might not have been exposed to before … . What we can do is put that into our curriculum.”

The girls were happy to share some of Pongsugree’s teachings.

“I learned that not all fungus is bad,” Jamie said.

Julia added, “To make black fungus edible you have to soak it in water.”

“Never lift the knife from the cutting board,” Zahra said.

And reciting Pongsugree’s words from earlier on how to properly fill a dumpling, Zahra said, “Everything in moderation.” Call Pongsugree at 304-206-4527 to learn more about Thaibilly Kitchen’s cooking class and catering offerings.

Reach Anna Patrick at anna.patrick@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4881.

See more here