News


Continuation of Learning Plans Implementation

Dear Casa di Mir Families,

Our faculty have taken Monday and Tuesday to collect our thoughts and materials in order to implement our Continuation of Learning plans. The information for each program level will be sent out to the appropriate families following this communication, and will contain specifics about these plans for each level. This information is to give you clarity on how we, as Casa di Mir Montessori, will continue to support learning at home, maintain a schedule, and sustain clear and accurate communication about our school and community status. As this is unchartered territory, please be aware that the moment requires flexibility and consistent reassessment.

Keeping that in mind, this is how our school community will operate during our shift into our Continuation of Learning plans:

Office and Administrator Support:

We are no longer holding static office hours, but we’re happy to support. Our staff are continuing to work, so please email the appropriate administrator directly, and we’ll respond promptly. Email is ideal, as leaving a message on our phone-systems may delay a response.

Health and Safety:

Any person entering the school, including staff, is required to enter from the front door, and will be asked to sign in at the Front Office. This is to ensure we’re doing our part to monitor our risk factors. You are welcome to let us know of your need, stop by and pick-up items. School closures can be effective in ‘flattening the curve’ which allows our community to more successfully manage the illness and its spread. However, closures are most effective if we all choose to adhere to social distancing guidelines as best we can. To this end, we hope our families immediately limit their personal interactions and social gatherings, as defined by our government and scientific officials. If you are a) experiencing flu-like symptoms, or b) you have a household family member who has tested positive for COVID-19, we expect that you will communicate directly with kschuler@casadimir.org. This again is to help monitor our risk factors.  Many of you have already been doing this, including your travel information. Thank you for helping us stay aware and on top of this! Fortunately, we have still not had any reported cases of students or family members testing positive at this time.

Schoolwide Communications:

On Mondays, we will be sending out our weekly communication with updates on the health and safety of our community. This is simply continuing our Weekly Announcement routine!

In addition to these status updates, we look forward to also sharing the many positive stories and acts that have already taken place in our community. As mentioned, this is a time to act thoughtfully and responsibly. In hearing from many of you and watching what is being offered and done on social media

platforms, such as our Parent-2-Parent Facebook page, I’m struck with gratitude. Please send any and all ideas regarding what our school community can do to support within and outside our family population to sgresham@casadimir.org.

Continuation of Learning Plans:

This letter is coming to you as a part of a series, and what follows in your email will give you guidance for your child to continue learning at home. As a Montessori school, we have put creative thought into solving the challenge of supporting both parents and students, in a way that aligns with our mission, and also is sustainable during a dynamic time. Within this packet, you will find various methods and expectations for our plans. Most of our approaches rely on your home having access to the internet and a device. If you need support finding such technology, please reach out to tbourcier@casadimir.org directly.

With regard to technology, we realize this will be something of a challenge to work through at this time. Shortly, you will be receiving schedules, ideas, and meeting times that we hope you can support your child to follow, and I want you to know this…

Give your family and this system time to settle in. Do what you can, and build on each step. It could be that both parents are at home, both are needing devices to work, and now your two children are being asked to use devices at the same time to attend different meetings! As teachers, we will be happy to work with each of you where you are, and with what you’re able to manage.

While each program level will look fairly different, based on the developmental needs of children, you can expect each level’s work to include-

  1. Suggested scheduling
  2. Communication plans between students and teachers
  3. One-on-one interactions between child and teacher
  4. Systems of accountability
  5. Peer group opportunities
  6. Opportunities for lessons
  7. Additional resources for further studies
  8. Weekly Classroom Newsletters sent out on Fri.

Please feel free to reach out and ask questions. I continue to hold gratitude for our strong community, and how we’re pulling together to make this period as successful as possible.

