PIONEER VALLEY MONTESSORI HANDBOOK 2017 - 2018 This is the most current PVMS handbook. The handbook is reviewed and changed annually as needed.
Mission Statement The mission of Pioneer Valley Montessori School is to cultivate each child’s natural desire to learn within a self-directing and stimulating Montessori environment. The community supports each child in acquiring and mastering academic skills, developing critical thinking ability, and in learning responsibility, cooperation and compassion. Our mission is accomplished by: • Fostering a love of learning • Providing a curriculum adhering to rigorous Montessori Standards informed by current thinking and research on child development and learning • Embracing a diverse student body in which students experience and learn to respect ethnic, cultural, economic and other differences • Recognizing that personal growth involves learning responsibility toward others and toward the earth • Facilitating the involvement of parents, teachers, students and the larger community
About Montessori The Montessori method or philosophy was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori. Born in 1870, she became the first woman in Italy to earn a medical degree. During her work, first with developmentally delayed children and later with typical children, she had extensive opportunities to study how children learn and, as a result, developed an educational philosophy and method which differed dramatically from educational principles of the early 20th century.
Dr. Montessori observed that children learn naturally about themselves and their world through exploration and discovery. From their inception, Montessori schools have had material and methods designed specifically to encourage this natural learning and to help children become self-motivated, independent learners for life.
Montessori schools seek to provide a balanced curriculum in practical life skills, sensory ability, mathematics, language, science, geography, computer study, music and the cultural arts.
Montessori materials arouse children's spontaneous interest, providing a concentration on tasks that, because it is natural and self-generated, promotes independent learning. Children are free to move about in an environment prepared for independent, multi-sensory learning.
Children are free to pace themselves in the academic curriculum as is appropriate to their aptitude and interest, with the guidance of the teachers, as needed. A child who is fascinated by numbers may work on addition and multiplication in his kindergarten year. Children are not pushed to learn at the pace of a group, but allowed the time to absorb concepts and encouraged to pursue repetition of learning activities until she has mastered a topic.
Dr. Montessori wrote a number of books, including the following: The Absorbent Mind Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook Education for a New World The Montessori Method The Secret of Childhood To Educate the Human Potential
Other books about the Montessori approach include the following: Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius, Angeline Stoll Lillard The Essential Montessori, by Elizabeth Hainstock Montessori Today, by Paula Polk Lillard The Montessori Controversy, by John Chattin_McNichols A Parents Guide to the Montessori Classroom, by Aline D. Wolf
Peace Education Dr. Montessori became focused on Peace Education during the years of the two World Wars, when she was interned in India. She observed the horrors that are inflicted on people because of the inability to solve differences. Dr. Montessori became convinced that during childhood there is a unique opportunity to impact the way a person looks at others who may seem different, either by culture, ethnicity, religion or other ways. She came to believe that if tolerance of and interest in difference is encouraged in the earliest years, children retain this attitude of openness. If a child is taught the skills to solve interpersonal problems by talking, as well as by listening to others, a lifelong pattern is set. This is one reason why most Montessori schools have a diverse population and why Montessori schools are found in countries around the world. We, at Pioneer Valley Montessori School, have integrated Peace Education into our curriculum and teach it at every level.
Non-discrimination Policy Pioneer Valley Montessori School is dedicated to the service of all children. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, cultural heritage, national origin, marital status, religion, political beliefs, disabilities, toilet training status, or sexual orientation in our admissions, financial aid, hiring decisions or in the administration of our educational policies. Admission is based on the ability of our school to meet each child’s individual needs. Our goal is to enable each child to meet with success in our program.
Accreditations Pioneer Valley Montessori School is accredited by the American Montessori Society, National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the Association of Independent Schools in New England. Our Early Childhood program is licensed by the Massachusetts Office of Early Education and Care, and our Elementary program, Kindergarten through Grade Six is certified by the Springfield School Committee.
Program Options Children’s House (pre-school and kindergarten classes): Program options include a five day program for children aged 2.9 years through 6 years for either a half-day (8:30 -11:30 a.m.), or full day (8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.) and a 3-day, half-day or full day program available for three year olds. Toddler Room, half or extended day program for children aged 18 mo. Through 2 years 9 months. Elementary Program: A full day (8:15 a.m. – 2:45/3:00 p.m.) elementary program for students in grades 1-6 is offered. All programs, except the three-day program for three year olds meet 5 days per week. Before School care begins at 7:30 a.m.; After School care extends until 5:30 p.m.
