Montessori Follows [MDH guidance for safety of] The Child and Says "No" to MN State Fair in 2021
This letter was sent to the State Fair June 23, 2021. Since, the Delta Variant of COVID-19 has initiated a dangerous wave of outbreaks, including increased impacts to those who are vaccinated and children. Despite this, the positivity rate passing 5%, and the total number of COVID-19 cases in MN children under 15 far exceeding that of adults over 70, the MN State Fair still has not implemented changes to its (lack of) safety protocols summarized in its letter sent to exhibitors June 14. The response MNMN received to the letter below was:
"if the Fair regarded this request from every partner who has asked, there would be no exhibits at this year's Fair."
Good Day State Fair Partners.
Please route this communication to whom it may concern to hear our concern and address our question. We have sent this communication to the only contacts we have with the State Fair and realize it may need to reach others.
We write to inquire about an option to retain our space that we have occupied for many years during this year of a continued global pandemic (Spaces 50 and 51 - two 10x10 adjacent spaces used as on exhibit in the Education Building). We would appreciate the opportunity to pay our fees for our exhibit space, even though the pandemic eliminates our ability to host our exhibit this year. In the exhibit space, we would hang a banner with a photo of our normal exhibit informing guests that we will be back next year.
We are not able to safely offer guests our interactive classroom exhibit while a deadly infectious disease is prevalent. Our exhibit is an interactive classroom serving infants through adolescents, primarily used by toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary aged children. In our exhibit, children interact with adults and children in very close proximity (less than one foot). They also interact with physical materials persistently. In a standard year, our volunteers spend a majority of their time sanitizing objects after visitors leave to ensure the safety of all visitors.
In 2020, nearly 200 schools in MN operated with the Montessori method that is demonstrated in our exhibit. From this we have learned the procedures that must be implemented to provide safety from the spread of COVID-19. These procedures are not able to be implemented in our State Fair exhibit, especially given the fair has not implemented capacity management or masking within buildings. As such, in a year of highly-contagious and deadly infectious disease, we cannot offer a sufficiently safe experience for our guests. This is a particular concern given that the exhibit is indoors, is a space that does not allow distancing, and serves populations that cannot yet be vaccinated against the deadly affects of COVID-19.
We love the fair. We are loyal to our service to MN State Fair goers. The majority of our budget goes to offering this exhibit each year. Over 100 Montessori teachers volunteer each year to bring the magic of Montessori to the Education Building at the State Fair. We excited offer over 1,000 hours of service to bring the experience to life each year. We are motivated and inspired by the fun education children experience while visiting our exhibit right before school begins. We are humbled by the parents’ awe of their children spending an hour doing school work at our exhibit, begging not to leave while fair rides are a stones-throw away. We have watched the sparkle in the eyes of a child who did not know they could do “Long Division”, as they express now being excited for school to begin “next week”. We understand we offer one of the very few spaces that serve families and very young children, and know our recurring visitors refer to us as a “respite” and a “haven” for their family at the fair. Given the overwhelming demand for our space, we continue to wait for the opportunity to expand our spaces at the fair, when the opening arises.
We are committed to the partnership we have with the Minnesota State Fair in service to fair goers. We missed them last year, and it pains us to miss them this again year. We are confident that vaccines available for the children we serve will allow us to safely serve them next year. This year, ethically, we must regard the lives and health of our children beyond our own desires for a return to normalcy. We cannot host our interactive classroom exhibit.
Understanding the MN State Fair’s concern for its financial well-being, we are willing to pay our full fee and to pay to print a banner explaining to guests that we will be back next year and set it up during the set up day before the fair opens. We welcome your review and approval of the banner before printing. When we receive your response approving this approach to our exhibit this year, we will use the new online system to pay our fees. If our request is not approved, we will be painfully forced to surrender our spaces and hope for space to be available and allocated to us in future years.
We are happy to answer any questions and have conversation to discuss this further, if necessary.
Teachers are tasked with holding space for students to process and be held, even while teachers are processing themselves. Right now, violent racial traumas continue and teachers continue to be called to navigate them, in addition to their additional responsibilities. Below are some resources that have been shared as helpful from International Montessori Training Institute, and we hope you find them helpful also.
Resources for Supporting Community (esp. Youth) During the Derek Chauvin Trial for the Murder of George Floyd (Our gratitude to IMTI Board Member Jacqui Miller for passing along this resource!)
