News – Page 2 – Casa di Mir Montessori

News


Community Update for January 22

Dear Casa di Mir Families,

Over our years of working with children, we have each witnessed an interesting pattern that appears during the winter period, particularly during January and February. There can often be a predictable slump in energy during this time, almost like a biological drive to pull inwards and hibernate! Perhaps it’s the packed schedules during December, or maybe the weather, but regardless of the cause, the trend is a desire to lighten loads, re-energize, and even reignite enthusiasm in our lives! Different ages present this trend uniquely, and for myself, as the hours of light increase again, I find a renewal in my own energy which transfers into the work we do as teachers and staff. I’m honestly not positive if most adults regularly experience this similarly, but it surely exists in schools! While this is a normal pattern, a full-year of pandemic living absolutely adds weight and compounds this challenge during the season.

I’m acknowledging this now, as it’s an important time to be resolute and determined in how we work safely and successfully together. My guess is that you’re all ready to see relatives, travel, and simply shuck off the protocols and regulations that we’ve held for much longer than you may have anticipated. During an already lower-energy season for many, we’re slammed with the frustration, anger, tension, and possible depression of COVID times. While it manifests differently for everyone, I acknowledge this difficulty across the board.

Given these challenging months ahead, I wish to stress the critical nature of keeping to our safety agreements as a school community. In the past months, we’ve noticed more travel than may be essential in our community. While in our current stay at home order, leisure travel is to be avoided. With California, including our region, experiencing a peak number of illnesses and stretched resources, much of our safety and success depends on the choices your family makes to maintain our community and its health. On the one hand, non-essential travel (such as snowboarding- and I do love snowboarding) increases the risks to our teachers and students. On the other hand, the possible result of quarantining after travel also has huge impacts on the teachers and their ability to serve their Pod. Travel and experiences that stress and test the boundaries of our Community Care Agreements create further tension, and I think we can all agree that less anxiety and stress is beneficial! Recently, the state and county updated protocols and added more to pre-existing systems and structures to deal with COVID and schools. While much of the change will be internal (ex. New reporting practices, changed definitions, etc.), we will update you next week with any changes relevant to Casa di Mir. If you want to read ahead, here is one link to get you started: https://covid19.ca.gov/

As we move through the weeks ahead, please truly take the time to revitalize, adjust to your needs, and revisit commitments to what is valuable to you. For our students, they may benefit from refreshing their schedules, incorporating new daily activities, and thinking a bit outside of the box once in a while. This is a time to find new ways to treat yourselves! For myself, I deeply value this community, and I trust we’re all in this together. I have felt such kindness from our families and staff, more than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. One path I choose to take these days is doing random daily acts of kindness to someone, and importantly – they don’t know it comes from me. Every day that I commit to such an act of kindness, it seems to blossom in unforeseen ways; I encourage you to try it! In doing so, you’ll be given the reminder that we’re all supporting one another, even if we don’t always see it directly.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for being such a compassionate community, holding each of us together, and staying committed to the health and well-being of all. I only wish you each could see the same number of joyful and energetic children as we do, as that is what truly lifts us up!

Take care,

Tyler Bourcier
Head of School
Casa di Mir Montessori

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Freedom and Choice: Key Tenets of Montessori

primary floor work

A Montessori classroom gives students freedom and choice throughout the day. During work periods, students choose activities that support their studies.

Freedom is the opportunity to have choice. Children’s emotional, social, and academic development improve when they are empowered through choice. At the same time, children need to have appropriate boundaries and limits to feel safe and secure.

Montessori’s “freedom with discipline” (where the word discipline means to teach) for the primary ages of 3-6 years and “freedom with responsibility” for children ages 6 and up align with these basic developmental needs. As a parent or teacher, we can craft a safe environment that has opportunities for choices that are developmentally appropriate for the different stages of childhood. What is left for the adult to do is find the right balance between allowing self-determination (freedom) and limits (providing boundaries) for a child to thrive in. Montessori’s keen observation of child development really helps guide this decision-making.

In the Montessori classrooms, movement (which is indisputably linked to cognition) is encouraged. Students are given large, unregulated blocks of time in which the flow of learning and choice in activity can be self-determined. Students are free from the extrinsic control of the grading system. Montessori classrooms are a stark contrast to the regulated, conventional classrooms where students are confined to desks, with rigidly scheduled days, receiving all sorts of external controls on what they learn which is often based on the simple brain function of memorization.

