Montessori School of Northern Virginia (MSNV) view book

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Our Mission We inspire and guide children to love learning, to love one another and to love the world around them.

Our Vision We envision a humane and peaceful society where people of all ages feel reverence and responsibility for all that sustains life on Earth.

Graduates are lifelong learners............................................ 3 Teachers nurture each child’s natural curiosity................. 4 Students are empowered...................................................... 4 Families play an active role................................................... 7 Students gain a unique awareness of the Earth................. 8 MSNV celebrates community............................................. 10 Preprimary two-year-olds gain confidence....................... 13 Primary ages 3-6 master the work cycle.......................... 17 Lower Elementary ages 6-9 take greater responsibility for their educational journey..................... 19 Upper Elementary ages 9-12 demonstrate confidence and leadership skills......................................... 23 Students have the opportunity to explore extra activities....................................................... 24 MSNV offers a fun-filled summer of discovery................. 26

DISCOVER WHY YOU WILL LOVE SCHOOL Dr. Maria Montessori recognized the limitless potential of children. She noted how their learning would take flight in an environment which met their specific needs and allowed them to learn by doing. Montessori observed the joy of children in discovering themselves and their world. At the Montessori School of Northern Virginia (MSNV), we want this joy—the delight of discovery—to last a lifetime. By presenting a myriad of rich learning experiences based on the enduring principles of Montessori, MSNV offers a well-rounded, dynamic and inspiring education for your child. MSNV provides authentic Montessori education for children ages 2 through 12 at two campuses: Hillbrook in Annandale and Valleybrook in Falls Church. From Preprimary through Elementary, our learning environment is designed to directly benefit their social, emotional, physical and intellectual development. Our students achieve both academic and personal success. The result? You will love school, because our children love learning, love one another and love the world around them.


“MSNV...gave me the wonderful foundation and love of learning that helped me realize my passion for math and set me up for success in my educational journey and later in my career.� MSNV alumna, J. Liner, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology 1989; University of Virginia 1993, CPA; Vice President, Assistant Controller, Accounting Policy at Capital One


PORTRAIT of an MSNV graduate

Montessori schools are in the unique position of having educated children for over a century based on a child development philosophy that has powerful implications today. We do not know what tomorrow will look like, but we do know that we will need decision makers who can solve complex problems in a rapidly changing world. With over 50 years of experience, MSNV prepares students to understand themselves, their values and their possibilities. We empower our students to be the designers of a better future. It is our vision for all students graduating from our Elementary program to embody these characteristics:

Lifelong Learners Our students are driven by their curiosity to embrace and explore their passions. At MSNV, they discover that learning is stimulating, fun and never-ending. MSNV graduates never stop pursuing personal development and learning.

Independent Thinkers Our students are resourceful, confident and self-directed. When the world presents varied points of view, they ask questions and formulate their own ideas. MSNV graduates are self-reliant.

Self-Assured Problem Solvers Our students are excited to test their own abilities. At MSNV, they are encouraged to investigate possibilities, try new things and find their own answers. MSNV graduates embrace challenges.

Respectful Community Members Our students listen, consider and seek to understand diverse perspectives. At MSNV, they practice peaceful resolution and collaboration as part of a caring community of teachers, staff, families and students. MSNV graduates are community builders and thoughtful leaders.

Engaged Global Citizens Our students are immersed in a curriculum that reveals the interconnectedness of our universe. They learn to recognize the fundamental needs of all living things and to celebrate the natural beauty and wonder of our Earth. MSNV graduates gain a perspective far beyond themselves.


