April Newsletter

Athena's April Newsletter
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"The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities."
-Maria Montessori

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View the 2020-2021 School Calendar
IMPORTANT DATES

Thursday, April 1st
10th Tuition Installment Due

Thursday, April 1st
April Fool's Day

Friday, April 2nd
Autism Awareness Day

Sunday, April 4th
Easter Sunday

Tuesday, April 13th
Parent Workshop: Building Emotional Resilience

Friday, April 23rd
School Closed - Parent Teacher Conferences
American Montessori Society National Conference: The Event
Every year, Athena sends all of our lead guides, a few of our administrative team, and sometimes one lucky assistant guide, to the National American Montessori Society annual conference. The conference is always held in the spring and is a great opportunity for our leads and admin team to receive inspiration, motivation, resources, and a yearning to learn more on various topics pertaining to early childhood education. This year the conference was held virtually. Though we were disappointed not to see our Montessori friends and colleagues in person, the inspiration and motivation was not lacking. We ended the virtual conference with our minds and hearts full. Some of the highlights from this year’s conference were: 
  • Watching our very own Heather Sundquist host a workshop called Cultivating Connection to Self For Teachers. Remembering to connect with themselves first allows teachers to better connect with the children in their classroom. 
  • Learning about mind blowing math concepts from Joan A. Cotter, and her company RightStart Mathematics. Joan has revolutionized how Montessorians teach math. Jennifer from P6 attended her workshop and came back singing about all the concepts she learned from the workshop. 
  • Promoting literature in infant and toddler environments- “A love of reading can begin earlier than you think.” 
  • Witnessing inspirational and moving keynote speakers: Beverly Daniel Tatum, Chelsea Clinton, Wynton Marsalis, and Erin Brockovich. 
  • Gaining inspiration and practical resources for our administrative teams in our work as school leaders, professional educators, and trainers.
  • Doing a deeper dive into topics such as gender diversity, movement and yoga for toddlers, cultivating empathy in children, supporting youth through trauma experiences, and more!
  • Learning that our little school is doing lots of things right, and that we still have lots to learn, when it comes to DEI. Every conference session had multiple choices for exceptional DEI, Social Justice, and Anti Bias/Anti Racist workshops. We feel overjoyed that AMS will be a resource for us, as they are truly doing their own work as an organization and acting as role models in this work to the global Montessori community. 
Read below for Lisl’s overview of the national Montessori organization and their exciting movement to educate and lead when it comes to equity and inclusion.
Overview of the American Montessori Society and JEDI Social Justice Missions
Athena Montessori Academy is a member of the American Montessori Society (AMS), and we are inspired and eager to share that our parent organization is taking a leadership role in furthering the mission of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in an effort to “create an environment in which all feel welcomed, respected, valued, and empowered” (AMS website). They are providing leadership, resources, workshops, and networking opportunities for the global Montessori community to further our own missions in this work.  
This work has always been in alignment with Dr. Maria Montessori’s vision for children and the world. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times and her peace curriculum is at the heart of our work as Montessori schools. Two of my favorite quotes about peace from Dr. Maria Montessori:
Education is the best weapon for peace.
and
Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of the war.” --Dr. Maria Montessori 
In order to fully understand peace, we must first be willing to embrace social justice. And social justice comes with action steps. To this end, leadership members of AMS have created a core committee to take on this action, called JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion). Below is a summary of their work as introduced to us last weekend at the 2021 AMS Conference: The Montessori Event. Please take a moment to learn about the JEDI mission, vision, and objectives.  
AMS is committed to walking the walk, not just talking the talk, and at Athena, we are committed to the same. Stay tuned to our communications and opportunities for parent engagement to further understand how we work to implement these priorities into our curriculum at Athena. Please also visit the DEI/ABAR page of our website for more information about anti-bias education and Athena’s goals. 
If you are interested in the JEDI committee’s work, which reflects our own values and goals, and those of our parent organization, please read below:
Overview of JEDI:
The JEDI committee is comprised of:
Amira D Mogaji, President of the AMS Board of Directors
Bryan Jackson, AMS Senior Director of DEI
Karen Simon, MACTE Board President
Sara Bloomberg, AMS Board Director 
The paradox of education is precisely this--that as one begins to biome conscious one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated.” --James Baldwin 
What is JEDI?
Justice
Equity
Diversity
Inclusion
Each of these is a call to ACTION.
  The JEDI Mission:
The JEDI Committee brings our diverse Montessori community together to build a framework that recognizes, dismantles, and disrupts racism and bias. Anti-bias and anti-racist principles will guide the work of the committee.  
The JEDI Vision:
The JEDI Committee will inspire, inform, and engage our Montessori community in the work to build a future where all can thrive in environments that are anti-raist and anti-bias. This will be done through equitable, inclusive and collaborative work where communities that have been ignored, silenced, or marginalized are uplifted, amplified, and celebrated. 
The JEDI Objectives:
  • Embed ABAR into the fabric of AMS by creating and enacting a strategic plan for racial equity
  • Develop requirements and standards, and provide the expertise and resources for ongoing AMS employee, board, and commission professional development
  • Expand the development and engagement of affinity groups that serve underrepresented groups and foster safe spaces for these conversations
  • Host free DEI professional development events throughout the year
  • Provide support to member schools in building skills and knowledge about DEI
  • Commit to curricular change to uplift DEI teaching in all subjects and for all age levels
  • Communicate and implement requirements for school policies, professional development, and teacher education program standards that affirm and support the protection of underrepresented and marginalized identities
  • Keep all our children at the forefront of why this work is essential 