Learning for Justice
Teaching on Days After (Facebook Group)
Personality Traits of the Montessorian
What is the possibility that personality traits play a part in career longevity and job satisfaction in the field of Montessori Education?
Our community has experienced many benefits of the few Montessorians who continue their careers in the lab after the classroom. Often, they study the children of our schools and their outcomes. Now, a Minnesota Montessorian-turned research scientist is bringing attention to the adults in service to children in our schools. Seeking to explore the question
What are the fundamental traits of those who love working in the Montessori education system - and do they vary across those working with children in each of Montessori’s planes of development?
The Montessori education system struggles mightily with staff retention, staff shortages, and a massively disproportionate number of white educators. Jobs go un- and under-resourced, schools experience exhausting staff turn-over, programs contract or cannot expand to meet demand, training programs proceed with empty seats, and BIPOC students are served by white teachers. There are many challenges to unravel, and this research aims to support the effort.
Considering the significant influence educators have on students' lives, it is relevant to conduct research that focuses on teachers' personality characteristics and their satisfaction in the classroom. Tymber’s research examines trends among the Big Five personality traits (Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism) and their relation to interest and job satisfaction.
What is the goal of this research?
This research aims to understand what factors make Montessorians unique and create a valid and standardized tool to:
Who is conducting this research?
She currently completing her graduate studies in child and adolescent development at the University of Minnesota. For the last four years, Tymber has worked as the research coordinator of a nationwide longitudinal study investigating typical brain development at the University of Minnesota's Institute of Child Development. Tymber partners with multiple scientists in the US and UK who share her passion for this transformational work.
How Can I Help?
Are you currently working in a Montessori school? Have you formerly worked in a Montessori school? Would you like to work in a Montessori school? We need your expertise and experience! We would like to interview you, send you a survey and/or share a link to the new tool and get your feedback as soon as it's ready to test!
Why should I participate?
Your engagement in this work is the only way a valid tool can be created to help the Montessori education system with it's teacher pipeline challenges. If you feel the these challenges and the goals of this research are important, we need you. Plus, who doesn't love a super-customized "right-on" personality assessment they can take from their phone in two minutes?!
Click below to help bring this new tool to life! If you would like to know more, please contact Tymber Anderson at email@example.com
Montessori Ed Week 2021 offered us one more chance to reimagine tradition!
Given our new normals to protect one another from a deadly virus, a great many traditions would not be appropriate this year. Further, the staff of our schools, the backbone of Montessori Education Week are carrying incredible loads in order to simply offer a safe education to students and keep families connected. The timing coinciding with many schools attempting to reopen onsite was particularly challenging!
Honoring the needs of the community, MNMN did not promote a large-scale celebration this year. Instead, MNMN spent the week sending Thank You notes to every Montessori school community in MN with gifts for each person working in member-schools.
The ingenuity and celebratory spirit of guides and students still brought Montessori Ed Week to life inside some classrooms. Here are a few not-to-miss examples! You'll indulge us holding special fondness for Jonathan Montessori's Tulip-shaped snack for their littlest learners...they definitely got the memo!
Though many of you helped create it and have been with us since the birthplace of our statewide celebration of Montessori Education Week, here is a little trip down memory lane! Dozens of Network members have assembled at multiple meetings under the guidance of Montessori alumnus and parent, Anne Nickel Hage to create lists of ideas to celebrate in school communities and throughout the greater community.
That collaboration grew with shared branding, artwork, governors declarations, and social tagging (#MontessoriEdWeek) that carries tradition from year to year. MN schools have demonstrated ingenuity and creativity that brings joy to children and promotes the Montessori method to larger community.
Groups have created community library displays, published press releases, held large open houses, and Italian-themed dinners. Schools have coordinated spirit-week themed dressing, innovated remarkable lessons, offered cross-level big-work projects, shared awe-inspiring displays of collective work, and orchestrated memory-making school-wide events. MNMN loves the opporutunity Ed Week provides for a community gathering! Our favorites are St. Kates annual afternoon tea and the community premier of Inside Montessori
It has been our honor and pleasure to promote, create kits, share resources, and train other state and national organizations to ensure Montessori Education Week can be enjoyed by all communities.
Join us September 23rd at 7:30 p.m.!
School leaders with programs that are open onsite this fall join MNMN for an exciting panel filled with answers to your questions! In the spirit of connection, this is a live meeting format and not a webinar. Registration is required!
