MLK Day of Service

MLK Day of Service

On Monday, January 20th, 95 parents, children, staff, and alumni gathered to participate in a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service. Thank you to all of the families, staff, and alumni who participated. Our community assembled 30 housewarming baskets for people formerly experiencing homelessness who are now moving into new housing, 50 hygiene bags for people experiencing homelessness, and 120 bagged lunches for a local food pantry – all entirely comprised of items donated by our families. Another group of volunteers sorted 2,000 books at The Maryland Book Bank. (Watch closely for a few of our Lower Elementary students featured on Wbal-Tv.) Indeed, many hands make light work!

​In considering our theme from last school year (Service & Stewardship) with this year’s (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging) it seemed a natural fit to partner together in this way. Your generosity in providing supplies for the assembly projects was humbling, your partnership with your children in service of others was heartwarming, and our impact together was astounding! 

Thank you sincerely for sharing yourself in this way. What a wonderful reminder of how, in Baltimore, we are all in this together. We look forward to being in service alongside you again soon!

Meet the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Meet the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Parent Committee

The Greenspring Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (the Committee) formed organically last year as a small but rapidly-growing group of parents, staff, and guides having conversations to support each other and the school on the topics of race, privilege, parenting, education, equity and social justice. After many meetings discussing their own challenges, questions, and aspirations, the group naturally turned their attention to the place that ties them all together – our school.

The Committee met with Head of School, Tamara Sheesley Balis, and talked about their wish to support the school in its learning and execution of programming around these topics and were met with impressive support. The Committee applied for and was awarded a $750 Ursula Thrush Peace Seed Grant through the American Montessori Society to support our ongoing work in these areas. To expand upon this work, the school administration moved to make Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging the theme for the 2019-20 school year.

The parents who serve on the Committee have volunteered many hours to conceptualize, craft, review, plan, research, explore, discuss, and advise on so much of the content of this year’s theme work. It’s been an amazing partnership between our parents and our school.

Thus far, the parent volunteers have:

  • Provided detailed examples of areas for growth based on their experience at Greenspring.
  • Partnered with the Sherry White, the school’s Librarian, to create a list of relevant books in our Library, as well as a wishlist for its expansion.
  • Been awarded the Ursula Thrush Peace Seed Grant which is being used to provide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion staff training, combatting unconscious bias, and how to talk with children about race.
  • Produced a Climate Survey to administer to the staff and parent body to assess our current school climate to help inform the work needed.
  • Researched, screened, carefully interviewed, and thoughtfully assessed prospective trainers to work with the Greenspring staff and parent body.
  • Provided language and framework to support launching the theme to the community.
  • Created a Human Centered Design workshop carried out this fall to assess areas of strength and potential growth in our school community.
  • Will present a parent Coffee & Conversation session on privilege this winter.

To learn more about the Committee and find out how to get involved, please go to greenspringmontessori.org/deicommittee or contact us at belonging@greenspringmontessori.org.

Our Why

This year’s focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging furthers our commitment to maintaining a learning environment where each person is treated with dignity and respect, and where we all have the opportunity to thrive and develop authentic relationships. This focus is fully in line with Montessori principles. An anti-biased approach to education requires critical awareness and thoughtful preparation of self among educators, supports healthy identity development and self construction among students, and is an essential component of peace education. We envision that our students will value diverse perspectives, celebrate differences, and work to dismantle conditions that lead to systems of privilege and oppression. We approach this work with humility and a willingness to listen, experience discomfort, and grow together.

Crafted by Ingrid Lofgren on the Committee’s behalf

Meet a few members of the Committee

Monica Tanase Coles

Monica Tanase-Coles, parent of Isabella, is a certified Integral Coach at Lotus Executive Leadership and adjunct faculty for New Ventures West School of Coaching. Monica moved to the U.S. 23 years ago from Romania and obtained a PhD in Physics/Nanotechnology from Johns Hopkins University and pursued post-doctoral research in cell biology at Columbia University. As a racially-mixed household, Monica and her spouse George grapple with how to talk with their child about race and inequity and work with their own implicit biases.

George Coles

George Coles is the parent of Isabella Lower Elementary, a member of the Greenspring Montessori School Board, and a Process Engineer/Project Manager at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). He contributes to APL’s people proposition by evaluating various laboratory Ombudsman cases, serving as a Mentoring Board member, and serving as on APL’s Diversity Council. George is a certified practitioner of Human Centered Design. He and his spouse, Monica, generously donated their time and expertise to facilitate solutions-oriented conversations with parents and staff about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at Greenspring.

Phyllis Simpson

Major Phyllis Brown Simpson, parent of Paul Phillip, Gabrielle, and Madelyn, serves in the Army Reserve resolving malpractice claims and has worked for 18 years for the Department of the Army, currently as a senior attorney representing the Army in Equal Employment Opportunity cases involving Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discriminiation in Employment Act. Phyllis also serves as a legal advisor to federal agencies on matters relating to Equal Employment Opportunity. Phyllis was instrumental in crafting the Greenspring’s Ursula Thrush Peace Seed Grant and Climate Survey.

Ingrid Lofgren

Ingrid Lofgren, parent of Magnus and Astrid, is the Director of Youth Initiatives at Homeless Persons Representation Project. She recognizes the structural inequities that drive the disproportionate representation of Black and LGBTQ+ youth who experience homelessness in Baltimore. To achieve economic justice for them she centers their perspective and redirects decision-making power to them. Ingrid is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Social Work and the University of Maryland School of Law.

Jeff Gray

Jeffrey J. Gray, parent of Lindy and Solomon and Engineering Professor at Johns Hopkins University, has served on the JHU Diversity Leadership Council, as a founder and chair of the Homewood Council for Inclusive Excellence, and an Ingenuity Project (a Baltimore City Schools STEM initiative) board member. Jeff will be offering a parent workshop “How Privilege Impacts My Parenting and My Child’s Access to Opportunities” on January 24, 2020 from 8:45-10:45am.

