Cobb School Montessori Magazine - Spring 2021

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COBB SCHOOL M O N T E S S O R I

Spring 2021


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ABOUT THE COVER: Just before dawn on a cold winter morning, Molly and Isaac lead a hike with determination to view the arrival of a new day. Despite one being a teenager and one being three years old, and meeting for the first time, the anticipation and excitement of this early morning challenge united these two in an intentional mission to greet the morning sun.

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The future is unforeseeable. It is our shared mission and foundation that leads us forward with excitement. Our solid footing allows us to navigate any terrain that lies ahead, and perseverance will reward us with a stunning photograph at the top of each mountain.


Contents Spring 2021

features

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Silver Linings

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Cobb Heroes

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Montessori, the Voice of Optimism

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Montessori Model United Nations

Moments of Joy and Reflection Amidst the Challenges

We Honor and Thank These Individuals by Sharing Their Stories

Teaching and Parenting During Times of Unrest and Uncertainty

Youth for a Better World

HEAD OF SCHOOL Sue Angelides ADMINISTRATION Andrea Boden, Director of Communications, Director of Equity and Inclusion Lisbeth Harrison, Program Coordinator Sallie Ann Jacobs, Director of Admissions Joseph Lardner, Business Manager Cara Woods, Director of Advancement TEACHERS Beth Crocker, Young Children’s Community Carol Ebersol, Primary Marisa Gallagher, Primary Tammy Gallo, Lower Elementary Karen Gavell, Primary Elise Grady, Remote Primary Sarah Krippenstapel, Lower Elementary Judy Maloney, Young Children’s Community Alex Rozenfeld, Remote Elementary Subha Sankaran, Upper Elementary ASSISTANTS Shikha Arora, Primary Victoria Baig, Lower Elementary Gabrielle Bugden, Young Children’s Community Noel Conklin, Lower Elementary Suzanne DeRosa, Young Children’s Community Sasha Johnson, Primary Dana Kelly, Primary Carol Ross, Upper Elementary Maddie Ross, Upper Elementary Maral Wozniak, Remote Elementary SPECIALISTS Andrew Decker, Music Joan Gwillim, Student Services Anne Lee, Piano Christopher Lyles, Art and Physical Education Betsy van Gemeren, Photography

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From the Head Cobb Life

Faculty Spotlight

The Cobb School, Montessori is committed to developing a strong sense of community across race, gender, age, religion, identity and experience - in which every member feels valued. We welcome diversity in our staff and student body and promote access and equity. We strive to create a community where everyone feels empowered to bring their full, authentic selves to work and to school every day.

STAFF Robert Banta, Facilities Coordinator Kristen Dombkowski, Nurse Mike Grappone, Facilities Manager BOARD OF TRUSTEES Mary Anne Creto, Chair Michelle Creed, Vice Chair Tracy Labonte, Treasurer Jennifer Kulicki, Secretary Sue Angelides, ex officio Denise Alfeld Newell Grant Tom Miller Brigitte Richter Yvette Standberry Brian Sullivan Helen Thomas Emily van Gemeren Perry Wasserbauer

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From the Head

A Year Like No Other Moving to a Place of Collective Resilience

By Sue Angelides   Head

of School Representative, Montessori Public Policy Initiative   President, Montessori Schools of CT   Board of Directors, Institute for Women’s Leadership, Rutgers University   CT State

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his past year has been unlike any other. It has forced us to adapt, innovate, pivot, and respond at an unsettling rate. These adjustments and responses have both spiked our anxiety and forced us out of our comfort zone. I am not sure how many times I have written and spoken the word unprecedented, but in nearly every sense, this past year has been just that, unprecedented. If this past year, in all its turmoil and anguish, has taught me anything, it is that we must resist the lure of nostalgia, if it comes at the expense of necessary change and progress. We must forge ahead, learning and growing, and attending to today’s needs with a sharpened focus as to why we are here. We must look at today – the global pandemic, the financial distress, the social and political unrest – not through the lens of survival, but as an opportunity to learn, grow, and progress forward. The importance of The Cobb School, Montessori has never been clearer to me. The Montessori education and the strength of Cobb gives our students the foundation to become thoughtful, capable, open-minded leaders of tomorrow – the leaders our world needs. We have seen so clearly this year that our country needs betterment and the countless opportunities for all of us to be better. Here at Cobb, we have the privilege of fostering a better tomorrow with our future leaders by nurturing curiosity and giving each student the courage to speak up and to speak out. As educators and parents, we must teach and mentor these young minds. To do this we must honestly reflect on our own ability to see opportunities through the clouds of uncertainty. This past year has been the greatest sustained challenge that I have ever faced in my career. I have witnessed firsthand and benefited daily from the tireless efforts of the Cobb community. Community is a word we use and hear a lot in the Montessori world. Our schools are communities, our children’s classrooms are communities. We understand and teach that we are one small part of something much bigger.

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Over the past twelve months, the word community took on a much deeper and more personal meaning for me. Simply stated, we need one another. This past year has required tireless dedication from all of us. Our trust of and openness to community has revealed the true strength of Cobb. I extend my deepest gratitude to all those who have contributed to the school’s success, resilience, and forward thinking in these trying times.

