From Cindy's Desk

"I am America.  I am the part you won't recognize.  But get used to me."   
-Muhammad Ali


I received an email from the Mayor's office, inviting me to accept the city proclamation for Black History Month on behalf of the city of Alameda.  I was deeply honored; however, it was definitely cause for pause.  I went through a plethora of feelings and thoughts, from 'why me?' to 'do people question or understand why there is Black History Month?' 
I recently co-produced a Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration event for the city of Novato.  The theme I created was, Making the Invisible - Visible.  It highlighted the unknown accomplishments of young people, but also brought awareness about many people of African descent.  The concept of invisibility, in my mind, is the real reason that cultural historic months must exist. 
Historically, there has been a conception of America as a land of opportunity.  However, that conception was originally determined by and set for those in a dominant gender and racial culture. History has been recounted through a dominant culture lens showcasing thousands of individuals who made their mark in the fabric of the design of the New World. For many years, however, it was less than apparent that the making of America - albeit great - was deeply intertwined in injustice and slavery.  Social Science lessons failed to account for the numerous Americans of African descent, whose involuntary presence also culminated in some of the remarkable contributions in the arts, literature and sciences. There were approximately 15-20 persons of African descent who were typically included in basic history books.  However, if one removed George Washington Carver, Harriet Tubman and the other associated ~18 others, there would be a dearth of information regarding thousands of others of African descent whose accomplishments included the writing of "The Three Musketeers" (Alexander Dumas, Haitian), acting: Carol Channing (bi-racial), the character of Betty Boop, J. Edgar Hoover, the inventors of such things as potato chips, the traffic signal, mail box, home video-gaming console, 3-D graphics technology, the cataract laserphaco probe, the imaging x-ray spectrometer, and the process of synthesis - to name a few. There is even Carter G. Wilson, whom many do not realize was responsible for Negro History Week metamorphosing into what became Black History Month.  Failure to insist on complete truth and historical equity in education perpetuates the notion that people of color are less than intelligent and the 15-20 accomplished individuals are the exception.
Even now, even now - we still see such accomplishments of people of color (all people of color) as being in the minority.  What heritage history months do - is to provide us with the opportunity to incorporate more missing information into the accounts of history.  Additionally, important is the need to be more cognizant of all forms of injustice and slavery that have and continue to occur.  And yet, there is more.  Black history, it is said, does not begin with slavery and end with Martin Luther King, Jr (with a sprinkling of Jesse Owens thrown in). The overall dynamic of invisibility still exists and the willingness to render people as less invisible than others continues. As families become more multiracial, the need to keep cultures visible must be an essential part of history.  In order to achieve equitable educational outcomes for all, we must begin with honest, equitable education in history, in social structures and in our own cultural lenses.  Honest history provides models for all children about who they can be and what they can achieve. They look to their models as they design their self-image. "Whatever we believe about ourselves and our ability, comes true for us," says Susan L. Taylor.  When history has a greater balance of the accomplishments of those of color and culture who immigrated to this nation, we will have true American history months - the honored, celebrated history of all.
Taylor Campus

Toddler 2

Dear Toddler 2 Parents, 

The children continue lessons to improve their recognition of number 0-20  and adding numbers 21-30.  Students counted how many footsteps it takes to get to the stage from our classroom door, from the classroom door to the outside door, and from the classroom to the playground. New scents filled the air, as we introduced strawberry and lime to Sensorial materials. The children continued work with the knobbed cylinders, red, green, yellow, and blue cylinders and binomial cube. They also did an extension work with the brown stairs and pink cubes, assisting in their understanding of gradation in size and color.
Our letter sounds this month are: K, W, R and O. We enjoyed reading the following books in class: "Rahul Explores India," "Three Little Pandas" by Alexus Buechl, Kayla Kim, and Kathryn Daziel. The children contin ue to improve their small muscle control with name, number and shape tracing. In Spanish, children are beginn ing to respond in longer phases, learning the letter sounds in Spanish, numbers, and also the names of animals that we studied for the month.
We've enjoyed so many art projects from drawing Cherry Blossom trees and elephants, to making flags and passport cards. With every continent we study, the children will receive a stamp in their passport while learning to write the month and year. Children also learned to play Chinese jump rope and learned how to prepare  sushi and mango lassi. Yum! They were introduced to new jobs such as: how to use a phone, a peg board, and how to wash a baby. Children continued lessons with the zipper and button frame, taking care of self and other lessons in Grace and Courtesy.
We had a class discussion about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and other discussions about this month continent - Asia. The children learned about the following animals and what they like to eat: pandas, tigers, and leopards. Children also looked at pictures from popular sites in Asia, such as the Tokyo Tower, Taj Mahal, and Yangmingshan.
Thank You to the Adams, Sink, and McGirl families for donating books and puzzles to our cla ssroom.
Reminders: Sharing days are Tuesday and Friday we encourage your child to bring a sharing item in relation to the sound of week. Please leave all other toys or items home, especially if it's not a sharing day. Thank you.

