Connections from Dorrie... November 4th

Hello parents,

Last night, in response to the school’s doorbell, I found myself face to face with a noble Greek scholar, robed in emerald silk, deep in thought behind the luminescent surface of oils on canvas.  The cheerful young artist, a friend of a parent, had come to deliver her three beautiful paintings.  We walked to the Middle School building together, where we saw dozens more works of art carefully propped up along the perimeter of the big room.

Pop Up Arts Night is an endeavor imbued with and defined by the values that Pacific Crest holds dearly: community, work, reverence for the whole personality and joy.  All of our parents and many community members contribute their energy and their unique talents to create, participate in and enjoy this extraordinary evening.  The arts, in themselves, offer us unique questions to ponder in silence or in conversation; art can invite us to engage with the creative minds of one another.  And this event, this labor of love, also allows us to meet, thank and stay connected to those artists in our community who donate their work to us during auction years.  In this event, we come together for a wonderful party; we discover and enjoy works of beauty or intrigue together; and we support and celebrate both the artists and artisans of our parent and extended community.

Last night, after the young artist submitted her work and took time to explore and delight in the opportunities that our art studio offers our students, our small team of parent craftsmen had just begun to install rafters and lights from the ceiling.  The panels that will become gallery walls lay in wait for the next phase of construction.  This morning, as I write this, a new crew of parents is hanging and labeling the hundreds of art pieces that will have arrived by now.  On Saturday, local artisans will arrive and display their fine, hand made gift items; volunteers will fill trays of hors d'oeuvres and concoct the evening signature drinks.  By tomorrow evening, our school rooms will have been transformed into both a refined boutique and an elegant venue in which you too can meet and consult the noble scholar, consider his mood, and tell me, how on Earth did she create flesh, form and spirit, just so.

With much gratitude for all of that has been done and all that awaits us,

Dorrie Knapp Guy

Head of School






Dear parents,

Welcome to the new school year!  It was such a pleasure to see so many of our children, young and old, come together for opening ceremony on Monday and to walk to school together ready to start their explorations of our world, our cultures and our universe!  I have taken several opportunities to observe in different classrooms over the past week, and I have seen our teachers skillfully orchestrating the development of these budding communities at every program level.  The children are slipping right back into their dignified lives in these classrooms that are truly their own.  It is also wonderful to see our returning children and adolescents partner with new and younger children in these first days:  helping each other to learn where everything is and how to accomplish all the things our students can do for themselves. 

“All men must be taught to see the world in all its grandeur, to extend the limits of their lives, to make their individual personalities reach out and touch those of others.”  Maria Montessori, 1939

At Pacific Crest, we create opportunities on a daily basis for children and adults to reach out to each other (and beyond) to make our lives, our environments and our own sense of ourselves much richer.  Keep your eye out for this, and I expect you’ll see it, too.

Thank you to all of you who were able to attend our orientations and parent meetings so far.  I know that it can be difficult to arrange for childcare if you don't have enough lead time -- we are working on fixing that! And we do apologize if that impacted you this month.  We do encourage returning parents to attend these informative events as well, so please check our annual and monthly calendars for several important upcoming events (posted in the main building and online).  Our teachers are always working to revitalize our programs, so they often have new information or new processes to be aware of.  In fact, they have so much to share with you that they often plan to cover a series of topics over the course of three or more years.  It’s also incredibly valuable to new parents in particular, when returning parents can share their experiences of the growth and changes they’ve seen in their children across a three year span.  So please join us:  It’s a really important way that you can support your child’s experience at Pacific Crest and become more connected yourself.

If you have questions about your child's classroom, please connect with your child's teacher - your communication with each other is vital.  If you would like to connect with me, please stop by, call me (789-7889), or arrange a specific time through Sarah at the front desk.  

I am looking forward to all of us getting to know each other better and better over the coming months, in both work and play.  Please join us for the Volunteer Fair on September 26 in the Big Room of the Middle School building, from 5 PM to 7 PM; children are welcome and expected.  They will have space to play while you learn about our annual traditions or about how you can get involved in new ways.  Also, be sure to arrange for childcare now for November 5, Pop-Up Arts Night!  It will be a wonderful evening of culture and fun for parents!


With gratitude for the gifts of this collective, great work,

your head of school,

Dorrie Knapp Guy

AMI Refresher Course Recap from Dorrie

Thank you, parents, for raising the paddle to supplement our professional development budget!  Several fellow teachers and I were able to attend Association Montessori International’s (AMI) 2016 Refresher Course in Long Beach, California because of your generosity.  Jennifer went on behalf of Primary; I went on behalf of Elementary; and Amy, Chuck and Brad attended on behalf of the Middle School.  The opportunity to hear engaging speakers, analyze and reflect on our teaching habits, acquire new lessons and reconnect with Montessori colleagues from across the country rejuvenated all of us.

The theme of this year’s refresher course was, “Beyond the Pink Tower.”  Across the board, we were encouraged to look beyond our discrete lessons, to consider the greater goals of Montessori education:  respect for the rights, abilities and needs of every child, everywhere; and the creation of a new, truer peace in our communities and throughout the world.  

The event began with a guest speaker from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Travis Wright, who is the founder and director of a school and community-based intervention program for homeless preschool students, their families, and teachers.  In his work with children who are surviving trauma, Dr. Wright emphasized that by preventing situations that make the child feel powerless and by truly respecting that child, the teacher will be freed to perceive and nurture that child’s true personality.  Montessori has a long history of serving communities of children who have survived significant traumas, and it continues to do so today.  Dr. Wright’s stories reminded us of the many allies and kindred spirits working throughout the world who honor and care for humanity by honoring and caring for every child.  

With such an inspiring story of service to kindle our passions, we spent the next two days in coursework and discussions specific to each level.  At the elementary level, teachers and teacher trainers assembled to reflect upon and extend our work in teaching all of the components of writing to children aged 6 - 12.  We practiced new presentations, acquired new tools for observation and child self-reflections, new writing games and techniques, and considered ways to better prepare the environment to inspire more kinds of writing.  Our instructor, AMI teacher trainer Elise Huneke-Stone, rooted all of these ideas in a respect for the needs, abilities and interests of the elementary child.  I filled my notebook with ideas and have already presented several of the new lessons to great effect.  I would now like to add a greater variety of stationery and postcards to our language shelf.  So, if you have any stationery or postcards that you’ve grown weary of, please consider donating them to our upper elementary classroom.  

The weekend ended with another inspiring presentation describing some of the work done by Educateurs sans Frontières to create Montessori schools in communities around the world that have reached out for it.  These stories demonstrated the universality of the stages of development and how well Montessori pedagogy supports the joyful development of children in all cultures.  They also emphasized the heroic and healing role of the adults in these communities, who created and now sustain these schools for their children.  For more information about this global Montessori movement, see their website at

Overall, this refresher course was an inspiring and professionally enriching event.  I am quite grateful for the opportunity to participate. Thank you so much!

Dorrie Knapp Guy

Upper Elementary teacher