Shakiyah Stephens joined our School in 2019 as a member of our Lower Elementary CASA team. She holds her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Guilford College, and prior to joining us, she worked with children from 2 years old through school-aged in various roles with early childhood and after-school programs. Shakiyah most recently led our Primary Encore and Primary CASA Blue programs during the 2021-22 school year.

In the morning, Shakiyah partners with Anna Betina in the Half-Day Toddler classroom. In the afternoons, she reunites with her friends in Primary who still take a nap after lunch. While 2022 may be her first year teaching in Toddler, Shakiyah has a passion for our youngest students, and her personal experience as a new mother only expands her compassion and respect for her students.

GMS: How did you learn about Greensboro Montessori School

SS: My first time hearing about Greensboro Montessori School was from a close friend, who at the time had started working in the after-school CASA program.

GMS: Word of mouth is always our best source of referrals. What was it about GMS that made you choose to work here?

SS: Upon moving to Greensboro, I drove by the school and it caught my attention because we had just learned about Maria Montessori and her philosophy in class the week before. I had never seen a Montessori school before. But in the moment of driving by, something inside told me, "this is where you belong." I was eager to get in and get started on this new journey. I honestly believe the school chose me, and I'm glad it did! 

GMS: You have a degree in early childhood education, and you have several years of experience working with elementary-aged students. What excites you most about returning to a toddler classroom?

SS: I’ve always had a passion to work with toddlers. What excites me most about returning to a Toddler classroom is that I get to see the world through their eyes again.

GMS: Toddlers are pretty special in their wonder and awe of the the world around them. Shifting to Montessori specifically, what aspect of the Montessori method inspires you the most?

SS: Having respect for each child. We tend to forget that children are humans too, with feelings and needs. It has been very helpful for me remember that with Savannah.

GMS: We can't wait to hear more about Savannah. Before we get to her, what are you excited to learn from your students, and what are you excited to bring to them?

SS: I'm excited to learn how to be an explorer. They are master explorers. You would be surprised at how much they actually know about a topic from just exploring and their own concept of things.

I’m bringing confidence. I want every child to feel confident in everything they do. 

Shakiyah on an outing with her Half-Day Toddler students. Shappily waves at her fellow faculty members through the window.

GMS: What are you excited to learn from your fellow faculty members, and what are you excited to share with them?

SS: I’m excited to learn more teaching strategies from each level and how they are applied. I’m excited to share my team efforts and willingness attitude.

GMS: Now we come back to Savannah. Is anyone else from your family part of our GMS community?

SS: This school year, [my partner and I] enrolled our daughter Savannah into the GMS All-Day Toddler classroom. I believe she will do great things at GMS! We are exited to see.

GMS: What do you love most about motherhood?

SS: Her joy of life itself. When I’m with Savannah, nothing matters in that moment, but her. I love seeing her grow into herself. She loves music and dancing, so we do a lot that together. She always runs into my arms for a hug. It's a feeling I wouldn’t trade for the world.

GMS: Where did you grow up, and do you mind sharing one favorite memory from childhood? 

SS: I grew up in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Its a small town, where everyone knows everyone. 9 times out of 10 you will marry someone from town (my partner is from Kings Mountain), but it was a great place to grow up. One of my favorite memories from my childhood was creating club houses off in the woods, with my neighborhood friends. We would be out in the woods for hours after school and during the summer. My clothes and shoes would be so dirty, but I would get the best sleep at night!

GMS: What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work

SS: Besides the gym, I would like to get back into hiking. 

GMS: One current hobby and one hobby you'd like to add. You sound like a mom with a 18 month old who last little time to herself. With your limited free time, what's something you don’t get to do often but it still feeds your soul?

SS: Go out with my friends and just vibe together. I don't get to see them often, but when I do, it is ALWAYS guaranteed good time!

GMS: So the next time you go out with friends, will it be for coffee or cocktails?

SS: Cocktails all the way. I think only one of my friends drinks coffee. We are a brunch and mimosa group of friends.

GMS: When you're at the gym, what is your favorite exercise and why?

SS: This is hard! I have three, but if I have to choose, it's weighted squats and weight lifting. It's the feeling when you cleared a set, and go up on another set. Just to see if you can do it (for both). It's the preparation period in that moment when I’m pumping myself up and getting ready to take the bar off the rank ... when I squat and drive my heels into the ground to get it back up. Just strong and proud in that moment. 

GMS: I have a feeling that answer will inspire someone to get back to the gym to experience that power, strength, and fulfillment. I've loved our exchange, and it's time to wrap up. Let's close with a question we've ask in all of our faculty spotlights. Other than Dr. Maria Montessori, who would you like to meet from history and why? 

SS: Frederick Douglass. I recently watched a documentary about him, and during the documentary I got a sense that he was a man that had strong determination. It was felt through many of his speeches. One of my favorite speeches of his is the one he gave on the Fourth of July. It was one of those speeches that had so much power and attitude that you just can't forget. 

Liz Haff joined us this year after a 25-year teaching career in Maryland, where she also served on several committees focused on parent family connection and student relationships. In addition to her wealth of experience, Liz's academic résumé includes a Montessori teaching credential in Early Childhood (2 1/2 to 6 years old), a Master of Science in curriculum instruction from Western Maryland College, and a bachelor's degree from State University of New York at Binghamton.

