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All School News

List of 20 news stories.

  • Operations Update and 2021-22 School Calendar

    Greetings, AMS Community:

    Happy April!  I hope this finds you all well and enjoying spring.  I’m writing today with updates to our operating plan and calendar information for the 2021-2022 school year.

    Operational Protocol Updates
    With the number of cases in Austin falling significantly (Austin is currently in Stage 3 trending towards Stage 2) and the significant increase in vaccine availability, the AMS Risk Management Team and Board of Trustees have approved two significant operational changes that will take effect Monday, April 12, 2021.  First, we will remove the pony walls from our elementary environments allowing each community to be a single cohort.  While we still can’t mix the communities, at least each individual community will be whole again.  Secondly, we are increasing the allowable cohort size at Gaines Creek from 15 to 20.  So, while there will still be two cohorts on campus, this allows all of the Gaines Creek students to return to campus for in-person learning.  As a result, we will be discontinuing our virtual learning program for the adolescents.  

    The 2021-2022 school calendars have been published and are linked here.

    Please reach out to me if you have any questions about any of the above.  I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

    Kind regards,
  • Spring Conference Days - Thursday, April 8 & Friday, April 9

    April 8th and 9th are designated conference days.  There will be no school for children in the traditional school program; ADAY programs are in session as are the Youngest Children’s Communities.

    Need to schedule your conference?  Links to the sign-ups have been emailed to parents and can be found in the March 30th Biweekly Bulletin.
  • Spring Calendar Change

    Good afternoon, AMS Community:

    We’re modifying our spring school calendar to provide more 5-day weeks after the disruption related to the recent winter storm.  Monday, March 22, 2021, formerly an in-service day, and Friday, April 2, 2021, formerly a holiday, will now be regular school days.  On these days our school will operate according to our normal school schedule.  Please reach out to us if you have any questions.

    Best regards,
  • Operating Plan Updates

    Good Afternoon, AMS Community:
    I hope this finds everyone well and enjoying our warming temperatures.  I’m writing today with operational protocol updates the school has adopted since Austin moved from Stage 5 into Stage 4 (we’re now trending towards Stage 3) of COVID-19 guidelines.  Please note that these protocol updates were approved by our Board of Trustees last week and are not in any way related to Governor Abbott’s announcement yesterday of loosening COVID restrictions across the state beginning next week.  We will continue to use the guidance of the CDC; consult with Austin Public Health (APH) and the Texas Education Agency; and use our discretion to determine our safest operational protocols.  The only changes to our operational protocols are outlined below and are now included in our full Operating Plan.
    Children’s House Cohorts
    Since late fall, we have been targeting the mid-spring semester as a potential transition point for our Children’s House cohort sizes if conditions allowed.  Last week our Board of Trustees approved increasing the cohort sizes in Children’s House to 22 children.  We will continue to prepare our physical environments so they are conducive to distancing and continue to follow the protocols in our operating plan.
    Resume Extracurricular Activities
    During Stage 5, per recommendations from APH, we asked families to pause any gatherings outside of the household, including after-school group activities (sports, dance class, etc.) in order to attend school in person.  Children who participate in activities outside the household can now attend school in person.  We simply ask that everyone continue to follow APH standard COVID guidelines of wearing a mask, social distancing when possible, etc.  See the update to our Operating Plan.
    Children that travel by commercial air, bus, or train are asked to self-disclose and quarantine for 7 days after travel if they have no symptoms and have obtained a negative COVID-19 test on day 5.  Children who do not obtain a negative COVID-19 test are required to quarantine for 10 days. As you make plans, please review the travel recommendations from the CDC.  
    Vaccinated and COVID-19 Recovered Persons
    Vaccinated persons or those with natural immunity (recovered from Laboratory-diagnosed SARS-CoV-2 Infection) will be required to follow all of the protocols in place in our school operating plan with the exception of quarantine. 
    Quarantine guidelines per the CDC guidelines for Vaccinated Persons:
    Vaccinated people with exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they meet all of the following criteria:
    • Are fully vaccinated (i.e., ≥2 weeks following receipt of the second dose in a 2-dose series, or ≥2 weeks following receipt of one dose of a single-dose vaccine) 
    • Are within 3 months following receipt of the last dose in the series
    • Have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure.
    Quarantine guidelines per the CDC guidelines for Recovered Persons:
    People who have recovered from laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 do not need to undergo repeat testing or quarantine in the case of another SARS-CoV-2 exposure within 90 days of their initial diagnosis
    We ask that all members of our community continue to adhere to the Austin Public Health guidelines regarding COVID-19.  Please continue to wear masks, socially distance, and, during Stage 4, avoid gatherings larger than 10 outside your household.  Thank you all for your continued support and vigilance during this time.  Please reach out to us with any questions you may have.
    Kind regards,
  • AMS Annual Book Drive: February 9th - 11th

    It’s time for the AMS Annual Book Drive; let's show our libraries a little love! We hope you will choose to donate a book or books to your community library, the Children’s Lending Library, or the Elementary Library.

