Staff Spotlight: John Buzzard

Staff Spotlight: John Buzzard

This month’s Staff Spotlight features Hershey’s Upper School Humanities Guide, John Buzzard. John grew up in Alabama and has lived in many places, but finally called Ohio home about 7 years ago. He is currently moving from Kamm’s Corner on the west side of Cleveland to Lyndhurst. He is in his fourth year at Hershey Montessori School where he loves having the opportunity to work on skills he wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else, like making maple syrup or carving wooden toy cars. His favorite part of working at Hershey is having the opportunity to work with thoughtful and courteous students every day. John is married and loves spending time with his wife and three children: Vivian, 12; Caroline, 11; Gideon, 5, and their dog, Mabel.

Below is our full interview with John:

What did you do before coming to Hershey?

I have worked at a number of small schools, almost always with a project-based, student-centered structure. I have been a Curriculum Director, a Division Head, and a Head of School, but teaching is and will always be the best job.

What brought you to Hershey?

An admiration for the program here, including Upper School Montessori education, which is a newly developing model. I love being a part of things that are new and growing, and despite being new to Montessori, I have grown in understanding and admiration for this pedagogy.

What drew you to Montessori?

The focus on students and letting them lead the way.

Can you tell us what it is like in your classroom or the topics you cover?

In my 9th and 10th year Humanities class, I present themes related to current issues such as elections, immigration, economics, and others. Currently, we are studying the role of the police in our society. Like with any issue we cover, we look at it historically, legally, and in comparison to other countries. Students then do independent research on their own topic related to that theme and ultimately present their learning and arguments in some fashion – a presentation, an event, a paper, etc. In the 11th and 12th year, students are given additional freedom to determine the topics we cover and the kind of presentations they do. This allows the students to stay engaged and they gain a global view to help form their perspective.

What is unique to you as far as your approach to teaching or interacting with your students?

I believe that part of my job as a guide is to make great, genuine experiences possible – above and beyond the usual. So, let’s meet someone really important or especially interesting. Let’s go on a trip to someplace where events actually happened. Let’s create a new experience for ourselves and for others. To me, things like this are memorable and that means what we learn will stay with us far longer.

What is you favorite Hershey memory?

I have always loved the pancake breakfast. Seeing the entire Huntsburg community come together to work this event, and with barely any ‘training’ or experience, suddenly we are running a restaurant like we had been doing it for years. It is so fascinating and it gives me such admiration for our students and staff.

Where is your favorite place to go?

Camping, wherever that may be.

What is your favorite thing to do?

I love cooking, I love music, and I love games so … singing while eating dinner around a game?

What is a little-known fact about you?

I briefly ran a cooking business where we hosted events in people’s homes.

Who has made the biggest impact in your life and what does that impact look like?

It is hard to pick just one person, but I would say my first boss, John Potter. He hired me (with very little reason to do so) and gave me the space and support and responsibility to improve quickly.

What is your favorite book?

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

What is your favorite quote?

Moderation in all things, including moderation.

Tell us your favorite movie.


How would your friends and family describe you?

Probably as freakishly sane and boring.

How would you describe yourself?

A learner.

Can you share with us your happiest moment?

Every moment I get to be a dad – I know, cop out, but I’ll stick with it!

What is the biggest life lesson you would like to share with others?

Relationships matter more than policy, knowledge, or expectations. Learning and teaching are about relationships, not information.

Is there anything else you would like to share or let others know?

As a guide, I see my role as being one that supports students in creating great learning experiences for themselves.

We cannot thank John enough for his contributions to our Huntsburg campus. He is an inspiration to his fellow staff and students, and it is an honor to have him as a member of our Hershey family.

Hershey Open Houses Are Scheduled

Hershey Open Houses Are Scheduled


Hershey Montessori School open houses are scheduled through May 2022.



Registration is required.

Concord Campus, Birth-6th Grade: 10229 Prouty Road, Concord, Ohio 44077
  • September 18th | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • October 16th | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • February 5th  | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • March 5th  | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • April 9th | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
  • May 7th | 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Huntsburg Campus, 7th-12th Grade: 11530 Madison Road, Huntsburg, Ohio 44046
  • September 18th | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • October 16th | 10:00 am – 11:00 am – Come for the Open House and stay for the Harvest Festival from 11:00-am-3:00 pm!
  • February 5th| 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • March 5th | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • April 9th | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • May 7th | 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Register Now

What Is an Open House?

