Please read for important information about the start of school. Thank you!
MMS Monthly E-Newsletter | Summer 2021
Dear MMS Families,

A new year, a new school building and new programs.

Wow... there are a lot of big changes underway at MMS. We're honored to have you as a part of our community at this exciting time as we introduce a new Toddler Program, open our doors to Primary through Middle School at our updated Staunton Avenue campus, and welcome more than 170 children and their families to our school. We look forward to seeing all of you in coming weeks as we begin our 45th year of excellence and innovation in education, and our fourth full year as an AMS Pathways School.

At MMS, we are creating the future, one child at a time. We are excited to enter a new year of service to our students, offering an exceptional educational experience led by our dedicated and experienced professional staff. They are working hard to prepare their learning environments and plan another amazing year of discovery, growth and excellence for your child

We are also grateful for our incredible network of families, alumni, volunteers, partners, and board members, whose enthusiastic and generous support elevates our programs and makes MMS a true community.
Thank you all for being a part of MMS as we embark one a new chapter in our school history. With your help, we know it will be one to remember.

Best wishes,      
Jennifer Carriger

We are pleased to introduce our 2021-2022 staff, who will provide a wonderful Montessori foundation for your children. (Please see our website for current staff bios--new staff information to come)        


We are thrilled to announce the launch of our Toddler program, which will welcome its first group of 2-year-olds in August! Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch will lead this classroom. Samantha will be joined by a a full-time Toddler assistant. We will send an update soon once that position is finalized.


Our Primary program will consist of two classrooms this year, with students guided by Kathryn Rhoads (Primary I) and Isabelle Bournigault (Primary II). Kathryn will be joined by Angela Walker. Angela will move into the role of Teaching Intern this year, as she moves closer toward completion of her AMS Early Childhood teaching credential. Stephanie Spradling will return to assist Isabelle in Primary II again this year.


Our Lower Elementary program will consist of two classrooms. Tara Fought will continue to lead Lower Elementary I. Becca Moore will return to guide Lower Elementary II. Sonji Baldwin will once again serve as Tara's assistant in Lower Elementary I this year and Sarah Galaska returns as our art/creative expression specialist and Becca's assistant in Lower Elementary II.

Upper Elementary will continue in two classrooms this year, led by Alasha Al-Qudwah and Emily Christian. Emily will be assisted by Shannon Reeves, who is also our Volunteer Coordinator. We will send an update once we finalize the assistant position in Upper Elementary II.

Middle School

Our Middle School Program will be led by Sarah Halstead (humanities, language arts, micro economy) and Dr. Emily Beal (science and math). They will be joined by specialists Sarah Galaska (creative expression), Evan Young (physical expression) and Maria León Kershner (Spanish).

Specialists and Plus Program

Curriculum specialists this year will include Maria León Kershner, Spanish teacher, Karen Morris, music teacher, and Karen Kelly, who will lead botany and zoology in Lower Elementary and provide curriculum enrichment throughout the school. Darlene Spangler and Margaret Lawrence will return this year to provide Learning Support services, and they will be joined this year by Ray Singleton.  Bernard DiGregorio will once again offer private-pay strings lessons to elementary-age students on Fridays. Please see Bernard’s letter in ParentsWeb resource documents for details. Sarah Galaska is our Elementary Art specialist. We are excited to welcome Evan Young to the MMS staff this year. Evan will lead Physical Education programming for grades 1-8.

Karen Kelly returns to lead Montessori Plus this year. Karen will be joined by Susie Newhouse, Margaret Lawrence, Janell West, Tysean Lynch and Maria Kershner.

Administration and Facilities

Our administration team is growing to meet the needs of our growing school! This year, our admin team will include Jennifer Carriger, MMS Director, Beth George, MMS Assistant Director, and administrative team members Brianne Parsons and Salma Badawi. We are pleased to have our Staunton Avenue custodian John Elswick on staff as well.
Like these photos? Then you'll love MMS on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Photos, school updates and Montessori news are posted nearly every day!

Be sure to check your family demographic form in FACTS/ParentsWeb before school starts so that we have your current contact information.

The following forms should have been completed during the enrollment/re-enrollment process:

  • Student medical form
  • Custodial parent form(s)
  • Transportation form
  • Field trip form
  • Consent for use of student images form

We need the following for ALL STUDENTS AGES 2-12 before the first day of school:

  • Emergency Information/Permission Form for Children in Childcare Settings We need two signed copies of this form for each child ages 2-12.This form does not need to be notarized. (If you completed this form for Campessori 2021 you do not need to complete it again for this school year.) Please do not email or fax these forms. We must receive hard copies. You may drop the forms off at school anytime M-F between 8:00 and 3:00. Thank you!
  • A copy of the child's most recent physical/well-child report or a completed copy of this form: Child Health Assessment . Make sure the report includes states whether the child has any allergies.