    Once again, the book drive is online!  You will be able to select the items you would like to donate and pay with a credit card. All the books have been pre-purchased. This year, we will not have the books on display in the campus offices. Hopefully, the displays will return next year.
    New this year is the option to donate money to your community for your guide to select additional items now or in the coming months. Donations can also be made to the Elementary or Children's Lending Library. Monetary donations will need to be a separate transaction from book purchases. Please include how the funds should be distributed in the "Optional Note" field during the check-out process. Thank you!
    How to participate:
    1. Click here to view available books.
    2. Either scroll down to the community or library you would like to browse or click on “Shop All” at the top of the screen and select a community/library.
    3. Click on the book/CD/print you would like to donate and then click on “Add to Cart”  (if the book has already been purchased, the book will show “Out of Stock”).  Each day, as items are donated, they will be manually removed from the online store to make it easier to see what books are still available.
    4. Select either “Continue Shopping” or “Check Out.”
    5. When you finish shopping, you will enter your credit card information.  Please note, you will be asked to provide your shipping address but the items will not be shipped to you.
    A bookplate will be placed in each donated book with your child(ren)’s name(s) and year donated.
    Your support of our libraries is much appreciated. On behalf of the children, the guides, and myself - a heartfelt thank you.

    In gratitude,
  • AMSPA Parent Zoom Coffee ~ Wednesday, Feb. 3

    We hope to see you this Wednesday, February 3rd, at 9:00 am for our PA Parent Zoom Coffee. All AMS parents are invited to connect and come together (virtually). We have missed seeing other parents and hope to connect with you. Please join us using the link below. If you can not attend, the PA is planning a virtual happy hour gathering in March that will be held in the evening.
    Click here to join the PA Parent Zoom Coffee.
  • Re-enrollment Contracts Available in myAMS

    Dear Austin Montessori School families,

    Today begins our re-enrollment period for current AMS families for the next school year. We are pleased to invite you to re-enroll your child at Austin Montessori School for the 2021-2022 school year. It is our heartfelt desire that your family remains a part of our school community.  

    We are eagerly anticipating improving conditions with the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the spring and summer and expect to be operating at or near our typical operational configurations and protocols by the fall. That said, we are also preparing for modified operational protocols if necessary. For our families in our All-Day/All-Year communities, we hope to operate with our normal schedule in the fall, so you will receive a full All-Day/All-Year contract for your child. If we need to continue operating with a shorter day for a period of time, your tuition will be adjusted accordingly. Optional, after-school programs will not be billed in SmartTuition until we are certain we can provide these programs in the fall.  

    Your re-enrollment contract is now available in your myAMS portal. To properly plan for the 2021-2022 school year, we must receive your completed re-enrollment contract by Monday, February 15, through myAMS. As you may know, we are limited in the number of openings available for new applicants in many of our communities. We wish to preserve our current families' spaces by enrolling your children first, followed by those children who withdrew for COVID-19 related reasons. 

    After the contract deadline, spaces that are available at each level are offered to qualified applicants in the waiting pool. If an enrolled family is not prepared to sign their child's re-enrollment contract by the due date, the contract expires. Extensions to this date are not available. If a currently enrolled family decides they would like to re-enroll their child after the contract has expired, the family must contact the Admissions Office. A re-enrolling child will receive priority admission if space remains available. If you have specific questions regarding your enrollment contract, please contact Sveta Pais (svetap@austinmontessori.org). 

    Prior to signing the contract, we ask that you review our Parent Community Handbook and Partnership Agreement. Please submit the completed contract in myAMS and the $300 registration fee due for each application submitted (maximum $600 per family). A copy of the completed contract will remain in your myAMS portal in the "Files and Forms" section. 
    Thank you for making Austin Montessori School your home. We are committed to providing the best possible developmental environment for our students. 