Liz partners with Shyla Butler in our Primary 2 classroom. While 2022 may be her first year at GMS, Liz already feels like family. Her warmth and intentionality shine through our interview for this Faculty Spotlight.

GMS: How did you learn about Greensboro Montessori School?

LH: Last school year, I knew I was looking to return to Montessori education. I also found the city of Greensboro which seemed to be everything I was looking for in a place to live. I asked myself: “I wonder if there is a Montessori school in Greensboro, so I typed Greensboro Montessori School into my Google search, and there you were!

GMS: We wish we we could thank our SEO strategy for that perfect Google result, but you guessed our School's name on the first try! What made you choose to join our School?

LH: Greensboro Montessori School basically swept me off my feet. I discerned it to be a heart first school, and one in which I very much want to be a part of now.

GMS: We're so happy you're here. You’ve spent the last several years teaching elementary students, yet you've chosen to join our Primary team. What do you love about Primary-age students?

LH: So much. Mostly it’s the openness that I most love about this age. Every time I meet and become friends with people in the age group of 3-6 especially, I feel as if I am communicating with people who are awake: interested in learning, curious about the world, and in love with life. 

GMS: You just reminded anyone who knows a 3- to 6-year-old how magical this age truly is. Now that we know why the age group inspires you, what is it about Montessori that you love?

LH: Choice, for sure. I am sort of obsessed with choice. It is such a wonderful experience for humans to choose what to read, think, touch, see…….  It is our ability to choose that helps define us and create us. I believe in providing choice to students and watching how they respond.

GMS: What are you excited to learn from your students, and what are you excited to bring to them?

LH: I am looking forward to getting to know a new group of people: their likes and dislikes, what makes them laugh, and how I might help them better navigate their world. I will bring respect to them: for how they see the world, and how I might help them learn from it.

Liz teaching Primary students in 1983.

GMS: It's hard to change topics after that answer, and we have to know: did anyone else move with you from Maryland?

LH: My husband Tom and our dog Darby (pictures below) moved to Greensboro with me. It has been a great adventure already as we explore the Greenways together, and the little eateries.  

GMS: Do you have your own children?

LH: I do! Yay! I have three Montessori children! They are all adults now pursuing their passions in the world. Jim lives in Atlanta and is a martial arts instructor and a musician who performs every weekend in Macon, Georgia! Andrew is my second born son who is a middle school history teacher who teaches in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a Fulbright scholar who taught in Vietnam for a while. He loves harping and singing as hobbies when he is not teaching. My daughter Caitlin is an attorney who attended NYU in New York City. We are great friends and our favorite thing to do is laugh together and be silly.

GMS: We can't wait to meet them! Now, it's your turn to tell us more about you. What are your hobbies?

LH: I love writing, I blog regularly.  I love laughing. I have enjoyed singing since I was very young, and I have been a  member of many singing groups. Darby and I love to walk the greenways and admire the trees of Greensboro.

GMS: I overheard our director lower school, Missy McClure, mention a faculty and staff talent show recently. Maybe we could all hear you sing one day. In the meantime, it’s a Friday afternoon, and you need a pick-me-up. Do you reach for a salty snack or a sweet treat?

Sweet and salty treats are awesome. I also adore peaches and olives. 

GMS: Of all the places you’ve traveled to, what is your favorite destination and why?

LH: My most favorite place is the beach, and Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina in particular. I used to love riding the waves over and over again. Now I love to take my chair down to the water’s edge and dream my dreams. 

GMS: If you could travel anywhere you’ve never been before, where would it be and why?

LH: I would like to go to all the toy stores in the world, especially ones where a lot of the toys are out to touch and not wrapped up in plastic. 

I also want to see Lake Superior with my daughter-in-law Katherine.  I love wild natural places, with hopes of seeing wild animals.

GMS: Okay, so the next toy store you have visit is Toys & Co. in Greensboro. We think you'll have tons of fun. Speaking of fun, what is one fun fact about you that we wouldn’t learn about you without asking?

LH: I have a twin brother whom many people call Uncle Jim. I adore him, and he makes me laugh more than anyone in the world. He wrote a play and it had a debut in New York City for a week! When we were in high school we performed in "Mame." I was Mame and he was my nephew, Patrick. That experience was Awesome!!!!!

GMS: Other than Dr. Maria Montessori, who would you like to meet from history and why?

LH: I would love to meet Frederick Douglass because I am so inspired that he taught himself to read when he was young. I am impressed by Great Ideas and anyone who can express themselves in writing well!

GMS: We have adored this interview. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

LH: I am very happy to be a part of Greensboro Montessori School. Everyone I have met is encouraging, kind and joyful. I know this is where I am meant to be. 

GMS: In concluding out interview, we realize we didn't ask you about your extensive volunteer work. We know how humble you are, so we're going to share for you. While working in Maryland, you supported both your local community and those from afar. You raised $1,500 for tsunami relief for people in Indonesia in 2018, and during the height of pandemic, you and Tom assembled 100 care kits filled with toys to help children experiencing trauma. (We used the picture you shared with us from this work as you blog's header image.)Thank you for your caring and generous spirit.

