In the Classroom
by Robin Myers
There is a child in my room with special needs. There are days when I think all of my children have special needs and while they do, Sid has more special needs every day than the others.
There are a lot of things Sid can't do. But there are so many other things that he can do better than anyone else. Just by being in our room, Sid inspires love, friendship and makes our group cohesive.
Sid is non-verbal and the children talk to him all the time. They are even learning sign language because they want to communicate with Sid. When Sid signs back, they are so pleased that they beam back at him. Sid is not able to put his coat on by himself, but he can open doors and go outside. When the children see Sid in the cold air without his coat, they kindly take his hand, bring him back into the room, put his coat on him and guide him back outside. This can be very difficult for the children, because Sid doesn't help them by putting his arms in the sleeves. The children are always so patient and just keep at it until the coat is on. Sid is mostly patient also. Sid often spills his work and instantly the children are there to clean up so he can continue on. They have even learned that Sid can now pick up some things he spills, but not others. When we were consulted recently I asked how I could invite Sid to stay for lunch. The thought of getting his place ready for him and maybe having to help him eat and then cleaning up with him was beyond me. What would happen to the rest of the group during that clean up time?! The consultant answered with, “The children will help him. You won't need to do anything.” Why didn't I think of that? So, Sid now stays for lunch. The children set his place and unpack his lunch, tell him to wash his hands, put on his bib and seat him at his table. Some food Sid can feed himself, but the rest of his food is fed to him by his child helper. Even the children who took forever to eat are now able to feed Sid and get their lunches eaten as well in the time that we have.
Just after the NAMTA conference in Portland that had lectures about extended language work as well as language delays, I shook Sid's hand and told him, “Good bye.” He made eye contact with me as he shook my hand and said, “Bye-bye.” I stared at him, speechless. Luckily my assistant and several other children were all there to hear Sid speak too. We all looked at each other and one of us finally said, “Sid talked!” I hugged him and said, “Good talking, Sid!” Word spread quickly through the school as we wrote letters to our old friends who know Sid but have gone on to elementary. They of course spent the next day writing letters back and spreading the news to all of their new friends as well. Every day now when I tell Sid good bye, he responds with his own farewell. It sounds similar to a moan accompanied by a hand wave. It has been given to me everyday since he spoke his first words. I'll take it!
Robin Myers, Primary Course 4
Montessori School of Beaverton
A Note from Jeff
February 15, 2012
In the very near future there will be lots of opportunities coming up for MINWAA support. By the beginning of March new projects will be under way and at the top of the list is developing our ability to connect with alumni. Your feedback from the Fall survey is primed to serve as a great compass. Some of you have already contacted Janet Lewis about participating. Anyone else (We know you're out there!) keen on writing articles, collecting articles, harnessing the power of social media platforms, and establishing a workshop committee should also contact Janet or myself. We look forward to your ideas and suggestions.
Primary Course 30
Celebration of Light 2012
The Celebration of Light auction is just around the corner. Thank you to our alumni community for the exceptional donations for this year's new silent auction section:
Uniquely Yours, for Home or Classroom
And, don't forget that if you want to sit with dear friends, find wonderful treasures, share dessert and Montessori humor, you can reserve a table for you and 7 others at this year's Celebration of Light.Tables are filling up quickly, so don't delay, make those reservations now!
Course 34 has reserved their table...who will be next?
I look forward to seeing all of you on January 27th!
MINW Alumni Donations Chair
Welcome, MINW Alumni!
DECEMBER 5, 2011: A Letter from Jeff
Greetings to all.
It is a great pleasure to announce the Montessori Institute Northwest Alumni Association! After thirty-two years of courses, several hundred graduates, and thousands of students and families touched, alumni of MINW’s teacher training programs now have their own formal and permanent organization.
The Montessori Institute Northwest has four goals:
- To encourage social and professional camaraderie among alumni
- To increase philanthropic and volunteer support of MINW
- To elevate Montessori practice, lifelong learning and professional development
- To increase visibility and stature of MINW through Montessori outreach
In this spirit, the feedback from a survey recently sent to graduates has indicated how our road ahead will work towards these intentions. Starting small, we plan to grow by using the MINW website with its MINWAA page, email and The MINW Observer newsletter as the main online resources for updates on MINW courses, happenings, and communications for annual contributions. Alumni events will focus on professional development through face-to-face gatherings, web-based forums, and innovative distance learning formats. Class/course reunions are also in the mix.
Ultimately, much of these efforts will be coordinated through Janet Lewis in the MINW office and the alumni volunteers who step forward. In time, MINWAA is intended to become a self-sustaining autonomous body with its own budget and officers.
To kick everything off, two exciting opportunities are currently offered to alumni. The first is a quick thirty-second vote for MINW as a part of a grant competition. Read more about it in this issue of the Observer – literally, thirty seconds!
Second, our annual Celebration of Light on January 27th is the prime time chance for alumni to buy a couple tables, perhaps engage with the auction, and just kick off the new year by putting friendly faces together. Angelika Steinberg is the auction contact. (Her welcome letter follows)
Let’s use this Alumni Corner in the MINW Observer to hear from fellow voices within our ranks.
Primary Course 30
DECEMBER 5, 2011: A Letter from Angelika
A new silent auction category will be unveiled at the 2012 Celebration of Light this coming January. It will be filled with items from Montessori Institute Northwest (MINW) Alumni and current trainees. These unique objects will be used by our peers, other trainees, and in families’ home environments. As graduates of MINW we have benefited firsthand from its quality training, insightful trainers, and its continuing presence as an invaluable resource. The auction offers an opportunity to show our gratitude for our training center, to support future Montessorians and children’s development.
We are a diverse group of individuals with a wide range of talents. Please consider your own skills when utilizing them to design a special contribution. Many of us are musically inclined or Yogis and could donate private lessons. Some of us are metal-smiths, woodworkers, or jewelers and can handcraft one-of-a-kind pieces. The donation possibilities are endless; here are a few suggestions to spur your imagination.
- A stunning mobile
- A favorite book
- A set of language cards
- A CD of personally sung and recorded songs
These pieces need not be restricted to handmade items. Admittedly our time is often limited, store-bought items are perfectly acceptable. However, if you are creating materials for your classroom (for example, painting a set of boxes for your chain labels) then simply make a second set to contribute. Additionally, please reach out to your former classmates, your colleagues, and urge them to send a replica of their gorgeous and coveted materials.
Please click here to download the donation form. It should be returned to MINW with a description of your item by December 21st, 2011. The item itself should arrive by January 15th, 2012.
We eagerly await your contributions!
MINW Alumni Donation Chair