An Open House is a set time for prospective parents and students to visit our school campus to learn more about Hershey Montessori School’s curriculum and culture. The Open House is structured to provide a better understanding of what a school has to offer. There are numerous benefits of attending these school open houses, many of which cannot be achieved by simply browsing a school’s website. Not only do open houses allow you to see the campus, but they also provide valuable insight into the programs and culture of each school. 


What Are the Benefits of Attending an Open House?

Prospective families and students benefit greatly by attending a Hershey Montessori School Open House. There is only so much that can be learned from literature, browsing a website and its videos, or even peer reviews. An in-person visit provides greater understanding through physical experience.

When participating in a school Open House event:

  • You have face-to-face dialogue with school personnel and sometimes students.
  • You experience authentic classroom settings.
  • You learn more about the curriculum and will be able to differentiate between Hershey Montessori School and other schools.
  • You will gain a clearer understanding of the school’s values and its approach to education.
  • You will learn what outcomes can be expected from our Montessori education model.
  • You learn how the school communicates with you about your child’s educational progress.
  • You will get a feel for the culture of the school.
  • You will learn things that help you in your decision-making process.
  • You are given the opportunity to ask questions.
  • You will meet some really nice people! 🙂


What to Expect

You will be given a tour of the school building(s) and see our Montessori classrooms and our outdoor space that provides stress-reducing connections to nature. A presentation will be given, allowing time afterward for a question and answer session.



Attending a Hershey Montessori School Open House will inform and equip you to make the best decision for your child’s education. It will also allow you to visualize your child in the school setting and determine if it is a good fit. The feeling you get from being on campus will be an important indicator of whether the school is a good choice for your child and family. Ask questions, be open-minded, and trust your parental instincts.

120 Trees To Be Planted in Hershey’s Name

120 Trees To Be Planted in Hershey’s Name

Hershey Montessori School is having 120 trees planted in the school’s name. Hershey received recognition as a TreeRing Green Yearbook School upon partnering with TreeRing to build, publish, and sell 120 Hershey Montessori School yearbooks to its students and families.

TreeRing, a partner to Trees for the Future, prints on partially recycled paper and only produces the exact number of books parents buy, eliminating unnecessary waste and resources.

Trees for the Future is an organization that works closely with farmers to continually discover ways to make positive environmental and economic impact. Trees for the Future has been planting trees across the world for more than 30 years to not only end deforestation, but help with poverty and hunger, providing families with food and income through their Forest Garden Approach.

Hershey Montessori School and TreeRing are pleased to be helping students preserve memories while also doing our part to help save the planet. Our school community can feel good about providing students and parents with a yearbook that captures their personal memories in a beautifully produced book. It can also have confidence in the sustainable and environmentally conscious approach taken in producing them. It’s the least we can all do for the next generation.


Hershey Adolescent Community Updates Fall Return to Campus

Hershey Adolescent Community Updates Fall Return to Campus

By Judy Kline Venaleck, Associate Head of School and Adolescent Campus Director

Hershey Montessori School staff and Adolescent Community are eagerly anticipating the 2021-2022 school year and the return of international and domestic boarding students to the Huntsburg campus. All signs from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and the Ohio Department of Health look positive for increased vaccination rates and drastically reduced numbers of COVID-19 cases in many regions, and in particular, Ohio. We hope that the continued increase in numbers of vaccinated people in the United States will prevent the take-off of new, more virulent, variants of the virus such as those we are currently seeing in other countries.

What We Know Today
We are still in the planning stages for health protocols for re-entry to boarding life. We will design for well-being and expect that the boarding community will live like a family without masks and other COVID protocols. We will certainly honor any residential member who wishes to wear a mask and we will continue the increased level of attention to handwashing and day-to-day health awareness practices in general.

We closely follow announcements from the CDC as well as the Ohio Department of Health and weekly announcements from Ohio’s Governor, Mike DeWine. Following the science of these organizations is what informs our decisions. Please be aware that any unforeseen changes and announcements in the coming months can have an impact on our health protocols and planning.

