December Newsletter

Athena's December Newsletter
Athena Logo
"The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence." -Maria Montessori


Click the Link Below to View the Calendar
View the 2020-2021 School Calendar

IMPORTANT DATES

Tuesday
December 1st

6th Tuition Installment Due

Wednesday
December 8th

Tot's Toileting Workshop

December 10th-18th
Chanukah/Hanukkah

Friday
December  18th

Last Day of Fall Semester
Early Dismissal, 1/2 Day Pick Up

Sunday
December 20th

International Transgender Day of Remembrance

Monday
December 21st

Winter Solstice

December 24th-25th
Christmas Eve & Christmas Day

December 28th-January 1st
Kwanzaa
 

Thursday
December 31st

New Year's Eve

Kilometers for Keres Recap

Athena really showed up for this event and we are so grateful! Keres Children's Learning Center is a Montessori School in Pueblo de Cochiti, NM.

"Keres Children’s Learning Center (KCLC) strives to reclaim our children’s education and honor our heritage by using a comprehensive cultural and academic curriculum to assist families in nurturing Keres-speaking, holistically healthy, community minded, and academically strong students." -Mission Statement KCLC 

As a community, Athena donated over $1000 to further the mission of Keres Children's Learning Center. Thank you to all of you who were able to contribute.
Tots Toileting Workshop

Are you ready for getting your little one ready for the big transition into underwear but need help navigating first steps, understanding what to expect and how to prepare yourself? Join the TOTS team as they share tips, strategies and support!
 

Details:  Wednesday, December 9th. 4:00 to 5:30pm via Zoom. Link on your parent calendar! 
12/2 Nash Tots 1
12/5 Jacinta P5
12/6 Ruby P3
12/7 Story P5
12/8 Gavin P1
12/11 Brinkley P6
12/14 Emmeline P6
12/16 Simone Tots 1
12/17 Jack P1
12/23 Siena Tots 2
12/25 Dylan P1
12/25 Tobias P6
12/27 Cecilia P4
12/28 Tabitha P4
12/29 Cora P2
12/29 Dudley P3
12/30 Parker P1



We would like to extend a big THANK YOU to our pals at Dolce Neve Gelato for supporting Athena Montessori over the years. Even before they had a student enrolled, they have been brightening our celebrations with their delicious treats!

Craving some yummy gelato now? Yeah, us too! 
Click that logo & you can order online for curbside pickup. 

 

The Central Texas Food Bank 
Needs You 

The Central Texas Food Bank is currently purchasing a million dollars worth of food per month. You read that correctly: $1,000,000 every four weeks. 
This is one way we can help our neighbors. 
Visit the site today. 

Central Texas Food Bank
 
 WINTER DONATIONS
 
We would love to take any of these items listed below that you may have lying around your house for our playgrounds and our classrooms:


Crafting Supplies
Extra Gloves and Mittens 
Woodworking Materials*
(ask your child's guide what is needed*) 

 
Please donate items to admin at drop-off/pick up.
Thank you! 
We miss you, your staff, and your kiddos! We can't wait to get back on the field at your school soon.
In the meantime, since we can't be on soccer island in person, we are excited to share our virtual Soccer Shots On the Go for you to use in the classroom or for your families to use at home ... for free! Click the link below to enroll for free. Upon enrolling, you will receive an automated email with the login credentials.      Soccer Shots on the Go For Free! 
https://austinsa.soccershots.com/pd/4062?code=hyTjwZCWOu

Soccer Shots On The Go consists of 20-30 minute videos that build upon each other to create a foundation of basic soccer skills, movement and fun from the comfort of your own home. This library of content will be accessible whenever you’re ready to play! 
What You Will Need:
To view our video sessions, you will need a computer, tablet, or smartphone. We recommend having a soccer ball (or any playball) and up to six toys or stuffed animals readily available. Your child can participate inside or outside as long as they have a 5ft by 8ft safe space to play and have fun!
We have three levels:
  1. Mini (age 2)
  2. Classic (ages 3-5)
  3. Premier (ages 5-8) *Great for school age children!
We look forward to positively impacting your child through
sport.
 



