Meet the Teacher: Leslie Shaffer Joins TNCS Lower Elementary!

This fall, The New Century School welcomed Leslie Shaffer to teach kindergarten/first-grade for the 2018–2019 school year. Immersed had the pleasure of interviewing her recently and brings you the highlights in this post.

Meet Leslie Shaffer

tncs-k-1st-teacher-leslie-shafferMs. Shaffer is originally from New York state and graduated from Hamilton College in upstate New York in 2015 with concentrations in Government and English. She went on to get a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education at Bank Street College of Education in New York City.

Once she was out of college, Ms. Shaffer moved to Connecticut to take a position teaching pre-K and kindergarten at Greenwich Country Day School, in what she says was similar to an apprenticeship program. After 2 years, she returned to New York City to teach kindergarten at the all-girls school Sacred Heart and reports that she thoroughly enjoyed that 1-year experience.

So far, she has not merged her undergraduate Government concentration into her teaching, because once she realized later in college that reading books for fun could be a major, she was hooked. “I took an English class by accident and wound up loving it. It’s now something I use a lot in the classroom, and I’m so excited that I get to do so,” she said.

This past summer, she moved to Annapolis to be closer to family, who have a business on the Eastern Shore. When asked what inspired her to apply to teach at TNCS, she says: “I think a lot of it was the neighborhood. I knew I didn’t want to teach in Annapolis, even though I would be living there. Having just come from New York, I wanted to be in more of a city environment, with more going on. I wanted a little bit of excitement. Annapolis is a lovely place, but it’s not a city.”

The 15 students in her homeroom class plus the 14 students she co-teaches from Pei Ge (“Ge Laoshi”)’s homeroom are contributing to that excitement Ms. Shaffer enjoys. “I love it here,” she said. “I really do. I think what I’ve liked most is that the parents are so interesting, and so the kids are, too. Everyone is traveling to different places, has family in different countries . . .  I think it’s fascinating.”

Ms. Shaffer’s primary subjects are Math and English Language Arts, and she does the Daily 3 or 4 rotation for both (including a snack rotation). Her homeroom students spend the first 1 1/2 hours of the day with her, and then they move to Ge Laoshi’s classroom for Global Studies and Science. The two classes also switch for part of the afternoon. Many of her first-grade students came up through the TNCS primary program, and many of her kindergarteners are new to the school, but everyone has adjusted beautifully, thanks to the built-in differentiation that rotations afford. Says Ms. Shaffer:

I think my favorite parts about being a teacher have always been the small group work and working one on one with a student. I think that the day lends itself so well to having rotations, and although I enjoy my time with them, I make sure they stop at a good amount of independent stations, too. But also there’s always one more, and that’s just with me. I love that part of it.

English Language Arts Class

“In ELA, differentiation is crucial,” explains Ms. Shaffer, “because some of the students coming in could not yet identify all of the letters of the alphabet, while many of the 1st-graders can completely read on their own.” Thus, her ELA class will typically have a rotation that includes her reading with a small group in the “library” (pictured below) and another with her listening to a student reading independently as well as various exercises involving more intensive focus on individual letters. “For those who are still working on letter recognition,” she said, “each week we focus on a letter. For those who can read on their own, this becomes more like coming up with a list of how many words they can spell with the letter of focus.” Most of the books in the K/1 classroom are “decodable,” meaning that there are no tricky sounds or silent letters, to give young learners the chance to gain some confidence before encountering the many exceptions to the rule that comprise the English language.

The best part of the day for Ms, Shaffer takes place in ELA class, with her students circled around her:

My favorite part of the day is always doing a read-a-loud, which, for the past 2 months, has been a Marcy Watson book. They are chapter books, which seems like a lot for kindergarteners to listen to, but because the books are so funny, the students are really, really attentive, even from the beginning of the year.  I think it’s been a good place as well for the kids who are very comfortable reading. Every once in a while, they’ll want to read the next chapter, and the other students still listen to them, which is so nice.

Math Class

The Math curriculum for all TNCS elementary students is Singapore Math. For K/1 students, many who are transitioning from preschool, math class includes manipulatives, but, albeit quite similar, these are from Singapore Math rather than Montessori materials the students would have used in primary.

“The students have mainly been using the base 10 block so far, explained Ms. Shaffer. The 1 is represented by a tiny cube, 10 is a stick, 100 is a block of 100, and 1,000 is a cube. “This system works really well, especially for the 1st-graders, who are doing addition and subtraction, but also for the kindergarteners who are just starting to figure out what the numbers represent.” She is also incorporating bead rings, another way to represent smaller numbers, as shown below.