LOVE LEARNING: The Montessori Approach at MSNV

MSNV provides an inspiring learning environment filled with a variety of materials and activities which motivate students to realize their own unique abilities. The direct aim of Montessori lessons is to deepen the understanding of fundamental concepts. The indirect aim is to foster the love of learning. Dr. Maria Montessori noted that the development of motor skills is vital to acquiring basic language and mathematical concepts. From Preprimary through Elementary, MSNV’s multi-disciplinary Montessori approach integrates mind and body movements to enhance recall for the child’s developing brain. We encourage students to bring their own energy and intensity to the adventure of learning. All MSNV classrooms have direct access to outdoor spaces. Children explore and navigate natural terrain, which challenges their agility and sparks imaginative play. Inside, classrooms are spacious and open. They are specifically designed to encourage curiosity and allow children to be active participants. Students move around the room with purpose as they choose their work and engage in individual or group lessons. Our classrooms are lively learning spaces. At the same time, particular attention is paid to beauty of 4

arrangement and order of learning materials. There is an understanding of peace and mutual respect. The result is an atmosphere conducive to calmness and independent learning. At MSNV, a child’s interest in learning is paramount. Students are supported and always given the opportunity to fully understand fundamental concepts. They practice lessons until their teachers are confident they have mastered a concept. The natural, comfortable assimilation of new information allows our students to take their time to observe and think critically. While learning is self-paced, it is not random. MSNV teachers practice focused observation of each child in order to learn about their personality, learning style and needs. They are then able to alter materials and individualize lessons accordingly to nurture each student’s natural curiosity and internal drive for learning.

To further enhance the educational experience of our children, each classroom is composed of a constructive and mutually beneficial mix of older and younger students. Through a three year cycle, students have the opportunity to acquire, practice and master skills and concepts to the point where they can teach these skills to their peers. This transformational process fills children with self-confidence and an opportunity to feel ownership of their MSNV journey. Peers are inspired and motivated to master skills as well. No matter how much the interests or abilities of students may differ, their practice of observing and teaching one another is critical to their social, emotional and intellectual development. Why do MSNV students love learning? MSNV students are empowered and encouraged to explore, discover, contemplate and expand their understanding of the world.

“ not acquired by listening to words, but in the virtue of experiences…” Dr. Maria Montessori


“We enjoy the open door policy at MSNV, whether going in to observe in the classroom, baking with the students or planting flowers in the outdoor classroom.� Jessica and Dennis Cotto, parents of Preprimary and Primary students



MSNV recognizes the importance of cultivating an environment of trust, respect and cooperation so that students feel safe, confident and eager to learn. We provide students with tools to communicate, resolve issues and work together. MSNV also encourages cooperation amongst the members of the school community, including faculty, staff, current and alumni families and fellow students. Community is important to MSNV. We take pride in being a smaller school, where our families get to know each other as they journey together from Preprimary all the way through Elementary. Our community members come from a variety of backgrounds and bring their diverse interests and talents to MSNV. By working together, we can enrich and broaden the curriculum for our children. The MSNV community is characterized by respectful interaction at all levels. Teachers model the behavior they want to see in their classrooms and thus treat their children with respect, while expecting the same in return. MSNV believes this mutual respect is not only the cornerstone of community, but also leads to successful relationships, a sense of security and social competence in the classroom and beyond. Students are encouraged to be aware of the feelings and rights of others, as well as to embrace differences. MSNV offers a growing and maturing child the opportu-

nity to spend meaningful time developing both personal and social skills. For all age groups, we offer lessons on grace and courtesy; practice listening, contemplation and understanding; and provide guidance for peaceful conflict resolution. Positive language and mindfulness allow students time and space to reflect, address and resolve their conflicts calmly and with care. From learning how to properly use and share classroom materials, to being able to handle a disagreement independently of a teacher, MSNV students develop self-discipline, control and respect. Families play an active role in our MSNV community. Current and alumni families team with teachers to contribute to the educational experiences of our children by participating in special class projects, field trips, work parties and social gatherings. Parents also serve on the elected Board of Trustees. MSNV faculty and staff offer parent education events throughout the year

based on the various developmental stages of our children. Through special events and classroom observations, current and alumni families gain a deeper understanding of the Montessori philosophy and curriculum, as well as knowledge and tools for parenting. Families can learn new ways to guide their children, while an increased consistency and similarity of practices between school and home is helpful to children. The overall result of these efforts by our faculty, staff, families and students alike is an engaged and committed community built around a common focus— our children. As an MSNV community, we journey together to best serve the needs of our children. Why do MSNV students love one another? MSNV students are a part of a warm, caring and inclusive school community where learning, respect and cooperation are mutually shared between faculty, staff, families and students.


