Dear FMS Parents

What a time to celebrate as we enter a new decade and embark on the second half of FMS’ 20th school year!

In November 2019, I had the opportunity to present to 150 Directors at the NAEYC conference in partnership with colleagues from Endeavor Schools. Our topic was “Attracting, hiring and retaining the right people for your program:  ensuring the children you serve have the skilled and passionate teachers they deserve,” and I was tasked to address teacher retention and school culture. Turnover in the field of education is concerning with some studies citing 40% of teachers leave the profession within 5 years. Proudly, our faculty average 10 years of service and head teachers average 13 years, excluding teaching experience prior to joining FMS. This year’s state of school address will honor our amazing and dedicated team, highlighting 2019 milestones.

Primary (age 3 – Kindergarten)

Ms. Melissa is the lead teacher in P1, as well as the Primary Grade Level Head. This role entails facilitating professional development as a Nevada Registry approved trainer, targeting the specific needs of our teachers and program. Her workshops included Gross Motor Games for the Early Childhood Environment and Creative Manipulatives for Early Childhood. In addition, Ms. Ariel (Admin) facilitated training in the areas of Conscious Discipline and Positive Guidance with Ms. Melissa’s support.

Our teachers are life-long learners themselves and place great value in continuing education opportunities. Ms. Julie (P2) is pursuing her Montessori Certification and Ms. Kristen (P3) completed hers in July 2019. Lastly, Ms. Kristen is finalizing her thesis to obtain a M. Ed. Degree in Montessori Integrative Learning from Endicott College, which may be presented at the Annual Global Meeting of the Association Montessori Internationale in Amsterdam, April 2020.

Elementary (1st – 6th grade)

Ms. Rosie (E2) represented FMS on the Endeavor Schools Academic Committee for the past two years with the focus of incorporating loose parts and tinkering for all grade levels as of the 2019-2020 school year and beyond. The theory of loose parts emphasizes the importance of integrating materials that can be tinkered with, taken apart, and moved around. These materials and the unstructured play they encourage are vital for success in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects. Incorporating outdoor learning opportunities was also stressed during committee meetings. FMS served as an example where Ms. Rosie and Ms. Val shared our best practices with other committee members.

Our gardening program continues to flourish under Ms. Kerri’s (E6) leadership. She has a diverse team of parents and teachers from all grade levels who contribute to the program’s success. During the fall semester, Ms. Kerri partnered the Garden Elective with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension to launch a Junior Master Gardener Program created by Texas A&M University.  Seven students received certificates from the Youth Horticulture Education Program in December 2019 by completing both individual and group activities, including several learning projects and hosting our first FMS Farmers Market in November 2019.

The upper elementary team continues to be creative in adding supplementary programs to support core instruction. For example, the E5 team is piloting Genius Hour, originally started by Google. Google believes that if you let people work on something of interest, they will do better work overall.  During this hour, students investigate and discover areas of interest in relationship to the 6 P’s:  passion, plan, pitch, project, product, and presentation. In addition, Ms. Amy (E6) and Ms. Danna (E5) introduced Sketchnotes, which are becoming an increasingly popular way for students to take notes during group instruction. Studies have shown that engaging the visual part of the brain, as well as the textual part, aids in retention of information. Plus, it’s fun!

Middle School (7th – 8th grade)

2019 was full of accolades for Ms. Erica (E1). In May, she received the Endeavor Schools Positive Guidance Award in recognition of her Mindfulness curriculum, which has made a huge impact on how our adolescents view themselves and the world. Most recently, Erica was recruited to join an advisory committee to develop academic plans for launching Endeavor Montessori middle school programs nationwide. The ability to share her team’s best practices and many years of experience will be invaluable to others.


The 2019-2020 school year is marked by firsts and lasts for the admin team. Kim attended several workshops, seminars, and conferences in preparation of her leadership role for the 2020-2021 school year and we continue to work towards a seamless transition. Kim facilitated several new events in 2019 including open houses, Magic of Montessori Night, and Alumni Panel Night…all a great success! Recently, Ariel completed an Aspiring School Leaders Fellowship through Teach for America and is currently pursuing Administrative and Supervision Graduate Certification offered by Johns Hopkins University. Collectively, we launched KidReports as a parent communication tool with the goal of full implementation by 2020-2021. More initiatives for the upcoming school year will be announced this spring.

Every year, there is one defining moment that “speaks” to me and the impact of our “village.” This year it happened during Alumni Panel Night when a former student, Lacey Wallace, announced her journey at FMS was the foundation of her college admissions essay. Lacey attended FMS from primary through middle school and is on track to be Valedictorian at Coronado HS, graduating class of 2020. A sampling of her essay is below and we are deeply touched by her words:

“A young girl goes to a school where she feels loved and accepted. She can be whom she wants without the fear of being mocked or ridiculed. She can create her own one-man band equipped with child percussion instruments or play Willy Wonka in the school play and be applauded. Foothills Montessori focuses on educating the whole child, on building individual character. For eleven years, Montessori gave me a strong foundation in which I was taught to work hard, continuously persevere, and to uphold integrity.”

…”Integrity has been a core value for me since I was thirteen. Not only do I want to have integrity in school and with others, but I also want to have integrity with myself. I hold myself to an expectation of love and kindness, and want to be honest with myself if I come up short in these areas. I don’t expect to be perfect, but I expect myself to at least try the high road before I completely demolish it.” 

Not every faculty member has been recognized individually, but the list is endless. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the entire FMS team and the countless daily contributions they make to ensure the success of our students. The FMS tribe is comprised of talented, dedicated and invested educators, uniquely weaving the fabric of our learning community. Furthermore, we extend our deepest gratitude to our parents who continually support our mission and entrust us with your most valuable treasure…your children. You are truly the heart of our FMS family!

Wishing you all a joyous and healthy 2020!


Karen Kolb

Executive Director

“Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reasons to stay.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV