Minnesota Montessori Network | October 2018
“Inside Montessori”
A Minnesota Passion Project
Together we can re-imagine what education can be.

Two MN Montessori Moms want Montessori to part of the national conversation about what’s next in education. Jan Selby and Vina Kay have dedicated over seven years of their lives to this passion project.
The first U.S., feature-length documentary about Montessori education, “ Inside Montessori ” (previously called “ Building the Pink Tower ”) aims to reframe the national education conversation around creating learning environments that support children achieving their full potential.

Jan Selby runs Quiet Island Films a local, award winning, film and video production company. Vina Kay is the Executive Director of Voices for Racial Justice doing advocacy and organizing for racial justice. Jan and Vina met at Lake Country School in south Minneapolis, where they were both parents and served on the Board.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Vina Kay earlier this month to talk about this Big Work. Enjoy!
"What’s your connection to Montessori?"

“We are both connected to Montessori because we are parents, number one. We each stumbled upon Montessori and saw how beautiful it was, that was our first reaction, and then, of course, having our children go through Montessori schools, how transformative it was. And not only for them, but also for us, as parents. Nobody teaches us how to parent, we just have to figure it out. We feel like Montessori gives a toolbox. We observed how our children were learning and how they were experiencing school and that, I know for me, taught me a lot about how I wanted to be as a parent, and how I wanted my home to be, to this day, even with them in college.”

"Why a film? What called you to this project?"

“I’m a writer, I usually communicate through writing, But I thought that this was a story that needed to be told visually, and not just with words. Because that’s what got me connected, just seeing the spaces really was what brought me in. I also work in racial justice, organizing, and advocacy work. I understand the importance of equity in education, the power of education to transform lives. I knew Jan worked in film production and we sat down for lunch one day. I sold her the idea and she said “yes”. She may regret that now! It was one of those ideas that I thought was going to be a small project and became a much bigger one.
Early on, I sat down with Paulette (Paulette Zoe is the principal at Lake Country school) and I was actually thinking about Lake Country as this amazing story and she said: ‘Nobody really wants to just see a story about Lake Country. We need something bigger than that.’ It’s what really got us looking around the country and I feel like we’ve both learned so much about what’s out there."

"Access to Montessori is a real challenge. How does our film address this issue?"

“We very intentionally made a choice in selecting the stories for our film that we wanted to focus mostly on public, district and charter schools. Lake Country is the only independent school in the film. We wanted Lake Country to be in the film because we think it has a beautiful program. It also is part of telling the truth about Montessori-- that it exists in many different contexts. But we are very committed, we share that commitment, of wanting it to be available to more and more children and that was really one of our primary reasons for doing this project. We each saw the impact on our children and our families and we thought, why isn’t this everywhere? Why isn’t this something thatany child has access to?
We intentionally chose Milwaukee, which has the largest district program in the country, because we wanted to show that that’s possible. That to really take it to scale, at a district level, is not only possible, but it can be supported. In Wisconsin, the state legislature has supported Montessori. That’s a lesson for us. The school district has supported early childhood education in Milwaukee, specifically for Montessori schools. That’s a huge draw. That gets kids in at three-years-old and keeps them in because they keep offering public programs for those families. They get hooked!”
Schools featured in “Inside Montessori”:
Lumin Education, Dallas, Texas  
Cornerstone Montessori School & Montessori Partners Serving All Children, St. Paul, Minnesota
City Garden Montessori School, St. Louis, Missouri
Lake Country School/ Land School, Minneapolis, Minnesota/Glenwood City, Wisconsin
Milwaukee Public Schools - Montessori Programs, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
You can learn more about each of theses schools here .
“Inside Montessori” will have its world premiere later this fall--November 8 at the International Montessori Conference/Montessori Foundation in Sarasota, FL and on November 9 at the AMI/USA Affiliate Conference in Dallas, TX.
Montessori Education Week
Montessori Ed Week is right around the corner! Has your community started talking about how you’re going to celebrate in 2019? 

