Head's Corner, October 10, 2013

October 10, 2013
Greetings CMS Families,
I trust that you are well and enjoying the week. The pace of the beginning of the school year is often frenetic. Every week has been eventful. In just a little over a month, we have already hosed a Popsicle party, curriculum nights in all three programs, classroom potlucks, parent forums, PA meeting, Annual Kick-Off celebration and daily gatherings at Danehy Park. At CMS we truly value community.  It is the hallmark of our school!  
Last Friday, the entire CMS faculty and staff spent the day together for the first of five Professional Development days scheduled throughout the year. The entire staff gathered in the gym for a presentation from Laura Russ, a CMS parent of two students, and the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees' Campus and Facilities Committee. Laura, along with a group of committed CMS parents who are experts in real estate, community development, architecture and design have ben exploring ideas about expansion in our Elementary Building.  She shared the process and the plan for growth at CMS.  The faculty was ecstatic!  If you have not already seen the presentation, please join us tonight in the gym at 5:30.  It was a great way to jump start the 8-hour day.  
We also received our annual First Aid training. It is state mandated that all schools complete first aid training to ensure the safety of their students.  At CMS, we take it a step further by requiring that everyone on staff is trained so that we are all first responders.  The four-hour session covered everything from emergency protocols, insect bites, use of epipens and inhalers to fainting and various other pertinent health information. The session was intense but was a great refresher on how we as a community keep our students safe.
In the afternoon, we spent time discussing observations and feedback.  Long-time Montessori educator, Gretchen Courage, shared with teachers and staff some practical strategies on how to record student learning in a meaningful way.  We are committed to enhancing student learning through observations and feedback. It was a very productive day.  We firmly believe that professional development is the key to a successful learning environment and have made the resources available for everyone to participate.
In addition to receiving professional development, our faculty and staff are often offering their expertise locally, nationally and globally; a term I reference as "taking the show on the road".  We have an incredible staff that are well respected by educators throughout the country.  We are fortunate to have teacher trainers on staff.  Charles Terranova, Mary Velasquez, Holly Stoehr, Katelyn Ryan, Adriana Pinto and Jennifer O'Brien have trained teachers at various workshops and or training programs.  Administrators are also actively engaged.  Nicole O'Brien, Director of Admissions, recently collaborated with a group of Admissions Directors in the area to offer families of color an intimate evening of dinner and conversation about independent schools.  
Ken Paynter, our Director of Technology, will travel to Asia this month in his role as Project Manager for the NESA (Near East South Asia Regional Council of Schools) Virtual School Project. He will be conducting their annual System Administrators meeting this year in Kathmandu, Nepal. This project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Office of Overseas Schools. Twenty-three schools are participating in this consortium, now in its twelfth year, which uses the Moodle online learning management system to provide a blended learning environment at each school, to provide a platform for collaboration among the schools, and to provide a means of emergency continuity of operations should the school face a short-term or long-term natural or man-made emergency.
The following week Ken will be attending EARCOS (East Asia Regional Council of Schools) meetings in Bangkok, Thailand, presenting to interested Heads of School and Technology Directors the idea of membership in a newly forming EARCOS Virtual School Project, based very much on the NESA project. All eight of the regional associations are now involved in a collective called the World Virtual School Project, of which Ken is the Project Facilitator. Through this relationship, CMS has the opportunity to connect directly with any of the schools (currently 74) around the globe.
Tomorrow, Middle School Director and Alumni Coordinator Jen Haines Butler and Lead Teacher Tara Robinson will present "Team Teaching in Middle School" at the Association of Independent Schools of New England conference at Noble and Greenough School. CMS has been refining its Middle School teams for six years. Teams are quarterly commitments that require students to collaborate and organize activities to support our community. Presently, we have three teams: Micro-economy, Legacy, and Social Events. Students choose their teams by way of ballot and meet weekly during lunch to discuss and delegate tasks as they work toward one or more larger goals. In this session, Jen and Tara will discuss the different ways of using teams to encourage cooperation, address time management and follow-through, and increase student buy-in, among other valuable lessons. They will also discuss the different ways CMS has implemented teams into our curriculum in a multi-age classroom setting, the various projects undertaken, and the challenges faced.

Teams are excellent ways to expose students to budgets and fundraising, service learning opportunities, cross-classroom or cross-age interactions, social events, and other endless connections. It’s a great way to encourage leadership and support problem solving.  Cambridge Montessori is such a rich learning environment.  We recognize that lifelong teaching and learning is a value that we all share!
CMS is on the move.  Constantly reflecting, acting and learning!  I hope that you have a phenomenal weekend!
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