Each week we will post a new story here so you can hear many different experiences and prospectives of our students, parents, alumni and staff. Enjoy the stories!
Toddlers and Emotional Self-Regulation
This year there is a Toddler student, Lila, who had a bit of an emotional transition into school this fall. She would cry often, especially on the playground. One of the ways we helped her to calm down was to teach her to place one hand over her belly button, the other hand on her forehead and to focus on breathing. Whenever we would ask her to “calm herself down” she would assume this position, and relatively quickly, she would calm herself down.
Her mother relayed the following story to us recently: The Toddler and her little brother were just out of eyesight as Kristin worked in the kitchen. The brother was a little fussy, but nothing too urgent. After a couple of minutes, the Mom noticed it became very quiet in the other room, so she peeked around the corner to find that the Toddler had helped her brother place one of his hands on his belly and the other on his forehead. When the Toddler noticed Mom watching, she said, “I was helping him calm himself down.”
International Extemporaneous Speaking
“The event I do is called international extemporaneous speaking. Essentially, when I go to a tournament, I randomly draw a question written on a slip of paper out of an envelope. It could be something like "What would a Clinton administration energy policy look like?" Or "How should the international community respond to Brexit?" It could literally be anything regarding international current events. Then, I have 30 minutes to research, write, and memorize a 7 minute speech answering the question. I cannot use the internet, so I rely on a Dropbox which includes 16,000 news articles that our team has assembled over the past couple of years. That way, even if I get a question I don't know everything about, I can hope that I have something about it in my Dropbox. The preparation is tough because it is impossible to know everything, but I can't really be finished until I know as much as possible. The actual competition is tense as well. I go into a tournament knowing that I will be giving- at a minimum- 3 seven minute speeches about 3 different topics, but none of these speeches are written and I don't even know what I'll be talking about. So even though I've done it more times than I can count, it's certainly a bit stressful. At nationals, it felt crazy to be in a room with the eventual national champion, and to be selected into the top 60 in the country was a huge honor.” Max Davidson, MSD Alum, recently finished 2nd in Colorado and 38th in the country in International Extemporaneous Speaking.
Rowing the Mississippi River
Audra Tromly, MSD Alum, is currently paddling the 3,700 km Mississippi River completing research, taking water samples, delivering STEM presentations to classrooms, and mapping one of Earth's longest rivers for Google Street View! Audra and her OAR Northwest team, a non-profit adventure education organization, are expected to be on the river for 100 days. The rowers each take 1.5 hour shifts waking up at dawn to keep to their schedule. We are incredibly proud of her mission to accomplish her goal “with the hope of encouraging and empowering all women to take on these roles and give voice to their own adventures.”
“Science has never been a subject that I have been passionate about or that I felt that I was particularly good at. It always seemed like some scary subject or concept that I wasn't able to do or didn't make any sense. Part of our mission as we go down the river has been to take samples of the river for three different universities including the University of Puget Sound, Louisiana State University, and University of Washington to better understand the composition of the river. Those samples include taking water samples to examine micro plastics, taking water samples to study the microbial communities in the water, and recording basic measurements of the water including oxygen, nitrates and phosphate levels. Everyone in the group has to take part in these experiments and know how they work. This means that multiple times a week we have to lean over the boats and using test tubes, mini bottles and other various filters and syringes I don't completely understand get up close and personal with the river.
Despite my initial fears and hesitations I had to put on the gloves and pick up the test bottles and quickly gained an important perspective on science. Science is not this big scary monster, the concept of science is actually quite simple. Science is really just asking questions and then making and testing predictions in order to better understand the world around us. For example, a question we have been asking is, how long can we make a block of cheese last amongst the five of us? After many tests our group has discovered a block of cheese is normally eaten in about a day. Essentially we all do science every day, it's not some big scary thing. Everyone and anyone can do science or be a scientist including me, as long as we keep inquiring into the world around us.”
