Where Did We Go? What Did We Do?


Next installment of VdM Spring Break Shout-outs!

Cade and Evie living it up at Cocoa Beach!  The warm sun.  The blue sky.  Sigh...
Cade and Evie living it up at Cocoa Beach!  The warm sun.  The blue sky.  Sigh…
Camille, hitting the beach, and...
Camille, hitting the beach, and…
Hiking mountains in Santa Barbara, California!  That girl knows how to vacation!
Hiking mountains in Santa Barbara, California!  That girl knows how to vacation!
Family Garcia, preparing to let that Easter Bunny know who the VdM kids are!  
Family Garcia, preparing to let that Easter Bunny know who the VdM kids are!  

Seth and Ollie traveled to Tybee Beach to swim in the Atlantic, and they disc-golfed in Birmingham, Alabama AFTER Seth returned from the MMUN in New York City.  THAT is one heck of a spring break! 

THANK YOU for sharing your pictures with us!  More to come!



Winston Nailed It!


Winston rose to the challenge, oh, yes, he did!

Each day of spring break our Lower Elementary friend crafted a “V,” a “D” and an “M” into his surroundings or out of his surroundings for the Villa di Maria Montessori SPRING BREAK SHOUT-OUT!  Winston’s first VdM in the sand churned his creative wheels, and he continued to “find” VdM’s each day. 

Much appreciation and a huge high-five out to Winston for making it happen!

We’ve Got Spirit, Yes, We Do!


Spring has sprung, and we’re jumping for joy (literally) and gearing up to place our next order of AWESOME VdM SPIRIT WEAR!  Whoop it up, folks!  You’re going to LOVE all the offerings!

Order forms will be sent home with students on MONDAY, MARCH 21st (the day we return from Spring Break!) and will be due back at school by FRIDAY, MARCH 25th.  As you can see, we have a one-week  turnaround for submitting forms.

The spirit wear will be ready for pick up and distribution to families the week of April 11th at the latest.  We are gunning for all tees, hats, tanks and hoodies to be in your hands as soon as possible!

Samples of each item will be outside the Upper Elementary each day next week, weather permitting.  We have each type of shirt available in two sizes- either small & large or medium and extra-large, so you can determine best fit for all family members.  *Please note:  the women’s tees and girls’ tees run SUPER SMALL!  Size up once or twice!

Please make checks payable to Villa di Maria Montessori School and place order forms with payment in the envelope outside the main office.

Nicole Cook, VdM Business Manager, is on the ball with all aspects on the ordering front!  
Nicole Cook, VdM Business Manager, is on the ball with all aspects on the ordering front!  

Below you’ll see all the “goods” in mock-up form:


Alternative Unisex Eco Jersey Lightweight Full-Zip Hoodies
Alternative Unisex Eco Jersey Lightweight Full-Zip Hoodies
Men's and boys' short sleeved t-shirts (technically unisex but more on the men's fit side) American Apparel for the men folk Next Level for youth
Men’s and boys’ short sleeved t-shirts (technically unisex but more on the men’s fit side) American Apparel for the men folk Next Level for youth
Women's and girls' short-sleeved t-shirts (these shirts rock, but they run EXTRAORDINARILY SMALL! Order UP a size or two and definitely check out the samples!) American Apparel for the ladies. Next Level for the girls.
Women’s and girls’ short-sleeved t-shirts (these shirts rock, but they run EXTRAORDINARILY SMALL! Order UP a size or two and definitely check out the samples!) American Apparel for the ladies. Next Level for the girls.

Women’s Next Level Terry Racerback Tank

Adidas Unstructured Embroidered Cresting Cap One size fits all!
Adidas Unstructured Embroidered Cresting Cap One size fits all!



Coffee Talk!

Anna Schwind, Lower Elementary Directress
Anna Schwind, Lower Elementary Directress

We had quite the full house for our most recent morning coffee talk as Anna Schwind, Lower Elementary Directress, and Laura Ceretti-Michelman, VdM Head of School, addressed methods of assessment in the Montessori classroom.   Many thanks to all who could join us for a hot cup of coffee/tea, tasty banana bread and lively discussion on how learning is evaluated in our elementary classrooms.  

For those who couldn’t make it due to work or other commitments, we’ve got your back!  

For those who prefer other avenues for receiving information, no worries- we’ve got your back as well!  

We love to share, and we love questions and interest from our beloved community!


If you attended, here is your summary in review!

If you couldn’t join us, here’s a nuts-and-bolts recap of the discussion for your reading/learning pleasure!

No homework.  No tests.  No grades.  

So, how in the world do the teachers know what’s going on with the students’ learning and growth?

The goal in the Montessori classroom is to foster learning for learning’s sake.  The academic content serves as the vehicle for nurturing both curiosity and a passion for deep learning.  

Consider these four “umbrellas” used in the classrooms for gathering information and making decisions for each individual child’s growth.  These are examples of formative assessments, which simply means they provide information and evidence for teachers to adjust and inform further instruction and lessons.

1.  Observation

  • The powers of observation our teachers possess are astounding.  Close, consistent observation is an art and a talent most don’t possess to the degree in which they do!
  • Observation is how teachers best assess the needs of students and how they determine what will propel them forward.  What’s sticking?  What’s confusing?  What, if anything, is missing?
  • It’s about watching and then deciding what the next steps will be in fully engaging the child.