Take care, Tyler Bourcier Head of School

Casa di Mir Montessori

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Learning from Mistakes: A Critical Life Skill

Anne NguyenLet’s face it, making mistakes is not fun.  Owning mistakes is even harder.  It isn’t surprising that kids, like adults, want to be seen as competent.  They don’t want to feel embarrassed, and they definitely don’t want to disappoint important adults in their life.  The truth is that mistakes are uncomfortable!  So, when children do make mistakes, they sometimes deny it in an attempt to stave off that discomfort.  They might try to shift the blame, or lie, in order to avoid getting “in trouble” – and to evade unwelcome consequences.  This is a prime opportunity to support their learning and development.

We live in a society that puts a lot of pressure on children, especially here in Silicon Valley.  In some ways, they’re expected to do it all:  be hard-working students, get good grades, earn high scores on tests, and get into good colleges (preferably with scholarships).  They’re expected to start businesses, find internships and give back to the community.  On top of this, many children also participate in non-academic pastimes – like soccer, ballet, robotics, music, and gymnastics – either by choice or by parent directive.  These high expectations can lead to kids feeling like they have to be perfect.  And if you’re supposed to be perfect, it can be difficult to admit mistakes.

Some mistakes that happen at school are related to learning or work.  These kinds of mistakes are generally easier to navigate.  If a child makes a mistake in their work (e.g. incorrect computation, a misspelled word, incorrectly identifying the parts of a volcano) it’s a matter of identifying the source of the mistake and correcting it.  In an instance like this, there is no other person involved, so no interpersonal problem-solving is required. However, there are children who can be very hard on themselves when they make mistakes.  Again, this is the time to help children see that mistakes are the BEST part of learning because they help us grow!

Mistakes that happen in social situations, which are inevitable when children interact, are generally more complex and challenging.  But they are also opportunities.  In this realm, when we help children own their mistakes, we’re helping them to hone important problem-solving skills.  When a conflict occurs, we guide children to reflect on and process what happened.  We help them look at the situation through observations, rather than judgement, in an effort to remain objective.  It can be helpful to consider the feelings and needs of those involved, before thinking about how best to move forward.  We want kids to know that mistakes are OK!  It’s how you respond that’s important.

Owning the mistake is often the hardest part, and it can actually bring some relief.  Understanding the why behind the mistake is also important.  Once those things have been figured out – and this can be a process – the child is encouraged to decide how to try and make amends.  Children (and many adults) tend to quickly leap to, “I’m sorry.”  But an empty or forced sorry is meaningless, and kids know it – so that is a trap to be avoided.  It can be helpful to think about the situation from the perspective of the other person or people involved.  What is it that they might want?  What will make it better for them?  How can trust be rebuilt?

When children gain practice in owning their mistakes and solving problems, whether in the academic or social realm, they begin to develop trust in their own abilities.  And, when children feel more confident in their ability to handle mistakes, and they understand that mistakes are OK, they tend to be more willing to take risks.

Parents can sometimes get in the way of this learning unintentionally.  Ever run home to get your child’s Friday Folder, backpack, lunch, jacket, etc.?  It’s completely natural to want to support, nurture and protect your child.  It’s instinctual.  Sometimes, this instinct drives parents to solve problems for their child, rather than supporting the child to work through the problem.  Another common tendency is for parents to shield their child from the natural consequences of a mistake.  These actions can take away the opportunity for learning and growth.

Mistakes are an inevitable part of life – so how can you support?  When your child makes a mistake, try to approach it as an opportunity.  Provide guidance in processing what happened, if needed.  When your child owns a mistake, acknowledge their honesty and courage.  Allow them to experience consequences (within the bounds of safety), and encourage their efforts to make things right.  And finally, model taking responsibility for your own mistakes.  Modeling is a powerful teacher.

Anne Nguyen, Director of Admissions

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I Interrupt Your Normal Programming for…

The first time I ever worked in an elementary school was as a Kindergarten class intern within the public schools in Washington state. Over that year, I was asked to take on more responsibilities from the Lead Teacher, so I’d slowly grow more comfortable with the increased expectations of guiding and supervising a classroom of students. There were ample reasons to love the experience: joyful children, supportive faculty, and the space to ask questions and experiment with ideas.

