Table of Contents
Tuition, Mid-Year Changes, Fees, Re-enrollment
Thank you for choosing to become a member of the Rochester Montessori School (RMS) community for your child(ren)’s education. RMS is a diverse learning community comprised of families representing more than 25 countries. We look forward to partnering with you in support of your child(ren)’s developmental and academic learning experiences. Success in this endeavor requires support of the School and Montessori principles, engagement, and open communication. This Parent Handbook serves as a primary resource to learn about the School and applicable policies and procedures.
Most of our families didn’t grow up attending Montessori school. For many, the introduction to the Montessori philosophy began at the first tour of RMS during the admissions process. As you will discover, the daily lessons and learning activities in Montessori and IB classrooms are truly unique as the inquiry-based curriculum uses different instructional methods than what most of us experienced. We expect our students to “learn to think” which is a very different kind of education.
Please stay informed by reading emails and newsletters. You can also stay current by accessing information on the school’s website, Facebook page and by participating in our Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) or attending PTSA-sponsored events and activities. Please attend regularly scheduled parent visits, parent-guide conferences, and parent education events. We want you to understand what your child is learning and, more importantly, how your child is learning. We also want you to know the “why” behind the learning processes. Support the various cultural events that take place, and participate in school fundraisers when possible.
We invite your partnership. The extent of your involvement in school activities strongly correlates to your child’s academic progress. We expect your participation in your child’s school life. Children thrive when the adults are active participants in their lives. It is our goal to create an environment that fosters open communication, creates an understanding of each other’s expectations, and a mutual respect for the core educational values and principles at RMS. We invite and encourage you to share your expectations with us, participate in your child(ren)’s education and in RMS school life, attend RMS parent education meetings, and model core values outside of school. By working together, “we” will be working for the benefit of your child(ren). As you review this handbook, please let us know if you have questions or if there is anything that we need to know about your family that would help in making sure we are providing the best learning opportunities for your child(ren).
We hope that this Parent Handbook addresses many of your questions and it serves as a useful guide regarding our procedures and our mutual responsibilities. We welcome your questions and suggestions. We can better understand and address your needs when we communicate, keep informed, and work together.
“It is in the encounter of the maternal guiding instincts with the sensitive periods of the newly born that conscious love develops between parent and child.” - Maria Montessori
A Brief History of Montessori Education Dr. Maria Montessori (1870-1952)i
Rochester Montessori School’s educational programs are based on the pioneering work of Dr. Maria Montessori. Maria Montessori was an individual ahead of her time. She was born in 1870 in Chiaravalle, Italy, to an educated but not affluent middle class family. She grew up in a country considered most conservative in its attitudes toward women. Despite the considerable opposition of her father and guides, Dr. Montessori pursued a scientific education and was one of the first women in Italy to become a physician.
As a practicing physician associated with the University of Rome, Montessori was a scientist, not a guide. It is ironic that she became famous for her contributions in a field that she had rejected as the traditional refuge for women at a time when few professions were open to them other than homemaking, teaching, or the convent. The Montessori method evolved almost by accident from a small experiment that Dr. Montessori carried out on the side. Her genius stems not from her teaching ability, but from her recognition of the importance of what she stumbled upon.
In 1900 Montessori was appointed director of the new orthophrenic school attached to the University of Rome. The children there were probably developmentally delayed or autistic. She initiated a wave of reform in a system that formerly had served merely to confine mentally handicapped youngsters in empty rooms. Recognizing her patient's need for stimulation, purposeful activity, and self-esteem, Montessori insisted that the staff speak to each child with the highest respect. She set up a program to teach her young charges how to care for themselves and their environment.
Montessori refined the idea of a scientific approach to education, based on observation and experimentation. She pursued her work with the careful training and objectivity of a biologist studying the natural behavior of an animal in the forest. She studied children with special learning needs, listening and carefully noting everything they did and said. Slowly she began to understand them and what methods worked best. Her success was given widespread notice when, two years after she began, many of Montessori’s students were able to pass the standard sixth grade tests of the Italian public schools. Acclaimed for this “miracle,” Montessori responded by suggesting that her results proved only that public schools should be able to get dramatically better results with normal children.
After several years of study and work at the University of Rome, Montessori accepted an invitation in 1907 to coordinate a day-care center for working-class children who were too young to attend public school. This first Casa dei Bambini “or Children’s House” was located in San Lorenzo, an extremely poor district of Rome. The conditions Montessori faced were appalling. Her first class consisted of fifty children from two through five years of age, taught by one untrained caregiver.
Montessori, not knowing whether her ideas would work under such conditions, began by teaching the older children how to help out with the everyday tasks that needed to be done. She also introduced the manipulative perceptual puzzles that she had used with children with developmental delays. The results surprised her, for unlike her earlier experiences with coaxing children with special learning needs to use the learning materials, the children of San Lorenzo were drawn to the work she introduced. Children who had wandered aimlessly the week before began to settle down to long periods of constructive activity. They were fascinated with the puzzles and perceptual training devices. But, to Montessori’s amazement, children three and four years-old took the greatest delight in learning practical everyday living skills that reinforced their independence and self-respect. Each day they begged her to show them more, even applauding with delight when Montessori taught them the correct use of a handkerchief. Soon the older children were taking care of the school, assisting their guide with the preparation and serving of meals and the maintenance of a spotless environment, and even learning to write and read. Their behavior as a group changed dramatically from street urchins running wild to models of grace and courtesy. It was little wonder that the press found such a human interest story appealing and promptly broadcast it to the world.
Montessori called her discoveries the “secrets of childhood.” As she opened more schools, she discovered further that these “secrets” were found in children everywhere. As summarized by her student and colleague E. M. Standing, young children prefer
Montessori also discovered that two other qualities were necessary for this response from young children: a prepared, transformed guide and an environment specifically prepared for the learning capabilities found in its children. Montessori believed that the educator’s job is to serve the child, determining what each one needs to make the greatest progress.
Montessori evolved her method through trial and error, making educated guesses about the underlying meaning of the children’s actions. She was quick to pick up on their cues, and constantly experimented with her methods. The first “Children’s House” received overnight attention, and thousands of visitors came away amazed and enthusiastic. World-wide interest surged as Montessori duplicated her first school in other settings throughout Europe, and then in the United States, with the same results. She made three American tours between 1912 and 1918 with the support of a Washington Montessori Society whose members included Alexander Graham Bell and Woodrow Wilson’s daughter. Montessori gave lectures at the White House, Carnegie Hall, and numerous universities. She conducted guide education programs and developed a classroom at an international world’s fair.
Dr. Montessori was a brilliant student of child development, and the approach that has evolved out of her research has stood the test for over 100 years in Montessori schools around the world. During her lifetime, Dr. Montessori was acknowledged as one of the world’s leading educators.
Dr. Montessori summarized her life’s achievement in this way:
Ours was a house for children, rather than a real school. We had prepared a place for children where a diffused culture could be assimilated, without any need for direct instruction...Yet these children learned to read and write before they were five, and no one had given them any lessons. At that time it seemed miraculous that children of four and a half should be able to write, and that they should have learned without the feeling of having been taught....
And so we discovered that education is not something which the teacher does, but that it is a natural process, which develops spontaneously in the human being. It is not acquired by listening to words, but in virtue of experiences in which the child acts on his environment. The teacher's task is not to talk, but to prepare and arrange a series of motives for cultural activity in a special environment made for the child.ii
Today there is a growing consensus among psychologists and developmental educators that many of her ideas were decades ahead of her time. Only recently, as our understanding of child development has grown, have we rediscovered how clear and sensible her insight was. As the movement gains support and begins to spread into the American public school sector, one can readily say that the Montessori Way is a remarkably modern approach.
iFrom Tim Seldin and Paul Epstein. The Montessori way.
iiMaria Montessori. The Absorbent Mind, p. 7.
Rochester Montessori School was established in 1968 by a small group of parents seeking the best possible secular education for their children. After researching the possibilities, it was determined that the Montessori philosophy was the best option. Over the years, RMS has grown from its original class of twelve students to its present size of more than 200 children. With the investment of land in 2004 for a dedicated campus, long gone are the days of renting space. There will always be many fond memories of our early beginnings that included space at the Congregational Church, the Rochester Township Hall, Assisi Heights, Bethel Lutheran Church, and Christ United Methodist Church downtown. Today, RMS resides on a beautiful and serene 15 acre campus and it has served families in Rochester and the surrounding areas for nearly 50 years. The growth and success of RMS could not have happened without the support of our community. And, great pride is taken in the fact that the Montessori philosophy has been embraced and continues to thrive at RMS and the greater Rochester area.
Important Dates for RMS
2016 Montessori/IB students traveled to Costa Rica
2016 Enrollment reached 200 students for the first time
2015 Students participated in the Montessori Model United Nations Program in China
2014 RMS graduated its first class of Montessori/IB eighth grade students
2014 6th grade students participated in the Montessori Model UN Program in New York
2013 RMS became an authorized International Baccalaureate World School
2013 RMS celebrated 45 years
2011 RMS became a candidate school for the IB Middle Years Program
2010 The elementary, music, and art classes moved into the new addition
2008 RMS celebrated 40 years
2005 RMS moved to a dedicated campus at 5099 7th Street NW
2004 Land was purchased in northwest Rochester and construction began
2002 RMS Board of Directors voted to establish a permanent home
1998 RMS celebrated 30 years of service to the child
1992 RMS moved to Christ United Methodist Church
1982 RMS moved to Assisi Heights
1980 The elementary program was added
1975 The extended day program was added
1970 The toddler program was added
1969 RMS moved to Rochester Township Hall
1968 Parents gathered 12 children and began RMS Children’s House
Mission: Our mission is to guide the child through a prepared environment to become an independent thinker who is responsible, respectful, and compassionate to self, community, and the world.
