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Missoula International School

Messenger September/October 2011


Small School, Big Ideas

MIS was founded on BIG IDEAS and continues to be nourished to grow through people’s BIG IDEAS. This fall and winter we invite you to share your BIG IDEASWhether it’s a BIG IDEA to advance MIS or a BIG IDEA to make our world a better place, our best work comes about when an open-minded group of individuals think creatively and express ideas freely. JOIN US! We’ve created a blog for you to share your BIG IDEA. Visit Think your idea is “golden?” Then you’ll want to copyright or patent it perhaps! We’ll publish a collection of our BIG IDEAS in the next issue of the Messenger.

Missoula International School MESSENGER• September/October 2011

Julie Lennox, Head of School Jeff Kessler, Assistant Head of School Joann Magee, Office Manager Gary Cram, Director of Finance Bethany O’Connell, Director of Development Layout and design by Bethany O’Connell MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT NEWSPAPER STAFF

Elan West Badminton Sophia Leonord Toren Garnaas Ingrid Biehl Emily Musco, Student Newspaper Elective Instructor

• TABLE OF CONTENTS • TIME BANDITS The Art of Making Classroom Minutes Count Julie Lennox, Head of School

5 New Rooms at MIS Toren Garnaas, sixth grade MIS Funny Pages Toren Garnaas, sixth grade Autumn Word Search Elan West-Badminton, sixth grade Six Day Schedule Review Ingrid Biehl, seventh grade What’s the Big Idea? Creating a Culture of Inquiry at MIS Jeff Kessler, Assistant Head of School

7 8

Rob Fleming Doug Webber Vice President

Norm Williamson Treasurer

Amber Sherrill MIS Brings Electives to the Middle School Sophia V. Leonard, sixth grade


Board of Trustees 2011-2012 President



From left: Kay Grissom-Kiely, Kristen Von Doersten, Rob Fleming, Sandra Simmons, Doug Webber, Martha Cheney, Amber Sherrill, Norm Williamson, and Betsy Maier (not pictured: Ray Aten.)

In Grand Tradition at MIS Elan West-Badminton, sixth grade TIME CAPSULE 2011 What Will MIS Be in 20 Years? Setting the Bar MIS Eighth Graders Earn Top Scores on the AP Spanish Exam Bethany O’Connell, Director of Development


Kristen Von Doersten PA Council Representative

Ray Aten Betsy Maier Martha Cheney Kay Grissom-Kiely Sandra Simmons

Support the MISsion Forward Fund YOUR GIFT IN 2011/2012 ADVANCES BIG IDEAS FOR ALL STUDENTS.

Contact Bethany O’Connell, Director of Development, to plan your gift today.

Lost time is never found again. ~ Benjamin Franklin





The Art of Making Classroom Minutes Count by Julie Lennox, Head of School


ime is our most valuable asset. And yet it often seems to be too scarce and goes too fast. It is hard for children and adults to balance all of the demands on our time. Priorities must be ranked; boundaries established. Schools across the US are responding to time limitations in a variety of ways including increasing the hours in the school day or the number of days in the school year. Even in Missoula, educators are feeling the effects of time constraints in meeting the demands of the federal education act, No Child Left Behind, to demonstrate benchmarks in the core content areas. The University of Montana’s School of Education is considering eliminating all arts requirements for pre-service teachers in order to create more time for focus on reading and math remediation. Ironically at the same time, there are several districts in Montana who are decreasing the school week to four-day weeks in order to see cost savings in staffing, energy, and facilities costs.

At MIS we also hear of constraints to time from students, teachers, and parents. We wonder if, rather than increasing or decreasing the time our students spend at school, we can make better use of the time we have. A report by the National Commission on Time and Learning (Holloway, 1999) states, Time should be adjusted to meet the individual needs of learners, rather than the administrative convenience of adults. The dimensions of time in the learning process extend far beyond whether one student needs more time and another can do with less. The flexible use of time can permit more individualized instruction. MIS educates the whole child and places high value on creativity, community, and cooperation. The new SIX-DAY SCHEDULE is MIS’s creative approach to using the time we have with our students with more flexibility. Without sacrificing the arts or the physical needs of our students, the six-day schedule creates more consistent daily schedules for teachers to focus on the educational needs of our students.

