Roots and Wings

The following speech, entitled “Roots and Wings,” was given by Maddie Hoggan at our 2014 8th grade graduation ceremony. Please enjoy this perspective from the eyes of an FMS graduate!

One day, a sprout popped out of the earth. The beautiful days and the sun helped to make it grow bigger and bigger. Once in a while, a gust of wind would blow, helping the plant’s roots get stronger. One day, a storm came and bent the plant, but that never stopped it. This plant grew into a beautiful, tall tree. To me, this is what childhood is like, never stopping to look back, wishing for the day when you are finally a year older. But at the point when you stop growing, you need more than just a trunk, leaves, and roots. You need something that will push you into the world. You need wings to soar as high as you can and as fast as you can. You can take your roots everywhere you go, but you have to leave the place where you grew them. This is where all of us are, we are ready to use our wings and fly to different places.

I’ve been going to FMS for 10 years, during that time, I have developed deep roots. When I first came to this school, I was so quiet I would barely talk to anyone, but after FMS encouraged me, I found the confidence to talk forever. My first memory at this school was of pouring water, making sure not to lose any. This developed my patience and my fine motor skills. One of my other memories from primary was reading the Bob books, which were books that consisted of sentences like, “Bobplayed,” or “Bob sat.” I remember being so proud of myself when I was finally put into a group where I could read the Bob books. This increased my self-confidence by reading with the teacher. In lower elementary, I remember trying so hard each week to finish my goals. This developed the drive in me to accomplish anything I worked hard at. In upper elementary, more freedom was given to accomplish what needed to be done; you had to plan out your day. In middle school, the standards of work increased, in preparation for high school. Each of these things helped grow my wings and prepare for me to leave this school.

Although our school experience has been incredible, there have been a few bumps in all of our roads. For me, my experience was when I was four, I decided to try to get to my room with my eyes closed, and promptly, I fell down the stairs and broke my arm. A few trips to the emergency room, more broken bones, and stitches also crossed my path. But everyone should have bad experiences, because they are as important as good experiences. A philosopher once said, “For a tree to become tall, it must grow tough roots among the rocks.”

But, of course none of us would be here without support and help along the way. All of the teachers at this school are so supportive and dedicated. They have helped all of us mature and grow. Our minds are filled with knowledge because of them; I think we are all confident to use what we’ve learned and fly to new places. The most supportive people of all are our parents. Not only have they allowed all of us the incredible opportunity to go to this school but they will be with us forever. They help us through hard times and encourage us through everything else. Not only are they responsible for our roots, but they have the hard job of giving us our wings. We are all grateful for them.

Even though this is the end for us here, we will never forget FMS, the great memories, and close friendships this school has created. Leaving something you care about is hard, but as Dr. Seuss so perfectly said, “Don’t cry because it is over, smile because it happened.”

Middle School On The Move

Our Middle School Students are always doing and learning so much that it’s hard to keep up. And Middle School Head Teacher Ms. Erica chronicles it all every two weeks on her amazing blog — subscribe today to get posts by email.

Here are just a few highlights from last week:

  • Students visited Opportunity Village and had a blast singing, dancing, doing comedic improv and more. Student blogger Logan writes: “If there is one thing that I learned from this trip, it would be that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what you look like, how you talk, or the way you walk, every human on the face of this planet has something in common with everyone around them. So, all it takes to make a make a friend is to smile and say Hello.” READ MORE AND SEE PICTURES HERE (password protected).
  • E1 celebrated Pi Day with no less than ELEVEN different mathematical “Pi Stations,” including PiTunes, Pi-doku, Pi Graphs and Radial Radii. And of course, there was pie.
  • Students are learning all about Asia and are focusing on the geography, culture and architecture of the Middle East. From the blog: “This week we looked at pictures from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, and Armenia, which illustrated a little of the architecture, beautiful landscape, and cultural diversity of a region with both European and Asian influences. One seventh grader admiring the photos of Dubai said, ‘I want to go there. I want to go everywhere!'”
  • Students created a chronology of World War I that included biographies of key players and tracked American involvement. They even built their own “weapons”!
  • In Language, students are reading and analyzing various novels including Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. From the blog: “This novel first appeared during the era which historians label ‘the McCarthy period,’ the post-war political climate characterized by xenophobia, blacklisting and censorship. Many of the issues explored in the novel cannot be separated from the historical period in which it appeared. Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and burns. This novel commands lively discussion.”
  • Math studies included illustrating exactly why, as Pythagoras claimed, a^2 + b^2 = c^2!,.
  • “Middle schoolers are in the thick of the Circulatory System, and are anxious for our upcoming dissection of cow hearts! This dissection will give them a very clear picture of our recent studies: heart chambers, valves, the aorta, the vena cava, pulmonary vessels, the path of blood, and more! It doesn’t matter how many diagrams or books we have to share; nothing compares to holding an actual heart in your palms and learning through that type of hands-on experience. We hope you can join us for the big day!”
  • And finally, gardening: “Thank you to Marnie and Teri for helping us begin our new round of gardening! After the eighth graders’ trip to Star Nursery, the middle schoolers planted our basil and peppers on the outskirts of our box. Do you know what’s going in the middle?”

