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Alumni News, Summer 2018
Second senior class graduated on June 16
In a uniquely WMS-style ceremony on June 16, Anisha Chutani and May Hong—the class of 2018—graduated from Woodinville Montessori High School, and now the accomplished pair head into the UW’s School of Engineering. Read more, and see more photos on the Secondary site.→
Emotional Closing Ceremony honored Mary
Founding Head of School Mary Schneider stepped down on June 30, turning over the reins to Sunita Pailoor. After 35 years of guiding the school through program growth, facilities expansion and continuous improvement, Mary is now a consultant to WMS, and continues in her role as the Executive Director of the Montessori Education Institute of the Pacific NW (MEIPN).
Founded in 1983 by Mary and Sheri Nick, WMS now educates 400 students from toddlers through 12th-graders, operates campuses in Woodinville and Bothell and is accredited by the AMS and the Northwest Association of Independent Schools.
You can read the official announcement of Mary’s retirement, Sunita’s background and credentials and the transition here.→
Sunita Pailoor is Head of School
Sunita Pailoor, a past WMS parent, long-time WMS teacher and most recently the Associate Head of School and Secondary Program Director, became Head of School on July 1.
Sunita is uniquely qualified to take the reins at a time of growth and expansion.
“Sunita’s knowledge and her commitment to our school mission and vision is a major element in my decision to do this,” Mary says. “Her understanding of what it takes to create and support quality, authentic, full-age-spectrum Montessori programs is rare. It gives me comfort and confidence that the work we have started will continue in the same direction.”
Sunita began assisting at WMS in 2002, progressing through internship and teaching Middle School and Upper El. Many of you will know that Sunita’s sons Nikhil (2011) and Shankara (2007) are alums of our previous junior high program.
“I am honored to be entrusted with Mary’s legacy and look forward to leading the school into the future,” Sunita says. “I believe that Montessori education ignites student passion for learning and prepares them to be confident problem solvers. It is the pathway of the future.”
New director leads Secondary program
Carter McCoy replaces Sunita as Woodinville Montessori High School Director of Secondary Programs.
WMHS is the state’s only American Montessori Society-accredited high school. Carter brings rare Montessori secondary credentials and experience in beginning and growing a Montessori secondary program. He helped establish and grow the Alsion Montessori Middle and High School in California, and earned a Montessori teaching credential for ages 12-18 and a Master of Education in Montessori Integrative Learning from Endicott College. He also holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and in history from the College of Charleston, and a Master of International Relations and Asian Politics from the University of Queensland.
“I am thrilled to be joining WMS at such an exciting time for the secondary program,” Carter says. “Having just graduated the second class of seniors, the program is already very successful and poised for growth. I am excited to help the school achieve new heights by building on the existing program and supporting the excellent faculty we have here at WMS.”
Full circle, from students to staff
By Emily Irwin, Assistant to the Director of Communications & Marketing
Woodinville Montessori School is fortunate to have four former WMS students as current staff members at the Bothell campus. Rachel Ellis, Marissa Roecks, Kaitlyn McElrath and Kylie McElrath have all returned in recent years to share their skills and talents with current students. They were asked to share insight on how their Woodinville Montessori School educations shaped them and gave them the motivation to work where they once went to school.
Pictured here with a student, Rachel Ellis (student from 2005-2007) is a co-teacher in Cypress who joined our staff in 2016. She earned a Biology BA from Bates College.
Marissa Roecks (student from 2003-2006) is currently a Faculty Intern in the Cypress class and Orienteering Coach who joined our staff in 2012. She formerly served as the Associate Director of Admissions. She earned a Psychology BA, along with minors in Education and Biology from Agnes Scott College.
Kaitlyn McElrath (student from 1997-2004) is a co-teacher in Cedar who joined our staff in 2015. She earned a Theatre Arts BA from Gustavus Adolphus College.
Kylie McElrath (student from 1997-2004) is the Drama Instructor & EL Program Assistant who joined our staff in 2017. She earned a Dramatic Arts degree from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
The Montessori education model is important, even beyond a student’s time spent at WMS. The impact of this model rings true for Kylie.
“We know it works because it made a huge difference in our lives. I was not the kindest student at times, but Montessori teachings helped me through my struggles. I don’t think the traditional classroom model would have worked for me. Now we are back because we want to be a part of these young students’ lives and help them as they grow up. Just like our time at Montessori transformed us.”
Montessori teachings aim to instill certain traits a student can carry throughout their life. Marissa explains that as she looks back and decides what to teach future students, she hopes they can learn what she did.
