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From Ivonne Delaflor

"Happiness doesn't come from being rich, nor merely from being successful in your career, nor by self-indulgence. One step towards happiness is to make yourself healthy and strong while you are a boy so that you can be useful and so you can enjoy life when you are a man." Robert Baden-Powell

I love and honor my son.

As a mother I have the moral responsibility to support him, to celebrate his active male energy, to believe in who he chooses to be, to offer a safe space for his emotions, create a healthy environment, and hold the vision that this boy will one day turn into a whole man.

And I know without a doubt, that when that day comes, I will celebrate his rite of passage by honoring and respecting his own choices, acknowledging the man he chooses to become, and letting go of the little boy.

For I know that His inner child will go with him... and the whole man that he will become will love and care for him.

What an honor it is to parent with love a unique human being.


From Barbara Jacques

Every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday morning, I drive to Plymouth school, to teach music classes. There is an elderly gentleman crossing guard on the corner of Washington and Sugnet. He lives in that house, on the corner. He is faithful to his post, regardless of the weather, tending the safety of the students. Seeing him is a very special part of my day. I look to him, he knows my car, we always greet each other as I pass through the intersection.We wave, he always tosses up his arms, we smile at each other, and we have become friends...without ever speaking. That all changed on Tuesday morning. On Tuesday morning, as I approached the intersection, the light turned red. I jumped out of my car, quickly ran to him, gave him a big hug, and said, "I'm the music teacher. Thank you, for all you do." He said, "Thank you, too". I ran back to the car, before the light turned green, and went on to school. Thursday morning, when I approached the intersection, we waved again, he threw up his arms, we smiled, same as always...and this time, he blew me a kiss. Just a little bit later, he walked into the music room, still dressed in his full crossing guard outfit, right after the morning bell rang. He had a baritone ukulele in his arms. It was in the original box, and he also had some books for me, chords, songs, etc. He said he wanted me to have it all. I teared up, with gratitude, gave him another hug, and said, "I don't know your name". He told me his name is Charles. I told him my name is Barbara. Now, we are friends who know each other's names. I will next ask him if I can come over, and play the ukulele with him. Charles and I are friends.


From Mathew J Peters

I'll never say, "I wish I wouldn't have taken the time to dance with my daughter to La La Land"



From Dana Arias

I just gave a presentation to 30 young men. All of them came from foster homes. When I was done with my program they all told me they had had a teacher that believed in them. We are powerful! Let's not forget it


From Ivonne Delaflor

The more I am present to keep the safety, set clear healthy boundaries, and the less I intervene in the play of my son with his friends, as long as they know there is an adult around, I've noticed their problem solving skills increasing, harmony enhanced, and joy for play growing. The less I rescue the more emotional intelligence skills strengthen as well in them.


From Barbara Jacques

A first grade class was practicing songs for our February "Love and Friendship" concert. They asked me which of our concert songs was my favorite. I answered, and then wrote my answer on the chalk board, so they will remember.


From Barbara Jacques

A third grade student made me a beautiful purple yarn necklace, yesterday. She brought it with her to music class, asked me to lower, and gently tied it around my neck. I'll wear it again, today. At Plymouth, we are wearing purple and orange for non-violence awareness. My necklace represents love and kindness.


From Ivonne Delaflor

Our homeschool lesson of the day: "You and only you are responsible for your happiness."


From Barbara Jacques

Ah, kindergarten ~ How I adore them....

"My dear young friends", begins Leonard Bernstein, narrator of Camille Saint-Saens' famous zoological romp, "The Carnival of the Animals". Before our music class movement experience, I asked, "Can you name an animal in the zoo?" Several names were offered, including, "Yes! I would like to name the Giraffe Batman!"


From Barbara Jacques

Every teacher knows the story.
We know the story is real.
We are always looking for starfish.


From Barbara Lehnen Jacques.

And once again, summer vacation and the first day of school converge. Summer passes the baton, faithfully, to autumn. Musicians use penultimate, when discussing the second to last composition chord. It is a preparation for the end. There are two ways to think of this day, in regard to summer vacation. Either as the penultimate summer vacation day, or the precursor to the school year. Given my life long propensity for leaning forward, it should come as no jolt my perspective on this day is precursor ~ First day of school eve, if you will. This is a day of heightened preparation, because tomorrow will be magical. Tomorrow, we will begin.