Virtual Martial Arts Classes - Ages 3 & up
Resilience to keep going when things get hard, Flow to adapt to all the changes this school year, Calm & Confidence to deal with stress, and lots of FUN!  
Includes Unlimited Martial Arts Classes + 1 FREE virtual private lesson every other week. Class options 6 days/week.
Virtual classes Mon-Sat. More info at 
https://www.lifekido.com/back-to-school-virtual-martial-arts


Girl Power Class - Ages 7-12
Self-empowerment, self-confidence and self-love for girls taught by inspiring female instructors through a variety of movement and non-movement modalities.
Saturdays from 11am-12pm on Zoom. More info - 
https://www.lifekido.com/girl-power

Spiritual Flow Meditation Class - Adults

Find stillness and peace through both seated meditation and gentle movement such as Tai Chi & Qi Gong. We will practice different ways to:

      -Connect to our inner strength and spirit
      -Flow with our inner world of stress, anxiety, and depression
      -Bring this inner strength and spirit into our family, parenting and work. 
  No experience needed - all are welcome!
Fridays from 10-10:45am on Zoom. More info - 
https://www.lifekido.com/spiritual-flow

In-Person Martial Arts Classes with Social Distancing - Ages 6 - Adult in Westlake & Lakeway 
https://www.lifekido.com/
 
School Photos are Available to Order
All families were emailed a private url, allowing you to place orders for photographs. If you haven't got your email, please send an email to info@athenamontessoriacademy.com from your preferred email address and we'll send you another link. Please note that only one email can be used in Ali's system, so the email is sent to "Parent A" in our database.
Thanks also to photographer Alison Eden, for taking all the wonderful photos. Alison is taking bookings for 2021 and can be reached at www.alisoneden.com

How to Teach Children About Giving
.
 
We see it in print all the time:
"Cultivate an attitude of gratitude."
"How my gratitude journal changed my life..."
Oprah tells us:
"What I know for sure is that living in appreciation for what we have, instead of focusing on what we want, is key to a fulfilling life."

And we agree. We know how fortunate we are. We know we have more than we need. But. do we stop to really be grateful? Are we modeling it for our children, partners, friends? And what does gratitude have to do with giving and children? 

When we live a grateful life, and we model gratitude and appreciation for those around us, especially our children, we are sowing the seeds that will blossom later.
This article from Parents Magazine contains helpful ways to cultivate a grateful mindset in our children. 

Set the stage for grateful hearts to grow.
Involve your child in acts of kindness, and let them see, first hand, what gratitude looks and sounds like in other people. Name that emotion for them. Here's an example conversation based on dropping off some food for Grandma-
 "Let's watch Grandma's smile when we surprise her with this dinner. Let's look at her face. Are you looking? She is so thankful." Pause and let your child see and feel what is happening.  "She feels gratitude and we feel joy." When you drive away from Grandma's, name your joy again. "Did you see Grandma's face?" (wait for an answer, if none comes or your child is pre-verbal, provide the answer) "She was smiling." "Did you see her eyes?" "They were shining. Grandma had a feeling. Her feeling was gratitude!"  "Did you have a feeling? I did!" "I still feel it here." (rub your chest)  "Do you know the name of that happy feeling? It's joy. I felt joy." Make a practice of acts of kindness. You will raise humans who carry it on. 

What about the 'Gimme Gimme' cry? 
Marketing to children is big business, and nowhere is it bigger than in the USA.  Although we cannot shield them completely, we can be aware of the advertising messages our children are receiving and teach them critical thinking skills from a very young age. The younger they are, the more we can monitor what they take in from the world and media around them. We also hold the power to set the traditions in our homes, and that is truly how holiday magic is made. To make magic for others, get your whole family involved in an act of local giving. 
14 Ways to Give Back 

None of this is learning is instant, and this we know. The joy of giving can not be taught, but it can be learned. Through experience. We wish you many happy giving experiences with your children this season, and always. 
State of the School Address
by our founder, Lisl Friday

(This letter was previously sent to current families on November 4, 2020)
Dear Athena Families,
It is with great humility and vulnerability that I feel the need to have a level of transparency with you that I don’t normally reveal about the business of Athena. It is important to me to keep the majority of my work behind the scenes, hoping that teachers and families alike can just experience the joy of being part of a school community, and not think about it being a business. But at this time, I need to pull the curtain back slightly, and let you in on the reality of our financial situation. 