“We all must honestly reflect on our own ability to [reach for] opportunities through the clouds of uncertainty.”

Dr. Montessori describes the first three years of a child’s life and the first three years of adolescence as a time of great vulnerability. She says, “a new being is in creation” during these stages of development. She describes that the toddler and the adolescent are in, “a period of self-construction seeking to understand people’s behavior in the world.” Living through the past year and navigating all of this uncertainty seems to be a symbolic parallel to these stages of childhood development, both the toddler and the adolescent, on their own journey, seek this understanding. It is the job of the guide, the teacher, the mentor, and the parent to appropriately respond to their questions. Dr. Montessori stresses the importance of this by reminding the teacher, mentor, parent that how you responds matters. Within the response lies the opportunity to provide space, present possibilities and create safety for these children to continue to seek the answers when making sense of the world. It is how we respond that ultimately allows them to find the courage and confidence to share their own viewpoints and voice.

HUNTER WEBB

This past year and the year in front of us will not hurt us nor will it define us. Rather it is a time that will help shape our community’s future. We must embrace all opportunities that arise from these changing times. We have demonstrated our community’s ability to lift each other up; now we must create a world in which our future leaders do the same.


Silver Linings

HUNTER WEBB

Moments of Joy and Reflection Amidst the Challenges

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t is easy to focus on all the challenges that the past year has brought. The future is unpredictable, and we still face many uncertainties ahead. As we continue to work hard to support and protect one another, it is important to take some time to notice the good, the surprising, and the unanticipated moments, which prove that so many positive things come out of even the most challenging of times.

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Sue Angelides Head of School

A silver lining of this past year for me has been the moments of reflection it has afforded. Recently, I consciously stepped back. I got out of my “policy and procedure” mindset. I cleared my head, and I did what Dr. Montessori taught us is the most important part of our work – I observed. In this moment of observation, I was struck by an unintentional side effect from all the implemented COVID-19 safety mitigation strategies. We have mourned the changes. We have accepted the changes. We have even become accustomed to the changes. In this moment of observation, however, I clearly saw something so positive and strong. These new changes in school operations have illuminated the authenticity of our Montessori pedagogy. Dr. Montessori taught us the importance of respecting the child as an autonomous person. As parents, we of course want this for our children. However, sometimes our good intentions can get in the way of our child’s individual path. Dr. Montessori wrote extensively about the importance of the morning drop off at school. The parent or caregiver says a quick and upbeat goodbye, the school staff member opens the car door and then accepts the child. When the child is out of the car, the staff member formally greets the child, and the child crosses the threshold from home into school. As the parent, you are showing the child that you have confidence in both the child and the school, and that you respect that school is the child’s place. The mandated COVID-19 related policies and

procedures that have been put in place reinforce and respect the children’s journey to autonomy, independence, and success. The simple fact that parents and visitors are not allowed freely in the building during school hours truly gives ownership of the school to the children. While in school, the sight of a parent walking down the hallway, perhaps for a Parent Association meeting in the library, or to bring a child a forgotten lunch box or item of clothing, sends mixed messages to the child and muddles their separation between home and school.

Dr. Montessori taught us all the importance of respecting the child as an autonomous person.

Of course, it is our plan to be able to invite our parents back into the building for events, conferences, meetings, and greetings, when we can safely do so. This silver lining moment reminds us how important it is that we schedule these events and meetings at times that do not send the wrong message to the child. As Montessorians, we guide children in such a way that they eventually can direct their own learning. We present information and material in ways that drive curiosity rather than ready-made answers. We create a school and classrooms that support children in every stage of development to do as much for themselves as they are capable of doing. Children need to trust their abilities. As parents, we must show them that we trust them. When we say goodbye to our child and allow them to cross the threshold into their school on their own, we are showing them that trust.

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Judy Maloney

HUNTER WEBB

YCC Teacher

Over the summer I had many sleepless nights wondering what the school year would bring and how the children would adjust. I should have trusted that all the hard work and preparation, and the beauty and genius of Dr. Montessori’s work, would bring the children right back to us. The garden and the enhanced outdoor classrooms were a wonderful introduction back to school for the children. In my classroom, the community formed quickly during the first weeks back. With the older children helping the younger ones, we have a community of young children doing highly processed works and every day is joyful! Not only do I see and feel the joy in my own classroom, but I also hear the joy up and down the hallways every day from the older students. My sleepless nights are over.

Carol Ross

Elementary Assistant

HUNTER WEBB

No matter how much things are changing in the world – having to wear masks, all the additional cleaning, adjusting to the new restrictions and procedures – the kids come through. They stay the same. They still have a sense of humor. They still get upset if they lose the kickball game. They still laugh at silly jokes. That has been so great to see! When the world is in such upheaval, the children remain the same.

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Marisa Gallagher Primary Teacher

My silver lining in the middle of this global pandemic is the children. There is always a silver lining when you work with children. It may not reveal itself right away, but it does reveal. The children are so happy to be here. They are great reminders of the great ability to adapt. Dr. Montessori wrote so much about the human tendency to adapt. These children have adapted so beautifully, with no complaints. I have been in such awe of their ability to do that. The joy they have brought and the fact that we are all together is a reminder to all of us that it does not matter what is happening in the world, there is always joy you can see.