Vision: How children learn influences who they will become.
Respect is our most basic and core Montessori value. Respect is central to everything that occurs at RMS. We assume that respect is one of your values too. We teach children “respect yourself, respect others, and respect the environment.”
The Montessori philosophy is founded upon the premise that carried unseen within each child is the person the child will become. To develop to the fullest physical, spiritual, and intellectual potential, the child must have freedom - achieved through order and self-discipline. Montessori introduces the children to the joy of learning at an early age and provides a framework in which individual and social discipline go hand in hand.
RMS has educated children for nearly 50 years starting in a private home in 1968 with only 12 children. Today, the school is situated on a beautiful 15 acre campus where a complete Montessori education is offered for children from 18 months through the eighth grade. For students in grades 6, 7, and 8, RMS is both a Montessori School and an authorized International Baccalaureate (IB) World School.
The purpose of RMS is to provide a quality education pursuant to the Montessori philosophy for students in toddler to eight grades, by means of a regularly scheduled curriculum that instructs and trains with a view toward enhancing social and intellectual development, and employing a regular faculty of qualified guides and caregivers, in order to create a safe and healthy learning environment to cultivate students' natural capabilities, talents and strengths.
To understand RMS, requires learning about the Montessori and International Baccalaureate philosophy.
RMS children are active learners in our multi-age classrooms. Furthermore, children progress as they are ready, learning at their own pace, and free to complete a project or pursue a subject as deeply as they wish, according to personal enthusiasm. Our hope is that all students will grow to be self-reliant, internationally-minded thinkers who inquire, reflect, seek knowledge, make decisions, solve problems, communicate, and care about the world and those around them.
RMS classrooms are referred to as “prepared environments” which are age-appropriate and foster children’s engagement for long periods of time with challenging hands-on, minds-on academic activities that guide them to conduct inquiries and make discoveries. These activities are referred to as children’s “work” where children discover and correct their own errors through feedback from the materials being used. Through repetition of work and self-discovery, children experience internal feelings of success. And, because the work of a child is to become an adult it means becoming independent thinkers responsible for their own choices.
The below chart briefly compares a Montessori educational environment to a traditional one:
School meets needs of students.
Students fit mold of the school.
Curriculum is structured for each child.
Curriculum is structured for the whole class.
A discovery model of learning where students learn concepts from working with materials.
Learn only from instruction, no room for discovery.
Multi-Sensory materials for physical exploration, organizes program for learning care of self and environment.
No organized program for self-care, left primarily up to parents.
Children are encouraged to speak and work in groups.
Children usually work silently at their desk.
Cognitive social, emotional and moral development emphasis.
Social development emphasis.
Uninterrupted work cycles.
Block time, period lessons.
guide acts as a facilitator or guide.
Mixed age groupings.
Same age grouping.
Child identifies own errors from feedback from the educational materials.
Teacher identifies errors.
The MYP supports Montessori’s interdisciplinary approach to international education. The three fundamental concepts of the MYP - holistic learning, intercultural awareness, and communication - readily build upon the curriculum goals found in our early childhood and elementary programs. In addition, the MYP’s five global contexts frame and direct the interdisciplinary practices inherent in a Montessori middle school program.
Importantly, the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program adds a global dimension and context to teaching and learning at RMS. Students must engage in real and pressing global challenges. They must think creatively, design and implement workable solutions, participate in democracy, and act as entrepreneurs. We seek to prepare students for life, and this includes high school, college, work, and citizenship.
By situating learning experiences in both local and global contexts, the MYP encourages students to become engaged, thoughtful, and compassionate lifelong learners who embrace the challenge of living and learning in their local and global communities. Using diverse approaches to teaching and learning, the program fosters the academic, personal, and social growth of students. Through rigorous study and experiential learning, students will develop a comprehensive knowledge of the world, grapple with complex issues and problems, embrace civic responsibilities, and engage with people who are different from themselves.
The below chart compares an IB MYP educational environment to a traditional one:
International Baccalaureate MYP
Our guides collaborate to create thematic, interdisciplinary units that address problems authentically.
Disciplines are separated
Mixed age groupings.
Same age grouping.
We ask questions and inquire, and collaboratively gain a better understanding.
We absorb information by listening to our teachers, who decide what we need to know.
We know how to learn, why we learn, and what our social, emotional, and educational needs are.
We learn how to fit into the “role of learner.”
We work with our community and serve people throughout the program, participating in the MYP Community Project.
We work to be a productive member of society after graduation.
Success is gained over time, collaboratively, as we grow and experience the world.
Success is determined competitively, through recall and memory, at a specific time and place.
Students are the school, participating in and influencing the program to meet their needs and inquiries.
Students are a product of the school, participating in a program designed for them.
We intrinsically engage in school, and expect to learn, which will help us in life.
We expect school to prepare us for life.
We apply ideas, concepts, and processes to solve real-world problems.
Focus on memorization of facts, definitions, and formulas to score well on a test.
Our program is determined by our mission statement, philosophy, and goals.
Program is determined by the budget and test scores.
In all our programs, the teacher is known as a “Guide” and serves as a facilitator in the growing and learning process. Instruction is individualized as much as possible rather than by group instruction. The role of the guide is to help children learn how to think deeply, for themselves, and to think about others. Our philosophy is to promote “how” by providing “self-teaching” materials. Our desire is that all children develop habits and skills that are critical for the kind of challenges adults face in our ever-changing, complex, international world. As Maria Montessori said, “How children learn, influences who they will become.”
School Contact Information
Monday - Friday, 7:30 am - 5:30 pm
Rochester Montessori School is a secular, not-for-profit organization governed by a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is responsible for protecting current material and personnel resources of RMS for the future through fiduciary responsibility, asset management, capital development, hiring a Head of School, general oversight, and long range planning. Anyone with an interest in RMS is welcome to attend Board meetings which are generally held on the third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. At the conclusion of regular business, the board may move into closed session as necessary to conduct business that is sensitive in nature. Minutes from each meeting are available in the office a month after each meeting.
The Board is always looking for talented and dedicated individuals to participate with the Board. Please contact the Head of School or any current board member to obtain more information about the RMS Board of Directors.
Head of School/Admissions
Assistant Head of School
Director of Finance
Maintenance & Janitorial
Rhonda Khan, Guide
Sally Johnson, Assistant
Ruby Gulati, Guide
Lisa Wridt, Assistant
Melissa Martinez-Miland, Guide
Sarah Dennis, Assistant
Andy Saunders, Guide
Anne Moberg, Assistant
Clarisse Colin-Hoag, Guide
Cecelia Aker, Guide
Tina Xie, Assistant
Sarah Buhmann, Guide
Nolan McMonagle, Assistant
Kelly Shinn, Guide
Trisha Roeker, Guide
Debbie Lewis, Assistant
Mark Seifert, Guide
Rosalee Mickelberg, Assistant
Michelle Ebnet, Guide
Nikki Brown, Guide
Jessica Nelson, Assistant
Bre Scheer, IB/MYP Coordinator, Guide
Greg Anderson, Guide
Kate Faruolo, Guide
Sarah Streyle, Guide
Niniek Pranoto, Assistant
Nicole DeBurton, Environmental Education & MYP Spanish
Maria Grazia Gualandi, Toddler - 5th Grade Spanish
Ana Maria VanderLaat, Toddler - 5th Grade Spanish
Sharri Juhnke, Art & Librarian
LuAnn Nicholson, Physical Education
Jackie Hoffman, Music & Band
Diane Betzolt, Resource
Laura Lawson, Day House, CH-1st Early Arrival & CH Late Pick-up
Diane Betzolt, 2nd-5th grade Early Arrival
Jessica Nelson, CH Late Pick-up
Sally Johnson, Toddler Late Pick-up
Sarah Dennis, Toddler Early Arrival
Greg Anderson, Middle School Early Arrival
Lisa Wridt, E2, Middle School Late Pick-up
Tina Xie, E1 Late Pick-up
Niniek Pranoto, Day House
When parents have questions and/or concerns it is important to know who to contact. It is our intention to work together to answer questions and address concerns as effectively as possible. Please use the following guidelines when contacting us:
Questions regarding your child in the classroom including everything from academics to behavior
Your Children’s Guide(s)
Email or call the office (507.288.8725) to get in touch with your child’s guide(s).
Questions regarding admissions, placement, change in schedule, registration, re-registration, or transitions, facilities (outdoor)
Head of School,
Or call the office (507.288.8725) to set up an appointment.
Questions regarding Additional Services, After School Studios, and Summer Programs, facilities (indoor)
Assistant Head of School,
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office (507.288.8725) to reach her by phone.
Questions regarding money, tuition, fees, billing, auto withdrawal, account balances
Director of Finance & Facilities,
Email email@example.com, or call the office (507.288.8725) to reach her by phone.
Still not sure where your question should be directed?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office (507.288.8725) to reach someone by phone.
