A Monthly E-newsletter Providing Useful Information to Caring Parents of Enrolled Students
© Copyright 2017 August 2017


Welcome Back!

It’s been a lovely summer – teachers have scattered to the winds, visiting friends, family, mountain tops and beaches around the world. Some are trickling back into town already, dusting the sand off their feet and starting to work on their classrooms. You know how people say they come to Park City for the winters but stay for the summers? Teachers come to their field for the summers off but stay for the time in class with the children.

Where’s My Newsletter?

The current newsletter will be posted on the website around the first of each month. You’ll get an email notice when it is ready. Look for the new newsletter and be sure to note important dates and schedule changes in your calendar. You can also access the Events & Holidays calendar for the whole school year at any time on our website – www.soaringwings.org. We can always tell who’s not reading their newsletters so make sure you check it out so you’ll be “in the groove”!

The Importance of Being Montessori

Did you know that the education system you have chosen for your child is the most effective known? Dr. Kevin Rathunde of the University of Utah  recently delivered a keynote address to a group of Montessori teachers, parents and administrators in which he emphasized that in his study contrasting Montessori and traditional schools, Montessori students were almost twice as likely to work with intrisinc motivation. Students from traditional schools understood that they had to get the work done because it was important, but they didn’t enjoy it or immerse themselves in the flow of working to great satisfaction. Montessori students did. For more on this look at Rathunde, K., & Csikszentmihalyi, M., Applications of flow in human development and education: The collected works of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2014.  Dr. Angeline Lillard published results of an exhaustive study (Lillard, Science, September 2006) showing that Montessori children not only retained academic information more readily than students learning in a traditional environment, but were significantly more thoughtful and empathetic in their relationships with others. In her study of Milwaukee school children, “children who were in the public Milwaukee Montessori schools from preschool to fifth grade scored significantly higher on standardized tests (ACT and WKCE) of math and science than did matched controls from their same high schools” (Lillard, 2005). Our own SAT scores consistently show the same result year after year (see these on our website – www.soaringwings.org). Our highly educated and talented faculty (100% AMS credentialed, 100% holding bachelors degrees, 80% holding or working on master’s degrees), the precision manipulative tools, the mastery learning approach, the logical progression of lessons from simplest to most complex, the multi-year age grouping, and the individualized curriculum all combine to provide the ultimate educational experience. Through our teacher training, conferences, graduate thesis projects and consulting experiences we continue to see the effectiveness of this method unlike anything else available.  A Montessori education – the unique blend of academics, the arts, sciences, geography, history and education for peace – is just what today’s children need to prepare for their future.

Dr. Montessori opened her first “Casa dei Bambini” in Rome in 1907. And this method of education is still ahead of its time. With “Google guys” Sergey Brin and Larry Page crediting their success to a Montessori education (ABC interview with Barbara Walters, 2004), the list of leaders (including Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama), who have chosen Montessori for their children, continues to grow. Our own graduates consistently amaze us with their leadership skills. After a century of quietly educating children, using the same proven method while other methods come and go, it seems as if the humble world of Montessori is finally being widely acknowledged.

schoolparents No, Montessori isn’t for all parents but it is for all children. And if you are willing to make the commitment to pay tuition, transport your child to and from school each day, keep up with school events, follow school policies, stay aware of your child’s progress and areas of interest in the classroom and follow through with Montessori philosophy at home, then you’ve already made the big commitment it takes to be a Montessori parent.

The satisfaction of that commitment comes as you see your child becoming more independent, responsible, confident and genuinely happy with her accomplishments. You’ll realize that with your child’s academic achievements come new levels of growth and awareness that contribute to an increasingly well rounded individual.

Duna and Bruce attended the International Montessori Congress in Prague in July where teachers and students came together from 71 countries all over the world to speak on the success of the Montessori Method. It has been shown again and again that children who have attended Montessori schools maintain an academic advantage and are more inventive and curious long after they leave the program and move into traditional schools as compared to children from other types of schools (Bagby, Barnard-Brak, Sulak, Jones and Walter, 2012;  Kayili & Ari, 2011; Rinke, Gimbel and Haskell, 2013; Shankland, Genolini, Franca, Guelfi and Ionescu, 2010). We notice our graduates’ names showing up on every honor roll and awards list. They make the news as leaders in civic and academic projects and the arts. We know this is largely because their parents are people who care about a good education and go out of their way to provide them with one. But we also know our students pick up a passion for learning in a Montessori classroom that sticks with them for life.

