Volume 01 | September 7, 2018
Montessori Messenger
Welcome to the
2018-2019 School Year!
We are excited that we have 322 students from Toddler through 8th grade this year!
Faculty and Staff changes: New faces, new roles
Melinda Putney is the Head Teacher in our new Lower El class.
Heather Kostell joins us as a Head Teacher in Lower El.
John Slater is the Assistant Teacher with Heather.
Sara Howard is the new Upper El Assistant Teacher with Cindy Bishop.
Jennifer Burns is our new Literacy Specialist, replacing Maggie Schmonsky who left over the summer.
Sandy Schneider has joined the WHMS staff as an All-Level Assistant Teacher.
Katja Higgins has moved to the Assistant Teacher role with Melinda Putney.
Owusu Anane is now an All-Level Assistant Teacher.    
Krysten Houser will be working full-time in the Primary level, assisting where needed.
Faculty and Staff Professional Development

WHMS faculty and staff members reported back to school on August 27. We opened the week with a vision and mission workshop, focusing on what we think is important about the work we do and the goals that we have for our work. 

We had teacher safety training and new faculty orientation. Much of the week was devoted to preparing their beautiful classrooms.

On Friday, August 31, our faculty, along with teachers and administrators from four other local Montessori schools, attended a workshop at WHMS. The workshop was presented by Michael Duffy and was entitled Supporting Intrinsic Motivation and Developing Independence.

Michael’s talk was a wonderful way to begin our year, as it was about the importance of helping our students develop independence, autonomy, and love of learning because of the educational environment we prepare for them. He especially focused on motivation and how this relates to the Montessori philosophy. 

Michael and his wife D’Neil were recipients of the American Montessori Society Living Legacy award in 2018. Former school teachers and administrators, they are the authors of three books on Montessori education, all published by Parent Child Press/Montessori Services: Children of the Universe: Cosmic Education in the Montessori Elementary Classroom; Math Works: Montessori Math and the Developing Brain; and Love of Learning: Supporting Intrinsic Motivation in Montessori Students. Children of the Universe is used in many elementary training programs as a reference on Cosmic Education.

D’Neil and Michael retired from their school, Blackstock Montessori, in 2001 to devote more of their time to teacher training, writing, and educational consulting.

The teachers came away feeling motivated and inspired to begin the school year. One remarked that it was the most inspiring workshop she had ever attended. 

Also featured in the workshop was Gilda Brower, founder and director of Montessori School of the Finger Lakes. Gilda is a retired long serving administrator of a Montessori school and has been a primary teacher trainer affiliated with CMTE-CME since 1978.  

Many of our teachers attended training programs over the summer. 

Olga Febus and Heather Kostell completed their first summer of Lower Elementary Montessori teacher training at Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative (METTC) in Lexington, Mass. Ashley Campion finished her Toddler training at the Center for Montessori Education (CME). Sara Howard and Jackie Santilli completed the Intro to Montessori course at METTC. 

Julie Adams took the Literacy through Multi-Sensory Teaching course this summer. Alisa Scapatici has begun the first online portion of her Montessori Adolescent training. Jennifer Graham, Nicole Lenihan, Jackie Santilli, Jessa Pelizari, Michelle Edwards, Toni Roland, Vinita Shekhar, Susan Kambrich and Susie Gordon took a Mindfulness Fundamentals course. Jennifer Graham took a class through Trillium Montessori, Musically Montessori - The First 12 Weeks: How to teach foundational music concepts to young children. Jennifer also led a workshop at WHMS through the Northeast Montessori Institute: Montessori Early Childhood Overview for Advanced Assistant Teachers.
The Informed WHMS Parent


How do I learn about what's happening in the school and in the classroom?



How do I connect with other WHMS families?

  • Have coffee with the Friends of WHMS and members of the Admin team this Friday, September 7
  • The Parents of WHMS Facebook page
  • Volunteer for Pizza Lunch
  • Attend Fall Family Fun Day
  • Join the Friends of WHMS, and attend the monthly meetings
  • Come out for our events: the Diversity Committee dinner, Lantern Walk, parties, the WHMS Gala, roller-skating, Open Mic night, and more!


How can I learn more about WHMS and Montessori?

  • Come to Back to School Night on Wednesday, September 12
  • Attend a WHMS Board of Trustees meeting
  • Bring your child to the Parent Education Breakfast on Thursday, October 18, then stay to learn about Montessori in the home from Erin Mergil
  • Learn about your child's classroom and work at Parent-Child Night on November 8.
  • Experience a Voyage of Discovery: There's one focusing on Geography on December 1 and one on Math on February 9.
  • Join us at the Annual Meeting of members at WHMS: The State of the School on December 10.
  • Learn about the next level at the Information Sessions in January
New Board Members
Guha Bala is an entrepreneur, and a respected veteran of the video gaming industry.

Guha and his brother, Karthik, co-founded video game giant Vicarious Visions in 1991 when they were still in high school. Guha remained with Vicarious Visions until 2016.
He recently founded two new businesses, Velan Ventures and Velan Studios, both located in Troy, NY. Velan Studios is an independent development studio made up of a diverse team of game industry veterans.

Guha earned an MBA from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Harvard University.
Michael Logan is an attorney with the law firm of Hodgson Russ LLP. He focuses his practice on various forms of financings for municipalities, school districts, municipal authorities, for-profit corporations, and nonprofit corporations. Prior to becoming an attorney, Michael was a social studies teacher with the Broward County Public Schools in Florida for four years.

Michael earned a dual JD/MBA degree from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York and holds a master’s degree in secondary education from Niagara University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Buffalo State, State University of New York.
Phase-In Week
Summer Camp Fun!

We had a great summer camp this year, with a record number of campers - 600! They enjoyed ten Primary camps, and 17 Elementary camps.
Construction Corner
Construction on our new additions began this week. The foundation for our administrative wing as well as the MakerSpace have been poured.

The contractors are busy digging up the front lawn for the classroom expansion.

The area has been fenced for safety.

Below is a rendering of the finished project.