May and June Building Project Update

May and June Building Project Update

The last months of school were as busy for our construction crews as they were for our students! We went from unfinished walls to our Ribbon Cutting Ceremony over just six short weeks.

After the plumbing was finished and the drywall was put up, walls were painted, carpet was installed, and cabinets and countertops came in. Our appliances were delivered, polishing off the village kitchen, as well as the kitchenettes in all of the classrooms. In addition, the lobby area received a major facelift with a new built-in desk and custom lighting.

Faculty, staff, parents, and students were all eager to see the final product at our Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on June 12. It is amazing to think that in six months, this space has transformed in such a way. Our beloved, charming classrooms were deconstructed down to the original wooden beams and stone walls, then rebuilt to be more functional, age-appropriate, environmentally-friendly, and safe for all. It has been an enormous push for our community and we thank you for all of your support.

After the last day of school, our faculty and staff got to work moving six classrooms and eleven offices! We were all very excited to get settled into our new homes. While there is still some touchup work to do, we can see the end of Phase II in our sights and we are looking forward to what comes next.

April Building Project Update

April Building Project Update

Inside the Main Building, it is amazing to see the classrooms and office spaces begin to take shape! What was once a beautiful stone dairy farm has evolved and transformed into Toddler and Children’s House classrooms with amenities that are just the right size for our students.

The drywall was put up during the month of April and we soon expect it to be primed and painted. The frames for new windows and doors are in place. We have selected the finishing details for the carpets, tile, front desk design, and appliances for the classrooms and kitchenette.

Thanks to generous donations to our Capital Campaign, we were able to finish the restorations to the roof, once damaged in a fire. We are still seeking support for the remainder of the project – and we cannot do it without you! If you would like to make a donation to this cause, please click here.

During the month of May, we will begin to see more progress on the exterior of the building, with the rest of the windows and doors going in, painting of the siding, doors, and frames, and preparation of the sidewalks, flowerbeds, and playgrounds.

We are looking forward to having the building completed in June 2018 and ready for us to move in our classrooms for the 2018-19 school year! Join us in front of the Main Building for our Ribbon Cutting Ceremony on Tuesday, June 12 at 4:00pm!

February and March Building Project Update

February and March Building Project Update

Our construction crews were able to make much progress with the Main Building over the past two months. In December, we found out there was a massive fire in the 1930s that left smoke and fire damage to much of the roof, so workers have been tearing out damaged wood, reinforcing the beams and supports, and completely rebuilding sections of the roof. The building is coming along and we are beginning to talk about the finishing touches!

The walls have been framed and most of the electrical work has been done. It’s exciting to see the outline of where our new classrooms and offices will stand. Once all of the wiring is complete and inspections are done, the outer walls will be insulated and drywall will begin to go up.

Phase II: Toddler and Children's House Village West

Carpet, tile, appliances, lighting fixtures, and more have been selected, so we can really start to get a feel for the new space. We are looking forward to having a second Toddler and Children’s House Village with a kitchen, laundry machines, and a state-of-the-art teacher training center. The Maryland Center for Montessori Studies is our Montessori teacher training program, which offers lectures and workshops for aspiring Montessori teachers. Having this facility on-site will connect us with the best Montessori guides in the area and help us to spread the word about this unique pedagogy. The center will be equipped with all of the Montessori materials you would traditionally see in a Children’s House classroom, along with workspaces for adult learners, a built-in projector, and tech resources for presentations.

The Main Building will also be home to two Toddler classrooms and two Children’s House classrooms that will be equipped with new kitchen appliances, child-sized toilets and sinks, and ample room for work and play. The classrooms in the Main Building will all have direct access to an outdoor learning environment, where children can freely flow between indoor and outdoor workspaces throughout the day.

In the next month, we will see the renovations begin on the Creamery (the offices located in the back of the Main Building), along with the finishing touches on the front facade.

We are looking forward to opening these classrooms in the fall of 2018. More updates will be coming soon! To learn more about our Capital Project, please click here

December and January Building Project Update

December and January Building Project Update

As the cold weather sets in, the construction crews stay hard at work restoring the Main Building at Greenspring Montessori School. Trenches have been cut in the concrete slab of the building in order to make way for new piping. Framing began on both floors, allowing us to begin to see the outline of the new classrooms and office spaces. Demolition of existing drywall brought us many historic building surprises, including a major setback in our project.

When the construction team pulled down the ceiling drywall on the second story, they discovered that the entire roof was charred black from a fire. It took some research to find out exactly what happened to this historic building, but we eventually came across evidence that in 1935 there was a fire that destroyed much of the dairy barn, now referred to as our Main Building. Luckily, the structural damage can be repaired, but we cannot continue the project without first stabilizing the roof and replacing the necessary elements.

During the course of this project, we have run into slabs of granite that needed to be blasted and hauled away, outdated sewer and water lines that needed to be replaced, and now a roof that must be stabilized and restored. Through the course of all of these surprises, we have had to put our full contingency budget to work far sooner than anticipated and we now must turn to you, our community for help.

Everyone in the Greenspring Montessori School community can make a difference for our building project. In order to address the issues with the rafters and roof, we will need an additional $100,000. To finish the entire Main Building, we will need a total of $300,000. We know that Greenspring is a financial stretch for many of our families and we must emphasize that every gift counts! If 200 of our families were to donate $42 per month for a year, we would reach the $100,000 marker. For those of you who can give more, we implore you to do so. Please consider making a donation to help us finish our project.

This project is our gift to our children, our future, and our world.