For 50 Years our children have experienced their own extraordinary moments, whether it be mastering the bead chain, learning to read music, performing their first Shakespeare play, or presenting to their peers their Middle School Hero’s Journey.
It is the culmination and continuation of these smaller moments that makes this year an extraordinary one in our history; and we are so proud of the children who have left these hallways to embrace their futures.
Please check this page often to read the extraordinary moments members of the WMS community share with us throughout the year.
It’s hard to believe so many years have passed since graduating WMS! I have so many fond memories of my time at WMS. With my 6-year-old daughter now attending school, I have a new perspective on my own education. We have five elementary schools in our town and families have the opportunity to tour all of them and then choose the top three schools. I tried to find a Montessori school in our area but nothing seemed to compare to WMS. I am learning about the public elementary school system and I must admit I was a little weary at first. In the beginning, I kept wondering where all of the shelves filled with hands on materials were, I didn’t see any mats, or trays filled with objects! I was OK with the Kindergarten classroom because it was bright, colorful and setup with distinct stations and areas for learning; however, the upper grades appeared to be a bunch of desks and that was very foreign to me. But, it has been a pleasant experience and I do believe that the teachers utilize many “Montessori” learning techniques within their classrooms. They are moving towards math as a language and utilizing hands on materials as well as allowing the children to learn at their own pace. It will be interesting to see what first grade brings. I often think, “why don’t the public schools provide Montessori instruction?” I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t? Although we are thrilled with the school and especially the special activities, now, more than ever, I realize how lucky we were to attend WMS!
The day I watched my daughter play her first middle school basketball game! I cheered the school on the entire game, losing my voice when it was all over. It was well worth it! I was so proud of her and her teammates. It was heartwarming watching my daughter play for such a wonderful school. Thank you.
There is too much extraordinary about WMS to pick just one moment. WMS taught me that kindness to others matters above all else. If only we could incorporate the compliment circle into work meetings!
In retrospect, every day at WMS was extraordinary! Staff members like Sheila Coad-Bernard, Erik Hawvermale, Marsha Reid, Pat Werner, Nancy Binns and all the others worked so hard to made it extraordinary. Thanks!
I have thousands of amazing and extraordinary moments from my almost eleven years I attended WMS. From field day, to the end of the year picnic…to basic operations and golden beads…I often refer to my WMS experiences with fondness, and so enjoy sharing them. Here is just one of the countless memories I have that made a positive impact on who I am today:
Our upper school class went up to upstate New York (near Lake Placid) to a sleepover camp every November for a week during my 6th, 7th, and 8th grade years at WMS. What an amazing and exceptional experience! My most extraordinary moment out of the three times there, however, was during dinner my seventh year. Dinner was served family style, and each of us students took turns serving, cleaning, and sharing responsibilities. One evening, as I was clearing the table with Joe (he was one of the head camp counselors, best known for his enjoyment of eating live crickets for a quick protein snack… or perhaps from mere enjoyment of our shock factor when he did!) grabbed my hands and started waltzing with me. Apparently, after a discussion of music and dance during dinner, I had mentioned that I would never have the courage to dance in front of a group of people. Joe, being one of the wonderful counselors who instilled self-confidence in all of us, wanted to prove that I actually could in fact, dance in front of a crowd. Sarito (our teacher) began humming a waltz tune, and soon enough, the entire canteen was humming the waltz. I was so embarrassed but yet so happy at the same time! As we took our bows, right before going back to clearing the dinner table, Joe quietly said to me, “Of course you now know that you can do anything, even if sometimes you think you can’t.” How true those words have spoken to me in the almost thirty years since. Thank you, WMS.
I was painfully shy coming into WMS. I don’t think I said anything other than what was absolutely necessary in my first few months as a second year in Martha’s class. One would expect that, for me, the only thing worse than speaking to classmates would be speaking in front of a crowd. And yet, I had always relished performing in front of a big group of people. WMS gave me the chance to do that in Upper El with the Residency plays and the Shakespeare plays. My own extraordinary moment came in fifth grade, when I was cast as Macbeth in our play. I went about the next two weeks thinking I was in a dream and not wanting to wake up. I couldn’t wait for the performance, but at the same time, I didn’t want it to come because it would mean the end of my dream come true. I did not forget a single one of my nearly hundred and thirty lines. For the rest of the school year, middle schoolers (the coolest people in the world to a fifth-year girl) would stop me in the hall and compliment me on my performance. Three and a half years later, I still remember about half of my lines, but even more important than that is the confidence that came from those two weeks as Macbeth.