“They’re doing very nicely,” said Ms. Shaffer, “and we had a professional development training in Singapore Math earlier this year that really helped us understand how to use the materials most effectively.” (More on that in a future post!)


Ms. Shaffer is very much at home at TNCS, and her fascination with people and culture—and learning—makes her an ideal fit for the school. There is one aspect of the day in which her students have the upper hand over her: “They love it when they come back from Chinese class, and they know all these words that I don’t,” she laughed. But even here, she is picking up vocabulary and enjoying the fun of learning right alongside her wonderful students.

Welcome, Ms. Shaffer! Huānyíng (欢迎)!

Back-to-School Night: Meet New TNCS Teachers and More!

Thursday, September 11th was The New Century School‘s Back-to-School Night for the 2014–2015 academic year. Back-to-School Night is TNCS parents’ chance to learn how their child’s classroom operates. Whereas Orientation is a more general introduction to school, at Back-to-School Night, families get details on everything from what the daily schedule looks like to when it’s their turn to provide class snack. Teachers introduce themselves and their teaching styles or philosophies and explain the curriculum (K:1st syllabus), demonstrate how their educational materials are used, and answer parent questions.

tncs-kindergarten-teacher

TNCS’s new Kindergarten/1st-Grade teacher Teresa Jacoby.

This year, several new instructors have joined TNCS, and Back-to-School Night was a great way to get to know them. One of the new lead teachers is Mrs. Teresa Jacoby. She brings a wealth of knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to TNCS’s new mixed-age Kindergarten/1st-Grade classroom, which parents recognized immediately. (See biographical details below.)

A former 3rd- and 4th-grade science teacher and Reading Specialist in the Baltimore City school system, Mrs. Jacoby integrates reading and writing into all other disciplines and declared her expectation that all of her students will be strong readers by year’s end. Her personal philosophy meshes beautifully with TNCS’s educational values:

I believe that each student is an exceptional individual who requires a safe, caring, and encouraging learning environment in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. There are three elements that I believe are beneficial to establishing such an environment: 1) the teacher acting as a guide, 2)  the child’s natural curiosity directing his/her learning, and 3) encouraging respect for one’s self, others, and things found in our world.

kindergarten-classroom

New for the 2014–2015 academic year, Kindergarten/1st-grade teacher Teresa Jacoby introduces her students to the classroom and its special routines.

She also believes strongly that education is optimized when a mixture of self-guided exploration, small-group learning, and one-on-one instruction is utilized, very much a TNCS-held value. Just as TNCS focuses school-wide on inquiry-based learning, in her class, such inquiry “gives students ownership of their learning and more lasting knowledge of the skills needed to achieve real understanding,” she says. Additionally, Mrs. Jacoby believes that critical thinking/solving problems is key to developing leadership skills, the ability to collaborate in teamwork, and self-sufficiency as individual learners.

As appropriate for a General Studies teacher, Mrs. Jacoby can pretty much do it all (art, math, special ed, etc., in addition to what has already been mentioned), but she says she has more and more discovered her special fondness for science. She incorporates scientific thinking into every nook and cranny of her curriculum in fun ways that ignite her students’ curiosity. “The kids are so naturally curious; it’s nice to discuss [science] with them, and they like to talk about it,” she said. She also has students keep journals, which gives her another way to guide them in further exploration of topics that they have broached.

“Just like a well-oiled machine works efficiently,” she says, “so does a well-thought-out and planned classroom environment.” Thus, the classroom she shares with her (also new) Assistant Teacher Mrs. Kimberly Tyson, with her own impressive résumé, encompasses several discrete learning environments—there’s a technology corner equipped with computers, an area with worktables for  groupwork such as with manipulative materials, a large carpet for whole-class circle time, and even a settee for students to sit back and enjoy a book on individually. She also generously brought along her own personal class library, which students are encouraged to use as much as possible.