Every day, around 9:30, the entire class would transition to “reading time,” which the students seemed to enjoy. Well, most of the students enjoyed the time, save one. For this story, we’ll call him Tucker! A few minutes before 9:30, the bell would ring for a transition that the teacher had planned. Over the weeks, Tucker had developed a pattern of coming to school, participating in Circle, and then immediately heading to the block area where he would create elaborate cities and buildings. These structures were magnificent and his friends would often collaborate with him, resulting in even more extensive civilizations. Tucker soon learned that this bell meant that he needed to put away his work, and join everyone else in the same activity- reading.

The pattern was soon set for Tucker to hear the bell and reliably become very upset that he had to put away his work to make space for the next thing.  Prior to the bell, Tucker was in “the zone,” “concentrating,” “self-regulating,” or anyone of many terms used to describe an individual who is humming along with their work. This bell told Tucker that his work was not as important as the schedule and that the needs of the teacher and group out-ranked his sense of order. The transitions did not go well.  Eventually, Tucker would join his peers in reading, but he wasn’t too keen on investing his focus in reading after such an emotional experience. The interruption of Tucker’s work, as well as its message, sticks with me as a meaningful lesson.

Not much later in life, I became an assistant in a Montessori classroom.  This kind of general interruption did not occur, and more to the point – breaking a child’s concentration was frowned upon. It was there that I found a new direction to head in the world of education, one that increasingly supported and honored the child as a critical and dynamic part of their own education. With a major goal of helping children to develop and strengthen their ability to concentrate, a tenet of Montessori’s philosophy was to never interrupt a focused child. To honor that focus is to honor the internal work of the child. There are few more powerful messages that we can stress to our children, no matter the age- putting energy and attention into work is valuable, and each of us has the right to direct and follow this energy.

At Casa, I’m grateful that we honor each child’s intention and work. Like a family, we are a community of individuals, which suggests a need for flexibility and compromise at times. However, the importance behind allowing work cycles to be completed, and attention to naturally shift is still a critical piece of what creates our ambiance.  This patience and understanding is yet another building block to how Peace Education is modeled and implemented at Casa di Mir.  At this point, Tucker is old enough to have conversations with his own children about cleaning up for transitions. Unbeknownst to Tucker, he taught a lesson that I’ve carried for 20 years. As educators, it is part of our perspective to keep this sensitivity for interruptions in mind as we operate through the school day. No matter the role you play with children, the power of allowing children to complete their work before moving on is easy to witness, as it usually results in smoother transitions and an increased willingness. Who doesn’t want that? Plus, your patience may result in an even more amazing civilization (in blocks or otherwise)!

Tyler Bourcier Head of School

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Casa di Mir Students Raise $7.2K to End Youth Homelessness

NEWS RELEASE

Contact: Diane Dunning

Casa di Mir Montessori School Students Raise $7.2K to End Youth Homelessness

CAMPBELL, CA, May 22, 2018 – Casa di Mir Montessori School preschool through 8th grade students recently held a jog-a-thon fundraiser at the Campbell Community Center track and raised $7,200 for StandUp for Kids–Silicon Valley, a non-profit organization that works to end local youth homelessness.

In a ceremony on Friday, May 18, the school gave a check for the amount to StandUp for Kids–Silicon Valley director of program support, Jeannette Weedermann.

Each year, students select a local charity to support through the jog-a-thon. To raise the funds, they secure monetary commitments from individual donors for each lap they complete. This year, they walked, jogged and ran 2,064 laps, or 516 miles.

Wanda Whitehead, Casa di Mir founder and head of school, said, “The students really made a difference for the organization and the people they serve.”