Carol Ebersol

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Primary Teacher

Right from the first day of school this year, it was obvious that the children were hungry for connection. I have noticed, this year more than ever, the kindness within the classroom and how the children treat and care for one another. Above all, I have noticed a wonderful sense of joy from the children.

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Mission: A recognized leader in Montessori education, The Cobb School, Montessori prepares children socially and academically to make a difference in their communities.


HUNTER WEBB


Cobb Heroes

We Honor and Thank These Individuals by Sharing Their Stories So many members of the Cobb family stepped up to help others in their communities and beyond during the past year. Some are putting their own health at risk as medical workers, frontline workers, and essential workers. Others are having a huge impact through small acts of kindness and support. We reached out far and wide to collect stories, big and small, from alumni, parents of alumni, current parents, and students, that showcase how members of the Cobb community have made a difference during this unprecedented time.

Dr. Len Kulicki

Parent of alumni (Alex ’13, Ella ’14) (spouse of Cobb School Trustee, Jennifer Kulicki) As a critical care medicine specialist for over 30 years and a lead doctor for Integrated Anesthesia Associates and Hartford Hospital, Dr. Kulicki has been around the medical block. Dr. Kulicki describes the last year, both professionally and personally, as a blur of emotions. “When we first heard about this new virus, many of us on the East Len’s family decorated the tent he stayed in during the ealry pandemic with photos, thank you notes, and love.

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Coast didn’t really worry. We have been through SARS, Ebola, and of course, the perennial flu. But soon, those of us in Critical Care circles began getting messages from our colleagues on the West Coast that really made our blood run cold.” These messages were not intended to scare them, but to give them a few more moments to prepare for what was coming. The first problem to attend to was the issue of not enough supplies, the shortage of PPE, and securing the

needed PPE and additional equipment. Elective surgeries were suspended, and only true emergency cases were being done. “My group is very talented and clinically strong. Some of us are double boarded in critical care medicine and we began to convert our recovery rooms into intensive care units. I was in charge of converting our pre-op and recovery areas at UCONN into a makeshift ICU to prepare to take overflow patients once the ICUs were beyond capacity. We transported and reconfigured our anesthesia machines to serve as ventilators and spent time studying this new disease and the latest treatments being used.” Dr. Kulicki describes the scene in the ICUs as surreal. “While the rest of the hospital was deserted, the ICUs were chaotic and unbelievably stressful. As anesthesia, we were always on call, responsible for inserting and removing breathing tubes in all these patients.” The days blurred together. Sleep was a luxury in very short supply. Physical and mental exhaustion became normal. The procedures for simply entering and exiting rooms were multi-stepped, including entering through special bio-contamina-


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“When we first heard about this new virus, many of us on the East Coast didn’t really worry. We have been through SARS, Ebola, and of course, the perennial flu. But soon we began getting messages from our colleagues on the West Coast that really made our blood run cold.”

ABOVE: Dr. Len Kulicki in his PPE.

tion zones. All of these procedures were created and implemented to increase the safety and health of the medical workers, and a constant reminder to these same people of the daily personal risk they were taking. The personal risk extended to Dr. Kulicki’s family, too. For fear of contaminating his family, including some elderly family members, he spent much of the spring living and sleeping outside of their house in a tent. Once feeling comfortable with and trusting

the protective equipment and safety procedures at work, did he move back into the house. Dr. Kulicki has been very grateful for the support of his family and his close community. “I had my family home with me. It was absolutely the best thing ever having them home, safe, and being able to have family dinners. It is heartwarming to see our community come together and help one and other. Healing Meals staff would bring me healthy, home cooked meals and a won-

derful immune broth. Denise and Chad Alfeld, another Cobb School family, assisted in getting additional PPE for health care workers in our hospitals.” Dr. Kulicki is quick to recognize the unsung medical heroes of this pandemic – the first responders, along with the hospital cleaning and housekeeping personnel. His personal and reflective takeaways from the past year – “All the usual things that we try to do, but let slip – hug your kids, be in the moment, and be kind.” cobbschool.com

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Helen Thomas

Parent of alumni (Rebecca ’03, Michael ’07) and current Cobb School Trustee Helen has spent her life in service to her communities. The Cobb School has benefited from Helen’s commitment, hard work, dedication, and creativity for over two decades. It was no surprise to anyone that when the pandemic hit, Helen combined her talents and her creativity in a way that would serve the greatest number of people possible.

As a Board member and passionate supporter of The Farmington Valley Art Center (FVAC), Helen continued making masks and FVAC began selling them. She has also been working with some of the studio artists at FVAC. These artists had their artwork printed on fabric for Helen to then use to create masks. All the proceeds from the sales of Helen’s masks go directly to support FVAC or ARTFORMS. ARTFORMS is a program Helen began, which is designed to make all forms of art available to people of all abilities. These classes help the participants physically, emotionally, and mentally, by providing opportunities to connect with other people with disabilities and to celebrate the joy of creation and imagination. From dusting off her sewing machine and making masks for her family and friends, Helen’s masks and her ability to connect the dots has done so much for so many!

