May 30, 2012: Letter from Lynn

Build It and They Will Come
This week the exterior of the new school will be finished as work continues non-stop on interior painting, flooring, and cabinetry. West Side parent volunteer Danielle Fisher-Snyder climbs high on scaffolding each day to paint clouds on the blue sky ceiling over the new library space. Corridors feel like winding paths that lead to “Central Park” where the sun will be painted around a light tube illuminating the crossroads. The myriad of details in process are bringing the new school alive. Teachers and volunteers are busy packing classroom materials in anticipation of the June move.

Coming Together Dial Down
Tomorrow evening, Thursday, May 31, West Side trustees and parent volunteers will make follow-up phone calls inviting families to join the many generous teachers, administrators, parents, trustees, grandparents, and friends of the school who have already donated or pledged $1.2 million towards the new school and natural playgrounds. We have $50,000 left to raise before ribbon cutting. Each dollar pledged or donated before then will be matched dollar for dollar to reach our $1.3 million goal. Every gift is valued. No gift is too small or too large.

McCord Moving Sale
On Friday, June 8, West Side will hold a sale for our families and friends from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM at McCord Campus. A few items will be tagged but most items offered will be on a donation basis. This unadvertised sale will include: desks, tables, office furniture, children’s puzzles and manipulatives, shelves, particle board wall cupboards, and more. Be prepared to remove wall cupboards and transport yourself.

Summer at West Side
Montessori camp for toddlers and pre-primary children will be held at Perrysburg Campus and in the McCord Little House beginning Wednesday, June 13. This will allow for a peaceful and productive summer for children, and teachers can set up classrooms in the new school on Bancroft Campus. Check out our website, , for a complete list of summer programs offered. Elementary camps will be held on Bancroft Campus where construction work will continue on the parking lots, playgrounds, landscaping, and road widening.

If you want to understand the impact of a full Montessori education, consider attending our 8th grade graduation ceremony at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, June 5, at 7:00 PM in the Bancroft Commons. The ceremony is owned by the students who creatively, confidently, and often humorously share their unique personalities and style. You will see why these extraordinary young people become leaders and top scholars in their chosen high schools and beyond.


Bancroft Office Housewarming

January 2012: Letter from Lynn

Open House…’s not just for new families!  I hope to see you at Open House this Sunday, January 29, from 1-3 PM. 

Come take a student- or parent-led tour at your child’s next Montessori level.  There will be students in the Lower Elementary through Middle School classrooms eager to describe their work.  Teachers from  The Little House through 8th grade are excited to show you their classrooms and talk about their programs.  Come and bring your friends, family, and neighbors – the more the merrier.

Build It and They Will Come

Have you driven past Bancroft Campus in the past two weeks?  Suddenly, the new school appears to be rising from the mud, a welcome sight!  The unusually warm January has helped things  to move along.  Foundations and underground work are substantially complete and framing is in process.  Trusses have begun to arrive on site. Check out our recent blog post for pictures of the progress at the following link:

Understand Me: Parenting for the one-to three-year-old

Our new parenting class is off and running, meeting on Saturday mornings from 9:30 – 10:30 AM.  Childcare is available during the class. The initial response has been great.  Topics to be discussed during the first 8-week session include: Tantrums and Anger, Independence/Dependence, Myth of the Perfect Parent, At Home with Your Toddler, Social Development/Sharing, Language Development, Importance of Routines, and Parenting Styles.  Anne Spenny, Admission Director, can answer questions regarding registration.

Ask a Kindergartner What Internal Organs Do

If you are in doubt about the function of your internal organs, our McCord kindergarten enrichment students can help.  Children wrote facts in their journals about an internal organ they had studied.  Then many had the opportunity to present the facts to their younger Pre Primary morning classmates.  This week Annika Slotterbeck presented her journal entry, “The Heart Pups Your Blud”, to the Yellow Room  class.  When Brandi asked if anyone else in the class knew a fact about the heart, Henry Cohen responded “Your heart is where we store our love.”

