Sixth year project preps students for high school and beyond

Picture 007One of the most popular traditions at MMS is the “Sixth Year Project.” It’s a year-long college prep research and writing course for sixth graders, facilitated by Darlene Spangler, who has played many key roles at MMS over the past 20 years, including upper elementary and middle school assistant, administrator and co-director.

Darlene holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Duke University, and this year is working closely with sixth year students as they take a research paper from start to finish over the course of the year. Students pick their own topic, and then learn to research sources (requiring a minimum of 100 note cards), prepare an outline, compose the final paper and deliver a formal presentation to their class and sixth year parents. This year’s student topics include autism, animal abuse, dinosaurs, global warming, history of hats, the Eiffel Tower, hieroglyphics, history of Nike and the Beatles.

As a reward for their efforts, students are taken on a surprise overnight adventure at the end of the school year ..the destination known only to faculty and parents.

Year after year, alumni tell us that their “sixth year project” was excellent preparation for high school and college work, and that their MMS academic background gave them a distinct advantage over their peers without this intensive experience. Thank you Darlene!

Black Friday, meet #GivingTuesday: MMS to kick off holiday fair and bake sale

There’s a day for giving thanks. Two for getting deals. Now there is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back.

GT_logo2013-final1-1024x85On Tuesday, December 2, Mountaineer Montessori School (MMS), will join charities, families, businesses, community groups and students from around the world in coming together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

Gift Fair Bake SaleAs part of its #GivingTuesday and year-round community service, students and volunteers will kick off the annual MMS Holiday Fair and Bake Sale. The fair will showcase gift items from Ten Thousand Villages, a nonprofit fair trade organization that markets handcrafted products made by disadvantaged artisans from more than 120 artisan groups in more than 35 countries. Unique handmade gifts, jewelry, home décor, art and sculpture, textiles, serveware and personal accessories representing the diverse cultures of artisans in Asia, Africa, Latin American and the Middle East will be featured.

Book FairIn addition to gifts from Ten Thousand Villages, the MMS Holiday Fair and Bake Sale books and educational items from Scholastic Books and homemade seasonal and ethnic dishes and holiday treats. MMS also invites #GivingTuesday support for its “Lighting the Way for Education” annual appeal, which funds financial assistance and specialty programs at the school.

Following its #GivingTuesday kickoff, the MMS Holiday Fair and Bake Sale will be open from noon to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3 through Friday, Dec. 5.



Giving TuesdayAbout Mountaineer Montessori School:  MMS serves 130 students ages 3 to 14 in an authentic Montessori environment, guiding them to fulfill their unique potential and make the world a better place. Its rich academic and arts programs nurture a child’s curiosity and creativity and build the foundation for a life of learning, growing, meaning and service. A recognized child development authority and academic innovator, MMS has been lighting the way for education since 1976.  For more information, go to: or call 304/342-7870

About #GivingTuesday:  An estimated 10,000 organizations from all 50 states are expected to participate in #GivingTuesday. For more information, go to

About Ten Thousand Villages:

Planning to learn

Students in David Pushkin and Amanda Cox’s class start every day by planning to learn. Here’s their latest update:

Daily plnner

Starting the day by planning to learn

Every morning all of the Lower Elementary students begin the day by completing handwriting exercises and filling out Daily Planners. The first year students also take a spelling test each morning. Montessori students enjoy learning cursive handwriting at the same time as manuscript. It flows more easily and allows the student to strengthen hand-eye
coordination.  It also builds confidence in the child because it is easier and creates a purposeful reason for writing.

Our students also enjoyed a wonderful trip to the Charleston Broom and Mop Company. Thank you to all the parents who helped make this special experience possible.

David and Amanda

November 14, 2014

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Lower elementary students are creating displays about the human body.

Lower elementary students are creating displays about the human body.

Students were swept away in history on their recent field trip.

Students were swept away in history on their recent field trip.

Jim Shaffer has been handcrafting brooms and mops for 68 years.