One aspect of teaching that Mrs. Jacoby holds very dear is knowing and understanding her students. She has quickly learned a lot about her kindergarten/1st-graders and has an amazing ability to adapt to their needs on her feet so as to keep learning happening. So, when she found that after Spanish lessons, for instance, students struggled to be able to focus, she decided to let them “get the wiggles out” for a few minutes before resettling. Even the movement she incorporates in class has an express cognitive function. She uses a version of Simon Says that gets them using their whole brains—that is, integrating both left and right hemispheres—by performing a series of continuous movements and asking them to repeat the last movement she made. She demonstrated the activity for parents attending Back-to-School Night, many of whom were surprised by just how challenging it was! As if she had intuited it, TNCS will begin implementing movement regularly within classrooms to promote blood flow to the brain. (More on this topic is to come in the near future!)

we-are-each-uniqe-and-beautiful-but-together-we-are-a-masterpiece

This artwork was created by TNCS elementary students to exemplify the school-wide theme of Community Building.

Finally, mutual respect is the capstone of Mrs. Jacoby’s pedagogical approach and is yet another way she shows just how right for TNCS she is. “A healthy learning environment must also include respect for all, a sense of safety as well as trust,” she says. “I work extremely hard to build a learning community based on mutual respect for one’s self, others, and our surroundings. Creating a strong sense of community in my classroom instills security, which builds trust and in turn builds comfort levels conducive to learning. I nurture that sense through personal modeling, class meetings, role play, and reflective journals.” It just so happens that TNCS Head of School Alicia Danyali’s first theme of this school year is Community Building, and school-wide, students have engaged in activities that help them grow stronger both as individuals and as a team.

We welcome you to TNCS, Mrs. Jacoby, and anticipate an incredible first year together! Stay tuned for more posts in this series to meet TNCS’s other new lead teachers and learn the inner workings of their classrooms!

Mrs. Jacoby’s Bio

Teresa Jacoby holds a Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist from Loyola University in Maryland and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education with an Art Education Minor from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. She also has an Advanced Professional Certificate Special Education 1–12 and an Advanced Professional Certificate Reading Specialist Certification, both from the state of Maryland. She has taught a wide variety of students ranging from Kindergarten through 8th grade Special Education in all content areas in both self-contained and inclusion environments. She also has run many extracurricular activities from chairing the Science Fair to Chess Club to Lego Robotics Club. She lives in Baltimore and enjoys using her artistic skills in and out of the classroom, gardening, riding bikes and spending time with her family.

TNCS Gets Ready for School!

Always follow the green for TNCS events!

Always follow the green for TNCS events!

On Friday, August 22nd, The New Century School hosted a very special Back-to-School Orientation/Open House—this event marked the beginning of TNCS’s 5th year in its 724 South Ann St. location! During each of those marvelous 5 years, the school has grow, adapted, and blossomed into what it is today, an educational environment where each child is nurtured, challenged, and celebrated. This is no small achievement, and the 2014–2015 academic year promises to be the best yet.

Exciting and important changes are afoot, each moving progressive, multilingual, independent TNCS forward. Families who attended the Open House learned of many of these changes during the event while they met teachers and explored school grounds, got to know each other or caught up from summer break, and enjoyed some of Chef Emma’s tasty refreshments. For those of you were unable to attend, read on to learn what this school year holds in store!

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 TNCS Staff: New Additions and New Roles

Although we bade farewell to a few instructors at the end of last semester, their contributions to the TNCS community will not be forgotten, and they will always remain part of the TNCS family. With great joy, we also welcome some new members to the caring, talented, all-around amazing TNCS staff.

Robert Bekas (Elementary Physical Education Teacher): Mr. Bekas was born and raised in Poland, where he graduated from The Academy of Physical Education in Warsaw with a Master of Arts degree in Physical Education/Sport Science. During college, Mr. Bekas specialized in strength training, fitness, and martial arts. In 2004, he moved to the United States and began teaching PE to local private schools. His other hobbies include teaching martial arts. He holds black belts in karate, taekwondo, and kickboxing.

Teresa Jacoby (Kindergarten/1st-Grade General Studies Teacher): Mrs. Jacoby holds a Master’s Degree as a Reading Specialist from Loyola University in Maryland and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Special Education with an Art Education Minor from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. She also has an Advanced Professional Certificate Special Education 1–12 and an Advanced Professional Certificate Reading Specialist Certification, both from the state of Maryland. She has taught a wide variety of students ranging from Kindergarten through 8th grade Special Education in all content areas in both self-contained and inclusion environments. She also has run many extracurricular activities from chairing the Science Fair to Chess Club to Lego Robotics Club. She lives in Baltimore and enjoys using her artistic skills in and out of the classroom, gardening, riding bikes, and spending time with her family.