Kate Winters will join us as director of student support this fall. Kate will partner with Melanie Yeager (school counselor), JoAnn Currie (student support specialist, early childhood intervention), and Jeannie Stanford (student support specialist, reading) to ensure all students have the tools and resources to unleash their full potential.

Kate brings an unmatched combination of Montessori expertise and special education experience. After receiving both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education in special education, Kate taught for six years in public elementary schools. In 2003, Kate joined a Montessori magnet school as a lead teacher and member of the student support team for a population of more than 400 children ages 3 to 12 years. Since then, Kate has earned American Montessori Society teaching credentials in both Elementary 1 (ages 6 to 9) and Elementary II (ages 9 to 12) and a credential in Montessori Leadership and Administration.

Like all our faculty and students, Kate is more than her résumé. We loved speaking with her about Montessori, "Survivor," and more.

GMS: How did you learn about Greensboro Montessori School?

KW: After recently deciding to move closer to Greensboro, I started to look into the Montessori schools in the area.  Having heard such great things about GMS, I knew it would be a great fit for my career path.

GMS: Thanks for sharing that. We're grateful for our strong reputation in the community. What is it about the director of student support role that speaks to you?

KW: As a long time educator, spending a significant amount of time in both the Montessori community and working with students facing challenges, I found this position to best fit both of my career passions.  I look forward to the opportunity to work directly with students while also supporting staff and families however I can.

GMS: So the role is a good fit. What about our School is a good fit?

KW: Having been in the Montessori world for the past nineteen years as a parent, teacher, and leader,  I have come across many Montessori environments and interpretations of the culture and philosophy.  After visiting the campus and meeting part of the team, it was apparent that GMS is by far one of the highest quality programs I have encountered.  From your campus to your facilities, to the team, GMS embodies the dream Montessori environment.

GMS: Wait until you meet our students. They are amazing! What is your favorite part about working with children, whether in small groups or on an individual basis?

KW: Building relationships and making connections, that’s what it’s all about for me.  Throughout my adult years, I have often thought of the educators in my life that made a difference.  I hope to make an impact on the lives of the children at GMS and support them to be their best in all they do.

GMS: What is your go-to gesture to help a child who’s having a difficult day?

KW: Great question… I would say that doing my best to make eye contact, but not forcing it upon the student, would be my first move. This will hopefully allow them to feel seen. After that I want them to know that I am there for them, so I would probably offer a listening ear or just an opportunity for them to reset.  Often it is just the act of holding space for them to release the challenges of the day, and sometimes it may develop into a conversation of support.

GMS: In addition to supporting students, you will also support members of our team. How do you perceive yourself as a leader?

KW: Having served schools in multiple leadership roles over the years, I value the team approach; I lead with transparency, compassion, and support. I work to empower my team to brainstorm ideas and act upon them while focusing on the individual student’s needs and honoring the philosophy. 

GMS: Okay, last question about GMS. What are you excited to learn from our community, and what are you excited to bring to our community?

KW: I am really looking forward to getting to know the children, staff, and families of GMS. One of the things I have always treasured about Montessori schools is the culture of being a village. I am excited to bring my love and passion for children and the Montessori philosophy to GMS. I also pride myself on my abilities of helping parents navigate challenging behaviors in the home, so I hope I can be of support in that area, as well.

GMS: On to you. What are your hobbies?

KW: These change often, as I love trying new things. I have always enjoyed reading, listening to books/podcasts, doing puzzles, writing poetry, knitting, playing board games of any kind, painting, and really doing just about anything crafty. Now, if I only had the time to do these things.

GMS: You're moving from Charlotte to join our School. Is there anyone else making the move with you?

KW: I am moving alone and am excited to join my partner, Amalie. We will live in the Lindley Park area. 

I have two amazing daughters who both live in Colorado. Morgan is 22 and after completing her degree, now works in human resources; Mackenzie is 20 and currently works in the restaurant industry.  They are the reason I am so very passionate about the Montessori experience, as they were fortunate to attend Montessori schools for their entire schooling from toddler/primary through high school. They continue to amaze me each day with their levels of independence, confidence, and compassion for others. They are my inspiration.

GMS: Love that photo of you and Amalie at at Hoppers game! What else are you excited to do in Greensboro?

KW: I’m most excited to make Greensboro home. As my career and family needs have made the past 25 years quite an adventure, I am ready to settle down and unpack for good. I love the downtown area of Greensboro and am enjoying checking out all the unique eateries nearby. Amalie and I love to adventure up into the mountains but also enjoy a stroll to the local shops in our charming and friendly neighborhood. 

GMS: What is your favorite indulgence?

KW: Must I admit this? Ice cream, chocolate, coffee, chia, okay so I can’t settle on just one. Clearly, I have a sweet tooth, but my favorite food would probably be chips and guacamole. 

GMS: What was the last show you binge watched (or if you’re not into television, the last book you read for fun)?

KW: I love to binge on some TV and my interests are all over the map.  The last thing I can remember is "This is Us." It was an emotional series to watch but many of the story lines paralleled my own life, so I valued the work that went into creating such a realistic story.  I am also a sucker for reality TV and a longtime "Survivor" fan. My youngest has a dream of competing on it one day, so who knows maybe I’ll get to visit her in action.