“And since some students are more alert and fresh first thing in the morning while others hit their stride later in the day, the 6-day schedule gives us the ability to rotate the time of day subjects are taught to meet the needs of all of our learners.”

With the new six-day schedule, most days MIS students have only one specialist class that takes them out of their homeroom class so that the classroom teachers have more time to individualize instruction and plan for in depth studies within the units of inquiry. In addition, specialist classes occur at the same time for all classes in a grade level, creating time for our teachers to collaborate more consistently and effectively. And since some students are more alert and fresh first thing in the morning while others hit their stride later in the day, the sixday schedule gives us the ability to rotate the time of day subjects are taught to meet the needs of all of our learners. And with the sixday schedule, classes are not missed if there is a holiday or special event at school. The cycle picks up where it left off without missing a beat. Using time to reflect on what we have learned is as important as using time to learn more. We all need time to evaluate, process, and apply new learning to create a stronger foundation for learning more. The SIX-DAY SCHEDULE is more of a redistribution of time than it is a creation of more time. In an educational environment where every moment counts, petty theft of the clock may indeed be justifiable for the greater good: only time will tell. • References: Glod, M.

(February 4, 2008). Finding Time for Success.

Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost. com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/02/03/AR2008020302925. html Holloway, J.

(1999). Giving Our Students the Time of Day.

Educational Leadership. 57(1), 87-88. Retrieved from http:// vol57/num01/-Giving-Our-Students-the-Time-of-Day.aspx



MIS School Newspaper MIS Brings Electives to the Middle School By Sophia V. Leonard, sixth grade School Newspaper students wear a “press pass.”


tudents in the middle school at MIS now have more variety in their schedules. “It was Jeff’s idea,” said Julie Lennox, Head of School. “There was input from students who wanted to have choices about different kinds of classes.” Elective classes take place in different areas of the school on B days and E days, according to the six-day cycle. “I thought it would be good to provide the middle school with some different choices of classes,” says Jeff Kessler, Assistant Head of School. Various electives are being offered for each six-week elective cycle. Cycle one began this fall semester with classes in Tennis, Drama, Filmmaking, Beginning French, Cooking, and School Newspaper. Cycle two begins in November during the winter semester and offers students a choice between Basketball, Comedy and Improv Club, Photography, Winter Recreation, and School Newspaper. According to Jeff, there will be four cycles total this year. “I like that there’s a choice offered and that students can choose different subjects,” says Natalie Baker, the drama elective teacher. Sixth grader Otis


Peterson, who is also in drama, agrees. The drama class is working on scenes of the musical, The Lion King. He says he likes the different options. “I like that we can have a place to express ourselves,” says sixth grader, Mari Rizzuto, another drama student. “I like that we are challenged individually,” says seventh grader Molly Kauffman. •

Cooking class students make foods with local ingredients.

New Rooms at MIS By Toren Garnaas, sixth grade


issoula International School renovated over the summer to create a new art room, music room, library, and K/1 multiage classroom. Feather Sherman, MIS art teacher, said, “My favorite part of the new room is the beautiful windows that let natural light in for us to use.” The art room French elective introduces MIS students to a renovation took a lot of work, but students are third language. getting creative and settling in nicely. Head of School Julie Lennox and Assistant Head of School Jeff Kessler worked with the Board By Toren Garnaas, sixth grade of Trustees and the Facilities Committee to decide to create a new K/1 classroom in the former library. Jeff explains, “We knew we wanted to remodel part of the school but with our lease up for renewal in June so we needed to keep it simple. Converting the old locker rooms to our music and art rooms opened up the library as a new K/1 classroom.”