Jim Shaffer has been handcrafting brooms and mops for 68 years.

Touching history

Touching history

Jim Shaffer demonstrates each step of the broom-making process.

Jim Shaffer demonstrates each step of the broom-making process.

Breaking new ground: middle school update

MMS Middle School students are breaking new ground for themselves…and education in West Virginia.  Jasmine Phillips provides their latest class update:

Breaking New GroundHello parents!

As you know, we have been working very hard and doing various off-campus trips and studies.

Recently, we went to the Hershey Montessori School in Huntsburg, Ohio, to visit the middle school in order to get a good idea of what an established Montessori adolescent program looks like. When we arrived on Monday, we joined the residential students, who come from all over the world, for dinner, and later, helped with barn chores. On Tuesday, we were paired with Hershey Montessori students, who we shadowed for the entire school day, and joined each of the classes that they attended. On Wednesday, we shadowed the students once again, but this time it was actually their creative and physical expression day (just like it is here for us)!

Thursday, we were able to go out to Cleveland, which is roughly 50 minutes away from the Huntsburg campus. We went to the Cleveland Botanical Gardens, which were absolutely beautiful, and we also went to the Cleveland Museum of Art, where we saw marvelous pieces of art from some of our favorite artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, and many more.

On Friday, our last day, we went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with my father, George Phillips, and he drove us back to Charleston.

At the Hershey Montessori School, I was fortunate enough to witness a program that none of us has heard of called ‘NaNoWriMo,’ which stands for ‘National Novel Writing Month,’ where people write novels in the month of November after working through a packet that helps to plan and provide details and tips on writing your novel!

Water studies

Recently, one of the main things we have been focusing on for this part of the year has been water. After coming back from the big, week long field trip, we were able to wrap all of our studies together with a man named Glenn Nelson from the DEP in Montgomery, West Virginia, where we were able to actually get in the water, test it, and see how different industries impact and affect our water today.

In relation to water, we have been working hard on a skit that we will present to the other classes at the main campus, which correlates perfectly with our new creative expression class, Drama with Rachel. In this class, we have been playing acting games that help us build talents and skills that actors and actresses have, such as listening, working as an ensemble, knowing cues, and many other things. We have also been reading scripts and embodying and describing characters.

Novel study

We are currently reading the book ‘Ishmael’ by Daniel Quinn. During our book groups, we have been having deep and theoretical discussions on very debatable topics that are being brought up in the book. This not only helps expand our mindset, but also introduces us to many interesting topics that I believe everyone needs to know about.

Not too long ago, we were fortunate enough to have a session on essential oils with a friend of Suzanne’s named Amy Williams, where we learned about how certain scents and oils help release and make the body and soul feel better. Something that I definitely learned was that these essential oils help physically and emotionally. We have been using them often in classes to lighten moods, and they are definitely working!

Humanities projects

Due to our water studies being completed, we have already jumped into our next humanities project, the Indus Valley, with open arms! Like we did for water, we have small assignments and vocabulary words that are due on dates that we, as a group, decide. Not only do we learn more about the Indus Valley, but we also learn time management skills, which is an important skill to learn as we roll into the adolescent years.

Thanks to all of those who have been helping us do our studies and allow us to learn more and more facts in very fun and interesting ways. We have been able to apply skills that we have been learning from our classes into the real world, which is important for any school to teach their students. I, so far, have really enjoyed this school year and we have been able to do a lot more than I ever imagined due to having such a small and portable class!

Written by Jasmine Phillips

Edited by Julia Carriger

November 13, 2014


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Help Me Do it Myself: Primary Pumpkin Bread Day

MMS Primary Kathryn and Lower El Dana 071In a traditional preschool, children “pretend.” In a Montessori school, they “do.”

Rather than using toy kitchens and make-believe ingredients, children in Kathryn Rhodes and Gloria Lopez’s primary class recently rolled up their sleeves to make real pumpkin bread as part of their practical life lessons.

Maria Montessori said that a young child’s strongest desire was to be helped to “do it myself.” Practical life activities help children develop control, focus and confidence and support academic, social and emotional development. We extend a special thank you to MMS mom Kenley Hanna for skillfully and patiently guiding our primary students through the baking process in our school kitchen.

See more photos on our Facebook album.

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MMS Primary Kathryn and Lower El Dana 060 IMG_0479F

Lower elementary rock stars

Lower elementary students in Becca Moore and Dana Gilliland’s class are becoming rock stars! Here’s their latest class update:

Fall Flowers 031Fall Flowers 051cFall Flowers 053c









We are very much enjoying these fall days in our class. Students are enhancing their botany studies with some beautiful leaf art, and each has begun to make books with pockets to store samples of each type of leaf.

They are also doing a great deal of grammar work these days, learning about parts of a sentence and about how to edit and correct their written work.

Some of the students have brought in their beautiful rock and shell collections and there is a great deal of research going on in order to learn more about the types and classification of rocks and shells. Some students are taking it further with an investigation into crystals.

On parent night, we enjoyed the chance to take a closer look at the math that the students are doing.


Have a great week!
Dana and Becca


October 26, 2014

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Third annual spaghetti dinner to be held November 6

Spaghetti instagramMountaineer Montessori School will present its third annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Thursday, Nov.6, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at Temple Israel, 2312 Kanawha Blvd. East. Proceeds will benefit MMS “Lighting the Way for Education” campaign, which supports financial aid and specialty programs. Vegetarian, gluten-free and meat options, featuring high-quality organic ingredients will be available. Dinner can be enjoyed on-site or carry-out. Tickets include entree, salad, dessert and beverage.

As part of our ongoing partnership with Manna Meal, a food drive will be held in conjunction with this event.  Spaghetti dinner guests are encouraged to bring donations of non-perishable food for the soup kitchen, including dried and canned milk; canned soups; canned meats; spaghetti sauce with meat; and dried pasta noodles. Canned goods should have pull-top lids.

MMS Spaghetti Dinner tickets are: children 12 and up and adults, $10; children under 12-$5. For more information, contact Shelly Winowich,; 304-541-6531.


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Students explore community treasures — Kanawha County Public Library and State Forest

Lower elementary students in David Pushkin and Amanda Cox’s class learned about more community treasures this week  — the Kanawha County Public Library and Kanawha State Forest.   You can read more about what they discovered in their latest class report:

Lower elementary students collaborate on a creative writing project.

Lower elementary students collaborate on a creative writing project.

This week our class went on a field trip to the Kanawha County Public Library. The students were able to experience the multifaceted uses of the library. We met with the Kanawha Forest Coalition in one of the conference rooms and participated in a talk by Master Naturalist Jim Waggy concerning the importance of Kanawha State Forest to our global ecosystem. We learned that the Appalachian Mountains comprise one of the three most important temperate forests on our planet including Europe and China. We also learned that Kanawha State Forest provides one of the largest breeding and nesting grounds for amphibians and birds.

After our talk with Jim, we received a tour of the Children’s Floor (3rd Floor) and learned how the book circulation system works at the library. The children each checked out a book of their choice. We also received a read-a-loud session from Katy Murray, one of the children’s librarians.

Mountaineer Montessori School lower elementary students are #LovingMyLibrary!

Mountaineer Montessori School lower elementary students are #LovingMyLibrary!

In our classroom this week, the children “workshopped” their creative writing. That means that each third year student sat with a first year student and helped them to make corrections to their writing. This included proper letter placement, spacing, capitalization, spelling and punctuation. Everyone enjoyed the lesson very much and we agreed to continue to practice this exercise each week.

 Thank you to the parents who drove us to the library! The Kanawha Public Library is one of our most important educational resources. We encourage you to take your child there and to participate in the programming it offers.

David and Amanda

October 26, 2014

Learn more how you can support the KCPL.

