A Monthly E-newsletter Providing Useful Information to Caring Parents of Enrolled Students
© Copyright 2015 May 2014


Welcome Spring!

You can tell by the “surprise” snow flurries that spring has sprung! And with the buds and daffodils come multitudinous plans for the school year’s end. We will be asking for your help often in the last few weeks of school so be sure to look over the “Mark Your Calendar” section and add all events that apply to you to your own May and June calendars! And try to take some time from this busy schedule to smell the blossoms with your child.



The Outdoor Classroom

by Duna Strachan

Now that the weather is warming it’s time to start taking advantage of the outdoor classroom again. For Toddlers this means stopping to look at the daffodils pushing their way out of the ground, the first bugs waking up and the new buds. For Early Childhood students it means more walking, biking and hiking, exploring what’s new in the surrounding gardens and parks and helping to plan camping trips. For Elementary students the outdoors is a great place to sketch, to write, to practice music, to climb trees and build hide-outs. At our school we make a point of getting outside whenever possible. It’s important to have real experiences in nature to confirm what we have studied, to notice something new and to make a connection with our planet.

When I speak to a group of people I often ask them for favorite childhood memories. At one conference of Montessorians I heard about a child dancing in the rain in Singapore, another playing in the wind on the beach in Pakistan, another eating fruit right off the vine in Michigan. No one ever says their favorite childhood memory was watching a movie or playing a video game or staying in a hotel. It’s always climbing trees and catching frogs and playing in the garden. When my son was in about 8th grade he told me that his favorite memory of going to Soaring Wings was the time he and his buddies dug a gigantic hole on the playground. I was disappointed that he hadn’t mentioned the bead chains or one of my stunning geography presentations. A few years ago when he was 23 years old, he sent me a text message that said, “My favorite thing at Soaring Wings was when we listened to the trees with a stethoscope.” Still nothing to do with the expensive materials or the fabulous curriculum, but a simple outdoor activity.

The April 2008 Scientific American reported;

“Americans are losing interest in going outdoors. Visits to parks and forests…peaked between 1981 and 1991 after 50 years of steady increase. Since then they have been declining…an overall drop of as much as 25%.”

Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods says:
“A growing body of evidence indicates that direct exposure to nature is essential for physical and emotional health.”

He points out that the increasing occurence of learning disorders in young children is in inverse proportion to the amount of time children are spending outside in unstructured experimentation with nature. Digging, climbing, building forts…we considered this to be just messing around when we were kids, but it turns out we needed that time with the Earth.

Most of us live in Utah because we so value the natural beauty of the place. But Louv points out that our children may not grow up to value the wilderness we have carefully set aside for them if we don’t make sure they, too, have a connection with the Earth.

This month the Toddler classes will be taking “toddler walks” – toddler-paced explorations of the surrounding environs, Early Childhood is going to the Tracy Aviary and Elementary is spending the better part of a week applying the year’s curriculum to practical experience in the desert, canyoneering and on the river in Moab. As you plan your summer remember to leave lots of unstructured time for your children to mess around outside. Consider keeping a box of camping equipment at the ready so you can just throw in some hot dogs and head into the Uintahs or out to the desert even just for the night. Summer in these mountains is a magnificent thing. Make sure you grab a few nights under the stars for those childhood memories to come.



El Nido News

News from the Parent/Infant Class

In May we bring our year’s discussions full circle with a description of the planes of development. Or, what to expect as your child grows up. We only have four classes left in the school year so if you’ve thought of coming in, but haven’t made it yet, bring your baby in for a morning in El Nido. We meet Fridays any time that’s convenient for you and your baby between 9:00 am and noon. Let us know if you’d like to attend so Lynn can prepare for your time in class.



Toddler Time

Tadpoles and Sunflowers Classes

Our toddlers have gained much over the past school year. Most have mastered simple sorting tasks, spooning, pouring and wiping up spills. They can dress themselves independently and are responsible for putting their materials back where they belong. They have dabbled in various forms of artistic expression and have been working diligently on colors, shapes, numbers, letters and recognizing their names. If you have taken some time to “Montessori-ize” your home, you have seen your child gain confidence and independence in being able to choose clothing, put toys where they belong and help with simple cleaning tasks. As you prepare for vacation this summer, plan to arrange for your child to continue practicing what she has learned this year.