Getting Back in the Groove


Please say good-bye quickly, lovingly and go. This is important for your child’s transition as well as for traffic flow. The staff is skilled at easing the transition for your child and we will let you know if there is a problem. Groups of parents lingering in the classrooms or on the playground can deleteriously affect an otherwise calm routine. Parents are always welcome to hang out in the sanctuary where there may very well be a project with which you can help!

With younger children you may want to discuss and role-play saying good-bye. Be sure to convey your confidence that school is a good place for them to be. We encourage you to establish a ritual such as “hug-kiss-snuggle” that reassures you both at parting. Saying good-bye quickly, warmly, lovingly and matter-of-factly just as you rehearsed (no matter how anxious you are feeling!) will ease them through this transition. Our teachers are expert at handling it from there. We will contact you if we feel there is any reason for concern.

Please be on time. We cannot accept children on campus before class begins. Only those enrolled in Breakfast Club can arrive before class time. We hold staff meetings each morning before class. This time is important in allowing us to prepare a peaceful, harmonious and happy environment for your child. And if you are late picking up, teachers have a hard time fitting in cleaning, prepping, phone calls, lunch and meetings. Punctuality is as important to your child as it is to the staff. Children are often worried and distressed when they arrive too early, too late or when parents are late for pickup.


Please always make sure a teacher is in attendance before leaving your child. There will be staff members at the front door and gates during drop-off time. They are happy to relay messages to your child’s  teacher for you.

All students must say good-bye to their teachers when leaving, not only as a matter of etiquette but also to ensure your child’s safety.

Drop-off/Pick-up Routine

Traffic Flow/Parking

Pick-up and drop-off times are staggered to ensure smooth traffic flow. Please let us know how it’s going out there. Keep in mind;

There is no parking on Old Ranch Road.

Please do not park in the drop-off/pick-up lanes. If you want to come inside the building or the playground please park in the parking lot.

We will supply students with a name placard to display in your car to help us get your child ready for you at pick up time. This will facillitate the pick up routine until we get to know your car.

For special events at school there is overflow parking at Knoop Park across Old Ranch Road to the south.

Infant Program (3 to 18 months)

El Nido Class taught by Carmen Olivera
Parents park in the parking lot and bring infants into class between 8:30 and 8:45am. Pick-up is in the class from 2:45 – 3:00pm.

Parent/Infant Class taught by Carmen Olivera
Parents, grandparents and caregivers of those enrolled in Parent/Infant Class are welcome to stay as long as you like between 8:30 and 11:30am on Thursdays (please note the day has been changed from Fridays in order to accommodate more schedules). Participants will receive a syllabus of classes including days when no class will be held due to special events and holidays.

Toddler Program (1 1/2 to 3 years old)

Sunflowers Class taught by Leah Linebarger 

Tadpoles Class taught by Ari Alba

Toddler students will drop off at the classroom door from 8:30 to 8:45 am. Parents can help children put belongings into their lockers, say good bye quickly, lovingly and go. Once you’ve said good bye a teacher will take your child into class – please do not come into class or linger near the door. The first few weeks you can expect that your child may cry when you leave. The more consistent you are with drop-off the sooner your child will come to understand that, yes, it’s hard to say good bye but then a wondrous school day begins and very soon you will be back to pick up at the playground gate.

Parents can pull up to the playground gate between 11:30 and 11:45 am and a teacher will be at the gate to help your child into the car. If you need to leave your car, please park in the parking lot rather than in the pick-up/drop-off zone.

All toddler students will need a backpack with a water bottle, change of clothes, indoor shoes or slippers, a 4″ x 6″ snapshot of the family (for the class album) and two 2″ x 3″ photos of the child (for the cubby and locker). Please select clothing and shoes that the toddler can learn to put on and take off by himself. Dressing skills are important in establishing confidence and independence, but most children under the age of 5 cannot tie their own laces. Velcro or slip-on style shoes are a must for toddlers.

