In this third plane of development, adolescents are seeking to find their place in society and understand the world at large and how they may, ultimately, be world contributors. The 9th graders are developmentally, physically, and emotionally prepared to embark on an international trip. Some are leaving the country for the first time. Most are traveling without their parents for two weeks for the first time. The opportunity to design their own trip and travel to a foreign land becomes their work and is an experience that changes them. They spend two years raising the money for the trip and do all the leg work from booking tickets, booking lodging, planning the itinerary, and organizing packing lists.
This year, the 9th graders chose to go to Ecuador for their international trip. The travel went well and our first day was spent in Quito, the capital city of Ecuador. We enjoyed a magnificent visit to the Botanical Gardens, just around the corner from our home. We also took some time for a little grocery shopping and a great adventure into the old historic center of this wonderful city. It was a fun first day!
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September 21 was International Peace Day and the adolescent class had their first Community Breakfast of the year. Although we had a smaller crowd than expected, it was a good experience. We did much of the preparation the night before so we felt organized and had less to do in the morning. We learned how much food we will need for next time, how best to set-up our space, and the responsibilities needed for each person in the class. Once the breakfast was over, clean-up went very quickly and we were finished in under 15 minutes. This week we made $154.00 with a profit of $62.00. We look forward to more people attending our next Community Breakfast and have some ideas for better advertising such as educating new parents at MMS, putting up fliers in town, and seeing if we can advertise in Marshall Minutes.
These chickens have enriched our lives so much since they came to our school. To begin with, the children hatched them out in their classrooms, carefully monitoring the temperature and checking the humidity of the incubators. They candled them and got to see through the shell the living, moving embryo contained within – an embryo that is similar to a human’s for a period of time. That was an amazing lesson! They got to witness the tiny chicks’ great effort to get out of the shell, and what happens if they cannot.
The children displayed tremendous empathy when one chick struggled to survive for the first 24 hours. They organized heat lamps, shavings, water, food, and shelter as the chicks grew. They built a small fenced area for them to run around in daily. It was great.
Some wonderful parents got together and built an amazing coop on wheels, and the then-young pullets were able to move into their large fenced area. This provided the opportunity for more chickens, and suddenly there was lots and lots of research done on various heritage breeds of chickens. That was followed by the children voting on the breeds they wanted – democracy at its best. A going out was organized by the children to Over the Grass Farm, where they planned to purchase four Orphingtons to add to their flock of Leghorns with their own hard-earned money. To their surprise, the farm donated the hens instead.
Then I want you to imagine what it was like when they found the first egg. It was possibly akin to a good-sized lottery win….. but it was nothing in comparison to the children actually seeing an egg being laid. I heard the screams long before I saw the children, and yes, the hair stood up on the back of my neck. I thought it was going to be bad, so you can imagine how I felt when all the screaming children told me, “We saw the egg coming out! It came out of Henny Penny’s butt.” Yes, it was a great moment! The students have now organized Leslie Edmundson, who taught the Elementary children an agriculture class two years ago, to come to school and do a unit on how the egg is made and laid!
Just when I thought it could not get any better, the children came up with some great ways to make money to maintain the hens. They are putting the most amazing ideas out there to get the neighbors buying stuff, people coming from all over to The Store…..very elaborate indeed. They settled on the Mountainside Shop to sell products to our very own parents. Don’t you love the entrepreneurship here? I hope you do, because I just want to burst with pride and excitement when I hear and see these children come up with ideas and then make them happen. It is all them! And I love all of you for supporting them in their endeavors.
But here is my favorite of all the benefits: The other day a Primary child was having a very bad morning and ended up in the office screaming and throwing the biggest of tantrums, not to be consoled by anyone. I stuck my head in the door and said, “Oh, did you know we got a new chocolate-colored hen today? Would you like to go and visit her?” I got two nurturing Elementary children to take the Primary child out for the visit. I looked out the window as they each held her hand and walked across the grass to the chickens. There I could see them laughing and running around trying to catch Coco (the new Cuckoo Maran hen). How wonderful is that!
It’s the Climb
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The great things in life never come easily. It is sort of like climbing Mount Everest – imagine the feeling you get when you reach the summit!!!
We are not there yet, of course. But we finally got some traction, and we made it over that part where the rocks under our feet kept shoving us backward instead of forward. (That would be the four different sources of financing that fell through.) But we never lost sight of our goal and were never deterred.
We got busy fundraising and getting the Mountainside name out in the community. Finding the right property to fulfill our vision took almost a year, and I cannot tell you how much property we looked at in Orlean, Hume, Marshall, and Warrenton. But I do remember arriving at 4206 Belvoir Road and instantly feeling that this was going to be the new home of Mountainside Montessori. It had room for all the students, parents, and whatever else we needed. There was something else there too, and it is hard to explain because it is more like a feeling. It is peaceful, solid, and beautiful. The property needs a lot of work, but it is all there waiting for us.
On October 17, after more than three years of work, sweat, tears, more tears, anxiety, Planning Commission, Supervisors, well drilling, architects, engineers……. WE CLOSED ON OUR FINANCING AND ON OUR NEW HOME. IT IS FINALLY OURS!!
Now we get to sit in the sunshine on the side of the mountain and rest a bit as we take a moment to celebrate and enjoy this momentous occasion.
As you all know, Mountainside’s journey is not about reaching the summit. It is about the climb, and the fun we are going to have getting there because this is our life:
• Watching our children happily go to school each day in specially prepared environments that help them reach their full human potential
• Parents picnicking under the dogwood while their children build stick houses and enjoy all that nature has to offer
• Teachers who joyfully come to work each day because they are motivated, committed, and most importantly supported by the administration, the parents, and of course the community of people who support us in our mission.
So stay tuned and enjoy the climb with us!
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