We need the following from ALL FAMILIES before the first day of school:

  • Signed acknowledgement of receipt of our 2021-2022 Student-Parent Handbook. Older students (grades 4 and up) may also sign the acknowledgement. We only need one signed acknowledgement per family.

The FACTS Family Portal also contains the following resource documents:

  • 2021-22 MMS Student/Parent Handbook - This document contains important information including arrival/dismissal procedures, medication administration policies and forms, lunch and snack information, and more. Please read the handbook carefully and complete the acknowledgement page before the first day of school.
  • 2021-22 MMS Handbook Quick Guide
  • MMS Forward Together, 2021-22 MMS Handbook Supplement - This document contains updates to our COVID policies and protocols. Please read the handbook supplement carefully so your family will be prepared for the first day of school.
  • Classroom supplies lists
  • WV Department of Health and Human Resources immunization requirements.  A complete and up-to-date immunization record must be signed by your physician and filed at school on or before August 20. 
  • Strings letter
  • Arrival/Dismissal Procedures for each campus
  • Summer Assignments (Upper Elementary and Middle School) 
  • In lieu of transportation form (ages 5 and up)
  • Medication administration form (required for Epi-Pens and any other medication that must be kept for administration at school)
  • Sunscreen/Bug spray application form
  • 2021-2022 School Calendar
  • Child Health Assessment (required for all students ages 2-12 before school begins)
  • Emergency Information/Permission Form (required for all students ages 2-12 before school begins)

Toddler: Toddler students and parents will participate in phase-in days on August 18, 19, and 20. Please see the message from Lead Guide Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch for details.

Primary, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary parents: If your child is new to MMS or moving up to a new classroom (Primary to Lower Elementary or Lower Elementary to Upper Elementary), you will need to register for an orientation session for you and your child with his or her teacher. 

Orientation sessions for new Primary, Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary students will be held on Friday, August 20. The orientation session provides an opportunity to see the classroom, meet the teachers, and to have questions answered in a relaxed, informal manner.  

Middle School: All Middle School students and parents (returning and new) should attend the Middle School orientation session at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 19.

Class lists and instructions for registering for orientation sessions will be emailed by Thursday, August 12.  

2021-22 student start dates will be as follows:

  • Monday, August 23: Toddler, all Primary 5-year-olds, Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary and Middle School
  • Tuesday, August 24: Returning Primary 4-year-olds
  • Wednesday, August 21: New Primary 3-year-olds and New Primary 4-year-olds

Arrival for all students begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 8:15 a.m. Morning Friends will be dismissed at 11:45 a.m. All full-day students (Toddler through Middle School) will be dismissed at 2:45 p.m.

Please be patient during the first few weeks of school, as arrival and dismissal typically takes longer until the students have adjusted to their new routines.
We are excited to announce that the after school Plus Program will be available daily to students Primary and up starting on August 30! 

Space is limited in Plus and pre-registration is required on a quarterly basis. A separate email will be sent with more Plus details and a link to reserve your child's space in the program.
Please plan to attend our annual back to school Ice Cream Social on Thursday, August 26 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at our Staunton Avenue campus. Th event provides a wonderful opportunity to meet or re-connect with all of our talented staff, MMS families, board members and alumni. Reminder: the full school calendar is posted on our website. Please watch your monthly newsletter, email and MMS social media for updates.
It's a very exciting time at our school and we're looking for parents who want to be a part of it. One way to get involved is through service on the Board of Directors as a member and/or through a committee. There will be a few vacancies this year as board terms expire and we hope to get new members involved soon as there is so much important work to be done. We have a need for members with a variety of backgrounds and experience, in particular, finance, marketing and fundraising. If you are interested, please contact Board President Clifton Clark at your earliest convenience... and please watch for our annual volunteer survey!
This year, it's more important than ever to stay on top of announcements, as we share news about facilities, events, and public health developments. Classroom teachers will also be sharing important information with you.

We will be communicating with parents primarily by e-mail, ParentsWeb and Constant Contact.

If you have not confirmed your current e-mail address, please contact Beth George. If your e-mail address should change during the course of the school year, please let us know as soon as possible. 

We may also send some reminders and time-sensitive announcements via Parent Alert. You will receive Parent Alerts via text message with the heading "MMS News."

Please note that any information that is sent out via e-mail, texted or posted online is important and may not be followed up with hard copies. 

School news is also updated frequently on our many social media channels, including our main Facebook page, Middle School Facebook page, private FB parent group and our website, which contains staff biographies, the school calendar, events calendar and other important information. The monthly "M" news is also an important source of information. Current and past newsletters are always available on our virtual newstand.

Keeping your family up to date in the year ahead will help everyone--most importantly, your child!
The FestivALL Art-for-All Juried Student Art Show featured works from 20 MMS students this year. It is always inspiring to see our students' contributions to this showcase, held at the Clay Center each June, which celebrates creativity and artistic excellence in students in preschool through sixth grade.

