From Cindy's Desk

Dear Parents,

Thirty-five years ago - almost to the day, I was on the floor at a small house on Bay Street, sanding and applying Varathane to the floors, getting ready to open the doors of The Child Unique Montessori School. The doors opened in fact, on July 3rd - a date no one understood ("Why open a school the day before the 4th of July?" I was asked). However, for me, it was an important day - July 3rd was my mother's birthday. A fond memory that I like to share is that my mom liked to celebrate her birthday on July 4th because then it would appear that the fireworks were all about her birthday. Since my father was illiterate and wanted me to be well educated, and my mom was born on July 3rd, it seemed appropriate that I would begin a school in a way that reminded me of my parents. My mother, who was seriously afraid of freeways and bridges, had someone drive her to the Encinal and Pacific campuses about once a year. She used to make gumbo for a fundraising event to pay for fences at both campuses. My father didn't live to see The Child Unique, but he would have been proud. The first campus on Bay Street had a fruit bearing apricot tree, which the children loved. Years later, after we moved to the Pacific campus, a parent donated five fruit trees and other parents cultivated a garden in the front yard, dedicated to my dad. It has a small seating area, where I still sometimes go to sit when the weather is nice.

One of the elementary children asked me last week, what will happen when The Child Unique is no longer around. I told him that The Child Unique will always be around - it will just keep getting better. Thirty-five years ago, our first families included the Hollinger-Jackson family, the Standke-Braun family, the Rosko family, and later the Ilacqua family (whose grandchild has gone through TCU/MESA and will return for the summer). I remember people who passed away: Megan Waters, who passed away as a high schooler (I wish I could find her parents); Boreas' baby sister (whose family I think about every time I wear the TCU sweatshirt that bears my embroidered name); Phoenix Toth-Gross's mother Jamie, who passed away so suddenly, that Encinal parents stood in the courtyard, consoling each other while we met with children inside; Kristen Wirth, whose mom was a teacher here while she was a student; the father of Chloe Sherman, who spackled the walls upstairs when elementary was there; and Richard Friend - our first elementary teacher, whose Montessori albums are still here.

Thirty-five years later, I remember the hamster, who fell down the heater vent and ate herself through the wall in the Cultural Room, emerging unharmed. I recall the PE teacher who quit because I wouldn't reprimand the children for ignoring her at the park to help a baby bird who fell from a tree. I remember the many children who were in the care of their grandparents, because of various personal circumstances. I remember the family who fled California fearing deportation. I remember Jailene, whose family arrived undocumented, but who persevered (and she graduated from high school last week).

Thirty-five years later, I recall the kindness of the man at the house on Bay Street, who rented it to me without enough for a deposit. I recall Denise Rosko, TCU parent and realtor, who found the house at Encinal, and through her, restored my love of Victorian architecture and ballet. I remember the ten families who loaned the school $1,000 each, so that we had the down payment to secure the building, lift it up and build the school on the ground floor at Encinal. I remember the kind owner of the Encinal building (the original owner, whose family came to visit - and the recent owner) who sold the building and designed the floor plan for the school itself.

Thirty-five years later, I recall Cassandra Wilder, who came to TCU as an aide, and emerged as one of the most outstanding toddler teachers - to be equaled only by her sister, Verise Jackson, who is one of the kindest and strongest people I know.

Thirty-five years later, I continue to feel honored to be in the presence of staff who are people of excellence, character and love. Sometimes I look at Mari and I just want to grow up to be like her. Through my staff and because of my staff, I am a teacher and student.

Thirty-five years later, I am enlightened by the dialogue with amazing parents who share their experiences and their opinions. I took way too long to change the code at the Encinal campus, but I woke up daily with Caryn Hoadley's admonition - it just took me forever to figure out how to do it (I learned later, after contacting the company in frustration and dismay, that the system is designed to only allow change from the headquarters....)! I am humbled by the many photos that I haven't taken, but the moments which have been captured by Emmanuelle, Jazmin, Fatma, Karen, Laurie and others. I have been supported by the Parent Council, who laugh when I want to cry, give me counsel when I have needed it, and ask the difficult questions, and advise me on some difficult decisions.