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

“When the pandemic began and masks were scarce, I took out my sewing machine and began making masks for family, friends and neighbors.” During the early months of the pandemic, Helen made hundreds of masks. After her friends and family were outfitted with masks, Helen did what Helen does– she found a way to connect the dots, resulting in a larger and further reaching impact. TOP: Masks created from Farmington Valley Art Center artwork printed on fabric. ABOVE: Helen Thomas at her sewing machine. RIGHT: Helen modeling a mask.

“When the pandemic began and masks were scarce, I took out my sewing machine and began making masks for family, friends and neighbors.”


“If we can come together as a community and support one another, we will indeed see blue skies again.”

Sasha and Mark Zatyrka Current parents

In March of 2020 when the pandemic began to take hold of the country, the Zatyrka family grappled with the unexpected loss of Mark’s job. The pandemic was impacting communities and families in personal and unique ways. For the Zatyrka family, this impact was one of financial security and sustainability. Within days of being laid off from his job, Mark began formulating a plan to help others in need. Mark and Sasha were fortunate to know that they could sustain themselves for a little while, despite this huge and sudden change, and that there were other people and families in their communities that would be facing serious hardships. These thoughts and realizations were the beginning of what would become The Blue Sky Fund. Mark thought of this very poignant name for the fund. “While this is a dark and scary time for all of us, if we can come together as a community and support one another, we will indeed see blue skies again.” At the beginning of May, their plan launched into action with a social media blast. In less than a month the Zatyrka family and the Blue Sky Fund provided assistance to 17 individuals and families. “It was humbling to say the least. People from all parts of our life, as well as some we didn’t even know, reached out to us with a myriad of needs.” Over twenty friends and family members of Sasha and Mark’s added resources into the Blue Sky Fund. In total, the Blue Sky Fund donated nearly $6,000 plus in-kind contributions to good people and families needing a hand. A single mom battling cancer received a delivered dinner for her and her five kids each night. Meal gift cards and toys helped a struggling single father who was laid off from his job due to COVID-19. Money from the Blue Sky Fund paid countless bills and rent for many. It provided a down payment on a car for a single mom who was laid off because of COVID-19. Support was given to a loving grandmother who lost her husband to COVID-19 and could not afford to pay her bills. Letter-writing campaigns were done for high school seniors who were robbed of a graduation.

Mark and Sasha Zatyrka, pictured here with their daughters Colby and Elliana, started the Blue Sky Fund in hopes to help local families facing hardships of the pandemic.

“We accomplished a lot! Putting time and energy into this effort helped give us a new purpose and helped us to keep perspective during our day to day adjustments of the new reality of the world. The gratitude of those we were able to help was deeply moving. The enduring personal connection that came from doing what we could will stay with us always. Blue Skies Ahead.”

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“With much uncertainty surrounding the future of our livelihoods, the [Edinburgh Food for Good Coalition ] helped us keep a connection to what we love to do and gave us a sense of purpose and community.”

Lisa Howard-Sorrell Alumna, class of ’03

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Lisa Howard-Sorrell, along with five other chefs, joined together and cooked, packaged, and delivered over 50,000 nutritious meals to vulnerable people all over the city of Edinburgh.

Throughout Lisa’s career and personal journey, she has always been committed to community service. She has dedicated so much of her time and her skills volunteering, and her passion has taken her all over the world working with International Student Volunteers, Habitat for Humanity, and the Special Olympics. Her windy road through a degree in biology and economics led her to her passion for cooking and culinary artistry. Since graduating from Edinburgh New Town Cookery School, she gained experience working in two of Scotland’s noted restaurants. When the global pandemic struck, Lisa, along with her entire team of co-workers and most restaurant workers, were furloughed. Not missing a beat, she joined Edinburgh Food for Good Coalition as a volunteer. Lisa teamed up with five other chefs from a variety of restaurants and catering companies, and this small and mighty kitchen team cooked, packaged, and delivered over 50,000 nutritious meals to vulnerable people all over the city of Edinburgh. “With much uncertainty surrounding the future of our livelihoods, this endeavor helped us keep a connection to what we love to do and gave us a sense of purpose and community that continues to carry us through some dark times in our industry.”

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Giselle Reyes says she learned to appreciate nature and the quiet moments over the past year.

“To be able to directly contribute to the science that brought about the first vaccine for this disease by doing something that I love is an honor.”

Giselle Reyes

Alumna, class of ’08 As a laboratory assistant at Pfizer, Inc. in Groton, CT, Giselle’s work took on a new meaning this past year. The pressure increased and working conditions became more challenging. “Adjusting to work during the COVID-19 pandemic was quite an adventure, as we experienced the implementation of masks and social distancing in the laboratories, an increase in our workload, a decrease of on-site personnel, and the use of virtual communication and meetings.” In early December 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the first vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19. This authorization allowed for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, the first vaccine, to begin distribution in the United States. The tireless work to develop this new vaccine is a testament to scientific innovation and collaboration that has been recognized worldwide. Being a part of the Pfizer team during this last year, has been personally impactful to Giselle. “To be able to directly contribute to the science that brought about the first vaccine for this disease by doing something that I love is an honor, and I’m fortunate to have had this opportunity.” When asked what lessons she will carry forward from this past year, Giselle replies, “Value human connection, appreciate nature and quiet moments, and maintain proper hygiene (please!).”

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“One of the silver linings of this pandemic has been in being able to teach our son to look for the helpers and to be one, and how to look to those who need us more than we sometimes need ourselves.”