From Amy Geiser Pommereau

Olivier just said:
Mama, help me to do it all by myself!

Proud Montessori mama right here!!!

From Barbara Lehnen Jacques.

Last evening, I had a visit with a now grown Cook student. I stopped in at Walgreens and when I got to the check out, she smiled and said, "You were my music teacher at Cook School." I called her by name, and said, "I sure was! Where are you in life?"

She told me she wants to be a photographer and is taking classes and designing a dark room. I told her she IS a photographer and is building her craft and skill set. I told her to know she IS a photographer, then do the things a photographer does and not the other way around. I'm so excited for her.


From Barbara Lehnen Jacques

Today, a 2nd grade student stopped me in the hall, to say, "Hey, Mrs. Jacques, remember when you had us write places of sound, like up and down and anywhere we wanted them to go, and we were hearing in our heads? Well, I was just remembering that and I was doing it just now. I saw them in my head and then I heard them in my head and I laughed because I figured out they were like the sounds of a fire engine and can we do that again?" "Yes, we can!"


From Barbara Lehnen Jacques

Yesterday, as I was setting up the music room for afternoon classes, I heard two girls in the hall. One said, "Get Mrs. Jacques. Hurry!" I went out, and there was a spider on the floor, right where all the students rush in and out of the recess door. I said, "Oh, I see, let me find a soft tissue. Keep an eye on the spider." I came back, and gently gathered it into the tissue. We carefully took it outside and set it in a safe place. As it scampered away, I said, "There. Safe." I can't even imagine, over the years, how many times students have seen me take a living thing safely outside. Now, they come to get me, and we do it, together.


From Barbara Lehnen Jacques

Today, in a 2nd grade music class, one of the students said, "I think it's nice that the piano is always at our concerts. Every time, it's always there with us." I explained that the instruments become our friends. Our piano is part of our team. Everyone understood. It was such a wonderful moment.


From Amy Phoenix

I have an experience to share, and look forward to any related experiences/insights anyone else would like to share in response.

My oldest three children are biracial and we live in a town that is predominantly white. The high school is 93% white. We're not moving right now (for various reasons).

I wasn't prepared as a mom to deal with the racism my children would experience being biracial. Their father and I divorced when my oldest was 8 and we never had practical conversations about how to prepare them. My instinctual response to racism, even way back before being married, is deep sadness and anger. As a mom this has shown up as protectiveness, and anger and sadness.

Recently though my son who's thirteen has needed to let me know that I cannot understand what they experience, because I'm white. I wasn't prepared for the defensiveness that came up in me. I don't want to be associated with those who hate and he's almost lumped me in with them when he's feeling hurt about racism he's experiencing. So I first tried to explain that while I don't understand, I can relate and I care deeply. He still felt like I don't "get it". He wanted me to stop acting like it was my problem or that I can relate. (Momma bear inside of me wanted to tell him that he didn't get me either!)

Last night I acknowledged again that I'll never understand what they're experiencing because I'm white, but that WE will deal with it together because I won't leave them alone to deal with it on their own because I love and care for them. I'm their mom and I'm here for them.

Something shifted for him in hearing it that way, he said he didn't understand me and what I was sharing until then. To me, it was only slightly different than what I'd been saying and of the same intent, but to him it was argument ending and he finally felt heard.

So... How often are we trying to convey understanding but we're stuck on some piece of the communication, and how do we help ourselves and our kids through this? Or... What's it like when we don't understand and that hurts and we're not sure how to best handle situation with our kids? Or... What else comes to you on situations like these where we are facing a parenting challenge we feel unprepared to deal with?


From Barbara Lehnen Jacques

The caterpillars arrived in our 3rd grade classrooms, today.
The children are so excited to see them turn into butterflies.
I know they're going to love it. I know, because ~
I watch children turn into butterflies, every day! 


From Cheri Najor-Young

When a group of loud teens let the "F" bomb fly once too many times in a Chicago Dunkin' Donuts yesterday, I decided something had to be done. The result was SHOCKING. I simply turned, looked in their direction and raised an eyebrow. One of the teens responded, "My bad." I then walked over to their table and confronted them directly. "You," I said, pointing at the teen who spoke to me, "You are a leader. You took responsibility and I want to thank you for apologizing to me. You just set a good example for my son over there. In fact, I want to thank all of you for speaking respectfully from now on." I paused, and smiled at each of them. They smiled back. I sat down with my son and didn't hear a single bomb go off for the next hour. To all of my teachers who taught me the power of catching bees with honey, thank you.


