Montessori Matters

January 31, 2020

Real Is How You Are Made

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you.

(from The Velveteen Rabbit)

We come into this world so full of potential and pure being. An almost clean slate (except for some DNA prescriptions and in utero experiences).

Then culture happens: first family culture, then Culture with the capital C. One of those capital C cultures is the school culture.

I speak now of a Montessori school culture vs. a more traditional one, large or small. Inherent within the Montessori philosophy is the concept of respect. Montessori believed it critical to her approach that the educator held the key. And the door to be opened by the teacher is the one marked “essence.” According to Oxford, essence is “the intrinsic nature or indispensable quality of something, especially something abstract, that determines its character.“ In this case, the school culture respecting the essence or intrinsic nature of each child.

“The first duty of the educator, whether he is involved with the newborn infant or an older child, is to recognize the human personality of the young being and respect it.” (Maria Montessori)

I believe she meant the gift each child brings to the world is inherent in its being and our job as parents and educators is to preserve this gift. Not an easy thing to do in this 2020 world of ours. The demands are great on us as families trying to raise children that are loving, kind, courteous, intelligent, sensitive, responsible, giving, etc.

It is not easy for school cultures who are also under the pressure of doing their share of raising loving, kind, courteous, intelligent young people AND who are ALSO supposed to go to the best colleges, etc.

Most Montessori schools will say something like this:

The unique developmental needs and interests of each child are respected. Children are not compared based on merit; they are valued for their individuality. Montessori education embraces multiple styles and pathways to learning and understands that each child’s early learning journey is different.

How can that happen? To reduce one Montessori concept down into a few words, it happens when the Montessori teacher asks leading questions, proposes captivating ideas without answers and sets the stage for intrigue thus enabling the always-curious mind of the young child to explore. Explore possibilities, make mistakes, correct them, go down a different path, begin again, until an internal sense of “rightness” is felt.

The guide who listens to what fascinates the child and helps him to discover the books, the materials that may enable the student to learn more. The teacher becomes the mentor (helping the student to discover his mistakes for sure) rather than the purveyor of information. The student becomes the searcher (looking for answers why that path didn’t work) rather than the empty vessel waiting to be filled.

If a child grows up in a family culture that allows for the simple mistakes to be made (and corrected with patience and without guilt) and if a child grows up in a school culture where learning is facilitated by the “prepared teacher” who understands this same concept, then a child has a chance to be who he was meant to be. If the child is not always trying to “perform” for his family, peers or his teachers, he has a chance to be “real.”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you.” But I would argue a bit with the Skin Horse: “Real IS HOW you are made. It’s a thing worth preserving but many of the “happenings to you” keep getting in the way.

Dates to Remember

Remember that you can always check the MSA website calendar for upcoming calendar events.

February 6 - High School internships

February 6 - Spring Benefit Meeting at 5:30 PM

February 6 - Chat with Administration, 8-9 AM

February 6 - Observation morning in Toddler - Upper Elementary, 9-11 AM

February 11 - Singing Valentine forms due

February 13-19 - Scholastic Book Fair

February 14 - Grandparent's/Special Person's Day

February 14 - Singing Valentine deliveries

February 15 - Deadline for Priority Enrollment

February 17 - President's Day, no school, extended day only

March 2-6 - Play week

April 25 - Escape to Kokomo - Spring Benefit & Auction

Singing Valentines

The Middle School will be selling Singing Valentines to be delivered on Valentine's Day, next Friday. Each Singing Valentine will include a song sung by MSA students, a poem, candy, and a card. Please see this form for options and purchasing information -- the form is due Tuesday, February 11.

Nurse's Notes

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. MSA is proactive in monitoring all illnesses and makes every 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 free,vomiting-free, and diarrhea free for 24 hours (without the aid of medications) before returning to school. Absences; excused or unexcused are recorded for all students. 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.

Please see this link for a parent's guide to the flu.

Thank you in advance for helping to keep our MSA community healthy!

With healthy regards,

Susanna Merriman, RN

Scholastic Book Fair

It's Book Fair Time! We will hold our annual Scholastic Book Fair over the week of February 13 - 19. We hope to see you there!