Competition and the Montessori Child

Montessori schools provide a peaceful, collaborative learning environment that does not promote competition for grades and test scores.  Parents often ask if our students are prepared for the competitive environment they will face when they leave West Side.  Our answer is a resounding, YES!

Humans are competitive by nature and the keys to success in any endeavor are high level skills and persistence.  Both are qualities our students exhibit in abundance.  West Side students participate in numerous competitive activities outside of school such as gymnastics, soccer, dance, and music.  The school also offers after school programs such as Destination Imagination, Power of the Pen, and Math Counts that teach our students how to handle both victory and defeat graciously.

Power of the Pen

Last weekend 12 West Side Middle School students participated in the Power of the Pen District expository writing competition in Findlay, competing against approximately 100 students from 12 area schools.  The 7th grade team placed 3rd and the 8th grade team placed first in the competition.  Based on their individual scores, a number of the students will go on to the regional competition at Lourdes College in March.  Congratulations and good luck to our talented and accomplished writers!

December 2011: Letter from Lynn

A monthly update about happenings at West Side Montessori

It’s been another wet week at West Side as we ended the wettest November in Toledo history. In fact, Perrysburg Campus was closed on Wednesday due to high water. And the Bancroft Campus construction site looks like we are creating a pond feature – not currently in our natural playground design! Fortunately, the low area is not where the new building will stand. Sunshine today was welcomed by all.

Build It and They Will Come

Weather permitting, the footers for the new Bancroft Campus building will be poured at the beginning of next week. The stem walls, frame, and exterior walls will follow. The shell will be enclosed before the floors are poured. The administration office renovation in the existing building is on target to be completed sometime in January.

Spread the Word

Marketing at West Side Montessori has been stepped up in the past 6 months with a series of beautiful postcards depicting young West Side students engaged in work. In addition, our advertising in Toledo Parent News will be more prominent in the future and I will write a parenting column for the publication beginning in January.

New Website in the Works

This fall the school selected Design Hub, a Saline, MI, company, to create a new website that will effectively market the school and provide a user-friendly and comprehensive site for current parents as well. The design process and content creation are well underway with a projected roll out beginning in February.

Meanwhile, the school has been developing a series of short videos capturing children, teachers, and typical work at each level of the school. Visitors to our website will soon have the option of choosing to have these videos and other information about Montessori emailed to them periodically.

New Parenting Program Planned

Beginning in January West Side toddler teacher Cindy Weiher will initiate a yet-to-be named parenting program that will include infants by next fall. Cindy has recently returned from observing a highly regarded model program run by the State of Minnesota in public schools that is designed to facilitate parenting skills. She has also attended a Montessori infant/parent training seminar in Chicago in preparation. We plan to use components of the Minnesota program and make it available to the general public as well as current West Side families. Watch for details in The Inside Story.

Middle School Practical Life

Montessori practical life activities for young children such as pouring, scooping, scrubbing, sweeping, dusting, and raking are well known, but what kind of practical life activities take pl ace in the Middle School? Come and see for yourself this Saturday, December 3, from 2:00 – 5:00 PM when the West Side Middle School students host an Arts & Crafts Extravaganza at Bancroft Campus. Students have planned, organized, and created items for the event. Additional vendors are included. Admission is $1. Items to be sold include; homemade pies, candies, jewelry, purses, woodworking, lacrosse sticks, blankets, original artwork, fused glass art, beaded stemware, and more. The students have chosen to donate proceeds from the sale to the Coming Together Campaign, for the new school.

-Lynn Fisher

WSM Head of School

Letter from Lynn Fisher, WSM Head of School

Letter from Lynn

This is a monthly update to keep everyone in the loop about happenings at West Side.  I’m writing today from my desk in the hallway at Bancroft Campus where I’m camping while the old section of the building, the original ranch house, is being renovated for administrative offices.  For the first time in our history we will have real offices and space designed to make our work more productive.  There will even be a workroom where parents can gather for committee meetings and special projects.