GMS: Binge-watching is one of those things that is so different from how many of us grew up ... when you had to wait for the next episode to enjoy your show. Traveling a bit further back in time, who would you like to meet from history and why (other than Maria, of course!)?

KW: Hmmmm, that’s a tough one.  I first thought of wanting to meet some of my ancestors, but I think I would most like to meet Mother Teresa or Maya Angelou. When Morgan was in second grade, she portrayed the most adorable Mother Teresa in our Montessori Wax Museum and through her research, I became quite fascinated by this selfless individual and all the amazing work she accomplished.  I believe it was in 2005, I attended the AMS conference in Chicago where I was honored to hear Dr. Angelou speak.  I have since become a collector of her poetry and I value her perspective on life and the wisdom she shared in her writings.

GMS: We have loved chatting with you. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

KW: Gosh, I feel like this was well thought out and asked all the great questions. I guess the only thing I might add is that I enjoy dabbling in acting and have been in and directed a few plays.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve done much with it, but I hope to connect with a community theater once I get settled. 

GMS: We have just the show you might enjoy helping with (here's looking at you, Upper Elementary).

Beth Wilson will join our Upper Elementary teaching team this fall. Beth has spent the last 20 years at a Montessori school in Minnesota. She also has a decade of experience training Montessori educators at the Center for Contemporary Montessori Programs at St. Catherine's University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Beth earned her Master of Arts in Education with a focus on Montessori studies from St. Catherine's and her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She holds multiple Montessori teaching credentials spanning the totality of Elementary and Adolescent education (ages 6 to 18).

As Beth enjoys her last summer in Minnesota, we wanted to get to know her better in anticipation on her arrival. We recently spent some "digital" time with her learning more about her passion for Montessori education and her favorite flavor of ice cream. Here's our interview:

GMS: How did you learn about Greensboro Montessori School?

BW: I wasn’t actually looking for a new teaching position. I was casually browsing the Montessori Jobs group on Facebook, and a few clicks later I came across the job post on the American Montessori Society's [AMS] website. After reading the job description, I knew that I had to apply. It was like fate.

GMS: As an AMS-accredited school, we love that you found us through AMS. Why did you ultimately choose to join our School?

BW: After getting to know Kevin, meeting the staff, and spending time at the school, I knew it was the right place for me. I feel like it’s my “dream school” – the kind of place that every teacher hopes that they get to be a part of in their career.

GMS: We are equally excited to welcome you to our community. What is it about the Montessori method that inspires you the most, that keeps you teaching, learning, and growing in this pedagogy?

BW: I love the freedom to follow sparks of interest, that there is time to explore ideas and curiosities. I also love the interconnectedness of the Montessori curriculum: rather than each subject area being taught as a separate entity, the children learn about how one area cannot exist without another, such as how we cannot have art without geometry or science without math.

GMS: You will join our Upper Elementary division this fall. What is your favorite part about working with Upper Elementary students?

BW: I love the enthusiasm of Upper Elementary students. They are more independent than Lower Elementary students but still so excited about the world. Their imaginations are big and their wonder about how everything fits together is empowering to me.

GMS: Speaking of the students, what are you excited to learn from them, and what are you excited to share with them?

BW: I want to learn all about Greensboro Montessori and North Carolina! I’ve only visited the state once, and that was when I came to spend time at the school. I want to learn all the great places to visit, any cool history about the state, and what they think makes GMS special to them.

As for me, I really want to share my love of animals with the students (my bunny, Hufflepuff, and two leopard geckoes, Pinky and Floyd, are joining us in the classroom), and I have already asked Doug if we can help with the chickens. I also want to share my love of art, and I try to include as much creativity into our lessons as possible.

GMS: So Hufflepuff, Pinky, and Floyd are moving with you from Minnesota. Who else is relocating with you?

BW: My husband, John, and our 13 year old and youngest child, Melanie (pictured below), are embarking on this grand adventure with me. We’re also bringing along our big brown dog, Yoshi and our little kitty, Kasumi (also pictured below).

GMS: The family photo you sent us (at the top of this post) has a lot more people in it.

BW: Yes, that’s my whole beautiful, crazy family. It’s from a few years ago, but it’s the best one I have of all of us. From left to right: My son Zach (24), my husband John, my son Will (21), and my oldest son, Nate (27). Then, it’s me and our daughter, Melanie, who will be joining junior high at GMS.  

GMS: We hope to meet the whole fam one day. In the meantime, we'd love to learn some more fun stuff about you. Tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t learn from your résumé or CV?

BW: Hmm … I’m addicted to Diet Coke, and I’m a sucker for a good donut. Or cookie. Actually, pretty much anything that’s sweet. But not marshmallows. I hate marshmallows.

GMS: What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?

BW: My husband would say that I have too many hobbies. Reading and drawing are my biggest loves, and then after that, I love quilting. I’m a big sci-fi fan, and although I do love Marvel movies, I’d pick Star Wars over them any day. I love to go camping and take hikes, and my life would not be complete without a horse in it.

GMS: Once you’re settled here, where are you most excited to travel to on the East Coast?

