The Keys to Success

My name is Elizabeth Carleton. I was very honored to have my essay selected to be the speech at eighth grade graduation; many thanks to Ms. Arlene for helping me to polish my speech. I have been going to FMS since third grade and it has been a wonderful time. I am excited to start ninth grade at Bishop Gorman High School in the fall. I will be taking forensics and hope to continue refining my oratory technique. I also hope to join the musical theatre program and expand my recent interest in classical singing. Much gratitude to FMS for helping me to begin my journey!

[h2]The Keys to Success[/h2]

The purpose of a key in its most literal sense is to open a lock. A key to success can unlock many different things for many different people, depending on their unique perception of success. For some, success means money. For others, it’s helping those less fortunate. For others yet, it means having a family.

I have already acheived some success in my young life. I experienced success when I rode a bike for the first time as a child, and again recently when I mastered the French song Dirait-on. In between, I was the school winner for the AMC-8 School Mathematics Competition, solved the Rubik’s Cube, and have never lost a game of Risk. These successes, though small in the grand scheme of the world and even in my life, have helped motivate me to learn more and reach higher. Small successes are to life as caffeine is to mornings; they help us to get up and move.

Success is important because it adds a sense of fullfilment to life and enables us to go wherever we want to. I believe that true success is having the empowerment and the knowledge to leave your mark on this world, like a thumbprint on moist earth. Everyone has goals, and success can mean either acheiving those goals or finding new goals aong the way.

Picture life as a maze, an intricate, constantly changing maze. Some find contentment in following the path of wisdom laid down by history, while others are not satisfied until they have become a trailblazer and found an innovative way to navigate the maze. As long as one enjoys both the journey and the destination, both are wonderful. At intervals, there are choices we must make that will shape our paths. Sometimes, not every path is open to us. That’s when we need a key. Almost six years ago, my maze took a sharp and unexpected turn: my family had to move halfway across the country. I had never lived outside of the small-town Midwest in my life, and I was a little shell-shocked. Luckily, I stumbled upon the small metaphorical garden of Foothills Montessori School.

This school is different from other schools. It’s not all about test scores, it’s about — as Ms. Erica says — learning to understand. FMS has instilled in all of us the joy of learning and given the tools and the knowledge we need to have successful careers in high school, in college, and in life.

In our early years, the Montessori method nurtured our imaginations and helped us grow from toddlers to inquisitive children. As we progressed into elementary school, not only were we taught fundamental knowledge about the world around us, but our curious minds were indulged with the refrain, “Go research it!”. In middle school, many of the Montessori materials became less fundamental, but our school continued to differ from most. Ms. Erica constantly strove to improve her math lessons to an even higher level, and she always had interesting demonstrations in science and invigorating reenactments in history. In Ms. Arlene’s English class, we learned so much more than grammar and spelling. We read culturally significant books and discussed every aspect, relating them to current and historical events. In both classes, we were taught critical thinking skills and learned how to apply our knowledge to the world around us.

At this school, teacher and student form a unique bond based on mutual respect and appreciation, and I can’t imagine a more secure and supportive environment for student-on-student interaction. Out of these bonds, we forged keys: the keys to success.

I have been attending this school since third grade, and I have watched my peers and myself grow from uncertain and tentative children to confident young men and women who are ready for whatever the next bend in our theoretical mazes brings. In this unique learning environment, the teachers and staff strove to help us recognize our path and gave us the neccesary keys to help us go where we like in our mazes of life.

As former U. S. Representative Solomon Ortiz said, “Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.” That could never be more true than it is here at FMS. You have all shaped my path in ways that I never imagined possible. I will always look on my time here as one of the most enjoyable and enriching times of my life.

Today, my fellow eighth graders and I have reached a critical milestone: the metamorphosis from middle school to high school. Here, our paths part — perhaps for good. We must plunge on down the maze of life, in all likelihood meeting with thorns aplenty. But this wonderful school has given us — and we have given each other — the keys we need for the next phase of our lives. I know that everyone on this stage has the knowledge and the determination to unlock their success. I will always remember my outstanding teachers and the amazing group of people graduating with me today. Thank you for the keys.
Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

What We Learned

FMS Middle School students had a busy year, learning everything from electromagnetism to etymology.

From building (and then knocking down) a periodic table of elements, to re-enacting the WWII D-Day Normandy Invasion, to dissecting cow eyeballs, to traveling the Oregon Trail, to discussing Lord of the Flies and 1984 … the list goes on.