LOVE THE WORLD AROUND THEM: Respect for the Earth

At MSNV, respect for the Earth is daily practice. MSNV students gain a unique awareness of the Earth through our environmental education efforts. Nature studies, gardening and environmental stewardship are a part of our curriculum. MSNV’s two campuses are nestled into peaceful neighborhoods and provide unique outdoor classroom spaces, bringing Montessori learning into our natural surroundings. Our Hillbrook campus in Annandale is adjacent to hickory-tulip woodland where children may participate

in wildlife observation, enjoy trail hikes or monitor the watershed health of the nearby creek. Our Valleybrook campus in Falls Church provides a large natural play area where children can scamper through trees and over grassy hillsides. Much like their work inside the classroom, students work outdoors with child-sized tools and self-directed lesson boxes. Because being respectful of the Earth and providing a sound learning environment for our students go hand-in-hand, MSNV students, faculty and staff observe energy conservation and other green practices, such as waste reduction. Sustainably constructed school buildings and natural play spaces minimize MSNV’s environmental footprint. We built our Valleybrook campus with recycled materials, a partial green roof, pervious


pavement and large windows to allow for more natural lighting solutions. In 2009, the Hillbrook campus received the Fairfax County recycling award. In 2012, Fairfax County awarded the Valleybrook campus with the Land Conservation Award for Tree Preservation. The National Wildlife Federation has certified both the Hillbrook and Valleybrook campuses as Wildlife Habitats. Why do MSNV students love the world around them? MSNV teaches by example. By practicing environmental stewardship on a daily basis, it becomes commonplace for our children to do the same. MSNV students are not sheltered or isolated from the world around them, but instead are encouraged to immerse themselves in nature and gain respect for its unwavering beauty.

“The land is where our roots are…The children must be taught to feel and live in harmony with the Earth.”

Dr. Maria Montessori




Flag raising Back-to-school night community potluck


Visit from Eaglebear Native American Dancers

The Journey: A Montessori Experience*

Montessori in the Home*



Positive Discipline workshop*



Next Steps: An Elementary Primer*

Fall festival



Barnes and Noble community event

Upper Elementary Shakespeare production

*parent education

MSNV celebrates community by hosting a number of special events for its students each year. Families are invited to partake in several schoolwide celebrations and are encouraged to attend MSNV organized Parent Education experiences.

Elementary biography day


Parent-child breakfasts


Earth day



Montessori Model United Nations International day

End of year family picnics Elementary field day



Elementary project fair Elementary overnight trip to Echo Hill



“I want to inspire courage in my students to speak up, to love each other and believe in themselves. I want to connect deeply with each child because children are at the heart of the Montessori experience. Our nurturing community can help our students be their best.� Claudia Wright, MSNV faculty


PrePrimary at Valleybrook

Age 2

MSNV Preprimary offers two-year-olds a positive introduction to the world of school and the wonders of Montessori. The child’s first steps to independence are fostered in a nurturing environment specially prepared to meet the needs of our youngest community members. The Montessori approach recognizes, and recent research confirms, that there are natural mental and physical “clocks” in children that make them more receptive to learning particular skills at specific times in their lives. Dr. Maria Montessori understood that children absorb knowledge early and have the power to teach themselves. In the Preprimary classroom, students learn to choose activities independently, wait for a turn, share outdoor equipment and function as members of a group. They also practice real-life skills through what Montessorians refer to as “practical life” exercises, for instance by pouring water from a pitcher, sweeping, cleaning up after themselves and washing their dishes after snack. They experience feeling, smelling, seeing or observing different temperatures, textures, weights, lengths or sizes using what are known as “sensorial” materials. These two areas of learning are later emphasized at the

Primary level. Vocabulary enrichment and developing the child’s language skills are a natural part of the Preprimary classroom. Math is introduced through symbols and quantities for 0-10. Art, culture, science, Spanish, movement and music are also integral parts of our program. Outside, the Preprimary children have their own

expansive natural play space adjacent to that of the Primary students, where they are free to explore and discover. In the safe and secure Preprimary environment, our two-year-olds gain confidence in their abilities and are ultimately prepared to assume their places in the Primary classroom.