With a small cutting board and a butter knife your child can slice bananas for a fruit salad and spread cream cheese or sunbutter for a snack. With a small broom, dust pan, a sponge cut in half and a wash cloth cut in quarters she can clean up spills on her own. With a small bucket and a nail brush she can keep her sand toys well scrubbed and help clean off the patio table.

Many of our students who are three and older are enjoying working on letters and numbers. Try writing lower case alphabet letters, one at a time in the sand, with chalk on the sidewalk or on paper and challenging your child to find something that starts with that sound – “b” for ball or bat or baby. You can play number games in the same way – ask your child to find 3 rocks, 3 leaves or 3 sea shells.

Summer is a great time to take “Toddler Walks” which means exploring the natural world at the toddler’s pace, taking time to notice the texture of stones, bark and leaves and to watch the ants at work. Time in the car is well spent singing favorite songs, playing “I Spy”, reading aloud and playing with a home-made “mystery bag.” This can be made from a sock or draw string bag with objects inside which the child tries to identify by touch only. Great mystery bag objects could include shells, stones, small toys, pom poms, clothespins, plastic eating utensils; anything that has a distinctive shape and texture. Most of all, give your toddler opportunities to make her own choices and allow time for her to complete her activities at her own pace. Have a wonderful, toddler-paced summer!



Early Childhood Calendar

News from the Cottonwoods, Rainbows and Turquoise Classes

We’re rapidly approaching the end of the year. Here’s what we will cover over the next few weeks:

Monday – Music
We’ve gone from working with rhythm to hearing the emotions of Mozart and the storytelling of Tchaikovsky. We covered “The Nutcracker”, “Swan Lake” and “Sleeping Beauty”, as well as Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf”, listening to the music again and again in class. The children were impressed that a little Russian boy was able to envision such beautiful fairy tales and later tell them through music. If you enjoy the ballet be sure and catch one with your child the next time it is around.

In May we’ll study Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Suite” and finish up with some modern composers. Possibly John Lennon, Jack Johnson, Taylor Swift…Pharrell Williams? Who does your child like to listen to? Besides Disney?

Tuesday – Seasons
During May we’ll study the parts of flowers and work on our garden. If you have any fresh flowers to contribute, we’ll use them for dissecting, looking at under a microscope and flower arranging.

Wednesday – Geography
In May we’ll study Australia (including surrounding islands) and have a little time left over for Antarctica. As always, please share any artifacts or ideas for guest speakers from these continents.

Thursday – Poetry
Now that we know many of R.L. Stevenson’s and Shel Silverstein’s poems almost by heart, we’ll see what the children can make of Emily Dickinson. They are usually very adept at interpreting her “riddles” and are fascinated with her peculiarities.

Friday – Biology
Daily observations of our classroom birds and lessons on bird anatomy and specializations has prepared us for a trip to the Tracy Aviary at Liberty Park on May 13th (see below). We’ll be noticing how each bird has particular adaptations that enable it to eat, hide, mate and raise young in a particular environment. Through May we will be studying mammals, including  visits with Buddy the chinchilla and concluding with a short “Me” unit, and discussing our place as animals in the ecosystems of Earth.

Last Field Trip
On May 13th from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. we will make our annual trip to the Tracy Aviary followed by a picnic in Liberty Park. Remember school t-shirts, disposable lunches (no backpacks or Tupperware, please) and remember to apply sun screen. Water shoes or sandals are great for wading in the pond. We’ll need drivers too. Drivers should bring a bag in which to carry lunches, a first aid kit, a water bottle, spare pants, a cell phone and $7 admission. See the sign-ups on the classroom doors if you can help. This is always a really fun field trip.



Lower Elementary Lowdown

News from the Moose Tracks Class

Monday – History
The Elementary Class is concluding their study of recorded history by writing their own autobiographies during the last few weeks of school.

Tuesday – Geography
We wrap up our geography unit with a study of Australia. We’ll have just enough time for a look at Antarctica before we adjourn for the summer.

Wednesday – Healthy Lifestyles
We plan to take advantage of the warmer weather to work on outdoor game skills between planning for the River Trip, choreographing our Closing Ceremonies dance and concluding with our peaceful living activities.

