"The road to success is always under construction." - Lily Tomlin
It's been a busy few weeks over at 6942 W Roosevelt Road as our floor was poured. It was such a great sight to see the crew from Bulley & Andrews plug away as floors were created right before our very eyes. Dave Hempfling, Sr. Project Manager with Bulley & Andrews, hosted Sandra Simmons (our Toddler Directress) and Gina Gleason (our Executive Director) as the crew worked quickly and precisely on our floor. On our FB Live video, Dave informed us that eighteen trucks came in that morning, with approximately 8500 sq. feet of cement which were needed for our space, which will consist of two toddler classrooms, two infant classrooms, three garden spaces, a large multipurpose room, a full kitchen and much more.
Next, the exterior structural wall framing was erected. Within the next week or so, a joist will come to assist on the next part of the project as the B & A crew commences roof work. Construction demo on the Middle School has been completed and work will soon begin on renovations of that space.
At the moment, Bulley & Andrews projects that all work will be completed by the end of June. We look forward to sharing more news and updates with you next month.
If you'd like to get more information on our Middle School program or tour the main campus, please call 708-366-1882 or email our Director of Admission, Alex Valera, at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, videos, pictures, and more can be found on our Alcuin Facebook page, so be sure to like us!
Paper plates were converted into something more exciting in eager anticipation of what was to come. The children smiled as they brushed green paint and the busy hum of happy activity swept through the classrooms.
“I didn’t count on getting a green manicure today,” Primary classroom assistant, Ms. Gigi, laughed as she washed her hands after a productive morning.
“I’m wearing my dragon scale because of China!” One primary student proudly proclaimed.
And as they wore their paper plate scales, the children of Alcuin Montessori participated in an all-school parade celebrating the Chinese New Year and welcoming the Year of the Pig.
“Let’s start our parade and go all the way to Senior Elementary,” Primary teacher, Mr. Mike, called out as he held the dragon head and called the “scales” into formation.
We celebrate children’s awe of everything around them. Places, things, ideas — we help them explore it all. In ways both large and small, the children of Alcuin become aware of the greater world around them. We celebrate cultures, people, diversity, histories, and holidays across the curriculum. For the younger children, it may be via maps, storytelling, and art — for the older children this becomes more in-depth through literature, plays, music, timelines, guest speakers, field trips, and even more elaborate art studies.
We follow children’s curiosities which lead to deeper knowledge and personal connection to what they learn, and then we help apply what they’ve learned continuously to other subjects, topics and life. We broaden the learning environment so our children can continually push the fence over to explore new territory and test their growing potential.
Finally, we inspire our children to question everything, express themselves and respect and consider diverse responses and ideas — so they can learn more holistically and inclusively. Alcuin children celebrate the world around them and the people in it, and get to march in a fun parade! It's all in a day's work at Alcuin.
We’re pleased to announce that the final step in our seven-year-long dual accreditation process with ISACS (Independent School Accreditation of the Central States) and AMS (American Montessori Society) is coming as we prepare for our team site visit at the end of the month.
We will be hosting nine education professionals which include teachers and administrators (both Montessorian and non-Montessorians alike) who will spend four days with us. During this visit, every aspect of the school is examined and documented, including governance, curriculum, fiscal and personnel policies, facilities, health and safety practices, teacher preparation, and learner outcomes.
So, what exactly does this dual accreditation mean? Accreditation, for ISACS and AMS, begins with an intensive self-study, by the school, involving the school’s entire community. Our whopping almost-200-page self-study goes over every aspect of our school. At the end of the self-study period, a thorough onsite peer visit is conducted. In addition to determining whether the school meets the over 200 AMS and ISACS standards, the visiting team evaluates the school to see how well it is achieving its mission and goals—whether the school is what it says it is and does what it says it does.
ISACS is a membership organization of more than 230 independent schools from 13 states in the Midwest region. The purpose of ISACS is to promote the development of active learning communities characterized by high achievements, social responsibility, and independence of governance, programs, and policies. This goal is achieved partly through a rigorous school accreditation process.
