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SUMMIT Spring 2012 - 2013


C e l e b r a t i n g 5 0 Ye a r s o f E x c e l l e n c e

Head of School Message

Maria Had It Right It is generally agreed today that the Montessori Method is the best way to introduce a child to the joy of learning. School shouldn’t be a passive experience. Children need to be free to explore. Children should grow in independence. Read Dr. Maria Montessori’s words: Ours was a house for children rather than a real school. We had prepared a place for children where a diffused culture could be assimilated from the environment, without any need for direct instruction…Yet these children learned to read and write before they were five, and no one had given them any lessons… Only after repeated experiments did we conclude with certainty that all children are endowed with this capacity to absorb culture. If this be true – we then argued – if culture can be acquired without effort, let us provide the children with other elements of culture. And then we saw them absorb far more than reading and writing: botany, zoology, mathematics, geography, and all with the same ease, spontaneously and without getting tired. And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher’s task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child.

Dr. Montessori was doing her work in the early 20th Century, and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur were paying attention. They learned from her method and experimented with it in their schools. They found it worked! The Montessori Method was completely in sync with the educational philosophy of the Sisters: To live life joyfully, to educate the whole child, to discover and develop each child’s God given talents, to expect excellence, to be kind and care for each other. Maria’s method developed from observation, trial and error. Neuroscience today explains what she observed. Children can make rapid progress when placed in the right environment. At this age, children’s brains are developing faster than at any point in their subsequent lives. Neurons are developing massive and detailed dendritic branching. Synaptic density is reaching a lifetime peak. The largest gain in vocabulary happens during this period of life. That’s why Montessori teachers use precise language, never baby talk. When we built the Lower School, careful attention was paid to what the ideal environment should be for very young children. When we hire teachers, we’re looking for a loving educator who has mastered the Montessori methodology and is able to guide the child in the environment. When we started the Enrichment Programs, which few schools had conceived at the time, we sought to prepare the children for the global world they will inherit by giving them an understanding of world geography, science, culture and the arts. When we started exposing children to French and Spanish as young as three, we knew that was the best time for them to learn a non-native language effortlessly. Montessori uses all the senses to the fullest. The very young child needs the foundation of the concrete in order to move toward abstraction. This is especially true in math. The Montessori materials make math concepts – addition, subtraction, multiplication and division – concrete. The same approach is employed with fractions and place value. The counting, classification, measuring, and sorting are fun ways for the children to learn these concepts in a hands-on way.

Contents Beyond cognitive development, the social and spiritual development of children at this age is just as critical. Montessori teachers recognize that peace and kindness are the cornerstones to developing children of strong moral character. Montessori classrooms are calm and harmonious places where distractions are limited. Everything is in its place. Kindness is modeled by the teachers and internalized by the children. They learn how to share and how to respect the personal space of others in their environment. They also learn the value of learning from each other, which is why the mixed age grouping in the classroom is effective. Maria Montessori focused on spiritual development which resonated with the Sisters. Children at this age can learn that God exists, God is good, and God loves them unconditionally. Physical development is carefully arranged. Both large and small motor skills are practiced. The children work on balance, hand-eye coordination, and concentration. Running is for the outside. Use of the hands in a careful way comes naturally. Again, listen to Maria: He learns everything without knowing he is learning it, and in doing so passes little from the unconscious to the conscious, treading always in the paths of joy and love. In this issue we begin to celebrate the 50 years The Summit has been providing a rich Montessori environment for the children under our care (see page 22). We celebrate the people who have enhanced our practice of the Montessori Method. We celebrate our beautiful building which is ideally constructed for learning. We celebrate the innovations the Sisters brought to our teaching. Montessori Director Phyllis Schueler and our teachers continue this innovative tradition today. But most of all we celebrate the children for whom all of this is dedicated. How we start them off will determine the path they will follow in life. We take that responsibility very seriously. Maria had it right, which is why we have incorporated her method as part of The Summit Way.

Rich Wilson Head of School

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Features Eight international students are experiencing our unique school while giving us a more global view of the world. Servant leadership is part of The Summit’s mission. Three groups of students in the Lower, Middle and Upper Schools show us how they are lending help, offering hope and opening their hearts to those in need. Innovative Summit teachers are using Flipped Classroom techniques to leverage the best use of their face-to-face time with students. Q&A: In a north-south spin on the classic Cincinnati east-west divide, eighth grader Hannah Fassler explores community and common ground with senior David Herring. In the fall community survey, parents rated The Summit above benchmark compared to other independent schools in 28 attributes, and students rated the school above benchmark in 61 attributes. The Summit’s Montessori Program will celebrate its golden anniversary in 201314. We take a look back at the past 50 years and review the career of Director Phyllis Schueler. In its second year, SCD Broadcasting gives air to the three new voices of the Silver Knights.

