Page 1










Message from our Executive Director Dear River Montessori Families, A new year and new plans! A new year often brings an enthusiasm for a new beginning and this is ever so the case here as we begin 2014 at our public Montessori school. We look forward to negotiating these new experiences as a community, capitalizing on our history and strengths, and building new programs and supports for our school‌

May ends our authorizer relationship with the CDE. In June, we will officially begin our new five-year term with our new authorizer, Old Adobe Union School District. It has been a very successful working relationship thus far. Although we are creating a new system of accountability and trust, we are confident that our business together has sincere intentions with all involved to honor the work and obligations of both school and district.

on it, etc.) and benefit from the diversity of the Cypress community. Cypress has been wonderful to work with so far, even including us in the new signage for the building. Undoubtedly, this will be a perfect example to the children of how community members work together! (Come for their presentation Jan. 29th at 5:30p.m.)

In order to prepare our students for Montessori elementary/first grade and serve families with younger children, RMCS will be opening a public Transitional Kindergarten/ Kindergarten classroom in 2014. This decision has come after the earnest wishes of our Montessori faculty and board, as well as prospective families. We look forward to better meeting the needs of children and families with this new program.

We are currently involved in our WASC Self Study term which will require all community members to weigh in on the effectiveness of RMCS. (From the website: WASC accreditation is an ongoing six-year cycle of quality whereby schools demonstrate the capacity, commitment, and competence to support high-quality student learning and ongoing school improvement.) Please let us know if you are interested in volunteering in the ongoing process (WASC committee) and/or watch for word on parent participation meetings.

February 2014, upon completion of construction, will bring our new neighbors to our building. About thirty of the youngest students of Cypress School, a division of United Cerebral Palsy, will be here during their school day. Although students at Cypress spend much of their day learning offcampus, we have the opportunity to share our resources (playground when we are not

This year launched a new service work which we are hoping has a long term place here at RMCS. Currently, three classrooms have begun to work with local retirement and assisted-living communities to serve, entertain, and learn from the elders. We are beside ourselves with the interactions thus far and are gleeful about the potential for mutual work, providing opportunities for

young and old to assist each other. Please let us know if you are interested in helping with this program. The possibilities are endless and we are thrilled that the work has begun! To move forward in our new year with great understanding of our community, we need to know what you think! Please take time to complete our school survey- your experience matters and we’d like to ensure that we are meeting the needs of all of our community members. As we begin Prospective Parent Season, we thank you for sharing experiences with friends and neighbors! Parent-to-parent marketing is the most effective advertising around and we appreciate your expressed confidence in RMCS. A full school assists us with the programs and offerings for the children! (Check out Montessori Matters for how best to explain Montessori Education and field all those questions!) Peace, peace, Kelly


Matters by Kelly Griffith Mannion, M. Ed.

The Montessori Madmen We are often asked for a definition or simple way of explaining Montessori education. This is an especially hard challenge as it is so encompassing of child development and specific and brilliantly designed supports that digesting it into a sound-bite is rather impossible. Or is it? Check out the link below to an “elevator speech” (how much can you say about Montessori when they ask you in between floors) contest, started by Montessori Madmen. If you are not familiar with the Montessori Madmen, be sure to check them out. Trevor Eissler, a Montessori dad and pilot, is writing books and increasing awareness of Montessori education by getting the word out to parents in big and clever ways. One of his ideas was a reasonable way for the whole community to band together for a Super Bowl ad! Here are a few of the written submissions for the elevator speech contest. We hope it will help you with how you define Montessori. Of course, if you have any questions, give us a call!

“TO some, it is a method for achieving academic excellence.” 2



Montessori is multi–faceted. The takeaway from Montessori education can be very unique and personal. To some, it is a “method” for achieving academic excellence. To others, it is the benefit of hands-on learning that is very appealing. To me, Montessori is a path to self-discovery. Montessori is a place where children and adults collaborate in a “prepared environment” — A habitat that fosters compassion, respect, independence and interdependence. The child owns his/her learning and the adult follows the child. The guides/teachers are the “custodians” of this environment. They are the silent observers, listeners and facilitators. The ultimate goal is that the passion for learning must come from within the child. That’s when ideas are born, thoughts and actions take shape. And thus begins the journey towards selfdiscovery. Experience this yourself! Join me and visit a Montessori and find out — “What is Montessori?”

Maria Montessori was a physician and anthropologist who observed that children learn much better when nurtured in a Prepared Environment.