Build It and They Will Come

Outside, the giant earthmovers are grading and compacting sand for the building pad.  Soon the foundation will be added and the pre-engineered building components will arrive.  After that, progress should be rapid and very visible.  We have recently engaged the company, Natural Playgrounds, to work with us to design an exciting outdoor play space.  We’ll share details as the project evolves.  

Fundraising for the project continues with our Coming Together Campaign pledges and gifts totaling over $1 million toward the $4 million cost of the project.  The next 2 months will be our push to move the campaign forward.

Renowned Montessori Author and Speaker

Mark your calendars now for our fall speaker, Dr. Angeline Stoll Lillard, who will discuss her book, Montessori, The Science Behind the Genius on Thursday, November 10, at 7:00 PM at Bancroft Campus.  

Her presentation will speak directly to the call for evidence-based learning.  Dr Lillard puts forth an amazing body of current scientific research that reveals how children learn best and how the evidence points, time and again, to the teaching methods developed by physician Maria Montessori.  Please extend an invitation to this event to friends and neighbors.  This is an excellent opportunity to bring guests to see what Montessori education is all about.

Program Highlights of the Month

 The Lower Elementary students have embraced their theme for the year, Peace is in Our Hands, with numerous activities.  This week students in LEC wrote Peace Recipes.  The following recipe comes from the heart and hand of Alec Schoepf.

Peace Recipe

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons of kindness, a pinch of meditation, 10 cups of connecting with each other, 4 teaspoons of respect, another pinch of sweetness, and a ¼ cup of sharing.

Directions: In a bowl mix kindness, meditation, and connecting with each other, respect, sweetness, sharing.  Put on the grill and peacefully enjoy a lovely peace burger.

The Upper Elementary Environmental Club is beginning to restore a section of our 36 acre Bancroft Campus to its natural Oak Openings prairie.  Students are currently identifying and clearing invasive, non-native plants.  UE teacher, Fran Pancoast, who is studying to become a certified naturalist, is mentoring the group.

Lynn Fisher

Head of School
West Side Montessori
Toledo, OH

West Side Montessori Hosts Professor, Acclaimed Researcher to Speak On How Children Learn Best

West Side Montessori Hosts Professor, Acclaimed Researcher to Speak On How Children Learn Best

Why, after decades of efforts, are children not learning to their potential? Why are traditional classrooms still in crisis? Is Montessori a viable alternative? How does it work, and why? Internationally renowned researcher and psychology professor Dr. Angeline Stoll Lillard will answer these and other questions Thursday, November 10, at 7 p.m. at the Bancroft Campus of West Side Montessori.

In a presentation that speaks directly to the call for evidence-based learning, Dr. Lillard puts forth an amazing body of current scientific research that reveals how children learn best. She explains how these studies not only show why traditional teaching methods fall short, but also how the evidence points, time and again, to the teaching methods developed by physician Maria Montessori.

Dr. Lillard is praised as much for her easy communication style as the integrity of her research. Her book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius (Oxford University Press, 2005), has been hailed as authoritative, scholarly and an masterful explanation and exploration of the basic tenets of Montessori education.

 West Side Montessori is proud to host Dr. Lillard in northwest Ohio at our Bancroft Campus, 7115 Bancroft St. Her enlightening talk is recommended to anyone interested in how humans develop and learn, from parents exploring education options to teachers, health care professionals and childcare providers. This presentation is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 pm. For more information, call 419.866.1931.

Come and hear Dr. Lillard speak about the eight principles of Montessori education:

1. Movement and cognition are closely entwined
2. Learning is improved when there are choices
3. Learning is improved when students are interested
4. Extrinsic rewards can have negative impacts
5. Collaboration among peers enhances learning
6. Learning is improved in meaningful contexts
7. Adult interaction can provide optimal outcomes
8. Order in the environment is beneficial

Visit Dr. Lillard’s website to read articles and hear interviews of the doctor speaking on the benefits of Montessori education.

