Parent Enrichment Opportunities Relating to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Parent Enrichment Opportunities Relating to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

As part of our theme for the 2019-20 school year and ongoing work in the realm of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Greenspring Montessori School has put together a series of parent events around these topics. Please take a look at the list below to learn more about our upcoming events.

Lending Library
Available year-round

Greenspring Montessori School’s library in the Main Building silos houses an array of resources for parents and children. Speak to our librarian, Sherry White, for recommended readings.

The Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and reflections on Greenspring’s DEI journey
Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 6:00pm
Tamara S. Balis
Head of School at Greenspring Montessori School, Greenspring Parent

Human-Centered Design Workshop
Date TBD
Monica Tanase-Coles
Certified Integral Coach and adjunct faculty at New Ventures West, Greenspring Parent
George Coles
Process Engineer and Project Manager in the REDD Department of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Greenspring Parent

Vision together what we wish for our children’s education as it regards Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging. Identify Greenspring’s “Roses, Buds, and Thorns” and make a plan for areas to improve and grow.

How to Talk to Your Children About Race
Monday, December 2, 2019 at 6:30pm
Britt Hawthorne
Equity trainer and Montessori educator

This family and community presentation seeks to dismantle the color-blind assumption and prepare children to work toward justice. This presentation shares concrete ways families can support and affirm their children’s developing racial, ethnic, and other identities, empower their children to celebrate differences, and help them learn to stand up in the face of injustice.

Coffee & Conversation: How Privilege Impacts My Parenting and My Child’s Access to Opportunities
Friday, January 24, 2020 from 8:45-10:45am
Jeff Gray
Founder of the Johns Hopkins Homewood Council for Inclusive Excellence, Greenspring Parent

Learn about and reflect on the many dimensions of privilege in this parent-led workshop. Encourages individuals to reflect on and recognize their own unearned advantages and disadvantages as parts of immense and overlapping systems of power and how that impacts their children’s education.
Suggested pre-reading:

In addition to these events, our faculty and staff will also be receiving a number of professional development opportunities throughout the year on these topics. To learn more about the work happening among our faculty and staff, please click here.

What’s Wrong with this Photo?

What’s Wrong with this Photo?

We are already deep into our work this school year and seeing so many interesting things happening in all of our classrooms. From our toddlers learning the simple joys of being together in a community for the first time to our Elementary students exploring the history of the first civilizations, Greenspring is an inspiring place to be in the fall and all year round. We have a dedicated, caring team of faculty and staff committed to your child’s individual growth. As a team, we came together to discuss something of growing importance in today’s society – photographs.

In today’s world of smartphones and social media, it is hard for us to go a single day without taking a photo of something happening in our lives or sharing a cute video. Our children are inundated with adults seeking to document their accomplishments, their personalities, and their adorable moments. Child YouTube sensations are making millions. Those of us who intentionally do not participate in social media are few and far between.

At our first Faculty Gathering, our guides and administration had an engaging, in-depth conversation about photographing children at school (especially while working in the classrooms). Here are some of the main points we discussed around this important topic:

In favor of photographing children at school:

  • Powerful parent communication tool – as parents, it means so much to be able to see what/how our children are doing while at school. A picture is worth a thousand words!
  • Education about Montessori methods – Montessori education is widely misunderstood. We want each and every parent in the world to be able to better understand what Montessori is, how it works, and why it’s so beneficial for children. Photos and videos can be a great support with this.
  • Stimulates conversation at home – when children can see photographs in their classroom, they can talk more about their experiences, what they were working on, who their friends are, and how they felt throughout the day.
  • Precious memories – we all love looking back at the children’s photographs as they grow and mature over the years.

Reasons to minimize photographs at school (particularly during the work cycle):

  • Protection of the student’s work and concentration – when in the classroom, the work and concentration of each child is our number one priority. Often, pulling out a camera disrupts this important work, for both the child and for the adults.
  • Keeping the classrooms a safe place/sanctuary for the students – many children have become accustomed to having a camera on them at any given moment of the day. We find it important to offer them space where this is not the case. We do not want to hover.
  • Respect for the children – some students do not want their photo being taken at all, and we owe it to them to honor that choice.
  • It takes the adult’s attention away from the students – if the classroom Guides are focusing on capturing that perfect picture and sending it out to the world, it deters them from their top priorities of giving lessons and observing the children.

After much mindful discussion, thought, and debate around these points, we realized that the arguments for taking photographs in the classrooms generally meet the needs of the adult, while the arguments against taking photographs in the classrooms during the work cycle are generally aimed to meet the needs of the child. While both sets of needs are certainly important, our top priority here must always be the children. Being present with our children in their learning is fundamental to what we do here.

I’m sharing this with you to help you understand that in order to do the very best for your children and each student, you see a shift in the number of pictures of your children at school from your child’s Guide. We will continue to do our best to capture some precious moments and examples of academic works to be shared on our school-wide outlets – in email newsletters, on social media, on our website, and in printed materials such as the Memory Book, magazine, and calendar – because there are so many reasons for and benefits to doing this. Guides will share photos as they are able, without interrupting the concentration or their presence with the children. You will most likely see more photos of the children playing during recess, or of a presentation of polished work. Our partnership with you is so very important to us, and we constantly strive to maintain a balance of doing the very best for the students while also meeting your needs as parents.