Toddler students enrolled in the Toddler Plus program should purchase a collapsible PeaPod type napping tent available online for around $70. The tent belongs to the family and will be handy in furnishing a familiar nap space for your child when traveling or visiting. Toddler Plus students may also bring a blanket, pillow, lovey and any other nap items that will help them to feel comfortable.

Toddler Pants Policy: Toddler students change into cotton training pants with plastic covers once class begins. This helps them become aware of their need to use the toilet and makes it easy for them to change pants independently. We keep a supply of extra pants at school and will wash our pants here, but will send your child’s pants home to be laundered. We will make sure your child is changed back into the clothes she arrived in before pick-up time. Although it may be easier to use a diaper when travelling in the car and running errands, we recommend that you purchase a supply of training pants so your child can practice using them at home. With a child-sized potty or seat, a basket of fresh pants, and a pail in which to place the soiled pants your child will enjoy the independence of using the toilet much more quickly than if she were in diapers all day. We spent two years testing this theory with one campus using diapers and the other implementing the pants policy. 91% of students using training pants were independent or close to it by the end of the school year as opposed to 67% of the children who wore diapers and pull-ups. It means more laundry for all of us but just as we give older children every opportunity to learn to read and write when they are ready, we want to offer the same opportunity to toddlers learning to use the toilet. They just need lots of practice. You can order Gerber cotton training pants online for about $8/3-pack.The Gerber waterproof pants are about $2 each. Be sure to label all of your child’s clothing – even socks and shoes.

Early Childhood Program (3 to 6 years old)

Turquoise Class taught by Molly McDowell

Cottonwoods Class taught by Natalija Djunic

Students can be dropped off at the front patio gates between 8:45 and 9:00 am where a teacher will greet them. Please pull up in the drop off lane so the students can exit the car safely onto the sidewalk.

Morning ec students will be picked up at the playground gate between 11:45 and noon. Pick up for Prep students is at the front patio gates between 2:45 and 3:00 pm. A teacher will be on the sidewalk to help your child into the car. If you want to get out of the car, please park in the parking lot rather than in the pick-up/drop-off zone.

Ec students should bring a backpack with a water bottle, change of clothes, slippers or indoor shoes and room to bring work home. They should be quite independent in dressing for the out-of-doors so please make sure your child can easily put on and take off her own shoes. Velcro, slip-ons or shoes with large buckles are a must until the child learns to tie laces at around 5 years of age. Afternoon students will need a lunch as well (see “Lunch Guidelines” below) unless you are registered for the school lunch program.  Continuing students need to bring back their workbooks and readers which will be kept in cubbies except during vacations.

Elementary Program (6 to 12 years old)

Moose Tracks Lower Elementary taught by Tracy Zisselsberger

Owl’s Nest Upper Elementary Class taught by Lori Whistler 

Elementary students can be dropped off at the playground gate between 8:30 and 8:45 am where a teacher will be waiting to greet them.

Pick-up is at the playground gate between 3:00 and 3:15 pm.

Elementary students will need a lunch (see “Lunch Guidelines” below) unless registered for the school lunch program, and the items listed below, most of which can be purchased at WalMart for around $60. (Please do not buy paper, pens or mechanical pencils.) The school supplies paper, planners, journals and art materials.

The elementary student will need:

  • a backpack (large enough to hold two workbooks, planner, water bottle and extra mittens, hats, socks, etc.)
  • lunch box (unless registered for the school lunch program)
  • water bottle for class use
  • “Camelback” or small backpack with water bottle for field trips
  • sun hat or baseball cap
  • 1 package of wooden pencils (no mechanical pencils – the lead falls out and makes a mess)
  • hand held pencil sharpener
  • Big Pink erasers
  • 12 inch ruler (showing inches and millimeters)
  • “Kids Fiskars” scissors with sharp points
  • 4 glue sticks (not liquid glue)
  • 5  two-pocket folders for Lower El, 6 for Upper El students
  • pencil box
  • calculator with basic functions
  • compass for geometry
  • protractor
  • Summit County Library card
  • headphones/earbuds to use with the Apple computer and iPad
  • camping gear including tent, sleeping bag, flashlight, emergency whistle, hiking shoes and rain gear

Fall is a good time to shop for deals on camping equipment for this year’s family camp-outs in September and May. You and your child should have a tent, sleeping bag, a flashlight, an emergency whistle, good hiking shoes and rain gear. Students take weekly field trips and are outside in all kinds of weather. We believe there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!