We are still in need of the following items for our classroom. If you can donate please go to the following website to purchase items:
-        Regular dot art painters 6 color set
-        Language object starter set (code L850)
-        World people card collection (code C788)
-        Animal of the seven continents (code SC296)
-        Living/non living classification (SC727)
-        Four tray seed sprouter (code SC461)
-        All botany parts of the flower (codeSC636)
-        Weather  three part card photo cards (code L340)

Thank you, 
Porshia, Johanny, Carolina and Jazmin

Pre-Primary 2

Dear Pre-Primary 2 Parents,
What a great start to the new year. The children came back rested and eager to learn. All are learning at their own pace.  Sharing has been picking up speed this month. The children are becoming more confident with each week. Remember you can practice sharing with your child at home. We ask the children to state their name, age and what item they brought to share with their classmates. Once that is mastered we will then add the why...  Reminder: please label the items and NO TOYS, DOLLS, etc. Only bring your sharing item on your sharing day.

For February bring in an item related to the topic below:
Feb 7th :  favorite sport/team
Feb 14th : favorite item from child's room (non-fragile)
Feb 21st : favorite item from house
Feb 28th : any souvenir

The children's favorite works continue to be Practical Life. We have added new jobs such as table setting, apple cutting, using chopsticks and completing dressing frames. We also brought out the g eometric solids and the mystery bag for new Sensorial jobs. The students seem to really enjoy those as well.

This month, Asia is our continent of study. We are appreciating many Asian cultures through the arts. The students really liked creating Cherry Blossoms, paper lanterns and fans. Our taste buds also got a treat with our trip to a Japanese restaurant. Yum!!

We have begun to learn about time with a clock an also added more material to our history lessons. Our new zoology subject is: the mammal.

Please, always feel free to call or email me with any questions or concerns. The best time to reach me is between  10:30am and 11:30am  or between  1:30pm and 2:30pm .

Tiffani & Danilo

Primary 3
Dear Primary 3 Families,

Happy 2018!  It was so wonderful to see everyone back at the Taylor campus after our short winter break. The children were beyond excited to tell us what they did with their time. The new year brought two new families into our classroom; Please join us in welcoming the Rodriguez Murray family, and the Hebebrand family.

We started the new year introducing new extensions with a Sensorial material: the pyramid. Using both the red rods and the number rods in correlation to their sizes (ie: the smallest red rod will be parallel to the number one number rod, and so forth). Once this is created, the knobless cylinders are incorporated atop of this pyramid. It's an awesome sight to see and the children feel very proud to be able to make such a structure using the many different materials at once.

We continue to work on letter sounds with the children. Some students are working on e/f/d/n while others have moved on to i/c/p/r, as well as o/h/l/b. We have children already reading "Bob" books and the "Step into Reading" readers. We have been having such a fun time with letter to object matching, the students bring it beyond the classroom and out into the play yard.

The children continue to work with both the teen and ten boards, to help them associate numerals to numeric quantity. We are very excited to see the decimal systems off the shelf and onto rugs as many of the older children have been using this material. This helps the children learn place value, as well as numerals to numeric quantity. Our bead cabinet has been getting some use, as some children have began skip counting, which helps improve multiplication memory.

