V olume 2, Issue 4 | January 2016
Message from Matt Simberg, M.Ed.
"The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails." 
~John Maxwell

This school year seems to be going by so quickly, and as we can see the horizon of the end of the school year, I feel fueled by the beginning of our calendar year. I chose John Maxwell's quote because it encompasses the philosophy of the Montessori pedagogy and MSOE.  Our children don't necessarily need to be C.E.O.'s or leaders of countries to be great leaders. They simply need to learn to be leaders in their own lives and for the people around them. MSOE has a duty to your children to inspire them to be optimistic, even when faced with failure. We, as guides, must observe our children as they work through opportunities, showing them how to learn from the ups and downs and adjust the sails in their daily lives.  

With that in mind, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some developments that I have my eye on for MSOE. I am looking at short and long term opportunities for the placement of Montessori Seeds of Education. My intention is to keep a central location in, or very near to, Merchantville.  Right now this looks like a combination of three possibilities. 
  1. We could stay at the church for another three years or so. I have looked at the green Victorian house next to the church and am communicating with two architects about the reality of purchasing it, including what it would take to build it out and how to best use that space while still utilizing the church. The idea right now, which could change with this space, is to use the first floor of the house for a toddler space and the second floor for the adolescents. This way, both would have their own space and the adolescents could utilize an internal community service opportunity by sometimes sitting with and/or accompanying the toddlers on their walk. I'm going to meet with the church on February 9th and also discuss this as a possible option. I'd like to use their parking lot, knock down the fence and give us access between the two properties. This could be ideal. 
  2. Another idea has come up after meeting with the mayor of Merchantville twice in the fall.  There is a space in the parking lot next to The Station in Merchantville. This area is part of the Redevelopment Center. The Mayor expressed interest in having MSOE build an approximately 4,000 square foot 2 level green space.  Because of the rate at which we are growing, this would not be enough and we would still need to utilize the church and/or the green house next-door.
  3. There are three other properties I have not looked at yet. Two are in Collingswood and one is an actual school building in Cherry Hill. The one in Cherry Hill would be big enough for a very long time. However, I want to consider all of you, incoming families, the price and the location. The buildings in Collingswood would also not be big enough for us in their current size, so considerable expansion would be required.   
The final piece of this puzzle is a property that I have wanted for over a year now.  This could very easily be a permanent residence and we could very easily have one of the smaller properties in Merchantville or Collingswood for the younger children. Part of my vision is to have at least 25 acres, a full campus, farming, animals, and much more. You can ask me for details if you like. Then the last piece is to have the first Montessori High School on the east coast and in Philadelphia. There is so much opportunity and benefit for families if we can make this happen.  My projection is to have the campus underway within 5 years and the high school in Philadelphia within 7 years. With the support that MSOE has received and the rate at which MSOE has begun and continues to grow I know it can happen. We started a school in less than three months. It has grown and people really see it's potential. I know we can make this happen and more. Even though I don't know what the future holds, I believe in this vision, I work hard, and I have a lot of support! 

So now I am sharing all of this with you. I am appealing to our incredible and growing community.  If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that it takes a community to be successful and MSOE has not yet tapped into all that you have to offer, whether it be sharing things with our children, giving the administration ideas or offering to speak to different groups. Please let us know how you would like to contribute. If you have ideas for fundraising, working on our capital campaign, or contacting donors, please do not hesitate to contact us. I know there are people out there who want to donate to a vision just like this. There are people out there who want to simply donate for the tax deduction that we can offer.  My point is that no contribution of any sort is too small, and it will turn into something even bigger. The time is now for us to come together and get the ball rolling. In the meantime, I am also looking for more teachers.

MSOE is looking for at least one toddler teacher and an assistant. We would also like to get another trained AMI primary teacher. I'm in the process of searching for an elementary teacher too that can work with me for a couple of years.  The sky is the limit, I am planning for growth and we need to prepare.  No ONE is as strong as WE are to accomplish great things for your children and future children of Montessori Seeds of Education.

Voice of the Community

Based on the suggestions of parents with regards to donations, capital campaigning, educational opportunities, etc... we'd like to form a Parent Association that will have a voice in order to show support for the growth of MSOE. We will have a formal vote on who will be on the committee for the Parent Association. The goal is to have one in place for September. We will be emailing parents with additional information in order to put the details in place.

