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Voice of Hershey Blog

Thoughts, Insights, and Experiences from the Hearts of Hershey
Alumni Spotlight: Sarah (Whitaker) Siems

Alumni Spotlight: Sarah (Whitaker) Siems

In this month’s Alumni Spotlight, we are recognizing Sarah (Whitaker) Siems. Sarah, a native to Concord Township, came to Hershey Montessori School when she was just eighteen months old in our Parent-Infant class. Her dad was the first dad to be in the Parent-Infant class. She remained at Hershey’s Concord campus through 6th grade and then attended the Huntsburg campus through eighth grade.

Sarah now lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, Philip, their two sons, Henry (4) and William (2), and their “very fluffy cat” named Roly Poly. Sarah is a nationally certified personal trainer and trains her clients via her website and app, train.fitstyled.com. She is also the author of the cookbook Cooking without a Kitchen, as well as Fit in 20 Minutes, the only pre-made, yet customizable workout plan. She most recently released her new children’s book Hippos Go to Hawaii, coauthored with her husband. All her books are available on Amazon.com.

Enjoy our interview with Sarah, below.

 

Hi Sarah, you’ve been busy! Tell us where you landed after high school. Did you go to college, and if so, where did you attend?

Yes, I went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

 

What degree(s) or training did your pursue?

I have a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physiology & Enterprise from SMU and am a nationally certified personal trainer through American College of Sports Medicine. I also have certifications in yoga, lifestyle and behavior management, and sports nutrition.

 

That is impressive! Is there something about your Montessori education that stands out to you? What in particular did you like most about it? 

Primarily, I liked the close-knit community. Additionally, I also felt that we were able to foster more creativity by growing up in a Montessori environment.  The way everything was structured made me feel that it was okay, and encouraged, to think outside the box, which I believe has had a tremendously positive impact on my life and in the way I raise my own children.

 

That is truly wonderful to hear. Can you tell us what your heart’s passion is?

My children. Beyond that, making people happy and finding fun and creative ways to show love for them.

 

Do you have any hobbies or specific interests?

I love genealogy and organization. The latter is due to having lived in a dorm!

 

Speaking of dorms, and Hershey having a boarding community, what is your favorite Hershey memory?

I loved the Thanksgiving feast in the gym. It was so fun to get paired with a younger student and I specifically remember how the corn bake and cranberries tasted.

 

What has been your happiest moment to date?

Finding out I was pregnant!

 

What is a little-known fact that others wouldn’t know about you?

I was in the Justin Bieber movie at a time when I didn’t really know much about him. 🙂

 

Tell us where your favorite place to go is.

Hawaii! This is partly why Hawaii is the first location for our book series.

 

And, what is your favorite thing to do?

I love taking walks with my family.

 

This may be obvious, but what is your favorite book?

Hippos Go to Hawaii!

 

Can you give us one of your favorite quotes?

“If you don’t ask, the answer is already ’no.’”

 

Do you have a favorite movie?

Legally Blonde. I know every word. I think Elle Woods is smart, driven, and kind, all while fashionable.

 

Love it! So, how do you think your friends and family would describe you?

I just asked, and they said “loving, kind, creative, and funny yet professional.”

 

And what do you think? How would you describe yourself?

Well, the things they said were nice, so I think I like that list!

 

Absolutely! As we wrap up with the last few questions, is there one thing about Hershey you would like others to know?

I would like them to know that it really is like a family.

 

This is more of a personal question. Who has made the biggest impact in your life and what does that impact look like?

My mom. She’s a hard worker, smart, and fun. She also prioritized big family trips with extended family and we love to do the same.

 

Last question. Do you have a life lesson you would like to share with others?

Life is short. Tell people you love them every chance you get!

 

That is great advice, Sarah. It’s been a pleasure to catch up with you and to see all that you have done. Where you have taken your life thus far is an inspiration to us all. We look forward to continuing to watch you flourish!

Staff Spotlight: Sharyn Laux

Staff Spotlight: Sharyn Laux

This month’s Staff Spotlight features Hershey Montessori School Residential Guide Sharyn Laux.

Sharyn grew up a Montessori child and was encouraged by her parents to be herself, to ask questions, to be independent and follow her own path. She has done just that.