Staff and Faculty The staff and faculty consist of a Head of School, Administrative Assistant, Bookkeeper, Head Montessori Teachers, After School Head Teacher, Assistant Teachers in the Montessori classrooms, other assistant teachers and classroom aides and specialty teachers for art, music, literature, physical education and Spanish. The Head Teachers are all trained and certified in Montessori teacher education. The Head of School is responsible for the overall management and administration of the school. Any and all concerns about the school may be brought to her attention at any time between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Faculty and Staff
Margaret O. Bagge Head of School B.A. - Elms College; Administrator Credential, American Montessori Society
Charmaine Fowler Administrative Assistant
Amy Foerster Office Assistant and Development B.A., Bates College
Margaret O'Shaughnessy ICT Coordinator B.A., Umass Amherst; Montessori Assistant Training, Northeast Montessori Institute
Montessori Head Teachers
Mary Ann Ross Head Teacher, Toddler Room. B.S. UMass Amherst; Infant-Toddler Certification, North American Montessori Center
Angelika Deaton Head Teacher, Children’s House South and Extended Day Kindergarten B.A., Kantonales Lehrerseminar Mariaberg; Early Childhood Education K-3 Teaching Certificate, University of North Carolina; Montessori Teaching ages 2-6 Certificate, Midwest Montessori Teacher Training Center
Tara Gagnon Head Teacher, Children’s House North Masters, Bay Path College, B.A., Drew University, Early Childhood Credential, American Montessori Society
Alicia Chagnon Head Teacher, Children’s House East Champlain College, Burlington VT, Early Childhood Credential completed October 2017
Sherrell Sims-Gamble Head Teacher, Lower Elementary Masters, University of New Hampshire; Montessori Elementary I and II; B.A., Connecticut College
Nicole Fuller Head Teacher, Upper Elementary B.A.,University of Toronto; Montessori Elementary I and II, Toronto Montessori Institute
Amber Badger Assistant Teacher, Children’s House South. Assistant, Children's House After school. Associates Degree, Asnuntuck Community College, Early Childhood
Debora Vaudrin Assistant Teacher, Children’s House North Montessori Assistant Training, Northeast Montessori Institute
Jenn Banker Assistant Teacher, Children’s House North Montessori Assistant Training, Northeast Montessori Institute
Kim Setterstrom Assistant Teacher, Lower Elementary B.S., Springfield College, Montessori Assistant Training, Northeast Montessori Institute
Terri Chechile Assistant Teacher, Upper Elementary B.A., UMass Amherst, A.S. Springfield Technical Community College
Christie Hester-Moore Art Teacher B.S. - University of Massachusetts
Paula Wicks Spanish Teacher B.S E.. - Westfield State College, Spanish Commonwealth of Massachusetts Teaching Certificate
Hywel Brown Music Teacher B.A., Boston University
Erica DellaVolpe PE Teacher B.A., Springfield College
Classroom Assistants and After School
Gerrilin Haynes Classroom Assistant, Children's House South
Lisa Bullen Classroom Assistant, Lower Elementary
Brianna Markham Classroom Assistant, Toddler
Denise Vaudrin Elementary After School Teacher
Allison Zaczynski Children’s House, After school Assistant
Carla Deangelo Toddler, Classroom Assistant
Rebecca Whitney Toddler, Intern
Board of Trustees The primary responsibility of the Board of Trustees is to see that Pioneer Valley Montessori School operates in the best interests of its students, teachers and parents. Its job is to "hold The School in trust" and fulfill the mission of PVMS by offering excellent Montessori education. The members of the PVMS Board of Trustees serve the school without monetary compensation or tuition reduction. The Annual Meeting, held in the fall of each year, is designated for the election of new Board members as well as the presentation of Annual Reports reviewing the school's past year, current operating budget, financial projections and long range plans for the future of PVMS.
Current Board of Trustees Angie Rios, President Dr. Keisha Jones, Vice President Daniel Conroy, Clerk Eric Devine, Treasury Luke Pelletier John Lynch
Parent Teacher Student Organization The main goal of the PTSO is to organize family participation in the PVMS community. The PSTO meets regularly and provides social and educational opportunities for both parents and children. All parents are encouraged to attend and participate. Children are welcome at the meetings - child care will be provided upon request. Parents should contact the PTSO if they are unable to attend a meeting but would like to participate. Topics for meetings and summaries of past meetings will be published in the school newsletter. In addition to providing support for the school, parent involvement has an important positive effect on our children. Working at the school is a visible demonstration of concern and commitment perceived by our children. Active involvement also provides insight into your child's educational experience at PVMS and allows parents to meet one another and form a community within the school.
The PTSO sponsors fundraisers each year to help pay for PTSO family activities, field trips, guest speakers and other programs for parents and children at PVMS. The PTSO also gives a gift to the school for the teachers to buy classroom materials. There is a $35.00 per family PTSO activity fee, payable with the total school tuition payments. Dues are used to cover the costs of children’s activities such as the Halloween Party, Winter Event, etc.
Admissions Prospective parents, after reviewing the school’s website and asking questions in a phone call, may make an appointment to visit the school and observe a classroom. We generally suggest that this first visit be without the child. Visits include a tour of the facility and an in-classroom observation. The Head of School will be available to answer questions and give further information about registration procedures.
Registrations are accepted for the Children’s Houses on a rolling admissions basis, provided that it is believed that the child’s needs will be met at the School. Elementary student applications are reviewed after a required half or full-day visit to the classroom by the student and receipt of all prior school records. A determination will be made by the Head of School and Head Teacher as to the best placement for the student.
Enrollment and Tuition Enrollment at PVMS is for one school year. The school makes annual commitments to our teachers for employment, purchases supplies for a full school year and operates on an annual budget based on the income committed to the school by parent contracts. Parents sign an enrollment contract which is binding for the period of one school year.
No portion of the tuition fee, so paid or outstanding, will be refunded or canceled without consent of the Board of Trustees. In the event of family circumstances that may arise that would result in an early withdrawal of a child from the school, the following procedure should be followed:
A letter must be written by the parent to the Board of Trustees of PVMS, advising the Board of the pending withdrawal of the child. If the parent believes that there are extenuating circumstances that should be considered to allow the parent to be released from the contract, those reasons should be presented clearly in the letter. The Board meets monthly, generally on the first Wednesday of the month.
If consideration needs to be given to the circumstances causing the withdrawal, it will be addressed, a decision will be made and the parent will be notified, in writing, of the decision. Such considerations will be given only in the case of extenuating circumstances, such as serious illness, involuntary job relocation, and unexpected loss of employment.
