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Faculty Spotlight: Melanie Bocarro

Melanie Bocarro is the Agility Lab Reading Specialist who delivers support services to students and supplies strategies to classroom teachers and is an important resource to MSR. She just entered her second year at MSR as both a parent and a faculty member. She is pictured here with her husband, Jason and children, Mia and Liam. We sat down with Melanie to find out how she spent her summer and a little bit more about her!

Tell us about your summer!
Summers are a time for me to spend quality time with my family – my husband, Jason and our two children Mia (8) and Liam (5). We spent a week in Florida with my big family (I’m the oldest of six children!), and a week in Kiawah Island relaxing with my in-laws. In between these two trips, our days were filled with swim team, library visits, and visiting friends whom we rarely see during the school year.

Tell us a bit more about yourself!
1. What three traits define you?
Dedicated, Positive, Loving

2. What is your personal philosophy?
I try to live my life by the Golden Rule, “Treat others the way that you would like to be treated.” I believe in treating everyone with kindness, respect, and empathy.

3. What are you listening to/reading these days?
I love reading, and I usually have some type of novel at hand at all times. I tend to become enthralled with a particular genre and then read voraciously for a while before switching. I am reading a lot of historical fiction lately such as The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See.

4. Do you have any pets? What kind?
No pets yet! I do see a dog in our future though! 🙂

5. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
Our weekends are usually very busy with activities for our kids, but we try to make time, usually on Sundays to hike as a family. We have so many “hidden gem” hikes around the Triangle that my family loves. It is a wonderful way to experience peace and mindfulness during our otherwise busy weeks.

6. Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
Definitely Africa. My husband and I traveled to Tanzania, Zanzibar, and Kenya on our honeymoon. Both were amazing countries filled with culture and wonderful people. I loved the diversity of landscapes as well as seeing the African animals so close. We also climbed Kilimanjaro, which is what I call a “once in a lifetime” experience. It was incredible to be above the clouds!

7. What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
I would definitely tell myself that it was ok to fail and to use that as a springboard to rise to new challenges.

8. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I am actually quite adventurous and love traveling. My husband and I met sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands, and we’ve traveled all over Europe together as well. I hope to instill the love of traveling and exploring with my family. I also used to race half ironman triathlons and really enjoyed the training and the physical and mental challenge.

9. Who is/are your biggest inspiration/s?
My grandmother is someone who I aspire to become. She grew up in the deep South, and she lived through many wars and hardships, including the Great Depression. I will never forget how she always treated everyone with the utmost respect and kindness. She truly loved everyone, seeing the goodness in each person she met

10. Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I received my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from Louisiana State University. After five years of teaching, I decided to go back to school to pursue my master’s degree. I graduated from N.C. State with an M.Ed in Reading Education in 2009.

11. Ten years ago, where did you think you would be now?
Because I grew up moving so often, and my husband has also lived in many places, I thought we would have moved from Raleigh to another part of the U.S. or even abroad. However, we have grown to love Raleigh, as it has been a wonderful place to raise our children.

12. What’s the coolest (or most important) trend you see today?
I am thrilled that the research on Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck has finally reached the mainstream media. I first read her book in graduate school, and then had extensive professional development over the past few years about implementing growth mindset language in the classroom. I have seen how powerful the language we use with our children can change their outlook when faced with challenges both in and out of the classroom.

13. What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t a teacher?
If I wasn’t a teacher, I would love to pursue a career in medicine. I am genuinely interested in the latest medical research and am fascinated by modern day medical advances that have transformed people’s lives for the better.

14. What is your favorite thing about working at MSR?
Working in the Agility Lab, I am able to work collaboratively with many gifted and passionate teachers—from Children’s House to Upper Elementary. Over the past year, I have witnessed incredible independence, grace and courtesy and so many instances of differentiating for the individual child. I absolutely love my team in the Agility Lab as well. They already feel like family!

15. What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to your students?
That mistakes are wonderful learning opportunities that help our brains grow! As Albert Einstein once said, “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

Faculty Spotlight: Nancy Melamed

Nancy Melamed is the Middle/Upper School Math Directress and just entered her 3rd year at MSR. We sat down with Nancy to find out how she spent her summer and a little bit more about her!

Tell us about your summer!
I had a wonderful summer! My husband, my two kids and I visited Iceland. What a beautiful and interesting country! I found the Icelandic language very challenging, and I would not recommend the fermented shark meat, but the geothermal swimming pools and the glacier hiking were great.

Tell us a bit more about yourself!
1. What three traits define you?
Three traits that define me include optimistic, open minded, appreciative.

2. What is your personal philosophy?
I would say that my personal philosophy could be summed up by saying, “life is a team sport”. The older I get, the more I see how much we still need each other for companionship, moral support, and help reaching our goals.