In her early twenties, she underwent Montessori training and received her AMI Primary certificate in 2001 and has since worked with both younger children and adolescents. Sharyn has studied theater, art, French, philosophy, business and English literature.

She has a genuine curiosity about life and people. Capturing Sharyn in simple text was not going to be easy, so for her interview, akin to Sharyn’s unique personality, we chose to do something different from our previous spotlights — we interviewed her in podcast format.

We hope you enjoy listening. You will see why Hershey students, parents, and staff embrace Sharyn as a warm, passionate, intriguing soul that lights up our school community.

Click this link and get ready to turn up the audio.

Thank you for all that you carry and exude, Sharyn. We appreciate what you do and who you are!

Staff Spotlight: Karen Hannan-DeWalt

Staff Spotlight: Karen Hannan-DeWalt

This month’s Staff Spotlight features Hershey Montessori School Children’s House Guide, Karen Hannan-DeWalt. Karen first joined the Hershey family in 1993 as a parent before obtaining her Montessori diploma and starting work at the school in 1998. As a Children’s House guide, Karen’s job is to observe the children’s interests, needs, social interactions, and readiness for lessons. Using these observations, she seeks out the most effective ways to connect children to work that offers just the right amount of challenge to engage their bodies and minds. She wants her students to work toward success and to feel like their presence in, and contributions to, the community are meaningful. She enjoys supporting the development of good citizens and thoughtful leaders.

Having been trained in biology, she offers a unique perspective to Hershey students. “I love to connect the children to nature, and I revel in their discoveries,” says Karen. Her favorite part about working at Hershey is the connections she makes with her students. She loves working with the same children for 3 or 4 years as it gives her the opportunity to know each student deeply. Karen views it as a privilege to witness her students’ successes and growth over this span of time and to watch them become leaders in the community.

Before coming to Hershey, Karen was a stay-at-home mom with her children for several years. Prior to that, she worked as a cytogenetics technologist, a college biology teaching assistant, and an environmental planner. Karen grew up in Wickliffe, Ohio, and currently resides in Hambden Township near Chardon. She is married and has three grown sons who all went to Hershey from the age of one all the way through middle school. She also has one granddaughter who participated in Hershey’s Parent-Infant program.

Below is our full interview with Karen:

 

What brought you to Hershey?

I was introduced to Hershey by the founder of its precursor, Western Reserve Montessori, who recommended the school for my oldest son. After one visit, I was hooked. The children seemed happy, engaged, and peaceful. After many observations of my own children at work in their environments, I felt compelled to become trained as a guide.

 

What draws you to Montessori?

Children are respected as individuals and the whole child is nurtured. Mixed age groups in one community creates a family-like atmosphere where older children generously share their skills with younger children. Maria Montessori was ahead of her time, and her observations and ideas have now been confirmed by modern neuroscience. I get very excited talking about it!

 

Favorite Hershey memory?

Seeing my sons happily working in their classrooms when they were younger.

 

Favorite place to go?

Any creek or river. That is my happy place.

 

Favorite thing to do?

The most peaceful thing I have ever done is snorkel in the Cayman Islands. I also like to kayak and work in my yard.

 

Little known fact about you?

I love hardware stores and tools.

 

How would your friends and family describe you?

Loving, likes to laugh, and good listener.

 

How would you describe yourself?

An observer of human nature, an introvert, someone who likes to connect one on one.

 

What has been your happiest moment?

Seeing my sons grow to be good humans.

 

What is a big life lesson you would like to share with others?

If you live true to yourself with integrity, you won’t have any regrets.

 

We cannot thank Karen enough for her contributions to our school community. She is a friend, mentor, and role model to all of her fellow staff and students, and it is an honor to have her as a member of our Hershey family.

Alumni Spotlight: Amaya Varma

Alumni Spotlight: Amaya Varma

In this month’s Alumni Spotlight we are recognizing Amaya Varma. Amaya spent three years at Hershey Montessori School, completing 7th, 8th and 9th grade at our Huntsburg campus. Amaya attended Montessori schools her entire life, and it seemed like the natural next step to come to Hershey after completing 6th grade at her Montessori elementary school. She has had many family members attend or teach at boarding schools in India, so she was familiar with Montessori and boarding school education while attending school.

Amaya is from the Pacific Northwest and currently lives in Portland, Oregon. She is in her final year at Portland State University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. Amaya is writing her undergraduate thesis on Montessori Pedagogy and the concept of culture in the classroom. She has begun applying to master’s programs as well.