While the United States Department of Education can only recognize accrediting bodies for higher and adult education, ISACS accreditation is recognized by the U.S. Government. AMS accreditation affirms that a school meets a standard of excellence recognized within the Montessori community and by educators worldwide. Because AMS is accredited by the National Council for Private School Accreditation, schools that are AMS-accredited also gain accreditation by the NCPSA. Additionally, accreditation assures families that their child's school is a quality one and that it is accountable to a larger body. Finally, we will receive a report with commendations and recommendations from the visiting team which will help us grow as a school.
We will be in great company as our peer ISACS or AMS schools include: Near North Montessori, Brickton Montessori, Ancona School, Avery Coonley, Beacon Academy, The British School, The Latin School of Chicago, Francis W. Parker, Rogers Park Montessori, Countryside Day School, and University of Chicago Laboratory School.
A special thanks to the Steering Committee: Roxy Krawczyk, Nicole Cochrane, Phoenix Holt, and Alex Valera. Thanks again to everyone who has supported this incredible journey, and we can’t wait to celebrate our final steps.
In the Spanish program, we build relationships through open and compassionate communication, creative collaborative work, and by valuing and respecting another’s perspective and input as well as our own. The program helps to develop essential life skills such as innovative and flexible thinking, cooperation, resilience in the face of challenges, and courage to attempt new endeavors --- all qualities to be found in contributing members of society.
To open the door to creative writing, storytelling, drawing and role playing, students heard the story of Pete the Cat. The moral of Pete’s story is that when there are challenges in your life, you can get upset and give up, or choose to continue working toward your goal.
Telling stories is one of the best ways for children to not only learn the language but also learn meaning, cultural understanding, and how to solve everyday problems. Additionally, storytelling helps students acquire and develop individual reading tastes, skills, and creativity.
Or as Nohora Inés Porras González, author and former language coordinator at Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia states, “Telling stories provides the opportunities for students to speak the foreign language creatively, integrate information and knowledge they learn from other sources, and become more confident in the ability to express themselves spontaneously.”
In the upcoming months, the different levels of the Spanish Program will be participating in various projects, such as building a country, a poetry and poster competition, group creative writing, a Spanish spelling bee, musical composition, many cultural explorations, and of course, the Middle School trip to Costa Rica!
Alcuin Spanish Coordinator
Last week was filled with learning a few different routines, as well as making new friends. For many of the toddlers, the classroom was a completely new environment, but they quickly jumped in. The children engaged in exploration, old friends got reacquainted, they practiced Grace and Courtesy during snack time and a lot of self-care. They are such independent little human beings.
They spent their time building, chopping fruits and vegetables, helping one another, listening to music, climbing the playground structure, setting and busing tables. We are often amazed at what our toddlers can do, but they are too!
We also began our toilet learning routine; everyone is practicing dressing and undressing themselves with eagerness.
Having consistent routines in place helps toddlers to develop a strong sense of security. Knowing that they will do the same thing at the same time every day brings a peaceful calm to their little souls and their growing sense of order.
Maria Montessori observed that there are “Sensitive periods” when a child has an especially strong sensitivity towards a particular piece of knowledge or skill. The article goes into more detail on that. I hope it is helpful!
We look forward to all the great things this week has to offer.
Throughout the year, the art curriculum connects to subjects and themes, such as nature, the built environment, and community. Our recent theme of identity, which is always the focus during the first few months of the year, is a wonderful way for Alcuin students to develop their drawing skills while also exploring their interests, needs and personal lives.
We have all been learning that making a great drawing isn’t all about having a steady hand or making things perfect, it’s about how you see and how you interpret the information that your eyes receive. I tell the students “draw what you see, not what you think you see.” Using mirrors and thinking about simple shapes and proportions, Junior and Senior Elementary students have been creating self-portrait drawings in their sketchbooks. These studies have developed into final compositions, some that include just the face and others that include the full figure drawn with colored pencils.
