Newsletter Number 14 • Wednesday 19th August 2020

From the Principal

How Student Wellbeing Can Change the World 

We have long been a supporter of Dr Tom Nehmy who has presented for our staff and parents in the past. His research and ideas around building psychological skills for mental health, wellbeing and resilience in young people very much align with our own Montessori philosophies.  

Last week Montessori Schools and Centres Australia (MSCA) held a national Montessori online conference for Montessori leaders and educators to come together.  Thirty four of our teaching, assistant and admin staff attended the webinar. It was a fantastic opportunity to unite with colleagues across Australia for a live webinar hosted by Tom entitled 'How student wellbeing can change the world', which looked at the ‘grassroots’ ingredients to solve mental health challenges of current and new generations of young people.  

Tom talked in detail about: 

  • The leading myths and misconceptions about healthy child development and what good mental health looks like  
  • The 3 Golden Keys to doing student wellbeing well 
  • How to cut through buzzwords like ‘resilience’ to understand what it really means and how to achieve it 
  • The #1 indicator of robust psychology in kids  
  • Why the ‘Great Mistake’ in modern parenting must be challenged 
  • Underlying principles of how to turn anxiety into confidence 
  • The defining characteristic of a school’s culture that predicts wellbeing outcomes 
  • How proactive schools can lead the way for powerful, intergenerational change  

Leaders and educators continued the conversation with each other following the webinar, in one-hour facilitated discussion groups throughout the week, about how to best support and foster the wellbeing of the children and young people we work with. Staff took away many nuggets of wisdom from both the webinar and the opportunity to share and learn from other Montessori educators. 

It was terrific to be able to access this high quality professional development opportunity so that staff can discuss and refine their skills and knowledge which in turn has positive benefits for student learning outcomes.

Cathy France



Infant Program

Each week the children excitedly anticipate the discovery of 'What's in the box?' The book; Where's the Green Sheep?' was hiding in the box this week. Eden is embracing the term's focus on 'ways to join materials using adhesive' using glue and cotton wool to create her own white and coloured sheep.


As part of our study of the physical sciences we have been exploring colour mixing. Mila has been particularly engaged with this activity- taking care to systematically combine different pairings of colour combinations trying to replicate all of the colours of the rainbow. 

Cycle 1 news

Over the past few weeks we have been studying the animal kingdom with a specific focus on vertebrates. Students have been learning to recognise and classify vertebrates into the correct animal classes and thus far we have explored fish, amphibians and birds. In week 3 it was time to investigate reptiles and we were visited by some critters, a children’s python named Sherbert and the dynamic duo, Norbert and Pebbles, a pair of bearded dragons. This provided a wonderful opportunity for students to engage and observe reptiles in close quarters enhancing the overall learning experience. Although Sherbert, the friendly python, was met with a little trepidation, the majority of children were captivated by the chance to touch a real reptile.

Layla – “Heidi, why does the snake feel so safe in your hands?”

Ruby – “Ahh…why is it looking at me?”

Cycle 2 news

This term our Cycle 2 class is learning about different countries in South America. Some students have also chosen to complete independent research on topics of their own choice. We discussed what facts students had found out this term and these are some of their answers:

Joe “Venezuela has a population of over 25 million people”.

Oscar W “Chihuahua’s are about 15 to 20 centimetres tall”.

Jak “South America is the fourth largest continent in the world”.

Kai “Argentina is mostly tropical”.

Sadie “The Great Barrier Reef has been around for 18 million years".

Eliana “Argentina is smaller than Australia, but has a larger population".

Dusty “Scorpions can eat other scorpions”.

Ollie B “Venezuela has diamonds and gold”.

Ty “The capital of Argentina is Buenos Aires”.

Molly “Harpy eagles eat sloths”.

Lilly “Scorpions have blue blood”.

Cycle 3 News

This term in Cycle 3 the students have been exploring the concept of formal debating.  Students elected to participate in the first round of debates.  They have formed teams and been given an affirmative or negative perspective.  They were able to research and create an argument that convinced and persuaded the class to side with their viewpoint. The topics were ‘Conservation costs too much money’, ‘Everyone should learn a musical instrument’ and ‘Tv is better than books’.  Several students were out of their comfort zone having to argue against their personal beliefs on a topic.  Group one did an exceptional job, showing in-depth research on conservation.  There were some confident and convincing speakers, who have now inspired others to have a go.