Lucia, Marc, and Lucas Rome began focusing outwardly to help those with less resources.

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Lucia, Marc, and Lucas Rome

Current parents and current student Lucia and Marc Rome have been active members of the Cobb community for years. Whether it is volunteering endless hours on the school Auction Committee, Co-Chairing the Parents Association, stepping up to be a classroom parent representative, or designing, organizing, and creating the beautiful Harvest Table for the Cobb School Annual Country Fair, the entire Rome family responds when there is a need. Lucia, Marc, and their son Lucas have been an inspiration to all of us over the past months. “When the pandemic first hit in March, and after losing my job soon after, it was easy to go inside and go inward, and stay there. Focusing on ourselves and our own families was clearly the thing to do in many ways, but an equal and perhaps more important realization, became looking outside of ourselves at the profound need of others.” Lucia talks about how her contributions to the Cobb community efforts over the past years have lit a fire in her heart and raised her own awareness of the lack of resources that exists for so many people in our area. Lucia has taken that fire and helped it grow to so many other people in our community. “One of the silver linings of this pandemic has been in being able to teach our son to look for the helpers and to be one, and how to look to those who need us more than we sometimes need ourselves. I hope my heartfelt efforts, through the community work on behalf of our school, and those in which I engage with my family, inspire others to get involved too.”


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Brothers Bryson and Justin Carter sporting one of their t-shirts encouraging kindness.

Justin and Bryson Carter Current student and brother

Lower Elementary remote student, Justin Carter, and his brother, Bryson, have started the online business, We Shine Apparel and Accessories, with the hope of inspiring others to believe good things about themselves and to help promote kindness and positivity. The inspiring young entrepreneurs hope that they will be the catalyst for a shift in how people treat each other and how they regard themselves. The boys’ mom, Jaclyn, shared, “They often vocalize that they want to make the world a nicer place because people can be really harsh.”

The young entrepreneurs hope that they will be the catalyst for a shift in how people treat each other and how they regard themselves.

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

LEFT: Tyler Anderson and Melanie Stepka with their daughter Violet. BELOW: In order to get employees back working, Millwright’s began offering private catering and then pivoted to using the trailer to offer outdoor Tacos + BBQ.

Tyler Anderson and Melanie Stepka Current parents

“March 16, 2020 was a terrible day for us. We knew something was coming and we thought we were ready. That day, we had to lay off 125 good employees. It was an awful thing to have to do. These employees had no

“We had to send [our employees] into a world that we knew was going to be challenging, but we didn’t even know just how challenging it would be yet.” unemployment bonuses yet. We had to send them into a world that we knew was going to be challenging, but we didn’t even know just how challenging it would be yet.” Tyler and Melanie are part of the fabric of Connecticut. Tyler and his restaurant group op-

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erate in four locations throughout the state and have earned numerous statewide awards including best restaurant overall (six times), three best new restaurant awards, along with many more. Tyler has always lived by the mantra of Be nice, work hard, and make nice sh*t. Over the past years Tyler and Melanie and their team have been extremely involved in giving back to both local and national communities and organizations and have helped to raise over $500,000 in these efforts. Following the awful day in March, they quickly pivoted, regrouped, and created a plan to help serve and service as many people as possible in their communities. “I took a week off. By day three, I was in major discussion with my main business confidant, Melanie my wife, about how we would reopen. Melanie has had a long career as an ICU nurse, so I appreciated all the input I could get from her, especially centered around disease transmission and sanitation. Three days later, we re-opened with a makeshift drive through using a ring doorbell system. There was amazing support. We cooked and packaged to-go everything from family style meals to seven-course at-home build-it-


“We were serving about 1,000 meals a week for children in Hartford who were out of school, children who relied on school meals for basic nutrition.

yourself tasting menus. We did many other things. We were able to re-employ almost half of our Millwright’s staff that week.” Getting as many of their employees as possible back to work was just the beginning for Tyler and Melanie. People were suffering. They began providing free meals for out of work restaurant workers, as well as about 1,000 meals a week for those in need in Hartford, out of The Goodwin Hotel kitchen. “Melanie took the lead of coordinating meals for children in Hartford who were out of school, children who relied on school meals for basic nutrition. She did this through Hands on Hartford and we provided around 1000 meals a week. Our team volunteered a lot of their time and efforts accomplishing those initiatives. It was amazing to see.” Over the past months Tyler, Melanie, and their team have worked tirelessly and innovatively to create incredible dining experiences: no contact outside dining, bridge dining, a self-sustaining mobile trailer for full-service catering, roller skating carhops, outside woodfire cooking, and now in the thick of the

cold winter months, small group private dining greenhouses, and mystery room private dinner theater evenings. Being able to keep their employees working has been the motivation that has fueled their innovation. “COVID has been terrible, but through it all, we’ve realized more than ever to embrace the things you care about most. If there is one positive that we can take away, it is that we’ve created some amazing lifelong memories with our family. Melanie and I cooked in the kitchen at Millwright’s side by side, packing meals for children, layering lasagnas, doing whatever we had to keep things moving. Melanie was able to educate our daughter from home for half of a year. Obviously, this brought some challenges, but the pride we took in teaching Violet to read and write for the first time was overwhelming and quite possibly an experience we may not have had without COVID. It is wonderful to be a part of The Cobb School community and a resident of the Farmington Valley. Please keep supporting all your local businesses. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for us, but the next few months will be the most challenging.”