In the Primary Montessori classroom, the environment is set up by the teachers who are keenly aware of the developmental stage of their students. The choices in the environment are all great tailor-made options. Students enjoy the freedom of choice within the limits of their own sense of order and mastery over their environment. The self-discipline of taking an activity off the shelf, using it in the manner they have been taught, and cleaning up by placing it back on the shelf as they found it is learned through the teachers or guides. Students are given lessons in grace and courtesy of working and playing in a community of peers and then guided through the steps. Again, this is a learning of self-discipline and provides the limits for their freedoms. Self-care skills and skills for care of the environment also support the child’s development of self-discipline. This careful combination of choice and limits are core in the Primary Montessori classrooms.

The Elementary Montessori classroom, just like the primary classroom, is created by teachers who understand the developmental readiness of their age group. The level of responsibility for learning increases slowly as the child’s self-awareness, self-discipline, and comprehension of the vast knowledge to be attained grows. With choice comes the development of unique interests and the joy in the pursuit of learning. Students can dive deeper into areas that excite them utilizing the skills they have learned from previous experience.  Ultimately, it is expected that the children will use their time in a productive way, balancing their subjects and being responsible for their learning. They learn to self-regulate their choices in the social areas, too. What we see daily in our classrooms is this process of growth in each child as they navigate their choices and their responsibilities for self, others in their community, and their environment.

At the Middle School level, choice and responsibility take on new characteristics.  The focus is on the freedom to express whether through public speaking, debate, theater, or simply in discussions of subject material.  At the same time, students take on more responsibility for their elective courses, their culmination projects for each study unit, their micro-economy projects, and community service activities.  This process of learning and practicing freedom with responsibility enables students to find their place in the community and the world.

A key caution, especially in today’s world, freedom of choice before a level of self-discipline or responsibility is reached can result in a child’s sense of entitlement, a kind of “I want what I want” approach to life. Young children usually make a choice that is ego-centric which is very appropriate. They are also just l beginning to understand the difference between needs and wants.   The child must develop a sense of care and concern for others before making decisions that might impact others. The domain of influence of a choice needs to be considered carefully.

For example, a child age 3-6 can make a choice between a couple of shirts to wear to school or a choice between two different appropriate breakfast foods. The child would not be ready to make a choice that affects a parent’s ability to get to work on time or whether the family should go to the park when it is a work/school day. If a child is often given a choice that is outside their area of maturity of thinking, the child can come to expect to have “power-over” others. The domain of choices available to a child needs to reflect an appropriate potential in that child for self-discipline and responsibility for outcomes.

Another important aspect of learning responsibility for the freedom of choice is the actual experience of the consequence of choice. What great feedback the natural consequences of a choice can be for learning! As adults, we need to allow those experiences for the children around us when they are not life-threatening. The child’s own observation of consequences, as well as the supportive reflections of the adult, can provide a foundation for the next choice-making opportunity.

Adults can model their own process of choice-making by verbalizing their thinking for children to hear. The weighing of pros and cons and the consideration of what the consequences might be is helpful for the child to witness. Feedback, both positive and negative, is essential for the honing of the thinking process and skills of choice-making. We can reason then, that through freedom to choose and the experience of consequences come critical experiences for the development of self-discipline and responsibility.

Montessori education provides such tremendous opportunities for a child to grow and thrive because of the inherent balance of freedom to choose and the limits of self-discipline and responsibility for each developmental stage of the child.

Wanda Whitehead
Director of Education
Casa di Mir Montessori

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Casa Middle School Creative Expression Pencil Drawings

The Casa Middle School curriculum includes creative expression, a subject in which Middle School students have been practicing pencil drawings. Middle School students have created a number of drawings, including studies and portfolios.

One of the portfolios was a Still Life drawing. The Still Life drawing consisted of trying to tell a story and embody feelings in a collection of objects. The Still Life was done in three parts. The first part was the planning when the Middle School students decided the story they wanted to show through an arrangement of objects. The second part was the drawing, when they had to draw their picture, with the arrangement of objects using techniques learned in previous studies. Last but not least, the finishing touches. The last step of the Still Life was to add texture and finish the Still Life, using a technique learned in the class previous to the final stage of the Still Life.