    Grae Baker
    Head of School

    Sveta Pais
    Director of Enrollment Management
  • Re-Enrollment Events: Upcoming Introductory Presentations

    In anticipation of re-enrollment contracts being sent out, I invite you to virtual presentations for parents of children who are anticipated to move to a new level in the 2021-22 school year. These presentations are intended to ensure that you have the information you need to make an informed decision to re-enroll your child at Austin Montessori School.

    Click on the event title below for more information and to register. A Zoom link will be sent to you upon registration.
    6:30 pm, January 21st: Introduction to the Upper Elementary
    6:30 pm, January 28th: Introduction to the Early Elementary
    9:00 am, January 29th: Introduction to the Children's House
    Questions?  Contact Sveta Pais, Director of Enrollment Management, at svetap@austinmontessori.org
  • Austin Moves to Stage 4 11/20/20

    Dear Parents,
    Yesterday, Austin Public Health (APH) moved Austin-Travis County into Stage 4 of its COVID-19 Risk-Based Guidelines.  
    In Stage 4:
    • Higher-risk individuals (those over the age of 65 and those who have chronic medical conditions) should stay home, except for essential trips such as buying groceries or seeking medical care.  
    • Lower-risk individuals should avoid social gatherings, any gatherings greater than 10 people, and non-essential travel. 
    • Businesses and restaurants asked to voluntarily reduce capacity to 25-50%.
    • Recommend schools limit attendance at sporting events to players, coaches, and parents.
    With the holiday season quickly approaching, the Austin Montessori School Risk Management Team is working to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 exposure in our communities. After much consideration, we have decided to move our Upper Elementary and Adolescent communities to At-Home learning for a period of time after the Thanksgiving and Winter Holidays. 
    For Early Childhood and Early Elementary children who will return to in-person learning after the holidays, we again ask that families adhere to the APH holiday guidelines. The CDC and Austin Public Health advise against travel and against gatherings with people who do not live with you during this holiday season.  Should you have plans to travel or gather with individuals outside of your immediate household during this season, we request that you self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to school.  
    At-Home Learning for Upper Elementary and Adolescent Levels: The goal of the remote learning period for our older students after the holidays is to avoid a risk of community transmission and increase the chances that in-person learning will remain an option for the remainder of the school year. Austin Public Health is encouraging everyone to minimize social gatherings during the holidays; however, we anticipate increased exposures in a time when local transmission rates are rapidly increasing. We also recognize that many colleges will be sending students home, which could increase family exposure. We hope this quarantine period after the holidays will serve as a "contact break" to mitigate risk. For this to work, we ask for your commitment to follow APH's recommendations: to continue being vigilant by practicing good hygiene, maintaining physical and social distancing, and wearing face coverings to prevent the disease from spreading to help keep each other safe. Avoiding gatherings outside of your household is especially important this holiday season. The City of Austin’s COVID-19 holiday safety recommendations can be found here.
    Why are only Upper Elementary and Adolescent Levels moving to At-Home Learning?: The analysis of data around infection rates has consistently shown that younger children are not infected with the virus at the same rates as older children, adolescents, and adults.  New research has shed light on the reasons. Children have lower levels of the receptor that SARS-CoV-2 needs to invade cells in the lung. These receptors have been shown to begin to increase around the onset of puberty. This is one explanation for why the rates of infection in children appear to increase around the age of 10. In light of this research, the increase in infection rates in the Austin area, the coming holiday gathering risks, and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to move to remote learning for this population.  We also considered the school's ability to take this prudent measure while continuing to provide a positive and effective learning experience for the children in those communities.  
    Return to In-Person Learning
    Upper ElementaryUpper Elementary communities will begin At-Home learning on Monday, November 30, and return to in-person learning on Monday, December 14, 2020. At-Home learning will resume after the Winter Holiday break on January 6, 2021, with in-person learning resuming on January 11, 2021.
    Adolescent: Due to the logistics of the model at Gaines Creek, the adolescents will be in distance learning for all three weeks between Thanksgiving and the Winter Holiday break. Remote learning will resume after the Winter Holiday break on January 6, 2021, with in-person learning resuming on January 11, 2021.  At-home learning will follow the model used at the beginning of the school year. Guides from the Upper Elementary and Adolescent communities will communicate with families by Saturday, November 28.  
    Early Childhood and Early Elementary:  Our Early Childhood and Early Elementary programs will return to in-person learning on Monday, November 30, 2020. To make this as safe as possible for all, we again ask that everyone adhere to the APH holiday guidelines. The CDC advises against travel and gatherings outside the household during this holiday season. Should you have plans to travel or gather during this season, we respectfully request you self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to school.  
    BinaxNOW Rapid Testing for Staff: Through the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Austin Montessori School is now a certified COVID testing site. This designation, allowable for independent schools and other groups, allows us a monthly allotment of COVID tests for use with our school community. This program uses BinaxNOW tests, which provide results in 15 minutes and are administered using a nasal swab in the nostril's front area. These tests have been shown to be highly accurate, with accuracy rates of 97-98% for symptomatic individuals.  In an ongoing effort to keep our in-person communities safe, we will be using the tests to screen all in-person staff for COVID-19 prior to returning to campus following the Thanksgiving and Winter Holiday Breaks. Our rapid test allotment allows us to conduct weekly rapid test screenings for staff between Thanksgiving and the Winter Holidays. After the holidays, we will test staff on a bi-weekly basis. We also have the capacity to test children who develop symptoms at school with parental permission or request. 
    I want to thank everyone for your collaboration and partnership so far this year. I am truly humbled by how our community has united to develop and adapt to essential safety practices in and outside of the classroom. It has been a joy and a privilege to be on campus, living, and learning together. 
    We still have a long way to go, and continued support will be critical to keeping our community healthy in the weeks ahead. Your support means more than you know. 
    As always, please stay safe and well. 
    Kind regards,
  • AMS Biweekly Bulletin ~ November 17, 2020

