Welcome, welcome, welcome... and, welcome back. We are ringing in the 2016 – 2017 school year with the highest of hopes and aspirations. The floors have been waxed, the teachers have returned, the classrooms have been set up, and the children are slowly phasing in to the school in a purposeful way that will result in cooperative learning environments, full of focus, teamwork, and individual achievement.
Everything from its rich traditions and history to the experiences and interactions of our community today combine to form Aidan Montessori School's unique personality, a personality comprised of the hopes and dreams of many, many individuals: students, teachers, parents, grandparents, and the wider community. This personality, this identity, is rooted not just in history but in change, both anticipated and unanticipated. Regardless of where and how you spent your summer, please allow me the opportunity to catch you up on some of the changes, both anticipated and otherwise:
Communications: While we are a community made up of individuals who communicate in innumerable ways, the school has a three-pronged plan for communication:
- School Notes will be a sizeable communication piece, and you should anticipate seeing it on/about the first Wednesday of every month.
- This Week at Aidan is a shorter communication, a reminder of sorts, which is scheduled to go out every Sunday.
- Classroom Communication Plans will be distributed by teachers to parents on or before Back to School Night. This is a personalized plan, written by your child's teacher, to make clear how to best hear from and communicate with your child's teacher.
Toward the goal of successful communication, please keep these three vehicles in mind and bear in mind that communication is a two-way activity. Make sure you "whitelist" Aidan email addresses and, please, read everything that we send by way of these three vehicles. There will, as always, be a portal on the website (look for it in October) and Muffins and Montessori and Facebook and Coffees and Conversation, but the goal of all of those is to be supplemental. Look to our three prongs of communication to stay informed about what is essential.
Facilities: The building has had a bit of a makeover, subtle enough that it may not be obvious to the casual passerby. Masonry work was done to the brick face of the building and fresh paint was applied. The benches were painted, and the open spaces of the playground and the space to the right of the main stairs were worked over and considerably improved. The formerly tiled columns at the base of the building are now a bit more contemporary, covered by brushed aluminum. Toward the back of the building, some wrought iron work was done, and an additional parking space was created.
People: This year's retreat saw a larger than usual number of new faces. You can see a list of all our new faculty and staff at this link.
We have a new Director of Admissions, Grace Lee, who will be supported by Ms. Antonucci on a part-time basis throughout the year. We have a new Physical Education Teacher, Brian Librizzi, and he will be supported by a new position, our Assistant Physical Education Teacher, Susanna Barton-Smith. Another new position this year is Assistant Chinese Teacher, filled by Jill Hayward. Our new Librarian's name is Nell Stewart. Claudia Caihuara is one of our new Primary Teachers, and the other is Autumn Wilson. Autumn Wilson will be assisted by yet another new face, Caroline Parrish. Emily Navarro is our new Upper Elementary Assistant Teacher, and she will be supporting Dr. John Feeley who is not new to our school, but is new to the position of Long-Term Substitute Teacher in the Upper Elementary classroom as he stands in for Elizabeth Henke, who will return to Aidan in January. Finally, I myself and Cassie Sherman-Marks, our new Director of Communications and Marketing, arrived over the summer.
Schedules: As many of you are aware, the School made a significant scheduling change, planned last year and to be implemented this year. Basically, the School wanted to include many of the "specials" that we value for our children such as Art, Music, PE, and Foreign Language, yet, as many Montessori schools do, Aidan had to overcome the challenge of offering specials while keeping whole the heart of our School: the uninterrupted Montessori work block. As a visiting candidate for Head of School last winter, I learned about Aidan's plan to extend the school day in order to include these offerings while keeping the Montessori work periods whole, and one word came to my mind: "Bold." Many Montessori schools wrestle with this tension, but it takes a school with Aidan's history and firm footing to take a step as bold as lengthening the school day. That said, please know that the administration has plans to actively monitor the implementation of the new schedule and remains poised to address any issues that may come up as a result.
Communications, facilities, people, and schedules are all "new-ish" at Aidan Montessori School this year. Change can be hard, especially at schools. While we honor and fondly remember those routines, processes, and especially people who have been a part of our community in the past, it will not be long before new faces become familiar and new routines become, well, routine.
Please keep an eye on the school calendar for a multitude of events and undertakings in which you may become involved. And, if you are able, please pass by one of the Coffee and Conversation sessions, which are basically a chance for us to get to know each other.Thank you for entrusting us with the care and education of your children.
Head of School