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Oak Farm Montessori November 2017

Accredidation Process

Megan O’Sullivan, Head of School


ust before Thanksgiving, Oak Farm hosted a nine member visiting team for our reaccreditation with the Independent School Associa-

tion of the Central States (ISACS) and the American Montessori Society (AMS). Oak Farm first became accredited with these agencies in 2010, and has annually participated in the continuous school improvement processes recommended as part of each organizations seven-year accreditation cycle. The visiting team, comprised of teachers and administrators from other independent schools in the Midwest, has three primary jobs to accomplish in their four-day visit. Through interviews with all constituencies, observation of classrooms and the campus in action, and examination of hundreds of documents provided by Oak Farm, the team first and foremost seeks to affirm that Oak Farm is operating in accordance with the explanations presented in our self-study document about our mission, vision, school community and programs. The self-study, an over 200 page document written by faculty and parents over the 2016-2017 year, outlines every aspect of our school from curriculum to facilities to operations. The process was guided by a steering committee comprised of Oak Farm faculty and chaired by Brenda Huth, our Director of Student Services. Many committees comprised of faculty and parents met over the course of the school year to create the document. The visiting team worked carefully to determine alignment between our stated and observed practices. Second, the team ensures evidence of compliance with all of the ISACS and AMS standards and criteria. These standards address most aspects of independent school operations and governance, with the exception that

ISACS does not provide direction on programming or curriculum. AMS, however, does outline the requirements of an “authentic” Montessori school, and accreditation with AMS ensures consistent programming and pedagogy with other accredited Montessori schools. More information about those standards and criteria can be found at AMS-School-Accreditation and Finally, after reading the self-study and Oak Farm’s stated challenges and growth priorities and observing the school in action and talking with faculty, parents, board members and alumni, the visiting team prepares a report outlining their commendations of the school’s strengths as well as recommendations for continuous improvement. Before leaving, the team leader, Kara Douglass (Head of School at The Fulton School at St. Albans, MO), shared the draft major commendations and recommendations that the team would present to ISACS and AMS. The final, approved report will not be available until the spring, and a summary will be shared when we receive it. However, the major commendations included overwhelming acknowledgement of the outstanding campus and programming that support each aspect of children’s development, the outstanding work done by the faculty in implementation of the school’s mission, and significant success in making our high-quality education accessible to a wide range of families. Preliminary recommendations centered on finding new ways of connecting faculty and students across a spread out campus, evaluating our tuition structure to support our long-term goals of revenue diversification and continued socioeconomic diversity, and maintaining the Montessori uninterrupted work cycle in the face of scheduling challenges when integrating all of our fabulous enrichment programs. After receiving the full report, the school will develop an implementation plan for our next several years of continuous improvement, and the recommendations from ISACS and AMS will be incorporated into the revisit of the current strategic plan (scheduled for review in 2019). The visit by the team was a validating one. The team members were clearly delighted by their time at the school, and faculty and parents enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on Oak Farm in all of its successes and complexity and share our perspective on the school we care so much about. Thank you to all who attended the parent coffee, the reception, and participated in helping to write the self-study. With this visit, we celebrate the culmination of a year of incredibly hard work and determination. Here’s to Oak Farm!

Grace & Courtesy Lisa Collins, Primary 3 Teacher

How do children know how to wait their turn, respect someone else’s work space, walk in the classroom, or ask politely for help? Showing respect to others and learning how to work and play together in a peaceful community are important Practical Life skills. In the Primary classroom, we introduce exercises in Grace and Courtesy that allow students to become responsible for the caring of their own families, homes, community and environment. Maria Montessori saw the need for order with this age of child. They want to know and absorb the social structures in order to be more at ease in their environment. Grace and Courtesy lessons give children the vocabulary, actions and steps required for them to be successful in interactions with others. Learning how to be part of a community is very attractive to children! Some Grace and Courtesy lessons given in our classrooms include: • How to greet someone “Life is a gift, and I try to • How to get someone’s attention respond with grace and • How to watch someone work courtesy.” • How to open and close a door -Maya Angelou • Saying “Please” and “Thank you” • How to blow your nose and cough • How to listen in a group We can’t expect a child to know how to do these life skills unless they are taught. These skills are learned through lessons, observing, practice and interacting with others while the adult is consistently modeling and asking questions. While these may seem like obvious behaviors, they can be important life skills that children will keep with them into adulthood.

