Newsletter Number 20 • Wednesday 25th November 2020

From the Principal

2020! What a crazy year we have endured! No one would ever have seen it coming?!

It has been a time of such change for all of us and as the year draws to a close it is time for us to pause, reflect and think about what we have learnt from this year.

As a school and place of education, despite having successfully rolled out remote learning, 2020 has re-confirmed what we already know as Montessori educators…. that relationships are key to education.  That actually being able to physically sit with, and by the side of our students, helping them, guiding them, teaching them and supporting them makes the world of difference compared to delivering curriculum online with limited and stilted individual interaction.

Covid-19 has taught us that relationships and connection to others is so important, and without it our world and life isn’t as purposeful.  We’ve learnt that it’s so much harder to develop a sense of community when we can’t physically be together.  We’ve learnt how to creatively maintain those connections and spend time together to strengthen our bonds. However, we all agree that ‘Zoom’ is not a permanent replacement for face to face contact and connection.

Coronavirus has made us view our health and well being differently.  It’s made us stop and think about others more so, particularly when it comes to infecting others when we ourselves are not feeling well.  So often in the past we just kept going, we would head off to work, send children to school when they or us may not be feeling well.  Coronavirus has made us re-think this and think about others, particularly showing more care and concern for vulnerable friends, family members and colleagues. 

2020 has heightened how important mental health is and how we cope with our fears, anxiety, change and uncertainty.  It has highlighted how important the skills and qualities of resilience, flexibility, adaptability and creativity are in an uncertain and changing world.

As a leader, these uncertain times have emphasised how important communication is and that new and inventive ways to communicate clear messages are helpful and necessary. Being decisive is crucial however highly challenging in an ever changing environment where the rules and boundaries are forever changing! Having empathy, showing care, support and kindness are key to developing trust and team spirit amongst staff during a crisis.  Finding ways of having fun and laughing together as a staff through tough times also builds camaraderie and solidarity. 

2020 has reaffirmed what I already knew…. What an amazing staff team I have the honour of leading.  I can’t begin to thank our staff enough for what has been one of the most challenging years in our professional lives. 

I am so proud of them and I thank them for their dedication, loyalty, hard work, creativity and openness to new learning.  What a team!

I also need to acknowledge the amazing support, understanding and encouragement we have received from our parents and families throughout the year.  We have all been in this together and it’s been hard for everyone.  But let’s hope that we are coming out the other side and we are a little wiser, kinder and more mindful for having gone through this experience together.  2020 is a year that none of us will ever forget.

Cathy France


COVID Update

What a topsy turvy ride we have all had over the past week!  It has become our 'new normal' and has taught us all that we need to be extremely flexible during this time.

We are all extremely pleased that we were able to return to school at the beginning of this week and we hope that South Australia continues to be vigilant in complying with the imposed COVID restrictions to ensure we 'stop the spread' and keep our community healthy and safe.

I would like to reiterate the communication that has recently been sent out on Skoolbag and emailed to all families.

We still ask that parents:
  • limit their time within the school grounds. Please continue to drop your child off and pick them up at the gate if at all possible. Parents are asked to promptly exit the school as soon as is practicable after drop off/pick up and not to congregate in the courtyard. 
  • continue not to enter the classrooms before or after school (unless pre-arranged).  
  • NOT send their child/ren to school if they show any signs of being unwell. 
Staff will continue to be attentive regarding hygiene and cleanliness upon our return.

OSHC (Before & After School Care) has resumed this week operating the usual hours.  Bookings are essential via email or text to the OSHC mobile 0455 232 424.

Lunch orders resumed this week. 


Wairoa Cafe is CANCELLED this Thursday 26th November.

Class Transition at Yultiwirra will GO AHEAD this Friday 27th November from 9.30am - 10.30am.  All students will swap to their 2021 classes for one hour.

Wairoa Transition has been POSTPONED for Year 6 students this Friday 27th November due to extreme weather conditions.  This will now take place on Monday 30th November

Year 6 Graduation will GO AHEAD (with some modifications)  on Wednesday 2nd December. Invites will be sent out shortly outlining modifications - ONLY Year 6 parents and significant adults and limited staff will be able to attend along with all Cycle 3 students.