Thirty-five years later, I have learned there are some people that I can just count on for certain things: Giselle will ensure that each child's name is properly spelled on certificates. If there is an event, Emmanuelle will be there with his camera taking photos (and he will be able to call them up for years gone by). If we can create a reason to celebrate something on staff, Tiffani will come up with an idea.
And thirty-five years later, I am reminded of the quote: "Never give up on your dreams." We have changed locations, added younger toddlers, increased to elementary and then middle school, moved into the west end in an empty building, and added more grants to improve quality. We have won awards for solid education, good programming and social justice. Our children have been the first to obtain recycling for private schools in Alameda, the first to bring the AIDS quilt to this city, the first to work in businesses for a day, the first private school students to place in the speech contest. We piloted the farm program on the base, performed at Piedmont Gardens (music and dramatic performance) and were the first to send private elementary school students to the Ninth District Court of Appeals. That's a little bit of a 35-year snapshot.

I came up with the name The Child Unique, sitting on my kitchen counter, mulling words over to capture the specialness of children who are sometimes lost in the shuffle of large class sizes, stifled curriculum, or single modal learning. I wanted to be reminded every time we said the words - that every child is not any child - but that amazing child before us - that we have the honor to care and educate.

We are not perfect, and we still have a lot to learn. But after 35 years, I have learned that I don't have to have all of the answers - because we are a village, dedicated to our children. They are unique, they are wonderful, and for 35 years, we have been believing in them, and we won't stop now.

Taylor Campus

Toddler 2

Dear Toddler 2 Parents, 

South America was our continent of study this month. The children learned about various animals of South America such as the viscacha, sloth, jaguars, parrot, llama, anteater, monkey and armadillo. We also discussed various people of South America and their villages. The students learned about  Brazil and Argentina. They learned about the Kaiapos people in Argentina  and the Mapuche people in Chile Gaucho. We also learned about  two popular tourist sites: Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro and the Southern Fuegian Railroad in the province of Tierra de Fuego.

We having been in reviewing all the letter sounds of the alphabet that the children learned this year. They continue to practice writing their names, with and without tracing sheets, learning vowel sounds, cutting folded paper and lines, and rhyming.

The students enjoy art and this month spent a good amount of time tracing, drawing pictures and painting on paper and the chalkboard.

The children continue to work on learning the numbers 0-50. We begin teaching the children more and less and counting backwards.

The students enjoyed the live reptile show where they were able to touch and learn about the tarantula, turtle, yellow Burmese python, leopard lizard, and a dart frog! 

This month, we improved our skills in Grace and Courtesy, making knots and tying laces, buckling, watering outdoor plants, and noticing our environment on outdoor nature walks.

 Thank you, 
Porshia, Johanny, Carolina and Jazmin

Pre-Primary 2

Dear Pre-Primary 2 parents,

I cannot believe the school year is finished! We had so many special times and created many amazing memorie s. Each and every child has left an imprint on me and the community that will forever shape us. In Montessori we are called guides because it is really the child who educates through the use of the materials. I am honored to have been a part of all your children's educational journey. My hope is that they become enamored with learning and stay forever curious. 

During the last two weeks of school, we will not have Sharing Day. We will be focusing on getting prepared for our Closing Ceremony.  

On the last day of school,  Thursday, June 14th , we will have a Potluck Party. A sign up sheet will go up next week. Every child is invited to participate. More details to follow. This is not the same day as Closing Ceremony, which is Wednesday, June 13th. Look out for an email or a written notice by the clipboard. As always ask any questions, if needed. 

Looking forward to seeing you all for our Closing Ceremony. Happy Summer! Best wishes for each of you.