BW: I really want to go to the Outer Banks. "Misty of Chincoteague" was a favorite childhood book of mine, and I really want to see the wild ponies. I also want to see the mountains. We have lots of trees and lakes in Minnesota, but no ocean and no mountains.

GMS: Other than Dr. Maria Montessori, who would you like to meet from history and why?

BW: Oh, there’s so many people I would love to meet, and it’s hard to narrow it down. Jane Austin is a favorite author of mine, and I’ve always admired the art of Franz Marc. I would try not to pester them about their work so much, but rather I’d like to just hang out with them as regular people, maybe hit a brewery or catch a Twins game.

GMS: What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

BW: Anything with coconut in it. I love the Almond Joy ice cream they have at fancy ice cream shops. If grocery store ice cream is what I’m choosing from, then it’s Breyers vanilla bean ice cream.

GMS: We have some great ice cream parlor's in Greensboro. We'll have to go once you're here. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

BW: Just that I am so excited to be joining the GMS family! And no, most of Minnesota is not like the Fargo movie, except those snow scenes. Those are pretty spot on.

Greensboro Montessori School partners with Scholastic Book Fairs every fall and spring. All students in Primary and older have an opportunity to visit the Book Fair and purchase books during the school day. We prefer students do not bring cash to school. Instead, Scholastic Book Fairs has an eWallet payment option. Simply set up an account and have funds immediately available for your child to purchase books.

Set Up Your Child's eWallet

Follow these steps to set up your child's eWallet:

Come to Our Book Fair

We look forward to welcoming students, parents, and family members at the following community shopping times.

If you are interested in volunteering at the Book Fair, please email Sarah Bobo to learn more.

To support the health and well-being of our entire community, all visitors must be able to pass our daily symptom screening for visitors prior to entering campus. More specifically, in the last 10 days if you have been diagnosed with COVID, experienced any COVID-like symptoms, or have been a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID, please do not enter the building.

If you have any questions about the Book Fair, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Greensboro Montessori School's Upper School students took a leading role in Friday's Earth Day celebration. Upper Elementary students kicked off the morning with readings of original poetry and Spanish. After the program (which we shared live on Facebook), Junior High students hosted Lower and Upper Elementary students at eight different different stations set up on the Athletic Field. Each station featured an activity to to raise awareness for Earth Day, including ideas for recycling, composting, and even limiting our waste. Primary students enjoyed a lesson with our environmental educators, Chelsi Crawford and Sara Stratton. Toddler students took everything in from their shaded mats under the trees, just steps away from their play yards.

The original poetry shared by our Upper Elementary students highlights our integrated curriculum. Students combine their skills in English, Spanish, creative writing, science, environmental education, public speaking, and leadership all at once. We are honored to publish their work for all to experience.


Redbud Tree
Lydia, Sixth Grade
          
          The Eastern redbud tree, purple blossoms in early spring. Small beacons of colour adorn the dull, monochromatic landscape. Bursts that spring is just around the corner.
          As the blossoms begin to fade, they get swept away by the gusts of wind that spring brings. Petite purple petals pressed onto the ground as they get trampled by tiny feet. But not all is lost, leaves that are a deep crimson, like garnet, or a sharp, zesty lime the size of a hand unfurl. The leaves are shaped like spades. Desperately trying to hold onto their branches by their paper-thin stems. Through treacherous storms they hold on, not falling yet, for the leaves have roots of their own.
          The redbud tree is eternally stretching, reaching its roots through the mycelium and soil, while the branches are competing for the warm rays of sunlight. The uneasy cottontail rests by the roots of the tree, protected by the lush canopy from the hungry hawks’ view.
         During autumn, the leaves of the redbud tree glow orange, like a campfire. Only turning into a bonfire as the chorus of the other deciduous trees chime in in the early November. Then, the redbud tree goes to sleep as the long, cold winter days begin.

Día de la Tierra
Upper Elementary Group A
  • Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es el único planeta que temenos.
  • Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es nuestra casa y nuestro hogar.
  • Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque vivimos en ella.
  • Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque hay animales, árboles, océanos y más.
  • Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es la casa para todos los tipos de vidas.
  • Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque nos da comida.
  • Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es la casa de todos.
  • Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque es muy bonita. Los humanos debemos comprender que no se debe hacer daño a la Tierra.
  • Debemos cuidar la Tierra porque o si no nos extinguieremos.
  • Debemos cuidar la tierra porque es nuestra protectora y nuestro hogar.

sphagnum
Tanner, Fourth Grade

          The sphagnums dance in the rain like an umbrella being twirled. The sphagnums dance in the rain on the mother tree. The sphagnums dance in the rain in the rainforest. The sphagnums dance in the rain under the shade. The sphagnums dance in the rain and the damp mother tree is playing her music. The sphagnums dance in the rain, their spore capsules open up and the spores fly away. The sphagnums dance in the rain as the 10,000 ancestors watch them. The sphagnum dances in the rain, the calm green color is shimmering on as the rain falls on them, the sphagnums dance in the rain; they have no roots, stems, leaves or seeds. The sphagnums dance in the rain, they can grow until they run out of room. The sphagnums dance in the rain in their fuzzy soft coats. The sphagnums dance in the rain. They are used for medicine to save peoples lives. The sphagnums dance in the rain; they get picked and re-planted to make a garden look nicer. The sphagnums dance in the rain.