Funny Pages

Autumn Word Search By Elan West-Badminton, sixth grade

Students enjoying the new K/1 classroom

Laura Bovard, the school librarian, said an advantage to the new library space is “being closer to the classes and teachers.” Laura’s creativity with the smaller library space means that sometimes students read on pillows in the hallways and some of the Spanish language library collection moved into different classrooms so teachers could easily access the books. Luca Musco, a first grader in the new classroom, says an advantage is more space and Luca also said he likes the new library because it’s upstairs. •


What’s the Big Idea? Creating a Culture of Inquiry at MIS by Jeff Kessler, Assistant Head of School

C Six Day Schedule Review By: Ingrid Biehl, seventh grade


his fall, Missoula International School instituted a new six-day schedule in order to create more time. The schedule is still quite new to MIS, and as can be expected with anything new, there are many different opinions. Fourth grader Marcus Oselleme thinks the new schedule can be confusing, “not knowing what day is next.” Addison Fleming, a fifth grader, said she likes the new schedule, although, “it’s kind of different in a way, because I’m so used to the other schedule.” Head of School Julie Lennox explains, “The purpose of the schedule is to create more classroom time. It also works better for holidays, so if we miss a day of school we pick up right where we left off.” Instead of the regular Monday through Friday schedule that remains static, students have six days of class scheduled for them. For example, if students miss school for Thanksgiving and left on a D day, the students would come back to school on an E day. Therefore students won’t miss classes scheduled on the days missed. 2/3 multiage teacher Lynn Hudorovich said that she doesn’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other. She’s willing to give it a try. For now, being open minded about the new schedule is the best advice we can offer; the six day schedule will stay for the rest of this school year. •


hildren are natural inquirers. We all know this. They see the world with fresh eyes and open hearts. The natural wonder of the world around them prompts questions. As a teacher I have always understood it is my responsibility to nurture this natural ability in my students. This is easier to say than to do. Fortunately, as a parent I have recently experienced the wonder, excitement, and madness of a stream of never ending questions from my four year-old daughter. Luckily for Eliana, she attends an International Baccalaureate World School, where inquiry is a cherished attribute as well as an integral part of the curriculum. Student inquiry is the primary method for guiding and instructing students at Missoula

In Grand MIS Tradition By Elan West-Badminton, sixth grade


n Friday, October 14th, Missoula International School celebrated a lettered day not normally part of the six-day schedule: GDay, in honor of grandparents and grand friends of MIS students. Head of school Julie Lennox explained that the day’s origins were modeled after another school as a way for extended family members to visit the classrooms experience what happens at MIS. Fifth grader Sydney Brittain says, “I remember eating lots of food and doing a performance.” Students welcomed the guests with songs in the gym before moving into the classrooms. MIS parents Lucy Beighle and Susan Beck organized the food and decorations for GDay. According to Beck, they served about 125 guests. The classroom programs varied according to the units of study, and included games, songs, PowerPoint presentations, and discussions about American government. GDay has truly grown into a grand tradition at MIS. •

International School. An inquiry-based classroom is one which empowers students to ask questions to guide their learning. Teachers at MIS nurture the natural inquiry skills of their students around big ideas. Teachers guide students to ask questions that develop their understanding of topics. International best practices used by MIS teachers reiterate the common sense notion that when children are encouraged to ask questions, rather than just receive information, they develop critical thinking abilities as well as express themselves in creative ways. As you wander the halls of MIS, look for the inquiry and creativity that is inherent in our children and their school.

TIME CAPSULE What will MIS be in 20 Years? Messenger Beat editors take to the halls of MIS to Find Out. Liza, fourth grade- I think MIS will have a lot more playground equipment because everyone wants it. I have a feeling it’s going to grow. Otis, sixth grade- I think it will look somewhat like it is now, but obviously with different teachers. It will be much more complex. Adriana, 4/5 preschool teacher- The biggest difference will probably be technology. There may not be teachers at all, just a screen giving the class. Elizabeth, second grade- It might be like a different place. It could be like a gymnastics place or something else but it would still be MIS. So, in 20 years it would be something big, with offices for people because we’ll have more technology. It will be super nice and maybe it will be a restaurant.

Students are naturally eager to share what they are learning with friends and family.

Llwyn, fifth grade- I think the building might be made out of wood in later years…I mean in 20 years. And it might be stained on the inside and have better insulation and the electronics in the school would most likely be a lot fancier and a lot faster. And I think in 20 years the library will be a lot bigger and have a lot more books. And the building will be much, much bigger and there will be a lot more students.