If you have not already paid the $500 elementary activity fee, please send in a check payable to SWIMS. Thank you!

The Elementary Outdoor Curriculum

The outdoor curriculum is an important part of the elementary student’s education. The first weeks of school the children will be working on team-building activities to get to know themselves and each other. This culminates in the Moose Tracks/Owl’s Nest Fall Family Campout.  There will be field trips every Friday throughout the year including hiking trips into the surrounding hills. The annual Moose Tracks Spring Family River Trip (a 2 – 3-day camping trip) is tentatively planned for May 17th – 19th. Owl’s Nest will trek to the San Juan Islands – date to follow. These trips will require parental assistance with driving and preparing meals. Although they will take much work and planning on everyone’s part, these outdoor expeditionary learning experiences give the student a valuable opportunity to integrate classroom knowledge in a real world experience such as planning and preparing a meal for all the parents or studying the local flora. The outdoor classroom is every bit as important as the indoor counterpart. If your child must miss an outdoor experience for any reason please ask the teachers for a homework packet to supply similar experiences. On top of the educational importance, our family camping trips are always lots of fun and are guaranteed to create long lasting memories and friendships. Please plan to join us for this year’s family events and bring your best campfire stories! Details will follow…

Lunch Guidelines

Our school lunch program provides healthy, yummy, allergy-conscious, mostly organic, catered lunches every day by Savory Kitchen Park City. Just call 435-608-1408 to register. If you decide not to try out our lunch program, Toddler Plus, EC Plus and Elementary students will need to bring a lunch each day. We will study nutrition in class and your child will bring home a copy of our food rainbow to post in the kitchen so that she may take responsibility for packing a healthy lunch. Unprocessed whole foods are the best choices. We are a “No Sugar, No Nuts” school. No candy (including chocolate-covered granola bars), soda pop or gum are allowed in school. Ask your child’s teacher for a copy of our lunch guidelines pamphlet including peanut butter substitutes.

We recommend stocking a low shelf in the pantry and one in the refrigerator with appropriate lunch items such as cheese, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, fruit, juice, cold cuts, sandwich makings and individually packaged leftovers such as pasta and pizza so that your child can pack her own lunch each day. Usually a half sandwich, fruit and a drink is enough lunch for a young child. “Lunchables”, “Go-gurts” and other processed foods are easy to pack, but the packaging is not child- or Earth-friendly, the nutrition is negligible and they often go uneaten. Try providing the fixings so your child can make her own “munchable”, an American version of the Japanese bento box approach to healthy portable meals: a small “Gladware”-type container with an assortment of sliced meats, cheeses, fruits, crackers, vegetables and dips. She can arrange the foods into faces or designs – simple, beautiful and nutritious!

If your child would like to share something, make sure there is enough for everyone (plan 25/class). We have microwaves for student use and we recycle aluminum, paper, cardboard and plastic. 

Until the weather turns cold children will be picnicking outside. During warm weather please make sure your child packs a lunch that does not require warming and contains all necessary utensils. It is so frustrating to sit down on a picnic cloth on a sunny day only to find you have a lunch of cold soup and no spoon!

Additional Options for Fall

Contact duna@soaringwings.org for further information on any of the following. After school classes fill quickly so reserve your space soon!

Caffe dei Bambini Lunch Program…Healthy, mostly organic, delicious lunches will be provided every school day by Savoury Kitchen Park City for $5.50/day. Meals are nut-free, sugar-free and have dairy-free and gluten-free options. All you do is sign up! They even plan sack lunches for field trips. Menus include tacos, soups, stews, pasta, burritos, salmon and couscous. We are delighted to have found a local caterer who has the same ideals as we do for what a student lunch should look like – and taste like. To register your child contact info@savouryparkcity.com or 435-608-1408.