She is a huge foodie who loves to travel and plans on traveling everywhere she possibly can.

Below is our full interview with Amaya:

 

What did you like most about your Montessori education?

I love that it has allowed me to be the person I am today. Montessori education cultivates individual and community growth in ways that complement each other.

 

What is your favorite Hershey memory?

I don’t think I can just pick one! Although I loved the academic/daytime parts of Hershey, my fondest memories are BY FAR within the boarding community and the family that was built there.

  • I am quite fond of my memories of roommates in 8th grade–we would laugh and not be able to stop.
  • I loved when I got the rare opportunity to wake up the boys boarding floor in the mornings by ringing this obnoxiously loud cowbell and then try and dodge them the rest of the day.
  • I loved when the school play was being put on and David McNees’ contagious and slightly overwhelming energy about the way somebody said a certain word sent us all into giggles. He couldn’t help but hop around onstage “projecting” in a grandiose demonstration.
  • I loved the coolness of the morning air as we walked to morning barn chores and the peace you got at night after evening barn chores.
  • I loved the satisfaction and the community I built as one of the consistent barn-cleaning volunteers for Friday community service. The consistency in who showed up always ensured work would get done quickly but properly so we could spend the remainder of the afternoon/evening enjoying each other’s company.
  • I loved watching the students who had never seen snow before running out of bed first thing in the morning to jump outside in just shorts, no shoes, no shirt. It reminded us seasoned snow students that it was a blessing! They would quickly change their minds after a week, but their childlike excitement was not lost on onlookers.
  • I loved packing and cleaning times in the boarding house. It was a time where you could bond with each other and with the houseparents specifically.
  • I loved our hug lines at night where every boarder would line up to give each other a goodnight hug before heading to their respective dorms.
  • There was one evening where our German students were preparing a traditional meal and I remember it was taking a while to make and all of us hungry boarding students stepped in to help.
  • I enjoyed waking up in the mornings for breakfast and being met with our overly energetic yet begrudging breakfast chef Laura who if you weren’t a morning person let you know (we were all quite fond of her).
  • Elizabeth Seney would take me to yoga classes occasionally when she noticed my mental health was low and honestly it helped tremendously. Some students in the boarding community are lucky enough to feel seen by staff.
  • I loved our midnight feasts; we were always so loud but thought we were being so sneaky.

 

What is one thing about Hershey you would like others to know?

Boarding is worth it. Every experience at Hershey will be unique. There are no guarantees and boarding can be difficult at times but in my opinion, so so worth it. I cannot emphasize that more based off of my individual experience. The boarding community is small and good houseparents build an individual relationship with each student which allows you to feel part of a family. The connections formed in one year in boarding school are equivalent to years’ worth somewhere else. These connections stay with you — I still speak to my graduating class somewhat regularly in a group chat and have even visited some since becoming an alumnus. Although I chose to leave Hershey after the middle school program, I didn’t feel like it was big enough for what I needed as an individual at that time, I can confidently say it set me up to be a good person and citizen. I care about my environment and people — which is a Montessori trait that is lost on no one.

 

What is your favorite place to go?

Back home to my family’s farm or Barcelona, Spain.

 

What is your favorite thing to do?

Eat good food and be around good people.

 

What is your favorite book?

I don’t have just one! The last one I read and enjoyed was “Crying in H-Mart.” I am currently reading “Caste.”

 

Do you have a life lesson you would like to share with others?

Not a life lesson, but just an idea: It is okay to not be okay. You must treat yourself with grace and show yourself forgiveness. The power you have within yourself that comes from humble self-love is what drives your energy out into the rest of the world. If you show yourself compassion, it is inevitable that you will treat others with the truest form of compassion as well.

 

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

Thank you to all the boarders and community members who were there during my years and are seeing this. I have so much love and gratitude for every one of you. We persevered through some eventful times, and I wish you all nothing but abundance and peace.

 

We are extremely proud of Amaya and will continue to support her in all of her growing accomplishments. Thank you for being a part of our Hershey family and good luck as you finish your final year of undergrad!