Cycle 4 news

Our weekly community and creative Thursdays at Wairoa are a buzz of activity. 

Robert and his maintenance crew have been pruning our fruit trees in preparation for spring, and the gardening team has continued work tending to our winter vegie crop.  A cooking team prepared our shared meal of the week and a number of other jobs got done - chopping wood for the fire and giving our inside spaces a deep clean. Some of the creative electives this term include Making Music, Creative Gardening, Classic Comedy, Dance and the Silent Film project.  The music and dance groups are working towards developing large and small group musical performances for possible inclusion in this year’s Cabaret. 

The silent film group istaking on a big project in producing their own film.  They are going through the whole process;  from storyboarding and pre-production, right through to filming, to the painstaking process of editing, with the aim of submitting a short film in an international competition. 

The gardeners have repurposed timber from pallets into a large "Wairoa" sign and created a scarecrow to try and stop our chicken eggs being pinched by a local crow! 

Wairoa productive garden

Music with Maree

Whole group music lessons provide many opportunities for our students to build and enhance a positive sense of connectedness with their peers through collaborative participation in dance, instrumental and choral performances.

This term, the main musical focus for each cycle has been ‘beat’ and ‘rhythm’ while cycle 3 students have also been introduced/reintroduced to drumming and the ukulele.

Piano lessons with Lisa

Last Tuesday, Joe dressed in character, during his private piano lesson with Lisa, as he practiced his piano piece ‘Raiders March’ from the Paramount Motion Picture ‘RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK’.

Positive parenting strategies workshop

Combined Parent and Staff session- Madhavi Nawana Parker

RSVP via Skoolbag to receive the Zoom link

Date: 20/08/2020  Time: 04:30pm-06:00pm  Venue: Zoom

Come and join us for a Zoom afternoon with Madhavi Nawana Parker, who will be sharing with us her thoughts around Positive Parenting Strategies and helping us build a ‘Toolbox’ to support the wellbeing of our young people. 

The session will explore simple and practical strategies to build resilience and wellbeing in young people.  Topics may include problem solving, healthy thinking, keeping things in perspective, keeping calm, gratitude, goal setting and more.

The session will run via Zoom on Thursday 20 August from 4.30 to 6pm. Please indicate via the eForm on Skoolbag if you would like to attend this session. Once registered via the eForm we will email you the Zoom link the day before the session.


About the presenter:

Madhavi is a highly experienced South Australian Psychologist with 20 years of experience working with young people, families and schools.  Madhavi now runs the private practice Positive Minds Australia where there is a focus on supporting children and teenagers with attention disorders, learning difficulties, anxiety and emotional challenges.

Madhavi specialises in resilience and social – emotional literacy and supporting emotional regulation, and positive discipline guidance for parents and educators. She notices strength and capabilities in all young people and has a strong track record for getting young people ‘back on track’ with their self-confidence, feelings and connections with family. 

Board Communique

At the August Board meeting an education session was run by Paul Noon on Safe Guarding Student data. Cathy updated us on the school registration documentation progress and the State & Commonwealth Census completion at the beginning of the month. The Fundraising, Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) Funds, Induction and Recruitment policies were all ratified.

Jade Crathern

Board President

Reconciliation Action Plan

After a break due to coronavirus restrictions, The Hills Montessori School RAP working group reconvened last Friday.  It was a privilege to have Uncle Ivan, Peramangk elder, join us for the meeting. He gave so much insight, sharing stories about the history of the region where our school is located. We talked reconciliation and he shared meaning behind symbolism with circles and many other anecdotes. Such a bonus for our school to have such a respected person give a contribution to our RAP. The vision statement is complete and we are now in the final stages of reviewing our actions. 

2021 Class Allocation

This term we are beginning to look at class structures for next year.  This is a very time consuming and complex process where a number of factors need to be taken into consideration.  We endeavour to balance individual student needs with those of the whole school.  Where possible we try to achieve gender balance within classes, maintain friendship and peer groups, balance academic working groups and special needs of individuals and have a balance of different age groupings.