The annual fundraiser was part of Casa di Mir’s peace education curriculum, which daily teaches students peaceful conflict resolution and empathy as it builds character. Established in 1989, Casa di Mir offers authentic Montessori programs for preschool through 8th grade students. Casa di Mir is a small, independent, 501c(3) non-profit  school (tax I.D. #77-0280511) located in Campbell, CA. It serves 156 students. For more information, visit www.casadimir.org.

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StandUp for Kids-Silicon Valley representatives cheered on Casa’s preschool through middle school students who completed lap after lap to help end youth homelessness.

 

The annual jog-a-thon is among a number of community support activities Casa di Mir students participate in as part of the school’s peace education curriculum.

 

Casa students completed 2,064 laps at the CCC track and raised $7,200 for StandUp for Kids-Silicon Valley. They presented a check to the organization May 18.

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Encouraging Independence in Children

The journey that a child takes towards independence is a huge part of a Montessori education. Much of the material in the Montessori classroom calls for independent work; and we Montessorians often say, “Never do for a child what he can do for himself.” It’s helpful to continually ask yourself, “Could my child do this?” If the answer is yes, then let them.

Another way to foster independent thinking is this: instead of asking your child to do something (“Please put your coat away”), you ask them a question that prompts the action. For instance, “Is there something you forgot to do when you came inside?” Let them be the one to think of the necessary task.

A child who is encouraged to be independent will usually be confident and self-assured. This is a good thing, but it means accepting that this kind of child will likely have strong opinions and ideas. When you encourage independence, you need to be ready to handle the consequences of it.

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Leadership Changes Coming to Casa June 11

Casa di Mir leadership will change on June 11, 2018. Wanda Whitehead, founder and long-time head of school, will transition into the role of Director of Education and continue her work as Music Teacher. Dr. Jeff Beedy will step in as Interim Head of School.

To learn more about the transition:

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The Developing Child and Our Wonderful Montessori Classrooms

By Wanda Whitehead

The Montessori classroom is a fertile ground in which children can meet their developmental needs, and thus grow in leaps and bounds academically, socially, emotionally and physically. Our Primary and Elementary classrooms reflect the developmental stages of the child that Montessori identified from her thousands of observations of children. I’d like to address these first two stages or planes of growth according to Montessori.

 

The First Plane of Development

The first plane in the child’s development is from birth to age six. “The overriding goal of this period is the development of the self as an individual being. This goal gives the child an egocentric focus.”[1]  There is a tendency for adults to see this self-centered focus and judge the child as selfish. We must avoid judging the child as if he or she was an adult. From the child’s point of view, the self-centeredness is practical. The child must be busy at the monumental task of finishing his neurological development. Sensorial exploration and hand-brain activities are two ways that the child changes the physiology of the brain through his interaction with the environment.

During each plane of development the child goes through periods of concentration on specific capacities. These time frames are called Sensitive Periods. The Sensitive Periods for this first plane are for walking, talking (development of language), sense of culture, movement, will, independence and mental attributes like the discovery of order in the environment, attention to precision, and interest in minute objects.

Montessori observed that children at this stage “possess a capacity for absorbing the surrounding environment merely by being in it.”[2]  From birth to three, we see this capacity as the unconscious “absorbent mind.” From 3-6 years of age, we see a child’s ability to apply and use these sensorial impressions to order, categorize and classify objects in her world. Through this 6-year process of absorbing the environment, the child brings into being her own reasoning mind.

Understanding these aspects about the child of 3-6 years, we provide a rich flow of activities for kinesthetic and sensorial work. All practical life activities fulfill the needs for both self-care and the development of perceptual-motor coordination, that hand-brain work that helps brain development. The sensorial shelves are filled with activities that allow a child to hone their sensorial impressions making visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, gustatory comparisons and contrasts. As acquisition of language is what this age child is all about, the language work included on the shelves is perfectly timed to this learning. With tactile introductions to sounds of letters, the learning begins through the senses and develops with the child through the use of the moveable alphabet for word building to pencil and paperwork.