Thursday – Biology
We will wrap up the Biology sequence with a look at mammals and our role in our ecosystem. In true Montessori tradition we will confirm our observations of how ecosystems work with our annual River Trip.

Friday – Field Trips and Mother’s & Father’s Day Fun!
We have lots of fun Friday adventures planned for the remainder of the school year, including admiring our artwork at the Kimball Art Center on the 9th, rafting down the Colorado River the 1st – 3rd, communing with nature at Swaner Nature Preserve on the 16th and our annual trip to El Restaurante where we will order and enjoy our almuerzo en espanol (date TBA)! Plan to join us for our Mother’s & Father’s Day Fun-Filled Field Day  at 10:30-11:45 on Friday, May 23rd. Please come ready to play!


Spring River Trip
May 1st – 3rd we’ll be applying our outdoor curriculum during our annual Spring River Trip in Moab. This trip solidifies and polishes the year’s social and academic work. Air out your camping gear and bring your favorite campfire stories!

PC Children’s Fair
The Fair is coming up June 1st, so plan to stick around after Closing Ceremonies! Elementary students will be selling tickets, helping with games and performing a song. Plan to be at City Park 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on the 1st to support your little fund-raiser, rain or shine!

Thanks to our dedicated parents who all give something of themselves to make our classes an exceptional place for learning and establishing friendships for life.



Upper Elementary Update

News from the Eagle’s Nest Class

Monday – History
The Upper Elementary Class is concluding their study of recorded history by contributing to the yearbook,  a history of our school year.

Tuesday – Geography
We wrap up our geography unit with a review of Europe and Australia.

Wednesday – Art
We hope to take advantage of the warmer weather to work outdoors as we polish our sketching skills and work on our choreography for Closing Ceremonies.

Thursday – Biology
We will wrap up the Biology sequence with a look at mammals and our role in our ecosystem. We will confirm our observations of how ecosystems work with our annual River/Canyoneering Trip.

Friday – Field Trips and Mother’s & Father’s Day Fun!
We have lots of fun Friday adventures planned for the remainder of the school year, including admiring our artwork at the Kimball Art Center, communing with nature at Swaner Nature Preserve  and our annual trip to El Restaurante where we will order and enjoy our almuerzo en espanol! Plan to join us for our Mothers’ and Fathers’ Fun-Filled Field Day  at Willow Creek Park 10:30-11:45 am on Friday, May 23rd. Please come ready to play!


Spring River/Canyoneering Trip

April 30th – May 2nd we’ll be applying our outdoor curriculum during our annual Spring River/Canyoneering Trip in Moab. This trip solidifies and polishes the year’s social and academic work. Air out your camping gear and bring your favorite campfire stories!

PC Children’s Fair
The Fair is coming up June 1st, so plan to stick around after Closing Ceremonies! Elementary students will be selling tickets, helping with games and performing a song. Plan to be at City Park 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on the 1st to support your young fund-raiser, rain or shine!

Thanks to our dedicated parents who set the standard for support within the school just as our students model what the younger ones hope to achieve. We couldn’t do this without you.


wb00727_Out of the Mouths…


“What do you love about your mom?”

asked on the playground (3 to 6 years old)

Adwen  - She lets me have August come to my house for a play date.
Devin – She gives me toys.
Benjamin – She helps me cut paper and do my homework.
Chloe  - She takes me swimming with Kristen and Ryder.
Connor – She’s nice and I love her.
Dylan – She does nice things to me and lets me play with her phone.
Evie – How about a necklace?
Finley  - She gives hugs.
Stella – I love her soooo much. I love her too much.
Lilly H – That she loves me.
Flynn – Huggies.
George – She reads me three books…all the time.
Gianie – She stays with me.
Jacqueline – She gave me two lollipops.
Jack – She takes care of me.
Axel – I like how she makes my lunch.
Harper – She is nice.
Liam – I just love her.
Loch – She takes care of me and feeds me food and takes me on cool trips.
Lily M – She makes me breakfast.
Lila – She takes care of us.
Pierce – She makes me pancakes.
Peyton – That she loves me.
Maya P. – There are two things I love – that she takes care of me and cuddles me at night.
Sawyer – She’s pretty.
Zadkiel – She draws pictures of herself and tigers and cheetahs.
Zeke – We lay with her.
Urijah – She lets me go to Zadkiel’s.
Zoe Z – She buys us toys.
Oliver – She lets me go to Mini-Montessorians (class for teachers’ kids).
Kim – Her unconditional love and acceptance of others.
Stevie – Her courage.