From Hershey Alumna to Hershey Guide – Spotlight on Saren Peetz

From Hershey Alumna to Hershey Guide – Spotlight on Saren Peetz

This month’s Spotlight is unique. We had the honor to interview Saren Peetz. Saren is a Hershey Montessori School alumna-turned-staff member. She is a Hershey Montessori Early Elementary Guide and Co-Chair of Hershey’s ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States) Steering Committee. Saren attended Hudson Montessori School since she was three years of age and came to Hershey to study as a 9th grade student (Hershey did not yet have a high school in those years). She volunteered multiple times a week on the farm through high school and during her summers in college. Then, she came back two years ago as a guide. “I just couldn’t stay away!” says Saren.

Saren grew up in Hudson, Ohio, and she is currently waiting to close on her first house in Novelty. Before returning to Hershey as a guide, Saren moved to Bar Harbor, Maine, to attend College of the Atlantic for four years. After that, she moved to Maryland to attend Montessori training outside of Baltimore. Her first teaching position involved the starting of the first elementary classroom at a tiny rural Montessori school in Virginia, about an hour outside of Washington, D.C.

Saren loves watching the children she works with grow into their potential. When they first arrive in the elementary, it is as if she can look over their heads and see who they can become. To watch as little flickers of that future person become a more constant light is what she loves the most. She and her partner, Ian, have two bunnies, a blind kitty, a California king snake, and about 360,000 honeybees in six colonies! She also frequently visits her childhood horse and dog at her family’s home nearby.

Enjoy our full interview with Saren below:

 

What brought you to Hershey?

The community. The feeling that you not only know everyone in the school but care deeply for them. Also, the commitment to authentic Montessori pedagogy and continuous learning on behalf of the adults. There is no other place like it!

What drew you to Montessori?

I have been “in Montessori” for most of my life, but I think what keeps me so excited about it is the potential it has to be both life changing and world changing. Dr. Montessori lived in a time of much turmoil and saw the child, and the education of the child, as the solution. If the child can be both knowledgeable and at peace with themselves, then they have the power to change the world around them in those ways as well. We are once again living in a time of so many challenges, and this education affirms and supports children’s power to make a difference, now and in the future.

Favorite Hershey memory?

Another tough one! My favorite memory from a long time ago would be early mornings in the Farmhouse as an adolescent, talking with friends, reading the newspaper, and listening to guitar music before morning meeting. More recently, my favorite memory would be reading my children poetry and realizing how deep they are already able to think at eight years old.

Describe the work you do and how it is performed in your classroom:

Aside from giving key lessons, my two favorite ways of engaging with the children in my community are to do handwork with them and tell stories, particularly about history or biology. This year, a family donated a fleece of raw sheep’s wool and the children and I have been working on skirting, washing, carding, and spinning it in preparation for using it in their crochet, knitting, and weaving work. I have LOVED moving through this process with them! I also try to tell at least three stories to the class each week, and their most recent favorites have been about modern-day Native American heroes, the life cycle of honeybees, and how illuminated books were made during the Middle Ages. It always makes my day when a story really sparks their imaginations and motivates them to do some great follow up work.

What did you take away from Hershey as a student? How has that experience shaped what you are doing now as a Hershey guide?

I was an “official” Hershey student for just one year, when I was in 9th grade. However, I have to say that one year perhaps made more of an impact on my life than any other in my education. At the Huntsburg campus, I felt what it meant to have a community, a home base, while also learning so much about the world beyond the farm as many of my friends were from different backgrounds and cultures. The experience inspired me to be curious about the world – to want to travel, live away from Ohio for a time, and get to know different ways of life. I did a lot of that in college as I went to school in Maine, travelled around Europe, and later lived in an Appalachian community outside of Washington, D.C. I feel all these experiences are now what feed my lessons with the children. I always think, what interesting personal story can I bring to this concept? And looking back, I feel that is much of what my guides at the Middle School did for me – engaged me on a personal level and challenged me to apply my knowledge whenever possible.

Where is your favorite place to go?

The Maine coast, the mountains of North Carolina, or British Columbia, Canada.

Can you tell us your favorite thing to do?

Get kisses from my horse.

What is a little known fact about you?

If I wasn’t a guide, I would have been an architect!

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

Definitely my middle school guide, Pat Ludick. She taught me how to push myself and that I was capable of more than I thought. I use so many of her strategies in my own classroom.

Favorite book?

It’s impossible to choose a favorite!