Some Practical Life activities that incorporate fine motor skills by using (trainer) chopsticks and tweezers have been seeing much use this month. The children especially love our sushi bento box work. They love placing it and pretending to serve themselves or a friend by focusing on the presentation of this Japanese cuisine.

This month's unit is focusing on the continent of Asia and we have already started many activities and lessons. The children are tracing and drawing the map of Asia. We are focusing on the countries that the childrens' family originated from. Freshta Abdulzai, (Hafsa's mom) is from the country of Afghanistan; she came to our classroom and presented clothing called Pairaan Afghani. She also brought some food to share for everyone like Berinj (rice), Qorme murgh (Chicken Qorma), salad and Bolani (vegtable fried dumpling). Some children liked the food so much they had 2-3 servings. She taught the children how to say "Hello" and "How are you?" She also taught us how to dance to music. We had an amazing time! Thank you so much Freshta!

The children are learning some Tagalog words like "Magandang umaga" (Good Morning), "Paalam" (Goodbye), "Mahal kita" (I love you), "Masarap" (delicious), and "Kain tayo" (let's eat). The children have almost mastered counting 1-20 in Tagalog. The children had fun learning and playing a Filipino street game called "Patintero" and are learning how to do the "Tinikling" which is a traditional Filipino dance involving two people beating, tapping and sliding bamboo poles together while another person steps in between the poles in a dance.  

During the afternoon curriculum, we have started the history of yoga and how it originated from India long, long ago when there were no cities and the ancient people observed nature and how the animals lived in harmony with each other.  From there we started molding pandas out of clay.  We have introduced belly breathing and how to be mindful of the breath. The students learned the tree pose, cow/cat pose, downward/upward dog, and baby pose. The children are using their body with focus and control to achieve each pose all the while focusing on their breathing. Separately during the work period, the children enjoy taking out a yoga mat with a partner, going to a corner in the classroom and using the Babaar's Yoga book to guide them.

Our class usually walks around the block every other week to explore and see our neighborhood here in West End of Alameda. We are going to Katsu Japanese restaurant at the corner of Webster and Santa Clara to eat sushi and experience the Japanese culture.  

We would like to say thank you to the Abraham family for washing all our work rugs, pillow cases and wash cloths, to the Abdulzai family for the presentation on Afghanistan and bringing delicious foods, and to all the families who brought some classroom materials.

Please make sure to check and read all the notes posted on the Primary 3 door. Please always make sure to label all your child's belongings. 

Nina, Nicole and Dawn
Elementary - MESA

Happy New Year MESA Parents,

We're thrilled to announce that Ms. Laurie Kelsoe has joined our MESA community. She is providing a n ew and wonderful experience with art. This month, the students have started individual art lessons focusing on topics and processes that they are interested in studying. Their interests range from fashion, photography, history, architecture, still life drawings, character design, painting, animals, landscape, and more! In addition, our weekly class lessons, learning about the elements of art, beginning with line and form. All of the students are extremely talented, hard workers, and have a passion for creativity. Laurie is so excited to be with them and be a part of their creative journeys. 

Earlier this month, we had the chance to visit the Asian Art Museum. The students had an informative discussion with the tour guide and listened to various stories from Southeast Asia. We're weaving this visit into our curriculum by having the students research the history of the museum and evaluate their visit.

The students are working on sending and email to all of the parents in the school, asking them to support our upcoming trip to Pigeon Point in early February. The older ones are preparing for the Alameda Speech contest. The speeches are to center around the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but can also include a bit about Cesar Chavez as well (they must keep to the theme).  We're asking all MESA parents to support the students in their research as well.

The students will begin working on Brain Chase online in February. We will also visit our local library to work on country reports. To assist in exposing them to Asian culture, the students are practicing Syrian Dabka and will perform during the end of the month cultural celebration.   

The January sleepover  was a unique experience where we got together to know each other better and enjoyed a new kind of school day set up. The children had so much fun preparing breakfast and setting up the environment and helping with toddlers and primary students. Thank you to everyone who helped and participated in the event.