Kind regards,
Tiffani & Danilo

Primary 3
Dear Primary 3 Families,

With the warm weather finally here, we all can feel that summer is just around the corner and, of course, that thee school year is almost over. We are planning to have picnics at Crab Cove and Long Fellow Park twice a week. It's also the time of year to collect various rocks and shells along the shore of Crab Cove.

Currently, we are creating our very own healthy fruit and vegetable smoothies. We are doing more outdoor activities like playing with the parachute and "Patintero" (a Filipino outdoor game)  and going to the Farmer's Market on Tuesdays.   

The students enjoyed an exciting and fearless Reptile Show with all of the TCU and MESA students. We saw a monitor lizard, albino snake, tarantula and many other animals. Some of the children were brave enough to touch or hold these reptiles! 

It was a fun and busy school year for everyone. We would like to thank ALL of the Primary 3 families, and especially those who volunteered and helped us during our class field trips. 

Take care Primary 3 Families, until we meet again! 

Thank you,
Nina and Nicole
Elementary - MESA

Dear MESA Parents,

Congratulations to both our students and their parents on the completion of a very successful school year. Looking back on this year, we can review the many opportunities we all took to grow as individuals and as a community of learners.

Our community had the pleasure to welcome a new student recently, Jacques Blanchard, who joined our classroom in the beginning of May. It has been amazing to watch the children welcome and guide him in his new environment. In turn, his interest in science has inspired his fellow students to show a great interest in his work with the microscope. 

Earlier this month, we had a wonderful time hosting the annual Grandparent's Tea. The children designed the invitations digitally and mailed them to their guests. They thoroughly enjoyed rearranging the classroom and decorating for this special event.

The students are wrapping up the school year practicing operations with fractions, factors and multiples work. They are also delving deeper into the cultural unit work and language lessons in Arabic. We all had fun at the  beach last week. The visit prompted the discussion of various new concepts like high/low tide and its relation to the moon and gravity.

During our upcoming Closing Ceremony event on Wednesday, 6/13 we will be saying goodbye and good luck to a few of the older students who will be attending middle school in the fall. We wish them all the best in their future. We also wish everyone a great summer vacation. We loved working with each and every one of our MESA kids! Our special and deep appreciation goes out to ALL of our MESA students and their families. Thank you all for being yourselves! Thank you for an amazing school year. We will miss all of you.

Until we meet again in August. HAVE A LOVELY SUMMER VACATION.

Thank you,
Fatma, Kwang and Laurie

Pacific Campus

Toddler 1
Dear Toddler 1 Parents,

May was an exciting month! It was really nice to see the families and children enjoying the Grandparent's Tea. The end of the year is now upon us and we are starting to prepare for the Closing Ceremony.

The students continue to explore coordination and concentration with pouring, and the children are enjoying it. Hajar has really helped the children focus on how each container should be carefully held and poured slowly. These activities help the children improve their focusing and concentration skills as they move forward.

We also explored how various containers hold water differently.  The children were in groups of 4 at the water table using cups, bowls, funnels and other plastic containers of various dimensions. While they were doing this activity they made observations and socialized with their peers.

As we continue to learn about South America we have been discussing Argentina ,Peru and most recently, Chile. Lindsey gave the children a wonderful presentation on the volcano in Chile called Villarrica.  It is located south of Santiago. She provided images during circle time. 

Teachers are continuing to model language for the children as many of them are speaking very clearly. It has been a huge growth in development for this group overall and we are very proud of them.

The Pink Cubes and the Brown Prisms continue to be the favorite Sensorial materials of my older students. I continue to give them presentations and discuss size and show variations with them.

We would like to give a special Thank you to Mr. Healy for helping with the cleanup and hot water for the Grandparent's Tea.  We also want to give thanks to all of the wonderful families and to Cindy for the gifts and appreciation given to us during Teacher's Appreciation Week.

Annette, Hajar and Lindsey 

Pre-Primary 1

Dear Pre-Primary 1 Parents,

The end of the school year is upon us! I would like to take this opportunity to say how proud I am of your
young scholars. They have grown up physically, emotionally, socially and academically in the span of nine months.