    Dear Parents and Staff,
    Please click on the link below to view the AMS Biweekly Bulletin.  For the time being, we are switching from a weekly to a biweekly format.
    Austin Montessori School
  • Notification of COVID-19 Case in the Community

    Dear Parents,
    In keeping with the school’s plan for responding to COVID-19, we are notifying all families that today, a child in our community has been lab-confirmed to have COVID-19.  This child was last present on the Sunset Trail campus on October 30, 2020.  The child was in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure outside of the school.  Out of an abundance of caution, the parents sought another COVID-19 test following the quarantine period.  Due to privacy requirements, we will not be releasing the name of the individual or details that may identify him or her. 
    We are working closely with Austin Public Health on this matter and after careful review, we have determined that the COVID-positive person did not come into contact with any children, staff, or areas accessed by students or staff.   Operations at all campuses will continue as usual, and we will keep you apprised of further updates. 
    If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to Dawn Michal or me.  
    Best Regards, 
    Grae Baker
  • AMSPA Gratitude Week 2020

    Dear AMS Community.
    Over the last few years, the PA has enjoyed supporting the celebration of "Gratitude Week" just before the Thanksgiving holiday.  The tradition revolves around taking a moment or two to share our words of kindness, respect & appreciation with another.  Since COVID precautions preclude AMSPA from providing tangible thank-you cards and supplies on campus, as we have in recent years, we instead encourage everyone in the community to take a moment to send their thoughts of gratitude via email, traditional mail, or brought to school with your child.  We encourage you to share your gratitude with members of our beloved AMS community, as well as your family and friends beyond our school community.
    The Parents Association would like to take a moment to thank our incredible staff, guides, and AMS Board.  The virtual and on-campus functioning of our school is no small feat!  There have been countless hours put in by every staff member to successfully adjust to the difficult times presented to us.  For your time, love of learning, and support of our children and families during this time - We Thank You!  
    If you would like to mail a letter to any of the three campuses of AMS, you can use the school address:
    5006 Sunset Trail
    Austin, TX  78745 
    If you would like to email your message to a specific staff member, you can find their email address in the myAMS directory.  If you know the staff member's first and last name, all AMS staff email follow the same pattern of the first name with last name initial @austinmontessori.org.  For example, if Maria Montessori were employed by AMS, her email address would be mariam@austinmontessori.org.
    Feel free to reach out to the AMSPA if you have any questions or thoughts you would like to share.
    With Heartfelt Appreciation,
    Austin Montessori School Parents Association
  • GC Curbside Coffee Shop 11/20/20

    Mode: Edit | Preview
    Join us for a Gaines Creek
    Curbside Coffee Shop
    Friday, November 20
    7:30 - 8:15 am Reserved for Gaines Creek Parents
    8:15 - 9:45 am Greater AMS Community 
    5677 Oak Blvd., Gaines Creek Adolescent Community
    Dear AMS Community,

    The Gaines Creek adolescents are eager to invite you to the first Curbside Coffee Shop of the 2020-21 school year on Friday, November 20! The students will be carefully preparing breakfast items and 
    specialty drinks to deliver straight to your vehicle. 