The school requires a registration deposit in the amount of $500 to reserve a child's place. This tuition deposit will be deducted from the last tuition payment. It is not refundable if a child fails to enroll. It will be refunded in full if the school does not accept the enrollment. In addition, there is a one-time application fee of $50 charged to new students. This fee is used to pay the cost of processing the application and setting up new student files.
Sick days and days when the school is closed due to weather (according to the Springfield School Department cancellation policy) will not be credited or made up.
The school depends on your prompt payment of tuition for its efficient, economic functioning. Tuition payments are made to the FACTS Tuition Management Company and are due and payable according to the payment schedule you selected; yearly, quarterly or monthly. All accounts ten days past due will be assessed a $25.00 late fee per child per month. After school bills will be paid to PVMS on a monthly basis, if not a part of FACTS payments. All returned checks will be subject to a $25.00 service charge. Registration deposits, fees and paid tuition are non-refundable. A student whose account is 30 days in arrears may not be permitted to attend school until the account is paid in full.
Annual Fund The school has an established Annual Fund to which parents, alumni, grandparents and friends of PVMS may make a tax-deductible contribution. Monies donated are used for capital improvements, purchase of classroom materials, and development of educational programs, thus helping to keep yearly tuition rates down.
Gail Supanich Memorial Scholarship Fund This fund has been set up to provide funds for extraordinary or emergency family situations where the monthly tuition can not be paid for a short period of time. We encourage families to support this fund. This fund was created to honor former head of school, Gail Supanich.
Calendar A calendar is given to each family which notes special events, as well as days that PVMS is closed.
Phasing-in In order to give each child a personal introduction to our school we begin the school year in September by phasing students in gradually. Returning students begin on Day 1 with a few new children joining them daily over a period of a few days to one week, depending on the class. We will notify all parents of their child's starting date in August. We recognize this may not coincide with all parents' work schedules but we believe it is in the students' best interests and rely on parents, having received ample notice, to make other child-care arrangements until their child's first day.
Transportation The responsibility of transporting children to and from the school rests with the parents. During the first weeks of school, we request that you place the name card that the school will provide in the window of your car. We will learn to recognize your car and you over time. If you have a car pool, please inform the office of your schedule and drivers. Remember to add to your list all persons who will be picking your child up.
Arrival Assistant Teachers will greet children at the cars in the driveway and assist them to their classrooms. Teachers will begin bringing children into the school at 8:15 a.m. and continue until 8:30 a.m. Toddlers arrive at 8:15 a.m. for the full day and half-day program. Toddler parents will park on the Toddler classroom side of the building and bring their child to the classroom door and knock. Upper Elementary students are expected to arrive by 8:30. We urge all parents to arrive on time, as late arrivals cause disruption for the children. If a late arrival is unavoidable, please come to the office and we will escort you and your child to unlock an appropriate entry door. For security purposes, all doors to the school are kept locked at all times. For entry during school hours, please come up the ramp and ring the doorbell and someone will let you into the office/reception area. Please leave the school by the front door and sign out so the office knows who is in the building at all times.
Because of our commitment to the safety and well being of the children, unless you are visiting the office, parents are asked to refrain from entering the building during arrival time, while the teachers’ focus is on receiving the children and preparing them for the school day. Similarly, during dismissal, parents are asked to remain in their vehicles so dismissal time is expedited. Parents are, however, responsible for making sure their children are properly placed and buckled in their car seats. Please feel free to send notes to teachers relevant to your child. Written communication helps teachers remember important information. Parents are always welcome to call the school and request that the teacher call to speak to them, and meetings can always be requested.
Due to the number of children and vehicles using the driveway, and the heavy and fast traffic on Parker Street, we ask for your cooperation during arrival and dismissal times to allow for a smooth and safe traffic flow. Please follow these safety guidelines: 1. When you pull into the driveway, immediately form two lanes. 2. Pull up as far as possible - the first cars should pull up to the end of the driveway. 3. Have your child ready to leave your car when the teacher approaches 4. All cars must turn RIGHT out of the driveway during peak arrival and dismissal times. 5. Keep questions/comments to the teachers brief at the car. If you would like to have a focused conversation please call the school to meet or speak by phone at another time.
Children enrolled in the Before School Program should be escorted to the multi-purpose room by a parent or guardian.
Dismissal Parents are expected to have their children picked up promptly when classes end. Dismissal for the Children’s Houses is between 2:40 pm 3:00 pm. Lower Elementary dismisses between 2:50 and 3:00 pm. Upper Elementary students will be dismissed at 3:00. In the event that you are delayed, please call the school office so that arrangements may be made to accommodate your child. Any child not picked up by 3:00 p.m. will wait in the office until pick-up or be sent to the after school program if space is available, and will be assessed for After-School care.
Notify the school in writing (or by telephone if plans change at the last minute) if someone other than a parent will be picking up your child. Please do not relay verbal messages concerning changes in transportation via the children. For the safety of your child, we will not release children to anyone other than a parent without a specific directive from the parent and then only to people listed on the release form.
Children may be picked up from the After School Program by entering the school at the top of the ramp. Please sign in at the desk and you will be told where the children are at that time. As you are leaving the building with your child, please sign out. Elementary students often use the park behind the school. To signal to parents that the children are in the park there will be a green sign in the upper front window (green=park). A red sign signals to come inside the building.