At any time you feel a concern warrants the attention of the Head of School, do not hesitate to send an email to email@example.com, call 507-288-8725, or stop by to make an appointment.
Communication is of vital importance to ensure understanding and efficient operations of our school. RMS has several avenues for communicating with parents:
Email: This method is used most frequently. All staff members check email regularly and will use this as a primary form of communication with you.
Website: Our web address is www.rmschool.org. Our website has much information including information about Montessori, our individual programs, an updated calendar, photos of events, staff email addresses, school cancellation information, newsletters and more. Please visit often to stay informed and up to date on school happenings.
Facebook: School information is also available on our two Facebook pages. We have our school Facebook page and our PTSA Facebook page called RMS Community Connections. We use Facebook to share pictures and information on daily school activities, upcoming PTSA or school events and general information about our school.
Take Home Folders:: Information that cannot be sent electronically from school or that requires hard copies will be sent home with your child. Children’s House and Toddler’s will send information home on Thursdays. Elementary, the Middle Years Program and all Specialist Programs (Art, Music, etc.) will send information home as needed. We’ll keep these hard copies to a minimum, but we do suggest that you regularly ask your child if anything was sent home.
In general, your child’s guide is not available for conversations during the morning arrival time due to obligations to the children. If you need to speak to a guide, please make an appointment or call before 8:15am or after 3:30pm. Information about trips, appointments, illnesses or other miscellaneous considerations should be emailed to your child’s guide, to reception, or written down and given to the office.
Children’s House Half-Day
Children’s House Full-Day
Middle Years Program
Early Drop Off Opens at 7:30 am
Late Pickup at 4:30 or 5:30 pm
Varies by Studio offered. See After School Studio brochure.
Our educational programs form a continuum from 18 months through the eighth grade. Each program offers developmentally appropriate and challenging learning experiences designed to maximize each child’s learning and thinking capabilities. In the following descriptions, the ages quoted are approximate. RMS reserves the right to alter age minimums or maximums based on individual and community needs.
Please go to the RMS website for additional curriculum information beyond the following:
Toddler Program (18 months to three years)
The Toddler Program is designed for children from 18 months to 3 years of age. Our Toddler classrooms are referred to as a seed (Acorns or Pinecones). Each classroom is staffed by a Montessori Guide and a trained Assistant. We maintain a 6:1 child/staff ratio or smaller.
The Toddler program is an amazing community of young friends who learn and grow together. The classrooms provide activities that help these children develop independence, self-mastery, and social skills. The activities promote movement, exploration, and discovery. The activities also help children develop eye-hand coordination as they string beads, sequence cubes, arrange objects on pegs, match pictures, complete puzzles, and paint. Language activities promote early literacy as children sequence objects, match pictures, and use vocabulary enrichment exercises. Spanish lessons are also a part of this program.
Children enrolled in the full day Toddler program have lunch in a family style and is followed by a rest period. As the children wake, additional activities take place.
Children’s House, Day House, and Kindergarten
In keeping with RMS tradition, each Children’s House classroom is named for a tree (Birches, Willows, Redwoods, and Cypress). These classrooms are staffed by three adults – either one or two Montessori Guides and one or two trained Assistants. We maintain a 6:1 child/staff ratio or smaller. Children explore and investigate well over 150 learning activities grouped as art, geography, history, literacy, mathematics, music, practical life, science, and sensorial. Spanish is also taught during the week. The children develop self-confidence, initiative, persistence, independence, concentration, orderliness, cooperation, and respect for others.
Lunch takes place in the classrooms for full day children older than three years ten months. The children then enter an afternoon work cycle and continue their afternoon work in the classroom.
Children enrolled in the Kindergarten program have additional afternoon lessons in math, reading, writing, Spanish, music, and physical education. An outline of the Kindergarten year curriculum is found on the School website.
Children under the age of three years, ten months who are enrolled in the full day program transition to the Day House at 11:45 AM where they will eat lunch together. They are offered a thirty-minute rest time. After thirty-minutes, those children who are not sleeping may get up and enjoy work activities. These age-appropriate activities emphasize practical life, sensorial, and social skills. Children who continue to sleep will be woken to prepare for 3:00 pm dismissal.
Elementary Programs (first through sixth grade)
The Elementary Programs are designed for children from first through sixth grade. Our Elementary classrooms are staffed by a Montessori Guide and a trained Assistant. We maintain a 12:1 child/guide ratio or smaller.
Elementary students study a broad curriculum emphasizing exploratory materials designed to provide instruction in anthropology, archeology, biology, botany, chemistry, earth science, geography, geology, geometry, government, literacy, mathematics, meteorology, oceanography, sociology, and Spanish. Children also work to become responsible for time management, self-guided learning, and effective teamwork with others.
The elementary years are divided into two groups. Elementary 1 (E1) is for children in the first through third grades. Elementary 2 (E2) is for children in fourth through sixth grades. Children in each program work through a set curriculum at a rate that is determined by both ability and interest. The E2 curriculum further prepares children for the educational challenges of our International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program, which begins in the sixth grade.
The Middle Years Program (seventh and eighth grade)
RMS is an authorized International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program (MYP). The MYP is designed for children from sixth through eighth grade. Our MYP classrooms are staffed by licensed guides trained in the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program methodology. We maintain a 12:1 child/guide ratio or smaller.
The RMS MYP program provides a framework of academic challenges that encourages students to become critical, reflective, and creative thinkers and to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and their lives in the international world. Through rigorous study and experiential learning, students develop a comprehensive knowledge of the world, grapple with complex issues and problems, embrace civic responsibilities, and engage with people who are different from themselves.
The curriculum consists of eight subject groups – Language and Literature, Individuals and Society, Sciences, Mathematics, Spanish, Design, Physical and Health Education, and the Visual and Performing Arts. These subjects are integrated through six global contexts, which provide authentic settings through which students engage with issues and ideas of personal, local, and global significance.1 The global contexts include Identities and Relationships; Orientation in Space and Time; Personal and Cultural Expression; Scientific and Technological Innovation; Globalization and Sustainability; and Fairness and Development. Our MYP students also complete service and business projects.
As children progress through RMS, they are introduced to a greater number of subjects from specially trained guides. Current offerings are Spanish, Art, Music, and Physical Education.
Additional information is found in the MYP Program Handbook on our website.
Spanish is taught school wide at RMS. Spanish lessons take place daily and are integrated into the Toddler and Children’s House programs. These lessons focus on language exposure, speaking, and listening. Elementary and Middle School students engage in speaking, listening, cultural studies, and appropriate reading and writing activities.
The RMS music program is introduced during the Kindergarten year and continues through 8th grade. The program includes a varied and active curriculum that focuses on rhythmic and tonal development, movement, and music appreciation as well as investigating how music relates to other subject areas. Performance opportunities are available within music class on Sharing Days. Students in the MYP program also complete projects based on various aspects of in-depth music study. Instrumental lessons are available as well; please ask the office or contact our music/band guide.
Physical Health Education
The physical education curriculum formally begins during the Kindergarten year and offers age appropriate learning experiences for each child in a variety of content areas such as basic movement skills, physical fitness, rhythm and dance, games, sports, tumbling, and health. Our program encourages each child to do their best and guides them to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.
While children produce voluminous amounts of art before their elementary years, the RMS Art program formally begins in Elementary 1. The children will have a mixture of dedicated art classes and open studio time. Children focus on different artists and genres of art through short readings, video, and discussion and explore connections between art and other subjects of study. The elements of art and principles of design are then emphasized and practiced in the creation of the child’s own art pieces.
Outdoor Learning Environment
The Ecology Outdoor Learning Environment encompasses the areas of restored prairie grasses, a variety of coniferous and oak trees, compost pile, vegetable, flower and pollinator gardens, chicken coop, beehives and fruit trees. Beginning in children’s house, students take part in learning about:
The outdoor learning environment affords many experiences to connect with nature and enjoy time to observe, journal and just “be” in nature.
The Virtues Project was honored as a model global program for families of all cultures by the United Nations Secretariat during the International Year of the Family. It is based on the simple wisdom of the world’s diverse cultures and about living by the best within us – courage, honor, justice, kindness and all of our innate virtues. Schools, businesses, diverse faith communities, prisons, counselors, drug and alcohol recovery programs, and families throughout the world are using the Five Strategies of The Virtues Project with transformational effect.
The Five Strategies of The Virtues Project means to transform the culture of our school and provide simple tools to use every day to make character education a natural part of the child’s experience. It is far more powerful to integrate the cultivation of virtues into the existing curriculum, the discipline system, the counseling experience, and the daily classroom life. The Five Strategies of The Virtues Project are:
1. Speak the Language of the Virtues
Language has great influence to empower or discourage. Self-esteem is built when shaming or blaming language is replaced by naming the Virtues, our innate qualities and character. Virtues are used to acknowledge, guide and correct. The Language of the Virtues helps us remember what kind of people we want to be.
2. Recognize Teachable Moments
View life as an opportunity for learning, using our mistakes as opportunities to hone our virtues. It is an approach to bring out the best in each other by asking, “What can I learn from this situation?,” “What do I need to do differently next time?,” and “How can I make it right?”
3. Set Clear Boundaries
Clear boundaries, connected to a Shared Vision of the virtues with which we want to treat one another, help to prevent violence and create a safe learning environment. Clear ground rules based on virtues build an atmosphere of order and unity.
