October Newsletter 2018

Personalized, Not Individualized, Education

 “There is no description, no image in any book capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them in a real forest.”    -Maria Montessori

We live in the desert, where our trees are cacti. Even though some may consider us to be tree huggers here at the Montessori Education Centre, they’d never find us squeezing a saguaro, unless they see us with our students.

Can you tell the difference between those that are succulents and those that are not? Can you tell which ones are prickly? You know, there are ones who might as well wear a sign that reads, “You’re welcome to look, but DO NOT TOUCH!”

Students with exceptionalities can’t be the exception. Why not? They belong in the Montessori classroom. These children come with their imperfections, deficits, limitations, and challenges.

Although students with special needs require individualized education planning, the premise of the Montessori philosophy and the practice of the Montessori method offer so much more than that. Montessori education isn’t individualized; it’s personalized. To replace any child with an ‘image,’ or what we may imagine the child to be, would be like replacing the real flowers of our Peace Garden with plastic plants!

Life is found in our school whenever isolation is transformed into inclusion, exclusion is transformed into engagement, and assessment is transformed into accommodation. Maria Montessori wasn’t indifferent to difference and neither will I be.

Why do I love living here? And, why do I love learning and growing as a Montessori teacher here? Because, of all places, our exceptional ‘cacti’ don’t just survive but thrive here. They’re uniquely, and even strangely, beautiful just as they are. And so, I have to ask…

“If you were a tree, what tree would you be?”

by Genine Telepak, Lower Elementary Teacher

YSA Goals for 2018-2019

The United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. These goals are a collection of 17 global goals set by the UN General Assembly. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation prosperity, and peace and justice.  The SDG interconnect and, in order to leave no one behind, it is important to achieve each goal and target by 2030. 

Maria Montessori supported the work of the League of Nations and its successor the United Nations as a forum where peace could be created. She recognized the hope for a better world for all lies in the education of children.

MEC was one of 20 schools across the nation selected by Youth Service America (YSA) as a School of Impact. YSA helps young people find their voice, take action, and make an impact on vital community issues. In response to the release and call for action of the SDG, YSA's mission is to help educate young people and their communities about the goals in order to achieve them by 2030.

These past two years we have focused on a specific goal per year. This year, our school is gaining a broader understanding of all 17 goals and how they are interconnected. We want our students to have a more conclusive understanding of these goals and what actions we can do in our daily lives to help achieve them.

For example, students have been having discussions around consumption and production of materials. As consumers, there are two ways to help:  reducing our waste and being thoughtful about what we are buying, as well as choosing a sustainable option whenever possible. As a community, it has been decided that we were going to reduce our waste by not having prizes at our Halloween Mercado, which tend to mostly consist of plastic, one of the main pollutants of the ocean. The students are also discussing the food waste that occurs at Mercado and coming up with some solutions to ensure our waste is minimal. The discussions also center around how we can still have fun and achieve the goals of Mercado but, at the same time, make choices that will lead to achieving the SDG.

by Cassi Mackey, M.Ed, Principal

Miles for Maji Memories

Although our collective memories of our Miles for Maji event will be forever embedded into our hearts and souls, we wanted a tangible reminder of this transformational experience.  Please take the time to watch the video that captures the spirit of that day so beautifully. 

For those of you who are new to MEC and would like to know more about this event, please read our articles about this event in our April 2018 and May 2018 newsletters. 

Special thanks to Bri Otteman for making this incredible video, Pete Chenen for shooting video on the day, Trent Whiting for shooting his drone video, Kathi McKinney for her still photos, and Cassi Mackey for the vision.

Special Gift from Save the Rain

Dear MEC Community,

I wanted to personally thank you, not only for your incredible effort and generosity but for your injection of inspiration into my world and the world around us.

To watch the video and see the innovation of your community deeply affected me. It was clear that everyone involved felt the impact of their actions and shared a broad compassion for those they were working towards serving. Your caring efforts will create sustainable solutions and opportunity for an abundant life for women and children half way across the globe. We are so very thankful for your global consciousness. Each of you is what is good in this world.

Please accept this gift as a token of our gratitude. It is a Masai wedding collar, beaded almost 85 years ago and worn by both the bride and groom on their wedding day. It was created by the bride’s mother and each rung of the ring was beaded as a map to guide the couple in making the most lasing footprints in their world. This ring is a symbol of their partnership to each other, to their family, and to their community. We gift it to you in gratitude for our shared commitment to help those living without clean water. Together, we work to make the idea of walking for water a distant memory.

To the students of MEC, I need to say that you have cleared my doubts for the future. Knowing that one day, in the not so distant future, people like you will be the decision makers solidifies a bright future for us all. It is clear that compassion is very much part of how your choices are made.

To the faculty and parents, in a time where the masses seem to follow without question, thank you for raising children who are willing and confident enough to not only do what is right but do it with so much individual conviction. It is clear that you are nurturing global citizens who deeply care about our world. Investing in them is a great investment for us all.

With so much gratitude,

Kelly Coleman, President/Executive Director of Save the Rain


If you have not had the opportunity to see this beautiful wedding collar,

please come see it in our front office.

What is Mercado?