As you can see in the pictures below, all the Still Life drawings embody the Middle School students’ ideas and the stories they wanted to tell. Enjoy the drawings!

Tomi Doff
Middle School Student
Casa di Mir Montessori

Title: Late Night Reading. Pencil Drawing.

Late Night Reading, November 1st, 2020. Pencil. This is a drawing of late-night reading. The candle is not the light source, but it is there to represent the dim lighting of the scene. The glasses are on the book after someone took them off to pause in the middle of reading and rest. The feel of the drawing is tiredness and quiet.

 

Title: School. Pencil and Paper Drawing.

School, 11/2/2020. Pencil & Paper. The goal of this piece, to put it simply, is to make the observer think that this piece is related to school. I think that it is fairly effective with that.

 

Title: Still Life Of a Desk. Pencil and Paper Drawing.

Still Life Of a Desk, 11/21/20. Pencil and paper. This is a drawing of pencil cups and a fake potted plant on my desk. (What I look at every day while I work.)

 

Title: Sad. Pencil Drawing.

Sad, 10/31. “XXXTENTACION – SAD!” This piece was created after listening to the song “Sad!” by former rapper xxxtentacion who was assassinated on June 18, 2018, in Deerfield Beach, FL.

 

Title: Late at Night. Pencil/Colored Pencil Drawing.

Late at Night, October 29, 2020. Pencil/Colored Pencil. I see my parents working late into the night, they sometimes have coffee or a glass of chai. This piece is meant to show how hard they work.

 

Title: The Joy of Music. Pencil Drawing.

The Joy of Music. Pencil, Paper. This piece is about my love for music. The violin represents music and the rainbow lighting represents my joy for it.

 

Title: People Look Different. Pencil Drawing.

People look different, Nov. 1. Pencil and paper. This is an expression of how racial injustice is unneeded and horrible.

 

Title: Stay Safe. Pencil/Colored Pencils Drawing.

Stay Safe, 11/2/2020. Pencils (regular and colored). This drawing represents the time we are in right now, with all the masks drawn, while also saying (on masks) to stay safe and (not on masks) also trying to communicate that we will get through the pandemic.

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My Journey Through Mindfulness and Parenting

Mindfulness Promoting SceneryMany years ago, I attended a talk by Dr. Laura Markham, a clinical psychologist renowned for her parenting blog based on child-development research. I came out of that talk with a mantra “stop, drop, and breathe.” This meant that whenever I began to have strong emotions, I would stop what I was doing, drop my agenda, and take a deep breath to calm myself down.1 For a while, these actions felt unnatural and contrived. However, I kept the mantra in my parenting toolkit because I knew that if I let my emotions run high, I would risk exploding at my children and feeling really bad about it afterward.

A few years ago, I started practicing mindfulness more regularly through observing my breath, bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts as they passed through my mind. I started to become more aware of the shift in my emotions. In the beginning, when I felt triggered, I would pinpoint my children’s unruly behavior as the emotional trigger. I would try to stay calm, often by taking long deep breaths. Later on, as awareness about my emotional shift became clearer, I realized that the culprit for my difficult emotions was not my children’s unruly behavior, but rather my unruly restless mind. The unruly mind from a long busy day at work, plus a lack of rest and sleep, caused me to lose my cool as soon as my children behaved differently from what I had expected. According to Dr. Dan Siegal’s hand model of the brain, I “flipped the lid”, losing the state of integration.2 The insight into understanding my restless mind improved my relationship with my children. Whenever I noticed that I was feeling tired from a long day, I verbalized to my children that I could be quick to short-circuit, and needed to take a break so that I could be a peaceful mom.

In some ways, I began perceiving a mindfulness practice as playing a game with the mind. As I continued to get more familiar with watching my mind, and saw an improvement in my relationship with my family, I felt encouraged to be more mindful. At some point, a deeper insight started to appear. I noticed a pattern of my emotional reactivity when I “flipped the lid.” According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction (MBSR), open-mindedness and curiosity are the attitudes to cultivate in mindfulness practice.3 With a beginner’s mind, and an interest in parenting and psychology, I came to realize that my emotional triggers were habitual reactions to my own unmet needs in the past. A self-inquiry into these unmet needs helped me identify the soft-spots that often triggered an emotional upset. With the attitudes of non-judgment and acceptance, which are cultivated in the mindfulness practice, I gradually became more accepting of my habitual tendencies that led to upset and worry. This does not mean that I made an excuse for my anger, but mindful awareness gave me space to notice the trigger and to show compassion to myself. As Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning said “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” In between my emotional triggers and my reactions, I can make a better choice.

