VdM Class of 2020: Rachel

At the end of a typical school year, we honor and celebrate our sixth-year graduates and their families on campus with a graduation ceremony and after party—lovely speeches, delicious food, laughter, tears and lots and lots of Fitz’s root beer. This year the pandemic forced us to change our plans and get creative. Graduating families came in their cars, to watch a parade put on by our community and a screening of their pre-recorded speeches, all the while maintaining a safe distance (and yes, there was root beer!).

While we did put on a pretty magnificent social-distancing ceremony (if we do say so ourselves), we think the graduates deserve to be celebrated just a little bit more. Over the next few weeks we’ll highlight each of our sixth-year graduates on the blog. You’ll meet some of the best people we know, children we love and have watched grow and develop into thoughtful, funny, curious, exciting and vibrant young people. And you’ll get to watch their graduation speeches! Today, we’ll meet Rachel.

Rachel is a great role model and classmate to have in the classroom. Upper Elementary fifth-year student

Villa di Maria: Introduce yourself! Tell us something you think everyone should know about you.

Rachel: Hi. My name is Rachel and I have just graduated from Villa di Maria Montessori.

VdM: What are your hobbies and interests? What do you like to do for fun?

Rachel: I like to go on hikes and walk my dog. But when I’m not outside or playing games, I read, read, read.

VdM: Do you have a favorite book or movie (or both)? What is it and why?

Rachel: My favorite book series is Wings of Fire by Tui T. Sutherland. I can’t even count how many times I’ve re-read the series and I highly suggest anyone interested in dragons, adventure, etc. to read the series themselves.

VdM: Tell us something about yourself that you are proud of.

Rachel: I love that I have the talent to draw lovely animals. (I wish I could draw humans though. I’m still working on that.)

VdM: How old were you when you started at Villa di Maria? Where did you go before VdM?

Rachel: When I first went to Villa, I was about five years old in Mrs. McCauley’s classroom. One of my favorite memories of being in her class was on my birthday. I still remember the delighted faces of the children staring hungrily at my birthday rainbow cake.

VdM: Let’s talk about this school year… how do you feel about closing out your last year at Villa di Maria with distance learning?

Rachel: I would have loved, and preferred, to have ended the school year socially. But I’m happy that I at least get to say goodbye.

VdM: What do you miss most about being on campus?

Rachel: I miss the trees and the artistic vibe that I got from the one-of-a-kind campus that I wouldn’t find anywhere else.

VdM: What’s next for you? Where will you be going to middle school?

Rachel: I am not yet aware of what’s ahead of me for my next school, but it will be in Texas.

VdM: What is something you’re most excited about going into your new school? Is there anything you’re not excited about?

Rachel: I’ll be excited to meet new people and to discover new things.

VdM: Last but not least, you graduated from Villa di Maria!! How are you going to celebrate this summer?

Rachel: By packing up my stuff, moving to Texas, getting a new house, and starting a new adventure in my next chapter of the story!

To Rachel: You’re very well read, also resourceful and kind. We’ll all miss you. Upper Elementary fourth-year student

Thank you, Rachel! We will miss you and your family, but we know you will have a great life and do amazing things in Texas.

And now… Rachel’s graduation speech:

Photos courtesy of Rachel’s family and Melinda Smith.

Resources for Talking with Our White Children About Racism

Author’s note: It has been brought to our attention that this post exposes a bias, an assumption that anyone reading it would be white. I apologize for not explicitly stating that intention. I would like to clarify that I am a white person with children, and this post is meant to provide a list of resources to help white parents talk to our children about race. We are in the privileged position of not having to think about racism in our daily lives. The resources suggested here are meant to move us out of our privileged comfort zone and help us start and sustain the difficult conversations we have been avoiding. The conversations are necessary and are just a small part of all that needs to be done to dismantle systemic racism. I believe they are a crucial first step, and the resources listed here are meant to help those of us who need help making that first step.

As the George Floyd protests continue throughout the world, many of us are turning inward, examining our own biases and principles surrounding race and racism and asking ourselves what we can do to play our part in dismantling the repeated, systemic and lethal racism we are witnessing in this country. Our children, too, are asking questions. Difficult questions that, frankly, we might not want to answer.

Within the child lies the fate of the future.Dr. Maria Montessori

The truth is that talking about racism is complex, heartbreaking and sometimes ugly. As white people, we might want to protect our children, and ourselves, from the emotional difficulty of these conversations, but avoiding the topic is not a solution. Racism will not go away if we avoid talking about it. The questions—our children’s questions—need to be answered.

I will not pretend to know the right way to discuss racism with our children. But I do know we have to try. We have to listen to the experiences of people of color. We have to examine our own implicit biases—because we all have them. We have to honestly address and discuss our country’s history of treating black people and other people of color with hatred and injustice. And we have to keep learning how to do better.