Montessori Magic – Tutoring with Lori Whistler…Does your child need just a little more practice to become an independent reader or more adept with math facts? Does penmanship need polish? Contact Lori for a schedule that works for you. lori@soaringwings.org

After School Classes:

Mondays – Yoga with Randi Jo…”Park City’s Best” and kids’ favorite, Randi Jo Taurel offers yoga for children 3 – 12 years from 3:15 – 4:00 pm starting September 11th. $200/10 week series. Contact  RJ@yogawithrandijo.com

Thursdays – Kids Groove Dance Club with Donovan…Donovan Marshal is a former principal dancer with West Side Ballet, Los Angeles. He brings a child’s approach to moving and grooving to contemporary music. For children 3 – 12 years, 3:00 – 3:45pm Contact donovanhint@gmail.com

Tuesdays & Wednesdays…TBD Let us know if you have a request or a talent to share!


Book Hunt! Former SWIMS student, Channing Leitch Olch, has invited us to join in her book hunt on Saturday August 26th. She has written a book inspired by her son, The Boy in Glasses, to pass on the inspiration to other children. If you register for the hunt at the link below your child all find clues at various spots around Park City on Saturday ending with a book with a personalized inscription. Thanks, Channing! www.theboyinglasses.com

For more details on what to bring and what to expect at school, see the Parent Guide at http://soaringwings.org/full-parent-guide/

Mark Your Calendar

Sunday, August 27th 

Open House 3:00 – 4:30 pm
Come explore the classrooms, meet teachers, parents and classmates!



Monday, August 28th

First Day of School!


Wednesday, August 30th

Parent Orientation 3:00 – 4:00pm

We invite everyone new to, curious about and/or fascinated with Montessori to join us for a review of what the school year holds for your child! Child care provided. Please respond by Monday August 28th.


Thursday, August 31st

Happy Birthday, Maria Montessori!

Friday, September 1st

Early dismissal for all classes; 11:30 am – 12:15 pm

  • 11:30 – 11:45 Sunflower and Tadpole Toddler Classes (1 1/2 – 3 yrs) pick-up at playground gate
  • 11:45 – 12:00 Turquoise and Cottonwoods Early Childhood Classes (3 – 6 yrs) pick-up at front patio gates
  • 12:00 – 12:15 Moose Tracks & Owl’s Nest Elementary Classes (6 – 12 yrs) pick-up at playground gate

There is no parking on pick-up/drop-off lanes. Please help us keep traffic moving and carpool whenever possible. There is overflow parking at Knoop Park south of Old Ranch Road.



Monday, September 4th 

Labor Day, NO SCHOOL



Wednesday, September 6th

Cider Social on the playground 2:30 -3:30pm.

Come meet the families of Soaring Wings!


Thursday, September 7th

Happy Birthday, Leti!



Thursday – Friday, September 14th – 15th

Moose Tracks/Owl’s Nest Elementary Fall Family Campout


Week of October 2nd

School Photos

Photographer Kay Beaton is once again coming all the way from Colorado to capture the spirit of our students. She will photograph all students this week and photos will be available for purchase sometime in November. Details to follow.

Wednesday, October 11th

Back-to-School Night, 5:00 – 6:30pm

All families are welcome for a child-guided tour of the classroom.

  • 5:00 – 5:30pm: El Nido Infant Class, Sunflowers and Tadpole Toddler Classes (1 1/2 – 3 yrs) and their families
  • 5:30 – 6:00pm: Turquoise and Cottonwoods Early Childhood Classes (3 – 6 yrs) and their families
  • 6:00 – 6:30pm: Moose Tracks & Owl’s Nest Elementary Classes (6 – 12 yrs) and their families

Families with students in multiple programs, pick a time that is good for you!

School Bulletin Board

Congratulations…Congratulations to Leah Linebarger on her new role as School Director!  With Lina stepping into a consulting role with us while pursuing her master’s degree in nutrition, Leah is putting her 12 years’ experience into play on our administrative team. She will continue to teach the Sunflowers class and consult for Westminster College while balancing the needs of the school in the office in the afternoons. We are grateful to you, Leah. More congratulations to Molly McDowell who completed her master’s degree this summer – well done, Molly!! Congratulations also to Carmen Olivera and Tracy Zisselsberger for completing their Montessori training and beginning their master’s in education this summer at Westminster College!  We welcome Lin Peng to the toddler faculty who also just completed her training and will be doing her practicum with us. Lin is from China where Montessori is booming and she is eager to learn all she can while she is here. We also welcome Rosa Van, who is from Peru and happy to be a part of Team Toddler.  Our good friend and talented teacher Cassie Vultaggio decided to take a job with the public schools to seek more support for her two children. We will miss her greatly but she has many gifts to contribute to the public school world.