Eighteen members of the incoming freshman class will get the benefit of The Summit advantage thanks to the generosity of special families who have created named endowed scholarships. World champion kayaker Jamie Simon ‘88 has turned her energies to entrepreneurism, and opera singer Antonia Tamer ’06 gets her first big break.


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Newsmakers Athletics Development Parents

Insert The Summer Program Guide shows how you can make the most of the scheduled classes and camps offered this year for Montessori through Grade 12.

Class Notes Summit Magazine 5

Working in a model Montessori classroom, Teaching Assistant Julia Ventura assists Caroline Hagerman with a painting. Cailyn Youtsey and Finn Kropp take advantage of the natural light from the large bay window as they work independently at a table.

We’re Golden

Celebrating 50 Years of Montessori Excellence 22 Spring 2013

By Eileen Connelly, OSU Great moments happen every day in The Summit’s Montessori. In classrooms designed for Montessori teaching, materials are carefully displayed to optimize learning, independence and curiosity. The creativity of these youngest Summit scholars is ignited. Montessoritrained faculty recognize the potential of each 2- to 6-year old preschooler and nurture every one of them. The most telling examples of success are the children themselves – 2-year-olds who are learning respect and organization when they are not yet out of diapers; 3-year-olds counting in French and Spanish; a 5-year-old reading at several grade levels beyond her age; and a little boy from Germany, who has only been in the United States a few months, but is already speaking English well and learning at the same level as his peers. The Summit’s Montessori program will celebrate its 50th anniversary in the 2013-14 school year. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), who have their own place in Montessori history, many of The Summit’s programs – Toddler, Orff Schulwerk music approach, World Language and Enrichment among them – give the school distinction.

Montessori Timeline of History 1963 The Summit opens the Montessori Program under direction of Sister Mary Motz & Sister Jane Thomas.

1964 Montessori moves to the second floor of the Kindergarten Building.

1965 Kindergarten becomes Montessori. Montessori methods are extended into the early grades.


“The Summit is a special place,” says Amy Berger, currently in her eighth year of teaching at The Summit. “We have the Catholic education at the core, the Sisters’ original founding philosophy, great teachers and our parents are wonderful. Our Montessori is unique in the set up of our day and the choices offered. No other Montessori program is quite like ours, and I am very blessed to be here.”

The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur publish “Montessori Matters.”

Early Montessori History


Any Montessori history begins with Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori. She believed that if we are to have hope in humankind, then we must have hope in children. The Montessori philosophy emphasizes an intellectual, yet warm, creative and encouraging environment – teaching children a sense of order,

1968 Rosemary Roeding begins teaching.

Joan Hilton begins.

1970 The Summit Primary School opens for grades 1-3.

1971 Phyllis Schueler begins teaching.

Summit Magazine 23





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independence, concentration and coordination, while recognizing their individual needs, range of readiness and ability. Certainly, Maria Montessori’s sentiments resonated with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who founded The Summit in 1890. Throughout their educational ministry, the Sisters also recognized the gifts and potential of the child and believed each individual should be nurtured with love. Maria Montessori opened her first Children’s House (or Casa dei Bambini) in 1907, enrolling some 50 to 60 children between the ages of two and three, and six and seven. Forwardthinking, the Sisters embraced her philosophy early. While The Summit is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the modern-day Montessori, the Sisters actually began 1965 to explore Montessori methods at The Summit as early as 1923. One year later, Sisters Josephine Mary and Marie Angela left for Europe, touring Dowanhill in Glasgow, Scotland, where the congregation ran the Notre Dame Child Clinic and had published A Scottish Montessori School. They also toured the Training College in Liverpool and the Dalton School in Clapham, England. They returned to Cincinnati with the vision of establishing a full-scale Montessori. That first school for grades 1-6 opened in 1925 in a new building called The Alpha (now the technology and World Language wing of the Middle School).