TOP LEFT: Anderson preps meals in the Goodwin Hotel kitchen for Hartford school children who relied on school meals for basic nutrition. ABOVE: Millwright’s built private dining greenhouses in an effort to maintain business and keep their employees working.

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The Entire Cobb School, Montessori Staff Last March when the final curtain fell at the end of the Azteca Opera and our spring break began, none of us could have predicted how the next year would unfold. We had a sense of a storm brewing. The weekly updates and meetings had begun from the Department of Health and from our accrediting agencies. A few of us had just traveled to Seattle, Washington for the annual Association Montessori Internationale conference, where the first major nursing home outbreaks were happening. It was clear that this was going to be something, something big. For whatever reason, perhaps our location or our size, there was a feeling that we certainly would not be heavily impacted. Perhaps we would have to extend spring break by a week or so. A blip. A small moment to manage through. A current meme says it all: “What’s everyone wearing to the 1-year anniversary of 14 days to flatten the curve?” With the support of the Cobb School Board of Trustees, and the entire Cobb community, the Cobb staff has risen to challenge after challenge over the last year. A clear reminder for all of us is printed on

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the white board in the conference room. “If we don’t emerge from COVID-19 a stronger and wiser organization, then we will have missed an opportunity.” We are stronger and wiser. We have remained true to the mission of Cobb, while also growing and meeting the changing needs of today. Dr. Montessori’s work was founded in igniting passion and interest within the child. These passions and interests in the child will change as the child develops, but ultimately the child will have a love of learning and growing their whole life. This past year was a clear reminder to all of us that we must remain open and welcoming of change. It is change that allows us to grow. It is change and how we respond to change that makes us stronger and better. The Cobb School, Montessori staff, in true hero form, has greeted each day, over the last year, with openness and acceptance of the unknown. The flexibility, resilience, trust, and collaboration has replaced any feelings of unease and anxiety. The world is changing. The entire staff will continue to lean into and meet these changes readied with the needed tools and foundation that will allow for The Cobb School, Montessori’s continued success and impact.


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Remote Learning Program As we neared the beginning of the school year late last summer, it became clear that we had families in our community that would not be able to return to Cobb in person due to their family situations. In true Cobb style, and wanting to meet the needs of all our students during these challenging times, we created our Remote Learning Program. Alex Rozenfeld stepped up to design, create, implement and run the Remote Learning program for both the Lower Elementary and the Upper Elementary students and Elise Grady stepped up to run the Primary Remote Learning program. The dedication and intense hard work has resulted in an incredible program that has served and supported our students and even students from other Montessori schools!

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: (1) Upper Elementary teacher Subha Sankaran presents a lesson to fifth years. (2) Alex Rozenfeld connects over Zoom with her Elemetary students. (3) A Remote Primary student works with golden beads.

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The Cobb School, Montessori faculty and staff.


HUNTER WEBB


Montessori, the Voice of Optimism Teaching and Parenting During Times of Unrest and Uncertainty By Sue Angelides

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ne of the fundamental and most important aspects of Dr. Montessori’s work was her tireless efforts toward peace. Over 100 years ago she believed that a peaceful and equitable world lies within the child. Today, we are still faced with injustice and inequity. Today, we still work tirelessly for peace through educating our children. Dr. Montessori taught us to believe in the potential and value of each child. It is our intention at The Cobb School, Montessori to provide an environment where children and adults alike are seen and respected, and to seek an understanding of others for their differences and similarities. As a school community with the privilege of helping to raise the next generation of leaders and changemakers, it is our responsibility to believe in every child’s potential. To value and educate our children so they can go on to discover, learn, discuss, and effect change. The chain reaction of peace didn’t start with us, but we will not let it end here either. It is when we, as parents and educators, commit to collectively talking about fairness, equity, and justice with our young children, we begin to envision a world in which not only children, but all people, are treated with dignity. When we talk about inequality, we take back some of its tight hold. When we talk about it, we model peace. We must not only talk; we must also frame the future. In this framing we must understand our position and the power we hold. The child is never tired of watching. When we share the power and listen to our child’s perspective, we have the ability to lead with the child instead of in front of them. To teach in times of unrest and uncertainty, we must focus on truth, justice, balance, harmony, and reciprocity. If we exemplify and model these equitable characteristics, especially in hard times, the child will lead us to a place where everyone can be who they want to be.

“Times have changed, and science has made great progress, and so has our work; but our principles have only been confirmed, and along with them our conviction that mankind can hope for a solution to its problems, among which the most urgent are those of peace and unity, only by turning its attention and energies to the discovery of the child and to the development of the great potentialities of the human personality in the course of its formation.” – Dr. Montessori 26

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Why is this so hard? How can this past year unite us instead of dividing us? I have asked myself many iterations of these questions over the past months. With each question, I have the same answer: vulnerability. Vulnerability is scary, but it is through the space of vulnerability that we grow. This is not weakness; it is just the opposite. To be vulnerable requires courage and personal risk. The root of the word courage is cor, the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant, “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Dr. Brené Brown, research professor and author, who has spent two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy so simply states that, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Her research shows that to truly get to a

state of courageousness, you must first walkthrough vulnerability. As we forge ahead, teaching and parenting, in these times of unrest and uncertainty, we must be vulnerable and ask questions. By asking difficult questions, we are opening our hearts and our minds. These questions create openings and space needed to build connections and engagement and to promote discoveries.