I did not lay off any teachers while our students were at home when we had to close the school. I never stopped paying them, and I never stopped paying for their health insurance. They are my priority. I know that in order to have our families and children well taken care of, my teachers and administrative team need to feel loved and cared for, supported, and valued. 

I applied for and received PPP money to cover payroll for 12 weeks last spring, and I also offered our families a 25% discount on their final tuition payment since we had to go virtual. We were unable to offer our full summer camp program, which decreased our income in the spring and summer, yet I kept my commitment to pay our teachers and staff in full per their original contract. I added a sixth classroom in order to spread out the students and honor the enrollment of everyone who committed prior to the pandemic, and hence, had to invest in new Montessori materials, furniture, and additional faculty. I also invested extra funds into classroom and playground dividers, personal protective equipment, sanitation and airflow equipment, and hired a public health/Covid consultant.  

Now, we are enrolled at a very limited capacity, and we are operating the business at a significant loss. I have enough in savings to make payroll and expenses until February. 

We’ve been working hard to come up with creative and out-of-the box solutions not only to cut back on expenses, but also to increase revenue, in a time where most of our regular options for additional revenue are not available due to Covid restrictions, including larger Primary class sizes, Early Arrival, After School, and Extracurricular Programs. The safety and health of our community members is of top priority to me, and so is keeping Athena alive for the future. 

Here is my plan to get us to break-even by the end of this school year:
  • By January: Add one student to each pod (Primary classes only), bringing the Primary pod sizes to 11;
  • January: Assess a per-semester Pandemic Relief Fee of $500, as needed, only during the pandemic (during limited class sizes and lowered ratios); families will have the option of spreading this fee out over the five months of each semester;
  • By April: Enroll a minimum of 100 students for Summer Camp 2021 (Summer Camp registration fee is due in April to secure a summer spot; summer tuition is due May 1).
We feel that adding one student per pod is safe, given all the comprehensive precautions and protocols we have in place. The fact that we have not yet had any positive Covid cases in our community is testament to our strict adherence to these protocols. We intend to continue to monitor best practices for health and safety protocols in moving forward.

We typically also count on fundraising each year towards a special cause and collect this money at our annual Casino Night event. We know that these times are financially difficult for many people and are therefore uncomfortable hosting a fundraiser per se, but if any of you are in a position to donate money this year, we will be eternally grateful. Funds donated will go towards sustaining the business of Athena for our community.

As usual, in December we will begin re-enrollment of current families, then enrollment for siblings, at which time we will collect the regular Enrollment Fee for next school year from enrolling families. 

I am anticipating the possibility that we may need to plan for another school year under similar conditions with respect to the pandemic. If we are still advised to maintain limited class sizes and lowered ratios next school year, we may also need to assess a Pandemic Relief Fee in the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022. This fee can be seen as an as-needed semesterly payment (or can again be spread out over the five months of each semester) for the premium of maintaining these low numbers, while we are limited in our operations due to the pandemic. 

We will also be increasing tuition next school year by a higher percentage than is typical for Athena. We have always worked hard to maintain a tuition rate that is fair and competitive while also offering the highest quality programs possible. The tuition will likely need to increase by 8-10% for the 2021-2022 school year. This price increase will allow us to sustain our business in this current model. 

The path forward is full of unknowns, but I know that together, we can make it through this unprecedented time. I am enormously grateful for the opportunity to serve you and your children and have faith that we will persevere and that Athena will stand strong. 
 
Warmly,
Lisl Friday, Founder
Thank you to all our families who helped bring Diwali to our campus in an authentic and community led fashion. And speaking of fashion, can we talk about these two from P5 in beautiful attire provided by Krupa Bala? 
Pictured are co-lead guides, Hilary and Laila. 