Here are some ideas from Mandy Perna, Elementary Guide at Cherokee Heights SPPS:

“Last year we did something special each day of MEW. One day the children created and wore necklaces that said "Ask me about the..." They wrote the name of a work they enjoy, drew a picture and then they wore the necklaces around the school for a day. I sent an email to the staff and asked them to stop and visit with the children when they saw one of them wearing their necklaces. The children also created a poster board (pictured) with information about Maria Montessori and they prepared Italian treats for the staff each day of the week.

On the last day of MEW, all three E1 classrooms collaborated to cook an Italian meal. We invited school board members, city council folks, community volunteers, the superintendent, associate superintendent, Montessori coach and the community council to join us. We reserved the Baker Center (community space attached to our school) and decorated the tables with red, green and white table cloths (Italian flag colors), as well as flowers. We framed signs, with conversations starters the students had created, and had one on each table so they could practice their conversation skills and grace and courtesy with other children and the guests we invited.”
Montessori at the State Fair
The Minnesota State Fair is our collective opportunity to bring Montessori to the general public. Here is one Minnesota Montessori parent's experience with the fair and some additional thoughts on how to continue to bring Montessori to the public.

Books for October
As the days grow shorter and the leaves on the trees turn to brilliant yellows, oranges and reds, we begin to ponder and wonder about the marvel of the changing seasons. We are so lucky to live in the bold north and can witness this phenomenon four times a year. 

For some children, the changing seasons can be a mystery. Reading about how plants and animals adapt to the seasons can offer a level of understanding. There are many books available on the subject of seasons, ranging from the simplest explanation (Birds are heading south because colder days are coming.) to more detailed and comprehensive observations about changes that occur in our own backyards.

There are several lovely picture books on the seasons for the youngest children...

Thank you to Wendy Woodfill who provided this piece on reading! Wendy is a trained Montessorian with a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science, Children’s and Adolescent Literature. She is a 30-year veteran Hennepin County Librarian who served as the Children’s and World Language Selector and on the Newberry Selection Committee.
Prenatal To Three Policy Forum

Have you heard of the Prenatal to Three Policy Forum? The Forums, founded by Elders for Infants and Representative Dave Pinto and held quarterly, are intended to share plans, develop a common base of knowledge and build relationships.  The bulk of each Forum consists of presentations focused on a single theme (e.g., prenatal care and early parenting). At the end of each Forum, coalitions – those representing multiple organizations and disciplines – provide an update on their proposals for early- childhood policy. The Forums are webcast to advocates and others statewide.

They held their Fall Form in early October that included St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter annd keynote speakers Aaron Sojourner of the Carlson School of Management and Geoff Nagle of the Erikson Institute .

You can watch the event (or other past forums) via the archived webcast is available on their webpage .  As well, you can share your comments and suggestions on improvements on the Forums; send email to pto3policyforum@gmail.com any time.  The winter Forum is scheduled for the morning of Monday, January 14, and the spring Forum for the morning of Monday, April 8.  Finally, as an early-childhood advocate, you can subscribe to our mailing list .

Advocacy in Action

Campaign season is upon us!  Engaging with candidates and making informed voting choices are powerful ways to advocate and have your voice heard.  

Learn about the candidates on your ballot so you're prepared on November 6.
Start by taking a look at your sample ballot . Figure out which races you need more information about.

Where do candidates stand on issues that matter to you? Browse their campaign websites. What policies do they highlight? Are their values aligned with yours?
Check social media accounts of candidates. Facebook and Twitter may give you more information on how candidates would vote on issues that are important to you.
When looking at TV or mail advertisements, make sure to pay attention to who is providing the information. Apply a critical lens and verify that claims are accurate.
Are you part of any groups that create candidate questionnaires? Refer to those for additional information. Here’s one that the gubernatorial candidates filled out regarding early care and education. Here’s another one .

Attend a candidate forum. The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits has a calendar with forums throughout the state. If you can’t make it in person, check to see if it was recorded and available online.

Talk to friends and family members who share your values. How are they thinking about the election? What do they know about the candidates?
Voting is an important way to advocate. Let officials know what matters to you by choosing the best candidate for the future you want to see.

You can now vote early with an absentee ballot at your local elections office . All voters have at least one location where they can vote early in person, at the county election office. Voting is usually open during normal business hours. Depending on where you live, there may be additional locations and times. Another option is to vote absentee ballot by mail . Request the ballot online and return it on or before Election Day. You can even track the progress of your ballot . You can vote early for any reason. If you already know who you’ll be choosing this November, vote now and cross the task off your list!