4. Honor the Spirit
School spirit grows through simple practices that illuminate our sense of values. For example, creating Shared Vision Statements or a school wide moment of silence each morning can bring a sense of peace to the day. Virtues Sharing Circles allow us to reflect on what matters. Participation in the arts honors meaning and creativity. Celebrations bring meaning to special events.
5. Offer the Art of Companioning TM
This is the art and skill which supports healing, encourages moral choice, and allows the safe expression of feelings. It helps in counseling, conflict resolution, and behavioral situations. Companioning helps us get to the heart of the matter when individuals are in crisis or grief. It involves true presence and listening, asking clarifying questions, which allow individuals to empty their cup, and then to solve their own problems with the help of the virtues.
Please go to the RMS website for additional information on our school wide implementation of the Virtues Project.
Early Arrival & Late Pick Up services are available on a contractual basis. Due to limited space in these programs, we accept registrations on a first-come, first-serve basis. You must reserve a consistent weekly schedule. Priority is given first to full week registration.
Early Arrival (EA): 7:30-8:30am
EA is available to all age groups. This is a relaxed indoor care program in the Dayhouse environment. Toddlers will meet in the Toddler Activity Room. Children may bring breakfast and eat at school if they arrive before 8am.
Late Pick Up (LPU): Two Options
LPU 1 until 4:30pm
LPU 2 until 5:30pm
This is an after-school care program where children can read, study, play games or use a variety of materials. Children will also enjoy daily time in the gym or outside. Toddler LPU is held in the Toddler Activity Room. Children's House LPU is held in the Dayhouse and Elementary and Middle School LPU is in their own late pick up room.
Drop-in EA & LPU
EA & LPU may be used on an as-needed basis provided there is space. These placements will only be assigned a maximum of two weeks in advance. This service is generally meant for a last-minute or emergency reason. There is an additional $5.00 charge per time used.
Rochester Montessori School offers an exciting After School Studios program which covers a wide variety of learning activities for Children's House through Middle School. After School Studios are offered 3 times per school year. Examples of After School Studios offered in the past include:
Brochures and Registration Forms are sent home with students for sign up purposes. Information is also available on our website.
Rochester Montessori School offers an 8 week summer school program. Our program is available for age 18 months to 8th grade, with various ½ and full day options for our Toddler and Children’s House programs. If your child attends ½ day programs during the school year then they must attend ½ days during the summer program. Toddler and Children’s House students must attend Rochester Montessori School a minimum of ½ the school year before they are eligible to sign up for the summer program. Summer programs for students who have completed 1st through 7th grades are open to non-RMS students.
Waiting lists are kept when classes reach maximum capacity. As openings occur, students on the waiting list are contacted and admitted based on several factors which include the application date, desired starting date, and student makeup of the requested program among other things. No applicant will be placed on the waiting list without receipt of a completed application and fee. When placing students from the waiting list into a classroom, students of current families and employees are given priority.
Student transitions between programs are determined by several factors. To ensure student success, transitions are monitored by guides of the current classroom, guides of the student’s next classroom, and administration.
Factors that impact the timing of transitions include age, social and developmental needs, concentration and focusing abilities, and academic skills. Guides and administration will work closely with the parents during this process and encourage input and feedback to ensure a successful transition. All final decisions are at the discretion of the Head of School.
In general, students in our Toddler program move into the Children’s House program at the age of 3. Transitions from Children’s House to Lower Elementary must begin at the start of the academic year. Transitions between Lower and Upper Elementary and also the Middle Years Program occur at the beginning of the academic school year.
All class sizes are designed to be large enough to optimize each child’s learning experience, but small enough to allow for appropriate guidance and supervision. Because the Montessori classroom has a three-year cycle, ratios are typically adjusted to maintain the efficacy of this structure. Our general student to adult ratios are:
Tuition and Fee Payment Procedures
RMS is supported by student tuition and fees. All tuition and fees (with the exception of the application fee and the security deposit) are collected via auto withdrawal.
At the time of application
$100 per application
Enrollment Security Deposit
At the time the Enrollment Agreement is accepted
$500 per enrollment agreement
First Tuition Installment
June 2nd OR at the time the Enrollment Agreement is accepted if after June 2nd
1/10th of the total tuition
Annual Fees - Buildings & Grounds, Family Activity Fee, and Classroom Fees, if applicable (all non-refundable)
August 2nd OR at the time the Enrollment Agreement is accepted if after August 2nd
$480: Family Bldgs. & Grounds
$40: Family Activity Fee
$100: Elementary 1
$130: Elementary 2
$175: Middle Year Program
Second - Tenth Tuition Installment
2nd of each month, September - May
The remaining nine installments.
Additional Services, After School Studios, Summer School
The purpose of this policy is to ensure that equal educational opportunity is provided for all students of Rochester Montessori School.
A. It is the policy of Rochester Montessori School to provide equal educational opportunity for all of its students.
B. Rochester Montessori School does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of:
C. This policy applies to all areas of education including admissions, academics, coursework, co-curricular and extracurricular activities, or other rights or privileges of enrollment.
D. Violators of this policy shall be subject to discipline consistent with the Employee Handbook and applicable law.
E. Rochester Montessori School prohibits retaliation against any individual who reports discrimination or harassment or participates in any investigation of such report under this policy.
A. It is the responsibility of every employee and other personnel of Rochester Montessori School to comply with this policy.
B. The Head of School may promulgate regulations and procedures, as needed, to execute this policy.
C. Rochester Montessori School urges the reporting of all incidents of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, regardless of the offender’s identity or position in the school. Any student who believes he or she has experienced conduct that is contrary to this policy, or who has concerns about such matters, should file a complaint as soon as possible.
D. Reports under this policy shall be directed to the Head of School. All reports will be documented in writing and investigated impartially as appropriate given the circumstances. In circumstances where the Head of School is unavailable or concerns involve the Head of School, a report should be made to the President of the Board of Directors.
Student Information Packet
The student information packet must be completed and turned into the school every year. The due date for these forms is August 1st. Student’s will not be allowed to attend school until these forms have been completed and turned into school. Please see our website for the necessary forms that you must complete for the program your child will be attending.
There are two options for completing and returning these forms:
Registering with your Public School District
All student must be registered with their local public school district. This must be done before the beginning of each school year. This registration may also provide you benefits towards transportation.
Normal arrival time begins at 8:25. Arrival and dismissal procedures are designed to facilitate greater independence and freedom for your child. Safety is of the utmost importance at Rochester Montessori School.
Receiving children for early morning drop off begins at 7:30. Children may not be left alone before arrival time.
All toddler parents walk with their children into the building and to their classrooms where the Guide or Assistant will be waiting to greet and receive them. The separation point is in the hallway by the classroom door. Please allow your child(ren) to walk into the building and to manage his or her belongings. These are important parts of the Montessori experience.
Children’s House, Elementary, and Middle Year Program
Most parents use our morning arrival parking lot procedure outlined in the parking lot section of the handbook, making the car the separation point. Children then have the added benefit of entering the building independently. If parents elect to walk their child(ren) into the building, the doors at the foyer will be the separation point. The children then walk down the hall and into the classrooms independently.
Please park on the west side of the parking lot. Pickup occurs outside of your child(ren) classrooms If you arrive early, please refrain from congregating in front of the classroom doors. This can be distraction to the children.
Children’s House, Elementary, and Middle Year Program
Pick up functions similar to the drop off procedures. Please pull into the parking lot and form a line on the east side of the lot leading to the front door. Staff will bring students out to the pick up location at their assigned dismissal time at which time you may pull up to the pick up location. Please do not block the crosswalk.
Children’s House parents should display their assigned car identification number. Returning parents use the numbers assigned to them when they first came to the school. If you need a new number card, please contact the office. Elementary and Middle Year Program parents do not have these numbers.
We will only release children to those adults authorized by parents. If we do not recognize the person picking up your child or, if for any reason, a person is deemed unfit to receive a child (i.e. is suspected to be under the influence, acting oddly, violent, etc.), RMS staff will not release a child from the school and will contact you immediately. This is to assure the safety of your child. We ALWAYS err on the side of caution.
It is important for your child(ren) to arrive at school on time for the start of the school day, but we do understand that late arrivals happen.
If your student if leaving early for the day this must be communicated with the office and the assigned guide. Please park and sign your child out for the day at the reception desk.
Staff will be outside of the building at 8:25 to begin drop off. Drop off will end at 8:40. Please obey traffic flow and safety procedures outlined below.
The parking lot is a busy place during arrival and departure times. Accidents are more likely to happen when drivers are distracted. The parking lot is a CELL PHONE FREE ZONE and has a SPEED LIMIT of 5 miles per hour. Do not put our children at risk by talking on the phone or speeding in the parking lot.
Entering the Building
Bringing Lunches into the Building
There are two ways in which lunches are brought into school. Toddler, Elementary, and Middle School students bring their lunches directly to their respective classrooms. Children’s House students place lunches in the cart located in the foyer.
Our Prepared Environment
The Rochester Montessori School expects all members of our school, including children, parents, faculty and staff, to treat each other with grace, courtesy, and respect. As a Montessori school, we emphasize education over punishment and respect over disrespect. In keeping with our Montessori philosophy and curriculum, our tradition is to prepare children for life. We teach children skills to handle conflicts and difficult social situations, minimize and respond to bullying, and know when to independently solve problems and when to get help. Our goal is to help each child develop his/her full potential in a safe and nurturing learning environment that is free from all forms of harassment including bullying.