You may ask what a mindfulness practice has to do with parenting, besides not yelling at our children. I believe it has everything to do with the social-emotional development of our children. The Polyvagal theory, proposed by neuroscientist Dr. Stephen Porges, explains co-regulation in mammals when parenting their young.4 The theory focuses on the evolutionary adaptive mechanism of the vagal pathways, which are the primary component of our autonomic nervous system – parasympathetic and sympathetic response. Utilizing the mammalian ventral vagal pathways, children detect social cues from their parents’ physiological states in order to distinguish safety from threats. These social cues include head and hand gestures, breathing patterns, facial expressions, and vocal intonations. The detection process called neuroception is a reflex, without cognition. When children perceive a sense of safety, they can play, learn, and grow.  The sympathetic nervous system involved in a fight-flight response, which may be triggered when we raise our voice or yell at our kids, is down-regulated. The theory highlights the co-regulation between parents and children as the foundation for the children’s emotional self-regulation. When children lose their calm or have a tantrum, they are telling us that they need our help to co-regulate. In the midst of the chaos, parents can help their children co-regulate by embodying mindful awareness of their own feelings and emotions (hint: stop, drop, and breathe), thus indirectly teaching children how to self-regulate, and develop emotional resilience.

Not only do we co-regulate with our children, but we also are their role models, quite literally. Neuroscientists tell us that mirror neurons found in human brains play an active part in the acquisition of social skills, and the ability to empathize with the feelings of others. Mirror neurons are the neurons that fire both when a person performs an action, and when the person witnesses the same action performed by someone else; hence the name “mirror.5

At Casa di Mir, students learn, from preschool age, the practice of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). They practice mindful awareness by learning to recognize their own feelings and needs, as well as those of others. They learn to express themselves and make requests for their needs while respecting the needs of others. This process fosters connection and understanding. As parents, we can teach children empathy by practicing mindfulness ourselves. The ways children develop empathy for others are twofold. First, through mindful awareness of their own feelings and needs, the awareness extends outward towards the feelings and needs of others. This is the NVC practice. Second, through empathic mirroring of their parents, when parents are mindful of their own feelings and needs, when parents show care and concern for their children, and acknowledge the children’s needs, the children mirror the same prosocial behaviors, strengthening their empathy for others.

Imagine the ripple effect of empathy in ourselves spreading through our children, their friends and families, and the community. How amazing it is that we can create a better world for ourselves and for our children through practicing mindfulness!

Bay Thongtheppairot
Current Casa Parent
Casa di Mir Montessori

References

[1] “Are you using this essential parenting tool?” , 25 Aug. 2020, https://www.ahaparenting.com/blog/are-you-using-this-essential-parenting-tool.

[2] Siegel, D., Bryson, T. P. (2012). The whole brain child. New York: Bantam.

[3] Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Full Catastrophe living. New York: Bantam.

[4] Porges, S. W. (2015). Making the world safe for our children: down-regulating defence and up-regulating social engagement to optimise the human experience. Children Australia, 40, 2, 114-123.

[5] Rizzolatti, G., Fogassi L., Gallese, V. (2006). Mirrors in the mind.Scientific American, Nov. 2006, 295 (5), 54-61.

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Casa di Mir Welcomed Our Family and Enriched Our Lives

New Elementary Student

First Day at Casa!

Casa di Mir Montessori welcomed my son during a challenging transition period for our family. He had just finished Kindergarten at Montessori of Westfield when my husband got a job interview with a big tech company. The interview meant a great career opportunity and a chance for a new family adventure. However, it also meant facing the decision to uproot our life of 14 years in the Midwest and move to the Silicon Valley.

One big concern, in addition to the cost of living in the Bay Area, was my son’s education. We needed a traditional Montessori school with great reviews, that had space available for a first-grader and could enroll him with very short notice. After my husband successfully completed a couple of job interviews, I approached the two Montessori schools near the area where we were planning to look for rental homes. The first school had one spot left and could not assure us it would still be available by the time my husband anticipated a job offer. The second school was Casa di Mir, and it was this school that made all the difference.