Year 9 Graduation will GO AHEAD (with some modifications)  on Friday 4th December. Details will be sent out shortly outlining modifications.

Cycle 4 Exhibition of Work and Learning will GO AHEAD (with some modifications)  on Friday 4th December. Details will be sent out shortly to Wairoa parents outlining modifications.

Yultiwirra End of Year Concert has been CANCELLED.

We thank all of our students, staff and parents for their understanding and support during this tricky time. We will continue to communicate with students and parents as information comes to hand, and restrictions change. 

Cathy France


Farewell Anne

It is with great sadness that I announce to the school community that our longest serving staff member, Anne Winter, will be retiring from her teaching/learning support position in the school at the end of this year.  Anne has worked in the school for 30 years which is an incredible feat!  Over the years she has taught and supported hundreds of children.  Anne is particularly passionate about supporting students who have difficulties with their learning and accessing the curriculum.   Anne is a highly valued and much loved staff member and I thank her for the patience and kindness she has shown to all of her students and I greatly appreciate the loyalty and dedication she has shown to our school.  Anne has made a huge contribution over the years and will be sorely missed by staff, students and parents. I know you will all join me in wishing Anne happiness and good health as she transitions into her retirement in 2021.

Up Close and Personal with Anne...

What is it about the school that has made you want to stay here and work here for so long? 

When I came from Victoria in 1986, and having taught Primary level for 17 years, I went to a presentation by Barbara Colquhoun about the Montessori philosophy. I was so impressed that I enrolled my son, Ryan, in the Pre-school and I became employed as a teacher's aide with Denise Connelly. Over the years, as Ryan progressed through the cycles, I saw the values being reinforced. 

What will you miss about The Hills Montessori School?   

Each year at the graduation I'm so proud of the students standing before the school community and speaking with such passion and assurance about their time at the HMS and their hopes for the future.

My interaction with the children from all the cycles has been a highlight of my 30 years as have been the friendships with my colleagues and school families. I will certainly miss the intellectual stimulus of working in the Montessori environment.

What will you do in your retirement?   

The door is open for me to make the most of all opportunities that may come my way. I love the idea of spending more time with my friends and family and volunteering in the wider community.

Parting words 

I've loved being part of this amazing school and working with a committed and hard-working staff, and having the privilege of guiding the children in their learning.  I wish the school and the community all the very best for the future. I hope the HMS will not be side-tracked by the difficult demands of the modern education system and will remain faithful to its unique Montessori principles.


Covid-19, lock down and restrictions have taught us to rejoice and celebrate in the simple things.  Some things in life fill us with delight even though they are such small, simple things.

They provide moments of joy that bring us firmly back into the present moment and make us grateful for everything we have in life.

*A walk in the park.   *Baking and cooking for loved ones.

*Getting out into nature. *Being present and in the moment.

*Spending time with friends and family. *Hugging someone you love.

*Watching the sunrise or sunset. *Gardening and being outside.

*Listening to music.  * Growing your own vegetables.

*Playing with your pets.    *Completing a jigsaw puzzle.

*Making someone laugh or smile.  *Reading a good book.

*Sitting still and quietly to listen to your surrounds.

"Enjoy the little things in life because one day you'll look back and realise they were the big things."

Robert Brault

Thank you to our Volunteers!

We are unable to host our 'Thank you to Volunteers' assembly this year due to restrictions. We have instead made a video thanking all our helpers in 2020. Volunteers play an incredibly important role at our school and we are very grateful to the parents, grandparents and community members who take the opportunity to give of their time.

To our Class Parent Reps, Excursion Helpers, the 'it nearly happened' Cycle 3 School Camp Helpers, our School Board, all the Committees and those who look after the Preschool rabbits in the holidays - we say thank you, thank you, thank you. Our school would not be what it is without each and every one of you. 💙💚

View video here


Cycles explained at The Hills Montessori School

Over the past 18 months we have curated a selection of videos that show our school in action. It has allowed us to take parents ‘into the classroom’ to give an insight into what happens day to day; it has also been a wonderful way to showcase our school to prospective families, particularly given the restrictions around Open Days this year.