1973 Sister Noreen Joyce begins teaching.

1974 Sister Noreen Joyce becomes principal. Mary Brinkmeyer begins teaching.

1977 Sister Mary Motz begins a second stint as principal. Linda Regensberger begins.

1978 Mary Humpert begins.

1979 Linda Regensberger becomes principal.

1982 Karen Pohl begins.

1985 Christmas Play in Kyte Theater for first time. Linda Moeggenberg begins.

1986 3-day program for 3-year-olds begins. Julie Ventura teaches extra-curricular dance program. Martha Twombly begins.

1987 Michele Kaegi begins.

1989 Phyllis Schueler becomes Montessori Director.


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According to historic records, a number of factors eventually took their toll on the school. The early Montessori movement fizzled across the U.S. in the 1920s and it would be 40 years before it would return in force. The Alpha was turned into Summit School for Boys in 1941.

A ’60s Montessori Resurgence


By the time the Sisters rekindled the Montessori idea at The Summit in 1962, methods once viewed as experimental had become educationally sound. The Montessori Program opened in September 1963 with 25 students under the direction of Sisters Mary Motz and Jane Thomas [now Jane (Bunker) Jones ’58], who had been trained and certified at two Montessori centers in the United States. Sister Mary continued to head the school until 1974, when she was succeeded by Sister 1965 Noreen Joyce. Sister Mary recalls that The Summit’s program quickly became a national model for other schools and filled requests to serve as an internship site for those training in the Montessori method, including students from Xavier University (XU), which began offering a Master’s Degree in Montessori education in 1965. The Summit’s faculty contributed to Montessori Matters, published by the Sisters in 1967 which became an invaluable resource for local and national educators training in Montessori techniques. “The 50-year dedication of The Summit Country Day Montessori School is a tribute to the efforts of the many people at Summit over the years who have worked to provide quality education for young children,” says Kathleen M. Duval, a longtime Montessori teacher who for many years served as a national consultant for the American Montessori Society. “The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur contributed significantly to the establishment and growth of Montessori in the Cincinnati area.” Indeed, Sisters Jane and Mary themselves went on to help found other schools and train Montessori teachers in several states.


Looking back on those early years of Montessori and its continued success, Sister Mary says parental involvement was, and 26 Spring 2013


1991 Noreen Petry begins.

1993 Margaret Prinner begins.

1994 World Language Program begins in kindergarten.

Three of the women who have headed the Montessori reunite: Sister Mary Motz, left, Phyllis Schueler and Sister Noreen Joyce, right.

is, critical. “I realize that one of its greatest strengths and sources of positive growth was the tremendous parental support and involvement in the program. Dr. Maria Montessori stressed in her program the close partnership needed with the children’s initial teachers – the parents.” Sister Mary said she realized early that many of The Summit’s graduates were destined to become business and civic leaders. “Another conviction I gleaned from my Summit Montessori experience was to closely observe each child and help them move from where they are to reach their highest potential,” she says. “This helped me realize the need to keep in mind the possibilities of each child’s future role in society. The potential leadership roles many of my students would find themselves in as adults necessitated careful focusing from their earliest years at home and in school on basic leadership life skills. Leadership skills need to be fine tuned in students at the earliest age… In their roles as adults, they have far greater power to either build up or tear down the society in which they live and function.”

1995 Educating with Character Program begins.

1996 Karen Koch begins.

1998 Anne Chambers, Brian Miller & Julie Ventura begin.

1999 Joan Hilton awarded Schilderink Chair. Kathy Scott begins.

2000 Linda Moeggenberg awarded Schilderink Chair.

2001 Yngrid Thurston begins.

The Modern Era


As a protégé of Sisters Mary and Noreen, Phyllis Schueler ushered in the modern era of The Montessori Program. Mrs. Schueler came to The Summit searching for a “solid” program for her preschool-aged son and “fell in love” with Summit’s Montessori program. Sister Mary hired her in 1971 and she received her Montessori graduate school training at Xavier University under Hilda Rothschild, who was personally trained by Maria Montessori. In 1989, Mrs. Schueler became the school’s director.


Montessori gets new home when new Lower School opens. Kim Bush & Kyle Wirthwine begin.

Amy Berger & Jane Hackett begin.

2006 Mary Schwietering Summit Magazine 27 begins.

Mary Humpert, the longest-serving Montessori teacher among the current faculty, enjoys an outdoor spring respite in 2011 with several students. From left, Tyler Fitzgerald, Joaquin Beatty, Kameron Givan, Mia Cavallo, Bella Baker and Ian Ferguson.