Oak Farm Family Spotlight Kim Davidson, Fund Development

Each month we will spotlight an Oak Farm family that gives their time, talent and treasure to the school. Support of the school comes in many different sizes and shapes—just like our families! “Basil and Onion” was the answer we got when we asked this month’s family what flavor of ice cream would best describe their family—something fun and unexpected! This may explain why, when new to Oak Farm in 2016, the family wasted no time jumping on board! Last year Annie volunteered weekly in the kitchen, at multiple Wild Wacky Working Wednesdays and, after attending the Gala last year, has joined the Gala Committee this year. When asked why they believe it is important to support the school with both their time, talent and treasure, Annie shared that, “We went to the Gala last year and had a great time. This event is a fun way to get to know other families and have a night out! The Gala offers many different and unique ways to support Oak Farm and show our appreciation for the teachers. We want to be involved in the education of our children. Volunteering over the past year has given me a chance to work with the students and support the teachers.” In their free time, the Evans family loves to travel and visit new places.

Let’s talk dog. If you are anything like most people, then you pick up your dog’s waste in a green poop bag, toss it in a trash bin, and then feel pretty good about yourself. After all, you are helping the environment while cleaning up after your pet. Unfortunately, according to the Federal Trade Commission, there’s something weird in the world of “biodegradable” poop bag manufacturers. Is there such a thing as a poop bag that’s good for the environment? I’ve got the scoop on earth-friendly poop bags, The BioBag. The BioBag costs about .12 cents per bag, they are sold by the package, 4 rolls (containing 45 per roll). For one package of BioBag biodegradable pet waste bags, it’s $20.47. You can easily find the BioBag pet on Amazon, Chewy. com, and many more. If you don’t find the BioBag useful try a dog-waste-only composting bin. There are several commercial options like the Doggie Doolie on the market. If that doesn’t work, try flushing it. Oh Yeah! But, depending on where you live, just be sure to check with your municipal sewage guidelines and make sure to flush your pet waste in water-soluble waste bags. -Juliana B.

The MS science classes this year are endin project. This year the work was introduced b do with John Brittenham (Blue Heron/ OFMS Alliance) as we learned about the human imp to John and Dan for sharing their knowledge a settlers, invasive species and (my favorite) th fun afternoon investigating the woods and ne This inspired the MS students to create proje Samples of students projects follow...


Middle School Scie

I decided to do invasive species because when you hear the word you instantly think its bad. I found a source that was very helpful and explained how invasive species aren’t all bad. So, my research was done and I was thinking, “what should I do for my human impact project?” Then BOOM! I instantly thought I could inform people of which invasive species are not good for the community For our human impact project, we decided to work and which ones are sustainable. with Brett Bloom on restoring the wetlands on the new -Cassidy C.

property. Our project has a goal of bringing back the amazing wildlife that was possibly disrupted when the construction of the Oak Farm campus first began. We will work with a small group of Middle School students to help plant native species on the const r uc t ion sight of the new Upper Elementary building. We will do this work for one hour on a Friday in the next two weeks. We are very excited to be able to help restore the wildlife around the newly created pond. It will be a challenge to accomplish, so much in so little time, but we hope that we can make an impact in any way possible. - Rachael S. & Gianna N.

In science, we have been working on a human impa lution in ponds around our campus and to work to s information on what water pollution is and some pos upper elementary blue clay pond. To my surprise, the For the impact step, I created a flier for the commu is and how we can solve the issue and prevent it from hope that the flier can help others understand pollu grounds. - Sofia M.


ur Human Impact project is about in our research that they are bec the duck pen is classified as a wetland that surround it. We are trying to cons since this runoff is classified as a wetla keep it safe from pollutants. - Rowan Z. & Alex T.

For our middle school science project we were given the assignment to make a positive impact on the Oak Farm community. Our project involves loss of habitat due to crops. We decided to write an article about the damage done, and how you can solve this problem. We are going to publish it in the Oak Farm’s Typewrite. Trying to help solve a problem makes you feel amazing inside. All of the research that we have done is going to a good cause. Some of the possible solutions for Oak Farm are: • Plant trees and plants around campus to offer more habitats for endangered species • Use cover crops to create safe soil for the recon struction of habitats • Recycle & Reuse material • Educate & give awareness to others • Restore the land that had once been covered by My human impact project was about keeping the middle crops, like we are doing at Oak Farm! school clean of trash and litter. -Cora G.& Birk H.

ng each cycle of study with a human impact by the amazing time travel we were able to Parent) and Dan Wire (Tri-State Watershed pact on Oak Farm’s land! A huge thank you about glaciers, Native Americans, European he Great Black Swamp. It was a fact filled, ew land that Oak Farm is working to reclaim. ects to positively impact our environment.