“What do you do to care for the Earth?”

asked in the Sunflowers Toddler Class (1 1/2 – 3 years old) after reading Big Earth, Little Me

Gianie  - I ride my bike.
Flynn – Hair brush.
Lucy – I can paint a dinosaur with two hands.
Andrew – Work on cars.
Clara – Draw.
Theo – I have magic and I can make myself fly.
Panos – Draw dinosaurs.
Zack P – Want snack…
Charbel – Work with Dad.
Chiara – Ride a bike.
Cole – Ride my bike.
Olive – Ride my bike..
Kristen – Eat snack.
Graham – I live on a planet.
Ari – Ride my bike when possible.
Jorden – Unplug appliances when not in use.
Leah – Use recycled paper to make lists like this one.




Happy Mother’s Day!



wb00727_Mark Your Calendar

April 30th – May 2nd…
Eagle’s Nest Upper Elementary Class River/Canyoneering Trip. The big kids and their teachers will be incommunicado in Moab applying their classroom learning, building their team and exploring the desert environs. These desert rats will come back to civilization on the 2nd.

May 1st…
Happy Birthday, Erin!

May 1st – 3rd 
Moose Tracks Lower Elementary Class Family River Trip! The class, teachers and parents will be incommunicado in Moab exploring the outdoor classroom portion of the curriculum. They’ll return tanned, dirty and happy on the 3rd.

May 5th – 9th…
Teacher Appreciation Week

May 7th…
Happy Birthday, Bruce!

“Bowl for Diapers” at Jupiter Bowl, 6 – 8 pm, $10/adult, $5/child benefitting “Dry Baby Bums” for Peace House. Call Shannon for more info – 949-616-5051.

May 8th…
Mothers’ Tea Parties (look for invitations to come home soon)

*Cottonwoods Early Childhood Class 10:00 – 10:30 am  
*Turquoise EC Class 10:30 – 11:00 am  
*Rainbow EC Class 11:00 – 11:30 am  
*Sunflowers & Tadpoles Toddler Classes 12:00 – 12:15
*Moose Tracks and Eagle’s Nest will hold Parent Game Day on May 23rd – no parties on this day

May 9th…
Deadline for donations to Class Baskets!

Deadline for yearbook orders!

May 13th…
Early Childhood Field Trip to Tracy Aviary, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 pm (early dismissal for Enrichment and Prep at 2:00 pm), rain or shine! Children need SWMS t-shirts, disposable lunches and a coat of sun screen. Water shoes are great for wading in the fountain. Drivers need a bag in which to carry lunches, water bottle, spare pants, first aid kit, a cell phone and $7 admission.

May 14th…
Last Fair planning meeting 2:00 pm, Main Office

May 22nd…
Happy Birthday, Carla!

May 23rd…
Moose Tracks and Eagle’s Nest Elementary Classes’ Mothers’ & Fathers’  Fun-Filled Field Day at Willow Creek Park 10:30 – 11:45. Come ready to play!

May 26th…
Memorial Day, No School

May 26th – May 31st…
Soaring Wings TV Turnoff Week. Go outside and play!

May 29th…
Class End-of-year parties –  each class will hold it’s own celebration of what they have learned this year.

May 30th…
Closing Ceremonies

9:00 – 9:30 am – Infant and toddler students and families
10:00 – 10:30 am – Early childhood students and families
11:00 – 11:30 am – Lower and upper elementary students and families

Closing Ceremonies and Graduation for those who have completed their current program of study (Graduates are those students who are 3 years old/ready for Early Childhood Class, 6 years old/ready for Lower Elementary Class, 9 years old/ready for Upper Elementary Class, or 12 years old and ready for 7th grade). Everyone is welcome and graduates have an important role to play.

June 1st…
21st Annual Park City Children’s Fair, 10:30 am- 3:00 pm, City Park, rain or shine! Set-up is 8:30 am, clean-up is 3:00 pm. Come support your school and your planet! Class performances as follows:

August 24th…Open House!