 This term we have released our ‘Cycle’ video series that was filmed across 2019 and 2020. It looks at the different characteristics of the Montessori Cycles and the way in which they cater for the development of a child, from infancy through to adolescence.  Thank you to our students and teachers who graciously welcomed a camera into their school day, to capture the sense of wonder, curiosity, and energetic spirit that a classroom initiates. 

Thank you to Tim Standing and the team at Daylight Breaks Pty Ltd for their creativity and assistance with filming and editing.  

Explore the Infant Program

View the Infant Program video  Here

The Infant Program is aimed at nurturing the interests, curiosity and developmental needs of children aged 0-3 years in a Montessori setting. Children and their parents attend weekly sessions which are designed to meet the developmental needs of the children by providing hands on, practical activities that develop skills of independence, self-discipline and concentration, and educate the visual, auditory and tactile senses. The program provides a calm, curated, supportive environment that helps lay the foundations for future learning. For parents, the weekly sessions are designed to further their understanding of Montessori education and philosophy.

Visit the Preschool

View Cycle 1 Preschool video here

Our Montessori Cycle 1 Preschool is a prepared environment, both indoors and outdoors, for 3 to 5 year old children, built around a child’s natural curiosity. Each classroom is carefully curated with Montessori materials and activities which enhance the child’s understanding of numeracy, literacy and learning for everyday life. The Practical Life Curriculum provides a link between home and school where children develop concentration and independence through activities such as food preparation, cleaning and caring for the natural world. Our Montessori Preschool is a unique space that allows students the opportunity to explore, discover and learn in a structured, yet home-like setting that is designed to encourage a life-long love of learning for the child as they embark on their educational journey.

Discover Cycle 1

View Cycle 1 Primary video Here

Cycle 1 Primary classes provide a calm learning environment for children aged 5 and 6 years of age. An important part of the Cycle 1 classroom is for children to develop a work ethic with allowances for freedom of choice. Materials are a key component in the Cycle 1 classroom, as children of this age learn through hands on activities designed to excite the child’s interest and motivate them to explore further. Students work individually or in small groups with the assistance of a teacher and school assistant, with a strong emphasis on developing early literacy and numeracy. Montessori educators believe that the aim of the Cycle 1 environment is to bring the world to the child through an integrated curriculum across the arts, music, physical education, science, geography, history and a focus on cultures around the world.

Delve into Cycle 2

View the Cycle 2 video here

The Cycle 2 classroom caters for 6 to 9 year old students which is typically Years 1, 2 and 3. The Cycle 2 multi-age classroom is a learning environment that encourages and inspires children to be attracted to, and in awe of the wonders of the world.

Cycle 2 students commonly ask: “Why?” which directs the learning activities in the classroom. Students regularly work in small groups and the class is more community centered which reflects the development of this age group and their innate desire to interact more with their peers.

For children to be able to explore and understand the world, they need to be able to read, write and calculate. We aim to expose students in Cycle 2 to a complete view of the world, physical and cultural, through visual and hands on activities leading to an understanding of abstract concepts. A particular focus is learning to respect studies of the past, develop an understanding of ethics, and value the contributions of others. These skills aid the child’s development, and confidence with themselves, their society, and their world as a whole.

Learn about Cycle 3

View Cycle 3 video here

Our Cycle 3 classes cater for students aged 9 to12 years of age which is typically Years 4, 5 and 6. At this age, children commonly ask: “How?” and this directs the learning activities of the Cycle 3 classroom where students are involved in increasing levels of paired, small group and whole class discussions. Students typically have a strong sense of justice at this age and are keenly involved in class meetings, leadership task groups and regularly contribute to planning activities.

The Cycle 3 curriculum is in-depth and integrated. There is a strong emphasis on expanding student competency in literacy, numeracy and advanced mathematics; as well as a love and appreciation of the arts, health and PE, English, music, and Indonesian language and culture. This integrated approach with its foundations in global values encourages a cohesive community and promotes a sense of belonging for our Cycle 3 students.

