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Message From Head of School

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It's not competition, it's connection
What makes you choose a brand of soap, a show to attend, a school for your child?  You are presented with many choices, many opportunities in our world. Why choose this brand of shoes, soap or a particular school? Something convinces you that this choice will be the best for you.  That conviction is made up of many decisions, emotions, memories and beliefs.  Most of all, you feel a connection, a recognition of yourself and your values.

What values do you and our school share?
1. Love for your child.
All of the children here are truly cared about.  They spend about three years with the same teachers, so they are known and cared about for who they are.  We watch and celebrate their progress over the years as you do.  You have to decide whether we are the school your child can thrive in, the one that best matches what you want for your child.  You will go through a selection process to be admitted to our school.  We do this to make sure that our values are aligned and that we can truly benefit your family and your child.  We operate under the belief that each person has the right to dignity and respect, and all people are treated according to our beliefs, you, your child and each of us.

2. Keeping your child safe.
Can you entrust your most precious possession to us?  You may want to check our systems, our location, our personnel, possibly even talk to other parents currently enrolled.  You have to decide whether or not to take that "leap of faith" and entrust your child to our care.  On our part, we have a saying, "It doesn't much matter what else we do for your child, unless we return him in about the same condition we got him in, maybe a little smarter and dirtier."  The safety of your child is of utmost importance to us, and is monitored continuously throughout the day.

3. Academic Standards.

This value is probably subject to the greatest miscommunication.  We all want the very best for our own child, and for future generations.  Montessori is taught in a very different way than the vast majority of us experienced in our school years.  Some of us decided that what we experienced growing up was exactly right for our child, and some of us want something completely different.  In either case, expectations are difficult to communicate.  This area is where we find the bulk of our misunderstandings occur.  What does it truly mean to receive a superior education in a Montessori fashion?  We often don't even realize that our expectations differ.  Our belief as an authentic Montessori school is to allow a child to learn and grow at his own pace, no matter how quickly or slowly that may be.  Our children test, on average, approximately two years above grade level.  That does not mean every child in every area.  All of our children are addressed where they are, in the way they learn best, so that they may flourish to the best of their developmental stage and capacity.

4. The development of your child into a good citizen of the world.
You can receive a good, if not superior education in many schools, both public and private.  One of the many reasons to choose Montessori education is for its emphasis on global citizenship.  We teach character, respect for self, one another and our planet, kindness, conflict resolution skills and setting of individual boundaries.  Our biggest challenge as adults is to always model those skills we wish our children to acquire.  I was reading an article lately that said children learn the most about relationships and how to treat one another from watching the way the significant adults in their life interact separately and together.

Given all of this, ask yourself the question, "Do I (the parent) feel connected to this school?  Why or why not?  Is there something I (the parent) need to do, someone I need to speak with, to establish this connection or to deepen it.  Please do so for your own growth and joy as well as your child's.  The joy is in the journey, not the destination.

I would like to end on a thoughtful note.  Having been a perfectionist in search of excellence all of my life, I, like many others, hate to make a mistake.  I consider it a failure on my part.  After watching an interaction in the hall between a teacher and student the other day, the realization came to me that the student was learning the most in watching how gracefully, courteously and acceptingly the teacher handled the mistake she had made.  We all know that you can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, yet we would rather someone else broke the eggs while we served the delicious omelet.  I love the saying, "What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?", or my version, "What would you attempt to do if your mistakes were an integral part of the growth needed to accomplish your greatest dreams?".  I wish you the perfect school for your child, as every child deserves the best childhood we can give them, family and school.

Yours in love and peace,
Leslie S. Meldrum

This invitation was sent from the Raritan Valley Montessori Academy website. Click here to visit.

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