All children must be picked up no later than 5:30 p.m. There is a $10.00 late fee for the first 15 minutes of lateness, and a $25 fee for the next fifteen minutes. If a child has not been picked up by 5:30 p.m., The After School teacher will attempt to contact parents by telephone. If parents cannot be reached, any other people who have been authorized by the child’s parents to pick up their child will be called. If these efforts are all unsuccessful, the After School teacher will speak with the Head of School to determine the appropriate action. Chronic lateness in picking your child up may result in your family not being able to participate in the After School program.
Cell phones Please end cell phone conversations before entering the building. Students are required to have any cell phones turned completely off and kept in their backpack and not used on school property or on field trips.
Emergency Evacuation If an emergency occurs that requires evacuation of the school, children will be brought to Brunton School, a Springfield Public school, with whom we have made arrangements, and which is a short walk away from our location (a more detailed plan has been developed and is available for parents to read).
Absences or Changes Please notify the school office prior to the start of the class session if your child will be absent from school. A message board is brought to each of the classrooms each morning at 8:50am, and again at 2:00pm. This message board is used to communicate to the classroom teachers regarding absences and changes in arrival and pickup. Please call the school before 8:55am if your child will be absent, and before 1:55pm, if there is to be some change in pickup for your child.
Placement PVMS follows the same kindergarten age guidelines as those used by the city or town in which a student resides. These guidelines will be used for placement in all subsequent grades. If the PVMS teachers find that a child is ready, both academically and emotionally, we will consider admitting a child who misses the cutoff by a short period of time.
Curriculum Days There will be three Curriculum Days scheduled during the school year. These are staff work days during which time the teachers are present at the school but the children are not in attendance. These days are indicated on the school calendar.
Snow Days The PVMS policy on cancellation of school or delayed opening due to winter storms is as follows: PVMS will announce a closing or delay for our own school. We do not follow one specific school district's decisions. PVMS will survey the area schools' snow closings and a decision on PVMS closing will be based on snow conditions in surrounding areas (generally Springfield, Ludlow, Wilbraham, E. Longmeadow and Longmeadow).
Any closings or delays will be announced on television channels 22 (www.wwlp.com) and 40 (www.wggb.com). If we announce a delay, the notice will advise what time the school opens. This eliminates the Before School program. All staff must be present and available in their classroom before children are admitted, so children may not enter the school before the Assistant teachers begin taking them out of cars.
Health Care Policy Health Care Consultant: Rachel Fiore 224 Marmon St, Springfield, MA 01129 413- 783-6646 Baystate Medical Center: 413-794-0000 Fire/police/ambulance: 911 Child Abuse Reporting: Dept of Child and Family Services 1-800-792-5200 Before & After School emergencies: Margaret Bagge h:413-732-0700, c: 413 219-1010
Illness Policies If your child shows signs of illness prior to coming to school, please plan to keep him/her home where s/he will be most comfortable. We understand that it may be a stress on families for someone to stay home with a sick child, but we are not able to care for sick children in the school environment. Please be considerate of other children and teachers who will be exposed and may become sick, if your child attends school ill. Mild illnesses, such as during the latter part of a cold, can be accommodated in the classroom.
If your child becomes ill during school hours, we will contact you. Please be aware that the school does not have an infirmary where your child may be kept for an extended period of time, so please arrange for your child to be picked up as quickly as possible. Any child who becomes ill during school will be separated from the group and supervised by a staff person until a parent or emergency contact person can be reached. This is often in the quiet or reading area of a classroom.
If your child becomes injured we will complete an accident report regarding the injury. If the injury needs medical treatment, or it is suspected that it may need medical treatment, a parent will be called immediately. If we are unable to reach a parent, the emergency contact will be notified. If the injury may need hospital treatment an ambulance will be called and the child will be transported to the hospital listed on the emergency paperwork completed by the parent, or the nearest facility.
The above procedures will also be followed on field trips; teachers have contact information with them for all children and cell phones.
Parents will be asked to pick up their child for the following reasons:
Fever Any temperature greater than 100 degrees F is considered a fever. Children must be fever-free for 24 hours without using fever reducing medications (such as Tylenol, Motrin, Advil etc) in order to return to school.
Vomiting If your child has vomited the night before or in the morning, please do not send her to school. A child who has vomited in school will be sent home.
Diarrhea Children with diarrhea should remain home until they are symptom free for 24 hours. The only exception is if the diarrhea is the result of a chronic condition, then a note from the doctor is needed indicating the diarrhea is not infectious.
Excessive coughing Children can’t focus on activities and interactions with others if they are coughing persistently.
runny nose During the first day or two of a cold, children often exhibit excessively runny noses or mucous of an opaque yellow or green color. Please keep your child home during the beginning day(s) of a cold. After that, symptoms are more minor and more easily managed in school.
lethargic behavior Teachers know your children well enough to recognize unusual behavior, such as lethargy or falling asleep during the morning. This can often be a sign that a child is coming down with an illness. We will advise you if this occurs.
sore throat If a child is complaining of a persistent sore throat, this is an indication of an illness needing care.
suspected conjunctivitis Conjunctivitis is highly contagious and teachers may ask you to take your student to the doctor to rule out conjunctivitis
impetigo or other skin rashes Rashes can be confusing to identify. We will call you to try to help identify what may be causing a rash. The student may need to visit the pediatrician to identify whether a rash is contagious or not.
head lice A parent will be informed if a child has head lice and will be referred to their pediatrician regarding treatment.