A special "Thank you!" goes out to:
  • All MESA and Taylor parents for purchasing the students' handmade products.
  • Marian Ross for her constant effort and work with parents and our class.
  • Laurie, our talented art teacher for her knowledge and daily lesson plans.
  • Frantz, for the time he spent with us and his efforts with our class.
  • Esmeralda Arrizon, for working on our Montessori material list.
  • Erik Chubb for his work repairing our internet access and the MESA computer.  
Classroom Needs:  We will need your support to get our Montessori materials and class supplies.
Please connect with Esmeralda, Marian or myself to obtain those essential supplies and material.

Thank you,
Fatma, Kwang and Laurie

P.S. Danilo Portugal will begin teaching our MESA students CAPOEIRA! We are so excited! Please check out his curriculum map here: Capoeira Curriculum .

Pacific Campus

Toddler 1
Dear Toddler 1 Parents,

My name is Annette Serwanga and I am the new Head Toddler Teacher. I am very excited to be working with all of your families. I earned my M.A. in education from Mills College in 2016. I have been in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 14 years as a teacher. I am very passionate about working with Toddlers and have an extensive Montessori Teaching Background.

I will have many fun, exciting and engaging activities for your children. Changes can be challenging for families and young children. I understand that. I will work hard, as I believe there is great importance in relationship building.  My teaching philosophy includes Montessori Methods with Developmentally Appropriate Practices. I also provide a fun, loving, caring and overall nurturing space. 

I believe each child is unique and we should embrace that. We all should be mindful that this transition will take time so your patience with this process is appreciated. Please feel free to ask me any questions or share information about your children. I look forward to having a great remainder of the school year and connecting with all of you.

Thank you,
Annette,  Nubia, and Zoe

Pre-Primary 1

Dear Pre-Primary 1 Parents,

Happy New Year!  Please welcome our newest student, Owen!  After our Winter Recess, the children took some time to acclimate to the daily classroom schedule. Therefore, w e have spent time presenting and reviewing such lessons as laying out a rug and  rolling a rug, tucking in a chair, carrying a tray, and replacing the  tray to the shelf.

We have also been reviewing and practicing our hygiene, such as washing our hands when we  first arrive at school in the morning, learning the correct way to blow our noses,  wash our hands after touching our mouths or noses, and of course how to  wash our hands before snacks and meals, and after using the bathroom. Please practice with your children at home.

The children have been  receiving refresher lessons and one-on-one lessons as they advance  through each material in Pre-Language, Math, and Sensorial studies.

Classroom Needs:
Small bean bags for tossing / eye-hand coordination exercises.
A deck of cards of yoga poses for children.

Thank you to Oliver and his family, who donated a bag of books to our campus. Thank you so much!  Thank you for sharing your children with us! We love seeing all the  ways they learn and grow.

Steph & Cherefah
Encinal Campus

Primary 1

Dear Primary 1 Families,

We would like to start out by thanking all of the families that were able to attend the Parent/Child Night in the Classroom. We hope that you enjoyed a glimpse into your child's daily classroom activities. It was amazing to see their proud faces as they shared their environment and the excitement was felt from all. 

Students have been working on a lot of math this month, such as writing and recognizing numbers in the teens and tens. A few children have explored numbers up to 9,999! There is excitement for numbers among all of the students as they begin to notice numbers in their everyday lives, for example in their addresses and on the page numbers in books. One child even made the year 2018 with the golden bead materials. Some children have had an introduction to the bank game, where they choose a 4-digit number and fetch the corresponding number of golden beads from our class bank. We are also working on simple addition and making addition problems and solutions using the dice.

We continue to improve our skills in mastering letter sounds. A few of the children have already done so and are working with the movable alphabet to make three letter phonetic words and match them to pictures. We continue to do works like sound sorting and distinguishing between the beginning, middle, and end of phonetic words. Many are improving their handwriting on the chalkboard and some are writing with a pencil.

This month, we are studying the continent of Asia and are coloring maps of the continent as well as learning about some of the countries that we see on the map. Everyone is excited to have a classmate who is currently in the continent of Asia in the country of India. We hope to send her mail there very soon! We are reading many stories from Asia. The children love learning about the Komodo Dragon from Indonesia.

Students are sorting beautiful Practical Life beads and pouring water with a Japanese tea kettle. Some have tried transferring items using chop sticks. We are improving our whole hand grasp with our hammering tees in clay work, and enhancing our pincer grasp with our lock and keys work.