PRACTICAL LIFE (top): Students learn about their world through practical life exercises. The practice of taking ordered and sequential steps to care for classroom materials, plants and animals, translates to math and language learning.

LANGUAGE (top): Hands-on materials, like the movable alphabet, allow students to engage several senses in order to retain new information, involving letter sounds, word construction and reading skills.

MATHEMATICS (bottom): Materials specifically designed to help see, feel and manipulate numbers, like bead chains, allow students to fully understand complex mathematical principles.

SPANISH (bottom): MSNV students enjoy weekly Spanish lessons as well as informal exposure to native languages from teachers and visiting family members.


CULTURAL STUDIES (top): Students have an opportunity to share their global learning and showcase family cultures for the larger community during International Day. MOVEMENT (bottom): Movement is an essential component of the MSNV curriculum. It is also an intrinsic part of the children’s day, as they are free to move about our spacious and open classrooms.


OUTDOORS (top): MSNV’s beautiful natural playgrounds offer ample space for energetic play and outdoor learning. ART (bottom): The practice of art is incorporated throughout the Montessori classroom to enhance fine motor development, allow for self-expression and complement learning of other subject areas.


“We have seen firsthand the early academic benefits of a Montessori education, but for us it’s more than that. We love that [our daughter] is learning to light a candle for peace, make friends, help others, teach younger children, manage her time and build a foundation for the rest of her life.” Kate and Robert Eikel, parents of Primary student



at Hillbrook and Valleybrook

Ages 3-6

MSNV Primary students ages 3-6 are energetic and demand intellectual stimulation. MSNV provides these students with an exciting and wonder-filled environment brimming with opportunities to explore, discover and shape their social and physical surroundings. By inspiring creativity, our warm and supportive Primary teachers cultivate an early love of learning so critical in shaping the child’s future educational success. As a child progresses through the three year cycle of the Primary program, independent work and social interaction become well-developed. Students master the Montessori work cycle, by learning how to focus on lessons. They gain satisfaction from this uninterrupted period of time when they can each deepen their level of learning. Students progress at a rate determined by their own interests and needs. By their third year, Primary students work closely with their teachers to create their individual daily work plans. Within the vast Primary curriculum, subjects are interrelated and intentionally build upon and support each other. Our children develop skills they need to care for themselves and their environment through practical life lessons. These lessons encourage independence, while they also require concentration, enhance

coordination and develop fine and gross motor strength. While being interactive and enjoyable, students must follow a number of steps to see results. This process shapes an understanding of order and sequence. Primary students may also choose sensorial work. These lessons develop a child’s ability to distinguish sound, weight, size, color, shape and spatial relationships. Lessons from both the practical life and sensorial areas are crucial for success in learning higher academic subjects. Primary students build a strong foundation for their understanding of mathematics and language through the use of specific Montessori-developed materials. These materials call on multiple senses to facilitate the acquisition and retention of lessons with numbers, letters and sounds.

Incorporated in MSNV’s Primary classes are cultural studies, which develop an awareness and appreciation for art, geography, history, nature and science. These lessons often employ real-life examples. Science lessons include a robust outdoor curriculum centered on observation and experimentation. The Primary curriculum is further enriched with music lessons, foreign language studies and drama. Parallel to academic learning is a strong focus on social and emotional development in our young students. We inspire and guide our children to be successful in their relationships in the classroom, with tools to resolve conflicts, appreciate differences and work together. MSNV Primary builds a strong foundation, not only to meet a student’s forthcoming scholastic needs, but also to prepare the child for future collaborative and leadership roles.