Relationship to the Montessori Method
As a Montessori school, we hold as a part of our mission the belief that each child develops to his/her full potential in a safe and nurturing environment.
As a Montessori community we promote the following Universal Expectations:
Be Responsible & Respectful for Yourself, Others & the Environment
This basic set of universal expectations applies to all children to assure that each child has a safe and secure learning environment. Internal motivation and self-discipline are the goals of RMS’s character development. Nevertheless, problems do occur as the children learn more about themselves and their relationship to others. Our goal is for children to grow into ethical, independent thinkers who are willing to stand for what is right and to take action when necessary. We provide children with skills, knowledge, and strategies to respect and acknowledge differences and to give support to others when needed.
We do this through our shared Core Character Education:
Virtues, Grace & Courtesy, Peace Education and Mindfulness
This begins in the Toddler and Children's House programs. As students enter the Elementary program, they begin their exploration of the Montessori values of freedom and responsibility, which tie personal freedom to the willingness to take responsibility for one's words and actions. They also begin the Cosmic Education curriculum, which introduces the child to the world beyond their own neighborhood and their own ideas. They continue their work in Peace Education by learning conflict resolution and furthering their social skills. In the Middle School program, students may become peer mediators.
We believe that rewards and punishments are ineffective tools for discipline and academic success and therefore use them limitedly as a strategy. Instead we work to identify the child’s needs in a positive manner. We attempt to understand the child’s behaviors as strategies for meeting their needs. We can then work with the child to creatively develop alternative ways for meeting needs. We approach issues through natural and logical consequences, recognizing the importance of the student becoming responsible and self-reliant.
Montessori Guides are not an authority over children but works together as co-creators of the school environment. As a result of multi-age groupings, students may have the same Guide for multiple years. This enables development of rapport and trust. These supportive connections can serve as the basis for strong behavioral health and provide students with the comfort to confide in adults.
In addition, the Virtues Project transforms the culture of our school and provides simple tools to use every day to make character education a natural part of the child’s experience. Please see our school programs section for more information on the Virtues Project.
Emphasis on Community
Montessori schools allow for independence and, at the same time, foster collaboration. Students may occasionally meet as a whole class to reflect on what they are learning, both academically and socially. Class agreements are made that are often reviewed or referred to during this time. This supports students in making decisions that have a positive effect on their peers.
Safe Learning Environment
The prepared environments promote safety and learning and place a strong focus on the child as a whole in an individualized learning environment, which includes academic achievement and social skills development. Our programs promote inquiry through both independent and collaborative exploration. The classroom materials and instruction are differentiated to provide students at all levels with satisfying work. Through a combination of self-directed and guide-directed learning, students are engaged in high level, non-competitive tasks that absorb their attention and build their confidence. Given these aspects of the Montessori Method, students are less likely to engage in negative behaviors.
Observation is a fundamental tool of all Montessori trained educators. Observation is used in a variety of ways, in both the academic and social arenas, to evaluate student progress and identify lessons directed by the Guides. These observations allow Guides to monitor the social, emotional and behavioral development of each student and to foster effective learning, identifying when additional support may be needed. This may lead to, for example, providing lessons on social skills.
In keeping with Montessori philosophy and working with every child individually in support of their academic and behavioral growth, we have developed guidelines to support students who may benefit from additional intervention services. These services can be for academic or behavioral purposes. These additional intervention services are only utilized when standard Montessori methods do not prove effective.
We have identified four levels of support services.
Tier 1 - Our Standard Curriculum
The Montessori method will successfully meet the needs of approximately 80% of our children. Our Montessori Curriculum is grounded in standard Montessori methods both academically and behaviorally. Examples of standard Montessori curriculum provided to students are a prepared environment, small group and one on one lessons, regular observations, hands on Montessori materials, frequent movement, grace and courtesy, virtues, student choice and low student to guide ratios.
Tier 2 Support
Tier 2 supports are typically utilized for approximately 15% of our children. Tier 2 supports begin when a specific academic or behavioral concern has been identified by the guide. Tier 2 supports target these identified concerns and may involve the use of an intervention strategy to encourage growth in the concern. Examples of supports and interventions that could be provided are: more frequent small group, increased one on one lessons and follow-up activities, scheduled frequent observations on the specific concern, or a change in the child’s schedule. Guides will complete an initial concerns form and communication with parents will occur prior to the implementation of any Tier 2 supports.
Tier 3 Support
Tier 3 supports are typically utilized for approximately 5% of our children. Tier 3 supports are a continuation of tier 2 supports and begin when tier 2 support are not effective. The child study team comprised of our resource guide, guides from all classroom levels, and the Head of School, is engaged and further supports the planned intervention strategy for the child. This could include a specific individualized plan and scheduled intensive observations by members of the child study team. The child study team serves as a support and as fresh eyes to provided additional insight and perspective on ways to support the child’s needs. Communication with parents will occur prior to the implementation of any Tier 3 supports.
Tier 4 Support
Tier 4 support utilizes Rochester Public Schools for the purposes of an evaluation. Referrals for evaluation are not taken lightly and are decided in collaboration with the Head of School, resource guide, guides, and parents. The evaluation is conducted by Rochester Public Schools in collaboration with RMS. At the end of the evaluation process a determination will be made regarding the qualification for additional services provided by Rochester Public Schools. Once the evaluation is completed, parents, RMS and Rochester Public Schools will meet to discuss the findings and determine next steps.
MN Rule 3 9503.0055, subpart 4 & 5 require documentation of separations for our Toddler and Children’s House students. When problems arise, our first priority is to protect the children from physical harm. If redirection does not work, guides may remove a child from an activity for a period of time. This separation will occur within the classroom unless the child’s behavior warrants removal from the classroom. When separation occurs the Guide will complete a Separation Report. Parents may be communicated with regarding the reason for the separation depending on the severity of the issue. Parents can request to see the separation report at any time. We will respond to the child’s behaviors and reason for the separation using our student intervention guidelines.
Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan
This policy is intended to address bullying behavior, including cyber-bullying, on the part of students enrolled in the school at the time of the incident. The scope of this policy covers any activity (whether initiated within the classroom, on the school grounds, at home through the use of RMS accounts or during school trips) that has a demonstrated, adverse impact on a targeted child. It will apply to the use of electronic devices including school or non-school computers, programs, or networks.
In this plan, we address our Montessori philosophy as it relates to nurturing and promoting compassionate behavior. We describe our school's approach to addressing bullying and cyberbullying that is consistent with our core values.
All members of the RMS community are expected to participate in this plan.
A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more persons, and he or she has difficulty defending him or herself.
Bullying can take on many forms such as verbal, non-verbal, written, electronic, or physical behavior. Bullying can include derogatory comments and bad names; social exclusion or isolation; physical harm; lies and false rumors; theft; threat or being forced or coerced to do something against one's individual will.
Cyber-bullying occurs through the use of digital technology. It includes, but is not limited to, email, instant messages, text messages and internet postings. Unwarranted contact may take place in, or occur on, social networks, chat rooms, blogs, or cell phone texts.
We are intent upon creating a school culture that encourages the community to disclose and discuss incidents of bullying behavior, both experienced and witnessed. We are a community committed to addressing these incidents and empowering students to be part of the solution. The school has an open reporting system where any concerned person may report an incident of bullying or cyberbullying. Designated school personnel will respond to the reporting party. Insofar as is legally allowed by Minnesota state law, confidentiality will be maintained with respect to the parties involved in the report, however the party reporting the incident will be notified that it has been investigated and results may be shared as appropriate. Reporters and targets shall not be subject to any retaliatory action because they have initiated a complaint.
Incidents of bullying will be dealt with in a way that is developmentally appropriate for the ages of the children involved.
The following process is non-chronological and will be the school’s response to reported incidents of bullying behavior:
1. Reported Incident
a. The student(s) involved will be addressed by the Guide to whom the incident was reported. If the incident is reported to other school personnel, they will report the incident to the student’s Guide.
b. The Guide will speak privately with the student(s) to determine the severity and intent of the situation. Factors used to determine this will include age, maturity level, special needs, degree of harm, surrounding circumstances, nature of behavior(s), past incidences, pattern of behavior, relationship between the parties, and the context in which the alleged incident occurred.
c. If the findings reveal a lack of intent to bully, the student will be directed to complete mediation with the other student(s) involved. The Guide will facilitate mediation over the course of one or more meetings until the incident is sufficiently resolved. The parents of all parties and the Head of School will be informed when the investigation has been completed
d. If the findings reveal intent, the process will continue. Part 1 of the Incident Report will be completed at this time and given to the Head of School.