Access Cycle 4

View Cycle 4 video here

The Adolescent Program provides an enriching and challenging environment for young people in Years 7 to 10, in which students work collaboratively with each other, the staff and wider community. The middle school is situated within the grounds of Wairoa, a beautiful thirteen-hectare estate in Stirling in the Adelaide Hills.

The Adolescent Program allows students to develop a real sense of purpose for their education and solid base to meet their rapidly changing physical, spiritual and academic needs. Learning is interdisciplinary encouraging students to apply their learning through practical projects, allowing time for discussion, reflection and debate about major philosophical, social and cultural questions. Our Adolescent Program philosophy is based on universal values of self-respect, respect for others and respect for the environment, fostering a love of learning and sense of community responsibility.

Cycle News

Infant Program

In the Infant Program we have been doing lots of activities to celebrate the spring season: patty pan flowers using sequins, pop sticks and glue; beautiful butterflies using paint; and a flower frieze using paint and a stamp. We also have a flower arranging activity using colourful spring flowers. The children have been enjoying the opportunity to make their own little pots of flowers to take home.


Connecting with nature and caring for the environment is a continual focus for learning in the preschool. This spring children have helped to maintain our lovely garden by weeding, watering and planting seedlings. The Extended Program students helped to fertilise the garden beds with worm castings. Students also helped to move the worm farm closer to our wicking beds so that we can easily fertilise them when needed. Children have shown much pride, ownership and excitement when working in the garden. They have especially enjoyed harvesting some of its wonderful produce including snow peas, broad beans, mulberries, nasturtiums, lettuce and parsley. 

Preschool Gardeners

Cycle 1

As a component of our Cultural Studies, the Cycle 1 students have been linking their knowledge of Geography and Zoology to study the continents where animals originate. The Animals of the Continents is a much loved part of our program. Mila shared, “I really enjoy doing the Animals of the Continents booklets because the ‘who am I’s’ are fun and I love writing”. Jasper said, “I like trying to match the animals with the right continent”. Bentley followed, “I love learning about animals, especially penguins from Antarctica”. Ava learnt that Squirrels came from ‘the red continent’ Europe and Noah said, “Lemur’s come from Madagascar in Africa just like King Julien”.

Cycle 2

Most students have completed sewing their section of the friendship quilt and some have chosen to turn them into small pillows. They are very proud of their creations and their newly developed sewing skills!

This term we have also been learning about the body systems and healthy eating. The children particularly enjoyed learning about the digestive system. We estimated how long the small intestine is (as big as the school? An arm length? The same as the door?) and discovered it is actually seven metres long! Each group had a great time measuring out this length with streamers and then scrunching it back up to fit on their human sized diagram of the digestive system. The last two weeks have also had a large focus on healthy eating. We have familiarised ourselves with the food wheel and each child recreated their own after perusing supermarket catalogues. 

Cycle 3

This Term, as part of the Cultural Curriculum, Suzie and Lauren’s class has been putting their own take on ‘Horrible Histories’. Children in the class have been researching different, significant events and milestones in Australian history such as The Eureka Stockage, Burke and Wills’ attempt to cross Australia, the Stolen Generation and the work of Simpson and his donkey. In small groups the students have researched and recorded on the Australian history they were given. Then as a group they have written short scripts that have incorporated facts and events.  Each group has been practicing their skits, preparing props and gathering costumes ready for filming and editing next week.

Cycle 4

What a whirlwind of a week it has been in the Adolescent Program! With our Riverland aquatics camp cancelled due to COVID restrictions on the night before we were due to leave, the guides organised a last minute, alternative camp at Victor Harbor. After arriving and setting up our camp in the heat, the news came through that we would have to leave due to the lockdown. The students rallied bravely and we managed to squeeze in a surf lesson before heading back to Wairoa for a condensed trangia cook-off. Throughout the day, the adaptability, flexibility and resilience of our adolescent community was nothing short of extraordinary and the support from the parent community was deeply valued and appreciated.