Mercado (Spanish for “open market”) is a Financial Literacy program that introduces basic economic principles and financial literacy to children in an exciting and challenging way. Mercado also develops community between students. The guiding principles of Mercado are:

  1. experiential learning- immersing learners in action and asking them to reflect on their experience
  2. constructivism- students construct their own knowledge base and values as they interact with their physical and social environments
  3. collaborative learning- leaning occurs through social interaction

After completing a general, economic-based curriculum (individualized to the age and developmental abilities of the child), the school puts on the Mercado twice-a-year. After selecting products and/or services, students form stores, create a business plan, and learn skills related to their store (production and/or practicing services). They develop budgets and marketing strategies, advertise, take out a bank loan, pay rent, pay employee salaries, analyze and create price-points, and keep track of inventory. Each elementary classroom creates businesses. They also shop at their schoolmates’ stores. Primary classes have the opportunity to shop and interact with these older students. Mercado “money” is earned throughout the year. Every student has the opportunity to earn the same amount of money, and teachers are asked to decide how children merit a specific amount.

Can We Come to Mercado?

In the service of our children is a phrase that guides our decisions on a daily basis. It is our practice to look at every aspect of a lesson or an activity to help create an experience that will optimally benefit our children. We take the time to reflect on both the process and outcome. Through many discussions, we have come to the conclusion that, in order to keep the integrity of the Mercado as a financial literacy program, it is best to only have students participate in the version of this event that occurs around Halloween. 

In the past couple of years, Mercado participants have grown significantly. Although we enjoy welcoming family and friends to our event, it has become counterintuitive to the lessons we are trying to provide for our students. Our smallest of students are getting lost within the sea of adults, students don’t have time to engage in conversation while serving others, and there is little time for grace and courtesy lessons or lessons on how to conduct business. It has also become a financial burden on our elementary parents.

It is our greatest hope that, as Montessori parents, you understand that our goal is not to exclude you but to help our students get the most out of this worthwhile experiential lesson.

by Cassi Mackey, M.Ed, Principal

Check it Out


  • The wedding collar from Save the Rain in our front office
  • Montessori Leadership magazine in our front office. Our principal, Cassi Mackey's article on "Living Montessori Through Courageous Conversations" was published in the latest issue.
  • Grace, the tortoise, our new addition to the Peace Garden. She will be hibernating soon.  

Poetry to make you smile


Whoever invented socks is a genius

They’re my favorite part of clothes

Like personal clouds for my feet

So comfy, I want to hug them

Wrap them around my feet

Like a kitten around its mother


Socks love me and I love them

They’re like cotton angels encircling my feet

No matter what

I’ll always love socks


And underwear


by Caden Dale, age 12

Dates to Remember

Book orders are due Friday, October 19th. Please make checks payable to MEC.

Fall Break is October 8th - 12th. 

Vision Screenings (not including toddler) are Wednesday, October 24th.

Upcoming Events

Popcorn Palace fundraiser will be Monday, October 1st - Wednesday, October 17th.

Elementary Mustangs - Upper Elementary Mustangs will practice every Wednesday starting October 3rd. Lower Elementary Mustangs will practice every Thursday starting October 4th. Both practices will run from 3:30-5:00pm. Snack and water will be provided.   Water bottles are required (please label with first and last name). Carline on Robin Lane will run from 5:05 - 5:15 pm. 

Halloween Mercado is Friday, October 26th. This Mercado is for students only. Students may wear costumes to the Mercado with the exception of masks and any props that may be considered a weapon. Please be mindful that, as the day progresses, parts of the costumes tend to get lost. Please label, with first and last name, parts of your child's costume that could be easily misplaced. 

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is Monday, October 29th - Thursday, November 8th. The value of participating in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is twofold. First, the money that students raise will help provide children in need with medicine, nutrition, clean water, education, and emergency relief. Second, our students will learn about the social problems and their solutions that affect children worldwide. This practice of combining meaningful service with academic learning is a powerful teaching method known as Service Learning, common to a number of schools throughout the nation. We have been participating in this program for 20 years, and we are excited to continue our relationship with UNICEF. Please discuss with your children why they are collecting money for UNICEF and that even the smallest amount of money can make a difference. 

Book Fair - Our Book Fair this year will be held again at Barnes and Noble on Val Vista just south of I-60 (Dana Park). It will be sometime at the beginning of December. We will keep you posted on the date.


  • Please show kindness and consideration to our faculty during carline. Our goal is to keep our students, faculty, and parents safe during this process. 
  • Please call the office at (480) 926-8375 by 10:00am to let us know if your child is absent that day. 
  • If you arrive before morning carline, you must walk your child in to the office and sign them in. For the safety of the child, they may not be dropped off. 
  • Any changes for pick up at the  end of the day need to be called in by 1:00pm.
  • If you are late picking up a child in carline, they will be dismissed to LEAP after carline is over. 
  • If you will be picking up your child(ren) early, please let the teacher and the office know ahead of time. 
  • Please inform your classroom teacher and the office if you are aware that your child is arriving to school with a rash, sores, bug bites, etc. This will eliminate teacher concern and questions. 
  • Account balances are due on the 15th day of each month. 
  • Please help us keep our school healthy by keeping students home when they are ill. Your child may return once they are fever free (under 100 degrees without medication), no longer vomiting, diarrhea free, and rash free (or not contagious) for 24 hours.
  • Please label your child's lunch box and jackets with first and last name. Our lost and found is located in the office restroom behind the curtain. 

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Earn Cash For Our School!!!

By clipping Box Top coupons, you can help our school to earn $.10 for each coupon you redeem. Please visit www.boxtops4education.com for a complete list of "Box Tops for Education" products.