In addition to self-portrait studies, the Middle School students also composed an “I Am From” poem that includes meaningful imagery and sensory details connected to experiences from their own lives. The sketching exercises helped the students develop their realistic drawing skills and explore their personal style as they practiced contour drawing and shading techniques. Group drawing and writing activities also gave the students an opportunity to interact with one another and foster a sense of community in the classroom. A walking tour and visit to an artists studio in the Pilsen neighborhood gave the group a better understanding of how these complex issues of identity are being explored by professional artists in their own work as well as in public art projects with local communities in Chicago.
As the year continues, idea sharing and experimentation will continue to be at the core of the artistic process as we explore how the visual arts connects to our everyday lives and the world around us.
Alcuin Montessori Art Teacher
We are thrilled to share an update on our new Roosevelt Campus! As we relayed to you at the Spring All-Parent meeting, we had been completing the details of our financing and working toward final design drawings and permits for the new building, in preparation for our new campus. We are pleased to share that we closed on the construction loan and purchase of the property at 6936-6950 West Roosevelt Road. Now the real work and the fun begin.
Our groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for Friday, August 24th at 12:30 pm at the building site on Roosevelt Road. Our entire Alcuin community and the greater Oak Park community are invited to join us as we celebrate the incredible milestone in our school’s 56-year history. Bulley & Andrews will join us with their trucks and equipment so the children can climb in and get the construction work started. Shovels and hard hats will be on hand as we literally break ground on a new beginning. After the ceremony, parents, children, and friends are invited to Maple Park for a picnic and further celebration. Hot dogs and cake will be plentiful!
Our building on Roosevelt will be home to a much needed All-Year Infant and Toddler program. We are excited to launch this new program designed to meet the needs of our youngest community members. It will serve as the bedrock of our Montessori program and the true beginning of a child's journey through Alcuin.
In addition to the new construction, we will also be renovating the existing building on the new campus. The renovated one-story building will serve our ever-growing Middle School program.
Construction on both buildings is set to begin in early September with a very tight construction schedule of seven months. The project is set to be completed in late April 2019, barring any major complications.
If you have an infant or young toddler, or have friends and families with young children, please help spread the word about our upcoming program. Please contact the Alcuin office for more information. All of our current programs (Toddler – Senior Elementary) will remain at the Main Campus at 324 N Oak Park Avenue.
We look forward to seeing you on August 24th for the groundbreaking ceremony and to celebrate this incredible time in Alcuin’s history.
Best wishes for a bright future with the Alcuin Community!
Adolescence is an age of rapid growth, emotional development, and the transformation of the child into an adult member of society. At this critical age, adolescents need more guidance as they develop key communication skills and a more mature and complex understanding of social interactions. They need creative and physical outlets, especially for processing complex emotional and psychological issues. They crave personal space, but they are also highly social! They still need to move on a regular basis, and being physically engaged in work that produces tangible results is rewarding to them.
The Middle School program at Alcuin Montessori School is designed to meet the very specific needs of children from 12 – 14 years of age and to support their families through this unique time in their development.
The program incorporates both traditional Montessori philosophy and current “best practices” for middle school education. The program emphasizes independent, project-based and student-driven work. Students are encouraged to do high-level critical thinking and to consider themes and issues across all areas of the curriculum. Daily and weekly homework is given in addition to student-managed long-term projects with the goal of having students engaged in 1 – 1.5 hours of homework a night. Students are introduced to formal lectures along with interactive presentations, dynamic activities, student-led research, group projects and more. Students are given quizzes and tests, as well as alternative forms of assessment and informal observation.
The program also includes weekly enrichment programs in art, theater and physical education led by child-focused specialists. They engage the students in learning about and through all areas of life (not just textbooks) by incorporating real-world applications of studied concepts. They discuss current events and their implications on all spheres of life and they contribute to our school and local communities through volunteering and service projects. The students take weekly trips into the Oak Park and Chicagoland area to facilitate curriculum enhancement, community engagement, and authentic orienteering and practical life experiences.
Our curriculum has been carefully designed to meet or exceed state standards in all fundamental areas of study, as well as to align with the benchmark outcomes of local public schools, ensuring full preparation for a smooth transition into high school. Our units of study are theme-based and center around several essential questions. The curriculum includes mathematics, the sciences, social studies, literature, humanities, writing, Spanish and more.