Dudley’s extraordinary moment was more a series of moments that culminated in my beautiful boy coming out of his shell. In those first two magical years, I saw confidence, conversation, respect and true friendships emerge for Dudley. Moment by moment, step by step, and all at once. Thank you WMS!
Giving our children Emily and Jack a Montessori education has been one of the greatest gifts we can give them. Parents will see by graduation their children will have a sense of knowing who they are. That’s impressive. I applaud Pat and all the wonderful teachers. Thank you.
The personal guidance children are generously given as only an attuned village of Montessori staff could give. Encouragement to pay attention to Vienna’s love of music. How special it is to be part of a school community that grown a child’s gifts—empowering them in positive ways.
Learning how to share! Not always easy for only children !!
Well, there have been many extraordinary moments throughout all my years at WMS, and I’ve met great teachers during that time. I cherish that I’ve been at our school for eleven years now, and the milestones I’ve passed by. My 1st full year was the 40th anniversary, and this year is the 50th. One thing I cherish most is the music program. This is what got me interested in music, and I am very thankful for it. We had music twice a week at age 2, and I loved it. Now in seventh grade, I have drumming, chorus, and music through cultural studies with Matilda. I love WMS.
I live quite far from WMS, so I only get there twice a year. Last spring I went to the play “Julius Caesar”: performed by Jennifer and Amy’s class. My extraordinary moment was watching my grandson, Alex Janssen, climb to the balcony as Brutus and deliver a faultless monologue.
I did cry. So shy and so conditioned to believe that school was a frightening place, I couldn’t help myself and disintegrated into tears. Then something extraordinary happened, something that changed everything for me. I had a cup of tea. It was my first cup of tea and Pat made it for me. She walked me, choking back sobs, from the classroom down the hall to the little kitchen, sat with me at the table and made us some tea. Red Rose, with sugar. We sat in that kitchen hands wrapped around our mugs, my heart beating so fast, feeling so little, so lost. As my sobs subsided to sniffles, Pat patiently talked with me. I don’t remember exactly what she said but it doesn’t matter. It was the simple act of treating me with kindness, as though, even as a kid, I mattered, I was not alone. That shared cup, that one act of respect and kindness was followed by countless others from teachers, kids and other people in the WMS family.
Some 30 years ago, as a Montessori teacher living in Brooklyn, I visited northwest Connecticut in the spring. Following a sign to a fair at Washington Montessori School on Church Street, I saw the school and met one of the first teachers, Norma Mitchell. During out conversation, Norma asked if I would be interested in working here. At the time, I responded, “no, thank you,” but over the next few days the more I thought about it, the more appealing the idea sounded. By the following September, I was the first elementary teacher at WMS.
I feel fortunate to have followed my heart to what was then a small, fairly new school. Though I think of myself as an educator, since becoming the head of the school in 1979, I have spent a surprising amount of time on building projects and fundraising. As these activities contribute directly to the educational experience of our children, I find it all satisfying and very worthwhile.
The best parts of my days here are the connections with the children. Whether it is helping out with a problem, pulling a loose tooth, shaking hands on Monday morning, or laughing over some funny incident, I am energized by the children. A school derives its vitality from its students, and we adults who work here all the better for being part of this community.
One of the most fun projects I had at WMS was studying Ancient Greece and our project was to create our own Ancient Greek City-sate. I was the cartographer so I was in charge of what our town looked like. I remember doing a lot of research trying to find what Athens looked like. It’s those kinds of things at WMS—getting introduced to a topic in the classroom and then going out to learn more. I was just really motivated to learn all that I could. I think that’s a very typical experience at WMS.
While at WMS, I had the uniquely rewarding experience to travel with a group of my classmates to Puerto Rico and spend a good amount of time enjoying the people and culture of the island . Something happened on that trip that I didn’t become aware of until years later. I had gained a fascination with other people and other cultures.