-Audra Tromly, MSD Alum
Storytelling and Weaving
“In the spirit of the school year's theme of storytelling, I told the Upper Elementary students the story of the Montessori School of Denver Tartan: the Upper Elementary class of 1989-90 designed and wove the tartan for MSD’s 25th birthday, and it is registered in Scotland through the Scottish Register of Tartans! The students were excited and proud that students their own age came up with the design and then wove the tartan. Eric liked to work with the many colors and textures and especially likes working on the big loom, and he was quick at picking up the new weaving techniques. Samantha wanted to weave a mountain and was excited to learn. Marlowe is a fast weaver and wanted to learn some new techniques on the big loom – her enthusiasm received cheers all around the room when she exclaimed “I got it!" It’s such a pleasure to watch them weave and encourage their interest, and it’s amazing with what they come up with!” Ann, Chief Financial Officer
MSD Urban Farm Manager
Lexi Fickenscher is MSD's Urban Farm Manager leading the Middle School students through learning about gardening and sustainable farming. In line with Montessori philosophy, the program uses the experiential, hands-on process of gardening connecting students to the real world applications of math, science, language arts, nutrition, and health. Lexi and the Middle School students collaborate to tend eight garden beds on the MSD campus and partner with classrooms across campus to reach students of all ages, as well as partnering with the St. Elizabeth's School in Denver.
What is it like working with Middle Schoolers?
“I love working with the Middle Schoolers. My greatest joy has been figuring out how to connect each student with the garden. There is this one student who had no interest in the garden, but when I talked about the food we could cook with it, he just lit up! So we talk about recipes and come up with cooking plans. Then there are other kids who love the physical work of gardening – digging, planting, and getting dirty. And others who prefer seed library work - from collecting seeds on campus to stamping and labeling envelopes to organizing. There is something for everyone- you just have to make the connection.”
How did you get connected to gardening?
“My dad is a gardener but he grew flowers only as my mom does not think vegetables are pretty (laughs). I enjoyed being a part of the growing process with him. During my senior year in college at Oberlin I worked with a group of people including college students, staff and local residents. We successfully started the town’s first farmers market. Between then and now I have lived in and gardened in Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, and Denver. Over the years I have made every mistake you could make in the plotting, planting, and seeding process; seedlings were too leggy then I put the grow lights too close to the seedlings and burned them, I put plants where there was not enough sun or too much sun, and I’ve planted things so close that pretty much nothing grew. The following year when I plotted out the garden, I imagined that every plant from onions to tomatoes to broccoli would grow to about the size of a human head and planted accordingly. Big mistake. But I kept trying. And with each failure I become more determined to figure it out. I would talk to others, read books and attend classes. I knew next year it would be different. As the years passed, the plots I grew on got bigger and bigger. My current plot of land is 6,400 square feet and ensures that during the growing season my back stays strong and my fingernails permanently dirty. Then our kids started at MSD and during the new family popsicle social, I connected with Ginny Bishop. When I told her I was an urban farmer she started telling me about the garden beds at MSD, and I excitedly thought, “Yes! I’d love to help with this!" Lexi, MSD Urban Farm Manager, wife of Mike, and mom of two MSD students, Issac and Madeline
How do you do-good in the world?
“My class made lunches for the homeless and I think that helped them know that people care about them” Gavin, Lower Elementary
“As third year students, we help the younger students in our class when they are frustrated. We give them lessons because we already know how to do the work.” Kanaan & Joel, Lower Elementary
“Before winter break, the Middle School will be making lunches and baking cookies for the Gathering Place. Helping others makes me feel good for the other people.” Madysen, Middle School
“I really like working with Toys for Tots. All kids deserve to experience the joy of Christmas, all of the surprises, and opening cool presents.” Mark, Middle School
“I think the best way to help my friends is just to be kind to them.” Alyx, Primary
In the Toddler Village, a toddler girl was driving the cozy coupe and accidently ran over another toddler boy’s fingers. He started to cry and the girl jumped out of the car and took his hand and asked if he was ok. She then left the car and said, “Let’s play together.” That is doing good in the world!
“My family fosters dogs until they are adopted. One time we had a lot of tiny puppies all at once.” Livia, Upper Elementary
“By building a positive community around you, and being kind, compassionate and caring, not just on special occasions, but all the time, everywhere you go.” Max, Middle School
“By being nice.” Allan, Primary Student
“My favorite way of helping others is volunteering at Warren Village, especially helping with their annual Holiday Shop. I love helping the kids pick out gifts for their parents, especially the young ones who pick out the funniest things that they think their moms will love.” Kindra, Admin
What are you grateful for this year?