2.  Interaction/”Live” Assessment

  • Most lessons in the elementary classroom are sequential (especially with math and language).  The directress reviews the previous lesson in the series and notes the depth of understanding.  Every new lesson is an opportunity for “live” assessment to gauge learning.
  • Some materials offer an overlap of skills.  For example, the directress may notice a language gap while students are working on a history or science lesson.  The skills don’t reveal themselves in isolation.
  • While interacting with students, teachers can clearly see what work is needed next that follows academic development and timing.

3.  Self Assessment and Peer Assessment

  • This is a definite strength of the Montessori classroom as students are encouraged to think, reflect and develop awareness of what they do/do not understand and what they do/do not need to work on with more focus.
  • The students can literally “see” the academic trajectory as the lessons are lined up on the shelves (for most areas of the classroom) in the progression they’re given.  As Mrs. Schwind states, “The seeds are planted, and you, too, will one day do THIS extraordinary thing!  What you need to do to get to THAT lesson is this, this and that.”  It’s not a mystery to the children what they’re working toward.
  • Peer assessment is used at times with work such as paragraph writing where many distinct skills are cohesively applied as a unit.  Peers are coached to offer constructive criticism in a respectful way, and students return to their writing (without judgment) to improve their work.

4.  Weekly Conferences (one-on-one or one-with-two)

  • At the end of each week, the directress meets individually or with groups of two students (an older and a younger) with their work journals to assess what was accomplished during the week AND to set short-term goals for the following week. 
  • The work journals provide a record of exactly what lessons the child chose each day and show how long he/she worked on each.  
  • The students often come to the conference with clear thoughts on what they need to do next.  Other times, the directress will note that certain lessons need more time and attention, and she clearly communicates such.
  • Children create a work plan for themselves; the directress holds them accountable.
  • The interaction, thought and discussion during conferences improves every week with practice, and that is a wonderful thing!

Below you see work journal samples from a first-year student, a second-year student and a third-year student.  Mrs. Schwind noted that the third year also has a couple of extra lines because she recently gave them a lesson on a reflective Journaling. They now have the choice to write a few lines about their day, if they wish to.


Please note:

You may notice that the work coming home may have mistakes.  The teachers do not “red-pen” the completed products as they believe the work belongs to the student- it is evidence of the learning process.  Any and all gaps that exist are noted and addressed individually.    

If you have any questions or concerns or if you’d like more information on assessment, please don’t hesitate to contact us!  

One last note, Ms. Rebecca, our Upper Elementary Directress, has kindly offered to host a follow-up coffee chat to focus on formative assessment with the older students as well.  She was literally in flight to New York City for the Montessori Model United Nations during this initial discussion.


Bound for the Big Apple!



Seventeen Villa di Maria Montessori School 5th and 6th grade students are participating in the Montessori Model United Nations as delegates this year, representing four countries:  Burkina Faso, the Republic of Peru, the Republic of Portugal, and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam.

Students sit on a variety of committees, including the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Human Rights Council (HRC), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), Economic & Financial — Second Committee (ECOFIN), and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).


“MMUN students formulate, present, debate, and revise positions on current issues that are affecting people of the world.  By assuming the perspectives of a citizen of their selected countries, MMUN students not only develop an understanding of the needs and rights of others, but also learn the respect the cultures, the political views, and the belief system of others.

Taking on their ambassadorial roles in a Model UN simulation, students research the issue that their UN committees will address. Model UN participants learn how the international community acts on its concerns about topics including peace and security, human rights, the rights of the child, child labor, the environment, food and hunger, economic development and globalization. Model UN delegates also look closely at the needs, goals and foreign policies of the countries they will represent at the event. The insights they gain from their exploration of history, geography, culture, economics and science contribute to the authenticity of the simulation.

When they arrive at the MMUN Conference students transform themselves into UN Ambassadors and assume the rights and responsibilities of world leaders. Their imaginations propel them to collaboratively create resolutions to our world’s most pressing problems. MMUN encourages students to know that they can make a difference.”

– Montessori Model United Nations


Our Villa di Maria crew of students, teachers and parents depart Wednesday, March 9th and return on Monday, March 14th.


New York City!  One highlight of this experience is that this is the only model United Nations that allows student delegates to vote on their draft resolutions from the seats of actual UN delegates at the actual United Nations! 


Students begin by learning general information about the countries they represent, as well as general information about the United Nations. Students are then introduced to their committees and specific topics. They research one topic thoroughly, write a position paper on that topic, then do the same with their second topic. When position papers are complete, students write opening speeches, learn about and practice parliamentary procedure, caucusing, and drafting resolutions in order to be thoroughly prepared for the trip. 


The Agenda of our MMUN’ers:


Fly to New York City

Attend the Opening Ceremonies for the MMUN


Country Display Set Up

Committee Sessions

Visit the Empire State Building or Times Square (2 groups)


Committee Sessions, Committee Sessions, Committee Sesssions (Most of the Day!)

China Town or Little Italy

Walk the Brooklyn Bridge


United Nations Headquarters

Final Voting Assembly at the UN HQ

Lunch at Grand Central Station

Visit the American Museum of Natural History

Walk Central Park to the Guggenheim Museum


Sightseeing Cruise

Central Park


Fly Home!