2. Finding of Intent
a. The instigating student(s) will be brought to the Head of School, and the school personnel involved will review the situation. The Head of School may ask for further information, seek appropriate resources, as needed, as well as speak with the Guide(s), Resource guide, or other students.
b. The parents of the instigating student(s) will be called and a meeting will be arranged to discuss the situation and the consequences as relevant to the severity of the incident.
c. If it is found to be warranted and age appropriate, the instigator(s) may be sent home at the time of the incident and will not reintegrate into the school until a meeting with parents occurs.
d. At the time of the parent meeting the following steps (as is appropriate) may be taken.
i. The student(s) will explain what happened.
ii. The parents will be given time to respond.
iii. The Head of School will state the consequences. These may include warning, written apologies to another child, close supervision of the child, community service, an academic assignment(s), remediation, suspension, or, in extreme situations, expulsion from school.
e. The Meeting Record Form will be completed and signed.
f. The parents of the targeted student(s) will be called and a meeting will be arranged to discuss the situation and steps taken for support and prevention.
g. Follow up will include, but is not limited to the following:
i. If it is age appropriate, a peer mediation session facilitated by the Head of School, Guide, Resource guide, or other appropriate person will occur prior to returning to the classroom.
ii. The involved student(s) will check in regularly with appropriate school personnel such as the Guide, Resource guide, and/or Head of School. Depending upon the circumstances, there may be a follow up session with the whole class or classes to discuss and reinforce school values.
iii. The Head of School will meet with involved personnel to discuss the incident and identify, if warranted, additional resources for the student(s), faculty ̧ and possibly refine this system.
h. Copies of all reports will be maintained and secured in the office.
Monitoring the Implementation of the Policy
The implementation of this policy will be monitored by the Head of School and reviewed at the close of any incidents. It will be revised as necessary to reflect the scope and severity of issues which arise. In addition, training protocols and prevention plans will be updated at least once every two years. Input may be solicited from school personnel, parents, and the Board of Directors to plan modifications.
Rochester Montessori School takes the health and safety of its children very seriously. School personnel are trained in first aid and CPR by the Red Cross or Gold Cross. We err on the side of caution in cases related to illness and accidents.
Regular attendance at school is very important for the children. Prolonged absences can be affect learning. All absences must be reported. If your child will be absent from school, please notify the office before 8:30 am and let us know the reason for their absence. Attendance is taken in each classroom at the end of the official arrival time (8:40 AM) and all absences are reported to the office. If your child is not present at school at this time, and you have not notified us, we will call you at home or at work. Prolonged absences OR absences that are not consistently reported to the office may require a meeting with the Head of School.
While RMS does not employ a nurse, a public health nurse visits RMS regularly and provides a full range of health related services including hearing and vision tests and various trainings for the staff. Olmsted County Public Health provides RMS with the services of a variety of specialists for testing and referrals. An LPN comes to RMS weekly. You may contact the RMS office to request an appointment for your child.
RMS keeps emergency contact information on file in the school office. Please notify the office of any change to your primary contact information. We will notify you immediately of an emergency or serious illness.
If a student has an accident at school, we will assess the situation and take one of three actions:
In all cases, an accident report will be provided to you, which specifies the details of the accident.
Sick at School
If a student becomes ill at school and/or cannot participate in regular activities, we will call you to pick him/her up. There is a waiting area in the office with a cot and chair to rest in.
RMS is not licensed to operate a sick care program. A child with any of the following conditions or behaviors is ill and must be excluded from a center not licensed to operate a sick care program. If the child becomes ill while at school, the child must be isolated from other children and a parent will be called immediately. A child who is ill must be supervised at all times. The license holder must exclude a child:
Non-Emergency Prescription Medication:
For the safety of students, it is recommended that medication be given at home whenever possible. For example, medication prescribed three times a day can be given before school, after school and at bedtime. If medication must be given during school hours, the following requirements apply:
Rules regarding school administration of drugs and medicine are found in MN Statutes 121A.22, 121A.221, 121A.222, 121A.2205.
Non-Prescription (Over-the-Counter) Medication can be given with the following requirements:
RMS staff may only apply sunscreen to children with written permission from you. In general, and because of the number of children in a classroom, please apply sunscreen to your child in the morning before arriving at school. Elementary children and Middle School students may bring sunscreen to school for their own, personal use only.
Allergies are common. RMS does not prohibit families from sending items to school that are common allergens (peanuts, milk, eggs, gluten, etc.). Please talk with your child about the dangers of allergens and to be a conscientious lunch preparer! Our guides will make you aware of any allergies present in your child’s classroom.
It is of the utmost importance that you provide the school with all information regarding any allergy your child may have. We will plan accordingly in respect to classroom pets, snacks, etc. Upon initial enrollment, please be sure to fully disclose any allergies on the health form documents. If an allergy develops AFTER enrollment, please notify us immediately. We need to know how to care for your child. RMS staff is trained in the use of EpiPens. If a student does have an EpiPen, it is required that you provide the school with two along with the Medical Authorization form. One will be kept in the office and the other one will be kept in your child’s classroom.
Communicable Diseases or Illnesses
You must contact the school office within 24 hours if your child contracts a communicable disease (i.e. chicken pox, strep throat, scabies, impetigo, ringworm, lice, conjunctivitis). We will notify you by letter whenever we confirm that your child could have been exposed to any communicable disease at school. The Health and Human Services listing of Communicable Diseases is available in the RMS office. Let RMS know the nature of your child’s illness or if your child has a communicable illness as we keep records of this information for the State.
Due to the tenacious nature of head lice/nits, RMS urges parents to follow these procedures closely. When head lice are discovered at school, the parent/guardian of the child will be notified immediately. The child may remain in school until the end of the school day and return to school after the first application of treatment has been completed per directions sent home with the child. For more information please contact the Olmsted County Health Department, 507-328-7500, or your physician for more information.
When to Stay Home
Students should stay home when:
Students may return to school when:
Rochester Montessori School is required by Minnesota State Law to have a physician signed Health Care Summary form for all children 18 months to 4 years of age. The Health Care Summary form is included in the student information packet. Current immunization records are required for each child enrolled.
All immunization forms must be on file in the office by the FIRST day of school or the child will be unable to attend school until the immunizations are up to date or an appointment is scheduled for the purpose of accomplishing this.
RMS feels strongly that modern medicine greatly reduces illness, especially communicable diseases. Therefore, we only admit children who have been vaccinated according to currently accepted medical practice. If there is a medical reason for a child not receiving vaccinations, we must have a physician’s written explanation on file in the office. Parents may conscientiously oppose immunization. In this case, parents will complete and notarize Part D of the Child Care Immunization Record form.
General Safety Measures
RMS is a controlled access facility. The doors are only open during arrival, pickup, and special events. If you arrive at the school outside of these times, please ring the doorbell located inside the vestibule on the east wall and a staff member will let you in. Parents, it is important that you let staff members open the doors for individuals waiting in the vestibules. If you are not attended to immediately, it may mean that we’ve stepped out of the office. Please be patient; someone will be with you shortly.
Signing In and Out
Anytime you come to the school during normal working hours to visit, volunteer, or observe, you must sign in at the office and receive a corresponding badge. A badge is an indication to others that you are supposed to be in the building. If you are not wearing a badge, you will be asked to visit the office to receive one. Please sign the visitor or volunteer log when you enter and leave the school, except during large school gatherings. Please return the badge and sign out when you leave.
Authorized Pick Up Person(s)
You must complete and turn in the Transportation Authorization form indicating who is authorized to pick up your child(ren). We will only release your child to those individuals you have indicated on your Transportation Authorization form. You may add or delete people from the Transportation Authorization form in writing or by email. In the event and unauthorized person comes to pick your child up we will attempt to call parents and emergency contacts to determine next steps. The child will not be released until we have contacted someone.
Fire drills will be regularly conducted throughout the school year. These drill will be announced and unannounced to ensure proper awareness of procedures for staff and students. All faculty and staff have pre-arranged responsibilities in the event of a drill or a real fire. In the event of a real fire, activation of the school’s fire alarm will automatically summon the local fire department. Upon evacuation, all classrooms will gather at their designated locations and parents will be notified.
Severe Weather Drills
The school runs severe weather drills during certain times of the year. During a severe weather watch or warning, an administrator continually monitors the school’s weather alarm and local news stations for updates.
Practicing drills is a key element to ensure the school is as prepared as possible for potentially unsafe and threatening situations. In the event of an unknown or potentially threatening individual or situation on our property, the school has protocols to address multiple scenarios. The administration will periodically schedule stranger drills to make sure the process runs as smoothly as possible
Rochester Montessori School typically follows Rochester Public Schools for closure purposes. However, there are occasions when RMS does not follow the Rochester Public Schools in delaying or canceling school due to bad weather.
RMS Closure/Early Dismissal Policy
1. When the Rochester Public Schools (RPS) close due to snow or ice, RMS will also close.
2. When RPS schools are delayed due to snow or ice, RMS will open for school at 10:30 am unless otherwise specified. Early Arrival and Morning 1⁄2 day programs will be cancelled.
3. When RPS closes due to cold temperatures, RMS will have school unless otherwise notified.
4. Parents will be notified regarding early dismissal due to inclement weather or utility failure.
Communication of Closure, Delay or Early Dismissal
We will announce school delays or closures due to weather or unforeseen circumstances via email, on our website and, facebook page, and on the “School Closing” information on KTTC and KAAL Television Stations. There is a link to these sites on the school’s web page. You may also wish to download the KTTC and/or KAAL app on your phone or other device.
In case of an early dismissal due to weather or unforeseen circumstances such as utility failure, the school will contact parents to come and pick up your child/children. We will contact you as indicated on your emergency information form.