“To be strong and believe in myself, to be confident in who I am and what I stand for and to be okay in expressing that vibrant, positive, enthusiastic self without being vulnerable. To always grow and learn and seek accurate information. To seek service opportunities. To understand that each person can find something to learn from and teach to one another regardless of age, gender, heritage or experience. To be open and understanding of others.”
The admiration these alumni felt for their past teachers encouraged them to pursue teaching. Marissa says, “I greatly admired the work of my former teachers and Mary. I missed Montessori as an education model and wanted to gain a deeper understanding of how to achieve for others the amazing scholastic experience I had. I have always known I would want to work with children in some professional capacity.”
Not only does WMS foster a welcoming place for students, it promotes a friendly staff environment.
“It”s all of us together making this school run and you feel that everyone is included, and no one is left out,” says Kylie.
These alumni all pursued higher education elsewhere, yet maintained a certain fondness for WMS.
“I always enjoyed getting to think to myself ‘I really loved my middle school experience,’ every time I heard someone talking disparagingly of how awful their public middle school was, inextricably, that struggle always seemed to be a common sentiment,” says Marissa.
Rachel, Marissa, Kaitlyn and Kylie all came full circle with their Woodinville Montessori educations. Current and future students alike will now be able to see just how impactful their Montessori education can be and how it can transform from schooling to career.
WMS has grown considerably in recent years. During the 2016-2017 school year, the original Woodinville campus housed 88 students. The Bothell campus, which is expanding once again this summer, housed 284 students. Forty students were a part of the new secondary program (7th-12th grade) in Bothell’s building 2, with more students joining next year. An expected total of 400 students will be enrolled in September at both WMS campuses.
If you’re interested in working at WMS, please visit the employment section of our website here.
Alumni news notes
We were happy to receive announcements from several former WMS students who graduated from high school or college this year:
Devin Busenbark, Livia Haynes and Kai Mihata are all alums of the eighth-grade class of 2014.
- Devin graduated with Academic Honors from Glacier Peak High School, and will attend the Digipen Institute of Technology to study fine arts and computer animation. During high school he enjoyed pursuing the arts and distance running on the track team.
- Livia graduated from Archbishop Murphy High School, and will attend the University of Portland to pursue a degree in nursing. During high school she made the Honor Roll and was a member of the National Honor Society, served as an officer for ASB and for her class, was a Kairos leader, competed in varsity athletics and performed in the fine arts.
- Kai graduated from The Overlake School, and will study computer science at the University of Washington. In May, Kai and his dad Kevin walked from Kyoto to Tokyo, Japan. In June he trained with the Junior National Orienteering team in Finland and Denmark. In July, the family attended an extended Mihata family reunion in Alaska, and during August 17-24 he is competing in the North American Orienteering Championships in Whitehorse, Yukon.
- Vera Drapers is an alum of the eighth-grade class of 2015. She graduated from Inglemoor High School with an International Baccalaureate Diploma, received a Dean Scholarship and will study at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts of Chapman University. Vera had an exciting and productive senior year. She won the Video Production category at the Washington TSA (Technology Student Association), completed an extra statistics class online, volunteered with the National Honor Society, worked two jobs and played lacrosse.
- Will Schneider and William Walters were in the sixth-grade class of 2012, and both graduated from Archbishop Murphy High School. Will plans to attend Central Washington University.
- Ariel Haynes, an alum of the eighth-grade class of 2010, graduated from the University of Portland.
If we somehow missed your graduation news, please send it to us!
Shubha Guha, a member of the sixth-grade class of ‘03, completed a Master of Science in Cognitive Science at the University of Edinburgh in 2017, and is now working in Amsterdam. A Research Engineer at Textkernel, Shubha works on software for parsing, searching and matching CVs and job posts for businesses in the HR sector. “I’m staying very busy with work and travel whenever I can, and I hope to stay in Amsterdam for the foreseeable future,” Shubha writes.
Emily Parzybok, a member of the sixth-grade class of ‘01, is back in Seattle. “I'm writing everyday, taking an intensive writing course and jumping into the lake or another body of water everyday.”
In January 2017, Emily began a 180-day trip around the world. She completed a series of pilgrimage walks and meditation retreats. “My trip was great—you can pretty easily check out highlights and see pictures on Instagram using #ParzyWalk. It was some really wonderful solo travel.”
She has been working in politics and continues to be involved in political campaigns. “This year, I ran the Washington Voting Justice Coalition legislative campaign and we passed a nationally recognized democracy package including same-day and automatic voter registration during an exciting session. Since then, I've done some tax advocacy work.