The school must be notified of any communicable disease your child may have, so that we can alert other parents to be aware of possible symptoms in their child. Medication will only be administered by staff who are trained in medication administration. Staff will receive renewed training annually by watching the EEC training film “5 Rights of Medication” and bi-annually in first aid training.
Return to school policy Children may return to school after a communicable disease according to the following schedule:
Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye), Impetigo, Strep Throat or Scarlet Fever: 24 hours after medication begins. A child who is sent home with any of the above may not return the next day.
PLEASE HELP US MINIMIZE THE SPREAD OF DISEASE BY FOLLOWING THE ABOVE.
Non-prescription medication PVMS requires a written authorization from a physician in order for a teacher to dispense non-prescription (cough syrup, cough drops, aspirin, etc.) to a child. This must also be accompanied by written permission from the parent in order to be dispensed by a teacher.
Prescription medication, short term Prescription medications must have the child's name, physician's name, dosage and directions on the original label and be accompanied by written permission from the parent in order to be dispensed by a teacher. The staff cannot dispense medication under any other circumstances, per Commonwealth of Massachusetts regulations.
Prescription medication, long term Prescription medications must have the child's name, physician's name, dosage and directions on the original label and be accompanied by written permission from the parent and the physician in order to be dispensed by a teacher. The staff cannot dispense medication under any other circumstances, per Commonwealth of Massachusetts regulations.
Medication should always be handed directly to a staff member, and never put in a child's lunch box or backpack. Please do not instruct your child to take medications on his/her own. All unused medications will be returned to the child's family for disposal.
Parents will be permitted, with the written permission of their child's health care practitioner, to train staff in implementation of their child's individual health care plan.
Medication will only be administered by staff trained in medication administration. Staff will be evaluated annually on their ability to administer medication, following the medication administration procedures specified by the Department of Early Education and Care, and will maintain a medication administration log.
Parents must notify the office of all known allergies. In a case where a child has a life-threatening allergy, parents must meet with the Teacher to discuss the allergy and fill out an emergency plan signed by the parents and child’s physician. If a child requires an epi-pen, these forms, along with a parent consent form, and a physician’s order form, must be filled out and on file prior to the child’s entry to school. The epi-pen must be provided by the parent, and will be kept in an easily accessible place in the child’s classroom, or on the child’s person, when appropriate. Children with life-threatening allergies requiring the use of an epi-pen, children with extensive multiple allergies and children with allergies to commonly used foods, such as eggs, milk, flours should talk with the Head Teacher about providing snacks to supplement what is available at school. The teachers will be happy to assist you in making arrangements to store safe snacks and special snacks for your child.
We ask the parents of children in Children’s House and Kindergarten to support our policy of limiting foods brought to school with peanuts/nuts in them. If your child has something with peanuts/nuts in their lunch box, please label the lunch box (an easily attachable luggage tag or similar with “contains nuts/peanuts”) and bring it to the attention of a teacher. All parents are asked not to bring in foods with nuts or peanuts when providing general snacks for the classroom.
Children in elementary/middle school classes, may bring in peanut and/or nut lunches, and these are to be eaten in the lunch room at designated tables only. Children must also wash their hands/use wipes after eating a peanut or nut lunch. No peanuts or nuts are allowed in the classrooms or in any common areas at the school, other than the designated lunchroom tables. Some allergies are triggered by touch and inhalation as well as ingestion.
We ask parents to refrain from bringing in peanuts or nuts into the school for any other occasion. This includes children who are not students at the school (such as younger siblings). Your cooperation is appreciated in order to keep the school as safe as possible. Take a moment to check the labels for ingredients; some peanut/nut sources are not immediately obvious. If you have any question on the appropriateness of a food, please ask your child’s teacher. We also ask that you label food ingredients if you are bringing in a snack for general consumption.
Toileting Children will be allowed to use the bathroom as requested. Young and newly toilet-trained students will be reminded throughout the day to use the bathroom. Accidents are not uncommon and will be dealt with in a sensitive, understanding manner. Staff will provide supervision of bathroom use. Teachers will guide children in the management of their clothing and hygiene, verbally. If more guidance is needed, it will be given. The bathroom door will remain open, with the teacher standing near the doorway. In the event that a child's clothing becomes soiled or wet, it will be sent home for cleaning. The child will be washed up, given clean clothing and helped to change. At no time will a child be expected to or allowed to remain in soiled clothing during school hours. Staff will insure that the children wash their hands after using the bathroom. The school will maintain a supply of extra clothing for emergency changes. Parents will be requested to provide a change of clothing for their child, labeled, in an individual bag, which will be kept in their classroom.
Biting Biting is a normal characteristic during the early stages of development in young children. In very young children (infants), biting is often associated with teething. In toddlers and young preschool children, biting usually happens when a child’s language skills are not developed enough for them to express themselves. During these stages of development, young children can bite for different reasons; sensory exploration, excitement, intense desire for an activity, and crowding of one’s personal space. Even though this behavior is understandable developmentally, it is still very unsettling for parents, teachers and children when it happens. Biting is not something to blame on children, parents or teachers. Instead, it is a behavior that all parties need to work toward extinguishing.
Here at PVMS, our programs provide an environment that encourages the development of qualities that are synonymous with the Montessori philosophy, some of which are peer conflict resolution through the use of words and respectful and cooperative interactions with each other. Our teachers always try to help students understand the cause and effect associated with their behavior. In cases of biting, we will work with the biting child to develop more appropriate responses to resolving conflicts and frustration.