Cycle 4 'camp' photos

Indonesian with Lyndal

As you enjoy this clip from Cycle 4 student Michael Evans, who was recently shortlisted in the National Indonesian Speaking Competition (NAILA), I am sure you will agree he looks relaxed, happy and highly competent. (Announcing his shortlisting to hearty and spontaneous  applause from his peers, they knew his challenges and joys in this achievement as it had been their journey too and truly any of our students could have been selected. )

In this our fifth year of participation in NAILA, our Cycles 3 and 4 students prepared speeches of 3 minutes (Y 7-9) or 2 minutes (R-6) on the theme of Health as assessment and teaching pieces, with the option to enter the competition. Michael's shortlisted entry on the sub-theme of 'the benefits and drawbacks of screen time' is a testimony to his resourceful use of independent work time and to the rigour of the competition; and also bespeaks an authentic pronunciation and easy fluency that must come from early listening experiences with native speaker teacher, Ibu  Ellis, in Cycles 1 and 2.  The $500 prize will be announced before November 27th but, in itself, this speech and the joy evident in all speeches are prizes in themselves. 

Please watch and delight in this young man's achievement here.

Gingerbread House Raffle

Something special for Christmas:

WIN a beautiful Gingerbread House full of delicious treats (on display in the office). 

Tickets are available now for only $2 or 3 tickets for $5. 

Tickets will be on sale until Tuesday 8th December with the winner being drawn on the last day of school (Wednesday 9th December). 

Many thanks to Ros Evans for making the beautiful Gingerbread House again for us this year.

St Vinnies Christmas hampers

Many people have been 'doing it tough' this year and so as a community we would like to support those in need.

If families would like to donate non perishable items for St Vinnies Christmas Hampers please bring your donations to the office to place in the provided box.  Donations will be accepted until Friday 4th December.

Vacation Care - December 2020 – January 2021

To help with your summer holiday planning you may wish to take note of the Vacation Care dates over December 2020 and January 2021. 

Vacation Care will run from:

Thurs 10th Dec 2020 – Fri 18th Dec 2020

Vacation Care will close:

Mon 21st December 2020 – Friday 8th January 2021.

Vacation Care will reopen:

Mon 11th January 2021 and run until Mon 25th Jan 2021.

(Tuesday 26th Jan is a public holiday and Term 1 starts on Wed 27th Jan)

Diary Dates

Friday 27 November

2021 Class transition 9.30am - 10.30am

Monday 30 November

Full day transition visit for Year 6 students attending Wairoa in 2021 - RESCHEDULED

Tuesday 1 December

Executive meeting 5.30pm

Wednesday 2 December

Year 6 Graduation

Friday 4 December

Exhibition of Work and Learning at Wairoa

Year 9 Graduation

Tuesday 8 December

Finance meeting 6.00pm

Board Meeting 7.30pm

Wednesday 9 December

End of Term - 2pm finish

Thursday 10 December

Vacation Care begins

Friday 18 December

Vacation Care ends

2021 School term dates

The 2021 School term dates are listed below. 

Please Note:  The 2021 school year will start on Wednesday 27th January as Monday 25th January will be a pupil free day and Tuesday 26th January is a public holiday.

Please Note: Term 3 pupil free day will now be held on Monday 26th July rather than the previously advertised Friday 13th August.

Term 1 - Wed 27th Jan - Fri 9th April

(Term 1 Pupil free day = Monday 25th Jan)

Term 2 - Tues 27th April - Fri 2nd July

(Term 2 Pupil free day = Monday 26th April)

Term 3 - Tues 27th July - Fri 24th September

(Term 3 Pupil Free Day = Monday 26th July)

Term 4 - Tues 12th October - Wed 8th December

(Term 4 Pupil free day = Monday 11th October)


 “We are the sowers - our children are those who reap.

We labour so that future generations will be better and

nobler than we are.”

Maria Montessori


Term 1:  29 January – 9 April
Term 2: 28 April – 26 June
Term 3: 20 July – 25 September
Term 4: 13 October – 9 December