Please join us in congratulating MMS Art Teacher Sarah Galaska, students whose work was selected for this year's show, and the four MMS artists who won special awards:
Cameron Cusick-Lewis
Honorable Mention
Norah Nguyen
Third Place
Max Corelli
Second Place
Grades 3-6
Cuyler Spencer
Honorable Mention
Grades 3-6

Robotics is a popular component of the Lower Elementary STEM curriculum at MMS. Lower Elementary II Lead Guide Becca Moore, who completed specialized robotics educator training through NASA IV & V, and LE II Assistant Sarah Galaska provide an update on this spring's activity:

As part of the Lower Elementary curriculum, the children engage in robotics and coding work twice a year. The Lego robotics kits that we use come from NASA. There are two main parts to this work: construction of robots, and coding on iPads to make the robots function. Children in their first year of Lower Elementary begin with an introduction that involves learning about using the equipment, construction of basic builds, and learning basic functions with coding. Children who have had experience with the robotics work focus on more detailed builds and coding, with themes that go hand in hand with the curriculum we have studied in the classroom. 
This year, the main robotics project that all the children engaged in involved building earthquake testers. After building, the children programmed a Richter scale simulation and were able to test the stability of various housing structures they created. We also use this to look at the data involved in different types of structure design and how resistant they were to earthquakes. This followed up an in-depth classroom study of plate tectonics and its effects on the earth. 
Congratulations to our Middle School students, who contributed a colorful hole to the 2021 FestivALL Downtown Classic, a pop-up putt putt course. The mini golf hole featured our iconic "M" logo, the Montessori trinomial cube and geometric shapes!

Teacher Preparation Begins | August 9

Toddler Phase-in Days | August 18, 19 & 20
Please register in advance. See email from Lead Guide Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch for details.

Middle School Orientation | August 19, 6:30 p.m.
All new and returning seventh and eighth year students and their families should plan to attend.

New Student Orientation-Primary through Upper Elementary | August 20
Watch for sign up information to be emailed on Thursday, August 12.

First Day of School: Primary 5-year-olds, all Lower and Upper Elementary and Middle School students and Toddler Program | August 23

First Day of School: Returning Primary 4-year-olds | August 24

First Day of School: New Primary 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds | August 25
All students attend school daily from August 25 forward.

Ice Cream Social | August 26 | 6:00-7:30 p.m. | Staunton campus

Plus Program Begins | August 30 | Pre-Registration is required. See separate email for details.

Back to School Night: Primary | August 31 | 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Back to School Night: Lower Elementary | September 1 | 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Back to School Night: Upper Elementary | September 1 | 6:30-7p.m.

All School Annual Meeting | September 13

2021-2022 MMS Calendar | Please note that dates are subject to changing circumstances

MMS Annual Spring Gala | Saturday, April 30, 2022 | Woman's Club of Charleston

Many thanks to our 2021 Campessori team, for another amazing summer at MMS. We were thrilled to offer wonderful weeks of creativity, discovery and exploration, ending this Friday, July 30, to our students.

Summer Program Director Alasha Al-Qudwah shares a report on this year's Campessori capers:

Campessori served as a wonderful transition for Primary and Lower Elementary students to become familiar with our new facility on Staunton Avenue. In our six-week camp, the staff made it an inviting learning space for the children with exciting lessons and activities that pertained to a specific weekly theme. 
Campers learned about the different types of plants, flowers, animals, and trees as they participated in backyard scavenger hunts. They wrote songs, learned fun folk sing-alongs, and expressed themselves gracefully with creative movement. They put their thinking caps on and spent a week in STEAM as they learned about the sciences and engineering through hands-on activities. Summer students took a journey through time as they learned about different artists throughout history and spent their days making our hallways a work of art, before gathering their passports to take a trip around the world to learn about different countries and cultures. 

The laughter and smiles that arrived and left our building each day made Campessori a joyful experience for all. We look forward to another wonderful summer in 2022! 
Please join us in thanking:

The staff: Alasha Al-Qudwah (Campessori Director), Karen Kelly, Karen Morris, Samantha Van Den Berghe-Lynch, Angela Walker, Sonji Baldwin-Byers, Shannon Reeves, Tysean Lynch, Margaret Lawrence, Susie Newhouse, Julia Carriger, Deema Kahwash and Sarrah George.

Campessori guest teachers and speakers: Ron Sowell, Alondra Johnson, Arthur Deras, Ray Singleton, Mark Wolfe, Ian Bode, Raphael Barker, Chris Woodall, Chet Lowther, Sarrah George, Elizabeth Zacks, Dr. Ziad Kahwash, Domonique Byers, Ashka Corelli and Sam Jenkins.

Campers and their parents: Thank you all for sharing your children with us and for navigating new procedures and programming.
Thank you for reading your "M" News!

Current and past newsletters are always available on our virtual newstand.
Mountaineer Montessori School
308 20th Street, Charleston, WV 25304
304.342.7870 | Email | Website