Amber, MIS trustee and parent- I think it’s going to be very environmentally friendly. We’ll have solar panels on the roof and hopefully a bigger campus with a separate building for the middle school. 7

Karim used three different texts to prepare Stella and Lily for the AP

Setting the Bar: MIS Eighth Graders Earn Top Scores on the AP Spanish Exam By Bethany O’Connell, Director of Development


The advantages of early second language acquisition commitment, self-control, and maturity. Middle School can sometimes be difficult to quantify, but recently the proof Spanish teacher, Karim Del Pozo, found extra time to work came in the form of a test score. Missoula International with the students and provide independent assignments for School graduated two students last spring, both with top them. Lily recalls, “To prepare for this test, there was so much scores on the Advanced Placement Spanish exam. In most work to do! We took what seemed like thousands of practice cases, students begin AP exam preparation in their Junior or exams and read many pieces of literature. Stella and I both got Senior year of high school. Preparation for the exam includes books to help us prepare. In these books there were listening completing the equivalent of the AP Spanish Language CDs and mini essays to help us get a feel for what the real test course, comparable to an advanced would be like.” Stella, to all those level (5th and 6th semester or the “I am extremely grateful to have been who know her, is a very dedicated equivalent) college Spanish language able to work with Karim Del Pozo. She student, yet she also expressed how course. This year, Stella and Lily are is an absolutely incredible teacher. Karim challenging the preparation was for both in the ninth grade at Hellgate her, “The biggest challenge for me spent countless volunteer hours working High School. was sticking with the program. At with Lily and me. She used patience and Missoula International School some points it was very tempting to intelligence while sharing her knowledge of begins 100% Spanish immersion give up and have a night off because instruction in preschool, introducing the Spanish language with us and we are so for the first time this project wasn’t formal English instruction beginning lucky to have been taught by her.” about grades or making sure I had a in the second grade. Students arrive Stella Gardner, Class of 2011 good report card for my parents to at MIS with different stories and be proud of. I was studying for this at different ages, but the goal is to test for myself.” individualize instruction to meet the students’ needs. Stella Currently, Stella is studying French at Hellgate and attended MIS from Kindergarten through eighth grade. Lily is taking Spanish 5. Both students feel the hard work Although Lily came to the MIS middle school in the sixth paid off, giving them confidence in their abilities to overcome grade, she had lived in Spanish-speaking countries as a new challenges and a better chance at eventually getting into child. a college of their choice. • Beyond the rigorous language requirements, becoming prepared for the AP Spanish exam requires a high level of

AN INTERVIEW WITH KARIM DEL POZO In middle school Spanish at MIS, what is the range of language ability that you teach? I work with a wide range of abilities. There are students who are new to MIS and whose exposure to Spanish is very limited. There are students who have been in our school for most of their school years. However, through individualized instruction we are able to attend to each student’s needs. What are the advantages of working with students so closely? The advantages are that you can work with each student to build a relationship of trust where they feel comfortable enough to seek help if they need it or challenge themselves to reach the standards you set for them. What were some of the considerations for you before deciding to prepare Lily and Stella for the AP Spanish exam? I had a meeting with both of them and gave them an overview of the preparation involved. Stella and Lily agreed to commit to the required number of hours per week. The preparation lasted a year and all throughout both students needed to demonstrate improvement in all

the required language skills. They had to raise their level of command of the language as well as learn exam-taking strategies in order to answer the test questions correctly. The support Lily and Stella received from home was also an important consideration for the decision to get ready for the exam. What was the most important lesson you learned from this experience? This experience reinforced the idea that if you commit to something you can achieve anything. How will passing the AP Exam help Lily and Stella? It helps them a great deal. They now have the confidence they need to cope with new challenges ahead of them. They have also earned college credits that will save them time and money in the future. Do you have any advice to offer our beginning Spanish students (both children and adults)? Learning a second language is a rewarding experience and an essential tool in the world today. It is never too late to start learning another language and even though it is hard at the beginning, it is important to show perseverence.


Missoula International School inspires principled global citizens and lifelong learners through a challenging bilingual education from preschool to eighth grade.

Missoula International School 1100 Harrison Street Missoula, MT 59802 406.542.9924

Missoula International School Messenger Sep/Oct  

An electronic magazine for the friends and family of Missoula International School

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