Community Testimonials and Support

First, I want to say thank you to anyone who has been talking to their neighbors, friends and family about Montessori Seeds of Education.  Word of mouth is really getting out. We have had over ten scheduled tours this month and it is thanks to you. One family visited us from a Montessori school that only goes up to primary.  They introduced themselves to me and started by saying that our school is famous in South Jersey and they only hear wonderful things about our school and community. This is definitely because of our hard working team and all of you! 

Again, I also want to thank those of you who have taken a few minutes to put testimonials on Greatschools.org, facebook and liking our facebook page.  We are almost at 300 members, which is huge for having a "small" community and being up and running for a short period of time. I would like to ask you to continue to do that. Please even put a few short sentences on greatschools, facebook and our website.  It really does go a long way!

We will also be collecting short testimonial videos, which we will be editing and putting together to form a video montage. We would love for all of you to participate in that. You can do so by recording a short 1-2 minute video on what you love about MSOE or why you chose it for your family. Thank you!

Click here for our Facebook page.
AMI Refresher Course

Over Presidents Day Weekend I will be in Los Angeles attending the annual AMI refresher course. I will be taking the administrators workshop and networking heavily. During this time I also have a meeting set up with the President and founder of the North American Montessori Association who also founded the first adolescent program in 1982 in Hershey, Ohio. I took his Montessori Whole School Management Workshop several years ago. Our meeting will be about MSOE's accomplishments and vision. I will also be speaking with him about how he can help to make MSOE's vision of a physical location and high school come to fruition. He has a good record of helping people accomplish these goals. I'll update you about that meeting in our February Newsletter.
Uniform Exchange Program

One of our parents, Sonja Strahm (Carl's mom) has volunteered to be the point person for our uniform exchange program. If you have any gently used uniforms that no longer fit your child(ren), you are welcome to bring them to school. Sonja will sort them and store them until we set a date to make them available for parents to come and pick up uniforms for your child throughout the school year. It will be first come first serve. Please make sure they are washed before sending them in. Thank you!

Toddler/Primary Update

The first month of the new year has been filled with color and beauty in the Primary classroom. The children were introduced to impressionism through the works of Claude Monet. We observed types of light and how it affects color, matched pictures, and learned about different Monet artwork. They also discussed Dr. Martin Luther King's life and many important accomplishments.  With the season's first snow, came a discussion about weather and how it changes. The children were especially interested in how snow forms, blizzards, snowflakes and crystals. The students' fascination with this topic was explored through drawing trees with snow, and making snow using conditioner and baking soda. The Toddlers further explored by creating colored foam. All of the Toddler and Primary students enjoyed apple cutting and dish washing, as well as focusing on the cursive sounds b, e, s, m, n, and l. We look forward to February as we explore Henry Matisse, our artist of the month, and celebrate Black History month.

Elementary/Adolescent Update

This month in the Elementary classroom brought about much discussion on respect, responsibility and procrastination. Respect for yourself and for others, taking ownership for one's actions and responsibilities, and how procrastination can run turn the best ideas into lost opportunities. There were many science lessons having to do with separating space and matter. Spelling focusing on phonograms, homographs, synonyms, antonyms, sentence structure, writing summaries and understanding parts of speech. Mrs. Mary gave several geography lessons on continents and the states. The children had many math lessons and specifically explored decimal fractions. Upper elementary focused on completing their MMUN position papers. Topics include Small Arms Trade and Cyber Security positions for Israel, Nicaragua, Singapore and Nigeria, and Costa Rica's positions on the Israel and Palestine conflict and Syria. Their extensive research was used to develop resolutions as to how their represented country could address the identified problems. For many, the biggest challenge was condensing their ideas into a concise, logical proposal that they will be able to clearly articulate among their peers. Our next step to prepare for this opportunity will be to practice the art of persuasion and debate, in preparation for the negotiations that take place within the different UN committees at the MMUN conference in March. Some children have chosen to submit a design for the MMUN T-shirt contest as well. And finally, we welcomed the Valle-Ramos family, who are new to MSOE, but not new to many of our families. The children were thrilled to see their old friends again, and their enrollment has brought our total student count to 21 in the elementary and adolescent classroom.

Calendar Highlights

Here are some upcoming important dates. 
  • Feb 11: Teacher Development - Half Day (Aftercare IS available.)
  • Feb 12-16- Teacher Development -School Closed

Click Her for our Google Calendar.
 Montessori Seeds of Education | (609) 832-2546 | info@montessoriseeds.com | www.montessoriseeds.com