  • Volunteers are needed to help children check out their purchases at the fair. If you are able to help, please use this link to sign up online.
  • Online purchases can be made beginning February 9th via our book fair web page. These purchases will be shipped home.
  • New this year - Scholastic E-Wallet offers you the opportunity to load funds for your child so they do not have to bring cash to school. Access this through our book fair web page.

Colleges and Universities

Over the past 9 years since our first graduating class, Montessori School of Anderson graduates have been accepted to 50 colleges and universities and have been awarded over $3 million in scholarships. Click the image below to see a list of some of the locations that graduates have been accepted.


Snow was the talk of the school on Friday as large snow flakes fell from the sky for about half an hour in the morning. These students in Primary 2 enjoyed the view out the window in their cozy classroom!
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Paper Airplane Graphing

Students in Mr. Saunier's physics class are learning to graph results of experiments and got some practice this week as they each created paper airplanes and performed and measured and charted the distance of several test throws of their planes. For more photos from the experiment, see this paper airplane photo gallery.
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Indoor Recess

With the cold, wet weather this Friday, students in the Upper School enjoyed indoor recess after lunch by organizing a ping pong tournament, holding a book club meeting, and playing board games. Click here for more indoor recess photos.
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Family, Food, and Philosophy

Thank you to everyone who came and enjoyed a night of Family, Food, and Philosophy this past week! Your willingness to learn and contribute your time to the school is what makes our community great. Click here for a small gallery of photos from the event.
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Meet Erin Shuler, PR-UE Spanish

I am very excited to announce that a Spanish teacher has been hired for our PR - UE programs. She may be familiar to some of you because she is actually an MSA graduate. Erin Shuler will pick up Spanish in Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary beginning Tuesday, Feb. 4. Due to additional DSS requirements, she will not be able to start in Primary until probably Feb. 11. We are very eager to resume Spanish in each of these programs and are so fortunate to have one of our own back on campus! Please welcome Ms. Erin back to MSA!

Dr. Hill


About me:

I was born and raised in Anderson, SC and was a student at MSA from two months old until I graduated in 2014. I am passionate about so many things (probably due to that Montessori education) and I believe that foreign language studies open so many doors to new cultures, ideas, and experiences. I really believe it is an asset to be able to effectively communicate in another language and I hope to inspire the same passion that I discovered while I was a student at Montessori. Since graduating Montessori, I have moved several times and travelled to many new places. I love new adventures and experiencing other cultures. I moved to New York City, then I moved to Paris, France. I love museums, art, music, theatre, and history. Luckily, being trilingual, I was able to easily travel from one country to the next. I learned Spanish while at Montessori and the benefits of that skill are immeasurable. I have formed many friendships with people with whom I would not have been able to communicate had I not been able to speak Spanish, I wrote my senior thesis on code-switching from Spanish to English, I have travelled to numerous Spanish speaking countries and felt comfortable communicating with locals and really experiencing other cultures. I hope to share not only my knowledge of the Spanish language with your children, but also my passion and to create an understanding of the many benefits of learning a second language.

My education/experience:

After graduating from Montessori, I moved to NYC and recently graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Theatre and a double major in Linguistics in the College of Arts and Sciences in the honor’s program and graduated cum laude. After completing my bachelor’s, I moved to Paris, France to continue my linguistic and foreign language studies. I lived in France for a little over a year and really valued the experience of living abroad. While in France, I volunteered at a local Montessori school teaching English as a foreign language. I have always had a passion for education and especially for foreign language studies. Currently, I am tutoring students in Spanish, but I am really excited for the opportunity to transfer my linguistic skills to the classroom and share my knowledge and experiences with your children.

My favorite things:

  • Book/Movie - I have one for each language (choosing one book is too difficult!) The Da Vinci Code (English), La Sombra del Viento (Spanish), and Elle s’appelait Sarah (French). I’m also a big Harry Potter nerd and have read Harry Potter in all three languages.
  • Color - Green
  • Food/Snack - Anything with cheese
  • Sport/Team - Clemson football, French National team for soccer
  • Activity/Hobby - Tennis (I’m not very good, but working on getting better).
  • Vacation spot - Barcelona (It’s my favorite European city… so far).
  • Your favorite thing about teaching at MSA - I can’t answer this question in the space provided…

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.