The Kinder year in the three-year cycle is a very important year, one of tremendous realization of skills and maturity. Having had the full three years in a Montessori environment, it is a delight to see each Kinder child at this pinnacle of success applying self-care, order/classification, sensorial, language skills to their daily lives as she stands on the cusp of the second plane of development, ages 6-12 years. The children can reflect on how they have grown from that uncertain first year in the classroom to one of confidence, leadership, and “can do” spirit. Being able to experience all the social levels (novice, follower, leader) of the classroom helps the child to understand the complexities of the larger world. They are prepared to meet their next phase of growth with confidence and accept new challenges with a smile.

 

The Second Plane

Montessori’s second plane of development encompasses the elementary years. While there are degrees of difference between the Lower and Upper Elementary classrooms, the key sensitivities for learning are the same for 6-12 year olds. “Montessori observed startling changes in children beginning at approximately age six indicating both a new goal and a new direction in their development. The children’s focus shifts from individual formation to development as social beings and the direction of their explorations of the world tends to the abstract rather than the concrete. All children’s behavioral tendencies serve these new purposes.”[3] We observe both physical and intellectual changes that allow the child to explore those sensitivities.

The proportions of their bodies, the loss of “baby” teeth for permanent teeth, their muscular strength and stamina all point to their entry into this second plane of development. Observing the child’s intellectual curiosity, mental organization of information, and ease in absorbing knowledge lead Montessori to call this stage, the Intellectual Period. “All other factors… sink into insignificance beside the importance of feeding the hungry intelligence and opening vast fields of knowledge to eager exploration.”[4]

Unlike most curriculums designed for this stage of development, our Montessori curriculum opens up the universe to elementary children beginning first with the all-encompassing view of the formation of the universe and the development of life on Earth. “Human consciousness comes into the world as a flaming ball of imagination.”[5] By relying on his acute imagination, the child can hold the greater picture of the universe, the planet, the evolution of life and becomes “enthused to his inner most core.”[6] Studies are then motivated by the insatiable curiosity and the sheer joy of learning. As children develop during these years, they pursue topics of greater specificity, expanding their knowledge base from the bigger view of life to details.

Also unlike many classrooms, our Montessori elementary classrooms provide opportunities to develop as social beings. Learning is done in collaboration and cooperation as well as individually. Social learning is addressed as new situations or challenges arise. Lessons and opportunities in Compassionate Communication, conflict resolution, and modeling virtues are part of everyday life. We know that children learn best when they experience safety and trust in their environment.

As with the kinder child, the 6th year student who has completed their full 6-year cycle of the elementary Montessori program, stands at the pinnacle of this phase of development and peers into the next plane of development (12-18 years) with a sense of confidence, a tremendous ability to learn, and to be a leader.

 

 

[1] Lillard, Paula Polk. Montessori Today: A Comprehensive Approach to Education from

Birth to Adulthood. Schoken Books, New York, 1996.

[2] Ibid, p.37.

[3] Lillard, Paula Polk. Montessori Today: A Comprehensive Approach to Education from

Birth to Adulthood. Schoken Books, New York, 1996.

[4] Montessori, Maria. To Educate the Human Potential. Kalakshetra Publications, India,

1948.

[5] Ibid

[6] Ibid

 

About the author: Wanda Whitehead is Casa di Mir Montessori School founder and Director of Education, and former head of school (1989-2018).

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Montessori Leads the Way

By Wanda Whitehead

Montessori schools have always emphasized intellectual development, creativity, social-emotional well being and an education that follows the immense curiosity of the child.

As education is being reinvented around us and public schools are implementing the Common Core Standards, Montessori Education remains a beacon for all. Because Montessori education is founded in an enlightened understanding of the development of the child from birth to adulthood, it has employed since its beginnings all the elements of a best practices education in the 21st century.