You may have noticed an unusual orange fruit in your child’s book bag this week. You may even have asked, "what is this?"

Originally from Asia, and morphologically considered a berry, the persimmon is a lovely fruit that matures to a deep orange color in late Autumn. If you’ve ever visited Greensboro Montessori School's Primary Garden, you’ve probably noticed our beloved persimmon tree, planted over 20 years ago by master permaculturalist, Charlie Headington. In the years since, this tree has been lovingly pruned and harvested by our favorite garden coordinator, car line greeter facilities assistant, and student support pal, Aubrey Cupit.

Generations of GMS students share a collective nostalgia for the flavor of the persimmon. To them, it seems a rare, exotic fruit with notes of magic and pure joy only attainable from our grounds. Students begin asking for persimmon snacks in our Environmental Education classes on the very first day of school, and then every subsequent day until we cut into the first ripe persimmon in October. It would be difficult to adequately describe the infectious wave of excitement when our students find out we are having persimmons for snack.

A firm persimmon tastes like a combination of honey, peach, and mango, with earthy undertones and the texture of an apple. For those unfamiliar with this fruit, I would recommend eating it raw, just like an apple, skin and all. Others prefer to bake softer persimmon pulp into pancakes, bread, or cookies. Persimmons work well in savory applications such as persimmon vinaigrette and other meat-based dishes akin to pork and apples. Dehydrated persimmon pulp creates a delicious fruit leather, while dehydrated persimmon slices make an excellent snack. 

Each of the five persimmon trees on campus have produced bountiful fruit this season! In an effort to share the persimmon love, we’re sending at least one persimmon home with every single student within our GMS community. Enjoy!


Additional Resources


About the Author

Chelsi Crawford is Greensboro Montessori School's lead environmental educator. Prior to joining our School in 2018, Chelsi was the assistant farm manager for Clemson University's sustainable agriculture program. In this role, Chelsi assisted with all farm duties pertaining to planning, food production, and harvest, in addition to managing a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm share program providing fresh produce for over 100 families weekly. Chelsi received both her Bachelor of Arts in anthropology (with a minor in biology) and her Master of Science in natural resources from North Carolina State University. She also has a published journal article focused on educational resources and dissemination of information to organic farmers throughout North Carolina.

Greensboro Montessori School partners with the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) to use Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) Growth assessments. MAP Growth is a computer-adaptive test for measuring individual student achievement and growth in math, reading, and language usage.

We've chosen MAP Growth because it is a student-centric approach to standardized testing. Unlike paper and pencil tests, where all students are asked the same questions and spend a fixed amount of time taking the test, MAP Growth is an adaptive test. That means every student gets a unique set of test questions based on responses to previous questions. At the end of each test, teachers are able to determine what individual students know and are ready to learn next.

Unlike traditional standardized tests, MAP Growth testing is administered twice a year, enabling us to measure our students' individual growth over time. Teachers may also use test results to further inform instruction, personalize learning, and monitor student growth.

While we are not a test-driven school, we know test taking is a practical life skill students need in preparation for high school and college. MAP Growth tests are one form of assessment we use, in conjunction with other methodologies of formative and summative assessment given throughout the school year.


About MAP Growth

MAP Growth is a computer-adaptive test. That means every student gets a unique set of test questions based on responses to previous questions. As the student answers correctly, questions get harder. If the student answers incorrectly, the questions get easier. By the end of the test, most students will have answered about half the questions correctly, as is common on adaptive tests. Therefore, students may complete the test thinking they did not do well. The purpose of MAP Growth is to determine what the student knows and is ready to learn next. It is also designed to track students’ individual growth over time, wherever they are starting from and regardless of the grade they are in. For instance, if a third grader is actually reading like a fifth grader, MAP Growth will be able to identify that. Or, if a fifth grader is doing math like a third grader, MAP Growth will identify that, too. Both things are incredibly important for a teacher to know so that they can plan instruction efficiently.
Students in third grade and older take MAP Growth assessments twice a year, once in the fall and spring. This year, students will take MAP Growth assessments only once. The goal of this testing is to help them transition to the content, format, and style of the MAP Growth assessments in preparation for next year.
No. Your child’s performance will have no bearing on their academic status. In particular, this first assessment should be seen as a baseline from which to move forward. Like a work-plan or checklist, the score and subsequent reports can assist in guiding your child's academic growth.

No. As a computer-adaptive assessment, MAP Growth will provide questions to test the upper limits of your child's skills. Every student will miss questions. The MAP Growth guides suggest that students should expect to miss 40-60% of their questions.

There is no particular score for which students should aim. Instead, your child's individual MAP Growth Report will contain a RIT score. This score represents their achievement level at the time they took the test. As a partner in your child's education, we are less concerned one-time scores and will focus more attention on students' growth measures between assessments.