Phew! To read more and see more pictures, don’t forget to check out Ms. Erica’s E1 blog. And try to keep up!

*Don’t forget to stop by the Foothills Montessori School parking lot this Saturday from 8 AM to noon for a special sale to benefit Roos ‘n’ More, a local family-owned rescue-oriented zoo in need of donations. Student Maddie Hoggan writes: “Last semester, one of our field trips included visiting this zoo and it was one of the most memorable field trip experiences I’ve ever had. Two veterinarians that have a love for unusual animals own the zoo and they help provide care for animals that come there. Most of these animals, because they are so fond of humans, love to be held and played with. Recently, the zoo has been shut down in their transition to becoming a commercial property due to the size of their septic tank and lack of paved walkways. They will not reopen on site until they’ve raised the $300,000 necessary to address the issues. We hope our Parking Lot Sale can be a part of achieving that goal. We hope you drop by on the 22nd!”


Ellis Island Escapades

Middle School Students reenacted the experience of going through the Ellis Island checkpoints as if they were 19th century immigrants. Student Keller Mack writes:

Not having a clue what to expect, we were whisked into a line by people yelling in all different languages. We were each handed a name, occupation and immigrant number, which was going to be our identity for what felt like hours. Each of us stood in line, waiting to be yelled at in foreign languages by the two angry people at the front. While I waited in line, the guards came by, asking for bribes to get whoever would pay past the checkpoint, and sometimes not even asking before taking the amount they wanted.


Once I had passed the first checkpoint (with only a little bit of bribery), I was shoved into yet another line where I would wait for my medical, mental and citizenship tests. Despite being detained about seven times, I finally managed to complete all of the tests and continue to the next checkpoint. Out of all of the things that would get me deported (such as getting into arguments with other immigrants, cutting in line and stealing anything that wasn’t nailed down), what really did me in was that I was Russian, and they were “sick of Russians.” Luckily, I was able to steal a ferry ticket and illegally get to New York City.

This empathy assignment was excellent for helping me to better understand what it was like for the people who actually came through Ellis Island so that they could get to our country. This was definitely the kind of experience that you never forget.

Thank you to all of the parents who helped with this event. Even Ms. Erica’s mom came to role play!

Read more on E1’s classroom blog (FMS Parents only).

Life of a Soldier

Middle School Head Teacher Ms. Erica became “Sergeant Sherlock” to show her students a day in the life of a Confederate soldier during the Civil War Era. Says Ms. Erica: “It was the greatest day of my entire teaching career.”
E1 Student Matthew Myers recounts the empathy lesson (“Confederate Instructional Training”) in a recent blog post:

“Tuesday came as a shock to all the middle school students when Sergeant Sherlock marched in. We all took it as a joke . We laughed but soon stopped when two kids were given laps (me and Hayden). Today was a day to see what it was like to be a soldier in the Civil War. Even though the  purpose of this activity was to see how bad the soldiers lives were, we still had fun. One reason it was fun was because of all the amazing parents that came out to help and our amazing teacher, Sergeant Sherlock, for putting this event all together.

Sergeant Sherlock divided the class into four regiments with five “recruits” in each regiment.  After marching from school to the park we had to make hardtack, a dense cracker made of flour and water. There were four stations.  My regiment’s first station had to set up a tent with a wooden pole, some stretchy fabric, nails, clothes pins, and rocks that would fit at least 20 soldiers and their gear. Second station we had to  create a sling for our wounded soldier with two broken arms. Next we broke for lunch.  We got to eat fresh hardtack which was exactly like its name. When soldiers would eat hardtack they would soak it in water to get bugs out of it and to soften it. Third station we packed our supplies and carried them about fifty feet. The backpack weighed on average 40 pounds for my group (the Charlie regiment). Fourth station we had to make a stretcher and carry our wounded soldiers to the “hospital.”

All through these stations we were given punishments like push ups or sit ups or even laps around the park for disobeying orders or failing at a task. If a real Civil War soldier showed weakness or tried to flee, they would be shot. At the end of the day we reflected how all of these brave soldiers fought for one belief. I could never imagine ever doing that.  I respect all the brave soldiers  and what they endured for their beliefs. Thank you parents and Ms. Erica for a day to remember.”