Common Core Standards and their implementation are a response to a period of time where the public schools had been obsessed with measurement, evaluation, and rewards or punishments. During the “No Child Left Behind” directive, the educational system had left behind aspects of intellectual and social/emotional development of the child while being totally driven to subject memorization. The child had not been educated as a whole being.

This past commitment to black and white assessment meant a focus on memorization and rote learning, both of which utilize only small portions of the brain. This has left the higher order thinking skills and executive functioning skills of the developing brain underutilized. The Common Core Standards are directed at the development of reasoning, critical thinking, articulation of thinking, logic, and decision-making. They are noble goals. It will take much time and effort by enlightened educators to till this type of learning back into the soil of conventional education and to break down the structures rooted in place over the past two decades. We can welcome this Common Core Standards push toward improving conventional education.

So, here stands Montessori Education with over 100 years of experience in providing a developmentally inspired education for kids around the world. Montessori schools have always emphasized intellectual development, creativity, social-emotional well being and an education that follows the immense curiosity of the child. The curriculums from birth to adulthood include nurturing reasoning, critical thinking and problem-solving and autonomy within which the executive function skills develop. From the earliest classroom experiences children are encouraged to take a lead in their learning and given the respect of beings with tremendous potential to become contributors in life.

Teachers are guides and models for the child’s own drive to grow and become. The Montessori programs are built on a well-developed pedagogy of child development which perfectly matches the knowledge we now have of the development of the brain. While tools have changed over the centuries, the growth and development of the child and the human brain has changed very little. The core skills for 21st century life remain the cherished Montessori principles of respect, independence, curiosity and enthusiasm for learning, critical thinking/reasoning, self-awareness, strong communication skills, conflict resolution, development of all senses, and care for community.

So what does Montessori Education do that continues to make it a leading pedagogy in the 21st century and able to be an example of what is desired in the implementation of the Common Core Standards?

  • It prepares children to take care of their needs and pursue their own interests. The conscious development of independence begins at age three. Daily activities help students develop critical thinking and give them practice in choice-making throughout their early school years. Learning is student-directed from the first day the child takes a Practical Life activity from the shelf to making her own lesson plans each day and choosing her focus of study for research projects. So we graduate self-reliant students.
  • Students are shown respect and listened to for their thoughts and feelings. A child who is listened to and understood learns to value himself and others. So we graduate self-aware students who can listen to and empathize with others.
  • Montessori materials empower children to teach themselves and figure things out, so we graduate confident learners, proud of their own thinking processes.
  • Multi-age classrooms allow for community and the experience of leadership, so we graduate children who cooperate and lead.
  • Our integrated curriculum encompasses the interrelationship of all things we know and enables children to see their place in the world, so we graduate world citizens who will work toward social justice and a sustainable future through positive choices they make in life.
  • Our lessons capture imagination and inspire learning, so we graduate students who love learning and can inspire others.
  • Expressions of learning can be demonstrated through multi-media presentations, art, drama, written work, and other creative ventures. So we graduate students who can think creatively.

The benefits of an education at Casa di Mir, with its emphasis on authentic Montessori pedagogy, are evident and long lasting.

 

About the author: Wanda Whitehead is Casa di Mir Montessori School founder and Director of Education, and former head of school (1989-2018).

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What Makes Casa di Mir Special and Unique

By Wanda Whitehead

“From the very beginning, Casa di Mir taught me to think differently about education.” –Aaron Shuler

What makes Casa di Mir a unique school community, a treasure in the sea of many schools? Let me count the ways:

  1. Trained Montessori teaching faculty implementing a curriculum designed specifically for the developing child at each stage of growth
  2. The time, energy, and care our teachers invest in their relationship with each child to understand and meet the needs of each child to their best ability
  3. A strong academic program
  4. A curriculum that includes music, art, dance, Aikido, Spanish, educational field trips, and service learning projects
  5. The opportunity to practice independence, take initiative and explore personal interests
  6. A social/emotional curriculum based on character development and education for peace
  7. A like-minded parent community who share the values of a Montessori education and who wish their children to grow up in a wholesome environment
  8. Traditions and celebrations that are cornerstones of the school and that make a lifelong impression
  9. Mindfulness practices that teach self-reflection and self-regulation
  10. We encourage mistakes and the opportunity to learn from them
  11. A place to find acceptance.