“RIT” is an abbreviation for “Rausch Unit” and is measured on an equal interval, stable scale, like feet and inches (i.e., one inch is always one inch, and one RIT is always one RIT). The RIT scale accurately measures student performance, regardless of age, grades, or grade level. Like marking height on a growth chart and being able to see how tall a child is at various points in time, you can also see how much they have grown between tests. More specifically, a RIT score comes from a non-linear formula. It is not out of 100%. What is more important is the growth of the RIT score between any two MAP assessments, not the one-time score that a student receives from any one assessment.
Unlike standardized tests, MAP Growth is administered periodically during the school year, and it adjusts to each student’s performance, rather than asking all students the same questions. When we talk about high-stakes tests, we are usually talking about a test designed to measure what students already know, based on what is expected at their grade level. High stakes tests are also often used as a way to measure grade-level proficiency. MAP Growth is designed to measure student achievement in the moment and growth over time, regardless of grade level, so it is quite different. By the end of the test, most students will have answered about half the questions correctly, as is common on adaptive tests. The purpose of MAP Growth is to determine what the student knows and is ready to learn next. Another difference is the timeliness of the results. While states often return information in the fall after the test is taken, MAP Growth gives quick feedback to teachers, administrators, students, and families. Teachers receive immediate results with MAP Growth that show what students know and what they are ready to learn, which can be used to help personalize lessons at the appropriate level for students. One similarity is that MAP Growth aligns to the same standards in a given state as the state test, so both measure similar content.
Greensboro Montessori School administers MAP Growth tests in math, reading, and language usage twice a year.
Most students take less than an hour to complete a MAP Growth test. However, MAP Growth is not timed, and students may take as much time as they need to complete it.
MAP Growth also offers a science test, which is a more content-based test. At this time, we are focused on the skills-based tests of math, reading, and language usage assessments, which are also standard areas of assessment for all schools. Your child is welcome to work through the science questions provided in the MAP Growth practice tests.
We will provide a child’s Student Progress Report. This report contains information and scores from a student’s most recent and past MAP Growth assessments. Our team is also available to discuss results with families for a full understanding of what the information means and how families can use their child’s reading and math scores to identify resources that can support home learning.
NWEA provides many different reports to help us use MAP Growth information. Teachers can see the progress of individual students and of their classes as a whole. Students with similar MAP Growth scores are generally ready for instruction in similar skills and topics. MAP Growth also provides data around the typical growth for students who are in the same grade, are testing in the same subject, and have the same starting achievement level. This data is often used to help students set goals and understand what they need to learn to achieve their goals. As a School, we can also use the scores to see the performance and progress of a grade, classroom, or entire division.
Just as a doctor has a chart indicating the most common heights and weights of people at certain ages, NWEA has put together charts showing the median RIT scores for students at various grade levels. NWEA researchers examined the scores of millions of students to find the average scores for students in various grades.
As the MAP Growth assessments are primarily skill-based, students do not need to study specifically for any MAP Growth test. If they would like (and it will make them feel less anxious, not more), Students may work through practice problems and review concepts they haven’t touched on recently. Click here to access MAP Growth practice tests. The word "grow" is both the username and password to access all tests.

During MAP Growth

The time to take a MAP Growth assessment varies for each student. Some students will take more time, others will finish quickly. There is not a set number of questions or time expectation. Generally, an individual test will last up to an hour. We will provide as much time as is needed for a student to finish the assessment.
We know our students will put forth their best effort, and MAP Growth has built in accountability measures to support student success. MAP Growth will automatically pause the test if it senses that a student is just clicking through answers or not actively engaged.
No. MAP Growth will provide calculators on the screen when allowed and appropriate. Students will not be allowed to bring in calculators or use phones, smart watches or other devices to assist them.
Yes. Students will be able to write on scratch paper during their MAP Growth assessments.
No. It is not content-driven, so students are not expected to have read any particular text beforehand. Instead, the test provides its own reading passages.
Yes. As your child does everyday, they will need to bring headphones to school for their MAP Growth assessments.
No. Your child will not receive immediate feedback after each question. There will not be any sounds or visual cues to let your child know whether their answer is right or wrong. Instead, MAP Growth will continue to give questions of varying difficulty to determine exactly what a student knows and is ready to learn next. As with most adaptive tests, it's expected for your child to answer 40-60% of the questions inaccurately.
No. You and your child will receive an individual MAP Growth Report, which will contain a RIT score for each assessment. We will share MAP Growth Reports with families one month after testing.
The School's director of information technology will be available to support any technical needs. If your child experiences a technical issue, we will pause the assessment to investigate the issue. Potential solutions include refreshing the application, providing a new device, or rescheduling the specific MAP Growth test. If your child is taking the test remotely, they will be able to notify their virtual proctor of their need for support.
If your child misses a day of testing, we will reschedule at notify you of the time.

After MAP Growth

You will receive your child's MAP Growth Report one month after your child takes their assessments. This gives your child's teachers and the school time to review, process, and share reports with all families.
We view this spring’s MAP Growth assessment as a baseline score. We will review the information and use this score and information as one of the many tools to follow the child and assist them to unleash their full potential.


Preparing for MAP Growth Assessments

There is nothing families need "to do" in preparation for a MAP Growth test. We encourage families to follow the child – provide the level of support they need to feel successful. This could vary between treating an assessment day like any normal school day to practicing questions on a sample to get comfortable with the format, to talking with your child about the practical life skill of testing (i.e., tests are part of education and you should do your best, and you should not worry or stress over tests).