We also need to consider which students will be in the school in 2021.  Whilst official notification of withdrawal is not required until day one of term four, early notification certainly assists with the task of class allocation.  If for some reason you are planning on not returning next year, it would be appreciated if you could indicate this to the office staff.  Likewise, if you know of any likely enrolments would you please let us know. 

If you have any information regarding your child that you wish to be considered during the class placement process, please forward this information via email to Cathy before FRIDAY 28th August.


Lets Celebrate Science Week!

We love science and what better way to celebrate than with National Science Week 2020! Science week runs from 15 – 23 August and the theme this year is Deep Blue: innovations for the future of our oceans.  

With this in mind, the theme embraces the innovative technologies, capabilities and skills needed to achieve economic, environmental and social sustainability of our oceans. It features insights and inquiries into workable solutions that generate healthy oceans, healthy economies and healthy communities. 

Each class will be celebrating Science with different activities across the week. Ruth’s Cycle 1 class got started early this year with a STEM challenge around arthropods. Arthropods make up around 75% of all animals on Earth and are important members of marine, freshwater, land and air ecosystems. We’re going to hand over to them so they can tell us everything they’ve learnt about arthropods. Happy Science Week! 

View Ruth's Cycle 1 class video here.

Walk a Mile

On Friday 7 August, Nikki, Olivia and Molly Green "Walked a Mile" with 9 adults, 17 kids and 2 very energetic pooches to raise funds for the 6,000 people experiencing homelessness in South Australia. The group walked from the Bridgewater Oval to school. Congratulations! Over $2,000 was raised.  Thank you to everyone who donated and supported this initiative.  All funds go to the Hutt St Centre who has been supporting people for more than 65 years by providing a hearty meal, a hot shower, all in a safe, welcoming space.

New Fundraising Idea - Electives for Adults!

Do you have a passion or an interest you would like to share with our school community?

The Fundraising committee is gauging expressions of interest from parents/guardians/grandparents for holding a workshop about their specific interest.

Tickets will be sold to your elective workshop and money raised will go to the school fundraising efforts.

Maybe you could share information about winemaking, baking, cooking, creating, making, building, gardening, welding or sewing.... the possibilities are endless!

Please look out for the Skoolbag eForm being sent out soon to indicate your interest in this program.  We look forward to hearing from you!

Congratulations! Nikki & Lisa

Staff members Nikki Green and Lisa Goodwin enjoyed running their first Federation Ultra events on the weekend. 

The lucky two got to run through Monarto Zoo, past giraffes and rhinos and along the Lavender Federation Trail all the way to the Murray River’s bunyip. 

Lisa completed the 25km event and Nikki completed the 50km event and can now officially call herself an Ultra runner!  Well Done!  What an amazing effort!

Quiz Night Silent Auction

Do you have any items that might be suitable for our Silent Auction for the Quiz Night being held on Saturday 12th September?  We would love to hear from any school parents who are able to donate anything to help make our first ever online Quiz Night a success.  This is our biggest fundraiser for the year so we would appreciate any donations.  Please let us know in the office if you are able to donate.

Quiz Night Online!

Monti Chef #2

Geocaching Challenge

Congratulations! New baby!

Congratulations to Vanessa and Mark Baryczka on the birth of Archie.  A brother for Charlie, Ollie and Ruby.

Diary Dates

Thursday August 20

SPTG meeting 9.30am

Online parent/staff Zoom presentation –

‘Positive Parenting’ presented by Madhavi Nawana Parker 4.30pm – 6.00pm

Thursday 27 August

Policy meeting 4.00pm

Monday 31 August

Maria Montessori's 150th Birthday

Tuesday 1 September

Marketing meeting 4.00pm

Thursday 3 September

WHS meeting 4.00pm

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.

Term 3 pupil free day will be held on Friday 13th August rather than the start of the term.

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 - Mon 26th July - Fri 24th September

(Term 3 Pupil Free Day = Friday 13th August)

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

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


“Everyone has a special tendency, a special vocation,

modest, perhaps, but certainly useful.”

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