Learning More About Your Child

By Suzanne Lawson, Alumni Parent & Assistant Head of School

Elementary I, First Year (1st grade) Conference: Parent, Classroom Teachers, Learning Specialist, Director of Elementary

Elementary I, First Year (1st grade) Conference: Parent, Classroom Teachers, Learning Specialist, Director of Elementary

Today and tomorrow, November 8 and 9, we hold parent/teacher conferences for every child at Bridgeview Montessori School. We do not have classes these days, and every parent is encouraged to sign up for a 20-minute conference with their child’s teachers. We provide care for the children while their parents are talking with the teachers.

This is so very different from my experience when my daughter was in our neighborhood school. It was her Kindergarten year. She had been a student in Bridgeview’s Children’s House for the years before, but we really wanted to give the local school a chance… we had played on its playgrounds and sledded down its hills countless times, and we could walk to it on a sidewalk down a tree-lined street. Seemed idyllic!

I remember when parent/conference time rolled around at that school. Having heard nothing about our turn for a conference, I asked the teacher when we were going to sit down to chat about Jane’s learning and experience. The teacher said, “She’s fine. No reason to meet.” My husband and I, both independent school teachers, were surprised by this answer. We wanted to know about her experience: did she have friends, was learning joyous for her, what work seemed of particular interest to her, did she seem confident in the classroom, what were her growing edges, were there ways we could support her psyche at home…. And so much more. Were we being THOSE PARENTS. I think not; we just wanted to hear the stories!

Children's House Conference: Parent, Teacher, Director of Children's House

Children's House Conference: Parent, Teacher, Director of Children's House

Well, we were able to have our meeting and were met with the words, “Jane is doing fine.” We asked questions about our girl yet still feeling like the teacher wasn’t sure what we were looking for… she almost seemed defensive. Anyway, Jane did have a fine Kindergarten year, but her parents wanted more. Fortunately for us, we found Bridgeview Montessori School.

At Bridgeview Montessori School conferences, teachers relish the opportunities to share stories with parents. We do our very best to communicate the richness of each child, including emotional, social, academic, and developmental facets. We want to learn who each child is at home too. Our parent/teacher conferences are a wonderful time to enhance the school/family fit. We will tell you about your child at school, his strengths and his growing edges. We will listen as you tell us about your child at home, her favorite things, how she keeps her room, her extended family. Parents leave believing that we care and that we are striving to know their children deeply and in important ways.

My Spiral

By Suzanne Lawson, Assistant Head of School & Director of Admissions

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About two months ago, I received a mailing from my alma mater, the Whitby School, where I attended from almost three to eleven years old. The Whitby School in Greenwich, Connecticut was founded in 1958 as the first American Montessori School. The American Montessori Society (AMS) began at Whitby; AMS is the same organization where many Bridgeview Montessori teachers have trained and with which our school holds an affiliation. In the mailing was an Alumni Update card along with an invitation to their Founders Celebration in recognition of their fiftieth year. I started to think about my years at Whitby, realizing that it too was a young school when I was there just as Bridgeview Montessori is a young school. Preparing to write my Alumni Update started my thinking about some other commonalities.

I think of the spiral. My spiral began in a Montessori classroom at age 3. My mother tells the story of my older sister going off to Whitby without me. Mom explained that as soon as I was out of diapers, I could go too. According to family lore, that was the motivation I needed; I started at Whitby soon after that conversation.

I remember the cooling feel and substantial weight of the metal insets. I remember the knobbed cylinders. I always loved the littlest ones. I remember a box of chocolates being taken from my open cubby and the community meeting that followed -- every member of the community sitting on the steps of Caedmon Hall to discuss trust. I remember that nouns are marked with a large black triangle when using grammar templates to identify parts of speech. I left Whitby after fifth grade but was forever affected.

Both my sister and I feel that our experience at Whitby was fundamental in our development. My sister and I consider ourselves lifelong learners, both earning advanced degrees, both becoming educators (to our businessman father’s chagrin), and both choosing independent schools for our children. I see my children as creative and independent thinkers who can sit down and focus on the work in front of them. I see them as forever curious and motivated -- on their way to becoming lifelong learners. To borrow a phrase from a wonderful educator friend of mine, I believe that we all have  “growing edges;” we all have more to learn. I absolutely believe that my sister and I, and my children get these qualities from Montessori.

My spiral has brought me back to Bridgeview Montessori School. I feel connected when I touch the long bead chains and remember that the eights are brown and the nines are royal blue. I struggled with those. I hear and I then remember the muffled jingling sound that a thousand cube comprised of ten bars makes when you lift it. When I’m giving a tour to a prospective family, I find myself touching the material, asking parents to feel it too.  It is compelling.

We think of the spiral as an outward and upward trajectory for our community of learners, but for me, spiraling back, down, in has been just as inspiring.

I am finally getting to my Whitby Alumni Update card.

Name: Suzanne Lawson

Class of: I left Whitby after 5th grade, spring of 1977.

Occupation: Assistant Head of School & Director of Admissions, Bridgeview Montessori School

What have you been up to?

Ironically, I find myself the Assistant Head of School and Director of Admissions at Bridgeview Montessori School where my children, Jane and Thomas Earley, went for 6 and 7 years respectively, both finishing Elementary II. After teaching English in non- Montessori independent secondary and middle schools for many years, I relocated to Cape Cod with my husband Mike Earley, leaving the classroom to be at home with our two children. As we were searching for a school for them, we found Bridgeview Montessori. The nostalgia I felt upon entering the classrooms was wonderful, and I knew that I wanted Montessori for my children. Just as my mother taught at Whitby while my sister and I attended, I too have joined the faculty at my children’s school. Mike served as the President of the Bridgeview Montessori Board of Trustees just as my father did while I was at Whitby. Just as my family growing up was, my family now is drawn in by our Montessori school. Needless to say, Whitby, Montessori education, and now Bridgeview Montessori are in my blood.

Here We Are

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Welcome Bridgeview Montessori School Community,                                                     

I am so excited and proud to announce the launch of our new website, bridgeviewmontessori.org, which truly represents the very spirit of our school.  We have worked hard to create a site that communicates what we do every day to cultivate creative process, grow empowered and resilient people and hold community close.  Our words and photographs have been chosen with great care …. presented to inspire.  Each and every person within our community has had a hand in this project.  Above all, our strength rests with our community who holds our school and its mission close to heart and soul.

I would like to give a special thank you to a few people who went above and beyond to help.  Past parent and friend of the school, Katherine Jackson of The Mirrored Image Photography shot photographs that are compelling and tell our story without words.  She visited our school over a period of several days to make sure she captured authentic moments in time. Having built a website for his children’s Montessori school, our web designer Bill Gatewood, a college friend of Suzanne’s, offered to help us build ours. He did not confine his responsibilities to our website but also gave helpful advice in how to strengthen our overall online communications. He was more than just a website designer; he became a friend to our school.

Mostly I want to acknowledge and thank Suzanne Lawson, our Director of Admissions and Assistant Head of School, who carved time out of her already busy schedule to coordinate and help build the website. Her sensibilities and editing and writing skills run throughout.  Her steadfast belief in our school is always her inspiration.  Every day I am thankful for her partnership and support.

I am honored to be the first person to contribute to our blog.  It is my dream that throughout this year you will hear from each and every one of us here, and that our website will be visited often thus becoming a vital part of our community of learners.

Welcome to a new school year and to our new school website.

I am always yours in digging deep.

Love,

Sandy Nickerson, Head of School