What Does DEI/ABAR Work Look Like at Athena?

For an overview of our work, please see the DEI/ABAR section of our website. And please see below some resources that we find valuable in the way we look at DEI/ABAR education of the children at Athena:

This is a short read from the Washington Post linking to some of the research on misconceptions that some parents have that their children don’t notice race unless it is pointed out to them:  What White Parents Get Wrong About Raising Antiracist Kids - And How to Get it Right.

Here is a famous TED talk on being color brave, by Mellody Hobson, who is in an interracial marriage (married to George Lucas), and who has a daughter with her White husband. She understands first-hand what it is like to have Black and White family members. She is also the CEO of a Fortune 500 company: Color Blind vs. Color Brave.
These are two videos related to how we approach DEI topics with this age group:Part of the Sesame Street Town Hall from the summer of 2020 is Elmo and his dad Louie talking about racism and protests.  Another part of the Sesame Street Town Hall is this video for parents about how to talk to children about racism. 

Here is an organization, The Conscious Kid, that we support, utilize, and follow. They do great work for advocacy, education, and activism.

 

 


Reflections From the Garden Fairy
by Janey Lake


Our interface with "Mother Nature" is rarely a fill in the blanks affair. Hence, it requires a different type of thinking based on observation. As a result I frequently talk to the students about leadership being based on observation. At this age they often think it is based on their placement in line. I use the analogy of the wolf pack; slowest in front (grandmas, toddlers), next come the helpers, quick thinkers, strong people ready to act. Often the leaders are in the back where they can see the whole group and can call out when there is a problem to solve. "Leadership is seeing what needs to be done and doing it without being asked." It is a constant wonder to me that your children can act so compassionately and thoughtfully towards one another based on their observation. Once this type of observation is put in place it translates quite easily to plants, water, weather and care of our environment. Thanks for lending them to me. I think our spaceship will be in good hands in the future!

 

 
Student Birthdays
4/4 GG G. P3
4/7 Cecilia V. P2
4/7 Grayson S. P5
4/10 Hazel G. P3
4/11 Teddy T. P5
4/15 Atlas D. P1
4/16 Ciara G. P4
4/18 Marielle Z. P6
4/25 Sunny T. T1
4/25 Thomas G. T3
4/27 Josephine M. P5
4/28 Bain T. P2
4/28 Presley M. T3
4/30 Hazel M. P2
Staff Birthdays
4/9 Mandy Waid- Office
4/12 Kimberly Love- Office/P2
4/15 Ben G.- Tots 2
"Dear Mandy"


Dear Mandy, 
Does my child really clean up after themself at school? How do I get them to do it at home?!

