Welcome to the New School Year

(Cue: read to the end!)

Dear Montessori School of Lake Forest Families,

It has been a productive week here at MSLF, full of meetings and cleaning and planning. Classrooms are neat and bright and fully stocked, floors are glistening, gardens are thriving, egrets are hunting, the boardwalk is being installed, the first half of the roof is repaired, new employees are settling in, teachers and staff are refreshed and eager. All is well prepared to welcome you to the 2014-15 school year.

Although we each have our own reasons why we work at or attend the Montessori School of Lake Forest, we know we share a common value: We are all committed to providing the best Montessori education we can achieve. Whether we shape it as teachers, guide it as parents, or support it as administrators, we all work in service of the child.

In the United States, we worry a lot about the state of education because we understand how difficult it is to thrive in a democracy, and how difficult it is to keep pace with social and technological developments. We learn how American students and schools compare to international peers, and we know that traditional education has been struggling for decades. Over and over again, earnest researchers and practitioners puzzle out what children need to know and how to get them to know it. Not many have focused on how children learn. But since we know how children learn, we know what to teach them and when. That is the time-tested secret of Montessori education.

Montessori education has been working very well for more than 100 years. We don’t have to keep testing it; we don’t have to change it. Montessori students learn the languages of math and literature and social life so well that they grow up to invent the new technologies and systems that everyone else races to keep up with. We live in a world that is already strongly influenced by the inventions of Montessori alumni. There is no telling how the world will change as the Montessori alumni population grows.

While Montessori teachers and children continue to pursue education as organized by brain development, their peers in traditional schools are currently struggling with the Common Core Standards. These Standards are just the latest effort to codify what children need to know, and they entirely bypass the issue of how children learn. Consequently, teachers, parents, and children are struggling to make sense of the Standards, struggling to find ways to learn them.

If you wonder whether your child’s Montessori education will keep pace with the Common Core Standards, please click on the links below. You will see that you have chosen a complete pedagogy. It offers a comprehensive and brain-development appropriate curriculum via developmentally attuned teaching methods. It has been tested all over the world and is as relevant in 21st century Lake County as it was in early 20th century Rome. It is sought out by admissions counselors in the best high schools and colleges around the country. And on top of all this, it is a system of education that teaches children to be respectful and self-respecting, and to tie their own shoes! What more can you ask for?

So, welcome back to school for another year of the tried and true education of the future!

Best wishes and see you next week!

Ann Jordahl
Executive Director



Graduation Speech by Ariel Henry

grads9th year class in Italy: Ariel Henry, Jacy Wilson, Molly Block, Aniz Anderson, Bernard Zitzewitz with Kathy Willis and Colin Palombi

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” ― Apple

This is what Montessori is to me – more importantly, this is what the Blue House means to me. We are different, every one of us; and, frankly, most of us are pretty strange. But Montessori cherishes that. They see something in us that, most of the time, we cannot even make out ourselves. They make us more independent and freethinking. They are allowing us to grow so we can change the world. They let us be who we are.

When the world holds up this big sign that says “Be yourself” we know that the world will not stand by it. We know we will be judged by society. But at the Blue House, society falls through the cracks in the squeaky wooden floors. We can be ourselves. We can meet our heart’s desires from interpretive dances in the halls to SNL skit reenactments, and I would like to thank my parents for giving me the opportunity to do so.

This school gives students a chance to find themselves. To improve. To fail and then rise again eight times stronger. To question authority. To gain responsibility. To listen then reply. To help others in need. To find their strengths but still remember their weaknesses. To test their limits. To leave their mark. This school, this crazy, one of a kind school, is where people can fly.

Montessori finds the misfits. “The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.” And they see genius. Why? Because they know the “people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”