Additional thoughts from E1 Students:



The Future is Here

As head of the Technology Committee, Ms. Erica (E1 Head Teacher/Middle School Grade Level Head)  has been busy bringing technology into the classrooms of Foothills Montessori.

“We have two main goals,” she says of her committee, which includes three other teachers (Ms. Joanie, Ms. Melissa M., and Ms. Vicki) who meet weekly to discuss their objectives and progress. “One, to make staff more comfortable with utilizing technology and Two, to integrate technology into the curriculum when appropriate so that students are prepared for an increasingly tech-dependent future.”

The committee, as early adopters, always take their new Chromebooks to these meetings (a gift from the FMS PTO) and share their notes on Google Drive. Throughout the week, each Committee Member, called a “Techie Partner,” meets with other staff members to assist them as needed. At every school-wide Administration Meeting, the committee presents a new app or skill that teachers may find useful, like systems for tracking attendance or adding comments to report cards.

Technology usage varies by grade level. At the primary level, the focus is on hands-on materials that create a physical connection with the learning environment. As students move into elementary, they use laptops periodically to acquire the basics of online research, MS Office and typing. At the middle school level, students are ready to integrate more cutting-edge technology into the curriculum in a way that enhances the overall learning process. Just a few recent and upcoming examples from E1:

  • Using Prezi instead of PowerPoint to create dynamic, innovative presentations
  • Creating stop-motion videos of cellular mitosis
  • Creating online “Fakebook” profiles for prominent historical figures
  • Visiting to watch weekly student news broadcasts
  • Using email for classroom communication
  • Sending notes to overseas soldiers through online program
  • Using Google Drive to save and store classroom assignments
  • Contributing to the classroom blog
  • Editing photos and collaborating on videos
  • Using virtual dissection apps for an upcoming anatomy lab
  • Researching in-depth topics using both books and accredited online sources
  • Using Quizlet to create study guides

The E1 classroom is an incredibly interactive, dynamic, hands-on place, and the students have constant access to laptops, which they frequently use to “Google” the answers to questions that come up during class discussions. “If they have a question, they just go find the answer,” says Ms. Erica, who encourages this self-directed learning when the students have a moment of free time.

Recently, the Middle School students participated in Career Center Week, where they explored different careers that they found interesting. Chosen fields ranged from fashion design to architecture to medicine, and many students found that their occupation entailed frequent use of technology.

At least one student already has a jump start on the Silicon Valley programmers who create all this exciting new hardware and software. “Benjamin coded his own history quiz,” says Ms. Erica, still surprised and impressed. “He learned it online somewhere. Maybe on Wikipedia?”

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the future is here.

Journey Through Time

Thanks to the hard work and imaginative creativity of parents, students and staff, our first annual World History Day was truly unforgettable. We learned about Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome and Greece, the Renaissance, the age of dinosaurs, the age of fish, the age of invertebrates, and so much more. We will let student Olivia, from E1, tell you more:

“As you should already know, World History Day was on Thursday. Each classroom did their part to make the event as wonderful as it was. I can honestly say it felt like we were traveling through time.


I was in the dinosaur era in P3. There were dinosaurs roaming the classroom everywhere. A big volcano was smoking in the middle back of the classroom. The kids seemed so ecstatic over all of the games and also all of the food. They were able to trace some dinosaur bones with stencils, dig for dinosaur skeletons in a miniature sandbox, and create their own skeleton with noodles.

After all of the middle school students finished helping out in the classrooms, we all gathered out in the field and began setting up for the parade. Each of the groups had a poster covered in photos, artifacts, and a table drop from their era. The parade was in order from the beginning of life to where we are now. The whole purpose of the parade was to give the students of FMS an understanding of the order of the timeline of life. I am very proud to say that our goal was accomplished and that the children have a better understanding. Every middle school student was a great help to the classrooms and all of the posters and table drops were done to the best of their abilities.

I send thanks from myself as well as all of the FMS teachers to the E1 students for making World History Day better than our expectations and know next year’s will be just as amazing.”

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

Helping Gardens Grow

FMS is getting ready to expand its garden area this year, thanks to the help of our wonderful staff, parents and students. We are planning to build new planter boxes (thanks to the gracious assistance of a few FMS fathers); fix the sprinklers; and start planting! One of our elementary teachers, Ms. April, is spearheading this exciting new development with the hopes of teaching the children more about nutrition, health and the natural environment. If you would like to get involved, please contact her at [email protected]. We really have some amazing, knowledgeable and proactive parents in our community and we can’t thank you enough.