 
Often parents are amazed when they find out that their children are cleaning up after themselves throughout the day at school. How on earth do we get our children to pick up after themselves at home?! Before I share some tips, first you have to know that setting up these systems at school are exponentially easier than setting up the same systems at home. At home, life is happening and at school, the day is set solely around the children’s needs. There are some helpful tips and systems that will create a pattern of independence at home, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you find it challenging to reach the same end goal that is achieved at school. 
  • TIP 1: Set up their bedroom or playroom in a way that will allow them to be successful to clean up. Make sure that each activity or toy has a basket, tray, or some type of container, and group like things together. For example, make sure there is a container that holds all the blocks, a basket for all the small toys or figurines, a container for all stuffed animals. Make sure their art supplies are kept in containers. 
  • TIP 2: Make sure their room does not contain too many toys and items. Pack some toys away and trade them out every couple of months. We always had four file boxes at the top of our son’s closet that held extra toys. Every three months or so, we would get the boxes down and it was as exciting as opening birthday gifts! He would choose a few toys to pack away and a few toys to get out of the boxes. 
  • TIP 3: Part of what makes it easy for children to clean up at school is their “work” is contained to a rug or a table. At home their play may span several rooms. Try to have them play in a contained area. You  may find getting some work rugs for home is helpful. You just want to make sure that you have a few rugs for them to put together for bigger activities and for spreading out. 
  • TIP 4: Create a routine where you clean up at the same time every day. For example, they clean up their room before they watch a show or go outside. Make cleaning part of the routine so that it is more about the time of day instead of your requesting them to clean up. 
  • TIP 5: Break the task up into manageable steps, and make a game out of it.  If they have dumped out everything in the playroom, then say: “Let’s see how fast you can clean up all the leggos and I’m going to clean up all the blocks.” You can have them clean up by color: “Pick up all the toys that are red.” Have them clean up a section and then run and give you a high five. Then you pick up a section and then give your child a high five. Have fun with it!!

 
Cooking With Kids

Whole-Wheat Sesame Crackers

Materials:
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces and chilled
5 tablespoons cold water
Enough small bowls to hold each measured out ingredient
Whisk
Spatula
Large bowl for mixing
Sheet pan with parchment paper
Steps:
Together, wash hands with soap and water.
Prepare all the materials ahead of time, measuring your ingredients into a small bowl.
Have your child pour the flour, sesame seeds, salt and sugar into a large mixing bowl. They can then whisk all of those ingredients together.



Add the butter to the flour mixture and have your child use their fingertips to work the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles course crumbs, some larger chunks of butter is fine.



Let your child pour the water into the bowl and mix everything together with a rubber spatula until the dough starts to come together. They can then knead the dough with their hands until the dough is well mixed. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes. Break off small bits of dough and help your child roll them into balls and place them on the parchment lined sheet pan.


Lay the plastic wrap over the balls of dough and let your child use a small glass to smash the little balls into thin, flat disks. 


You can season the crackers with course salt or "everything" seasoning or any other fun, creative spices your child may enjoy. Bake the crackers at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the crackers are golden brown. Let the crackers cool on the sheet pan and then enjoy! You can use these crackers in other food prep activities, by providing a small spreader and cream cheese, hummus or a nut butter for your child to practice spreading at snack time. This builds concentration and allows for them to practice independence. Find child sized spreaders here: Stainless Steel Spreaders


 

ENROLLMENT NOTICES for ALL FAMILIES 
 

Current & Newly Enrolled Athena families -
Re-enrollment & sibling enrollment is complete. If you have questions or updates related to your child's enrollment for the upcoming school year, please contact Mandy directly at
Mandy@AthenaMontessoriAcademy.com

 

Waiting Pool families
We are in the final stages of enrollment for children in our waiting pool for the 2021-2022 school year and will be prioritizing applications received prior to January 2021. Waiting pool applicants are considered according to space availability; our need to balance age, gender, equity and temperament in the classrooms; and date of application.


A note to ALL families in our Waiting Pool:
We highly recommend that you have a back-up plan in place in case you are not admitted into our program at this time. If your child is not offered a spot for this fall, they will remain in our waiting pool and will automatically be considered for any future openings for which they are eligible, including any unexpected mid-year openings, which are not uncommon. If you are offered a spot and choose to decline, you will remain in our waiting pool for future consideration unless you request otherwise.


Meanwhile, we request that you keep us updated with your current contact information, and stay tuned to our monthly newsletters for additional updates. Thank you for your continued interest, and please don't hesitate to contact us at Admissions@AthenaMontessoriAcademy.com at any time during this process.


If you are no longer interested in being considered for enrollment, we request that you assist us in streamlining our enrollment process by kindly letting us know that you would like to be removed from the waiting pool. Thank you!

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!


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)