If you'd like to provide a strong framework for your child before and during a test, we have these tips:

The Night Before
The Morning of the Test
During the Test

Maria Montessori believed that “establishing lasting peace is the work of education...”

While many of us are focused on the end of a school year, on how the pandemic will affect our family and our jobs, and on working to support the emotional needs of our children, as we should be, I felt it appropriate to also take a moment to remind ourselves of what Maria Montessori writes about peace education. For our attention should also be focused on what is happening all around the country and world this week in response to the events in Minnesota.

Greensboro Montessori School welcomes and embraces diversity by providing a safe and supportive environment that is open and inclusive. Our community is enhanced by people from many different cultures, races, nationalities, faiths, learning and physical abilities, political backgrounds, sexual orientations and identities, ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and family constellations.

We work together to empower all of our families to share and grow in their confidence and ability to raise responsible young citizens. And, the recent tragic events in Minnesota with the death of George Floyd must serve as a reminder that we still have much work to do. Being non-racist is not the same thing as being anti-racist. As peace educators, we have a responsibility to make sure we are doing our part to foster empathy and kindness in all of our students.

Our school has always proudly had the following policies for admissions and hiring, respectively,

We are proud that we do not discriminate. We are proud that we actively teach our students to be just and inclusive. These are at the heart of the foundations of Maria Montessori’s peace education. And sometimes this is not enough. Sometimes we must move beyond awareness of discrimination, acts of aggression, and bigotry wherever they are and at whomever they are aimed. We must also engage. How we each choose to engage these challenging times and challenging events will vary from home to home, and we all stand together with our shared value and commitment to peace education.

We hope that everyone can engage injustice when we see it, actively see our privilege where it lies, and promote equity and peace with not only our mind, but also our resources and actions. And especially to all our African American students, staff, and community members: you matter. Black Lives Matter. We see you, and we support you.

The president of the board of our accrediting body, the American Montessori Society, recently shared part of this reflection to our 16,000 members:

AMS recognizes that institutional change is required to make an impact in the larger Montessori community. Ensuring environments where everyone feels welcomed, valued, and respected is our most important charge as a membership organization. Serving as the largest Montessori membership organization does not exclude us from the institutional racism that is pervasive in associations, schools, and training programs throughout the United States. We hope that you continue to engage with us as our organization strives to be anti-racist. – Amira Mogaji, President, AMS Board of Directors

We hope that everyone can join us as we work to intentionally move from awareness to engagement.

In peace, and on behalf of the Greensboro Montessori School Team,

Dr. Kevin Navarro
Head of School

As they do every spring, Greensboro Montessori School's Junior High students recently engaged in their final Great Debate of the year in history. Students addressed and argued both sides of two debates. The first questioned whether the purposes of government are best served by an authoritarian approach. The second questioned whether the primary role of a government should be to meet the needs of its people. The debates provide Junior High students the opportunity to argue in a logical and clearly defined manner.

While The Great Debates are usually hosted in the classroom, this year's final debates were argued virtually through Google Hangouts. 57 participants, including students from both Junior High and Upper Elementary, attended the event, deepening their understanding of many forms of government and economic systems, including authoritarian, capitalist, communist, and socialist.

How the Debates Work

Teams of two or three students are given their topic in advance, but they do not learn which side they are on, for or against, until the morning of the debate. As a result, they must analyze and evaluate both sides and research and compile points and examples supporting both arguments. Each student writes two formal position papers, one for each side of the argument. This helps them broaden their thinking and mental flexibility.

The debates follow a modified version of standard debate procedure, with an opening argument, sometimes shared by two teammates; time for preparation of rebuttal; and then closing arguments and rebuttal, by the remaining member of the team. Faculty members observe, discuss and provide extensive oral feedback to the teams about the debate.

How Topics are Selected

The topics of the debates are drawn from subject matter the students have discussed in history classes during the preceding several weeks. Students are encouraged to go beyond the class discussions in gathering information and building their arguments.

The process allows students to go beyond what they have learned and apply it to larger questions, to develop their reasoning and ability to build and support logical arguments, and to gain confidence and develop greater precision in presenting their thoughts persuasively.

How We Learn

As Junior High students move into and through adolescence, it’s imperative they receive authentic support for their burgeoning philosophical questioning, curiosity in the world around them, and deep desire for belonging within their peer group. Greensboro Montessori School honors these needs through the concept of valorization, which is a pillar of our Junior High curriculum.

Valorization is the process of understanding you are a strong and worthy person. It is the process of self-actualization and fulfillment. It is not about surviving hours of arbitrary homework or memorizing facts for the next test. It’s about completing meaningful work, unleashing academic excellence, and solving real-world problems.

The Great Debates are just one example of how Greensboro Montessori School students experience valorization by developing self-worth, skills, and courage through purpose-filled work. Learn more about how we build valorization through our science curriculum in our recent blog about Trout in the (Indoor, Outdoor, and Virtual) Classroom.

If you are interested in learning more about Greensboro Montessori School's student-centered Upper School serving motivated learners in fourth to ninth grades, we encourage you to schedule a virtual information session. We welcome an opportunity to meet you, learn more about your family, and explore Greensboro Montessori School could partner with your family.