Due to health and safety concerns, biting is always taken seriously. The following is an outline of our policy for handling a biting incident. • The biter is immediately removed from the group with a firm NO and told that biting is not okay, it hurts. • The bitten child is consoled and a teacher will wash the bitten area with soap and water. • If necessary, ice is applied to reduce any swelling or bruising. • Should the wound require immediate medical attention, appropriate action will be taken and parents will be notified immediately. • The teacher will call both sets of parents. • For the purpose of privacy, the name of the biting child is not released. • Classroom teachers will confer to review the context of the biting incident. Every effort will be made to prevent further biting behavior. • If it is determined that changes in supervision or the environment are warranted, then those changes will be implemented.
At PVMS every effort is made to address and extinguish this behavior. We will balance our support between the family of the biting child and the families in the classroom community. Classroom teachers and/or the level director will communicate their strategies for resolution with the parents of the biting child and will be available for any follow up questions.
If every effort has made and resource used to extinguish the biting behavior and it continues, we may consider asking the family to withdraw their child.
School notices and Communication Many school notices are sent home via the children, although we use email for these notices also. If your child is absent for an extended period of time, we will mail any information that we would have sent home in your child’s bag. A school newsletter is created and emailed each month to inform you of classroom activities, future meetings and events, Board and PTO news. Parents are welcome to use the Newsletter for items to sell, articles on parenting to share, birth announcements, alumni news, etc. Please submit your inclusion in to the school office. Newsletters will be posted on our website and emailed to those who provide us with an address. If you are not receiving communications from us please let us know.
Referral Services If a child’s classroom teacher is concerned that a child may be in need of special services, he or she will discuss her concerns with the Head of School and other classroom teachers for advice. Other teachers and the Head of School will observe the child and review the student’s work. The Head Teacher will document the concerns and bring them to the attention of the parents with recommendations for screening from an appropriate agency. All attempts will be made to support the parents in their pursuit of screening and/or services.
Peace Education and Behavior management The Montessori curriculum has an important component called Peace Education. In this curriculum, the children learn about people of many cultures. The goal of this is to promote tolerance of difference in other people. The children also learn how to solve disagreements between themselves and their friends by learning to say what they are upset about, as well as learn to listen to the other person’s point of view. This curriculum starts in the Children’s House, with the youngest children and continues through the Upper Elementary classroom. As the children mature and develop skills, the focus continues out from the classroom to the community and the world. The goal of behavior management in the Montessori classroom is to facilitate children learning to interact with each other and the materials independently and positively, in a socially responsible manner. The teachers support the growth of the child's inner discipline by preparing a rich and stimulating physical and social environment and encouraging children to make responsible decisions about their behavior. An additional goal is to provide a safe environment for all children and adults in the classroom. Classroom Ground Rules will be clearly, explicitly, and consistently reinforced with the children.
Basic Ground Rules: a. Treat other people, and animals with respect and kindness. b. Treat classroom materials with respect. c. Maintain orderly conduct in the classroom and on school grounds; walk when inside and follow recess rules. d. Use a quiet voice for inside conversation e. Participate fully in all parts of the program. This includes being on time and having the required materials for class (elementary). f. Remain on school grounds and/or under the direct supervision of a teacher during all school activities.
Classroom Management Practices Redirection Suggest alternative behavior/activity to a child, changing the focus from the current negative to a desired positive behavior.
Natural/Logical Consequences When safe and practical to do so, allow children to experience consequences of their own actions (Natural Consequences). When a child cannot be allowed to experience natural consequence (because of danger, prohibition, or not very obvious consequence), the teacher presents to the child a logical consequence.
Conflict Resolution When two children are involved in an argument, a teacher will ask both children to participate in solving the problem as well as finding words to express the conflict and the feelings associated with the argument. The teacher will attempt to have both children reach a reasonable solution that they can both be in agreement with.
Prohibited Discipline Methods: a. Corporal punishment shall not be used; including spanking. b. No child shall be subjected to cruel or severe punishment, humiliation or verbal or physical abuse, or neglect. c. No child shall be denied food as a form of punishment. d. No child shall be punished for soiling, wetting, or not using the toilet e. No child may be fully and/or consistently deprived of participation in any significant portion of the program. Example: outside play, or special activity f. Material goods may not be used as rewards or punishments. g. Staff may not threaten to, or actually report a child's behavior to parent(s) for the purpose of intimidating the child. h. Children will not be confined to a swing, high chair, crib, playpen or any other piece of equipment for an extended period of time, in lieu of supervision. i. It is highly unusual for the behavior management technique known as "time out" to be used at PVMS. If it should be used, time out may not exceed one minute for each year of the child's age and must take place within an educator's view.
Suspension, Probation and Expulsion Pioneer Valley Montessori School will make every attempt to resolve difficulties that arise, but occasionally this is not possible and severe measures are necessary. Preschool students and elementary students differ in many ways and so too will the methods used to try to modify a student’s behavior. If a child’s behavior becomes, or continues to be, unmanageable in school and is not responsive to various behavior management techniques, parents will be called in for a conference to address the issue. These behaviors may be, but not limited to, aggression toward other children or teachers, disruption of normal classroom function, destruction of school property, non-compliance with classroom rules.
The Head Teacher, in concert with the Head of School, will attempt first to manage the behavior. If a child does not respond to recommended strategies, the parents may be asked to: 1. meet with the Head Teacher and Head of School 2. seek outside professional advice 3. keep the child home for a period of time 4. the child may be asked to leave the program
Suspension For children in the elementary classes, suspension is a consequence that may help them to realize the seriousness of their unacceptable behavior. Suspension is not used for preschool or kindergarten children.