Soon, they shall be singing for you at our Closing Ceremony. Their big day will be on Wednesday, June 13th, 2018 at 8:45am.

Until then, we still have much work to do! First, a word about the weather: Please apply sun block to your child first thing in the morning on warm days, and keep extra sunblock here at school. Please make sure to label the sunblock, and all belongings that your child brings to school. If your child requires a hat or special sun protective clothing, you may leave that in your child's backpack or property space throughout the week.

In our classroom, we have been productive.The children are learning the parts of the plant, the parts of the seed, and the parts of the root. During Earth Week, we went on a nature walk, and we talked about what waste goes into what bins; compost, recycle or trash.

Several children are becoming interested in working with the numerals and counters, and the bead stair, as well as the teen beads. Many children are receiving math review presentations on 0-10, 11-19, and 10-90.

We are re-presenting the letter sounds and handwriting, and the children are encouraged to work with the metal insets each day to develop pencil control and pencil pressure.

Students learning how to mix and match the colored cylinders, a favorite Sensorial material. The children will be introduced to the Thermic Tablets as well and an extension of the Red Rods, which will involve constructing a maze and other large floor shapes.

The students are enjoying extensions in Practical Life such as pouring water into more than one cup, and transferring objects into two or more containers. They are also practicing sorting by color, working with the clothing frames, and using the lacing cards.

We have truly enjoyed spending time with your children, and have learned as much from the children as they have learned from their time at The Child Unique.

Steph & Cherefah
Encinal Campus

Primary 1

Dear Primary 1 Families,

Wow! Time flies! The end of the school year is already upon us. Emma has left to take care of her new baby, Bruce, (see photo in announcements block below) and we are all missing her presence in the classroom. 

We are happy to welcome teachers Zoe and Dawn to the Primary 1 classroom. We are getting ready for our Closing Ceremony. I have been preparing the children for the end of this school year by talking about how special our time together has been, and how we will soon begin new journeys with new friends and some of us may go to new places/schools. 

We have been comparing our personal transitions to the life cycle of the butterfly, as we end our school year with a unit on butterflies. The children enjoy learning about the metamorphosis of the butterfly. We are watching butterflies change in our own classroom. The unit will culminate during the Closing Ceremony when we release actual butterflies in our yard with the rest of The Child Unique family. We appreciate all of the parents who have helped us get through the year by volunteering in so many ways and making our year more delightful. 

Thank you to all of the parents who really helped to make us feel loved during Teacher Appreciation Week, and thank you, most of all, for sharing your most precio us gifts, your children, with us here at The Child Unique.

Many Thanks,
Mari, Emma and Zoe 

Primary 2

Dear Primary 2 Parents,

We made it!! We can't believe that it's almost the end of the year. We are happy to say that we were able to accomplish all of our goals for the year. The children have achieved various milestones throughout the year and have demonstrated numerous remarkable skills through the works and activities they carry out throughout the day.

Previously, we learned about the continent of South America. Students refined their fine motor skills, gross motor skills, eye hand coordination and balancing through various Practical Life activities like cutting, transferring marbles through tongs, grinding and scrubbing easels. These activities also help to learn about taking care of self and the environment. Our most important goal is to help children achieve independence, self-regulation, self-awareness and empathy in order to lead successful lives.

Students continued exploring Sensorial materials such as the weight cylinders, roman arch and the geometry cabinet by continued practice of the various extensions. These exercises help to draw our attention towards the several qualities and aspects around us in our environment. The children manipulated with the new pairing cranes work, pairing bags according to textures etc. to orient themselves with various the various shapes around them and to refine their tactile sense.

The children continued to establish their knowledge regarding sounds by practicing the sound game, classified cards, sand paper letters and the move-able alphabet. They continued to improve writing skills by writing words and sentences copied from the cards and books on the green boards, blank and lined paper Almost everyone in the class is obsessed with creating their own small word books. They like to read their created book to everyone during circle. Reading skills have also been improving profoundly as many children are reading books over and over again.