In the morning, during French circle we are working on learning the days of the week, months of the year, counting up to 20 and have just begun to learn the French names of colors.

We would like to welcome our new friends Blanka and Nora to the classroom.  We could use your help to cut paper, laminate materials, and make play dough for our class. Please see Ms. Mari for more details.

Thank you,
Mari and Emma

Primary 2

Dear Primary 2 Parents,
"The child can only develop fully by means of experience in his environment.  We call such experience 'work'."  (The Absorbent Mind)
Currently, we are focused on the continent of Asia. Children are enjoying Practical Life activities like ink painting, Asia map coloring, soy beans spooning, spinning tops and Origami paper art work. The students all  created an "Asia cultural basket" for a Sensorial job. Every other day, we introduce something related to one of the countries in Asia and keep the item in the basket so that children can see, touch and feel it. The children love the basket and they have memorized the name of the various objects. Thank you to Lana Finley for donating such a beautiful Russian doll and thank you to Kwang for lending us the colorful silk Thai fabrics and Thai money.
The students enjoyed hunting for objects to match the following sounds (v, j, w, e, d, k, l, b). Some children continue to work on the Movable Alphabet to create words with objects. Some children have started working on phonetic letter sounds. Since most of the children can use the metal inset properly, they have begun to create a book using various metal insets. The students learned the Japanese words for seven colors (we added 2 new colors in January) by matching objects to pictures. They still enjoy tracing their name in Japanese as well. We introduced a new work of creating Japanese words with Hiragana blocks to match the appropriate pictures.
Some children are practicing math with the short bead stairs every day. They enjoy writing numbers from 1-9 and coloring them on the short beads stair paper. The older children continue to improve their addition chart skills and working in subtraction up to thousand quantities with the help of the small bead frame. They write the mathematical combinations on the paper to assist in memorization. They also do the multiplication and division boards daily.

The children are showing interest in the world mapping work. They enjoyed tracing, coloring and labeling the names of the countries on the map. They also love singing the continent song.   During circle time, we reviewed the classroom rules after returning from Winter Recess, to include how to get a teacher's attention when needed and how to walk in the classroom. We discussed the calendar (month, date, year, and the weather) every day. In Japanese circle time, we introduced short phrases in Japanese, such as "How are you?,"  "Thank you" and "You're welcome." Students are practicing these phrases on a daily basis.
Thank you to all of the parents and children who joined us on "Parent/Child Night in the Classroom." The children looked happy and excited to show their favorite works to their parents.
Best Wishes
Hurma & Katsuko

The Cultural Room

The students have been conducting color mixing experiments to learn about chemical changes in science. We have also been practicing recording and sketching scientific findings. The students also enjoy botany, learning about the parts of a flower, examining real flowers, defining and labeling parts of the flower and naming different types of flowers.

The children also enjoy learning zoology, such as the parts of the an elephant. As part of their cultural unit study, we are learning about the animals from the continent of Asia and learning about the habitats for the tiger, panda, elk, orangutan.

Students are learning about the  land and water forms in the continent of Asia, such as a gulf and a peninsula. We introduced new cloud formations such as cirrocumulus and cirrostratus. We are also classifying different vehicles of travel through land, air, and sea. 

The children have also really enjoyed painting cherry blossom branches and creating Henna hand print designs with Laurie.

Thank you.
Joseph and Laurie

With Steve Slater

The MESA music class is doing some great things. The older students are learning some very difficult bar chords, which require the student to push down all four strings of the Ukulele with only their pointer finger. This is more challenging than it may seem, but once they master it, they will have the ability to play a lot of new chords. They are all continuing to work on their finger techniques moving up and down the fret board.  We are currently looking for a new song or two to perform at the Spring Performance in March.  

Music in the Toddler, Pre-Primary and Primary classrooms is always filled with fun.  After the Winter Recess, the students were really ready for music. We have been singing the words to the songs they know, acting out the movements and going crazy when appropriate.  They are always eager to learn new songs, so Jenn and I provide at least one new song per class each week.  