• Students 12 years and older are now eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. We appreciate the science behind the fact that as more of us are vaccinated, the healthier the boarding program will be for everyone.
• Vaccination – we are not ready to make a decision about whether COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for boarding students, but we do strongly encourage them. This decision is subject to change as we follow the science or have a sense of any more contagious variants.
• Students who will not have all vaccinations required on Hershey Montessori School’s Medical Statement and Immunization Data form for 2021-2022 at the time of arrival in August, need to claim EXEMPTION status.

• If there is a significant spike in COVID-19 cases by mid-August, it is possible that students may have to quarantine prior to arriving to campus. It will be necessary to factor in a 5-day hotel stay followed by a negative COVID test to your arrival time.
• If there is a high rate of cases in only certain states or countries, students from those particular regions may need to quarantine off campus.

COVID-19 Testing
• We will be testing boarding students upon arrival to campus on August 23rd with a rapid results test.

Timeline and Date by Which Protocol Will Be Finalized
• June 17, 3:00pm EDT – Boarding parent ZOOM meeting with house parents.
• July 8 – Update on COVID-19 trends and the rate of any variant spread.
• July 22 – Final decision on whether COVID-19 vaccine will be required for boarding students.
• August 2 – Final protocols announced for boarding community.

I-20 Documents for International Students
• We will be releasing I-20 documents in the next 10 days that each student will need to:
     o obtain a Student Visa through the U.S. Consulate in your country.
     o enter the U.S. along with the Student Visa and passport.
• If a student has dual citizenship with the U.S., please notify us as an I-20 is not required in this case.

Regular updates regarding health protocols for next school year will be provided to enrolled families as we monitor the data over the next few months and continue to consult with our medical expert advisors.

Interested and enrolled families are welcome to contact the school office with any questions.

Hershey Graduates 4th Class in Groundbreaking Birth through 12th Grade Montessori Continuum

Hershey Graduates 4th Class in Groundbreaking Birth through 12th Grade Montessori Continuum

It has been a year unlike any other: navigating a global health crisis with a student body that attended from both near and far, and remaining healthy and joyful while planning for an even more uncertain future. It was a lot. Perhaps this is why seeing the Class of 2021 cross the threshold from adolescent student to Hershey alumni felt that much richer.

Paula Leigh-Doyle, Head of School; Wesley Wilson, Upper School Director; Judy Kline Venaleck, Associate Head of School and Adolescent Campus Director

“What we are seeing from our graduates is a readiness, a firm but fluid preparedness for anything life may bring to their door,” said Wesley Wilson, Hershey Upper School Director.

“Dr. Maria Montessori had a vision for the adolescent, and we have realized that vision here at Hershey Montessori School,” added Paula Leigh-Doyle, Head of School. “An integrated, project-based curriculum that combines with community and practical work is proving an effective approach to education as we see more and more students come up through the planes of development and complete their Montessori education with us.”

Judy Kline Venaleck, Associate Head of School and the Adolescent Campus Director, said, “I have experienced the benefits of a full continuum of a Montessori education as a parent as well as a staff member. The reward is great from both perspectives. A Montessori education is very special and extremely effective in helping children grow and develop into happy, fulfilled, and emotionally intelligent adults.” explained Kline Venaleck. “They come away with a confidence and know-how that continues to give me great hope for this world’s future. If there was anything we could do differently, it would be to increase the amount of students we have by a hundred fold each year.”

On behalf of the entire Hershey community, we wish our newly graduated Class of 2021 much happiness and joyful adventures as they embark on their journey to impact the world in whatever manner they choose.


Montessori Summer Work at Home Ideas for Children

Montessori Summer Work at Home Ideas for Children

Another amazing and memorable school year ends. Through much change and uncertainty, we witnessed great adaptation and resilience in our students. Oh how we celebrate their successes and look forward to their return in the fall.

Many of you have asked how you can help encourage your child’s continued growth and independence while at home this summer.

Below is a hearty list of activity ideas for you to work from.