Visiting Professor Presents Research On Neurodevelopmental Benefits of Montessori Education to Crowd of Parents, Teachers, Staff and Guests

Head of School, Lynn Fisher with Dr. Steven Hughes

The staff of West Side Montessori was delighted to host Dr. Steven Hughes at the school’s Bancroft Campus on February 8, for his informative and exciting presentation, Good at Doing Things: Montessori Education and Higher Order Cognitive Functioning. The information regarding the human brain development from birth and the actions/activities taking place in the environment that work best to stimulate cognitive and executive functions was very interesting.

Dr. Hughes presented the technical information to back up what we already know – that Montessori education is a great educational choice for our toddlers through eighth grade students! If you want to review the information or share it with others, follow the link below to listen to the audiocast of his presentation.

Many parents and teachers attended and there was an enlightening discussion following the talk. Read below for an overview of the Question & Answer session.

Q:  Can you speak about education with China and the United States?

A:  China is excellent at building things.  You will see this when you look at the number of products you buy that are “made in China” including the Apple IPhone.  What they believe America is good at is designing things.  China is moving more in this direction and, hopefully, America will not move too far away from design expertise to being just good at building things.  China is also moving away from rote memorization and testing toward more Montessori-like learning.  The US seems to be moving towards more testing.

Q:  Do you think that Montessori education is better for one gender than another (boys vs. girls)?

A:  I am not an expert in this area so I don’t feel qualified to answer.  My personal opinion is that Montessori education should not be gender specific.

Q:  What do you think about the increase in the use of technology (ex: IPAD) for children?

A:  Some research has shown that children engaged in playing lots of video games, etc. at young ages show less brain development in the areas for social engagement, verbal communications and those areas dealing with interactions particularly with adults.  Likewise, adults who use technology while interacting with their children send unclear signals about two-way communication.  For example, if mom is talking on her Bluetooth while driving and the child is in the car – the child thinks, “whom is mom talking to and assumes the mom is not speaking to him/her even though she may be.  This is true when an adult is using a computer, texting or whatever.  It would be nice to declare a “cell free zone” so, when you are with your child(ren), you devote the amount of time, eye contact, direct communication, etc. to engage in social interaction and communication.  At school the teachers are cuing children for social engagement.”

Q:  What happens if a child comes from a traditional education to Montessori at elementary or middle school?

A:  The child may not have some of the executive functions as well developed as his/her classmates who have been in Montessori for years.  Also, there would be an adjustment to the classroom environment going from a teacher-directed to a teacher-facilitated environment.  The child then has to take more personal responsibility.  Lynn Fisher explained that at WSM, children entering 1st grade and above come for a 3-day visit.  This gives the teachers, other classroom peers, and the visitor the opportunity to get a sense of being in a Montessori classroom.  A joint meeting occurs at the end of the visit to assess enrollment. 

Q:  What about children with ADD in Montessori?

A:  Going back to the part of the presentation about repetition and working memory:  at an early age in the Montessori program, practicing work until it is “mastered” is normal.  This could allow a child who may or may not yet be diagnosed have an opportunity to develop working memory and possibly avoid an outcome of ADD.  A Montessori environment also allows movement in the room and materials such as “game work” that is positive for an ADD child.  Since an individual child’s diagnosis is complex and there could be other issues, each situation needs to be looked at separately to understand the child’s ability to succeed in the Montessori environment.

Q:  What are your thoughts on the way education is evaluated (i.e. standardized tests, etc.)?

A:  I think that frequent, small tests that can be used as a benchmark to measure a student’s progress and the quality of the program make the most sense.  The “high stakes testing is apportioning privilege based upon virtue by performance on a standardized test.  If we measure the things that are easy, we miss the things that are important.  We are not testing for the real world because we are not measuring the developmental environment.”