Jie Liang  (Mandarin Primary & Elementary Assistant): Ms. Liang holds a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education for Chinese Language from Towson University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in German Language and Literature from the University of China. Ms. Liang has facilitated Startalk programs in Vermont and was an immersion teacher for the Confucius Institute in Nuremberg, Germany. She has taught kindergarten at the Baltimore Chinese School and interned at Perry Hall High School teaching advanced-level Chinese classes. She was a Lead Teacher in TNCS’s inaugural and highly successful Summer Startalk program in Summer 2014.

Dan McDonigal (STEM Teacher Grades 2–4): Mr. McGonigal grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Bloomsburg University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, specializing in Journalism. Mr. McGonigal worked professionally for 8 years with a market research company prior to changing his career to education. In 2006 he earned his Master’s Degree in Education from Notre Dame of Maryland University. He has 7 years’ teaching experience in Harford and Baltimore Counties. He is currently working toward a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) certification through a Cohort with Towson University. He is passionate about bringing STEM-related learning experiences to the students of TNCS. Mr. McGonigal is married and the father of two young boys. He enjoys sports, working on home improvement projects, and spending time outdoors. He also enjoys traveling, especially his trips to Italy and Ireland.

Maria Mosby (Montessori Lead Teacher): Montessori has felt like home for Ms. Mosby for quite some time. She began at age 2 ½ years at Columbia Montessori School, in Columbia, MD. After several moves with her family throughout New England and the Washington, D.C. area, she rediscovered Montessori while studying Early Childhood Education at Towson University. Ms. Mosby was a primary assistant for 3 years, and a toddler assistant for 5 years at Greenspring Montessori School (formerly, The Montessori School), where she decided to take her Early Childhood training through the Maryland Center for Montessori Studies. During her internship, she worked at The New Century School summer camp and loved the warm, peaceful community. In her free time, Maria enjoys running, making crafts, studying foreign languages, and yoga. She is also a certified children’s yoga instructor and will complete her 200-hour yoga training in 2015.

As we welcome these new members to TNCS, we also congratulate current staff members on continuing the wonderful work they do so well and with such big hearts. Some are adopting new roles, including Cassidy Bryson, who will work in the Primary group to support language immersion; Jennifer Hodapp, who will lead Elementary Spanish classes and assume directorship of Spanish school-wide; and Yurisan Gonzalez, who will be moving to the Pre-Primary Spanish immersion class.

Elementary Athletic Programs

For the first time, TNCS and Coppermine at Du Burns Arena at 3100 Boston St. are partnering to offer exciting afterschool athletic programs to TNCS students, including transportation to the facility! The Fall session runs September 9–November 13, 2014 and is available to students ages 5–10 years old. Choose from Flag Football on Tuesdays, Lacrosse on Wednesdays, or All-Star Sports on Thursdays. Younger students can participate in Coppermine Soccer on premises at TNCS on Tuesdays. Direct your questions about the programs and enrollment to Coach Mark (mark@copperminefieldhouse.com).

Kindergarten—It’s Official!

New for the 2014–2015 academic year, Kindergarten/1st-grade teacher Teresa Jacoby introduces her students to the classroom and its special routines.

New for the 2014–2015 academic year, Kindergarten/1st-grade teacher Teresa Jacoby introduces her students to the classroom and its special routines.

The kindergarten program may be the enjoying the biggest changes of all. Kindergarten students will henceforth join elementary students on the third floor as part of a mixed K–1st classroom. The weighty decision to take K out of the primary classroom will better equip students for their elementary years. In addition to a focus on reading and writing in English, K students will receive a thorough introduction to meaningful technology as well as daily Mandarin Chinese and Spanish reading and writing lessons. Read Mrs. Jacoby’s bio above to meet our new kindergarten/1st-grade teacher! She says: “Mrs. Tyson* (our class Assistant Teacher) and I are both thrilled to be new members of The New Century School TeamWe look forward to building a strong, respectful learning community where learners have the structure, opportunity, and support to develop intellectually and emotionally.”

(*Note that Mrs. Tyson was a last-minute [though no less welcome!] addition to the staff, and her bio details were not yet available at this writing.)

Class Commences!

It bears repeating—TNCS is 5 years old and going strong! Previously Patterson Park Montessori, a one-room preschool that opened in 2007, the growing school moved in the Summer of 2010 to Fell’s Point and was renamed The New Century School to gradually add a K–8th grade program to the preschool. Founders, Co-Executive Directors, and Baltimore City residents Roberta Faux and Jennifer Lawner have succeeded in creating a very special school with progressive academic programming that allows students to thrive at their own unique skill and ability levels.
 