Favorite quote?

“…what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

Favorite movie?

Spirited Away

How would your friends and family describe you?

Workaholic for sure! Mothering and sensitive with a good sense of humor.

How would you describe yourself?

Probably same as my friends!

Happiest moment?

Graduating from college, and then again graduating from Montessori training.

Biggest life lesson you would like to share with others?

All hard things get easier.

 

Thank you, Saren. The Hershey community is grateful for you and your service to our school and students. Your positive energy and wisdom bring joy to our campus!

Nature Notes for Parents and Children

Nature Notes for Parents and Children

By Cheryl McGovern, Outdoor Education Coordinator

Fall is in the Air

Praying mantis ootheca (egg case)

While our weather turns from warm to cold to warm again, the natural world is aware of winter’s approach. As the daylight lessens, plants and animals prepare for the changing seasons.

Wildlife have been plentiful on campus. All have watched the milkweed, first full of hungry monarch caterpillars, now devoid of these munchers, the air has been full of adult monarchs beginning their migration journey. Now the milkweed seeds on their fluffy strands float around ensuring the growth of new milkweed as the cycle continues.

Turkey with young (poults). Photographed by Shelley Morgan.

The troupe of wild turkey who roam our play area and woods, still have a few young ones mixed in. A hen turkey must have produced a second, later nest of eggs which can happen if the first attempt is unsuccessful. Seeing the poults size change from the end of August until now shows just how quickly they grow.

Captured by the Upper Elementary trail camera.

 

White-tail deer fawn have also changed before our eyes as their camouflage of white spots have slowly faded into their growing bodies. Students are noticing insects as they are at their most mature size. Praying mantids have been seen on the building and plants as they females search for a good spot to create their egg case, called an “ootheca.”

An abundance of black walnut will help many animals in their preparations. Trees, most notable in nut trees, go through “mast years” where they produce a greater amount of fruit than in other years. It’s a natural phenomenon that is not completely understood since it often includes trees of a particular species in a large region all producing greatly at the same time. And, of course, we all await the show of fall colors produced as leaves shut down their food production factory for a winter’s rest. With chlorophyll no longer needed for photosynthesis, the other pigments can be displayed.

Take time in your own yard, neighborhood, or nearby park to take in all the sights and sounds of the season.

Look Up!

International Observe the Moon Night 2021 is coming up. On Saturday, October 16th, your family can join citizens and scientists around the world in observing the moon. It’s an opportunity to unite people from all over our planet in observing our nearest neighbor in space. There are virtual events, live streams, and live events too. However, observing from your own yard is perfect too. If the sky is clear the viewing should be good with many lunar maria, or “seas” of solidified basaltic lava, visible to the unaided eye. The moon has a slight apparent wobble in its orbit, and on the night of observation a small amount that we normally cannot see will be visible, just a peek at the edge of the far side of the moon!

To discover more about the moon, including printable maps, activities, and highlights, visit https://moon.nasa.gov/observe-the-moon-night/

 

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.

Whiplash

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.

Alumni Spotlight: Elise Spintzyk

Alumni Spotlight: Elise Spintzyk

Featuring Elise Spintzyk

In this Alumni Spotlight, we celebrate 2018 Hershey Montessori School graduate, Elise Spintzyk. Elise now lives in Columbus, OH with two roommates and is attending The Ohio State University where she is studying to receive her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience. She currently works at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in an inpatient pediatric psychiatry unit. Elise grew up in Concord Township, OH, home to Hershey Montessori School’s birth through 6th grade campus.

Elise’s mother’s studies of early childhood education introduced her to Montessori education and prompted a visit to Hershey’s Concord campus. She was very happy with the way her daughter reacted to and embraced the learning environment around her. Elise loved her experience with her early childhood education and continued to attend Hershey Montessori School all the way through her middle and upper school years. In total, Elise spent 14 years as a student with Hershey until her graduation in the spring of 2018.

Below is our full interview with Elise:

What did you like most about your Montessori education?

            During Middle School, it was the connections between academic studies and the farm. In the Upper School, it was the academics and how they relate to real world problems. It was not just textbook studies. Montessori education really helped me adapt to my college education. During my Children’s House and Elementary education, I really enjoyed the hands-on learning concept. I felt engaged with my work, and I had the opportunity to choose the skills I really wanted to develop. Being able to choose my own path made me motivated to come to school and continue learning.