Alcuin Montessori’s teaching staff is fully committed to mentoring and coaching students through a sometimes complicated and confusing time in their lives. They facilitate appropriate, effective communication and problem-solving skills through one-on-one, small group, and large group interactions. Additionally, they support students in balancing their school and home lives, helping to plan homework around family time and extracurricular activities.
With a clear understanding of the emotional, social, and academic needs of this formative developmental stage, Alcuin Montessori’s program is specifically designed to guide and nurture students as they transition into high school and their teenage years.
Walking into an Alcuin Junior Elementary classroom, one is immediately struck by two things: there is a busy hum of activity, and the children are engaged and happy.
As children move through age six, they enter the second plane of development in which imagination and reasoning are used to gain knowledge and information. The Junior Elementary program gives these abilities priority in the child’s learning process, fostering an interest in facts and factual relationships. According to Dr. Maria Montessori, this is the time to sow the seeds of culture.
“What I think is special is all the kids are so kind, all the good lessons are so cool, all the people are so nice, and all the peace.”
“What I like about Junior Elementary is that I get to do handwriting and Spanish and landforms and small bead frame!”
“I like Junior Elementary because we get to cook, use the microscope, and do experiments. We get to grow crystals and go on field trips. We get to have school pets and great lessons.”
The above quotes are from Alcuin first, second, and third-grade members of our Junior Elementary program.
Alcuin’s Junior Elementary teachers make sure the children’s academic work is balanced but also empower them to make their own choices. The children are taught independence and how to manage their time. They manage their daily goals and their week’s worth of work. They are positively challenged academically, socially, and emotionally.
In addition to a strong academic curriculum, the children's social skills are enhanced through an emphasis on independent learning, cooperative group relationships and personal responsibility. A sense of respect and collaboration creates a social community that encourages cooperation rather than competition. The children work collaboratively, showing that they can work well with peers and enjoy their time in the classroom. They are learning and having fun in the process. Self-discipline, independent work habits, and self-direction are required of the children in these classes.
Junior Elementary teacher, Nicole Cochrane, states, “I love in Junior Elementary that we are teaching them how to maneuver the difficulty of socializing. At 6-9 years old the children are learning how to socialize, they care what others think of them, and they have a strong sense of justice. The teachers guide the children in standing up for what they believe but in a peaceful and respectful manner. When social mistakes are made, we teach the children how to request a peace talk and let someone know they are upset. We also teach the children how to give meaningful apologies and reflect on their behavior.”
The Junior Elementary children also benefit from the strong peace curriculum offered. At Alcuin, there isn’t just one unit on peace. It is interwoven into everything the children do and equally as important as learning to read, write, or solve math equations. The children are taught how to be the best they can be, how to act and react in difficult situations, how to be a good friend and classmate, and how to have respect for themselves, for others, and for the environment.
Resourcefulness, problem-solving, self-advocacy, compromise, listening skills, executive functioning, conflict resolution – the children in our Junior Elementary program are fortunate that along with great academic preparation, they are also given the skills they will need throughout their lives from childhood to adulthood.
"Education begins at birth.”– Maria Montessori
Did you know that Alcuin offers a parent/infant class which meets one day week? We invite everyone to come and discover our Parent/Infant class. The Parent/Infant class, on Fridays from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m., gives parents the opportunity to observe and interact with their child in a rich Montessori environment in which both can explore and discover.
In the Parent/Infant class, children (ages birth to 18 months) can explore and develop social skills, concentration, coordination, and feel a sense of belonging to a group. It also gives parent and child a special time together — time that is all their own.
Led by a Montessori-trained teacher, the class will provide helpful guidance and discussions on child development and how to incorporate the Montessori philosophy into the home. Grandparents and caregivers are welcome to attend in the place of parents.
The class aims to distill and honor each child’s natural tendencies toward healthy, authentic, growth and development. We learn to observe, wait, and trust in the child’s natural ability to self-create.
To register for Alcuin Montessori's Parent/Infant class, or for more information, please contact our Director of Advancement, Alex Valera.
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