Here is a partial list of the 2012-13 Middle School curriculum and activities:


  • Colonization
  • Road to Independence
  • American Revolution
  • Current events
  • War of 1812
  • Westward Expansion
  • U.S. Geography

Physical Science

  • Matter
  • Periodic Table of Elements
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Acids, Bases & Solutions
  • Motion & Forces
  • Work & Machines
  • Energy
  • Electromagnetism


  • Algebra/Pre-Algebra


  • Spanish
  • French
  • German
  • Farsi

Language Arts

  • grammar, etymology, vocabulary, spelling
  • reading comprehension/critical thinking
  • 1984, Lord of the Flies, The Pigman, Fahrenheit 451, and more


  • Rhythm: composing and notating complimentary rhythms, utilizing rhythmic improvisation as the melody over ostinato accompaniments, swing feel vs. straight classical feel
  • Melody: explore Renaissance music via Alto recorder, improvisation over modal music with shifting cords
  • Form: ABA, rondo, canon
  • Rhythm: poly-rhythms, poly-meter, compound meters 5/4, 7/8, 12/8
  • Melody:  from improvisation to composition – creating melodies
  • Form: 4 part canons, theme, & variation Rondo, ABA, ABAC

Physical Education

  • Kicking Skills/Throwing Skills
  • Cooperative Games/Team Building
  • Net Ball
  • Lacrosse
  • Softball
  • Yoga & Aerobics
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Track & Field


  • Self-Portrait and Environmental Studies
  • Techniques used by artists: Euclide, Nicholls, Millet, Duchamp, Calder , Rickey, Escher, Termes, Rembrandt, Dolci
  • Develop skills using: Ink, Pastel, Acrylic Paint, Sculpture, Metal, Pencil
  • Identify elements of art: Radial Balance, Symmetry, Texture, Positive/Negative Space
  • Literature, Social Concerns, Visual Culture Studies
  • Techniques used by artists: Escobar, Dr. Seuss, Judi Chicago, Britto, Johns, Warhol, Picasso, Shulte, Ocampo
  • Develop skills using: Mixed Media and Found Materials
  • Identify elements of art: Perspective, Dimension, Space, Texture, Value

Partial List of Field Trips

  • Techatticup Mines (history and chemistry)
  • Mt. Charleston Rope Course (community building)
  • New York New York roller coaster (physics)
  • PALI (adventures and skill-building in California)
  • Opportunity Village (community service tradition)

[button url=”” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”coolblue” ]Our Favorite Lessons[/button]

[button url=”” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”coolblue” ]List of 2013 Graduates[/button]

[button url=”” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”coolblue” ]Middle School Memories[/button]

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Middle School Memories

“In 20 years, when I have a job that I enjoy and look forward to everyday, I will look back to my upper elementary and middle school years, and will give thanks for everything I had.”

— Noelani, 2013 FMS Graduate

[button url=”” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”coolblue” ]MORE MIDDLE SCHOOL MEMORIES[/button]

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Congratulations Class of 2013!

We would like to congratulate our eighth grade middle school students who are graduating from Foothills Montessori School and going on to the exciting realm of high school!

Next week they will be honored at a special Graduation Ceremony, where they will give speeches, receive diplomas, celebrate with parents, fellow students and staff, and commemorate their academic achievements.

2013 Foothills Montessori Graduates and their chosen high school:

Helena Ward – Bishop Gorman

Elizabeth Carleton – Bishop Gorman

Javid Habashi – Bishop Gorman

Spencer Schmidt – Lake Mead Christian Academy

Robyn Myers – Green Valley High School

Noelani Mattstedt – Green Valley High School

Allie Weddell – Las Vegas Academy

Cindy CK Tung – Las Vegas Academy

Cristina Pate – Las Vegas Academy

Marleigh Pape – Las Vegas Academy

2012-13 sure was a busy one, filled with history, science, math, language arts, hands-on projects, foreign languages, field trips and more. Ms. Erica has been meticulously recording it all in her classroom blog, complete with pictures and video. Check it out!

Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.

Field Trips and Fun

Many students have been out and about on field trips recently, learning in a sensorial, hands-on way.

Primary and Kindergarten students went to the Natural History Museum, where they learned about dinosaurs, sharks, wild animals, fossils and more. They also recently visited the Estes McDoniel Marine Lab, where they explored the many creatures of our amazing oceans.