“Establishing lasting peace is the work of education.” – Dr. Montessori

There is much work to be done. We can learn a lot from the children who lead their lives with vulnerability. Dr. Montessori fought for peace among people and nations by nurturing our youngest members. She believed in all of our potential. In the blink of an eye, the child grows into the teacher and pulls from the tools they learned in their childhood classroom. If we don’t choose vulnerability today, what will they select tomorrow?

Growing Together Over the past years, as a staff and as a community,

of Passion and Perseverance) said it best, “This is

we have learned how to evolve as people by working

a book for anyone who thinks of themselves as a

with experts, reading, and asking questions. This

pretty decent human being, but who knows, deep in

was just the beginning. Education never ends and

their heart, they could be better.”

we must continue this personal growth to better equip ourselves for supporting our children in this ever-changing world.

The staff gathered to talk about the book. The collective takeaway after reading and discussing the book was very positive and impactful. The Parent

We are looking closely at our classrooms, our

Association’s Book Club also chose to read this book

policies, our practices, and our messaging. We are

as one of their monthly picks and the discussion

examining and we are changing. The work is hard,

was rich and moving. These discussion groups have

personal, sometimes uncomfortable, but imperative.

expressed interest in keeping these conversations

Over the summer the entire Cobb School, Montes-

going. This book shows us that you don’t have to be

sori staff and all members of the Board of Trustees

an activist to show up to the fight. Just like Dr. Mon-

were asked to read Dolly Chugh’s book, The Person

tessori, Dolly Chugh’s book offers practical tools to

You Mean to Be: How Good People Fight Bias. This

harness our potential. Our intentions might be good,

book was a great starting place. It asked us to look

but are we aware enough to look at ourselves in the

inward. Angela Duckworth (author of Grit: The Power

way we look at others?

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Montessori Model United Nations Youth for a Better World

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r. Montessori recognized the hope for peace in the world lay in the education of children. She supported the work of the League of Nations and its successor the United Nations as a forum where peace could be created. The Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) and the United Nations partnered to create this program for Upper Elementary Montessori students. These students, while at a developmental age that is a sensitive period for reason, morality, and justice, participate in a lifechanging experience. This experience seeks to empower young leaders through research, cultural studies, critical thinking, and problem solving. MMUN works directly with the United Nations and implements elements of the Montessori Method to create this enriching experience. The Cobb School, Montessori, has made the commitment to this program. Last summer two of our Upper Elementary teachers, Alex Rozenfeld and Subha Sankaran, completed the Montessori Model United Nations (MMUN) Teacher Training Course, and now MMUN is officially part of the 6th year Upper Elementary curriculum. The Montessori Model United Nations program culminates with a multi-day global education simulation experience at the United Nations in New York City. Our Cobb 6th year students will join upwards of 2,500 other students from around the globe, learning about the operations of the United Nations and its role as the world’s largest international peacekeeping and humanitarian organization. Although this year, the

“The process of preparing for this conference has opened all our eyes to the complexity of issues that concern people around the world, seeing these issues from varying perspectives, and thinking of solutions that cater to everyone’s needs. This program is a wonderful way to bring together all the skills the students have gained in research, writing, public speaking, grace and courtesy and collaboration to prepare our graduates to be stewards of the planet.” – Subha Sankaran, Upper Elementary Teacher

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conference cannot be held in person, an incredible effort has been made by MMUN to create a powerful virtual experience. This year our students will be delegates representing: The State of Palestine, The Republic of Ecuador, and The Gabonese Republic. The simulation begins officially with an opening ceremony. Mirroring the procedures of the United Nations, the opening ceremony includes the celebration of national flags and inspirational words from United Nations Ambassadors. Following the opening ceremony, and over the next days, our students will present their opening speeches, present their position papers, and work with other delegates from around the world to discuss and draft a resolution. The resolution then progresses through a line-by-line review, and either passes by consensus or goes to a vote. The students – as delegates from these three countries – will work as members of various UN committees: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, United Nations Economic and Financial Office, United Nations Disarmament and International Security Office. The resolutions will tackle topics that include cybercrime and security, climate control, reduction of military budgets, sustainable development, disaster risk reduction, and the prevention of distribution of fake medicine. Montessori Model United Nations offers our students a hands-on and real life understanding of the need for peace and conflict resolution throughout the world while further developing their own conflict resolution and debating skills.

MMUN Provides Opportunities for Students to: • Learn about cultures, governments and peoples of nations throughout the world. • Use research skills, writing skills and written & oral communications skills. • Develop critical thinking skills, problem solving skills and evaluative skills. • Debate current global issues and world problems. • Practice and use leadership skills in a real life global situation. • Understand the need for peace and conflict resolution throughout the world while developing their own conflict resolution and debating skills.

Sixth year students perform their offering – St. Thomas, for the MMUN Cultural Performance Night. The goal of the night is to share native country’s culture or MMUN country’s culture with students, teachers and parents and help make the MMUN event even more international and entertaining.