This is because I learned that litter not only looks bad, but is also bad for the environment. My action plan was to split up groups of our middle school students and clean up the litter on our campus. We split up after animal care one morning and cleaned almost all of the trash. -Aidan H.

act project! My interest led me to choose water polsolve the issue. For the research section, I gathered ssible solutions. I also took multiple PH tests in the e water was indeed polluted, thankfully very mildly. unity that gives knowledge on what water pollution m happening to other ponds around the campus. I ution better and make an impact on the Oak Farm

t keeping our wetlands safe. We learned coming extinct. The run-off drain by because of the pH level and the plants serve the wetlands on our campus and and we are creating an action plan to

Here at Oak Farm we recently removed a bean field to build new construction. When animals homes and food sources are lost due to construction, they have to find a new home and a new food source. Facts I learned: •Beans are 44% protein, and a great source of food for animals. •Over 70% of forests are destroyed by deforestation. •Half of the world’s original forests have been destroyed for cities, trees, and pavement,etc •Animals that eat and live in bean fields include:Deer, Rabbits,Groundhogs, Chipmunks, Insects and Squirrels. Possible solutions include: •If you destroy or modify nature, restore it as much as you can •Plant more trees for wildlife •Create more vegetation for wildlife ~ Trevor H.

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Macy McNaughton, UE3 Teacher

The Upper Elementary students have been working on their Gala Project and it is beautiful! At the beginning of the school year, UE2 teacher, Nancy Bradtmiller, met with the 6th grade class to determine the dimensions and materials needed for the collaborative project. They decided that each student would receive a 4�x4� canvas that would have an arc pre-drawn on it. We then met as a whole group in the Great Hall and shared the instructions for the project. Students were to paint a design on the inside of the arc and the outside of the arc needed to be a separate color. The students were given no restrictions (other than not using words) as to what colors or what types of images were allowed to be on the canvas. The students worked in their classrooms to finish this portion of the project before Fall Break. Soon, these pieces of art will come together to form several large circles on a finished frame to become an auction item all will want to bid on

Read to Feed Each year, Lower Elementary celebrates our founder, Lorene Salsbery, by choosing a service project. This year, we are participating in an exciting program called ‘Read to Feed’ through Heifer International; a global non-profit whose goal is to end hunger. The students of Lower Elementary are counting the minutes that they read for a month and asking their family and friends to donate for each minute or hour read. At the end of the program, we will tally the totals and collect the funds that have been pledged. Each class will choose how they will use those funds to help Heifer International assist families around the world feed

their families and become

self-reliant. One of the

choices is to purchase an

animal to give to a fam-

ily; such as a cow, water

buffalo, duck, or chick-


used to sustain fami-

lies, and sometimes whole

villages, by providing

labor, wool, manure, dairy,

or eggs. Other options

include: sending a girl to

These animals are

school, purchasing tree seedlings, providing irrigation pumps or financing bio-gas stoves. There are many ways the students can choose to use the funds that are raised. The students are very excited and enjoy learning about what life is like in other countries. They are learning life long skills of compassion and empathy through this rewarding project that honors our founder. To find out more about Heifer International, visit their web page at:


he High School students, known as “The Trailblazers”, have spent Quarter 1 Business Class preparing a busi-

ness plan for the new bike shop. We plan to generate enough income to pay Oak Farm back the initial start up cost of the materials by our Senior year. HS students also have each tak-

The Trailbla

en a bike apart and put it back together to learn how bikes operate. Also, we are working on restoring an antique Schwinn bike for the Gala in February. Even as the weather turns chilly, we are hard at work! It has been really cool to see how the gears work, learn about bike repair and create the plan that will guide the bike shop for the next four years!

Business Summary Oak Farm Montessori School’s bike shop is a small business out of Avilla, Indiana. Here, in conjunction with our school, we believe in showing our students the basics of business while preparing a bike repair and restoration shop for our community. In rural Northern Indiana, there are not many bike repair shops, nor do these few offer restoration. Many Oak Farm families have expressed a need for repair of a bicycle, and our job is to help them achieve that goal. We have developed innovative sales strategies to help us along the path of a successful business & create opportunities to reach out to others. The bike shop will be staffed and (eventually) managed by Oak Farm High School students in our soon-to-be new building. In short, our mission is to improve our community through a new way of sustainable transport- biking.