“Goldfish.” Jakub, Toddler
“Grapes!” Kinnari, Toddler
“Fried Chicken.” Hollan, Primary
“That it is snowing today!” Jack, Primary
“Christmas.” Desmond, Primary
“Mommy.” Olivia, Primary
“That my grandpa is not sick.” Charlotte, Lower El
“My great-great-great-great..I think it’s like five times.. grandpa built a cabin in the mountains and now every thanksgiving we go with our family… and it’s a big family, except it means we have to sleep in the attic.” Emily, Lower El
“This cool school!” Lillie, Lower El
“The after school program.” Adi, Upper El
“For my little sister.” Madeline, Upper El
“Mr. G teaching me so much knowledge in seminars, especially about the Presidential election.” Deagan, Upper El
“This is going to get heavy. I am grateful for my family, being friends with diverse people, having a home, food, and a sense of security-especially in today’s world. Oh, and that my two cats are healthy. We have had four cats and we had to put down two other cats.” Lizzie, Middle School
“Good food, time with family and family adventures. My dad and I are going to Arizona next week together!” Dirk, Middle School
“I was reading an article about women in Saudi Arabia just the other day and I am grateful, even despite what we still struggle with here, about the freedoms that women have in this country.” Jamie, MSD Mom
“Thanksgiving and coming together to celebrate life and friendship over good food regardless of differences. We all live under the same roof.” Angela, MSD mom
“The community here because we always come together and get closer and show our values whenever things get tough.” Christina, Primary Teacher
“That I, as far as I know, have a happy and healthy baby boy on the way, and the holidays coming to help distract me from the third trimester!” Karen, Lower El Teacher
“Health. My mother-in-law was recently diagnosed with Lymphoma Cancer. Fortunately, it is treatable, but it certainly puts health in perspective.” Alison, Lower El Teacher
“I always thought Montessori education was hoaky. To the outsider it looks like there is no formal structure and kids do whatever they want. People would try to tell me how great Montessori is, and I would just think, "That’s not for us. I'm not a hippie." We did an extensive search/application process for Farah and chose a school. As time went on and when Emre joined her, we realized we had picked the wrong school for our kids. We had no idea what to do next. Then, while having dinner with my friend one evening she told me about visiting a Montessori preschool for her son and what their educational philosophy was. She made fun of it but what she said really resonated with me. She described approaching the kids from a perspective of interest and engagement instead of just forcing them to get work done. We looked at Montessori schools, chose MSD, and luckily were accepted! It turns out I am a hippie after all.” Aliya, MSD Mom of Emre, fourth grader, and Farah, sixth grader
Tell me something important about yourself: "I need to get bigger, so I can drive a car someday.” Roland, Primary
If you had a friend coming to school here, what would you want to tell them?..."Welcome to your new school. There is lots of works to choose. They can always ask questions, and you get to play on the playground after lunchtime.” Sophia, Primary
“I love the apple cutter. You get to take it, push it down, and the apple goes (motions his hand from closed to open).” Austin, Primary
“If someone was new to the school, I would tell him 'Everybody is nice here.'” Rocco, Lower Elementary
“I don’t have a favorite work. I do everything… reading groups, spelling groups, working, playing, and drawing. I don’t know everything yet so I just keep working on it all.” Nate, Lower Elementary
"When I first came to MSD, I was nervous because I didn’t know what was going to happen, but it was easy. This place is amazing. There are multiple works to choose each day, you get to move around the classroom, and my friends are great. After college, I am going to create my own company. Well, after working for someone else first, you have to start somewhere. The company will include lots of things like a car dealership, insurance, sales…oh, and technology. There have to be more companies than just Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung.” Oliver, Lower Elementary
“My third-grade year, I was the only girl in my class. Everyone thought that it would be hard but it was one of my favorite years. I always struggled making friends with girls, and that year, all the boys were my friends. We did lots of math. I love math and I hope someday to become an engineer. Or maybe an adventurer.” Sophia, Middle School