Below is a list of resources to help us all keep talking with our children about racism, including a couple of lists of books for children and adults. Please use them to get started on these difficult conversations and to keep the conversations going into the future.

 

VdM Class of 2020: Kemp

At the end of a typical school year, we honor and celebrate our sixth-year graduates and their families on campus with a graduation ceremony and after party—lovely speeches, delicious food, laughter, tears and lots and lots of Fitz’s root beer. This year the pandemic forced us to change our plans and get creative. Graduating families came in their cars, to watch a parade put on by our community and a screening of their pre-recorded speeches, all the while maintaining a safe distance (and yes, there was root beer!).

While we did put on a pretty magnificent social-distancing ceremony (if we do say so ourselves), we think the graduates deserve to be celebrated just a little bit more. Over the next few weeks we’ll highlight each of our sixth-year graduates on the blog. You’ll meet some of the best people we know, children we love and have watched grow and develop into thoughtful, funny, curious, exciting and vibrant young people. And you’ll get to watch their graduation speeches! Today, we’ll kick off the series with Kemp.

Kemp is incredible, a huge cat lover, kind to everyone, supporting and very, very funny. He’s always helping his friends out. I will miss him so much. He’s a great person to have in the classroom. Upper Elementary fifth-year student

Villa di Maria: Introduce yourself! Tell us something you think everyone should know about you.

Kemp: Hello! I am Kemp. I have been playing piano ever since I was 4 and I have carried my piano-playing passion to 6th grade.

VdM: What are your hobbies and interests? What do you like to do for fun?

Kemp: My main hobbies are piano, sudoku and card games. One of my favorite card games is called The Game and Catan.

VdM: Do you have a favorite book or movie (or both)? What is it and why?

Kemp: My favorite movie is The Lego Batman Movie because it is both filled with humor and action. My favorite book is The Secret Garden because it is written in a great way and because of its story.

VdM: Tell us something about yourself that you are proud of.

Kemp: I am proud that I play many sports and that I am adventurous in eating and exploring the world around me.

VdM: How old were you when you started at Villa di Maria? Where did you go before VdM?

Kemp: Before Villa, I went to a school called Campbell Montessori. It closed down after my second grade and so we started Villa.

VdM: Let’s talk about this school year… how do you feel about closing out your last year at Villa di Maria with distance learning?

Kemp: I think that it was interesting, and though I miss my friends, I know that I will see them again. I was not expecting this in my last year at Villa.

VdM: What do you miss most about being on campus?

Kemp: What I miss most about Villa is all of the fields and just all of it.

VdM: What’s next for you? Where will you be going to middle school?

Kemp: My next school will be ATI, and I am looking forward to being able to travel to Villa from ATI and that ATI and Villa are linked.

VdM: What is something you’re most excited about going into your new school? Is there anything you’re not excited about?

Kemp: I am excited about my next year at ATI because of the freedom they allow the students. I am not excited about leaving Villa and the friends I made there.

To Kemp: You’re a great leader, a great reader. You’re very smart and you have a big heart. You never tell a lie and you’re a very nice guy. Upper Elementary fourth-year student

VdM: Last but not least, you graduated from Villa di Maria!! How are you going to celebrate this summer?

Kemp: I am going to celebrate my summer by relaxing and playing outdoors. Getting back with friends and family, saying hello to my friends, and having fun.

Thank you, Kemp! We will miss you seeing you everyday next year. You bring joy and humor everywhere we go and we know that will take you far. Good luck and have fun!

And now… Kemp’s graduation speech:

Photos courtesy of Kemp’s family and Melinda Smith.

We Did It! Happy Last Day of School!

Well, we did it! We closed out the 2019-2020 school year… from home! When the the pandemic hit our region, we closed our campus for Spring Break, hoping to be able to return in only a week or two. Then that week or two turned into a month… and then two months… and then the rest of the school year. And while we mourned the temporary loss of our lovely school environments, we are so proud of what we accomplished in our distance learning program.

Checkerboard Zoom Lower Elementary Class Photo

Our superhero-caliber team of guides, assistants and support staff worked around the clock these past nine weeks to keep our students engaged and motivated to learn.

Despite the stress and anxiety caused by the pandemic during these last months of the school year, our students were able to continue to follow their love of learning and stay connected with their guides and each other through their virtual classrooms.

Racks & Tubes Lower Elementary Class Photo

We have missed being able to see, hear and talk to all of these children, and we cannot wait to be together again! In the meantime, be sure to check back on the blog in June for posts about each of our wonderful sixth-year graduates.

Upper Elementary Zoom Class Photo 1 of 2
Upper Elementary Zoom Class Photo 2 of 2

Here’s to our on-campus reunion in the 2020-2021 school year! And to 2019-2020, our Children’s House Guides put it best when they say (sing)…

See you next year!!