WMS people

Update May 17, 2020

Dear Parents, 

While some of you have not yet experienced the moving up process at WMS, and many of you have, this year’s process will be new to all of us due to the circumstances of distance learning. If it were a year like any other, you would be receiving this letter only if you had a child who was moving up to a new level. Since it’s a year unlike any other, we are including all parents on this communication with the intention of empowering all members of the WMS community with an understanding of the bigger picture.   

Because WMS students benefit from multi-age classrooms and therefore experience fewer classroom- and teacher-transitions, we’ve learned the placement process can create anxiety for parents. It’s only natural, given our current circumstances, for concerns to be magnified. We understand. Please know we remain committed to acting in the best interests of our students. Establishing stable transitions between classrooms remains one of our top priorities.

Your child’s class placement is being very carefully considered by his/her current teacher, Kerry, and me. We are also working on redesigning our typical level visits for students new to a classroom to meet and get to know older classmates. As is our normal practice, there is a considerable amount of communication regarding individual students between the teachers at different levels. As always, all students will be met by their new teachers exactly where they are and will be individually guided forward. We remain committed to responding to and supporting the needs of each child.

The timeline for class placement announcements is as follows. There will be opportunities for students and parents to connect with their new classrooms the following week, details of which will be included in the placement email. 

  • YCC to LS Email to parents over Memorial Day weekend
  • LS to LE Email to parents over Memorial Day weekend
  • LE to UE Email to parents over Memorial Day weekend
  • UE to MS Email to parents & students over Memorial Day weekend. 

If you continue to be anxious or have questions about your child’s transition to a new level, I invite you to reach out to me as always, but I also offer you the following articles by Catherine McTamaney to offer insight on Montessori transitions in general. Catherine is an award-winning teacher and author, an Associate Professor of the Practice of Education at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College, and a noted Montessori lecturer. Many of her works have been an inspiration to me and I hope these short articles can provide some clarity for you. Additional information about the Montessori terminology used in the linked articles and how it relates to our program levels can be found in the weekly email

Montessori Transitions Toddler to Early Childhood
March 14, 2018   |    Catherine McTamaney

Montessori Transitions Early Childhood to Elementary
March 14, 2018   |    Catherine McTamaney 

Montessori Transitions Lower Elementary to Upper Elementary

March 14, 2018   |    Catherine McTamaney

Still Waters Run Deep:
Middle Schoolers and the First Day of School

March 14, 2018   |    Catherine McTamaney 

While transitions can cause anxiety, they also present an excellent opportunity for reflection, growth and celebration. Our year-end signature experiences have been thoughtfully developed over the years with both these truths in mind. Participating in traditions and rites of passage encourages students’ sense of belonging and security both as individuals and as members of a larger community. 

Though the pandemic will deter us from physically taking part in our beloved year-end celebrations and traditions, we are steadfast in our desire to maintain the essence of each event. While teachers have been busy re-envisioning events specific to their level, we are also looking forward to virtual re-conceptions of our all-school events. We will hold a virtual Moving Up Ceremony (Act 1 now, with Act 2 to follow when we are together again.) We are looking forward to a virtual Spring Music Celebration (again, with the intention of having an in-person type of concert showcasing the music students have worked on this semester in the fall.) Field Day tees have been ordered, and an envoy of parent couriers is being trained for immediate deployment. (Yes, field day tee shirts will be hand-delivered to your homes if you placed your size request online). More details on Field Day to come, but we are excited to announce there will be a special, synchronous closing ceremony! One for Lower School in the morning and one for Elementary and Middle Schoolers later in the day.   

Recreating traditions for our 8th Graders, of course, is a more complex undertaking. We are thrilled to announce our graduates have all selected their respective secondary schools. We are confident each student is moving into a high school community suited to support their optimal growth and development. (The Class of 2020 will matriculate to the following high schools: Canterbury School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Forman, The Gunnery, Kent School, The Loomis Chaffee School, The Marvelwood School, Millbrook School, Nonnenewaug High School, The Taft School, and Westover School) 

With this important work behind us, we are now focused on working with 8th Grade parents to consider a range of alternatives to the traditional graduation ceremony usually conducted in our Legacy Theater.  We are also planning alternatives to other less formal WMS 8th Grader rites of passage. For instance, we look forward to publishing the annual 8th Grade Autobiographies online this year, in substitution for displaying them in the main hallway. Finally–and most importantly–we have begun spotlighting one student each day from the Class of 2020 on our social media platforms as a tribute to these phenomenal individuals as they complete their time at WMS. Please join us on Instagram and/or Facebook for the daily spotlights or click here to see the curated posts on our website. 

With sincere gratitude for all you do and who you are,

Carney