Students continue to challenge themselves by solving various 4 categories math problems using the various materials like the stamp game, small bead frame and decimal system. During ci rcle, we did the calendar, discussed the animals found in South America and read books related to South America.

I would like to thank Caryn Hoadley-Wetstone for being so supportive throughout the year, for donating various supplies and for acknowledging our efforts every day. I would also like to thank Tanu Bhattacharya, Tiffany Goodwin, Ellen Steuer, Katie Freed and Erin Seaman for helping us with the student portfolios. We are excited about the upcoming music concert being held at the Taylor Campus on June 8th and for Closing Ceremony on June 13th. We hope to see you all there to acknowledge the efforts of your children.

Thank you,
Hurma & Katsuko

The Cultural Room

The children have been enjoying the activities in the Cultural Room and it continues to buzz throughout the day.Children are concretely "studying" observation trays full of plant life, tree cakes and abalone shells using a magnifying glass. They talk to each other about what they see finitely through the lens or just internalize the details on their own. 

Our yoga corner has also been a hit! It can be either an individual or a two person work. One child is on the mat while another holds the cards and guides the other on the mat. It's a calming and fun experience!

Thank you, 

With Steve Slater

For our final music sessions at The Child Unique, Jenn and I picked some of the children's greatest hits from the year and put them into one very active set list.  We went to the Animal Fair, stomped like dinosaurs, acted like various animals and even swam around like goldfish!  The kids had a blast singing and playing music with us all year and we had a great time playing for them.  

We invite parents to attend the Children's Music Concert where The Dilly Dallies will play in the hall at the Taylor campus for all of the students on  Friday, June 8th at 10 AM.  There will be a dance party and concert.  Parents are welcome to join the fun, so stop by if you can find the time.  

The MESA music class is wrapping up as well. The students have learned so much this year and they're ukulele skills have improved dramatically.  Every student is now able to play simple chords, with various strumming patterns. They learned to read simple rhythms and apply those to their playing. Each student should be going into the summer break knowing how to play and write rhythms, apply those rhythms to a strumming pattern and insert chords at the appropriate time.  Now they just need to write lyrics to their first songs!  

Have a great summer break!  
Physical Education
With Rosie Galvez  

I was  excited to start my time at The Child Unique with many bright and smiling faces. There is so much  palpable energy in all of the children. Their enthusiasm reminds me that at our core, we are excited to use our bodies and take up space with them.  However, somewhere along the way, we might forget what we like to do or that we liked it as much as we did. Or maybe we got the impression that we should only do "cool" sports, or maybe we don't think we "have the body" to play a sport or take up a physical hobby.  I've spent many years trying to combat the messages that are sometimes impossible to avoid, that could discourage running, moving, and playing to our heart's content. I've helped children that are afraid to move, or have been ashamed to move, for an assortment of reasons. I'm passionate about facilitating movement that is fun and educational with children.

Playing is something that the children here look forward to and I want to keep that interest fresh for them. I've heard many things so far, and when they point to their foreheads and tell me "Look, I'm sweating!", "Look at my arm muscle!", and "I learned new words PLUS I got to work out today!", all I can do is smile. I want to make sure everyone can immerse themselves in the games and skills we do and to feel empowered to discover what they like to do, and to keep doing it, unafraid of what others might think. The students were off to a great start and as I join everyone in closing out this school year, I'm simultaneously gearing up for what's to come- not only for summer camp, but for the next year ahead. And the possibilities seem endless! 


Closing Ceremonies and the Last Days of School

Closing Ceremonies is on Wednesday, June 13th
8:45am at the Pacific Campus
10:30am at the Taylor Campus
12:15pm at the Encinal Campus

Wednesday is a minimum day at 1:45pm

This year, ONLY the Taylor campus will remain open for school on Thursday, June 14th to make up for that campus having a closed day on Tuesday, June 5th. 

