Montessori Matters

January 18, 2019

Candlelight and Colours

“The purpose of ritual is to wake up the old mind in us, to put it to work. The old ones inside us, the collective unconscious, the many lives, the different eternal parts, the senses and parts of the brain that have been ignored. Those parts do not speak English. They do not care about television. But they do understand candlelight and colours.”
Z. Budapest

The rate of change in our contemporary society is increasing at such a rate that by the time you have finished reading this issue of Montessori Matters, there will have been at least 15 new concepts: ideas being patented, species going in and out of extinction, new attacks somewhere, arguments solved, breakthroughs in medicine, new allergies discovered, etc.

We are now living through the “age of accelerations” underpinned by those converging technological advances put in motion a decade ago. The pace of change (speed) and rate of change (exponential) are in many cases exceeding our capacity to cope with change. This is becoming so obvious to us in middle America that we even may wish for the latest talking personal assistant to actually do the dishes and walk the dog for us.

How do we balance that change for our children? How do we provide stability, ground to stand on, when it feels like the escalator is speeding up out of control? What can we use as a point of reference, our "candlelight and colours," in a constantly-changing world?

Rituals, celebrations, ceremonies, and rites of passage are a piece of the answer. A rite of passage is defined as “a ceremony or event marking an important stage in someone's life.” As a family, you celebrate many of those: birthdays, religious confirmations, bar mitzvahs, having one’s own cell phone, getting to stay up at night until 10 pm.

Even here at our own Montessori school, there are many times when we try to slow the pace down, breathe, and recognize “time outside of time.” The Greeks had two words for time; one is “Chronos” – chronological time that marches on linearly, and “Kairos” – sacred time where time stands still, if only for a moment.

At our school, we understand the importance of and celebrate these “Kairos” moments. Some of them are:

  • our birthday celebrations involving the “walk around the sun,”
  • the Thanksgiving Blessing circle for all,
  • the Piping Up ceremony of the rising Middle Schoolers,
  • the 8th grade mountain retreat, and
  • the Naming Ceremony for the rising 9th graders.

Interestingly enough – if we are to ask our past graduates about their most memorable moments while at MSA, they most often reflect on moments just like these. Here is what one recent graduate, Morgan Merriman, has to say about that:

“Growing up within the Montessori community instilled in all of us the significance of tradition. Year after year, I watched the upperclassmen that I looked up to pass Montessori milestones such as the Piping Up ceremonies that promote elementary students to the middle school level. As I looked on at the students being lifted by their parents and showered in flower petals, I knew that one day that would be me. When it was my turn, I took the path that my peers and even my older siblings had taken in their own time. Through these traditions, I was reminded that we are all on the same path, making the same trip around the sun, and moving together toward personal and academic success.”

So, because MSA educates children from infancy through high school, we try to provide solid ground upon which our students can navigate not only their academic subjects with diligence and care, but navigate the rest of their lives as well.

P.S. Soon to be released: an Anthology of MSA’s Rituals, Ceremonies, and Rites of Passage!

Dates to Remember

January 21 - Martin Luther King Day - All Programs Closed, Extended Day Available

January 27 - Community Open House 1-4 PM

January 29 - Observation Day for parents

January 29 - Parent information meeting 5:30-6:30 PM

February 1 - Letters of Intent sent home

February 11-15 - Middle School Play Week

February 15 - Letters of Intent due

February 18 - Presidents Day - All Programs Closed, Extended Day Available

Nurse's Notes

Strep, flu, and other winter-related illnesses are on the rise in Anderson County and South Carolina. When trying to make a decision on whether a student should return to school following an illness, please refer to MSA’s policy regarding illness.


MSA students are prohibited from attending classes while ill. If your child is absent, please notify the school office. MSA is proactive in monitoring all illnesses and makes every effort to prevent illnesses from spreading. When you have verification that your child has a communicable disease, please notify the office immediately. It is preferable to bring your child in late or keep him/her out for another day in order to completely recuperate rather than risk exposing the student body to a potentially communicable illness. All students must be fever-, vomiting-, and diarrhea-free for 24 hours (without the aid of medications) before returning to school. Absences; excused or unexcused are recorded for all students.

Early Dismissal due to illness:

For any student experiencing a fever greater than 100.5, vomiting, having diarrhea, or simply feeling too poorly to focus or concentrate on class work, the parent will be called and the student will be dismissed early.

If your child has missed school due to an illness, he/she may not participate in any other school-related activity on that day or evening.

With healthy regards,

Susanna Merriman, RN

Visit-Up Day

Students across campus visited their upcoming classrooms for the next school year this Thursday. They met their new teachers and fellow classmates and attended classes to get acclimated to their new environments.
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture

Greenville Zoo Visits Primary

The Greenville Zoo brought the "field trip" to MSA this week as they brought a frog, parrot, turtle, and a snake for our Primary students to discover and interact with.
Big picture

Lower El Mentors

Our Middle School students visit the Lower Elementary students each week on Monday to read with and mentor them. One of our Middle School students, Caroline, took these pictures of the students reading this week.
Big picture
Big picture

Middle School Lunch Preparation

Middle School students prepared breakfast for lunch this week by serving french toast with cinnamon apple and syrup toppings, eggs, bacon, sausage, and banana chocolate chip bars for dessert. Two of our Middle School students, Alessia and Lily, captured these photos of the students performing their tasks this week.
Middle School students rotate through job assignments during the Wednesday meal preparation time including cooking the meal, gathering the campus recycling, preparing the menu and budget for the next week's meal, and compiling photos and captions into the weekly Middle School newsletter. Once they complete their tasks, they use any remaining time for studying.

Professor Oliver

Oliver Saunier took a break from learning in his infant classroom to help Mrs. Holt teach her Psychology class and visiting 8th grade students all about reflexes.
Big picture
Big picture

Toddler Rituals

Students in the Toddler program have their own set of rituals that they enjoy throughout the year. The following pictures show students in Toddler One rolling up their mats after they are done with their works. The mats are used to delineate their work space when working on the floor.
These photos show students at work on their work mats and work areas.
Big picture
Big picture
Students may also choose to do their works on a table. The mats and table spaces are important because they establish a personal area for the toddler to concentrate and learn. Students can share a space for certain works, but only if they agree to work together.
Toddler students are sure to wash their hands before preparing and eating meals, after eating, and after using the restroom.
Big picture
Big picture
On Wednesdays, a student in each Toddler class gets to be the chef that cooks macaroni and cheese for their classmates. They combine all the pre-measured ingredients into a crock pot in the morning to be cooked and ready for lunchtime.
These toddlers are sharing snack time and enjoying some delicious fruits. Toddler students are introduced to new fruits and vegetables each month so they have a chance to experience a variety of foods.
Big picture
Another custom in the Toddler classrooms is for students to have a family photo displayed on the shelves in the classroom for the student to go to if they need to see them throughout the day.
Big picture
Big picture
Toddler students also enjoy circle time inside with their teachers reading books and singing songs together. These toddlers held their own circle time outside on the playground!

Primary Works

Primary students had smaller class sizes during Visit Up Day with the risers visiting Lower Elementary, but they still worked hard throughout the day!
Big picture
Big picture

Ultimate Frisbee Club

Middle and High School students in Ultimate Frisbee club meet each Friday afternoon to play ultimate on the school fields. Abby Keenan captured these shots of the students and teachers in action last Friday.
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture

Spring Benefit

Tickets are on sale now in the front office for the Spring Benefit! Tickets are $150 and admit two to the event. Thank you to all of our sponsors for this year's benefit!
Big picture
Big picture
Big picture

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.