Montessori Matters

September 13, 2019

Passion for Excellence

Over the next four weeks, we will be looking at MSA’s four pillars. Are they just nice words, how does the Montessori philosophy complement them, are they relevant to this 21st century world?

  1. Passion for Excellence

  2. Universal Values

  3. Global Understanding

  4. Service to Humanity

Starting with Passion for Excellence, how does a Montessori classroom implement this idea into its day-to-day curriculum and goals?

I am the first to admit: it is not easy to have an image of what excellence is in this fast-paced, superficial world of emojis, text messages, media sound bites, and “get the kids into the best colleges – no matter what!” (Reflect for a moment on the Felicity Huffman scandal!)

Montessori involves immersing the children in a culture of “awareness” all the way to Middle School without the superficial stamp of grades, report cards, constant tests, etc. Once MSA students enter Middle School grades are introduced slowly and not with all learning.

So, what motivates a three-year-old to do “excellent” work? The answer is in the giftedness of the Montessori-trained teacher. The work/exercises have been modeled by those who do them with excellence and they are repeated by the children without any coercion or gold stars, grades, or even praise. The children have observed EXCELLENCE without much fanfare. It is so interesting that in Montessori training, we are taught to give lessons without using a lot of words. Words detract from the “modeling” that takes place when the child’s full attention is on following the hands of his directress. When it is his turn, the movements and care, wiping off the tiniest droplet of water from a pouring exercise to turning the tray around for his next turn, becomes the beauty and joy of a work accomplished with grace. The teachers don’t praise. They don’t need to. The beauty of a difficult work accomplished is the “pièce de résistance.”

Picture this concept happening throughout the day, with many lessons practiced over and over until the child’s own sense of completion is felt. Now multiply that through all areas of practical life, sensorial, math, language, culture year after year until Middle School. One of my favorite quotes from a high schooler came when she said, with sadness: “I miss the days when I used to work just for the fun of it. Now, I have to work for the grades and to get into a good college.”

Admittedly, it can disappear for the moment in a super-busy Montessori teenager world, but it will come back, I assure you. The rest of us, traditionally educated, have real moments of that awareness when presenting the “perfect” argument for a new project, building that “perfect” playhouse for your child or baking the “perfect” five-layer cake for the family. You step back, before the hands start clapping or the praise and thanks start coming, and realize your own “passion for excellence” is enough.

- Karen Holt

Dates to Remember

September 16-27 - MAP Growth testing (grades 2-9)

September 19 - Toddler Two Covered Dish Dinner

September 21 - International Day of Peace

September 26 - Toddler Three Covered Dish Dinner

October 8 - Family, Food, and Philosophy event

October 11 - Early dismissal for professional development, no extended care

October 14-18 - Fall Break, extended day available

Nurse's Notes

Immunization deadline this week

All students must have a South Carolina DHEC immunization record on file in the MSA Health Office within 30 days of admission or the first day of school. If you are a transfer student from out of state or country, all immunization records must be transferred to a SC DHEC Form at your physician's office or a South Carolina Health Department. If the student has received any additional immunizations in the last year, a new record must be submitted to MSA. Any student not in compliance with South Carolina's Immunization mandated guidelines must be excluded until a immunization record has been received. Please make every effort to meet this deadline so there is no interruption in your child's educational experience.

Thank you advance for your cooperation.

Susanna Merriman, RN

Daddy Daughter Dance Photos

The Daddy Daughter Dance two weeks ago was a great success; thanks again to the organizers and volunteers and to the sponsors, Anderson Pediatric Dentistry and SC Attorneys at Law! Additional photos from the event can be seen below and the whole album can be found in this dance party gallery using the password together (all lowercase). Full resolution photos can be downloaded for free by clicking Back to Gallery at the top left.
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After-School Clubs

After-school clubs started this week in the Upper School starting with Games Club this Monday. A Middle School student brought the game Hnefatafl, The Viking Board Game this week and taught everyone how to play. It was an exciting game of strategy!
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Ultimate Frisbee club had its first meeting on Friday. With the hot temperatures, the students took plenty of breaks for hydration and rest; hopefully crisp fall weather comes soon! Senior Abby Keenan contributed the following photos and this photo gallery from the games.
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Primary Three Morning Work

This Primary Three friend is doing her weekly chore of straightening up colored pencils after the morning work cycle is complete.
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These friends finished up their morning chores and put away their works before joining the day's lesson.
These Primary Three friends stopped to enjoy the camera between finishing their morning works and starting a solar system lesson.
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Learning about the Solar System

Primary students are learning about the solar system this month leading up to the Plant PJ Party on September 27. Each Primary class learns interesting facts about the solar system, the Sun, and each of the planets in our solar system. They review what they have learned so far using a special solar system mat, and students that volunteer and answer questions about the planets correctly get to retrieve the planet to go on the mat. See below for images from a Primary Three lesson, and click this gallery for all of the photos from the morning in P3.
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Awesome Weed Pullers

In Mrs. Patch's horticulture class this week, these Lower Elementary students had a competition between first and second grades to see who could pull the most weeds to clean up the garden.
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United Way Community Service

The Middle School is partnering with the United Way for community service this year. Our first project is part of the "Snack Pack" program. Each enrolled child receives a bag of child-friendly, ready-to-eat foods on Friday to take home for the weekend when school meals are not available. Children return to school on Monday, well-fed and ready to learn. Our students will help write encouraging, personalized notes for these students that will be added to each Snack Pack. In Anderson, up to 20,000 of these packs are expected to be delivered this school year. The Youth Volunteer Coordinator, Ellie Philips, taught the students about childhood poverty and the statistics associated with that.
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Homework Board

The Middle School converted a large white board hanging on the back of their bookshelves into a homework board on which to list homework assigned in each course.
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Peace Collages

In celebration of the upcoming International Day of Peace on Saturday, September 21, students across campus have created peace collages in various designs. The afternoon Primary students worked together to create this peace dove collage.
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These Middle School students planned and worked on their class' collage.
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Students also crafted Pinwheels for Peace that will go around the campus in celebration of the day. These High School students worked on theirs over the past couple weeks.
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Toddler One Covered Dinner

Toddler One had a covered dish pot-luck dinner this Thursday and had a great turnout of Toddler friends and families! Toddler Two's covered dish dinner is this Thursday at 5:45 PM. Here are just a few of the photos from Toddler One's night; stay tuned for the rest of the gallery in an upcoming issue of Montessori Matters.
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Be Internet Awesome

Upper Elementary students played several interactive games during Technology class this week that taught them how to Be Internet Awesome. The games focused on sharing information only with appropriate audiences while safeguarding personal information, discerning between real websites and communications from fakes and scams, securing data online using strong passwords and secure connections, and being kind to others and preventing bullying online.

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Montessori School of Anderson

Our mission is to nurture the whole child, physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually, preparing students for academic excellence, lifelong learning and responsible, caring lives.