Casa helped me breathe a little easier and get on board with our potential move. The school had a classroom with space for a couple more students and the Admissions Director put me at ease by assuring me I didn’t need to confirm our exact arrival date. From there, our experience with Casa di Mir just got better and better. Soon after we arrived in the Bay Area, we took our son to the school for his enrollment evaluation. During this process, the staff was very friendly and inviting. On top of that, Casa was exactly what I was looking for, the perfect equivalent to the Montessori education that my son had received in Indiana. I felt an immediate connection with the school and was eager to enroll my son. In fact, I seemed so eager that a staff member asked me if I should see more before making a decision, to which I responded, “I’ve seen all I need to see, this feels like a great fit!”

The cherry on top for the entire family was Casa’s amazing community. We quickly made connections with other families, and very soon, we had a new social circle. Our friends from Casa helped us adapt to our life in California a lot faster; they made us feel at home.

In the last five years, I have consistently volunteered for Casa helping out in different marketing-related projects. This past summer, I took my involvement with the school to a new level when I became the new Manager of Development and Marketing. At Casa di Mir, I found a meaningful way to utilize my professional experience and true purpose in helping families, new to Montessori, learn everything the school’s program has to offer.

My son is now a Casa 6th grader. Thanks in great part to the school, he has blossomed into a witty yet gentle pre-teen. He loves his school, his friends, and he definitely is in an educational environment where he’s thriving. I will be forever grateful to Casa di Mir for welcoming my son, my husband, and I, and enriching our lives in so many ways!

Erika Ruiz
Manager of Development and Marketing
Casa di Mir Montessori

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The Relevance of Casa di Mir’s Montessori Education During Distance Learning

Casa di Mir’s educators are well-instructed in the developmental stages of children. While our students are engaged in Distance Learning, their development remains a critical focus and top priority. Casa guides maintain a connection with their students in between lessons and academic instruction. This connection is critical since most of the delivery of information is done directly by the guides, with their own inflection, their energy, and their passion – a very important component in a Montessori education. Our approach to Distance Learning is essential as we embrace the need for flexibility and preparedness; we will need to be both flexible and prepared to enable our community to shift smoothly between on-site learning and Distance Learning programs as the current situation evolves.

In a non-Montessori Distance Learning setting, it is possible to design a schedule that delivers a programmed curriculum, where you just follow along in a sort of computerized system that is devoid of the most important Montessori elements. At Casa di Mir, the development of the whole child is a driving force in the planning stage. We include lessons where students need to use materials, which allows them to continue their hands-on experience. Our youngest children need to keep developing their sensorial life; they can’t only be touching the screens and living life by their two fingertips. We are tailoring their digital learning to encourage sensorial experiences. These experiences help the children wire up their brains to support their future frontal lobe thinking and help to develop the kind of neurological connections they will need for a higher-order of thinking. All children need to use their hands, and that kind of motor function is very closely related to the area of the brain where language development occurs. In our program, we are requesting work to be done by hand when possible, photographed, and uploaded to Google Classroom. We do not want to wed our children to the keyboard.

The language that our guides share with their students during Distance Learning is meant to create consistency. We are still focused on practicing mindfulness, our choice of words, and being respectful. Consistency in relationships is the foundation of stability. We are continuing to build values of respect, courtesy, and kindness. Our students have a pretty strong sense of what Casa’s core values are, and we continue to uphold those values during Distance Learning. While we are online, we are looking for new self-regulation opportunities. If our students need a break from Zoom, they can excuse themselves from a lesson, and they can go get a glass of water or do something physical like jumping rope. After their break, they can come back to the lesson feeling refreshed. Reflectiveness, mindfulness, and self-regulation are a very high priority when we are learning on-site, and they continue to be a very high priority while we learn off-site.

At Casa, we believe that challenging situations are opportunities for growth. Our mindsets are currently being challenged. We want to encourage our community to create mindsets that say I can, or I will learn, instead of a negative thinking mindset that says “we can’t grow.” By helping our students develop a positive mindset, a sense of independence, empathy, and love of learning, we are setting them up for success in the classroom and in life.

Wanda Whitehead
Director of Education
Casa di Mir Montessori

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The joy of being back in school with your children!

