The Grapevine, Sept. 9, 2020

THE GRAPEVINE, Sept. 9, 2020

Welcome from the Head of School

Head of School Sunita Pailoor
Sunita Pailoor

Dear WMS Families,

Welcome back! I can’t tell you how happy I am to see students on campus. Watching our Early Childhood students walk from their cars to classrooms smiling, and excited to be at school, was worth all the hard work over the summer. We are, of course, following all guidelines and working very hard to mitigate risk for students. Our success in mitigating risk depends on all of you, as we all need to follow the protocols put in place. Thank you for checking your student’s temperature and screening your student daily for Covid-19 symptoms and for your patience with the drop off and pick up process.

The prepared environment in the classroom is designed to help students be independent. With remote learning, some of you might feel frustrated that your student needs you to help them more frequently. It is natural that the younger the student is, the more help they will need. The tips that I am sharing below may or may not be appropriate for your student but here are some suggestions.

  • Prepare the environment for the student. Create a space in your home where your student can sit comfortably and do their work. Have students organize their supplies with your supervision so that they know where their pencils and colored pencils, etc., are located.
  • Go over your schedule with them before you separate to do work. Montessori students know that they have to do work during work time. Set a timer for work time, and then when the timer goes off, the student can take a short break. Help them set up their snacks for break times and also talk to them about their options for break time activities. After break time is over, they can return to work. Teachers can help students choose their daily work, but managing time is not something young students are capable of doing completely independently.
  • Do remember that not all work in a Montessori classroom is academic. Students can work on taking care of self. They can practice tying their shoes, wiping down furniture. One of the favorite activities of my son was wiping down the baseboards. Children need large muscle movement, especially if they have a lot of energy and/or are upset, and doing big work is often calming for students. They can return to academic work when they feel that they are ready.
  • For older students, too much screen time is a concern. Encourage them to take breaks outside as much as possible. Physical activity is as important as mental activity.
  • Mental health is important. If you are concerned about your student, you can reach out to Megan Wanless, our counselor, through your child’s teacher or program director. She is at WMS two days a week after Sept. 14. Megan can work with students on a short-term basis and may recommend outside therapy as needed.

At a time when we are more isolated from each other and we are not able to gather in one place, we need community more than ever. If you are a returning family, please do reach out and connect with the new people in our community. Put aside 15 minutes to connect with someone new this year. I would love to see you all via Zoom at Coffee with Sunita on Wednesdays. We changed the time to 10 a.m., as families indicated that the time worked better for them.

I was looking for planners and the one that drew my attention was the one that said, “Together We are Stronger.” This statement resonated with me, as it feels true to the WMS community. We can support one another and get through this global pandemic as a unit.

Take care,
Sunita Pailoor, WMS Head of School

High School: growth and change during difficult times

A girl studies at a desk
From last spring: a WMHS student takes part in remote learning.

By Sharon Elise Dunn
Humanities Teacher, Woodinville Montessori High School

Once WMS High School completed our final quarter of the 2019-20 academic year, with everyone having navigated remote learning, teachers took the time to reflect on and learn from how our initial experiences went in the time of Covid-19.

Overall, our sense was that our students, in many ways, did remarkably well adjusting: they attended classes; turned in meaningful, quality work in response to literature, history, politics and music from Latin America, advanced in math, science and world languages, and completed comics or learned about specific musical works. It wasn’t what we wished for—but it was a lot. Our students and colleagues made much of that last quarter, even with its myriad constraints.

As we closed out 2019-2020, we also had the good news that our enrollment was growing; 23 students enrolled in high school in the fall. To prepare, we could build on what had been a reduced yet academically authentic quarter; our team had a strong foundation for planning 2020-2021.

One of the first changes we had to make was to put our students into two cohorts, Red and Purple color groups. We would have done this even if we were all in school in a typical fashion because faculty want to assure that classes are small enough to provide optimal learning experiences. Doing so in the time of Covid is admittedly not as joyful as it might be because the students’ separate groups are not in as frequent contact as they would be in our Ash spaces.

In connection with how students might be and are feeling—a really important part of shared educational work—our teaching team also decided to address Social-Emotional Learning differently this year. We understand that youths in our program, like young people everywhere, are experiencing some significant personal challenges, heightened awareness of searing issues in the USA, and taxing emotions tied into the shut-in and shut-down necessary to counter the pandemic. In response, this summer, we mapped out new timing and plans for social-emotional learning in the new school year.