Probation There is a 6 week probation period for all students at the beginning of his/her enrollment at Pioneer Valley Montessori School. At the end of that period, a child may be asked to leave the school if it is felt that the school cannot meet the student’s academic or emotional needs. Other periods of probation may be useful to set a focused period of time in which to attempt to modify a student’s behavior or to assess whether the student’s academic needs are being met.
Expulsion A student may be expelled for the following reasons: 1. If a student deliberately harms another student or teacher 2. If a student damages or destroys school property 3. If a student is suspended repeatedly or does not meet the terms of the suspension 4. If a student or family does not support or follow the school’s policies or procedures
Compulsory Withdrawal Compulsory withdrawal will only be recommended when either the individual child’s needs cannot be met and/or the impact of the child’s behavior is adversely affecting the rest of the students and positive management of the classroom. The parent will be provided with written documentation of the reasons for termination.
Bullying Pioneer Valley Montessori School recognizes that students should have a safe, orderly, civil and positive learning environment. Bullying is a form of dangerous and disrespectful behavior that will not be tolerated at PVMS.
Bullying is any overt act or combination of such acts directed against a student by another student or group of students and which: a) occurs during the school day on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity, on the internet between students who attend PVMS b) is intended to ridicule, humiliate, or intimidate the student; and c) is repeated over time.
PVMS has a Bullying Prevention Plan that is available for review in the office. Faculty and staff members are trained in bullying prevention.
Transitions The staff will help the child prepare for a transition from our program in a developmentally appropriate manner. Teachers will be available for collaboration and information sharing between educators in each classroom or program with parental permission.
Mandated Reporting Under Massachusetts law, all teachers are required to report all known or suspected cases of child abuse. If child abuse is suspected, the Head of School and Head Teacher will make written documentation of any observations and will contact Children’s Protective Services of DSS to file a 51-A and the Office of Early Education and Care to report the suspected abuse. All staff are given materials about recognizing signs of abuse and/or neglect.
Any allegations concerning abuse or neglect of a child while in the care of PVMS are to be reported to the Head of School. The Head of School must, in turn, report any allegations to the President of the Board of Trustees as well as the Department of Social Services on a 51-A form. The Head of School will also notify the Office of Early Education and Care. Staff members accused of abuse will be suspended immediately, without pay, pending the Department of Social Services investigation.
Conferences Teachers will schedule a formal parent conference in October to discuss your child’s experience at PVMS. An additional conference will be held in March. However, do not hesitate to contact a teacher if you wish to ask a question, or receive an update on your child’s development, anytime during the school year. If you have a concern about your child or have a problem you would like to discuss, please contact your child’s teacher for information and to discuss the issue. If you need further assistance, please contact the Head of School.
To help us in working with your child, please keep us informed of any major changes that occur in your child’s life - any serious illnesses or hospitalizations, the move of a close relative, a death in the family, the loss of a pet - this will help us support your child.
Parent Education Parent Education evenings may be offered during the year and are announced through the school Newsletter. Through these evenings, parents can deepen their understanding of the Montessori philosophy and curriculum, as well as develop their parenting skills and talk with other parents. We have a small lending library of books and videos available to parents.
Observations Parents are welcome and encouraged to observe their children. We have observation windows in some of the classrooms, which allow you to observe without being observed. Please arrange a time to observe with the main office or the head teacher of your child’s class.
Parent Involvement We welcome parent participation in a variety of ways. If you have a special talent, an interesting occupation, diverse cultural background or just some free time to share with your child's class, please contact a teacher for arrangements to come in. Examples: reading or storytelling, outdoor activities, art projects, handwriting, cooking, music experiences, animal visits, sharing of cultural customs and traditions.
Sharing any of the above activities with your child’s classroom should be arranged, in advance, with your child’s teacher. While parents are welcome to observe classrooms through observation windows, we do not encourage interaction in the classroom. Parents who linger in a classroom at drop-off time, or drop in unexpectedly, can unintentionally change the flow of the classroom learning environment, and redirect the teacher’s focus. Please do not linger or drop in unexpectedly to your child’s classroom. Parents who arrive late, or arrive unexpectedly during the day, will be asked to remain outside the classroom, either to drop their child off, or to observe through the windows.
If you need to talk with your child’s teacher, please make arrangements to talk at a time when the teacher is not responsible for the students. Morning arrival or afternoon dismissal times are periods of the day when the teacher’s full attention needs to be on the students.
Contacting the school We have a telephone answering system to receive messages before 7:30 a.m. and after 6 p.m. Messages left will be responded to as quickly as possible. The school’s phone number is 782-3108. The school's FAX number is 782-3109. The head of school’s email is: email@example.com. The Administrative Assistant’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit our web site at www.pvms.org.
Class Lists Published Class Lists are for the sole purpose of school communications. They are not to be used for either personal or business solicitation. Parent email addresses will not be shared by the school. We trust that all parents will respect this policy and keep these addresses and phone numbers confidential. Please mail party invitations to students rather than sending them into school to be passed out.