We will use school buses when possible for transporting children. A fee may be collected to cover this cost. At times, parent drivers with private vehicles may be used. Parents will be asked to give permission to ride in another family’s car prior to the trip. Parent drivers will be required to provide proof of insurance for the vehicle they are driving, a copy of their driver's license and a motor vehicle report will be run. The results of the motor vehicle report may prohibit a parent from driving for field trips. RMS staff members are not to use personal vehicles for transporting children for field trips. All children must use car seats when required by law, otherwise, seatbelts must be worn by everyone in the vehicle at all times.
Rochester Montessori School complies with the Department of Human Services (DHS) background study policies and conducts background checks on all employees. Background checks are also conducted on volunteers who have regular unsupervised contact with our students. For more information on DHS background requirements please refer to DHS rule 245C.
Suspected Child Abuse/Neglect
RMS staff members are Mandatory Reporters of suspected child abuse. Subdivision 3 of Minnesota Statutes Section 626.556 states: “A professional or his delegate who is engaged in the practice...[of] child care education...who knows or has reason to believe a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused within the preceding three years shall immediately report the information to the local welfare agency, police department, or the county sheriff.”
All reports concerning suspected abuse or neglect of children occurring within a family or in the community will be made to Olmsted County Child & Family Services. If the report involves possible violations of Minnesota Statutes or Rules that govern this facility, a call will be made to the Department of Human Services, Licensing Division.
A report will contain enough information to identify the child involved, any persons responsible for the abuse or neglect (if known), and the nature and extent of the maltreatment and/or possible licensing violations. For reports concerning suspected abuse or neglect occurring within a licensed facility, the report will include any actions taken by the facility in response to the incident.
An oral report of suspected abuse or neglect by a mandated reporter must be followed by a written report to the same agency within 72 hours, exclusive of weekends and holidays.
Failure to Report. A mandated reporter who knows or has reason to believe a child is or has been neglected or physically or sexually abused and fails to report is guilty of a misdemeanor. In addition, a mandated reporter who fails to report maltreatment that is found to be serious or recurring maltreatment may be disqualified from employment in positions allowing direct contact with persons receiving services, from programs licensed by the Department of Human Services and by the Minnesota Department of Health, and unlicensed Personal Care Provider Organizations.
All families are asked to sign a release waiver (on your School Contact & Permissions Form) regarding the use of their child’s image in any capacity. Pictures are primarily used on our website and social media outlets such as Facebook. Those students whose parents have stated they don’t want their photos used will be cropped out of or have their faces blurred from any photos that are used with their presence. Any press releases using student names will be approved by parents before release. Permission will also be obtained from parents for any research conducted involving their children.
We are committed to providing a high quality education. Much of our instruction is hands-on and involves student-guide interaction. Consequently, it is difficult for students to catch up after missing significant time from school. Regular attendance is important and helps set the stage for your child’s attitude toward school, consistency of expectations, and to reinforce concepts and skills your child is learning.
We understand that absences are occasionally necessary. Please notify the school and your guide and office as soon as possible, but no later than 8:30 a.m. if your child will not attend that day. Students who are absent or anticipate being absent for two or more days may arrange to get assignments from their guide ahead of time.
We encourage you to schedule appointments and travel during non-school hours and on scheduled breaks. Some examples of valid conditions for excused absences are:
If absences becomes habitual, we will request a conference with you to discuss this situation. We do this because habitual absence affects your child’s educational opportunity as they have missed essential learning and socialization time. Our responsibility is to ensure students are successful and happy at school.
A child is considered tardy when arrival occurs after 8:45am. Please help us manage tardiness. If tardiness becomes habitual, we will request a conference with you to discuss this situation. We do this because habitual tardiness affects the whole classroom and your child has missed essential learning and socialization time. It is difficult to form friendships and make up missed lessons.
If you intend to pick up your child earlier than their usual end of day, please send administration or the guide a note or email indicating the time the child will be picked up and when/if returning. When you pick up your child inside the building, you will need to sign them out at the reception desk. The same procedure is followed for their return to school.
New Student Orientation
Orientation typically takes place during the last week of August. All new students or students moving into a new program and their families are expected to attend whether entering Toddler, Children’s House, Elementary, or Middle Years Programs. The purpose of the orientation is to assist your child with becoming accustomed to the classroom. The orientation also assists your child with developing a sense of belonging and comfort before the school year actually begins.
Clothing and Shoe Requirements - All Students
Children’s House and Toddler Additional Clothing and Shoe Requirements
Restrictions on Clothing and Shoes - All Students
Winter Boot Procedures
All children must remove their boots in the lobby and either put on their shoes at the lobby benches or walk to class in their stocking feet. Children DO NOT need to remove winter gear items (coats, jackets) as it is difficult to carry everything to class. Parents, if for some reason you must walk down the hallway, please respect the children by removing your shoes/boots prior to walking down the hallways.
At RMS lunch is eaten together in the classrooms. It is a time for the children to slow down, relax, have quiet conversation, practice basic social skills, and learn good nutritional habits. To reinforce this learning process, we ask that you:
In general, children are encouraged to bring items which are clearly of educational interest, and which are “the real thing,” or a realistic model. Objects from nature, such as flowers, leaves, and stones are also welcomed additions. We also encourage children to bring meaningful items from home, especially objects related to trips or other special events in their lives. Anything related to class studies are excellent items to share.
Children may NOT bring toys, trinkets, candy and gum, cartoon or figure toys, electronic games, pocket knives, mock weapons etc. to school as these cause disruptions and distract from the prepared environment. If such items find their way to school, they will be held for the child until at least the end of the day or until they can be sent home.
Lost and Found items are located in the office and front lobby. Prior to the end of the school year any unclaimed clothing that is not retrieved or labeled will be donated. RMS will notify parents prior to this donation so you have adequate time to check for lost items.
In some cases, if a child intentionally damages school materials, we may ask for reimbursement for the cost of the material. If your child brings home a piece of material from the classroom, please return it promptly. Missing pieces render some of the classroom materials unusable. RMS does not loan or rent any of the Montessori material for home use. In the event the classroom bag is lost or damaged, we would also ask for reimbursement for the cost of replacing the bag.
The RMS Contact and Permissions Form provides parent consent for all short walking field trips within a mile or two of the school. For all other field trips, guides will send out specific permission forms for your approval and signature. The form will contain information about the trip, time of departure, means of transportation, and time they will be returning. Permissions slips will be sent out at least 2 weeks in advance. Emergency contact and medical need forms will be taken on all field trips. It is important that parents ensure that these forms are always up to date. Please contact the office to make any changes.
Maria Montessori's ideal for the Elementary experience was a purposefully limited environment where key lessons provide jumping-off points for additional exploration outside the classroom. Going outs, as known in Montessori terms, is designed to foster independence and resourcefulness, and to give children important real-life experiences. As students pursue greater depth in their work, they find the need to enter the "real world" to gather additional information. Perhaps they visit a museum, interview a specialist, or investigate a rock outcropping firsthand. Trips are typically planned by a small group of students engaged in a specific type of work or research. Through the guide's assistance, but ultimately on their own, students must plan their own trip, arrange transportation, and make necessary appointments. These Practical Life experiences place the responsibility on the students and allow them to develop vital communication and organizational skills. Going outs are typically for Elementary and MYP students.
During conferences you will receive information about your child’s work, progress, and growth. As such, it is vital that you arrange to meet with your child’s Guide. Two formal conferences are held during the year - one in November and one in March (please refer to the calendar for dates). Arranging your conference times and dates takes place electronically, and you will receive an email regarding how to do this.
Evaluation and Assessment
Toddler, Children’s House, and Elementary children are not “tested” or graded in the traditional sense. The Guides instruct them in the use of the materials and then carefully observe their development. Our Guides are trained to observe and record each child’s progress. This record plays an important role in communicating progress with parents and forms the basis of a progressive evaluation.
Children in Elementary 1 will experience taking tests as they learn, for example, math facts and spelling words. Testing becomes still more formal in Elementary 2 and Middle School classes. We also administer a standardized test called NWEA’s MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) annually in the Fall and Spring to students in second through eighth grades. NWEA’s MAP is a nationally normed “smart” test used by many public and private schools throughout the United States. The purpose of this testing is:
Progress reports will be provided during two formal conferences. These conferences are designed to help you understand where your child is in relation to his or her development, not in relationship to other students. Middle school students receive four report cards during the school year with letter grades.
Becoming skilled in time management is a part of our Elementary and Middle School curriculum. In the Elementary programs, the Guide plays a greater role in determining each child’s lessons and work because there is a very specific curriculum. In Elementary 1, the children receive work plans. These plans are both a to-do list and a record of their work and are key documents in understanding what your child is learning. Elementary 2 children also receive work, which is logged into a personal planner. As such, each child tracks what is assigned, when it is due, and what has been completed. The planner is also used for parent communication and can greatly aid parents in understanding what their child is doing day by day. Middle School students will receive study guides in several of the subjects. A study guide is a mini-syllabus that explains lessons and assignments.
IB MYP Project Rubrics
Students in our MYP program (grades six through eight) complete projects in each of their MYP subjects. These projects are evaluated using MYP criteria and rubrics. The rubrics are displayed in the Elementary 2 and Middle School classrooms.
Parents are encouraged to schedule several observations throughout the school year to further understand their child’s learning activities and progress. During observation, you may wish to note how your child uses the materials, relates to the staff and other children, and becomes responsible for the care of the classroom environment. Formal observations are scheduled from 9:15 am to 10:15 am in the mornings, between mid-October and mid-May. Observations of Art, Music, Physical Education, and Spanish classes are scheduled on an as-needed basis. Please contact the office to schedule an observation.