Another early Summit Montessori teacher, Mary (Foss) Brinkmeyer ’67, had the same two-degrees of separation from Maria Montessori and says that influence was profound. “Because of that strong training and the wealth of her early childhood teaching experience, Phyllis has been able to create a Montessori environment at The Summit that is truly a premier school,” says Mrs. Brinkmeyer. “She possesses a unique talent to observe the learning style of each child and, along with her teachers, assist the students to become individual learners. The Summit has the finest educational materials available. One of Phyllis’ crowning achievements was the construction of the Lower School.” As a parent first, Mrs. Schueler and her husband, Richard, enrolled all four of her children -- Stephen Schueler BMS ’80, Todd Schueler ’96, Tara Schueler ’03 and Kristi (Schueler) Eastman – in the Montessori program. Now, three of her four grandchildren, John and twins Alexis and Kylie, are currently in Summit’s Montessori. Like the Schueler families, many other Montessori alumni have brought their children “home” to The Summit. 28 Spring 2013

Mercer ’95 and Lindsay ’97 Reynolds both attended the Montessori program themselves and now have three children (Caroline, Jack and J. Mercer Jr.) enrolled. Jack, 3, attends three mornings a week. They say he has “blossomed” and been “comforted” by being able to learn alongside his brother, who is in kindergarten. One of the key components of the Montessori educational experience is peer teaching, which mixes three, four and five-yearolds in the same classroom. The multi-age mentoring enables the younger children to learn from their older counterparts, who C.J. Gordon in turn, are learning to be uses a hammer leaders in the classroom. to develop fine “Next year, Jack will do motor skills. the same for Caroline (currently in the Toddler Program),” says Mrs. Reynolds. “Our own Montessori experience provided both of us with a foundation on which to grow and influenced every facet of our lives,” says Mr. Reynolds. “Our children are benefitting the same way we did. They’ve matured in every facet of their lives. Mercer was such a shy kid and has really come out of his shell. I don’t


think he would have experienced the same growth without Summit. We’re very proud of him and happy with his development.”

Toddler Program begins. 100th anniversary of Maria Montessori’s first school.

Wayne Lippert ’89 has fond memories of his years in Montessori and attributes his current success to the “strong sense of order, freedom to select work that interested me and was at my level, guidance of the teachers and the consistency of the materials.” He and his wife, Chris, have three children at the Summit – Lily, 9, and six-year-old twins, Holland and Trey, both in Montessori. “They’re learning the same values that were instilled in me,” Mr. Lippert says, “and those fundamental aspects of learning in reading, math, and science are laying a good, solid foundation for them.”

2008 Lori Meier & Meg Sanders begin. First Early Childhood Education Symposium.

2009 Mary Humpert awarded Schilderink Chair. Lauren Mahoney begins.

Looking back on the development of The Summit’s Montessori education program, Mrs. Schueler credits the faith and vision of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, as well as ongoing cooperation between parents, teachers and administration with its success. “The teachers really make our program with their dedication,” she said. “They stay with it, they build it, have such passion for what they do and always want to make it better for the children.”

2010 World Language Program expands. Bible Stories begin. Ai Li Brown, Amy McDonald, Jennifer McGrath, Barbara Powers & Caroline Rollins begin.

She believes in the unlimited potential of the children in her care. Her goal is to see that all of the children become independent and critical thinkers so they can reach their highest potential. “If you believe in the potential of children, they will exceed your expectations,” she says.

2011 Toddler Program Expands (2, 3 and 5 days). Lavina Ambani, Katia Palek, Rebecca Penker, Jill Puffer, Meredith Schiff ’02 & Lauren Yarnell begin.

Sister Eileen Connelly is news editor of the Catholic Telegraph.

2012 An enhanced Character Education Program curriculum begins. Fourth class of Extended Early Enrichment begins. Fifth Annual Early Childhood Education Symposium. Michelle Blake & Mary Walsh begin. In 2012 Millie Castellini traces the letter “b” in shaving cream on a mirrored surface.

Logo design: Marie (Moeggenberg) Day ‘07

2013 Summit Montessori 29 29 Summit celebrates 50 Magazine years.

30 Spring 2013

Phyllis Schueler has been director of the Montessori Program since 1989 and a teacher since 1971. She enrolled all four of her children in the program and her legacy continues as three of her grandchildren now attend while another is a Summit second grader. With her, from left, are grandchildren Sophia Schueler, Lexie Eastman, John Schueler and Kylie Eastman.

Phyllis Schueler Defines Modern Montessori By Nancy Berlier

the architecture and interior design to make sure classrooms, lighting and materials optimized Montessori methodology.

