The Grapevine

Woodinville Montessori School Weekly Newsletter, June 21, 2017—ANNUAL WRAP-UP EDITION

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They learned, they grew, they became—
joyful ceremony lauds first WMHS grads

Commencement 2017

Congratulations, first graduates of Woodinville Montessori High School’s four-year program Ivy, Emery and Isabel, and Head of School Mary Schneider!—Photo by Louis Ziob ‘15

We sent our class of 2017 into the world in true Woodinville Montessori School style on June 15, in a joyful, personal commencement before their families, close friends and many staff members.

Due to the size of the only suitable space, Elementary Club House, attendance was limited.

As guests arrived, the grads and WMHS students processed to the EC, LE, UE, front office and Secondary spaces around campus. Faculty and staff representatives waited at each place to join the procession to Club House. Read more, and see more of Louis Ziob’s photos on this week’s Secondary page.→

Thank you, farewell & congratulations!


We said goodbye to Oak teacher Janis Hummel, who retired on Tuesday, and to Woodinville EC Program Director Lea Aemisegger in the school year’s final faculty meeting. We also recognized years of service, other staff who are leaving and summer birthdays. See more photos in the gallery.→

By Head of School Mary Schneider

We are so grateful to all of our faculty and assistants for another year of dedication, hard work and constant thought about the children they are serving. Their work is not something that ends when they clock out for the day or even for the summer. It is impossible to understand and appreciate the amount of heart and mental energy that teaching staff expend on their students unless you know them all as well as we do. Equally important are all the members of the Admin and Facilities teams and the Board of Trustees who are less visible, but so valuable to the school. Our parents and friends who volunteer round out the picture of the kind of supportive community that allows the school to do what it does.

We wish our staff and each of you a wonderful summer and lots of time to rejuvenate and recharge as individuals and as families. Great memories are made from doing things together, and the best ones involve exploring our own amazing Northwest. It is so worth the effort even though traffic has made the getting there a much greater ordeal than it used to be.

Staffing changes for the upcoming year

You may already know about these changes for 2017-2018. No listing means no changes.


Administrative: Sunita Pailoor will be Associate Head of School. She will continue to direct the Secondary program while more fully immersing herself in other aspects of school leadership, including working with the Board of Trustees. Sunita, like many others on our staff, started at WMS as a parent in 2000, volunteered, became more interested in Montessori education and came to work as an assistant in 2002. She initiated work on her AMS Elementary I-II credential at the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific NW (MEIPN) and served her internship in 2003, becoming a lead teacher in 2004. She split her first year between Middle School and Upper El, taught Lower Elementary for one year, then Upper Elementary for seven years. After a one-year stint away from WMS to help establish a Montessori program in public school, she returned to WMS as Director of Secondary Programs. Sunita has been traveling to Houston, Texas, the past two years to earn her AMS Montessori Administrator’s credential with an emphasis on the Secondary level. She has also participated in the two-year NWAIS Pathways to Leadership program designed to prepare women for leadership roles in independent schools. Sunita is a faculty member of MEIPN, the AMS training course held at our North Creek campus.


Miki Shema (formerly Miki Heye; facing the camera in the photo) will replace Lea Aemisegger on July 1 as Director of the Woodinville campus. Miki’s long history at WMS began when she moved here from Texas and was hired to teach EC in 1995, continuing until June 2012. Since then, she has worked for us as a substitute teacher, completing her Infant-Toddler Montessori credential and internship in the Fig classroom. She has participated in a remarkable array of ongoing professional development offerings during her year as a teacher and will begin the director’s training required by the Department of Early Learning this summer or fall.

Janis Hummel is retiring after 20 years—12 in Woodinville’s Oak classroom—as a Montessori educator. Janis is looking forward to more time with grandchildren and family here and in Alaska and to reading, gardening, traveling and all the things there is too little time to do when you work as hard as teachers work. Aneta Lasek-Czerwonka will be the new Oak class teacher. Aneta has an AMS Montessori Early Childhood credential, a master’s degree in Linguistics and Polish Literature from Poland and has been an EC teacher for eight years. Aneta also teaches for MPEIN at our North Creek campus. Oak Assistant Heather Wood is leaving to pursue a career in nutrition education.

Lea Aemisegger will retire as Director of the Woodinville campus on June 30. She has been involved in Montessori education for 23½ years, starting at WMS in 1993 when she enrolled Peter and John Williams in EC classes, followed by Russell in 1996. Montessori-credentialed at both the EC and Infant-Toddler levels, Lea owned and operated Little Willow toddler program in her home from 1995-2005 while her children attended WMS. Lea will continue as a faculty member of the MEIPN Infant-Toddler program. She is looking forward to becoming thoroughly knowledgeable about all the wineries in Woodinville in addition to traveling, gardening and reading. Watch for her the next time you are wine-tasting!

Fig: Theresa Heiden completed her Infant-Toddler Montessori credential and internship year this spring, moved to Bainbridge Island last weekend, and is ready for the birth of her first child. Theresa also ran the successful parent-infant program this year and we are sorry to see her leave. Miguel Ceballos, a WMS parent, will fill the assistant opening. Miguel is considering the infant-toddler training and we are thrilled to have a male in this role.

Early Childhood assistants will shift classrooms, but teachers will remain the same. Dunitha Yelamali will begin work at MEIPN on her AMS Early Childhood credential this summer and will move from Dogwood to Pine classroom to intern. Nicole Ahern will move to Aspen as assistant. Katie Hounwanou will become one of our floaters. We are hiring a new assistant for Dogwood.

Upper Elementary Team: Kaitlyn McElrath and Taylor Westphal will be lead teachers in Cedar with a full-time assistant. Teresa Lee is no longer working at WMS and we appreciate her nine years of service to the school. Jeni Lancaster and Rachel Ellis will continue in Cypress with Laila Kabani back full time.

Specialist Matilde Melendez will no longer teach LE Spanish in order to focus on her travel business to Peru. We will hire a replacement this summer. See more photos in the gallery.→

Faculty recognized for years of service

WMS recognized these faculty and Admin members on June 20 for their years of service: Tara Cox, Maple EC teacher, 15 years; Bryce Aktepy, learning support specialist and ID Lab coordinator, 10 years; Nancy Kestek, Elementary Program Director, 10 years; Laura Webb, Magnolia teacher, five years; Tricie Hunter, CFO, five years; Ally Noble, Douglas Fir teacher, five years; Priya Takkilapati, Dogwood teacher, five years; and Carlos Valencia, secondary teacher, five years. Additional staff will be recognized in the fall when everyone is back on campus.

Third-years perform closing ceremony

Closing ceremony

The third-year pupils performed the traditional closing ceremony before the start of Field Day on June 14. The ceremony was moved ahead one day due to the weather forecast. See more photos in the gallery.→

Field Day

Balloon keep-away was one of the events Cedar co-teacher Kaitlyn McElrath organized for Field Day. Ginkgo students ran and monitored all the games, which also included obstacle courses, all kinds of races and a photo booth. See more photos in the gallery.→