Gavin -mechanics/CFO Dom -repair/product manager Violet -logo artist /repair Callie -website builder/customizing Emma -customizing/repair/marketing Abby -secretary/repair

Market Analysis Report

•The first two years students will work on bikes, begin to sell, and work in the shop •Older students can manage the business and work on advertising and marketing, unless a younger student also has a strong ambition in this area. •Direct competitors are the many bike shops around the area, such as InRush and Avilla Bike Shops. • InRush does a great job at tune ups and repairs, sells their own parts, and gives great tips for independent bike repairs. It is farther away, but still is a favorite in the Fort Wayne community. • Even though this is a more indirect approach, MS MicroEconomy is also a competitor. This is another Oak Farm student led business that has been successful

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for years. Adding another business to the program could give one or the other more attention. • Aim is to sell to the Oak Farm community, including: parents, friends and students. Future plans include reaching out to others. • Popularity of Hybrid bikes could make them the main focus •Learning experience • Will help the community and high school as well • Repairing and restoring bikes

Organizational goals

We plan to repair/tune up 9 bikes every month, and have at least 10-20 customers every month.

Customer profile & products

Our business will be a small, welcoming shop. Here, people can buy bikes and accessories and get repairs, These bikes will be sold by members of the community (us!), with an emphasis on making sure the customer has all they need.

Hiring and onboarding

Our employees will have practice repairing, tuning up bikes and selling effectively to the customer

Demand generation We will target customers by creating a welcoming environment and raising awareness. For example, using advertising space, hosting events, and telling our friends and family. As the first year of Oak Farm’s high school program continues, our business class is bustling with excitement for the new bike shop. Recently, we walked over to the bike shop to sign our names on the unfinished interior (as in, still the wood shell). We recently created a business plan for the shop and presented it to our teachers, and it was universally agreed that we are on track to a great start! Even as the weather turns chilly, we are hard at work! We are looking forward to opening our bike shop in the future to the Oak Farm community and more.

BUGS, BUGS, BUGS! Hattie Baer, Art Teacher Lower Elementary students have finished up awesome giant paintings of endangered flowers and are now studying insects in art class. Students first learned the parts of an insect, and then used that knowledge to create a collage bug from paper. They learned that insects have compound eyes, antennae, six legs that all attach to the insect’s thorax and three body segments (head, thorax and abdomen). Students then learned about the inventor of the mobile, Alexander Calder. He created incredible mobile sculptures from wire and metal that changed the art world. Students looked at many examples of mobiles and how the artist attached items to achieve balance. When the students were ready to begin creating mobiles of their own, they used insects as their inspiration. This work is challenging, as they will tell you, because gravity is working against them. Students were asked to create at least three bugs to attach to their mobile. They used things like beads, pipe cleaners, wire and fabric to create their bugs and are doing an awesome job remembering the anatomy of insects in their work. For some of the first and second years, this is the first time using a low temp glue gun. Never fear though, the third years are sharing tips and tricks to help younger friends be more successful with the new tool. The biggest challenge has been deciding how to balance the mobile from just one point. As students add weight to different parts of their mobile, they have found that the balance changes. We can’t wait for these works of art to be suspended in the gallery for all to enjoy!

Friends helping friends...

Candy Slabaugh, Infant/Toddler Teacher


aring for others. Have you ever seen two toddlers walking down the hallway holding hands? Have you ever seen one Toddler offering another Toddler a tissue to wipe his or her mucus? Have you ever seen the beautiful gift of an older Toddler helping a younger Toddler zip his or her coat or put on his or her shoes? These are the things that we get to experience each day. This act of kindness and caring for others becomes a natural part of our surroundings in the Toddler environment. You may be asking yourself, “how does this happen in such young children?” Around the first year of life, children grow emotionally in many ways. They evolve their sense of autonomy and start to shift toward the understanding of cause and consequence for their emotions and feelings. They may not be able to articulate these feelings yet, but they are definitely there. We also see this kindness demonstrated through taking turns, cooperation, helping and comforting others. How can you support caring for others at home? Some ideas include: allow yourself to stay calm when your emotions are at high alert. By staying calm, you are being an example to your children on how to process their feelings instead of demonstrating strong reactions. Talk to your children and allow them to experience all kinds of emotions. Use many different kinds of words to describe their feelings and emotions and encourage them to talk about their experiences. Be open to allowing your child to offer comfort or give help when another child feels sad. Most importantly, be consistent and clear about behaviors that are unacceptable or acceptable. You can say things such as, “I know you are angry, but you may not hit me.”

Grandparents’ Day 2017

November newsletter 2017  
November newsletter 2017