Child Care Supply Improvement Act

After a statewide tour that started at Think Small and focused on child care, Senator Tina Smith recently introduced legislation to address the growing child care shortage across the state.

The bill would would provide assistance for child care facilities, support child care providers in areas related to safety and quality, help providers navigate important health and safety requirements, and support child care businesses. The bill would also support states and tribes in improving the administration of child care programs and would help determine how best to use resources in order to support communities in Minnesota and across the country. Learn more here.

Family Child Care Meetings

Learn about how policy changes may affect your program. The Department of Human Services will be holding DHS and Family Child Care Stakeholder Meetings.

The purpose of these meetings is to discuss the following:
Posting of Child Care Licensing Information
Enhanced Background Study Requirements
Emergency Preparedness Plans
Fix-It Tickets

For information about dates and locations of ten more meetings this year, see the invitation to the 2018 meetings from the Licensed Family Child Care webpage .

Apply Today: Todd Otis Public Policy Internship

Apply today for the Todd Otis Public Policy Internship! The internship is a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about Minnesota’s early learning policy and advocacy. The intern will work Think Small’s policy team to advance the organization’s public policy priorities. Work varies throughout the 2019 legislative session and will include opportunities to support grassroots and direct lobbying efforts.  This is a paid internship open to anyone with a high school diploma or GED and an interest in early childhood policy and advocacy.

If you or someone you know is interested in applying, find all the details here .
Community Events
Play, Parents, and Policy
Tuesday | November 6 | 12:00 - 1:00p | On Facebook or In Person
Join Think Small and Minnesota Futures for Ann Kaner-Roth Policy Hour and hear from Katy Smith, Licensed Parent Educator & 2011 MN Teacher of the Year, in an engaging community conversation about play. In just one generation, children have lost a full eight hours a week of play, and it shows. Children are experiencing a decline in mental health and are struggling to manage their behaviors in and away from school settings. Let's talk about what has happened to play and how we can advocate for the right to play in childhood. Katy will be joined by Dr. Lori Erickson, Assistant Director, Office of Early Learning, St Paul Public Schools and Heather Starks, President of the Minnesota PTA.

Bring your lunch. Invite your friends. No RSVP necessary.

Open to both members and non-members from the MN Council of Non-Profits, you may find the following valuable:

Effective Survey Design
Tuesday | October 30 | 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. | St. Paul | Learn more

This workshop will introduce the fundamentals of good survey design and will be beneficial to anyone who wants to start writing surveys or improve their survey writing.

Advanced Grantwriting: Taking Your Grantsmanship to the Next Level
Monday | October 29 | 1 - 5 p.m. | St. Paul | Learn more

This two-part, advanced grantwriting series will give you the tools to develop more effective fundraising strategies and polished grant proposals to secure new and larger gifts.

Unconscious Bias at Work
Wednesday | October 31 | 1 - 3:30 p.m. | Fergus Falls | Learn more

This workshop will allow participants to explore how their environment and experiences have shaped beliefs, biases, and filters regarding their view of others, situations, and events – particularly in decision-making in the workplace.

Do you have a community event you would like to see featured here?     Fill out this form     for consideration.
Career Opportunities
Montessori Assistant Director

Miniapple International Montessori Schools

We are currently interviewing for an experienced Assistant Director at our Minneapolis Montessori school. Located in the heart of the Marcy Neighborhood, Miniapple promotes a culturally diverse, purposeful and peaceful environment that nurtures the development of children through compassion, respect and community outreach. We are recognized as an International Peace Site. 
Children’s House Assistant Teacher and Aide

Mississippi Valley Montessori School
Contact: Shalene Jahn | Learn More

Support the morning work cycle in Children’s House. Observe and monitor the bathroom,
coatroom, and hallway. Help supervise lunch with other staff. Clean up the lunch room. Set up the nap room. May supervise naptime. Refill and maintain supply levels. Ensure children are supervised at all times. Follow all Health & Safety procedures. Maintain and repair materials as needed. Facilitate after care with other staff.
Do you have a job posting you would like to see featured here?    Fill out this form for consideration.