“Independence is the ultimate goal.” Through physical repetition of touching and seeing different materials, the child develops a natural sense of respect of his or her surroundings and becomes self-sufficient in their own development. Independence is the ultimate goal and Dr. Montessori believed that in the classroom, the child is the leader; and that puts the teacher in the role of a facilitator. As a substitute in two Montessori schools, my advice would be to visit an accredited Montessori school and observe a classroom. They are very generous with letting curious parents have an opportunity witness curiosity at its most natural form.

Are there certain keys to parenting? absolutely. do you want the secret? Listen to pediatric neuropsychologist, Stephen Hughes, who tells us how to best support our children in order to meet our dreams for them- independence selfsufficiency, joy, fulfillment as adults, etc. As we cannot bring this inspiring, motivating, helpful guide to you, you can access Stephen Hughes online at this site: Parenting: Tips, Tricks, & Traps Community Conversation Meetings are a dedicated time to talk with River’s Montessorians about supporting children in their growth and learning! Come ask questions, give and share perspective, meet new people, and get a little support in the process. Each meeting is hosted by our administrator and/or a guide and includes a loose topic for inspiration and time for agenda-free questions and discussion.



The Montessori method is the ultimate “hands-on,” “multi-sensory” education. Everything in a Montessori classroom is 3-dimensional. Children are inherently motivated to learn because they are given opportunities to touch, hold, and handle materials. You won’t find alphabet cards hanging from the ceiling, rather actual letters that children feel with their hands to learn sounds or construct words and sentences. Children don’t look in a book to find out what trapezoids, octagons, or rhombuses look like, they go to a shelf and pick them up with their hands. When learning about landforms such as peninsulas, islands, or isthmuses, children pour water into clay molds to see right before their very eyes how the water juxtaposes the land. As a former “traditional” public school teacher, I was sent to trainings to learn “differentiated instruction” (individualized teaching) and “integrative curriculum planning” (teaching subjects across curriculum). Come to find out, these are the basis of the Montessori method, created 100 years ago!

It’s paying attention to the child; their wants, their needs and their interests. When children are interested in something and get to learn about it in a focused, easy-to-access, well-thoughtout, active, hands-on way and then experiment with their own ideas about it, by themselves or with some friendsthey learn so much more than if they had to sit down and just listen to somebody blah blah blah… at them. Teachers or guides, support basic human rights such as freedom within limits for the children to move, be heard, given the benefit of a doubt, ask questions, create their own work and instill complete respect no matter what culture, race or religion they are. The environments are key to the success of everyone; being cheerful, culturally rich, aesthetically pleasing, well organized, uncluttered and comfortable, whether they are in or outside, they are vibrant, working, playful, peaceful communities where everybody counts and contributes. I hope you, your child or a friend can experience one. It will change your life for the better of forever.

LINKS TO THE MADMEN AND THE MADNESS ALIKE: Book: Montessori Madness: A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education Website: Facebook: Video: Montessori Madness Presentation for Parents Contest: Winner of the Montessori Elevator Speech

P a re n t

UNIVERSITY January 16 Life After RMCS: An Alumni Panel

February 20 Vulnerability Creates Success

March 20 Book Review: Montessori Madness: A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori by Trevor Eissler

April 17 Bring on the Learning Revolution!

May 15 The Happiness Advantage







education interest



child in


external activity to which he will give all of his potential.”



Wish List Refrigerator Pool Table Plants and


Shape Housekeeping, Reminders, Community Work Days


Arrival, Dismissal & Traffic CALLING ALL


Volunteers Cypress has different arrival and dismissal times than we do. They have provided Looking for a way to get involved?

transportation for their students so children arrive with specialists. They will be

GREAT…We need you!

taking some spaces in the parking lot so if you have been parking on the front side


be sure to check with your guides first about help in the classroom or behind-the-scenes. What a community we have at

of the building, we encourage you to use the parking along the back of our building, cross the crosswalk and enter through the Tributary Hallway for a safe entry/ exit for children. Of course, the SAFEST entry and exit is via the CAR-LINE. At

The story of our school

dismissal, we are able to facilitate all the children to their cars in about seven min-

begins with volunteers striving

utes total. Depending when you travel through, that’s seconds to a minute or two

to provide the very best in time,

per car, despite the line that builds prior to car-line starting. Here’s a secret- if you


resources, and connections, and continues to this day with huge

come at 3:10, there is NO LINE!

participation in every aspect of our school. Here are the latest needs… please let us know if you can help! One-on-One Listeners Listen to children read or practice


Attendance Awareness

their math facts – a great help to the developing child! Specialized Classroom Volunteers Spanish, Reading, etc. Let us know your experience and/or interest and we will train you to assist in the classroom!