    Due to COVID-19 precautions, our Coffee Shop will operate quite differently than in the past. Please carefully read through the details provided below. 

    All guests will be required to sign-up for a curbside pick-up appointment and then pre-order and pay for their goods in the online store. Please reserve your pick-up appointment and place your orders by Monday, November 16 at noon. In addition to breakfast items and beverages, there will also be fresh farm produce, bottled herbs, greeting cards, and chicken eggs available in the online store.

    There will be three 45-minute windows available for curbside pick-up with a limited amount of appointments for each one. Please kindly reserve the first window (7:30-8:15 am) for Gaines Creek Parents. The next two windows (8:15-9:00 am and 9:00-9:45 am) are available for the Greater AMS Community

    Guests are asked to enter into the parking lot along Hwy290 West just after Oak Blvd, where Gaines Creek students will greet them. We ask that all customers remain in their vehicles and wear masks while their orders are delivered to their cars. Servers will be wearing face masks, face shields, and gloves. 

    We look forward to serving you! 
    The Gaines Creek Community 
    Enjoy our new video!
  • Holiday Safety and Travel Survey

    Dear AMS Community:
    I hope this finds everyone safe, healthy, and in good spirits.  First, I’d like to thank you all for everything you’re doing to keep our school community healthy.  Each family’s commitment to our protocols and safety measures is what is keeping AMS a safe place during this ongoing crisis.  With the Thanksgiving and winter holidays fast approaching, we respectfully ask that everyone review the Holiday Gathering Guidelines provided by Austin Public Health and Austin Montessori School’s Holiday Travel Policy.  Under current conditions, we plan for our campuses to be open as scheduled after the Thanksgiving and winter holidays. 
    To ensure we continue to operate as safely as possible, the AMS Operating Plan stipulates that children who travel by commercial air should self-disclose and quarantine for 14 days after air travel.  To aid us in preparing and planning for learning support for children who must quarantine, we are requesting that all parents complete the AMS Holiday Travel Survey.  As you make plans, please review the travel recommendations from the CDC.   
    For your reference, we’ve compiled a quick reference guide from our operating plan based on frequently asked questions related to illness and quarantine requirements.  
    To minimize the spread of COVID-19 and ensure everyone has a safe and healthy holiday season, Austin Public Health has offered the following guidance for gatherings.
    We recommend avoiding all high-risk activities and being cautious with all medium-risk activities to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Celebrating virtually or with members of your household is the best option this holiday season, but if you still choose to gather traditionally, follow Austin Public Health guidance to do so safely.
    Safety Measures
    • Outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities - avoid crowded, poorly ventilated, and fully enclosed indoor spaces
    • Bring supplies to help you and others stay healthy (i.e. extra masks and hand sanitizer)
    • Consider avoiding contact with people outside of your household for 14 days before the gathering
    • Minimize gestures that promote close contact (i.e. hugs and handshakes)
    • Maintain physical distancing and masking around people you do not live with
    • Avoid singing, chanting or shouting, especially when not masking or physical distancing
    • Clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces and any shared items between uses 
    Low-Risk Activities
    • Celebrating with members of your household
    • Decorating your living space
    • Hosting a virtual gathering with friends and family
    • Preparing traditional recipes and delivering them in a no-contact manner
    • Watching holiday-themed movies or shows
    Medium-Risk Activities
    • Hosting a small dinner with local family and friends outdoors
    • Attending an outdoor gathering
    • Visiting orchards and tree farms where hand sanitizer is used before touching objects
    • Having an outdoor parade or movie night
    High-Risk Activities
    • Participating in traditional caroling or other door-to-door activities
    • Attending crowded, indoor gatherings
    • Going on hayrides with non-household members
    • Traveling outside your community for gatherings and events
    If you have any questions about any of the above, please don’t hesitate to contact me or Dawn Michal, Director of Operations.  Thank you in advance for taking the time to complete the travel survey.  This information will help us keep our community safe while providing support for everyone involved.  Take great care.
    Kind regards,
  • AMS Biweekly Bulletin ~ November 3, 2020