Classroom-Shared Snacks (Children’s House and Lower Elementary only) The families of the school provide snack to their child’s classroom, giving the children an opportunity to share a variety of snacks with their classmates. Each family is asked to send a week's supply of snacks for their child's class on a rotating basis. In most classes, this will mean 2 weeks per year. A snack schedule will be distributed at the beginning of the year and again mid-year with each family's scheduled week(s). As the daily snack is a part of each child's nutritional intake for the day, we ask that the snacks be low in sugar and include items such as: crackers, cheese, fruit, bagels, vegetables, dips, raisins, popcorn, muffins, breads, 100% fruit juices or milk. Please avoid sending cookies, fruit rollups, fruit candies, or other sweet snacks. There are children in the school with severe nut allergies so we ask that you do not send nuts, peanut butter or snacks with nuts as an ingredient. Snacks are provided for the Toddler classroom.
Upper Elementary will be shopping for their snacks.
Lunches Children staying for full day programs should bring a lunch and beverage from home. Please note that lunches are not refrigerated, so include an ice pack for lunches that need to be kept cool. The lunch teachers are able to heat up leftovers or soups in a microwave, but we ask that you do not send frozen foods, as they take too long to cook. We emphasize the importance of a nutritional diet as part of our program and therefore encourage well-balanced meals. Please include some form of protein, fruit or vegetable and nutritious beverage in daily lunches. Candy and sodas are not permitted. Please note in paragraph above information about nut allergies.
Clothing Policy School dress should allow students to participate comfortably in all physical and outdoor activities. Clothing is expected to cover the body fully and not create distractions from school work. Ripped or torn clothing should not be worn to school. If clothing has pictures or messages on it, the message must be judged appropriate and acceptable by Head of School. Tank tops are not allowed and skirts, shorts and dresses must come half way down a student’s thigh. Undergarments must be covered at all times. Hats that are worn to school need to be taken off inside the building. Students who come to school dressed inappropriately will be asked to call home to request a change of clothing. Headwear for religious purposes is acceptable.
Some school activities involve the use of paints, chalk, paste, water and other potentially messy materials. Please have your student dress in clothing that he/she does not need to worry about, so that they will be comfortable participating in these activities.
All children, except toddlers, should have shoes for outdoor play, and another pair of shoes that stay inside. We sit on floors and rugs at PVMS, and want to avoid bringing in as much of the outdoors on our feet as possible. Safety is an issue here, too. Sneakers are the best bet for outside play. Flip-flops are a hazard both indoors and out, and should not be part of the footwear plan. Woodchips can be very uncomfortable in sandals, and we don‘t recommend them. Indoor shoes should be comfortable and safe, and if you choose slippers they should safely stay on their feet, have a sole that would enable them to go outside in an emergency, and enable them to easily go up and down stairs in the school.
For younger children: One of the goals of a Montessori classroom is fostering independence. As soon as the children come inside, they are encouraged to do things for themselves. You can help children by purchasing clothing that he/she can manage independently. Buttons that are small or difficult, sticky zippers or tight boots make it difficult for children to have that good feeling of "I can do it myself." We have child-sized bathrooms so that the children need not wait for help whenever they have to use it. Please choose clothing that he/she can easily manage. The School keeps some extra clothing on hand for emergency use.
Outdoor Play There is a daily outdoor recess period scheduled for all classes. Children are encouraged to use the outdoor environment, weather and playground conditions permitting. During the winter months, please dress your child appropriately for outdoor play. Children must have boots, snow pants, mittens and hats in order to play outdoors when there is snow on the playground. Any child who is not well enough to fully participate in class activities, including outdoor recess and physical education should be kept at home for the day.
Toys Toys should be left at home, as children are encouraged to take advantage of the variety of materials available to them in the classroom. Also, toys may become lost or broken in the course of the school day, causing disappointment for the child. Books, tapes and items from nature or of special interest to share with the class are welcome at anytime. Please label all items brought to school.
Field Trips Children’s House families have signed a permission slip to allow children to go on the two or three usual field trips. You will be notified prior to each trip and offered the opportunity to join us on the field trip. If there are other field trips, your child will be given a permission slip to return to the school. Elementary families have signed a permission slip to allow their children to go on all field trips. You will be notified, well in advance of the trip, and reminded of anything special your child might need. A fee for individual field trips is usually assessed according to admission fees and bus transportation. In addition to the teachers, parent volunteers will be asked to chaperone these trips if needed. Parents need to have had a CORI process completed through the school to chaperone a group. Applications are available in the office.
Birthday Celebrations Please speak to your child’s teacher to find out how that class celebrates birthdays. You are warmly invited to join your child’s class for the celebration. For the younger children (Toddlers and Children’s House) we request that no sweet treats be brought to school for birthday celebrations. These groups have a lovely birthday ritual that is satisfying to both children and parents.
Holiday Celebrations The classes celebrate holidays from a traditional and ethnic perspective rather than a religious one. To recognize the importance individual holidays may have to children, we welcome parents and children to share their celebrations with their class. In general, holidays are observed through food preparation, stories, songs and art projects. As much as possible, we wish to avoid the over-commercialization of a holiday and instill in the children a sense of celebration - sharing with others. Please contact your child's teacher if you wish to share a holiday tradition with a class. Please let us know if your child does not participate in holiday traditions.
Questions or Concerns If you have questions and/or concerns about PVMS, please do not hesitate to call the school and talk to the appropriate person. We are here to help you. If your question or concern is directly related to your child’s experience in the classroom, please speak with the classroom Head Teacher first. Please feel free to contact the Head of School at any time to ask questions or discuss an issue. Charmaine Fowler, Administrative Assistant, is available to help with questions about school procedures and can answer questions about tuition billings and payments.
Parents may contact Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) regarding PVMS’s regulatory compliance history at the local office, located at 95 Liberty Street, Suite 1124. Springfield, MA 01103, tel. # (413) 788-8401.