Lisl's Tongue Twister Challenge
tongue twister is a specific sequence of words whose rapid, repeated pronunciation is difficult even for native speakers.
Often these are similar words which follow one another but differ in certain syllables. Alliterations are also frequent.
In addition, some tongues are difficult because of their unusual word composition (sentence structure) and therefore require a high level of concentration.
Some Tongue twisters are made for amusement, but on the other hand, professional speakers such as actors, politicians, and television / radio hosts use them as articulation exercises.

Here's one for you to try out at home, remember that it's not just how fast you say it, but also how clearly:

 
Betty Botter bought some butter
But she said, "This butter's bitter!".
"If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter!"
So, she bought a bit of better butter,
put it in her bitter batter,
made her bitter batter better.
So, 'tis better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.


3-week session: Nov. 30-Dec. 17th: 
https://mariposasspanish.com/virtual-classes/

On-demand classes for PK & Elementary- watch at your own time, anytime!

Small Business Saturday: In celebration of Small Business Saturday, Mariposas Spanish School is waiving annual registration fees on Zoom classes for new families! Already a member of the program? Take 50% off any on-demand Spanish course with code SBS50. These pre-recorded classes are a perfect activity for the holidays: they're easy to watch from anywhere, at any time, and anyone can learn! Ages 3-10.

Organize an in person POD CLASS!
 

ENROLLMENT NOTICES for ALL FAMILIES 

Current Families:
Thank you to all who have continued to support Athena by sending us your friends and family who may be interested in joining our community. Even in this digital age, good ol’ fashioned word of mouth is the best way to support our school. We appreciate you in helping us finalize our current openings and we hope you continue to share your love of Athena outward as the year continues.
Prospective and Waiting Pool Families:
Thank you so much for your transparency and communication over these past few months regarding your intentions to join us on campus this year. The children remain our North Star and we intend to make sure every student joining our campus lands in a community where they will have peers and also be met with aspects of Montessori curriculum that will suit their developmental needs.
Primary Program Update:
We plan to continue to connect with families regarding interest in January enrollment throughout this month as openings become available. For those of you who we are not able to accommodate this spring semester, you will continue to stay in our waiting pool for August enrollment at Athena, which will begin in late January and into February.
TOTS Program Update:
Please be on the lookout in your Inbox to an Survey regarding your interest in our program for the 2021-2022 school year or fill it out by clicking here.
We may have a handle of openings in our TOTS program for the Spring semester and these will be filled by siblings of current and alumni students, who are prioritized in our Waiting Pool. We will begin re-enrollment in December, and will begin offering spots to our future TOTS programs in January. We appreciate your continued interest in our programs.
 
Thank you for your interest in our programs.
We look forward to having you all on campus when that option becomes available to us. 

Heather Sundquist
Admissions and Tots Coordinator 

Our goal in the admissions process is to be as transparent as possible, and we strive to give you the most accurate information we can during each step of the deliberate process of enrollment. We respect that decisions related to your child's education are important and timely ones, and we will continue to send you general enrollment updates via our monthly newsletter. Thank you for your continued interest, and we encourage you to reach out with specific questions related to your child's enrollment at any time during this process.
SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Need labels? Oliver's Labels has labels for backpacks, shoes, clothes, lunch boxes, and water bottles!  Click on the image above to purchase customized labels and Athena will receive 20% of your purchase!
Natural, organic, and non-toxic school gear.  Each product has been thoroughly researched to be free of concerning chemicals and hand-picked for its quality and design. 15% of your purchase goes back to Athena!


For Small Hands carries a wide variety of items for children, all child-sized, fun and developmentally-appropriate!  Use our code below, and Athena will get a percentage of the sale to apply towards materials for school.
CODE 165595
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Athena Montessori Academy

Office:
1503 Morgan Lane Austin, TX 78704
Parking Lot:
1400 West Ben White BLVD Austin, TX 78704
Tel: (512) 494-6237
Fax: (512) 693-0065
“Athena is Montessori with flexibility. What a perfect combination of Montessori learning and respect with fun. As a working parent I find the after care options and extracurricular programs to be priceless!”
- Rose Koransky (Child now attending Zilker Elementary)