Thank you for your diligence in notifying the school of absences. Please remember to complete Independent Studies when applicable (one day minimum, arranged in advance of the absence). This INCREASES our funding and “revenue” so please keep up the good work!

Also, please remember the importance of Signing-In if you are late or are picking up your child a bit early. It is the legal documentation of attendance which is audited to ensure our funding. Thank you for your continued support!


Montessori Music


Julie Parnow, Community Our Music Wish List Now Includes ...


why, a digeridoo, of course!

Please help us welcome Sasha Anderson, an experienced teacher currently pursuing her Masters in Montessori Education with St. Mary’s College. Sasha will be leading our music program and will add the Montessori Music Curriculum, including the Montessori bells, tone bars, notation, writing, reading and performing music to the unique program we have designed for this year.

Tim Lohrentz, RMCS Founding Member SECRETARY

Ginny Hautau, Parent MEMBER

Norman Lorenz, M.Ed., Community Thanks to Parent, David Hidalgo, our next performance is Sonoma County Taiko~ should be very exciting! Please let us know if you have a musical talent to share or know of anyone who would love to show the children what passion for music and performance looks like!


Julie Petersen, Community MEMBER

Milagros Ott, Parent MEMBER

Carolyn Duffy, Parent


The Cypress School Cypress School is a non-public school located in Sonoma County for children ages 5-22 with special education and behavioral needs that cannot be met in public schools. Cypress School is almost ready to open its new home! In order to facilitate our best understanding of their program, Director Laura Briggin has kindly offered to present the Cypress School work and community to our parents on Wednesday, January 29, 2014. In addition, Laura will be taking time mid-month to speak with our faculty and then arrange with each individual Guide a time to speak with the children.

Meeting Dates

BOD NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, February 11, 2013 at 6:30pm

She will explain their program and the nature of their children’s disabilities to our children so that everyone may have appropriate and respectful understanding and language for questions and concerns.

Wednesday January 29, 2014

Meetings are typically held on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, but please check the RMCS web site for any changes or additions. January 25 Board Retreat February 11 March 4 April 8 May 13 June 17

For more info: 778-6414



NEWS + VIEWS River Montessori Foundation : Founded by Families : Funded with Love

Put on Your Moon-Walking Shoes! RIVER WALK-A-THON IS RIGHT AROUND THE BEND The Walk-a-Thon is scheduled to be held on Friday, February 21 from 12:30 to 3:30pm. This years theme is Moonwalk, and students are encouraged to dress up and show their spacey spirit and creativity! The Walk-a-Thon Pledge Form can be downloaded here.

RiverWear O N L I N E COMING SOON: River Wear will soon be available online through the RMF web site.


T-Shirt Art Submissions Students can submit their own art to be included on the Walk-a-Thon tshirt! Possible ideas include: Planets, Stars, Astronauts, Rockets, etc. All art must be done in black ink on white paper. No color please! Submissions can be turned into the “Walk-a-Thon” box located in Tributary Hall, and are due no later than Friday, January 17.

Support the RMF Bridge Fund HELP CLOSE the gap between public funding and the true cost of education Through the RMF Bridge Fund, parents and supporters of River can make a one-time contribution or spread an annual pledge in equal payments throughout the year. No contribution is too small, and every contribution is greatly appreciated.

Download the Bridge Fund form or make a one-time or recurring donation via Paypal right here.

The Foundation’s 2013-2014 goals are aggressive: (1) Bridge Fund participation by all River families; and (2) provide more than $100,000 in funds to River Montessori Charter.

For more information about the Bridge Fund, please email Mark Hall, Bridge Fund Coordinator, at

Annual Flapjack Fundraiser 1/25 RIVER WALK-A-THON IS RIGHT AROUND THE BEND River Montessori Foundation will be holding its annual Flapjack Fundraiser on Saturday, January 25, from 8:00am – 10:00am, at Applebee’s in Petaluma. Please come out to support RMCS by enjoying a delicious breakfast of pancakes, bacon, potatoes, coffee & orange juice. Gluten free pancakes will also be available!

Please spread the word, invite your friends and family, and help make this year the best Flapjack Fundraiser we’ve ever had! Tickets are $10 in advance (visit the Foundation website) and $12 at the door. We look forward to seeing you there!


Jack VOLUNTEERS NEEDED We’re looking for help from River parents with ticket sales, promoting the event locally and at the event. Volunteers will receive a free ticket for the breakfast! To become a Flapjack Volunteer, sign up online at the SignUp Genius page.