If you have any questions about this, please feel free to reach out to me directly at

Books Related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

Books Related to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging


We recently displayed a selection of books for children that feature a diverse range of characters and cover topics on the theme of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. If you would like to check out any of these books from Greenspring Montessori, please visit our Library from 9:00am-3:00pm, Monday through Friday.

2-6 Years

Be Kind, Pat Zietlow Miller

Because, Mo Willems

Feast for 10, Catheryn Falwell

Last Stop on Market Street, Matt De La Pena

My Mei Mei, Ed Young

Peace in an Offering, Annette LeBox

Peekaboo Morning, Rachel Isadora

Thank You Omu! Oge Mora

We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands, Rafael Lopez


4-8 Years

Ada Twist, Scientist, Andrea Beaty

Ada’s Violin, Susan Hood

Alma and How She Got Her Name, Juana Martinez-Neal

Drawn Together, Minh Le

El Libro Mágico de Pombo, Rafael Pombo

Emily’s Blue Period, Cathleen Daly

Firebird, Misty Copeland

Freedom Summer, Deborah Wiles

Good Morning Yoga, Mariam Gates

Home, Carson Ellis

Home Sweet Home, Mia Cassany

I am Human, Susan Verde

I Walk with Vanessa: a Story about a Simple Act of Kindness, Kerascoët

Just Ask! Sonia Sotomayor

Lend a Hand, John Frank

Love, Matt De La Pena

Maddie’s Fridge, Lois Brandt

Mango, Abuela, and Me, Meg Medina

Maria Montessori, Isabel Sanchez Vegara

Maybe Something Beautiful, F. Isabel Campoy

Say Something, Peter Reynolds

She Persisted, Chelsea Clinton

The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do, Ashley Spires

This is How We Do It, Matt Lamothe

Today, Julie Morstad

Violet’s Music, Angela Johnson

We Are All Welcome, Alexandra Penfold & Suzanne Kaufman


6-10 Years

14 Cows for America, Carmen Agra Deedy

Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book is a Classic, Susan Tan

Front Desk, Kelly Yang

King and Kayla series, Dori Hillestad Buyler

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, Vashti Harrison

Lola Levine series, Monica Brown

Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls’ Rights, Malala Yousafzai

Mamá, ¿por qué nadie es como nosotros? Luis María Pescetti

Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring, Angela Cervantes

Peter Va a Colombia, Craig Klein Dexemple

Out of Wonder, Kwame Alexander

Serafina’s Promise, Ann E. Burg

The Invisible Boy, Patrice Barton

The Season of Styx Malone, Kekla Magoon

The Year of the Dog, Grace Lin

Wonder, R.J. Palacio


10 Years & Up

Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson

Count Me In, Varsha Bajaj

Mindful Me: Mindfulness and Meditation for Kids, Whitney Stewart

Zane and the Hurricane, Rodman Philbrick


Adolescent Orientation Odyssey to Echo Hill

Adolescent Orientation Odyssey to Echo Hill

This year the Adolescents went on a trip with the Echo Hill Outdoor School for 3 days and 2 nights to the Chester River. This Odyssey (one of two for the year) serves as an orientation to the community through social experiences — adolescents have an opportunity to live, work, and learn together away from home — while also providing a connection to the Chesapeake Bay and those that make a living on the Bay.

The students and the teachers experienced life on a boat, and they had a lot of fun doing so! On the first day of the trip, the students split up into two groups to do two different activities. One group went exploring on an island with Ms. Anne-Marie, Captain Kaeo, and Alllison, an Echo Hill staff member. The other group went fishing with Captain Andy, Mr. Elliot, and Quinn, another Echo Hill staff member.

Early in the morning of the second day the whole class went out to watch some watermen bring up their fish and crab nets. We purchased some delicious blue crabs to eat for lunch! 
On the third day we had a fun art contest depicting life on the Chester River, inspired by songs and poetry sung and read by Captain Andy.
The adolescents had a lot of fun on this trip and we give thanks to the boat crew: Captain Kaeo, Allison, Quinn, and Captain Andy. The 7th years can’t wait to go back next year!
Easing Separation Anxiety

Easing Separation Anxiety

Beginning a new school year is a time of excitement and uncertainty for many new children. For some, it is their first time being away from home for a stretch of time. It is common for students (and parents) to experience feelings of anxiety; this is perfectly normal. These feelings are often caused by a fear of the unknown, as the child has no point of reference to draw upon when faced with a new environment or experience.

Separation anxiety can also be attributed to a child’s stage of development. Separation anxiety is a normal part of development, and most common for children aged eight months to two years; however, it can affect children of all ages. The first day of school, in a new room or level, can bring on a reoccurrence of separation anxiety in children who were previously settled. It takes time for young children to build relationships and establish a sense of trust with their new guides, so that they come to understand that their new environment is a safe and happy place. This is not uncommon, and is likely to settle once a new routine and relationships have been established.