Having been a teacher in Summit’s Montessori since 1971 and director since 1989, Phyllis Schueler is largely responsible for the growth of this hallmark school and its current heyday. In her 42-year tenure, Mrs. Schueler started Early Enrichment and refined Advanced Enrichment Programs which present an academically strong curriculum in science, culture, geography and fine arts through thematic units of study. World Language expanded, bringing an immersion experience in Spanish and French to 3-year-olds. She started the Toddler Program for 2-year-olds. The Orff Schulwerk early music education program, which helps develop areas of the brain involved in language, reasoning and problem-solving, was revamped. Mrs. Schueler incorporated the teaching of “kindness” in the curriculum when the age-based Character Education Program was introduced. She added Bible Stories to address the spiritual pillar in The Summit’s mission statement. And she has fostered an open-door policy to include parents in all aspects of their children’s education. When the Lower School was being designed, Mrs. Schueler put her imprint on




Her results are measurable. Kindergarteners are reading and writing stories prior to first grade, which leads to an accelerated start in lower grades. Montessori enrollment has peaked in the last two years. “The Montessori is a magical place,” says parent Adaire Hiestand ‘87. “Phyllis has built a world-class program in a facility that exudes sunlight and warmth. Teachers are amazing and caring. The Montessori has a great music program; the materials make adults want to sit on a rug and work with them; kindness is taught with compassion; and there is much more academic programming than you expect from pre-K.” “All of this is just part of what Phyllis has created,” she continues. “The other part is much larger and far reaching. What I see when I walk through the halls is lively, engaged and brilliant children who cannot wait to scamper to their teacher with their latest discovery. They know they are treasured. She has created a space in which children gain knowledge, confidence, enthusiasm and a curiosity of the world. Her greatest accomplishment is in every shining, 31 Summit Magazine 31

“Summit is an incredibly special place because of the deep devotion, commitment, and love that teachers display for children. Not only do teachers believe in the great potential that lies within each child, they also believe that Montessori education will help them to achieve more in life – academically, emotionally and socially. They are dedicated educators who continually improve their practice, not for personal gain, but for the benefit of the children. The Montessori teachers at The Summit have formed a deep bond and sense of community that allow them to continually encourage one another through their shared experience as educators.” - Phyllis Schueler 
Montessori Director

32 Spring 2013

smiling kindergartener who leaves the Montessori knowing that the world is his or hers.” Mrs. Schueler grew up in Hyde Park. Her mother was a homemaker and her father, whom she credits with her love for math and travel, was an engineer. She was educated in Catholic schools, leaving St. Mary’s High School to get her bachelor’s degree from Edgecliff College. She was a counselor and home economics teacher at McNicholas High School when she enrolled her oldest son in The Summit’s Montessori Program. “I fell in love with the Montessori program,” she said. “I felt The Summit was the right place for him and within two years I went back to Xavier University and got my Montessori certification as a master’s degree.” Sister Mary Motz, who was the principal of the Montessori at the time, recruited Phyllis to join her staff in 1971. “Summit is fortunate that Phyllis has stayed as long as she has,” says Sister Mary, now retired and living in Reading. Former Head of School Edward C. Tyrrell promoted Mrs. Schueler to Director in 1989. Now Headmaster at Malden Catholic High School in Massachusetts, Mr. Tyrrell says her strength is the ability to blend Montessori philosophy with The Summit’s mission. “She knows that a genuine thirst for knowledge and unlimited potential is within every child and that children learn best in a prepared environment,” he says. “Her mandate is to harness their gifts and talents and begin the path for them to make this world a better place.” The current Head of School agrees. “Phyllis is a pro,” says Rich Wilson. “She has very high standards for the program, for her teachers and for herself.  Behind the scenes, the Montessori program is a complex operation to run with children on many different schedules, rigorous state standards that must be met at all times and children with a variety of special needs. Like a master conductor, she has it all under control.  Given her years of experience, she knows instinctively what to do in any situation.” Sister Eileen Connelly contributed to this report.

Montessori Alumni, Parents: Summit Montessorians, as we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Montessori Program, we would like to share stories and testimonials about how the program has made a difference in your life or your child’s life. Please send your stories to Students show Montessori Director Phyllis Schueler their Valentine’s Day cards. 33 Summit Magazine 33

The Summit, Spring 2013; Celebrating 50 Years of Montessori Excellence  

Excerpts from the spring 2013 issue of The Summit magazine highlighting the 50th anniversary of The Summit Montessori Program.

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