All campuses will be closed on Friday, June 15th for Staff Development. Dinosaur Camp begins on Monday, June 18th! Thank you for a wonderful year!

Congratulations to Emma! 
Encinal teacher, Emma, gave birth to her baby,  Bruce Reed Neilsen, born on May 19th at 1:41am at 8 pounds and 11 ounces and 21 inches long! It was a quick and smooth delivery. We welcome Bruce to the wonderful world and the TCU community! 

Thank you!
A huge thank you goes out to everyone who helped with the Grandparent's Tea. What an amazing event. Thank you to the  Tea Hospitality Chairs:  Brina Siv and Sally Gimbert Carter and to our own Miesha  Lampkins for all of their hard work. Everything ran so smoothly. Thank you to all of the amazing Tea volunteers: G abriela Taylor-Perryman, Juliana Baldo, Stephen Walker, Victor Ma, Stacy Chu,  Harprit Sidhu, Zafira Alexander, Tanushree Bhattacharya, Mary Wilmot, Qiqiong Yu, Freshta Kohgadai, Marcela Ayala, Reva Tembe, John Healy, Erin Seaman, Sharon Hu, Emma Silcox, Nicholas Finley, Elmarie Botha, Stacy Shearer, Lizzie Velten, Caryn Hoadley, Stacy Anderson, Lana Finley, Ashley Pons, Kris Larson, Hannah Hebebrand, Stephen Walker, Julia Baldo, Ellen Steuer and Agnieszka, Sebastian and Jerzy Krawczuk.

Thank you to all the parents who assisted with the School Picnic: Zafira O'Daniel, Steve Mize, Angele O'Daniel and Jake Gardner and for all of the parents who brought food items and helped to set up and clean up! Thank you to Jessica Bailey, the Gardner family and Paula Hernandez for organizing and helping with the School Campout. Both were fun and beautiful events! 

Thank you to Leah Holland and Angele O'Daniel for July 4th Parade Planning.

Thank you to Shayla Duda and the Garden Committee members who helped with the Spring Plant sale at the Taylor campus.  The committee raised $180! 

Thank you to all the parents who are working on the Committees and doing amazing jobs! Thank you to anyone who we may not have mentioned but who put their time and effort and support into making our school the very best!

Committee News:

Completion volunteer hour notices have been emailed. Many have not emailed regarding hours or plans for completion.  Billing for incomplete volunteer hours go out this week.
Construction:  Please ask your child's teacher if there are any repairs needed in their classroom, so that we leave the classrooms ready for summer!  Contact the Construction Chair to let him know that your child's class is in good shape.

Cultural/Rm Parent):  Portfolio/Folder and Basket Setting Party - June 6th at Taylor Campus from 8:30 am - 3pm.  Help us finalize Closing Ceremony Items.

Fundraising: Please join for our next school year planning! Contact  Amy

Garden: We need weeding at the Encinal campus (including in the cement) and more flower planting at the Pacific campus for Closing Ceremony. 

Hospitality: We need a chair for the incoming school year. Committee Chairs receive a stipend of $50 at the end of each productive month.
Library: Can you help gather book bags back for next year? Contact   Juliana Baldo
Painting: SPRING TOUCH UP: Please volunteer to touch up your child's classroom when it is convenient.  Contact  Cesar Chirino

July Parade Subcommittee:   
Do you have a car or truck to be in the parade? Can you bike with our bikers? Do you want to walk or pull one of our wagons?  Contact Angele  O'daniel 

Parent Council: Last meeting of the year -  Please RSVP to  Christina Chung

Snack SubCommittee: Sandra needs help to purchase and deliver snack during the summer. Please contact   Sandra Dorrance  

Unique Collective/All Parents:   Portfolio/Folder and Basket Setting Party -  June 6th  at Taylor Campus from  8:30 am - 3pm.    Contact  Leanna Sac
The Grandparent's Tea
How Swellegant!