Community Update

Dear Casa di Mir Families,

I would like to share the joy of being back in school with your children!  As you know, most of our classes are operating as Distance Learning programs, and it has been a treat to pop in and out of virtual lessons. The creativity and initiative of our faculty are evident – not to mention the incredibly adaptive skill sets of our teachers!  With so many highlights to point to, it is hard to focus on one… Consider 1) Pod Parents who are paving the way to connect and build small social bubbles of community and trust, 2) children who are gracefully navigating their first-ever remote beginning of school, 3) the commitment of parents in helping their children get into the groove of online learning, and 4) the unintended benefits from this moment.  Yes, there are silver linings in this unique and challenging situation!  For example, I’ve heard more families are enjoying whole family dinners much more regularly, and also how some children are already finding new ways to be independent – surprising both parents and teachers!

Without question, a key highlight for many of us at school is to have children back on campus.  Currently, we have two Pods, both Primary, who have the run of the land on Lower Campus.  There are large windows of time here, where students are zooming – not on a computer, but on their trikes and all over the playground.  Each morning the students are completing health screening from home (using a phone app), and upon arrival, our team greets, takes temperatures, and walks these eager young folks to their classrooms.  Part of our morning routine often also includes getting to meet their new favorite stuffed animals, telling quick stories, and learning about what breakfast was just eaten.

Throughout the day, our faculty and these students are pioneering our return to campus, and it is lovely to witness.  What once felt so distant, is now right here in front of us.  Children are learning together in person and practicing what it’s like to maintain physical distancing.  Children are accessing our beautiful environments, utilizing precise materials, and our cleaning and sanitizing protocols are being executed and followed.  All people are wearing masks when required, and it has appropriately become the norm.  This morning I was fortunate to sit in on a birthday circle for a young Primary student, and the parents zoomed in while their daughter ‘walked around the sun’ in celebration of her birthday.  It was a lovely stamp of approval of this moment.  While changes have occurred and systems reflect the needed changes, time ticks onward, and children still want to grow up – no matter what the world presents.  The child went back and forth from smiling widely, to looking down at her hands as she rolled the small globe around in her lap.

With a flicker of excitement, I’m happy to encourage you to project into October.  As has been communicated, we are hoping to be on-site for the elementary Pods within the month of October.  Our county’s numbers are improving, and our school has pushed forward on work for a waiver that may allow us to reopen our campuses.  We have been working with our liaison to make this happen, and are continuing our plans to shift into our Modified Programs.  On our Parent Calendar, you’ll see that we will hold a meeting on Oct. 1st, to communicate what our next steps can be.  The most up-to-date Reopening Plan is posted here for you to read through for more details.

May your air be clean and the temperature just right for your family to enjoy the weekend!

Take care,

Tyler Bourcier
Head of School
Casa di Mir Montessori

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Excitement is building for the beginning of school!

Community Update

Dear Casa di Mir Families,

We are in the midst of a heatwave, right at a time when excitement is building for the beginning of school! The teachers have been hard at work preparing the classrooms, both digitally and On-Site. They’re thrilled to see you on campus for our Get-To-Know-You-Week, and you should have (or will soon be receiving) a schedule for your window of visit during the week of Aug. 24th. We are working with a new system of email groups. Yesterday, we sent out the schedules for primary through upper elementary. If you did not receive this information via Wanda’s email, please email her to let her know at wwhitehead@casadimir.org. We want to get this new system in working order before we’re off to the races! 

Please know that our school’s Parent Calendar is updated, and available on our website. Check it out! For new families, certain sections of our website are password protected, and only available to our families. We will be adding to this during the year, as things come up. The calendar is one of those protected areas, so you’ll need the password: CasaM1rFamily@17!

Since March, we’ve prepared for the time when we’re able to return to On-Site instruction. Due to many of our classrooms starting in Distance Learning (K-8), we shifted some thinking. The individuals who chose to start their year with Distance Learning (when being On-Site was available), have been folded carefully into the Pods with some of their peers. That is why you may notice your student’s names associated with more people! There were several reasons for this, including our desire to include them with their friends and peers close in age, as well as to foster collaboration and connection between the Pods. When we near the ability to be back On-Site, we will reassess and make space for them to return to Distance Learning, as needed. Again, this reflects our efforts to provide appropriate connection and instruction, while balancing the need for flexibility with the changing circumstances.