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Real-life “candy man” inspires lower elementary students

A real-life candy man and American hero inspires lower elementary students in the classroom of Becca Moore and Dana Gilliland. Here’s their latest class update:

It was quite a busy week in our class! Some of the new lessons presented include:20141007_132041

– Analyzing and writing sentences

– Revising and editing stories

– Types of leaves (we need gingko leaves if you have any!)

– Congruent/equivalent/similar shapes

– Long multiplication (abstractly)

– Common factors and greatest common factors

– How to make a Mobius strip20140918_101344

– Counting in binary

– Basic macrame knot

We have also read a couple of amazing books lately.

One of the books we read is called “How Full is Your Bucket?” and it’s about how each one of us carries around an invisible bucket all the time. Our buckets are filled up when we get good feelings from others and our buckets are emptied when we feel bad. In response to the book, our students wanted to make their own buckets — a brilliant idea! They now each have their own bucket and they are able to put 20140918_114743compliments into each other’s buckets whenever they feel the urge. They are experiencing how good it feels to give somebody else a pat on the back or a thank you.

The other book we read is called “Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot.” It’s about a pilot who dropped candy from his airplane onto post WWII Berlin. (In response to the Soviet blockade in 1948-49, British and American military forces launched the Berlin airlift, delivering food and other life-saving supplies to the city.)  It’s a very powerful story and the children responded with awe. Our job now is to try and track down the pilot from the story and write him letters telling him how this book has inspired us. Never underestimate the power of the written word!

October 22, 2014

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20141006_14591820140917_110825Halverson with girlChoc supplies



Lower elementary students to get 55 new classmates!

Students in the Lower Elementary classroom of David Pushkin and Amanda Cox will soon have 55 new classmates! Find out more in their latest class update:

David Pushkin and students review the Pythagorean table as others review language lessons

David Pushkin guides students through the decanomial multiplication review (the Pythagorean table) as others review nouns and articles as part of their language lessons.

Dear Parents,

This past week we had a lot of fun looking at parts of the volcano. The study of volcanoes is an important part of our geology unit because it begins the study of continents, oceans, mountains and streams. West Virginia has more than 32,000 miles of rivers and streams.

We would like to thank Brent Best, father of Will and Ryan Best in our Upper Elementary class. Brent is the sponsor of a wonderful program called Trout In The Classroom. This year our Lower Elementary students will be responsible for raising more than 55 trout fry in a large tank that Brent helped us set up.  Next Saturday, we will receive the eggs! Once the students have raised the fish to young adulthood, they will take them to a local stream and release them into nature.

The students continue to work hard on math and language. The first year students are just now exploring subtraction facts with whole numbers. The second year students are reviewing all multiplication operations and the third year students are getting ready to practice abstract multiplication with up to four multipliers.

Parent Teacher conferences are exactly one month away. We look forward to sharing your child’s progress with you. This has been an exciting fall and everyone in the class has had a chance to grow and learn more about their own potential.

This is the time of year when we really buckle down and try to measure own achievements. The students have been working hard to improve their sentence writing skills, their reading skills, their math and grammar skills and their ability to learn new vocabulary words.

We are also taking time during this fall season to learn more about Native American people. This week we are studying the life and habitat of the Chippewa Indians. Also known as the Ojibwa, this tribe was once one of the largest in North America. It inhabited the Great Lakes Region of Wisconsin and Minnesota and parts of Ontario, Canada.

This Friday we will attend a lecture by naturalist Jim Waggy at the Kanawha Public Library. This talk will focus on

Volcano art.

Exploring volcanoes through art.

Kanawha State Forest and its importance to our local environment. We will learn about the native people who once inhabited the forest and how the role of the forest has changed in the lives of modern people.

Fall is always an exciting time for school children because of the changing weather, the colorful leaves and the holidays. We learn about the effects of this change on plants, animals and people. Some of the ways that we study the change in people is by studying their stories.

Myths and legends tell us so much about the different ways that people have lived throughout history. These stories also show us the things that all people have in common. This week we will study the Chippewa legend of “How Hare Brought Fire Home.”

David and Amanda

October 21, 2014


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