Below you will find a number of strategies published by the Montessori Academy to help Montessori parents settle their children into preschool. Remember separation anxiety is a phase, it is perfectly normal, and will pass in time.

Positive Behaviors and Attitudes

Modeling positive behaviors and attitudes plays an important role in the success of the first day of school, and the weeks thereafter. Keep discussions about school positive, and focus on things that your child is likely to enjoy. Children pick up on parent’s feelings, behaviors, and emotions, and are likely to emulate them if you are feeling upset or uncertain.

Morning Routines

Establish a positive and happy morning routine for preschool days. For children over two, this may include encouraging your child to pack their own school bag or sing a happy ‘school day’ themed song. Always give yourself plenty of time to get ready and arrive on time. Feeling late or rushed can cause children to feel additional anxiety.

Acknowledge your Child’s Feelings

It is important to accept that your child’s unhappiness at being separated from you is real, very normal, and temporary. Reinforce that you understand that leaving your child makes them unhappy, but that it is important that you leave, and they will have a good time. Avoid offering your child bribes for good behavior or not crying as this is only a temporary solution. Learning to cope with sadness is an important part of your child’s development and learning about emotions.

Positive and Prompt Goodbyes

When you drop your child off, don’t linger outside the classroom or stay for “just one more minute.” As a parent, the best thing you can do is give your child a hug and a kiss as they get out of the car, let them know you love them, and reassure them that you will be back soon. It is important for your child that you do not delay the inevitable.

Establish a Goodbye Routine

Montessori parents who establish a consistent goodbye routine typically have better luck with successful goodbyes. Take a special moment with your child to say goodbye, and do it the same way, every day. This may be as simple as a kiss and a cuddle, giving your child a thumbs up, or establishing a ‘secret’ hand shake. A special goodbye is a great way for your child to start their day feeling happy and reassured.

Encourage Friendships

Make a point of getting to know your child’s friends and classmates at school, and encourage friendships outside of school. These friendships will help make your child’s transition to the new Montessori environment easier.

Pick Up Routines

It is important to be punctual when picking up your child. It easy to lose track of time, but no matter who is picking your child up, always be on time. If you are late, it can cause your child to feel more anxiety, and makes drop off the next time much harder.

Positive Daily Reflections

On the way home, establish a routine where you talk to your child about their school day. Focus on the positive aspects of their day, such as their favorite activity, or playing with their best friend. By consistently reinforcing the positive aspects of their school day, your child will learn that their new environment is a fun and happy place, and their feelings of anxiety will decrease over time.


Grace & Courtesy is All About Respect

Grace & Courtesy is All About Respect

“A child who becomes a master of his acts through repeated exercises [of grace and courtesy]…is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.” – Dr. Maria Montessori

Have you ever entered a Montessori classroom and noticed that the children are naturally respectful of each other and often helpful? An older child may help a younger child zip his jacket zipper. A child might accidentally spill beans on the floor and two children stop what they are doing to help her clean up. Two students having a disagreement decide to go over to the peace table to work it out. These are manifestations of tGrace and Courtesy in the Montessori classroom, which is built upon 1) treating the child with respect, 2) teaching the child to respect herself, 3) teaching the child to treat others with respect, and 4) teaching the child to treat her environment with respect. Grace and Courtesy remains a focus at every level of Montessori education.

When we respect a young learner’s dignity by teaching the basic rules of etiquette, it fills a need in them. Dr. Montessori once taught a small group of children how to politely blow their noses; she explained every step in detail and showed them how to do it quietly and respectfully. After this presentation, the children erupted into spontaneous applause. They were delighted to know how to do something, that to adults would seem so basic. However, to these young learners, their teacher had shown them something they were longing to know how to do.

What does this look like in our classrooms? Treating the child with respect means that we speak to the children with soft voices and at eye level. We give the children freedom to choose their work and decide where they want to work. Yet the guidelines and limits of the environment are understood by all. For example, a lesson should be put back where it came from before moving on to something new. Children are free to choose their work, but are not free to disturb the work of others. We call this “freedom with responsibility.”


There are specific Grace and Courtesy lessons that demonstrate how to respect and care for oneself, such as blowing one’s nose, washing hands, getting in and out of a chair, putting on shoes, hanging up or putting on a jacket, etc.


Lessons on respecting others include how to greet a visitor, walking around a rug, how to ask for help, using soft voices, inviting others to work, how to solve a conflict with a classmate, etc.


Lessons on respecting the environment include carrying and rolling up a rug, setting the table, how to take materials off of shelves, washing a plant, washing a table or mirror, etc. We are working daily on cultivating a sense of gratitude and nurturing wonder.

One of the main goals of a Montessori education is to prepare students to be contributing and valued members of society. This starts with lessons of Grace and Courtesy, which are key to modeling peace, learning how to act in social situations, showing respect for each other. These are tools our children will use their entire lives!