“The experience we offer is self-education from the bottom of the soul to the tip of the nose. It’s rigorous, fascinating and, academically, like a liberal arts education for 7 year olds.” Tim Schwartz, MSNV faculty



AGES 6-9

MSNV Lower Elementary students ages 6-9 are ready for new challenges. They are poised to pursue their passions and delve into their interests. With teacher guidance, these students begin to take greater responsibility for their educational journey. Throughout the six year MSNV Elementary program, there is an emphasis on global awareness and community engagement. To ignite their curiosity, support their developing global consciousness and give them a framework for discovering who they are in the world, MSNV presents Lower Elementary students with “Cosmic Education.” This curriculum gives students an opportunity to understand and appreciate how the world came to be—from the beginnings of creation through all of the extraordinary innovations that have taken place to make the world what it is today. Presented through animated storytelling, role-play, experiments, vibrant and compelling real-life examples and interactive demonstrations, students soak up history, art, science, math and language in a way that inspires wonder, awe and joy. The use of concrete materials at the Lower Elementary level continues to enhance comprehension of higher-order concepts like multiplication, grammatical sentence analysis and a wide range of cultural topics within the program’s uniquely integrated curriculum. Cultural studies at

this level, grounded in the context of their Cosmic Education lessons, include history, botany, zoology, physical and political geography, physics, astronomy and chemistry. Opportunities for independent research projects create lasting impressions. The natural flow and integration of subjects work to develop the child’s understanding of ideas, not just facts. Moving from big picture concepts to detailed focus, students develop a strong appreciation of human spirit and the interconnectedness of life. This exploration through time and history allows students to gain a deeper understanding of who they are as citizens of the world. Building upon this growing self-awareness, Lower Elementary students enter the next stage in their work plan development and, with teacher guidance, develop week-long plans to cultivate their interests. Students begin to individually coordinate “Going-Outs” or personal field trips to complement their research.

MSNV’s emphasis on the social and emotional development of the child continues through Elementary. With a sense of security and mutual respect in the classroom, students feel confident to begin actively participating in decision-making and problem-solving processes at class meetings. Community building is further strengthened by multi-classroom luncheons, games and activities to connect students. One of the most exciting annual events for both Lower and Upper Elementary is an overnight trip to Echo Hill Outdoor School in Maryland. The experience builds trust and enhances camaraderie between students. In addition to developing community within the classroom and within the school, MSNV finds it important for Elementary-age children to explore the community around them and discover their real-world interests. MSNV builds off-campus experiences into its comprehensive learning program.


PRACTICAL LIFE (top): For Elementary students, practical life exercises may take the form of woodworking, designing costumes for a classroom performance or making arrangements for an outing.

LANGUAGE (top): Students explore various forms of literature through small-group discussion. They create compositions in a variety of fiction and non-fiction genres during Weekly Writing Workshops.

MATHEMATICS (bottom): Concrete materials enhance understanding of higher-order concepts. Also, real-world math applications, like graphing global data or balancing the classroom budget, are incorporated.

FIELD TRIPS (bottom): MSNV Elementary students engage in off-campus events, like field trips or community service. Upper Elementary students participate in an annual threeday conference in New York as part of the Montessori Model United Nations.


ART (top): Art lessons at MSNV focus on integrating aesthetics, studio art, art history and art criticism. Students experiment with a variety of media and techniques, think creatively and practice problem solving. PHYSICAL EDUCATION (bottom): Our main physical education goal for the Elementary child is to have fun. Elementary students celebrate their strength, endurance, coordination and good sportsmanship at an end-of-year Field Day event.

TECHNOLOGY (top): MSNV teaches the thoughtful use of technology and provides lessons to help students understand technology as a tool for research and communication. MUSIC (bottom): At MSNV, musical creativity is fostered as children embrace a diverse repertoire of multicultural music and folk dances. Elementary children develop their singing and instrumental playing technique on ukuleles, wooden and metal xylophones and glockenspiels.