Elementary recently visited the Nevada History Museum and Springs Preserve. They have now built their own model wagon trains which are now on “a journey.”

Our middle schoolers are now in California at Pali Adventures, which is sure to be a truly unforgettable experience. We will have to wait until Ms. Erica and the rest return to hear all about it!

For more news and a TON of great pics, check out your child’s classroom blog!

Turning Tragedy Into Musical Comedy

Last week parents were treated to a comedic version of Shakespeare’s classic play about ghosts, guilt and magic spells. Teachers Ms. Erica and Ms. Arlene recount:
“E1 presented their rendition of a comedic spoof based upon Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth. The students had such fun transforming the quite violent tale into a lively — and sometimes silly — frolicking romp using many songs and dances. For example, one of  Lady Macbeth’s major concerns  was that blood might have stained her carpets and that it costs a fortune to steam clean carpets  now-a-days. It is safe to say that the students will never forget the great play Macbeth.”
[button url=”” target=”_blank” size=”small” style=”cherry” ]Famous Macbeth Quotes[/button]

Help E1 Win The Reel Math Challenge

A group of students in our E1 classroom have entered the 2012-2013 Reel Math Challenge. This is a nationwide competition where teams of four work together to creatively solve a math problem and make a video.
Videos are posted online; those with the top votes will advance to the next round. The top team will win $1,000 scholarships for college. Students do it on their own with absolutely no teacher assistance. We invite you to view the video and vote for our E1 students. A note from a student:
“Hello; This year, some of my fellow classmates and I have created a video. This is a math video we made for a contest called Reel Math Challenge. We have submitted it onto the website, but have no chance of winning without your votes! Please visit the website below, and hit vote! Every vote counts. Thank you for you time!” – Noelani
[button url=”” target=”_blank” size=”large” style=”coolblue” ]VIEW VIDEO[/button]

Ms. Arlene Gets An Unexpected Letter

One of our teachers, Ms. Arlene Dreitzer, received an unexpected letter from a former student recently.

Dear Mrs. Dreitzer;

Greetings to you from Washington, D.C. I hope that you and your family are well. I have wanted to contact you for quite a while to express my sincere appreciation for your influence and role in my life … you were my 6th grade teacher at P.S. 235 in Brooklyn, NY! The other day at work I was called into a “brainstorming” meeting — you came to my mind immediately because you were the person who introduced me to brainstorming nearly 30 years ago. The great memories from our 6th grade class came flowing back: the “Bear Necessities” vocabulary wall; The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck; Animal Farm; and how could I forget Damn Yankees, our class play! So many years have come and gone, but you stand out as one of the best educators that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Indeed, I started out with the aspiration to teach! I was a student teacher in a middle school in Harlem and used Lord of the Flies as my first text! (Thanks for paving the way.) I later turned to international development and am working and living in Washington with the World Bank. I’m so grateful for the chance to express my thanks and affection to you, dear Mrs. Dreitzer! “Many women have done well, but you excel them all!”

Says Ms. Arlene: “I believe I had this student in 1983. I taught in a magnet public school for gifted and talented children. I recall that it was a 6th grade class of 40 students and I taught every subject. The school was called The Lenox School or P.S. 235. The program was called the Soar Program and students took an entrance exam to attend.”

Ms. Arlene has been at Foothills Montessori for eight years as a Middle School Language Arts Teacher and Reading Specialist. She has 41 years of teaching experience, a MS in education, and has completed an additional 30 credits above her Master’s degree. She loves literature, etymology and teaching, and has made a positive mark on many students throughout her long career as an educator. We are so lucky to have Ms. Arlene at Foothills Montessori.

8th Grade Graduation Ceremony

On June 7, we bid farewell to our beloved 8th grade students; some have been part of the FMS community for over 10 years. They will make their mark on several different public and private schools across the valley, taking with them a solid foundation from which to grow and become a strong, successful part of society. We wish them the best of luck as they go after their dreams!


Middle School Students Visit Boston

On May 22, 17 excited middle school students flew across the country to one of the most historic cities in the United States, Boston! Over a week, they visited Salem, Lexington and Concord, Bunker Hill, USS Constitution, the Mayflower, Fenway Park and so much more, gaining a strong knowledge of the history of this great country while creating memories that will last a lifetime.




Foothills Montessori School is a private Montessori school serving families in Henderson, Las Vegas and Southern Nevada.