From Elizabeth Gilbert

Dear Ones -

A friend of my page named Charlotte Murphy sent me this photo the other day. She teaches art to fifth graders (first of all, GOD BLESS YOU FOR TEACHING ART TO FIFTH GRADERS, CHARLOTTE) and she has found that already, many of them are too locked-down by fear to be creative. (It starts so early, you guys. It starts so early.)

So, recently, she read them the section of BIG MAGIC where I talk about how fear is allowed to have a seat in the car, when we are being creative, but it's not allowed to drive.

The kids came up with the inspired idea that the art classroom should have a FEAR CHAIR, where fear will be allowed to sit —but not allowed to control everyone's creative process. Each child wrote their fears on the chair, just to get them out. (Please note, if you look closely, the fears range from "tests" to "football"...I love this so much.)

When it's time to create, the kids now understand that they have to send their fear to sit in the FEAR CHAIR...and then they can get back to work.

Notice that the kids don't try to banish their fear (because we all know that's impossible; fear always acts up and throws temper tantrums when we try to banish it) but they bravely give their fear a name, and then give their fear a nice, pretty, respectful chair to sit in. They acknowledge that fear will always be in the room...and then they get back to the business of making things, anyway.

It's such a beautiful idea, and I was so moved by this — by the handmade ritual (all my favorite rituals are handmade) of literally giving fear a seat, but not allowing it to take command.

Just wonderful, Charlotte — and so inspiring! Tell your students that I think they're geniuses, and that soon I'll be making my own FEAR CHAIR, which I will put in a prominent corner of my own writing room, where I can keep a close eye on it. I want my old familiar friend fear to know that I respect its right to be part of my life...but that it must keep its butt placed firmly RIGHT THERE.

In the corner.

And not one inch closer.




From Barbara Lehnen Jacques

Last night, at the Carpenter Street School Talent Show, a child said to me, "I like the way you play the piano, Mrs. Jacques. I think that might be your talent." This child's gift to me was letting me know that he was aware of me. He was sharing a life moment with me, and gave me the gift of letting me know he was aware of me. I do believe this is one of the finest things we can do for each other :)


From Michele Ly, Jersey City, NJ

Everyday things observed today:

- A teacher kneeling with a distraught child who had just kicked her and was crouching in his cubby, looking for the entire world like he wanted to disappear. After telling him he could not kick her, she saw that he was trying to use one of his calm-down strategies, which is to hold his breath for a moment. She counted for him. "Three seconds! Think you can try for four?" They made it to eight. "How do you feel?" "I feel better. I'm sorry." "I feel better, too. Thank you for your apology. What do you think you can do next?" He stood up and hugged her, and then they went back into the classroom together.

- A child with motor challenges carrying a bowl full of water down the length of the hallway, from the bathroom to his classroom. He made it almost the whole way before spilling a little— he stopped short, causing the water to slosh a little harder over the sides. He looked in alarm at the bowl, at the floor, at his teacher who was watching from the doorway. She nodded. "It's okay. Come inside and set the bowl down. We can wipe that up and then come back." visibly relieved, he carried the bowl the rest of the way, came back to clean up his spill, and then resumed his work. Think of all the successes involved here...

- a pair of 4-year-olds working with the Decimal Layout (a base-ten work that involves laying out numeral cards for 1-9, 10-90, 100-900 and 1000-9000 out on a rug, then laying out equivalent quantities of golden beads to each numeral— it takes a while) finally finish after working on it for a day and a half. They posed for pictures beside the column of thousand cubes, they high-fived. They did a little dance. …annnnd then they noticed that they'd actually stacked the 8000 with 7 thousand cubes and the 7000 with 8 thousand cubes and looked at each other— "oh, no! Whoops!"— But they fixed it with a quick swap and then high-fived again & kept dancing.

- A little girl in my own class wrote her name for the first time. "Heyyyy…. I didn't know you could do that!" "I… I didn't know that I could, either!" stunned by her own competence, I think she made her own day by 10 am.

- A boy building collaboratively with a friend, making agreements and asking questions of his buddy. "But I don't want to! You have twelve blocks and I have ten, do I HAVE to give you more? Let's build together, both our blocks. I build a house, you build a car…"
-- This boy was non-verbal before he began here 8 months ago.