“A child is an eager observer and is particularly attracted by the actions of the adults and wants to imitate them. In this regard an adult can have a kind of mission. He can be an inspiration for the child’s actions, a kind of open book wherein a child can learn how


to direct his own movements. But an adult, if he is to afford proper

Pancake breakfast served up right!

guidance, must always be calm and act slowly so that the child who


is watching him can clearly see his actions in all their particulars.”

$10/adv. $12/door

Saturday January 25, 2014 8:00 – 10:00 am

d by


5301 old redwood hwy., petaluma

-- Dr. Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

Chairperson: Abby Calvert a b b y j c p c @m s n . c o m


Rowing with River Crew Need care for Spring Break? River Crew is here for you! Sports Camp and Leadership Camp can’t be beat…sign up today!

Please welcome Emily Zanardi to River Crew! Emily is a California credentialed teacher, currently enrolled in her Montessori Elementary Credential with The Center for Guided Montessori Studies. Emily will oversee River Crew’s function and implementation. We are thrilled to have the creativity and expertise of Emily joing our very talented River Crew team!

Does your child want more play-dates than you can arrange? Does your child need some social time? Down time? Fun time in a busy schedule of sports or extracurricular lessons? River Crew is a good time for that old-fashioned kind of play that all children need. Children play ball, create art or science experiments, read, cook, and just hang out and laugh. Sign up today for a day here and there or a day a week to provide your child with a much needed unstructured play time!

Meeting Dates

RMF NEXT MEETING: Thursday, January 16, 2013 from 7-8pm Meetings are typically held on the 3rd Thursday of each month, but please check the RMF web site for any changes or additions.


Eat well. Be well. Live well. by Meredith Brown Hello River Families! It is with great pleasure that I introduce myself to you all. I have been asked to contribute an article about nutrition to the monthly newspaper, and I am excited to get started. I have a list of topics about which I want to share information, all pertaining to the importance of a whole foods based diet to nourish our children. I began my professional career as a middle school Language Arts teacher, and it was then that I began to notice the direct correlation between food and behavior. Around that time I watched a super interesting show about a continuation high school in Wisconsin that hired a full-time cook and began serving two home cooked meals a day. The school saw a major turn around in student behavior, attendance, and achievement. That show really stuck with me and made me want to learn more about this connection between food, behavior, and academic success.

“.. want to learn more about this connection between food, behavior, and academic success.”


When my son, Maxwell, was an infant and it was time to start feeding him, I learned that many of the standard practices of feeding babies and children are not truly the most healthful ways to feed children. This started me reading, learning and absorbing as much information as I could get my hands on. I discovered a movement towards more traditional methods of eating, preparing, and growing foods. I found great satisfaction in sort-of relearning these methods of traditional cooking and living that my great-grandmother had done on the farm, such as canning, fermenting, slow-cooking, bone broths, and cooking from scratch; as well as turning towards using home remedies to treat my child’s illnesses. All of these things were much easier to do than I had thought they would be. Some of

them are so easy, in fact, that I can’t believe they have fallen ‘out of fashion’ in the American kitchen. Though they do take a little extra time and forethought, it is well worth the effort. I decided I wanted to figure out a way to share all this new, or more re-learned, information I had acquired, and I needed to get some credentialing so that I could turn it into a career. I found a nutrition program through the Nutritional Therapy Association, which is based on the food ideals of the Weston A Price Foundation, and completed the program in October of 2013. So I am fresh out the gate and ready to go. And writing a column for the school newspaper seems like a great place to start in spreading the word. I look forward to meeting more of you as my family spends more time at River over the next several years. Please come up and say hi; I’m always open to questions and would welcome suggestions for topics to write about. Until next month~ Eat well, be well, live well. With peace and gratitude,

Meredith Brown

P a re n t

Earn Tickets to Six Flags®


READ TO SUCCEED SIX HOUR READING CLUB River Montessori is participating in an exciting program that encourages students in grades K through 6 to read for fun. Read to Succeed is a free program sponsored by Six Flags Theme Parks. Every student who completes six hours of recreational reading before the school’s deadline noted below is eligible for a free admission ticket valid at participating Six Flags Theme Parks. Students will develop a greater appreciation for books when they see that you think reading is important too. You are sure to have fun as you investigate the world of reading together! If you have any questions, please contact Panna Lossy: Here’s what you need to know: • • • • • • • •

Only students in grades K through 6 are eligible. Your child should use the provided reading log to record what and how long he/she reads. Download here. Your child must complete six hours, or 360 minutes. Please initial each entry and then sign the reading log to verify that the six hours of reading has been completed. Your child can read books, magazines, newspapers, or comic books. Reading for homework or a class assignment does NOT count. Students can read silently, aloud, or with an adult—you can read to your child, or your child can read to you. Remind your child to return the reading log to his/her teacher by February 24, 2014. Late entries will NOT be accepted.