August 25th…School begins again – Have a terrific summer!

wb00727_School Bulletin Board

Closing Ceremonies 
Closing Ceremonies has necessarily become very simple this year since we still do not have a stage to use. Each class will host their own brief ceremony on Friday May 30th. You and your family are welcome to join us. Please let us know right away if you don’t plan to attend. Toddler and early childhood students can come with their families at the following times;

9:00 – 9:30 am – Infant and toddler students and families
10:00 – 10:30 am – Early childhood students and families
11:00 – 11:30 am – Lower and upper elementary families (please drop off elementary students by 8:45 am on this day)

Graduates (those children who have completed their current program of study: 3 years old/ready for Early Childhood, 6 years old/ready for Lower Elementary or who are 9 years old/ready for Upper Elementary or 12 years old and ready for 7th grade) will take part in a simple ceremony honoring their achievement followed by dismissal…until the Fair on Sunday! Thanks for your support in, once again, figuring out how to do a theatrical performance with no theater!

Park City Children’s Fair
The 21st Annual Park City Children’s Fair will be held Sunday, June 1st, 10:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at City Park. Since this is the Sunday after school is out, go ahead and pack up the family wagon, but don’t hit the dusty trail until afterward! Our Fair has become a popular community event over the years and we’ll need your help with hosting it.

The Fair Committee headed by Lina Singleton has a fantastic line up this year. Jenny Samuelson, Jill Warburton, Melissa Filippone, Sarah Barnes, Gina Johnson, Karen Mertens, Christine Eschenfelder, Shannon Buist, Phil Kaplan, Jules Manning, Amy Warren, Leah Morisi and Michelle Aldrich are working to line up fun, games and pony rides. We’ll soon be asking virtually every student, teacher and parent to help as well.

The Fair is an event for which the students take ownership. Every student can distribute fliers and posters and help with class baskets for the auction. Elementary students have leant their designs to the posters, and will sell tickets and help run game booths. All ec classes and elementary will soon begin rehearsing for performances scheduled throughout the day at the bandstand. The elementary classes will make up a budget of proceeds and decide how to appropriate them to the organizations of the Children’s Planet Fund (including Recycle Utah, PC Library, Summit County Library, Friends of Animals, Adopt-a-Native Elder, Kimball Art Center, Soaring Wings Teacher/Student Enrichment, Swaner Nature Preserve and Plan International). These are all child- and environment-oriented groups that students have chosen to support and with whom they interact throughout the school year.

Of course there is a lot of adult preparation that goes into the Fair but the children play a significant role in raising the money that they then personally donate to organizations that make their world a better place. Our graduates often go on to roles of leadership in their community and the Children’s Fair is a great first experience in how they can make a difference in their world. So plan to round up some auction items, invite your friends and neighbors and come to the Fair on June 1st. Thanks in advance for your valuable support!!

Thank you, Fair Sponsors!
Thank you to the Samuelson, Filippone, Larsen and Djunic  families for getting our sponsorship drive off to a great start.  Our goal to cover the costs of the Fair so all proceeds can go to the Children’s Planet Fund and Soaring Wings Student/Teacher Enrichment. We already have 31% of needed sponsorships! Just drop your donation (checks payable to SWPTSO) in the tuition box in any amount if you would like to contribute.

SAT Testing
SAT testing is complete for another year and once again we are amazed at what these children can do. Almost every student scored above grade level and many scored far above grade level exceeding the results of the nation and the state. These results help us evaluate and adjust our curriculum content and delivery. Check out the cumulative results on our website, www.soaringwings.org. Thank you for your support with this process.

Teacher Appreciators Appreciated
Special thanks to parent volunteers Melanie Petty, Jill Warburton, Natalija Djunic, Jennifer Grandjacquet, Phil Kaplan, Lynn Postnieks, Jennifer Valaika, Claudia Padilla, Dara Paschel-Harbour, Angela Elstein, Anita Lam-Wright, Marisa Goldenberg, Gina Johnson, Sandy Nearman, Allison Cumming and Heather Jensen for organizing the week of surprises for teachers and staff.