- A little boy in my class who, earlier in the year (as in, three weeks ago), went through a thing where he was "borrowing" pieces of work and taking them home "for vacation" saw a little girl pocket a jacket from a doll-dressing work. He ran to me and told on her. I asked him, "I see. Do you think I need to talk to her? Or do you think you can talk to her about it?" he chose to talk to her—and he was respectful and kind. "If you take that jacket home, you might forget to bring it back, or it might get lost and you might not be able to bring it back. And then other kids won't be able to put it on the doll. They might feel sad about that, so can you, you know, leave it here? Maybe you can tell your mom you want a dressing doll at your house. Or. I bet someone can let you borrow one, too."

- Children from several classrooms lining up for the bathroom before lunch. A little boy from my classroom really, really needed to go— he was in his spot wiggling and holding his crotch. The girl next to him (from another class) took him by the hand, brought him to me, and said, "Ms. Michele, Ms. Michele! He needs to pee! RIGHT NOW!" — "ok! Get there! get there!" and she ran him up to the very front of this very long line and glanced up to the teacher directing children into the stalls, explaining, "this is urgent!" once the little boy was safely in a stall, she went back to the teacher at the front of the line and said, "I'm sorry! I didn't want him to have an accident!" — And then she returned to her original spot in line, which friends graciously gave back to her.

- Older children from the elementary program coming down to visit and read with our littler guys. Littler guys hanging on every word.

- A teacher working really, really hard to pick up for/cover for her teaching peer, who has been sick and not operating at 100%. No complaints. I acknowledged her; she shrugged, "c'mon family."

- Admin professional development on family systems this afternoon. In my session today, it was just me and my wonderful administrative peer/co-director. These sessions are confidential, but I can tell you that Ms. LaLa continues to awe me with her focus, her work ethic and her heart.

This is just a snapshot, and one from a day when I wasn't even around the classrooms all that much.

Yes, we give them the academic pieces they need to do well in the world. But we give them so much more than that, too.

Happy Montessori Week, everyone!


From Ivonne Delaflor Alexander

This is not a mess. 
This is homeschool.

Goals of the day covered: letters, numbers, reading, now cleaning up to build a Christmas Village.

Investing time in the education of our children is a privilege.

We will learn about Benjamin Franklin too and invent something new today.

Thinking big starts at home.

Love being a mom.


From Cheri Najor-Young

"Yes, Mr. Principal, I want my detention", said my son to his principal this morning.

So it seems my son made some "gestures" in class that were deemed inappropriate. Yes, "those" tweeny, experimental gestures.

Today, however, he marched into the principal's office and said, "I just don't see how serving a detention will TEACH me anything. So can I clean the bathrooms or rake leaves or do something positive for the school? I mean, just sitting there doesn't make sense."

Editor's note: This mother is a Spirit Whisperer. How do I know? I just know.


From Ivonne Delaflor Alexander

I have learned so much, by observation, the past three hours, about cooperation, teamwork, community, harmony, support, unity in diversity and the intelligent system carried through the law of natural order.

How have I learned it?

By being present, quiet and by observing, without intrusion, (while still knowing my place of guardian of safety) how children play.

What have I learned?

We are by nature wired towards building connection; we are created as a system. And when we allow the flow of what is to be as is, and respect the laws of growth and evolution, harmony and peace are natural outcomes of the system in place, installed in nature created in absolute perfection.

Yes a perfection that when seen through the eyes of the heart, becomes a map, and a guiding light to the manifestation of more magical discoveries in the gift that is life.


Contiributed by Cheri Najor-Young

An e-mail just received from my son.

Hi Mom,

I just wanted to inform you that i have a C+ in my math class. I don't think this is due to my teacher. I just think I need to understand the concept a little bit better on adding and subtracting integers. I was at a great start before, and I would like to keep that going.

From, Michael

My response:

Hi Bud,

Thank you for the note! Yep, I saw your C+ grade on the parent portal. I'm not the least bit concerned. Remember: grades are only a reflection of what you do and don't understand. They're a mirror, that's all. I agree, maybe you need to study a little more...and I also agree that you were off to a great start, and I have no doubt you will be again!

I believe in you... xoxox


From Darren Mattock

It's 1am. I am curled up in Charlie's bed ready for sleep. He decided he wanted to swap beds tonight. I said yes. Goodnight. Hello dinosaurs.