“At MSNV, if our children want to shoot for the moon, they can go for it!...We love that our children are excited, learning because they want to, not because they have to.� Jana and Alan Thomas, parents of Upper Elementary student



AGES 9-12

MSNV Upper Elementary students ages 9-12 recognize their interests, strengths and challenges. Because they are now prepared to take ownership of their goals, the Montessori approach for this age group allows for increased independence and leadership. Students develop a high-level of maturity and exceptional cooperative and communicative skills. They leave this program well-prepared to navigate social, emotional and academic challenges that may lay ahead. MSNV Upper Elementary students are held to high expectations and are taught to hold themselves to those standards. At this stage, our young adults have built a solid foundation from their previous years with MSNV and demonstrate both the confidence and leadership skills necessary to competently decide their areas of interest for independent research projects and related field study trips. With guidance and recommendations from teachers, students set their own work goals and develop individual month-long learning plans, including the design and implementation of personal service projects. Regularly scheduled meetings with their teachers allow students to be accountable for their time management skills and overall progress. Building upon Lower Elementary, Upper Elementary lessons continue to be presented through the framework of

Cosmic Education. For Upper Elementary students, learning becomes abstract as they are developmentally able to embrace new concepts with fewer concrete materials. MSNV’s Upper Elementary curriculum provides additional facets of learning for our students. A Latin program called the “Keepers of Alexandria� adds context to the foundation of language through engaging stories of history and philosophy. The annual Shakespeare performance offers students an opportunity to appreciate the sophisticated written and spoken poetry of the renowned playwright, while also giving students responsibility for all aspects of theatre production, on and off stage. The Montessori Model United Nations three-day conference in New York is an annual participatory event for which the oldest Upper Elementary students conduct

in-depth research on specific countries and global topics of concern to present in the UN General Assembly. Community engagement deepens as MSNV Upper Elementary students become involved in service projects of their choosing each year. Projects have included collecting and delivering donations for local food banks, supporting a local animal shelter, stream cleaning and organizing a bake sale to raise funds for clean water programs in Africa. With the broad-based grounding that MSNV provides, our Elementary students emerge as self-confident, motivated and independent learners, equipped with sound work habits and an understanding that they are responsible for their own education and for contributing to the well-being of their community.


After School

Enrichments MSNV students have the opportunity to explore extra activities that take place after school hours both at the Valleybrook and Hillbrook campuses. MSNV is proud to offer a wide array of enrichments to further exercise the child’s mind, body and spirit. Options for after school enrichments may include: Art, Chorus, Guitar Lessons, Maker Club and Junior Maker Club, Mosaics, Gymnastics, Yoga and West African drumming.


“The child, making use of all that he finds around him, shapes himself for the future.� Dr. Maria Montessori



MSNV offers a fun-filled summer of discovery with weekly themed camps to suit the needs and interests of preschoolers through sixth graders. Camp programs are led by our own Montessori faculty and staff and take place at both on and off campus locations. Recent camp titles have included: Alexander Calder, African Adventure, Construction Camp, Elementary Excursion, Junior Maker Camp and Rocks & Gems.


About MSNV The Montessori School of Northern Virginia (MSNV) is a leading independent school in the Washington Metropolitan area providing authentic Montessori education for children ages 2 through 12 with locations in Annandale and Falls Church. Founded in 1962, MSNV enjoys a special place in history as the first Montessori school established in the Commonwealth of Virginia. MSNV is a 501(c)3 corporation. To maintain financial independence, our support is derived solely from annual tuition, fees, fundraising events and donations. MSNV cultivates an understanding and appreciation of diversity that includes, but is not limited to age, ability, ethnicity, family structure, gender, gender identity, political perspectives, race, religion, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status. MSNV is a full member school of the American Montessori Society and licensed by The Commonwealth of Virginia. Our school meets/exceeds all affiliation and licensing standards. Our teachers come from nationally recognized Montessori training programs.


Betsy Mitchell Hillbrook Campus 6820 Pacific Lane Annandale,VA 22003 Valleybrook Campus 3433 Rose Lane Falls Church,VA 22042 Phone: 703-256-9577 Fax: 703-256-9851 VALLEYBROOK Campus

3433 Rose Lane Falls Church, VA 22042 Phone 703-992-0255 EMAIL

Hillbrook Campus

6820 Pacific Lane Annandale, VA 22003 Phone 703-256-9577

MSNV is a leading independent school in the Washington Metropolitan area providing authentic Montessori education for children ages 2 through 12.

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