Fine motor

  • Manipulating tongs, clothespins, clips, spoons, scoops, containers
  • Stringing beads, putting beads on a wooden skewer or pipe cleaner
  • Sorting shells, rocks, dried beans, silverware
  • Modeling with playdough or clay (lots of different textured “clay” recipes online)
  • Tearing strips, tearing paper shapes and gluing
  • Cutting with scissors (plain paper strips, short lines, long lines, curved lines, zigzag lines, shapes, spirals)
  • Lacing boards, peg boards
  • Poking along lines with a push pin
  • Placing stickers
  • Sewing along a line (offer more complex sewing as skills develop)
  • Drawing with crayons, chalk, markers, pencils
  • Manipulating fastenings on clothing (snaps, buttons, buckles, zippers, safety pins, tying bows)
  • Assembling puzzles, Legos, other building toys
  • Peeling & cutting vegetables & fruits, tearing lettuce, cracking eggs, stirring ingredients, grating cheese

Large motor

  • Balancing—walking on a line, walking across logs, walking on uneven surfaces, standing on stumps/boulders, etc.
  • Jumping—hopscotch, jump rope, jump over puddles, hop on 1 leg, etc.
  • Crawling—slither, army crawl, bear crawl, crab crawl, etc.
  • Climbing—hills, trees, rocks
  • Maneuvering over/under/around obstacles
  • Kicking, throwing, catching balls
  • Riding tricycles/bicycles/scooters
  • Dancing, somersaults, yoga poses
  • Playing Twister
  • Carrying, pushing, pulling heavy items (wood, rocks, pails of dirt/sand, wagon, wheelbarrow, etc.)
  • Raking, shoveling, digging, hoeing

Practical life

  • Dusting—baseboards, furniture, leaves of houseplants, knick knacks, books/bookshelves, window sills (possible tools—small cloth, cotton ball, Q-tip, new household paintbrush, pastry brush)
  • Swiffering, mopping with child-sized tools
  • Sweeping floor, garage, deck, sidewalk
  • Vacuuming couch cushions, vacuuming car seats and floor, lint brushing upholstery
  • Watering indoor and outdoor plants
  • Feeding, watering, brushing pets
  • Sorting, folding, putting away laundry
  • Sponging and drying dining table, chairs, shower doors, sliding glass doors, kitchen cabinets
  • Scrubbing fruits/vegetables, outdoor furniture, toys, car mats, sinks, bathtub
  • Washing dishes (1 basin with soapy water & 1 basin with clean water)
  • Washing toys, bike
  • Washing face with a washcloth
  • Hanging up clothing
  • Making the bed, removing the sheets & pillow cases for the laundry
  • Setting the table for meals
  • Pouring water into glasses for meals
  • Planting and misting seeds
  • Picking up sticks in the yard
  • Trimming grass with clippers


  • Smell and taste different spices and herbs—grate cinnamon sticks, grind spices with a mortar & pestle, chop herbs
  • Taste food with eyes closed and guess its identity
  • Feel different textures around the house and outside (carpet, tile, furniture, sidewalk, bark, glass, clothing, blankets, towels, pets, etc.)
  • Make a “mystery bag” of common items & try to identify the items by feeling them without looking
  • Organize items from lightest to heaviest, smallest to largest, shortest to longest, smoothest to roughest, darkest to lightest, softest to hardest, etc.
  • Make sound jars/bottles that contain different items (sand, rice, beans, cornmeal, sugar, etc.)
  • Identify sounds in nature, identify sounds in the home
  • Listen for certain instruments in a piece of music
  • Play a note on an instrument and try to match your voice to the tone
  • Strum stretched rubber bands of different lengths and listen to the tones change
  • Sing a song starting on a low note and then sing it starting on a high note
  • Show child a tray with a few items, remove one item, then have child guess what was removed
  • Make shapes with stencils, sticks, clay, etc. and name them
  • Find different shapes around the house and outside


  • Read books/poems together
  • Sing songs
  • Name opposites (empty/full, light/dark, etc.)
  • Name different type of something (spoons—teaspoon, tablespoon, wooden spoon, serving spoon, measuring spoon; cloths—washcloth, dish cloth, tablecloth, microfiber cloth; clips—paper clip, binder clip, hair clip, chip clip)
  • Identify tools in your toolbox, kitchen utensils, plants in your home/yard, birds, insects, ingredients in a recipe, parts of the vacuum cleaner (hose, wand, crevice tool, switch, etc.), types of pasta, types of clouds in the sky, etc.
  • Talk about events, destinations, family members, family history, celebrations, feelings, hobbies, plans for the day, etc.