It is the balance and blend (kaleidoscope) of all of these elements that makes a rewarding experience possible for our students, every day.

Writing the words in the bullet points above forsakes the passion and energy that infuses their implementation in our community and in our classrooms. The words themselves are often overused in education and can’t convey the actual experience we provide.

There is so much opportunity in our classrooms for the real experiences of teamwork, creativity, and leadership. Children are not confined to a desk or to be receptacles for other’s knowledge. As William Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” The outcomes of our “igniting the fire” for our students are: confidence, joy in learning, a strong sense of self, appreciation for others, and an assurance that whatever the situation, “I can handle it.” Walk into any classroom any time and you will see action toward these goals.

Ask an alumni and you might hear something very similar to what Aaron Shuler (2004) shared with me recently:

“From the very beginning, Casa di Mir taught me to think differently about education. It provided me incredible freedom to express myself, as well as follow wherever my curiosity led. Learning became something that I was doing, not just something that was being fed to me. School was an exploration, a journey upon which I embarked, filled with surprises and wonder. I was the master of my own experience…

Of course, upon reflection, I can see that I was not alone on this journey. Throughout my experience, those around me encouraged me in self direction with an incredible warmth and compassion. They empowered me. They focused my curiosity. Indeed, they inspired me to bring the love of learning they gave me to others.

Now, as I embark upon a career in education, I often think back to how my Casa teachers might help a struggling student, or how they would inspire a group of first graders to give an epic Cultural Night performance. My mission is to bring the Casa experience to all of my students, so that they might be inspired too.”

This is what makes Casa a special place to grow and learn!

 

About the author: Wanda Whitehead is Casa di Mir Montessori School founder and Director of Education, and former head of school (1989-2018).

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Alumni Update: Q&A with Niuniu Teo

“I’ve always been grateful for my Montessori experience,” says Niuniu Teo

Last grade completed at Casa di Mir: 5th grade

What memories from Casa di Mir still make you smile? Aikido, the peace making table, Wanda’s Buddhist singing bowl, warm fuzzies… everything!

What skills do you still draw on from your experience at Casa di Mir? So much. Everything from the way I consciously avoid “accusatory” sentence structures when I work through disagreements with people to the way I break big projects down into manageable assignments and write them down in an old school planner.

Where did your education lead you after Casa? I attended Pinewood School 6th-12th grade, Stanford University for undergrad (majoring in History). And now I am at Peking University in Beijing, China for my master’s degree in Chinese Studies.

Tell us more about what your current studies. What is your favorite part? As previously mentioned, I’m now getting my master’s in Chinese Studies at Peking University through a scholarship program called Yenching Academy. My favorite part of this experience is how international our community is—my cohort consists of 126 students from more than 40 countries, and getting to know just how small and interconnected our world truly is has been an incredibly enlightening experience.

My research interests primarily focus on modern Chinese history. Something I find fulfilling about this, aside from understanding a part of my own history, is examining how humans can have identical wants and needs, yet create ways of collectively being that are incredibly different from each other, and often unintelligible to each other.

What’s next on your journey? My penchant for telling stories and explaining people to each other has also led me to gravitate towards journalism. One of my favorite jobs I’ve had thus far is working for KQED’s Forum.  I find journalism to be rewarding and grounding in ways that academia isn’t, and so I hope to continue my involvement in the more “public” sphere of journalism, even as I apply to PhD programs for this upcoming year.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? I’ve always been grateful for my Montessori experience.

 

This article is from the 2016-17 Annual Report: Our Vibrant Community. Download your copy today and see all articles.

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