Thank you,


A Request from MESA Students 
Dear Parents,

The elementary class will be having a science camp at  Pigeon  Point on February 7th. We will be gaining outdoor knowledge. We will have the opportunity to learn about ourselves and the world around us through the  Pigeon  Point curriculum that is aligned with California State Standards.  There will be daytime activities that will include:
Tide pooling.
Beach and Coastal Ecosystem Exploration. 
Elephant Seal tours.
And Redwood forest discovery hike.

And Nighttime activities include:
Elephant seal puppet shows.
Night hikes.
Town hall and game shows.
Fireside songs, stories and skits.

This camp would be a unique experience to spend time with nature and also with one another.  So we need your support and donations to be able to go to  Pigeon  Point. W e take checks ,cash and/or cc.  You can bring your donations to the Taylor or Encinal office ASAP.   The deadline for us to receive the money will be 2/1/18.

"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness."  
- John Muir
Thank you!
Gabriel and the MESA Elementary Students

Parent Meetings In February!
Sex: What you wondered about but could not discuss
Child care will be provided
Thursday, February 15th at 6:15 pm @ Encinal Campus
RSVP for Sex Parent Meeting and Childcare

Parent Meeting: Montessori at Home
Monday, February 26th: 6:15 pm @ Taylor Campus, 1400 6th Street
The event will be at the Taylor Campus but is for all campuses
Bringing Montessori Principles Into the Home
Do you ever ask yourself these questions?
¨ How can my child's environment shift from its current chaos to better organization?
¨ How can I get my child to clean up like they do in school? Should I?
¨ Can I make the decision process at home more deeply connected to the decision making process in the classroom?
¨ How do I fear less as a parent and create a more resilient child?
¨ Am I smothering my child too much, due to my fears of society?
¨ What about Montessori education can help me to prepare them to be 'out there'?

Thank you's
We would like to thank Sandra Hoffman-Dorrance for her dedication and hard work providing healthy snacks and a special thank you to the following parents who assisted her for multiple weekends with snack preparation: Mortiche Wong, Gisele Tanasse, Sharon Hu, Qiqiong Yu, and Trish Deely. Thank you so much!

Thank you to Erik Chubb for bringing the Seedaycare cameras back online at the Taylor campus and thank you to Steve Mize for mounting the Seedaycare cameras at Pacific!

Thank you to everyone who provided book donations from the Amazon wish list! You are a wonderful community!  Thank you to the Joanna Baldo and Hannah Thompson and the library committee for organizing this.

Upcoming 2018-19 School Year Registration
Dear Parent/s,

By now you should have received next school year's registration letter and paperwork. If you have not already done so, please initial on our student list, since we need to make sure every student has confirmed to have received a registration packet.

The cover letter and information for 2018-19 fall registration is for your perusal and completion in preparation for our returning student registration day, which commences on Monday, February 5th, 2018.
Please see our Registration Packet Letter (attached) for all further information of how to hand in your application on 2/5/18 either in person or via email.

We will not accept applications in advance of that date, but wanted you to have time to prepare we
Please contact the office or your child's teacher if you have any questions regarding your child's enrollment for the next school year. 
Monday, February 5th at 7am : In-House Registration for returning students  for the 2018-19 School Year at your child's campus.

Monday, February 12th at 7am: Wait List Registration for the 2018-19 School Year

Donation Request 
  • 4 light colored adult-sized wooden chairs for the Encinal Library. 
Committee News:
Anyone looking for a few hours of volunteer time? We need someone to help us return the computer in the MESA classroom. Please contact Esmeralda at [email protected] if you can help.

The Hospitality Committee needs a new chair. Please contact us if you are interested in this fun position! It's a great way to help the school, get parent work hours and also a $50 monthly tuition credit to be the chair!

We need more help with the snack preparation. Please contact our wonderful parent volunteer Sandra Hoffman-Dorrance ([email protected]) if you can help. 

Community Events:
The Alameda Mayor's office has asked our own Cindy Acker to accept a proclamation on behalf of The City of Alameda for Black History Month.  The mayor's office also invited the The Child Unique/MESA community to attend the ceremony.  The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb 6th at 7pm at City Hall. We'd love to see you there!