What is your favorite Hershey memory?

We took a class trip to Boston during my junior year. I was able to be the planner of the trip and really enjoyed being able to take on the responsibility of planning a large trip for everyone.

What is one thing about Hershey you would like others to know?

            The evaporative pond: I loved the stunning views of campus and have fond memories of this area in particular.

Favorite place to go on campus?

            Some of my favorite places at Hershey are the bioshelter and the garden. I loved the experience of working in them, alongside my guides and classmates. I also liked working for the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) project.

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

            Laurie Ewert-Krocker because there wouldn’t have been an Upper School without her. Laurie created a well-rounded and expertly designed Upper School. Her impact extends well into my daily life and the lives of other students.

Favorite book?

            The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Favorite movie?

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

How would your friends and family describe you?

            Kind, creative, caring, and passionate!

How would you describe yourself?

I am dedicated in academics, loyal, and kind!

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

            Focus on the opportunities that Hershey provides you, not the opportunities that other schools offer their students.

Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and inspirations with us, Elise. It was a pleasure catching up with you, and Hershey Montessori School is so proud of you! Good luck during your senior year at The Ohio State University!

Head of Hershey Shares Insights on Developing Leaders and Global Education in a Pandemic

Head of Hershey Shares Insights on Developing Leaders and Global Education in a Pandemic

Hershey Head of School, Paula Leigh-Doyle, was recently interviewed by Crain’s Cleveland Business. Leigh-Doyle shared perspectives that were incorporated in two news stories now published by Crain’s in its Crain’s 2021 Private School Planner. These articles include insights on developing future leaders and maintaining focus on global education during the pandemic.

In the article about developing tomorrow’s leaders, Leigh-Doyle was given a chance to share how a Montessori education helps students learn how to find leadership within themselves. “We’re student-led learning with adult guides,” says the Head of School. “Students are trained to be independent thinkers and interdependent collaborators.” You can read the rest of Crain’s article, Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders, here.

In another article, Thinking Outside the Screen: Schools maintain focus on global education, experiential learning during a pandemic, Leigh-Doyle had the opportunity to speak about the importance of Hershey Montessori School’s international alumni during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. School enrollment dropped from 280 to about 250 students as boarders were unable to come to the school due to the COVID pandemic travel restrictions and health recommendations. “We’ve always had a framework for looking at education globally,” Leigh-Doyle says in the article. “And our international borders and alumni were really effective for us to connect globally when we couldn’t fly to those places.” Read the full article, Thinking Outside the Screen: Schools maintain focus on global education, experiential learning during a pandemic here.

Additionally, Hershey’s beautiful 13-acre Concord campus and 97-acre Huntsburg campus were featured in Crain’s Private School Planner. Importantly mentioned is the unique “microeconomy” at the Huntsburg campus, where academic concepts are integrated with economics and entrepreneurism, as students enhance their personal growth, along with their business, communication, and managerial skills. You can see this feature of Hershey Montessori School in Crain’s 2021 Private School Planner here.

Crain’s Cleveland Business journal is owned and operated by Crain Communications Inc. Crain is one of the most well recognized communications companies in the world, reaching over 78 million readers globally. Crain’s has 10 global locations with over 600 employees who manage Crain’s 20 industry-leading communication brands. It is an honor and pleasure to be able to share the lens of our Head of School and to share the examples of our Montessori institution with Crain’s Cleveland Business.

To schedule an interview or collaborative meeting with Paula Leigh-Doyle, contact Hershey Communications Director, Deanna Shrum, at dshrum@hershey-montessori.org.

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

Sensorial

  • 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

Vocabulary

  • 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.

Memory

  • 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.)

Writing

  • 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

Reading

  • 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)

Math

  • 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…

Science

  • 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

Art

  • 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

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About the Voice of Hershey Blog

Imagine a beautiful place filled with activities that are designed around your needs, calling to your curiosity and imagination. Picture a community where children are surrounded by people who understand, encourage and challenge their strengths. Envision a child learning each day, immersed in a culture of respect and a course of study based upon personal interest and engagement.

Serving children from birth through age 18, Hershey offers challenging, highly individualized programs that focus on the uniqueness of each child.

Hershey offers an exceptional experience on two campuses, including the truly unique, world class farm school.