As we enter our second week of this academic year, we have the two cohorts as manageable student groupings on Zoom for Civics, British Literature and Forensics. Students in 11th and 12th grades share chemistry class, students are intermingled by their math level and within their world language options, people meet up in their electives by choice, and everyone gathers together in three Community Care sessions every week dedicated to Social-Emotional Learning. For the latter, we are working with quality concepts and activities put forward by Marc Brackett of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and InspireEd.

This week, we started Community Care with the theme of gratitude—we are very grateful for our students and already deeply appreciative of the spirit of flexibility and the willingness to work that they are bringing to our classes and meetings.

First day of school photos, gallery 1

Thank you, parents, for sharing more amazing first-day/first-week photos with us! Click on a photo to see larger versions of each, and click through all of them.

First day of school photos, gallery 2

Click on a photo to see larger versions of each, and click through all of them.

Parents find value in parent support course

This week North Creek EC Director Judy Samudovsky presented parent and program assistant Horalia Bastian with a complimentary copy of Maren Schmidt’s book, “Building Cathedrals Not Walls, Essays for Parents and Teachers.” The book marked Horalia’s completion of “Seeing Your Child the Montessori Way,” our online, on-demand parent support program for Toddler and Early Childhood families, from Schmidt. Parents who complete the course also receive 10 volunteer hours for their work on parent education.

Horalia enjoyed the course and took a moment to share a few takeaways.

She learned “How the home environment affects my child in a positive or negative way. As a parent we can’t expect the school to take care of everything. The words I use with my child help to set expectations at home and then at school. Parents also have to do their part to help their child to be successful in school and in life.”

Schmidt is a parenting expert and Montessori guide. Learn more about how to best support your child’s learning, how to use Montessori ideas and principles to maximize your child’s overall development and how to create a Montessori environment at home. If you haven’t already registered, do so today. It is free to our families.

  • Register for the program on the Family Portal—the program link is on the portal home page in “Announcements”
  • Six hour-long weekly sessions
  • Watch, listen or read on your phone, tablet or computer
  • Private questions and answers with Maren Schmidt
  • Share and learn from others in the school community
  • Also, be sure to register for the weekly “Kids Talk Newsletter” providing age-appropriate parenting tips.

For more information, please contact Tomo Takahashi, Early Childhood Program Director, Woodinville campus, or Judy Samudovsky, Toddler and Early Childhood Program Director, North Creek campus.


Thursday, Sept. 10
•  Volunteer training via Zoom, 9:30 a.m. (link in Grapevine email)
Wednesday, Sept. 16
•  Coffee with Sunita, via Zoom, 10 a.m. (link in Grapevine email)
Keep up with the WMS calendar here.

Some Emergency Financial Assistance funds are available for current families

As the effects of the pandemic persist for businesses and families, we recognize that some families may have unanticipated financial needs this year. Thanks to generous donors and the Board of Trustees, there are some funds available to help meet these needs. We are now accepting applications for Emergency Financial Assistance for tuition payments due October, November and December. You will find the application here. It is also available through the WMS website/WMS Families/Financial, at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar. Please contact our CFO Tricie Hunter at with any questions.

Volunteer training on Sept. 10

Intended for our new families, another volunteer training will take place Thursday, Sept. 10, at 9:30 a.m. Join via the Zoom link in your Grapevine email. This one-time training is typically required for all volunteers who will be working directly with children. But with the current restriction on parents and visitors inside all buildings and classrooms, the training will cover volunteer opportunities that are usually offered in person, and virtual opportunities to come this year. You will also receive information on best practices and protocols that will be helpful to know for the future. If you cannot make this session, more will be offered, or you may contact Laureen directly.

Family Alliance newsletter posted

The September FA newsletter has been posted on the Family Alliance page. This year’s executive committee is Traci Weygandt, president, and Kristin Duin, vice president.

About the Grapevine

Welcome to the Grapevine newsletter. The Grapevine is published every Wednesday afternoon during regular school weeks. We welcome your submissions of photos and articles that are about or directly relevant to WMS students, subject to approval by the Director of Communications & Marketing. All submissions are due by 4:30 p.m., Mondays. We do not accept advertising.