“I still teach yoga and meditation and spend several weeks a year in silent retreat. I have classes at Lotus Yoga, Ritual House of Yoga and Seattle Bouldering Project at the moment and I’m working to build some meditation consulting. I’m currently teaching meditation at Pinterest, but may expand.”
Anthony Dell‘Ario attended WMS from second through sixth-grade. He graduated from Redmond High School in 2002 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University in Digital Technology and Culture in 2006. He went on to earn a master’s degree in English (rhetoric and composition/sociolinguistics focus) in 2008, teaching research writing to freshmen along the way.
One month later he moved to Seoul, South Korea, developing curriculum and writing and designing textbooks through summer 2011. He learned to speak and read Korean, traveled the world and met his wife. He also worked as a freelance photographer, with his work in joint photography shows, local magazines and featured in a photography book.
They traveled extensively through September and October 2011, from Seoul across Europe and the U.S. on their way back to live in Seattle.
“I’m now a Senior IT Analyst at Redfin in Seattle—we were married and purchased a home in north Seattle last year.
“I still keep in touch with Marek Zbyszewski, Brandon Barngrover, Ashley Jensen, Nikki Loud, Erin Earl, and maybe some others, on occasion.
“In the last year and a half I went from sitting on my couch to running trail ultramarathons and other, smaller trail races. Racing has taken me all over the Pacific Northwest, from the coast of Oregon to Orcas Island and out to the eastern slopes of the Cascades. These races typically take around 5-7 hours to complete and are generally in the 50 km-length category with up to 8,500 feet of vertical climbing. I’m currently training to run the Cascade Crest 100-mile race in August of 2019, and aiming to complete that in 24-28 hours.
“My wife and I are still traveling as extensively as we can—going back to Korea, Mexico, Italy, Australia and Peru. We went to mainland China and Hong Kong/Macau this year with her family and will return to Korea and Japan this year.
“I've always credited Mary Schneider with my intense love of reading and writing, and ultimately with being the source of my desire to begin (and complete) my M.A.—which you could then trace to my time in Korea, and so much more. She took me in as a second-grader, way behind in literacy, and completely turned me around. I have and will always think of Mary, Sheri and the other teachers I had along the way at Woodinville Montessori, as hugely important figures in the development of who I am.”
Alison DeBoise, a member of the ninth-grade class of 2010, graduated from Smith College in May 2017 with a BA in the Study of Women and Gender, and is now working at Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaiian Islands.
Tristen Wastell, an alum of the eighth-grade class of 2009, graduated from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo with a BS in Mechanical Engineering in June. Tristen and his sister Nicole (eighth-grade class of 2012) traveled to Israel this summer with Birthright.
Last year Tristen traveled to Malawi with Cal Poly’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB) group. He and his team worked to design, build and install a bicycle-powered maize mill for the Kumponda community in Malawi. The goal is to allow the community members to grind maize independently rather than depend on an unreliable electric maize mill. In addition, they wanted to create something that may be reproduced in surrounding communities. In keeping with Cal Poly’s mantra of “learn by doing,” this group clearly practiced mechanical engineering outside of the classroom.
WMS alum returns to intern at WMHS
The high school had a special guest working with them in January, a former WMS student. She wrote this piece for the Feb. 7, 2018 Grapevine.
Hello, my name is Yula and I was an intern at the High School for three weeks in the beginning of January to learn what teachers do, to help me in deciding what I want to do in my future job.
Some may remember me from years ago. I attended WMS from second to sixth grade, after which we left heading back to Germany. I am now in 11th grade attending a school in Germany, which is called Herderschule Gießen. In Germany there are two mandatory internships each having to last at least two weeks. One in ninth grade, where I looked into the job of an orthopedic doctor, and the second one in 11th grade. We are supposed to learn about future job possibilities and help us decide in which field we want to work.
During my time at the High School I followed Sharon Dunn to her classes, Humanities, and learning the responsibilities a teacher has. I had the opportunity to hold a lesson on the topic of World War One, which I presented to the ninth and 10th-grade students. Teaching Montessori seems to be much more demanding but also more rewarding than teaching at a public school.
I am thankful for the chance to do this internship and have learned a lot from this experience, which I will take with me for the future and will help choose my future career path.
Please share your news with us!
We want to know what’s happening with our former students and alums. Please share your news with us so that we may share it with the WMS community. Please send your alumni news, updates and photos to Alumni Coordinator Marissa Roecks, or to Communications and Marketing Director Claire Tuohy-Morgan.