Drop-off/Pick-up…The portion of the school day when your child is absorbed in learning new skills is called the “work period”. The ideal work period is 2 1/2 to 3 hours long so that each student has the opportunity to cycle through a variety of activities and plenty of time to complete each one. We do our best not to interrupt once a child is concentrating. Doors lock at 9:00 am. If your child is late or you have something to drop off please come to the front door and ring the doorbell. Be prepared to show photo identification until we get to know you.

That which we call a rose…We teachers like to be addressed by our first names rather than as “Miss Cindy” or “Mrs. Johnson.” Here in the west we don’t feel the need for titles such as “Miss”, “Mrs.” or “Mr.”. We feel that true respect is shown by actions and attitude. We therefore avoid these titles and treat each other with mutual respect. At Soaring Wings “Grace and Courtesy” is an every day reminder of manners practiced in all classes. Modern etiquette requires that we address others in a manner respectful of local culture and individual wishes.  In Park City, even our Mayor is “Jack”! Welcome to the West, partners. Make yourselves right at home!

If the shoe fits…All students will need clothing and shoes that they can easily manage themselves. If your child cannot yet tie laces, please provide school shoes with buckles, Velcro or slip-on styling. When shopping for school clothes keep in mind that there are plenty of opportunities to get wet and/or dirty at school. It’s a good idea to keep a fresh change of clothes in the car in case your child has a run-in with paint or wet sand on the day of his dentist appointment.

Class in session…If your child is late or must leave class early please make this transition as unobtrusive as possible to avoid disturbing class. Teachers are happy to meet outside of class time.

School etiquette…Remember to lower your voice when in the classroom. Teachers and students use “inside voices” which are a step below normal conversation level to avoid disrupting nearby students. Even in the halls we use “inside voices” and “walking feet” out of respect for our neighbors. Anywhere on school grounds we practice good manners by returning equipment to proper places when leaving, picking up trash, leaving rocks and sticks on the ground and keeping feet out of garden areas.

Events and Holidays…Remember to look over the Events and Holidays calendar posted on the website – www.soaringwings.org – and note the early dismissal days, EC Party Days, Friday Parent/Teacher Conference days, school plays and events. Since half of our students are attending Mondays through Thursdays we try to schedule unusual events for Fridays so as to disrupt as few routines as possible.

Parents welcome…Please feel free to come in after class and ask your child to show you what she has been working on. Your child’s teacher will be happy to explain lessons and answer questions any time after class. We would also be delighted to have you observe class any time after our first six weeks of normalization. The following are phone numbers to keep handy. We do not release teachers’ personal phone numbers. Teachers return calls after class. Please call the Parent/Teacher Hotline when your child will not be in class or will be picked up by someone new. We will not release a child to anyone without your authorization.

Keep In Touch…

Teacher Hotline: 435-200-8248

Leah Linebarger, School Director 435-200-8247

Duna Strachan, Executive Director 435-200-8246 or duna@soaringwings.org

Bruce King, Administrator 435-649-3626 or bruce@soaringwings.org

We recommend that you program the Teacher Hotline into your cell phone so you can give us a call when your child is sick or if you’re running late. 





Soaring Wings Parent Teacher Student Organization is a non-profit volunteer organization responsible for the social, civic and fund-raising events that enhance our school community. These include the Cider Social, Fall Food Drive, Angel Trees, Conference Refreshments, Yearbook and Children’s Fair and Auction. Participation is voluntary. If you have not yet filled out a volunteer form for the new school year, please let any of us know how you would like to help. Thanks in advance for helping to make our school a very special place.

Dog Days

The new school year starts Monday, August 28th.

We’ll look forward to seeing all of you at our Open House on Sunday, August 27th from 3:00 – 4:30 pm!!

Take some time to roll down a grassy hill or watch the clouds or the meteor showers with your child. Enjoy the remaining days of  summer.

“Let us give the child a vision of the whole universe…for all things are part of the universe and are connected with each other to form one whole unity.” Dr. Maria Montessori