Montrose News

January News from the Principal's Desk


Happy January! We are halfway through an exciting year of growth and redevelopment.

If you have suggestions for enriching our program in a way that supports curriculum and standards, please share. I want to be sure that as we learn, we create a shared vision that encompasses our values and beliefs in support of a very high-quality preschool program.

Have a great week! You deserve it!

Paraprofessional PD

A few weeks ago, VIPs participated in Professional Development related to Tools of the Mind math games. This interactive session allowed for paras to better understand the "why" and the "how" in order to engage students in meaningful learning. If there are additional PD needs, please let me know so we can continue to develop and strengthen our program.

Classrooms and Curriculum - WOW

It's refreshing to see the centers as they are reconfigured and come to life in this theme. Watching the children’s creativity and imagination begin to flourish is exciting! We know that children learn by doing, and that worksheets, coloring pages, and handouts are things of the past. Watching the students create props and use enhanced language while seeing aspects of the Tools curriculum being implemented with fidelity will allow us to meet all students’ needs as we continue to develop our understanding of its many facets.
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Encouraging Choice and Autonomy

One of the best ways to mentally stimulate a child is by asking their opinion, giving them a choice and putting the ball in their court. No matter what the assignment, this practice encourages an active approach to learning instead. In this way, the child remains engaged in the process and the outcome.

While Tools of the Mind is not flashy in nature, it is highly effective, shaping the students' learning experience and demeanor to become more balanced and proactive.

In addition to implementing this program in the classroom, parents should be encouraged to augment the effectiveness of Tools of the Mind by putting them into practice while interacting with the child. Independent thinking and leadership abilities are a natural outgrowth of the application of these tools.

As you send home your daily or weekly information to families, please be sure to provide them with activities they can do at home that are aligned with classroom/school experiences.

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Library Time!

I was able to connect with the South Orange Public Library in an effort to provide library programming to our students. From that connection, and with the dedication of Patty Scali and Mrs. Hannah Zollman, who both graciously offered to assist, we are officially partnered and scheduled. YAY!

The SOPL Children’s Librarian, Beth Halliday, will be visiting classes (2 at a time) once a month beginning this Thursday, January 31. Patty is drafting a schedule, but you can plan for a 25-minute experience between 9:00-12:00 on that day. Beth will bring books and props, and expose the students to some of the amazing literature that our libraries have to offer. Please be prepared to support and assist during your library time. We are also working to ensure that all students - and staff - have SOPL library cards.

It is possible that the Maplewood Library will also partner with us. A meeting will be held soon. Keep your fingers crossed!

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Black History Month 2019

Using Radiant Child and Life Doesn't Frighten Me as mentor texts, students at Montrose will be learning about the works and lives of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Maya Angelou.

Students will learn about Basquiat's inspiration and his messages. As an American of Caribbean descent, his work and life will highlight Haiti, Puerto Rico and the path to his fame. We will use multimedia materials to create collages and scratch art. We will create graffiti-inspired works for our hallways. As we seek to learn about this fine artist, you may find the movie Radiant Child of great interest.

Maya Angelou will be highlighted as a novelist, playwright, actress and civil rights activist. Students will learn a bit about her life, hear some of her poems and sing along with some of her words that have been put to music. Students will begin to understand that art is multi-faceted and is to be appreciated in all its forms.

Maya Angelou's life and works are well known, but her appearance on Sesame Street may not be.

Students will also learn about some inventors of African descent that have made our lives so much easier and safer. The names Marie Van Brittan Brown, Dr. Shirley Jackson and Alexander Miles could be among those studied.

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Welcome to #TeamPreschool

Please join me in welcoming Rebecca Milligan to #TeamPreschool! Having her personality, skills and expertise here will be AMAZING! After many years as a CST Social Worker, she brings her background in Early Intervention & Early Childhood Development to our program. Rebecca knows the SOMSD community well and will support families and staff in meeting the social, emotional, nutritional, health and behavioral needs of our preschoolers. Family workshops will also be planned. If you have a need related to any of these areas, or if you’re not quite sure if a student/family could benefit, please let Rebecca know.

Congratulations to Lisa Padula, who has joined the teaching team. Welcome also to Ms. Ayana and Ms. Shakira, who are new paras on our team at Montrose, and Ms. Sue and Ms. Samera who are paras in our preschool class at Marshall. We are glad you're here!

Reminders and Notes

  • If a bus student leaves early, please let the drivers and aides know
  • Please be on time (8:15) daily and at doors to greet students at 8:30
  • If you would like to plan Valentine's Day events with your class, please remember that the experience is a portion of a day and must be student-centered in every way. Please discuss your ideas with one another and let me know your proposal by Friday, February 1.
  • If the temperature is 20 degrees or lower (with windchill), recess will be indoors. Even so, please feel free to take the students on a walk, skip or run outdoors. Their bodies truly need the movement!
  • Some students have approached me with gratitude for the movement breaks. They've also started to give me songs for a playlist. I love it! Thank you for your willingness to support their movement and voice!

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