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HUNTER WEBB


Vision: Building a better world through educating the whole child.


Fall Music Fest

In October, Cobb hosted its first-ever Fall Music Fest, a physically distanced family event that safely brought together families for a night of live music from Cobb music teacher Andrew Decker and the talented musicians from Downright Music. The evening also featured our beloved Harvest Table full of delicious treats and festive fall decorations.

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Cobb Life

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Community Service

The Cobb Parents Association spearheaded this year’s Giving Tree, a beloved tradition at Cobb, which teaches children to think of others, and to give back to their community. After Thanksgiving break, a seasonal tree with lights was placed outside of school near the Library entrance. All children were invited to make and bring nature-inspired ornaments to decorate the tree. Over the course of four weeks, the school collected items benefiting four local charities (one per week). We were in awe of the generosity of our Cobb families and the joyful participation of our children in this beautiful tradition. On two occasions over the course of the year, Cobb families have enthusiastically participated in “Make a Sandwich, Make a Difference” by making and donating hundreds of sandwiches and chips a shelter in Hartford. Upper Elementary students hosted a Holiday Gift and Greenery sale in early December, including online and outdoor sales. Students crafted handmade ornaments, mask lanyards, potpourri, and festive greenery arrangements. One third of their proceeds went to a charity of their choice. Another third was allocated to help defray the cost of Montessori Model United Nations. The remainder will help with the purchase of materials for the construction of raised garden beds in the Upper Elementary garden.

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Cobb Life

Around Campus

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Over the summer an incredible amount of work was completed getting our campus safe and ready for students to return.

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Spring 2021 HUNTER WEBB

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Cobb Life

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Cobb Life

Virtual Alumni Gathering In January, Cobb hosted its first-ever Virtual Alumni Gathering via Zoom. Alumni ranging from the classes of 2001 through 2017 introduced themselves and shared a bit of background about what they have done since Cobb. They also each shared their favorite Cobb memory, from creating complicated fort systems in the back of campus, to competing in marathon football games at recess. Regardless of age, they all vividly remember the feel of the beautiful Montessori materials in the classrooms.

Parent Education

Offering evening classes and round table discussions to parents on current topics continues, even virtually, to be so important to our community. This year we have hosted a variety of informative evenings on topics such as: How Technology and Social Media Has Changed How We Parent, Elementary Classroom and Curriculum Previews – for parents of children who will be moving up to either Upper or Lower Elementary next year, Parent Infant Classes, and Bringing aspects of Montessori into our Homes. These evenings offer times for parents to dive deeper into topics, to share experiences, and to gain insights.

Art Club Chris pic

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Artist-in-Residence Chris Lyles’ after school art clubs are always full of eager students ready to learn from their beloved art teacher. In an effort to maintain classroom pods and safety protocols, Chris pivoted and began offering his art clubs remotely. Students are able to engage via Zoom with Mr. Chris and friends from the comfort of their own home.


Field Trips

An important part of the Montessori curriculum is going outs or field trips. This year provided wonderful opportunities for the children to experience the world. Field trips brought our students into the woods, to the water, atop a mountain and beyond.

Zoom With Friends

In November, nearly 100 members of the Cobb community came together virtually for Zoom With Friends, which was the school’s reimagined take on the traditional fall event, Dinner with Friends. Head of School Sue Angelides provided a State of the School update and shared fun and heartwarming videos from our beloved teachers and students.

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Cobb Life

Community Gatherings

To build community outside the school, Cobb’s Parents Association hosted several virtual and in-person gatherings. Outdoor activites included pumpkin picking, hiking, an evening lantern walk, and meeting up at a local farm. Virtually, students and parents gathered for pasta making, valentine ornament painting, and a holiday cookie making and decorating class.

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Faculty Spotlight

Lisbeth Harrison Program Coordinator

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isbeth Harrison joined the Cobb School team last summer as the Program Coordinator. Her journey getting to Cobb and her collected experiences bring so much to our community and to her job. Lisbeth served our country for eight years as a medic in the United States Army. During that time she also received a B.S. degree in Human Development and Family Relations Studies from UCONN. Lisbeth was introduced to the Montessori pedagogy and she knew immediately that she had found her calling. She obtained her AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) Elementary diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute and her Master’s in Education from Loyola University in Maryland. She also received her AMI Primary diploma from The Montessori Training Center Northeast in Hartford, Connecticut. Over the course of the last seven years, Lisbeth has been working toward becoming an AMI Elementary trainer and is currently serving under the direction of one of Cobb School’s most memorable teachers, Gerry Leonard. “Joining the teachers and staff at The Cobb School, Montessori, is truly an amazing opportunity. I am so proud to be working alongside incredible and dedicated teachers and to be a part of a school with such a rich history and clear and innovative vision for the future.” Lisbeth’s job centers around our Montessori curriculum and to support our teachers in all of their classrooms. The depth of knowledge and experience that she brings to Cobb has already made such a positive impact on our community.

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RIGHT: Lisbeth working with children in an Elementary classroom. ABOVE: Lisbeth spent eight years as a medic in the United State Army.

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Motto: Believe, Guide, Step Aside, Let Fly


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