The elementary program at TNCS started in Fall, 2010 with only a handful of kindergartners but has now expanded to include three elementary classes through 4th grade and will continue to add a grade each year to accommodate the maturing student body through the 8th grade. It’s a glorious prospect!
 
TNCS looks forward to seeing you bright and early for class on Monday, August 25th, 2014, and we greatly anticipate assisting each child to make huge personal and intellectual strides this school year!

Top 10 Reasons to Attend Montessori Kindergarten

Editor’s Note: For the 2014–2015 school year, TNCS modified the kindergarten program to better accommodate the growing student body. While the primary program still comprises a 3-year cycle, kindergarteners now move up to the elementary floor for a mixed-age K/1st classroom instead of kindergarten taking place within the primary classroom. This adaptation has proven a marvelous success and provides another very important transition mark for students as they broach their elementary years. The gist of the post below, therefore, now applies to the students ages 4 and 5 years approaching kindergarten. Kindergarten itself still bears many of the hallmarks described below but is not classically Montessori.

A common misconception about Montessori education is that it’s meant only for the preschool years. This misconception goes hand-in-hand with other assumptions made about Montessori—that it’s neither intellectually nor academically rigorous and that it’s too antiquated to stay relevant in today’s world.

Recently, TNCS hosted a Kindergarten Information Night during which it became clear that none of these is close to true of The New Century School kindergarten classroom. Said Alicia Cooper-Danyali, Head of School, “I feel the school focuses on the individual needs of the students, and the kindergarten children exit our primary group well equipped to segue into our elementary program that is mixed ages as well.” 

So, let’s turn those misconceptions on their heads and explore why instead of curtailing kids’ Montessori experience at or just after age 5 years, we might actually give students enormous advantages by sticking with Montessori into kindergarten (and beyond—but that’s another post)*.

Top 10 List of Reasons Kids Benefit from TNCS Kindergarten (in no special order)

1. Builds self-confidence. TNCS kindergarten class is a mixed-age classroom, in which the Ks are the role models. They have developed a sense of community with their classmates (many of whom have been together for 2 or 3 years) and relish their role as “community leaders” as they nurture and coach their younger classmates. Having themselves learned from older children, they now share with their peers as well as replicate the mentor role. Research has demonstrated the benefits of this mutually enriching dynamic.

kindergartners collaborate on a math project for donating dimes to Heifer International

This group of Ks is collaborating on a very special (but still secret) project. The multistep project draws on several disciplines and clearly has the kids’ full attention!

2. Features a sophisticated curriculum. Because of its inherently experiential nature, TNCS kindergarten offers students more “advanced” lessons than what they are likely to be exposed to in a traditional kindergarten. For example, math is not deconstructed into dry, application-less chunks fed through workbooks, but taught as a unified whole through observation and manipulation. This hands-on, “sensorial” learning opportunity is ideal for kids, because that’s how they learn (the research is unequivocal here). Their hands are direct conduits to their brains! Montessori materials optimize this trait of 3–6 year olds, and the resulting mathematical and intellectual sophistication they frequently exhibit is nothing short of amazing.

boy shows excitement and pride for his work with the moveable alphabet

Mastering the moveable alphabet really is exciting!

3. Teaches students how to learn. TNCS focuses on teaching for understanding. More and more evidence is coming to light that conventional classrooms yield students who can get the correct answer on a test, but come away from school lacking the ability to apply their knowledge in a different context. They have remembered, but they have not understood, and, therefore, they haven’t actually learned anything. In the progressive, Montessori-inspired TNCS class, by contrast, children’s natural inclinations to explore and inquire are encouraged. They build on each phase of their educational experience because they want to, and the lessons stay with them to be further built upon. They are not asked to regurgitate; instead, they are inspired to investigate.

4. Concepts are “clicking.” Because the Montessori curriculum is cumulative, what a child learns in the kindergarten year depends somewhat on what he or she has learned so far in Montessori. Kindergarten is part of a 3-year primary cycle, so maximizing the intellectual, physical, and social skills developed so far means completing the cycle. The first 2 years are all about concrete materials with which they use their senses to form impressions—to perceive. In the third primary year, the children begin to make mental abstractions from those concrete, sensory experiences. They transition from tracing sandpaper numbers with their fingertips or stacking rods in various hierarchical systems to performing mathematical operations based on these early explorations with numerical concepts in object form. Says kindergarten teacher Angela Lazarony, “This is the most exciting year for me. I get to see the culmination of our past 2 years together and watch the children really blossom.”

boy works diligently at lacing a card

This student works diligently to complete the project he initiated (and later put away without being prompted).

