WMS people

2019-2020 MS Information

July 27, 2019

Dear Middle School Parents,

This year, all of the forms you need to start the school year are available here. 8th Grade Parents, please click here to read a letter that applies particularly to your children this fall.

Split and Advisor Lists
The link to next year’s split and advisor lists were included in the general WMS mailing and are available here as well. Math and Art/Music/PE groupings will be announced in the fall. When you look at class lists, please remember (and remind your children) that in Middle School students work in a variety of groups over the course of their school day.  We consider ourselves one community and do our best to organize groupings so everyone has a chance to work with as many people as possible.

Staffing Update
This year Caitlin Henke will be joining the Middle School teaching staff. Caitlin will be working with Tom as an advisor and will be teaching math and science. Caitlin is a trained Montessori Secondary teacher who is relocating from South Carolina to be part of the WMS community. We are excited to have her! 

Kaitlin Clark will be teaching art (along with Emily Redmond) and will take over Art Lab. In high school, Kaitlin decided she would attend college to become an art teacher to pass on her love of the arts. She attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia studying photography, pottery, film, mixed media and dance. She graduated with a BFA in Photography as well as a Certification in Art Education. She also holds a masters degree in Integrative Health and Healing and combines her love of the arts and the therapeutic effects of its process. Kaitlin is also the mother of Zoe Ericson, a first-year in Jena’s class.

Adriana Varanko, who many of you know from her work as a “floating” assistant teacher and in the MAP room, will be taking over the Middle School play and Theater Lab (in the winter) this year. Adriana studied theater performance and has worked with a children’s theater group in Watertown as well as with the Brass City Ballet student program.

All Middle School Play
There will be one middle school play for 6th, 7th and 8th graders together this fall. Rehearsals will start promptly in September and the play will be performed in mid-December. Students and families interested in the play should know that this is a serious commitment. Barring illness, students involved in the play should be available on all Tuesday and Friday afternoons until the performance. Director Adriana Varanko will speak to students about the play the second week of school, and she will also attend Back to School Night on September 13th to answer parent questions.

Middle School Handbook
We ask that you look closely at the Middle School Handbook and review it with your children before school begins. The most important developmental task for students this age is to learn to become responsible members of a community. Our program has been carefully designed to give your child many opportunities to do this. The items in our handbook state WMS’s values clearly, and talking about what’s included should generate good family conversation. It’s important that both parents and students read and discuss the handbook, as well as the student agreement before the school year begins. 

Please pay particular attention to the revised Middle School dress code. 

Conferences and Conference Forms
Those of you with children already in Middle School understand that parent conferences are handled differently at our level. We stress to students that they are the people most responsible for their own learning. For this reason, parents, students and teachers all participate in conferences. Our first conference takes place the week before school begins and give us the opportunity to discuss goals for the year. We will sign the Student Agreement at this conference, so please come with any questions you have. Your child’s advisor will contact you soon to find a time that is convenient to meet.

Linked here, and on the website, you will find a form labeled  “Before School Questionnaire”. Your child should read it and answer the questions carefully, in writing. Their written answers get circulated to all Middle School teachers so we can understand and support your children to the best of our abilities. Your child needs to bring, and be ready to discuss, their written responses at their conference.

If you are wondering which school supplies your children need to purchase, please refer to this list. Items not listed here will be provided by your child’s advisor as part of our organizational program.

After School Options
There is an “Fall Activity Sign Up” form that needs to be filled out by August 15.  We offer a variety of after-school programs in Middle School and encourage all students to participate. 

Athletic teams meet three days a week at WMS: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Students at all experience levels have fun participating in our sports program.  Offerings in the fall include soccer, cross country/ running, and outdoor club. Outdoor Club will be on Wednesdays this year if there is enough student interest.

In addition to athletics, we offer a variety of art and music options as well as study halls four days a week. Art Lab will meet every Tuesday from 3:30-5:00. The play will begin rehearsing on September 13 and rehearsals take place on Tuesdays and Fridays from 3:30-5:00. Our Middle School chorus will continue to meet on Wednesdays, again during the school day.  Music Lab will take place after school on Fridays from 3:30-5:00. In the winter and spring, Theater Lab will take place on Tuesdays from 3:30-5:00. We’ll send information about that later in the year. 

Please discuss which activities your child might be interested in and complete the sign-up sheet before your conference.

Our Middle School calendar has been entered onto the website, but we thought it might be helpful to give extra attention to some dates early in the year. Sixth-grade students begin on Tuesday, Sept. 3, but stay home on Wednesday, Sept. 4.  Seventh and eighth-grade students return to school on Wednesday, Sept. 4. On Thursday, Sept. 5, everyone comes to school and our regular schedule begins. WMS calendars are structured so that parents are able to subscribe to individual calendars to help you only see what applies to you and your family. 

Back to School Night will be held on Thursday, September 12 this year. This evening is an opportunity to meet your children’s teachers and to hear specific plans for their upcoming year. Life in Middle School tends to get busy and most parents find this a helpful way to gain an overview of the year. Please plan to attend even if you are an experienced Middle School family.

Parents of seventh-grade students should note that there will be a Hero’s Journey informational meeting on the morning of Sept 17 for all parents interested in learning the details of this program. In the meantime, you can read about it in the handbook.  We will be talking about it more at Back to School Night.

Our annual Outdoor Education trip will be at Camp Hazen in Chester, Connecticut from September 23 – 27. This is earlier than usual so please speak to your child’s advisor as soon as possible if you have questions or concerns. Also, keep in mind that all of your child’s health, medication and permission forms must be completed before they depart for camp. If you have questions, please speak to school nurse, Linda Valletta. We’ll send home information about the trip when school begins, but eighth-grade students will be leaving on Monday, September 23 to organize and plan activities. Sixth and seventh graders will join them at camp on Tuesday, September 24. We all return to WMS on Friday, September 27, in time for dismissal. The permission form is linked. Please print, complete and sign this form and return it to your child’s advisor at the conference.

If you have questions or concerns before school starts, please feel free to call or email.  We look forward to seeing you at the end of the summer.

Kerry Dorton kdorton@washingtonmontessori.org
Tom Fahsbender tfahsbender@washingtonmontessori.org


Forms are available on the website and through the links in this letter.


  1. Before School Questionnaire (answers need to be typed on a separate piece of paper) and bring it to your conference
  2.  Activity Sign Up form by August 15.
  3. Outdoor Ed Permission Form, print, fill out and bring to your conference

Read and discuss the following:

Middle School Handbook

Middle School Agreement