TV Turn-off
We’ll have our own Soaring Wings TV Turnoff Week the week of May26th – 31st. That will enable you to spend the week drawing, reading, playing, hiking and biking with your family instead of watching TV. It will also be a good time to pass out some flyers for the Children’s Fair!

Lunch Time
Now that it is spring we will be having lunch outside most days. Please make sure your child packs a lunch that includes a spoon or fork, if necessary, and does not need heating. It is so disappointing to get all the way outside and sit down to find that you have cold soup for lunch and no spoon!

Special thanks to editors Leah Morisi, Tama D’Angelo, the Moose Tracks Lower Elementary Class, Eagle’s Nest Upper Elementary Class and volunteers Melissa Filippone, Anita Lam-Wright, Sam Brogna, Diana Harbour and Lacey Cole-Rae for putting together this year’s yearbook. It’s a huge project that Leah and Tama have organized into a streamlined process. The books will be beautiful hand crafted souveniers of our school year. Be sure to turn in your order for books and ads by May 9th! Children will sign each other’s books in class during the last week of school. Teachers do their best to keep the few who don’t have yearbooks from feeling left out, but it’s a tough task. Remember to get your orders in on time!

A common refrain during our staff professional development time is about making our own particular dreams come true. Every year staff is asked to write a proposal as to what they’d like their job to be in the coming school year. So we are always happy to see our “family” members moving toward their goals. Kim Norman, Cottonwoods Class teacher, has made the tough decision to find a school closer to her home in Sugar House so she can spend more time with her family and in her garden. Kim has been with us for 7 years and has grown from a single “rookie” assistant to a married intern, trained teacher and mom of two boys who the school has helped to raise. We are sad to lose her but proud of her for meeting her goal and we wish her well in her newer, simpler life.

In the meantime, Natalija Djunic, mom of Nikola in the Rainbows Class, has been hired to take over teaching the Cottonwoods Class in the fall under Lina and Duna’s supervision. Natalija holds a degree in law from the University of Belgrade and worked at West Village Nursery School in New York for 9 years before moving to Utah. She is enrolled in the American Montessori Society teacher training at Westminster College along with the associated master’s degree program. Natalija is a natural in the classroom and is as excited to be with us as we are to have her on faculty.  Jorden Hackney, Sunflowers assistant, will be assist Natalija in the fall. You will be seeing Natalija and Jorden in the Cottonwoods Class regularly this spring as they get to know the students and their needs.

Denise Martin, who has been a regular sub in the past few weeks, will join us daily in the fall as an assistant. She holds a degree in Geology from the University of New Mexico, has a background in engineering and has spent the past several years raising three children and volunteering as an art teacher, tutor and Boy Scout leader. Denise has a mother’s instinct for what needs to be done and steps easily in and out of many roles. We know that when Denise is with us everything is always in it’s place and we are delighted to have her seeing to this permanently in the fall.

Shannon Dixon will assist Leah Morisi in the Turquoise Class in the fall. Shannon holds a degree in Sociology from Santa Clara University and has considerable experience working with children and adults with special needs. She is excited to take a new direction in assisting our amazing little independent learners of the Turquoise Class. Shannon lives in Coalville with her husband and two teenaged step-sons. She is bright-eyed and enthusiastic and we are happy to have her with us.

We put job applicants through a rigorous process including a written portion, a verbal portion, a psychological profile, a background check, fingerprinting, spending several hours observing all classes, working in classes with various teachers and at various times of the day, being interviewed by teachers and administrators and reviewing references. Most applicants don’t make it past the initial visit because we are looking for something special. And not only does one of us need to see it, but we need to hear from multiple members of the faculty that they see something great in the prospective employee. Our teachers report again and again that one of their favorite parts of working with us is the school community so every new member must have something unique to contribute. We are always pleased when we find someone with the “right stuff”. Please join us in welcoming Natalija, Denise and Shannon, three who bring just the right stuff to our Soaring Wings family!

Smarter Than the Average School Year
Our motto has long been “we work harder and we play harder, too!” Did you know that SWIMS Elementary students are in class approximately 107 hours more than elementary students in the Park City School District? Our Elementary Prep students attend school almost 50 hours more than PCSD elementary students. Although we use the PCSD schedule as a guideline we do not observe the teacher work days and half days that they do, leaving us with more time in the classroom.