5. Lessons are tailored to the child, not the age. In TNCS classroom, each child progresses at his or her own rate because the class comprises individual and group work in addition to recognizing that children learn through a variety of methods. This eliminates the pressures to “catch up” or “slow down” to the level of the class as might be seen in traditional kindergarten classrooms. Working at their own rates and in what style best suits them allows kids to develop good work habits, such as initiative, the ability to process information, and the persistence to complete tasks (see Getting the Education Nitty Gritty and Inside the Montessori Classroom). Giving each child the room to develop self-confidence, to feel competent in his or her own abilities and to be interested in learning for its own sake, is the aim, not adhering to age-based sets of standards that are disconnected from the child’s experience.

6. Instills respect. Montessori is fundamentally about respecting each child as a unique individual who has worlds to offer. The natural extension of having been treated respectfully is that TNCS students in turn conduct themselves peacefully and compassionately, out of respect for their classmates and teachers (see Kindness Counts!). From self-respect to respect for others, the principle spreads outward to encompass the physical world. In the Montessori classroom, kids clean up after themselves and handle their materials carefully and appropriately. They learn the importance of caring for the environment (see Blown Away with Wind Energy) and gain social awareness (see The Baltimore Love Project).

primary teacher loves working with her kindergartners

Kindergarten teacher Catherine Lawson says, “This is my third year here, so I saw the kids come in at age 3, and now to see them succeeding as kindergartners is just so exciting!”

7. Environment is familiar and supportive. The kindergarten year marks a huge transition in the life of a child. Ks are poised to make giant emotional, social, physical, and intellectual leaps. We ask of them that they begin to read and write at school, for example, and to groom themselves at home. These changes are colossal in and of themselves, but just imagine how much bigger they must seem to a child also coping with unfamiliar (and quite possibly less supportive) surroundings! At TNCS, students feel safe and secure in the company of very special teachers who have known them for years . . . and understand them. In addition, the student-to-teacher ratio is lower than in most traditional school classes. Eliminating the extra stress derived from exposure to a completely different environment leaves more energy for TNCS kindergarteners to devote to cognitive development.

8. The Garden Tuck Shop Program. An all-natural, homemade lunch of wholesome, locally sourced foods (some even grown on-premises) is available for TNCS kids. Visit the website and Like Garden Tuck Shop on Facebook to view photos (warning: not while you’re hungry!) and to receive updates. Also see the interview with Chef Emma Novashinski in two parts in Sustainable School Lunch: Garden Tuck Shop Program Part 1 and Part 2.

9. The Lingo Leap. New in 2012, the Lingo Leap gym fulfills the dual purpose of exercising minds and bodies simultaneously, by conducting movement classes in foreign languages. Not only do TNCS students get access to state-of-the-art Gerstung gym equipment, they also get to practice and reinforce their language acquisition. This revolutionary approach to phys ed synergizes beautifully with TNCS’s progressive curriculum. See Exercising that Mind–Body Connection.

10. The “specials.” TNCS believes in developing the whole child, in cultivating those aspects that keep us humans humane. Kids receive special, separate instruction in art (post coming!), music (post coming!), and Mandarin and Spanish (posts coming!). It’s no secret that art, music, and language are key to personhood, but conventional kindergarten classes do not place the same premium on these areas of development. They give them a nod, certainly, but not typically as separate, dedicated subjects of study. TNCS Ks are given the educational breadth to flourish intellectually and artistically.

Let’s Hear it From the Kids!

Here are some responses to, “What do you like about kindergarten?”

What I like about Montessori kindergarten at TNCS is sharing and playing together.

I like sharing and playing together.

What I like about Montessori kindergarten at TNCS is doing the language drawers.

I like doing the language drawers!

What I like about Montessori kindergarten at TNCS are the words and numbers.

I like the words and numbers.

What I like about Montessori kindergarten at TNCS is also doing the language drawers.

I like doing the drawers, too!

*Note: Benefits of Montessori education aside, TNCS recognizes and respects that each family has a unique situation, and the decision to continue (or start new) at TNCS for kindergarten and beyond must be weighed very carefully for each family and for each child. The list above is meant to help parents in their search for the right fit by getting the information out there and dispelling some myths. Also, please forgive generalizations; this post does not have the scope to compare individual schools.

Please let us know your thoughts—we truly welcome your comments and feedback to keep education discourse fresh!