Animals are an important part of the Montessori classroom. Children learn responsibility while caring for animals and develop a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of life. Often, there is a need for animals to be cared for over summer months and holidays; we welcome your help with this task.
If your child has pet allergies, please notify the office (in addition to indicating this on the Health Summary Form) so appropriate accommodations can be made. If an allergy develops during the school year, we will ask for medical documentation before removal of any animal from the environment.
Students wishing to bring a family pet to share with the classroom should make prior arrangements with their Guide.
Minnesota Department of Human Services Rule 3 requires a Child Care Program Plan for licensing purposes. These are policies and practices of Rochester Montessori School, which pertain to compliance with DHS Rule 3 requirements. Questions and comments regarding these policies and rules should be directed to the RMS office.
Requirement A: Mandate that children have supervision at all times. It is the policy of Rochester Montessori School to provide supervision for children at all times.
Requirement B: Describe the age categories and number of children to be served by the program. See the above Education Programs section.
Requirement C: A description of the days and hours of operation of the program. See the above Daily Schedules section.
Requirement D: Describe the general educational methods to be used by the program and the religious, political, or philosophical basis, if any. Rochester Montessori School is a non-sectarian, non-profit organization dedicated to providing authentic Montessori education to the children of the Rochester Community. Montessori education is based on the premise that children learn best if provided with an interesting environment containing learning materials designed for their level of cognitive development. They learn best and develop the best self-image when they are given responsibility and freedom to choose their work and to establish and maintain their own relationships and community. Thus the classroom is amply equipped with materials designed specifically for the child’s level, and the rules of the class are very few and very basic.
Requirement E: Ensure that a staff person qualified as a guide under part 9503.0032 develops and evaluates this plan in writing on an annual basis. It is the responsibility of the Rochester Montessori School Head of School, who qualifies as a guide under part 9503.0032, to develop and evaluate this Plan in writing on an annual basis.
Requirement F: State goals and objectives to promote the physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development of the children in each age category in part 9503.0005, subpart 3, for which care is provided. It is the policy of Rochester Montessori School to promote physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development of children. guides are free to use their own means toward this end while working within the Montessori context. Progress reports are prepared by guides and discussed with parents at conference time. The completed forms are kept in the child’s file at the school.
Requirement G: Specify activities designed to promote the intellectual, physical, social, and emotional development of a child in a manner consistent with the child’s cultural background. Rochester Montessori School emphasizes sensitivity to the cultural background of its students. We make it a point to study and appreciate all cultures, and we encourage children and families to share their cultural heritage in school. Our environment provides flexibility in terms of cultural diversity and appreciation.
Requirement 9503.0050: Naps and Rest: It is the policy of Rochester Montessori School to provide opportunities for naps for children below the age of three years, ten months. Provision for naps includes:
Confined Limitation: A child who has completed a nap or rested quietly for 30 minutes will not be required to remain on a cot or mat or in a crib or bed.
Placement of Equipment: Naps and rest will be provided in a quiet area that is physically separate from children who are engaged in activity that would disrupt a napping or resting child. Cribs, cots, beds, and mats are placed so there are clear aisles and unimpeded access for both adults and children on at least one side of each piece of napping and resting equipment. Cots, beds, and mats with children on them are placed directly on the floor and are never stacked.
Bedding: Parents are to provide crib-sized sheets and a blanket. Bedding is sent home for washing every other Friday or when it becomes soiled.
For birthdays, Children participate in a Sun Ceremony which is a celebration of the child’s life story. You are invited to attend and share photos and memories of your child for each year of life.
Rochester Montessori School recognizes holidays as historical and cultural events, and each may be studied in some capacity. As such, we must be sensitive to and respectful of, the diversity in our school.
A ribbon ceremony takes place near the end of each school year as a way to commemorate students’ accomplishments. Students completing their Children’s House cycle will receive a Golden Bead and Medallions are given to students at the completion of their first elementary year with the year they began at RMS inscribed on it. The medallion is threaded on a set of colored ribbons, corresponding to the number of years enrolled, and the colors correspond to the colored bead chains used in Montessori math. This is a very special program that represents the transition to the next academic year. The medallion and ribbon(s) are sent home with the child but must be returned at the end of each year for the ceremony. A small fee will be charged to replace lost medallions.
Montessori Model United Nations: Peace education was a cornerstone of Maria Montessori’s educational philosophy. The preparation for the MMUN trip in the Spring allows our 6th grade students to dive more deeply into understanding the world and the people around them. They travel to New York to attend an international conference which culminates with a voting session in the actual United Nations building. It is frequently a life-changing experience where our students gain confidence and global awareness.
“MMUN students formulate, present, debate, and revise positions on current issues that are affecting people of the world. By assuming the perspectives of a citizen of their selected countries, MMUN students not only develop an understanding of the needs and rights of others, but also learn the respect the cultures, the political views, and the belief system of others.” -Montessori Model United Nations Mission Statement
Writers’ Cafe: The Writers’ Cafe provides students in Elementary 1 & 2 an opportunity to showcase their skills in researching, writing and presenting in a fun, relaxed setting. Thematic evenings may include historical figures, scientific discovery, or various genre explorations.
School Play & Musicals: With everything from Shakespeare to professionally written original works, our students are engaged in learning, creating and experiencing the theater. Middle School combines with Elementary 2 while Elementary 1 works separately to bring 2 different live productions to RMS.
Band & String Concerts: Music is an essential aspect of education at RMS. Students are encouraged to explore music through brass, wind, percussion and strings. Our Band students lend their talents in the community to increase awareness for families in need by playing for the Salvation Army as well as conducting a combined Band and String concert at the end of the year. “There should be music in the child’s environment, just as there does exist in the child’s environment spoken speech.” Maria Montessori
The Parent Teacher Student Association offers many opportunities for us to come together as a community. Here is a highlight of some of our larger traditional events led by the PTSA.
Harvest Festival: This event brings families together to celebrate the Fall. Students, faculty, and parent volunteers make soup from scratch. There are games and crafts for the kids. Families and classrooms bring carved pumpkins which are lit and displayed in the field for all to see.
International Festival: International Festival is one of the largest events of the RMS school year. Our families herald from countries all around the world. In the winter, we come together to celebrate and learn about these different cultures and traditions through traditional dress, crafts, entertainment, and food!
End of Year Carnival: In the Spring, there is no better way to finish a school year than to have a fun family picnic and carnival. Many games, activities, and raffles are available for people to enjoy! It’s a wonderful way to spend time with other families and friends as we celebrate the end of another year at RMS.
PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association)
The RMS Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) is a great way to get involved at Rochester Montessori School. The PTSA’s role is to promote greater participation in the school community to enrich each family’s experience and to play a crucial role in enhancing communication between the parents and staff. All parents, staff and students are welcome to participate. In order to fulfill its mission, the PTSA organizes, sponsors, and hosts activities that provide opportunities for parents to participate in the life of the school and benefit the school socially, culturally, and financially including appreciation of our staff. PTSA-coordinated activities include, but are not limited to:
Canvas & Chardonnay
End of Year Carnival
Garden Work Day
Ice Cream Social
Nature’s Playground Challenge
Parent Social Night
Rochester Montessori School welcomes and greatly appreciates parent participation. Each time your child sees you involved, you make a valuable contribution to your child’s development. Additionally, you are able to connect with other parents and staff which strengthen our school community.
The following are some examples of ways to volunteer your time:
RMS suggests a minimum of 10 hours over the course of the year or one hour per month. Please check with the office about how you can participate in the school and enhance your child’s educational environment.
Volunteers who spend regular unsupervised time with children, attend overnight trips or otherwise determined as needed by administration or the board will be subject to a background study prior to their volunteering. All background studies will be conducted in accordance with MN Department of Human Service rule 245.C.
Recommended Reading List for Parents
Liilard, Paula P. (1966). Montessori Today and Montessori: A Modern Approach. NY: Random House.
These books describe Montessori theory and contemporary American Montessori schools.
Lillard, Angeline Stoll. (2005). Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius. NY: Oxford University Press.
Lillard describes the basic ideas of Montessori education and how these are validated by today’s scientific findings.
Montessori, Maria (1972). The Secret of Childhood. New York: Ballantine Books.
Montessori discusses the hidden learning potential of the young child and how to develop learning activities and experiences to maximize the child’s unique capabilities.
Montessori, Maria. (1948). To Educate the Human Potential. Madras, India: Kalakshetra Publications.
Montessori describes the needs of the Elementary-aged child and how he or she learns history, science, math, and language.
Montessori, Maria. (1956). The Child in the Family. Chicago: Henry Regnery.
A series of short essays about the child, the family, the school, and the Montessori philosophy.
Montessori, Maria. (1948). From Childhood to Adolescence. Oxford, England: Clio Press, Ltd.
Montessori describes how children learn during their elementary, adolescent years, and university years. She describe curriculum and the optimal learning environments for each age.
Seldin, Tim and Epstein, Paul. (2006). The Montessori Way. Sarasota, Florida: The Montessori Foundation Press.
The authors present an illustrated guide to Montessori philosophy, history, and the curriculum for infants through high school.
5099 7th Street NW Rochester, MN 55901 507.288.8725 www.rmschool.org
Board Approved 8/2017