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Casa II News

Dear Casa 2 Parents, 

The 2015-2016 school year has started and I cannot begin to tell you how good it feels to have our halls and classrooms filled with the laughter and conversations of the children again!! Having some time off during the summer certainly has a few benefits for both the staff and the children, as it is a time to rejuvenate and plan for another successful year!  Despite the break, returning in the fall is the best time of year for us!  I’d like to say, from the deepest place in my heart, THANK YOU to every family who has stuck with us and supported us during the transitions at JMS over the previous few months.  We are excited as ever to begin the year with a full staff and several new children in our classrooms!

Casa 2 Staff
I, Taryn Bender, have returned for my fifth year of teaching the children of JMS.  I am currently serving my fourth term on the JMS Board of Directors, and am serving my second year on the Facilities Management Committee.  There truly has never been a dull moment at JMS and I couldn’t imagine a better school and community to invest myself in as I continue working with your children every day.  
My journey to JMS began many years ago when I chose to begin my post-secondary education to become a teacher.  I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 2009 from Minnesota State University, Mankato.  After that, I took some time off to volunteer to teach children of soldiers in the US Army.  I was given the opportunity to spend a few months overseas in Germany and Italy.  After that, I returned home and was accepted into the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota, of which I graduated in 2011 with a Primary diploma (age 3-6+) from Association Montessori Internationale (AMI).  In 2011, I also earned my Master’s in Teaching from Loyola University, Baltimore.  
My passion lies within the walls of Casa 2 and helping children reach their highest potential in social skills, emotional independence and academic success.  In my personal time, I enjoy traveling, camping, cooking, finding new things to create or build, and spending quality time with my niece and nephew.  I’ve returned to my hometown of Henderson, MN and love being close to family and friends.  
Mindi Dahl is the Casa 2 Assistant Guide and has been a blessing to myself, to JMS and to your children.  She comes to us for her first year in a Montessori School, but with lots of experience in other educational capacities.  Mindi received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire and her Master’s and specialist degrees from Minnesota State, Mankato.  She taught elementary and middle school for ten years, and decided to stay home to raise her children once her daughter was born.  Mindi is very excited to enter the next phase of her life at Jonathan Montessori, and she looks forward to working with all of the children and families here!
Mindi lives in Chanhassen with her husband, two children and three dogs.  In her free time, she enjoys camping at the lake, gardening and vacationing with her family.  Please take a moment to stop in and visit with Mindi and introduce yourself if you haven’t met her yet!
Claudia Suenaga will also join Casa II on the playground, as well as join the children for lunch to cover our lunch breaks.  Claudia graduated last year from the Montessori Center and has earned her AMI Primary diploma. 

Big Brother, Big Sister
I am so excited to announce that this year, there are six graduates in Casa 2… with a current total of 19 children!  With so many leaders who have been students at JMS for 2+ years, as well as many new children who could use a role model, we’ve decided to start a Big Brother, Big Sister (BBBS) opportunity.  I have paired up children who I think would make a positive impact on one another, both for the experienced child and for the new or younger child.  The children have spent the week helping one another in various ways, such as setting up for lunch, putting on shoes, reading a book, or simply inviting each other for snack in an attempt to get to know one another.  Our hearts are filled with joy as we observe the interactions among children who show kindness, understanding, compassion and love to one another.  Each month we will partner children with someone else so they have opportunities to build many relationships throughout the year.  Of course, the children interact with everyone in the classroom, as we are one whole community.  However, the BBBS partnership gives the younger children (whom are not yet fully acquainted with everyone), to feel comfortable with someone right away when they have questions or are looking for someone to work with.  Please ask your child about their Big Brother or Big Sister (or their Little Brother, Little Sister), and ask about the things they do together at school.  We will post pictures occasionally of these powerful interactions.

Online Photos
Several parents have added us on Facebook, and I encourage you to do the same!  Please “like” Jonathan Montessori School on Facebook for updates, photos of children, and parent education articles.  In addition, I have created a page that more specifically targets Casa 2 families. This is not required, nor is it secured to only Casa 2 families… we do have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and family friends who have added us as well.  We will always add the most important information to our monthly newsletters, so if you do not have Facebook, no worries.  However, we do sometimes give reminders on our page of important dates coming up, so families have found it helpful.  Also, many of our families have requested that I begin posting photos of Casa 2 children as they interact, learn, play and teach one another throughout their days at JMS.  Most of our families have signed release forms for their child’s photo to be posted on our website and on our JMS page.  However, I have put a form in each child’s folder pertaining specifically to our Casa II page.  This form more specifically explains what will be posted and gives you the opportunity to give permission or deny permission for your child’s photos to be posted.
Please discuss this at home and return the form at your earliest convenience!  If interested, please add us on Facebook: Taryn Casa II.

Within the next two weeks, I will be contacting each family to discuss the first few weeks of school and your child’s adjustment to the new school year.  We will also have face-to-face conferences at the end of October or November (you will get to sign up for one).  However, please to not hesitate to contact me should there ever be anything you would like to discuss.  I have a folder hanging in the Casa 2 files by Katya’s desk, and you are always welcome to leave me a note and I will contact you as soon as I am able.  You can also email me at  If anything requires a prompt response, please contact the school directly and leave a message with Katya.  The lines of communication are always open!!  

On the Calendar
Tuesday, September 15th    Annual Meeting @ Chanhassen Library (all parents strongly encouraged to attend)
Friday, October 9th        Picture Day
October 15th & 16th         No School: MEA

I am looking forward to a fabulous school year ahead!  We’ve got plenty of new faces but they already feel like family.   Welcome new parents, children and staff!  Have a wonderful weekend!

Taryn & Mindi