  • Play memory games with cards
  • Learn new songs
  • Memorize nursery rhymes and poems
  • Give child 1 command at a time (clap), 2 commands at a time (stomp & wiggle), 3 commands…..
  • Send child to retrieve items: 1 item at a time, 2 items at a time…., “bring 2 spoons and 5 forks”, etc.
  • Read 1 page of a book and then ask questions about what was just read (listening comprehension)
  • Have child recall the sequence of a common routine (morning routine, a recipe, taking a bath, etc.)


  • Draw with chalk, crayons, markers, colored pencils, sidewalk chalk, magna doodle
  • Paint with thick and thin paintbrushes, paint with water on the driveway
  • Trace simple shapes than an adult draws (circle, square, triangle, zigzag line, X, etc.)
  • Re-create simple shapes that are drawn by someone else
  • Draw and color in shapes
  • Trace cursive letters that an adult writes
  • Write letters in dirt/sand/cornmeal on a tray, write letters with fingerpaint
  • Write letters with chalk and later with pencil
  • Write short words in cursive
  • Write lists of things (grocery list, favorite toys, animals, words that start with a particular sound, etc.)
  • Write messages (notes to family members, what book they’d like you to read, what game they’d like to play, etc.)
  • Write stories

Phonemic awareness (hearing sounds in words)

  • Clap rhythms together
  • Identify sounds in nature
  • Listen for instruments in a piece of music
  • Clap syllables in words
  • Read rhyming poems or nursery rhymes
  • Say words that rhyme and then ask for words that rhyme
  • Think of words that start with a particular sound
  • Find items that start with a particular sound (spoon, scissors, sponge, etc.)
  • Listen for and identify all the sounds in a short word (bag=b-a-g)
  • Recite tongue twisters, create tongue twisters


  • Write labels for phonetic objects around the house and have child read and label them (cup, hat, sink, rug, bed, etc.)
  • Write phonetic commands for child to perform (jump on a log, drink milk, kiss mom and dad, sit still, flip a mat, sing a song, etc)
  • Introduce 1 phonogram at a time (sh, oo, ay, er, qu, ow, etc.) and write words with that phonogram for the child to read
  • Read simple books/poems
  • Take turns reading sentences
  • Ask questions about what they read (reading comprehension–this skill develops as reading improves)


  • Match, classify, order/sequence, talk about time (how long does it take?), talk about temperature
  • Count together (how many shoes do you have?  Let’s count all the spoons)
  • Have child make quantities with stones, beads, blocks, cars, etc.
  • Write and identify numbers for child (only introduce 3 numbers at a time)
  • Write and have child identify numbers
  • Play board games with dice, play card games
  • Play games with “more/less,” “longer/shorter,” “larger/smaller,” “thicker/thinner”
  • Put quantities together to introduce addition
  • Take quantities away to introduce subtraction
  • Count by 2s, 3s, 4s…


  • Explore items that are magnetic vs. not magnetic
  • Explore items that sink vs. float
  • Explore what materials are soluble vs. non-soluble (sugar, dirt, rocks, etc.)
  • Record the dates on a calendar that different plants sprout or flower in your yard
  • Place the base of a bunch of celery, lettuce, onion in a shallow bowl of water & watch it grow each day
  • Mix up materials in a jar of water & watch layers form as they settle (dirt, sand, pebbles, grass, mulch)
  • Mix colored water to create new colors
  • Place dirty pennies in vinegar with a sprinkle of salt to make them look like new
  • Put fruit and vegetable scraps in a ziplock bag and watch it decompose
  • Place a cut stem from a tree in water and watch it leaf out and form roots
  • Watch the orientation and length of shadows change throughout the day
  • Lift rocks and logs to see what lives underneath
  • See how many different insects you can find in your yard
  • Record the weather each day
  • Lay on a blanket and watch the clouds
  • Lay on a blanket and observe the stars at night


  • Dig up real clay and make shapes
  • Make dandelion crowns
  • Make sand castles
  • Paint with water on the driveway
  • Draw with sidewalk chalk
  • Hammer flowers and leaves between 2 pieces of paper
  • Create designs by laying out leaves, flowers, and/or stones
  • Paint pine cones