    Dear Parents and Staff,
    Please click on the link below to view the AMS Biweekly Bulletin.  For the time being, we are switching from a weekly to a biweekly format.
    Austin Montessori School
  • ST Arrival/Departure 10/27/20

    Dear Sunset Trail Community Families:
    I'm writing today with an urgent appeal.  As I'm sure many of you have noticed, we are experiencing a heavy amount of traffic congestion and unsafe conditions during arrival and departure times on Sunset Trail.  We have staggered arrival and departure times at adjacent communities to help alleviate some of this challenge.  To assist us with this,
    For your reference, the arrival and departure schedule for each community on Sunset Trail is listed below.  Thank you very much for your assistance with this; it will help create safer conditions for our children and families as they arrive and depart from school.  
    Kind regards,
    Arrival/Departure Schedule:

    Youngest Children's Communities
    Hummingbird Garden
    Arrival: 8:05 - 8:20 am
    Noon Departure: 11:50 am - 12:00 pm
    Departure: 2:45 - 3:00 pm
    Butterfly Garden
    Arrival: 8:20 - 8:35 am
    Noon Departure: 12:00 - 12:10 pm
    Departure: 3:00 - 3:15 pm
    Children's House
    Redbud Cottage
    Arrival: 8:05 - 8:20 am
    Noon Departure: 11:50 am - 12:00 pm
    Departure: 2:50 - 3:05 pm
    Laurel Cottage
    Arrival: 8:15 - 8:30 am
    Noon Departure: 12:00 - 12:10 pm
    Departure: 3:00 - 3:15 pm
    Cypress Cottage
    Arrival: 8:05 - 8:20 am
    Departure: 2:50 - 3:05 pm
    Magnolia Cottage
    Arrival: 8:15 - 8:30 am
    Departure: 3:00 - 3:15 pm
    Juniper Cottage
    Arrival: 8:05 - 8:20 am
    Departure: 2:50 - 3:05 pm
    Heartsong Community
    Arrival:  8:15 - 8:30 am
    Departure: 3:15 - 3:30 pm
  • Community Photos 10/26/2020

    Dear Parents,
    If you placed an order for 2019-20 community photos with delivery to AMS, the photos have been delivered.  Sunset Trail orders are now available for pick up from the main office. If you would like a contact-less pickup, please call Lois, and she will leave your photos on the porch.
    Great Northern photos will be sent on the bus this afternoon and will be available beginning tomorrow.  Gaines Creek orders will also be sent to the campus today and given to the adolescents to take home.
    If you have any questions about your order, please contact Heyday Photography directly at photoheyday@gmail.com.
    Thank you,
    Austin Montessori School
  • AMS Special Town Hall

    Dear Parents and Staff,

    Thank you for attending the AMS Special Town Hall. If you were unable to participate in the meeting, links to the recording and slides are below.

    We hope to see many of you at an upcoming virtual 'Coffee with Grae' gatherings. Grae will be joined by Frances Fitzpatrick, Director of Elementary Programs, in November, and by Jinny Gonzalez, Director of Early Childhood Programs, in December. Please register here.

    As always, don't hesitate to reach out if there is anything I can do for you.

    Warm regards,
    Sveta Pais
    Director of Enrollment Management
  • 2020 Election Message of Hope

    Greetings, AMS community:
    In light of the ongoing election, I have recently received queries from parents regarding the appropriateness of including children in political discussions. Beginning around the age of six, children's developmental forces enter a new stage where the powers of reason and abstraction begin to flourish. This begins the period of the "acquisition of culture," so children will actively seek out to know as much about the goings-on in our world as they can. So, engaging children aged six and older in service and political campaigns is appropriate as long as it is positive and balanced. Keep in mind that these new capacities for reason and abstraction are emergent characteristics, so the manner in which we respond and include the children in these conversations should vary accordingly. For instance, a seven-year-old may be satisfied with a simple explanation or a response to a question on any subject matter, whereas a nine or ten-year-old will have more complex and nuanced considerations.
    Children under the age of six live in the moment and cannot abstract ideas like older children can and should be protected from exposure to political campaigns. All children need to feel their parents' hope, love, and determination, especially during difficult times. As a parent myself, I often wonder how this can be achieved. I have drawn much inspiration from the words of our school's founder, Donna Bryant Goertz, and ask that you take the time to absorb and reflect on her important message below.
    Best regards,
    Grae Baker
    Head of School