This week, middle school students got involved by cleaning out the garden and researching best planting practices. On their classroom blog, E4 writes:

“Thank you to Middle school friends for researching and cleaning our garden! After finding out some facts about the plants in our courtyard boxes, they cleaned and cut back tomatoes, peppers, and sunflowers. Next, they provided us with a list of plant information. We are preparing to build more planters and add more sprinklers. Now we know we can always turn to our middle school students for knowledge and assistance! It was interesting to learn how to care for sunflowers and tomatoes. Here are some helpful hints:

  • We should use distilled or rain water for sunflowers because other types of water can be poisonous to the flower.
  • They need at least two feet of space to grow
  • They need to be watered every other day
  • If the flower is dead, cut the head off then uproot it
  • Tomatoes need deep soil so the plant’s roots can hold it upright
  • If you don’t prune tomatoes regularly, the plants will develop extra branches called suckers. Suckers take away energy from the plant.”

Stay tuned for more garden expansion updates!

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

Sunflowers and Dream Jobs

Last week, our middle school students explored different career options and spent some time in the gardens. Here are their thoughts:

Rochelle: This week I learned that sunflowers grow toward the sun, so if you put them in shade they will most likely fall over.

Ian: This week I found some tips on taking care of sunflowers, like putting them in direct sunlight and to water them with distilled water.

Olivia: I have grown an interest in architecture after doing my project, which was drawing a layout of a house and the rooms inside it.

Logan: I have always been interested in skyscraper architecture and during this assignment I was able to design my own skyscraper and learn how they are built.


Nicole: I chose interior design because I love decorating different kinds of things, especially rooms because I can make them my own.

Erin: After going to the optometrist this weekend, I began to have a sudden liking for the job. I made a graph about our class to see how many kids go to the optometrist.

Matthew: I tried doing a police officer’s job by checking fingerprints and learning about the crime rate in Nevada. I was surprised at how difficult it was finding out whose fingerprint was whose. Police officers have a hard job.

Benjamin: I chose microcomputer programmers because it has always interested me to create a new program for the computer. I coded a history quiz game for my project.

Paulina: I chose zoology because I really like animals and I thought it would be interesting. Some of the branches of zoology are shown in my project, including cetology, the study of whales and cynology, the study of dogs.

Hayden: I learned that plumbers would do water throughout the whole house. Anything that involves the sink or anything similar to that is what they fix.

Sofia: I learned about two careers, first the different types of photography and then dentistry. My collage shows the different types of careers in photography.

Kyla: I learned that once tomato plants are overgrown, it doesn’t make a difference if you trim them, and the ones we removed were hard to pull out because they had so many roots.

Brennan: I learned a lot of cool stuff about programming and I have always liked computers, so this is a career I might be interested in.

Maddie: I learned that if you don’t prune tomatoes regularly, the plant will develop extra branches called suckers that take away the plant’s energy.

Bella: I learned that you need to plant the plants in deep soil so that the roots can spread out and the plant won’t fall over.

Talia: With a love for styling, making the room of my dreams will be a project to remember.

Sondra: With the thoughts of a designer, I took the time to make the room of my choice.

Also, E1 Student blogger Bella explains about the upcoming FMS World History Day:

“Every year we have done International Children’s Day and it has been a great experience, but we wanted to try something new this year so we came up with World History Day. World History Day is instead of going into different states and countries the kids will go into a different time period. The same thing with the costumes: The kids still get to dress up, but this time instead of dressing up as a person from around the world their going to dress up from a different time era. The way it works is the younger kids are going to be doing the invertebrates to the age of mammals and then it goes all the way up to the middle ages in upper elementary. This is a way for children to learn about the timeline of history and get a feel of what it was like. I believe that is a great change for our school and it will help children develop and learn about the different time periods.

After World History Day is over all of Middle School is going to do a miniature parade in order. The kids are going to walk through and look at our booths and see such things as The Age of the Invertebrates, The Age of Fishes and Amphibians, the Age of the Reptiles, the Age of the Mammals, Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, Ancient India, The Middle Ages, and finally the Renaissance. At the end of World History Day I hope that kids will find a better understanding of history and what it has come to be since the beginning of life.”

Thank you to E1 for this blog — read more here! (FMS Parents only).

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

Kissing Camels and Cytokinesis

Middle School students visited Roos ‘n’ More to learn about exotic and endangered animals; played games to learn about the order of operations; studied diffusion through semi-permeable membranes by observing eggshells; created flipbooks to illustrate the complex process of mitosis; and more.


Other studies include discussing U.S. History during the pre-Civil War era and WWII; learning grammatical concepts like irregular verbs and vocabulary words such as ‘anthropomorphism’; reading Julius Ceasar and Animal Farm; memorizing funeral orations; and, finally, analyzing political cartoons with the sixth-graders.

Read more on the E1 Classroom Blog (FMS Parents only).

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

Finding Beauty in Numbers

E1 is learning about the beautiful mathematical Fibonacci sequence. Check out pictures from their classroom which illustrate the concept in all its perfection, and read more about Fibonacci numbers here.



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