We heard you loud and clear that you need some motivation and inspiration! We kick-off the new Inspired! series to support this need. This Thursday Joe Beckman, longtime Montessori parent and sought-after speaker joins us to share is gift of human connection through "inspiration and implementation". Register yourself and SHARE THE LINK with your Montessori network. We don't want anyone to miss out on this much needed restoration!
MN Emergency Child Care Grants
The Minnesota House and Senate passed a COVID-19 response package that includes assistance for child care providers. Programs licensed to serve fewer than 15 children can apply for emergency grants of $4,500 monthly, with an additional $1,000 available if they provide care during nonstandard hours, or for children who have special needs or speak a first language other than English. Programs serving 15 or more children can receive up to $15,500 monthly. Programs must be open and prioritize children of essential workers. Full text here.
Think Small Notice Re: Applying State Emergency Grants
Child Care Aware is working quickly with guidance from the Department of Human Services and the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet to design an application process and system to receive and process applications. We will announce application availability and the deadline for applying in the near future.
Apply for Think Small Emergency Grant
Think Small has set up a COVID-19 Think Small Emergency Grant. Effective immediately and on a first-come, first-serve basis, Think Small will be awarding $1000 to eligible licensed family child care providers in the seven-county metro area. Clic below to apply. Applications are available in English, Hmong, Somali and Spanish. Need additional language access support? Please call 651-665-0150. Think Small will communicate directly with providers who are awarded these funds and will continue awarding as funds are available.
MNMN 2020...Membership is HERE!
Welcome to MNMN 2020! We are overjoyed to share our new unique resourceswith you.
MNMN is celebrating 150 Years of Montessori with a completely revamped organization to respond to feedback from our Montessori community. This is a radical maturation that provides a leap forward toward realizing our vision for the Montessori movement in Minnesota. This steps the Montessori Network into a role as the hub of connection and momentum for Montessori in our State. A structure of everyone belonging as members to organizations aligned to their interests with tools and relationships that have been out of reach before now. The Montessori Access Advisory Council, Montessori Professionals Association, and Montessori Parents, Students, and Alumni Association now serve as anchors for our work growing the opportunities for families to choose a Montessori education for their children from birth through high school.
Please explore the new website, dig into our new resources, and join us as a member. You can reach us with questions and feedback at the bottom of that Become a Member page.
Starting in April, our monthly newsletter will be replaced by a “Hello Minnesota! Love, Montessori” update to subscribers that will have basic information and headlines shared. Members will begin receiving the “Minnesota Montessori Monthly” to their inboxes that share deeper information, offerings, and connections.
Yes, these new resources cost money. We are working tirelessly to negotiate incredible discounts on them so that we can keep membership costs absolutely as low as possible. Membership cost will not be a barrier to anyone in our community. If you are concerned about the cost of membership, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharing from our friends at Think Small!
This Wednesday, February 26, is a big day for early childhood at the state legislature. You can make some noise in person or online to support early childhood-friendly legislation.
Here’s the schedule, if you come in person:
February 26 is a great day for children in Minnesota! House and Senate both advancing proposals to invest in young children. Glad to see this is a shared #mnleg priority!
Lots of activity around investing in children at #mnleg on Wednesday. House and Senate hearings + Senate Press conference. Let’s all work together to support young children and families this session!
Looking forward to the #GreatStartMN bill’s next stop in HHS on Feb 26. Investing in young children leads to strong communities. NOW is a great time to support parents, educators, and children with HF 1. #mnleg #bthru8
Facebook: It’s a big day for young children on February 26. House HHS hearing on #GreatStartMN bill at 12:45. Senate press conference on early learning scholarships at 2:00. Senate Ed Hearing on scholarships at 3:00.
Also, consider logging in during the events. Like and retweet what other advocates are sharing. Check the #mnleg and #GreatStartMN hashtags for updates.
Updated 2/25/2020: We regret that the Montessori Family Salsabration must be canceled due to low registration. This event is intended to connect Montessori families, and without sufficient registrants we cannot fulfill that purpose!
We appreciate the effort you all made to inform Montessori families of this opportunity! We look forward to hosting this event on another date, given the resounding positive feedback we received.
We are excited to welcome all Montessori families into the Minnesota Montessori Network and inform them more easily in the future. We will design future events based on the Network members, including age of children and locations.
MNMN's Montessori Parent, Student, & Alumni Association is hosting their very first community event!
Register today and pass the invitation onto your community via email and this downloadable flyer!