Name (firs t nam

e and last


Complet e and retu rn this sheet to your teac her by:


(Teacher /coordina tor


School: : ______ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ _________ Grade: ___ _________ _________ _______ _________ Teacher: _________ _________ ______ e to the _________ Six Flags ® _________ Read to To particip _________ Succeed ate Six Hour _________ newspaper , you need to rea Rea ding Clu __ d for fun s, or b!


S: TM &

comic boo ks. Readin for a total of six hou This log g for hom rs or 360 will help ework or minutes. you keep of this she a class ass You can track of all et if necess read boo ignment your rea have you ary). Hav ks, magaz does NO ding. List r parent/tea e a parent T count. ines, what you or teache cher initi a free tick read and al the form r initial this et to a Six the time . Then, retu log every you spend Flags ® the time you rn it to you me park. reading read. Wh (use the Your tick r teache back en you rea r by the et will be date liste given to ch the goa Date d below you by you l, in order to r teache qualify for r/coordina tor. What I Read


Total Am

Parent/Tea cher Initials

ount of Tim

© 2013 Six

Flags Them e Parks


Thank you for participating.


Tickets will be awarded to students by their teacher/coordinator. The ticket is valid for admission on select dates only during the 2014 season. Valid dates will be printed on the tickets. Tickets are valid for students in grades K-6 only and are not valid for anyone over the age of 13. No exceptions. Each ticket is valid for one free admission only. Tickets are not for resale and are nontransferable. They cannot be replaced if lost, stolen or damaged.

We hope that you and your child enjoy this free program and spend time reading together. Happy Reading from The Six Flags® Read to Succeed Team

Burrito Taxi Needed For Burrito Thursdays We need a parent to pick up burritos on Thursdays. Our dedicated Klamath guide, Deanna has been running out to pick them up most every week. Let’s give her a break and pitch in. There is a sign-up genius online or you can let Deanna know directly that you are able to make this commitment.

Muchas Gracias!

to fill in due


e Read (Mu st be at leas t 6 hours or 360 min utes) I certify tha Please use the back of this pag I am also t student named e or add above has aware tha itional shee theme par t completed ts, if nee ks on sele the one free adm ded. entries will ission tick six hours of rec ct dates rea dur et not tion tha ing be t al the 2014 my child acc replaced will receive reading. sea if lost, sto epted, and tick ets are NO son. Dates will len or dam is valid onl be incl T valid for aged. y _________ anyone ove uded on the tick at participating Six Fla ® ets r age 13, Parent/Te __________ are not for . I also understan gs acher Init d tha resale and ials cannot be t late

About the Tickets: • • • • • •

STUDEN T Student

Our annual parent satisfaction survey will be online mid-month. This is your chance to weigh in on how we’re doing here at River. Your input is important to our growth.


WEEK River Montessori Charter School will be recieving a Proclomation from the City during Montessori Education Week. The Proclamation will take place at the regularly scheduled City Coucil Meeting on February 3 at City Hall. The entire River Community is invited to attend in a show of support for our fine school. Questions? (707) 778-6414 Montessori Education Week February 24 through March 2



River Montessori CHARTER SCHOOL

January Calendar Parent and Nurse, Teresa Strel, conducting head checks

JANUARY 17 Lower Elementary Watch Me Work Day 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Stephen Twyman,

JANUARY 16 Burrito Thursday

JANUARY 20 No School. River Crew Closed.

JANUARY 21 Lower Elementary Water Agency Field Trip 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.

carpet cleaning

Pasta Tuesday

Bob Hartley,

JANUARY 23 PJHS and KJHS Couselor Visitations for Sixth Year Students, 10:30 a.m.

chair repair

Burrito Thursday

Jen Oryn, guitar donation

JANUARY 25 RMCS Board Retreat

Foundation Flapjack Fundraiser

JANUARY 27 Pizza Monday

JANUARY 28 Lower Elementary Water Agency Field Trip 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Pasta Tuesday

JANUARY 29 Presentation by Cypress School, 5:30 p.m.

Learning to Have Fun & Having Fun Learning



JANUARY 30 Upper Elementary Trip Meetings 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Burrito Thursday

C H A RT E R S C H O O L 3880 Cypress Street Petaluma, CA 94954



the RIVER CURRENT January 2014  

Monthly newsletter of River Montessori Charter School in Petaluma, California