    Beloved Community,
    I write to you today with thoughts of both good news and bad news in mind. First, the bad news: as you know, is that we are in the midst of times that test us to the brink. Indeed, times that call on us, as we live on the edge, to monitor our hearts, minds, and souls for the sake of our well being, but more so for our children. We breathe our way forward. Not only do they see and hear everything, but they also absorb our inner lives and form their own accordingly. This climate has the potential to deviate the formation of our children's sensibilities and the development of their compassion, patience, intelligent reflection, carefully measured responses, and energetic resolve necessary for growing healthy lives, functional relationships, and just, civil, and gracious communities. 
    Now onto the good news! Although these times test us, they can also inspire us to rise to the challenge and dig deep to find ways to evolve and transform ourselves to respond instead of react. Our children learn not through our perfection but our mighty intention. These times call for our community as a whole and each of us individually to monitor our hearts, minds, and souls for our children's sake.  

    Through studying the principles and methods of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, we can prepare our minds and spirits to wage campaigns of fiercely held ideals non-violently, respectfully, and energetically. We will each find our way for keeping ourselves sane and healthy during these times, keeping our compassion, patience, resolve, and responses measured and powerful of soul. And we will fall far short, but we will get up and grow. And our children will see our mighty intention and our powerful struggle. They will see our compassion for ourselves, for them, and others. Yes, hard times can even help us grow the hope and courage to better thrive during easier times. And our children will absorb both our process and our being, and they will follow our lead. Our children's gift to us is the challenge to be our best selves. Our gift to them is our daily struggle.  

    Political Parties, Campaigns, Elections

    Children bring such unexpected benefits to us adults. Because of them, we remember to vote, take action for our earth, think and feel more deeply about our community, and act on behalf of the whole human family. Because of our children, we struggle to discover common ground, develop insights into other cultures, and find better ways to reach consensus and resolve problems. We search our souls with one another for the meaning of freedom and the means of its practice because of them. Because we have children, we are called to think beyond our immediate lives and our lifespan. Suddenly everything and everyone on our earth are more precious. Our passions, desires, and ideals, our principles, habits, and goals, and our virtues as well as our faults, are all charged with relevance. Because we live with children, we think and feel in a new way. When extreme situations confront us, when we are stunned by complexities and provoked to react, the reality of our children brings us to weigh and measure carefully through the prism of our highest and best selves. 
    In this season of campaigns, our children bring us toward spiritual and emotional health so that when we speak of candidates, we evaluate issues and policies rather than attacking persons; we evaluate principles instead of insulting parties; we evaluate individual methods rather than entire campaigns. 

    Some say we have become a society with such short attention spans, fractured focus, and quixotic moods that only rage, revenge, and hatred can motivate us. But we have our children to keep in mind, so let us bring forward our informed love for them to guide us in our focus, perseverance, and action. 
    Donna Bryant Goertz
    Founder, Austin Montessori School
  • Fall 2020 Individual Photos

    This year we welcome our new school photographer, Carli Rene.  Carli comes highly recommended from our long time photographers at Heyday Photography.
    An introduction to Carli:  Carli moved to Austin to study photojournalism at UT back in '04 but never finished her degree! She started her photography company, InkedFingers, instead! She's traveled from Tokyo to Israel documenting and sharing stories and hasn't paid a penny to advertise since '08. She feels so grateful to do the two things she loves the most in this lifetime: raise her daughter and get paid to create.
    Due to the present situation, our photo days are structured a little differently. We appreciate your understanding.
    Photos will begin shortly after arrival each morning, so please be on time.  We request that you not tell children in the Children's House in advance that their photo will be taken. If your child is absent, their photo will be taken in the spring unless a fall makeup day is scheduled.
    Monday, October 19
    Sunset Trail: Children's Houses (except Juniper Cottage) & Elementary Communities
    Tuesday, October 20
    Great Northern & Gaines Creek (adolescents on campus that day)
    Friday, October 23
    Juniper Cottage & Butterfly/Hummingbird Gardens
    Sunset Trail Make-Up Day
    Monday, October 26
    Gaines Creek (for remaining 1/3 of adolescents off-campus the prior week)
    Sunday, November 1 
    Quetzal Community (Families must sign up in advance, click here)
    Sibling Photos: Siblings in the same community will be photographed together on their scheduled photo day.  If you would like a sibling photo and your children are enrolled in different communities, please sign up here for a time on November 1. 
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