Finally, we’d like to make sure you’ve received the packets of information this past week, as they’re filled with critical information. If you didn’t receive a large packet in the mail, which included the Community Care Agreement, etc., please contact Anne Nguyen at anguyen@casadimir.org. Thank you!

Please make sure to check out the Weekly Announcements on Monday for information and links for the Orientation Meetings next week.

Enjoy your weekend!Tyler Bourcier
Head of School
Casa di Mir Montessori

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Tracking Media Stories and Data Points

Community Update

media stories and tracking points

Dear Casa di Mir Families,

While I’m not of the generation that is made up of ‘digital natives,’ I have grown (slowly) accustomed to internet technologies over the years, as well as the gifts and challenges that arise from them. Early on in this period of COVID19, I read an article which highlighted the challenge of not just dealing with a pandemic, but the simultaneous grappling of what the author called an “infodemic.” By no means am I suggesting that the challenges of lightning-fast information outweigh the strengths and superhero capabilities it can provide. However, at this moment, we’re experiencing a deluge of information and receiving such data at a dizzying speed, it can be nearly paralyzing for many.

You’re likely reading stories about various school districts, either about them starting the year on-line or starting the year nearly as normal. Mixed in with this media recipe are reports from politicians, county officials, unions, and even social media and entertainment-influencers. As an Administration Team at Casa di Mir Montessori, we’re tracking these stories and data points, too, and we can empathize with your desire to manage all of this input, as well. This is no easy time for synthesizing information.

Later this week, we will send out our class lists (Pods) and will be focusing Wednesday’s Community Check-In to share about our Distance Learning details. We absolutely still anticipate opening as has been communicated, with Pods and new protocols (distancing, hygiene, etc.). Yet, we also are prepared to shift into Distance Learning, if the need arises. As usual, please send anguyen@casadimir.org any questions you may have regarding this topic of Distance Learning, and we’ll aim to address them at the Check-In.

Take care,
Tyler Bourcier
Head of School
Casa di Mir Montessori

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Happy Independence Day!

Community Update

4th of July Fireworks

Dear Casa di Mir Families,

In considering the imagination of our community, I have no doubt that each of our families is making the most of a holiday weekend during our physically distancing era! I’ve heard stories of hills being camped upon for viewing the Bay Area, homemade fireworks, hikes planned, and virtual family barbeques. Truly, it brings warmth to my heart hearing how our community is connecting and making the most of an abnormal time.

For this week’s Community Update, I’d like to plant some seeds for our next Community Check-In. Each Wednesday, we’ve been hosting an online gathering for further updates from our school, while also sustaining a very real and on-going conversation about planning for August. I am grateful for those of you who’ve brought ideas and questions to those gatherings, as I trust that providing regular, real-time conversations about updates is essential to maintaining clarity and transparency of how our dynamic situation evolves.

For this upcoming Wednesday, we’re planning to share more about how our operational practices are adapting to manage the new circumstances. In a school, under normal scenarios, of course, it is expected that children and families fall ill and recover! In this era, new lenses and protocols are needed to tend to illness during the school year. We’ll be sharing more about how we manage these circumstances as they may rise up during ‘20-21 on Wed. If you’re interested and have specific concerns, please do send questions about the handling of illnesses in our community so we can work to answer them on Wed. Please send such questions to anguyen@casadimir.org who is our gatherer of such questions.

Now, let’s turn the page to a non-COVID19 topic… On Wed., we’d like to present the first showing of our… Cultural Night performance for Europe ‘19-20! Cutting back our weekly meeting a bit (Primary will be focused from 5:00-5:30 and older age groups from 5:30-6:00), we are going to showcase our finalized video performance of Cultural Night at 6:00! As each week, we’ll send out a separate invite for that event next week, but please do put that on your calendars. Again, Casa di Mir Montessori’s European Cultural Night will be broadcast at 6:00 pm, though popcorn and snacks will completely fall to your responsibilities. Personally, I will be preparing lefsa, and my stomach will grumble loudly for the treats that I can visualize all of you snacking on during that time. The presentation is shorter than normal, yet still a creative triumph over the separation we’re experiencing. Please tune in, and I look forward to seeing your face and food!

Take care,
Tyler Bourcier
Head of School
Casa di Mir Montessori

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