3. What are you listening to/reading these days?
I love to read novels during the summer and I just completed Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver. It focuses on the lives of three women living different types of lives in the Appalachian Mountains. Kingsolver weaves in lots of natural science into her novels, so you get a great story and an education in mountain ecology.

4. Do you have any pets? What kind?
We currently have one pet, a very spoiled cockatiel named Stormy. I’ve been teaching him how to whistle the theme song from The Andy Griffith Show. He’s getting close!

5. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
My favorite thing to do on the weekend is to go up to Lake Gaston and go out on my paddle board or grill and watch the sunset over the lake.

6. Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
The most memorable travel experience would have to be when I was in Elementary School. I lived in Rome for a year. My father went to art school there while my brothers and sisters and I went to the public school. I didn’t know a word of Italian, but managed to learn enough to get by. I think we often underestimate how strong, resourceful and resilient children can be!

7. What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
If I could go back in time, I would tell my 13 year old self that it’s OK if you are not good at everything. Everyone has a different set of strengths and challenges and that’s a good thing.

8. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
People who don’t know me might be surprised that I worked as a costume designer for many years. I worked with kids as young as 5 and adults as old as 70 as part of a Community Theater group. I loved the drama and the high pressure when, no matter what happens (even when the director had a heart attack), the show must go on!

9. Who is/are your biggest inspiration/s?
My biggest inspiration are my parents. My Mom was the kindest person I’ve ever known. My Dad was a High School and Middle School teacher for 35 years. He introduced me to the joy of working with young people.

10. Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I’m one of those “professional students” who always wants to learn more, so I’ve attended 3 colleges: Binghamton University, Duke, and UNC-Chapel Hill. I received a BS in Chemistry, and completed the coursework for a PhD in Chemistry and a PhD in Experimental Pathology.

11. Ten years ago, where did you think you would be now?
Ten years ago I knew this was what I wanted to do. I loved my experience as a teaching assistant at Duke and Carolina and I gladly subbed at MSR for 8 years before becoming a full time teacher. There is nothing else I’d rather be doing.

12. What’s the coolest (or most important) trend you see today?
I’m pleased to see that more of our educational institutions are realizing that learning comes in many styles. Learning differences are more recognized, supported and accommodated than when I was in school. Of course, Montessori educators have always recognized that.

13. What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t a teacher?
If I were not teaching, I might be back in medical research. In my younger days, I worked as a research and development scientist for a biotechnology company.

14. What is your favorite thing about working at MSR?
One of my favorite things about working at MSR right now is being part of the exciting process of building a High School. I’m excited for us, the faculty, but especially for the pioneering students who will blaze this path with us.

15. What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to your students?
My advice for students, especially for my 7th years, would be to ask questions any time you feel uncertain about something in class. We have so many different ways to present concepts to students. If one explanation doesn’t resonate with you, keep asking.

Faculty Spotlight: Nick Smith

Nick Smith is the Middle/Upper School Math Director and is entering his 12th year at MSR. He is pictured here with his wife, Renee. Nick is affectionately referred to as “Senior” by students at the Middle and Upper School. When Nick started working at MSR , there was a student at the Middle School also known as Nick Smith. To differentiate the two, students created the nickname “Senior”! We sat down with Nick to find out how he spent his summer and a little bit more about him!

Tell us about your summer!
Summers are a time for me to work on all of my house projects. I always have a long list of projects to complete and I’m usually happy if I get about 30% of them done. I built a really cool shelf for my kitchen this summer and did a bunch of painting. My wife is pregnant with our first child so there was also lots of getting ready for a new baby!!! I never realized how much stuff there is for babies!! For the first time in my life one of the bedrooms in my house is a nursery. Crazy and super exciting all at the same time.

Tell us a bit more about yourself!
1. What three traits define you?
Responsible, Hard Working, Goofy

2. What is your personal philosophy?
I believe that it is important to figure things out and to not give up. I like a challenge andI like to problem solve. I think it is great that our society is focused on the idea of grit right now because I believe that this is one of the keys to being successful in life.

3. What are you listening to/reading these days?
I’m all about some Podcasts right now. I think the best Podcast ever is Freakonomics Radio. Also on my list: Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Stuff You Should Know, TED Radio Hour, and Tell Me Something I Don’t Know. I’m a life long learner for sure!

4. Do you have any pets? What kind?
I have a dog named Bruce. He is a Terrier Mix that I rescued from a shelter about 10 years ago. He’s absolutely bonkers and definitely my best friend.

5. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
I go into every weekend thinking that I’ll hang out on the couch, watch movies and spend about 48 hours relaxing. After about 10 minutes of this I get bored and decide my plan for weekend long relaxation is a bad one. Saturday is a day for my wife and I to spend some
quality time together. I love cooking so I’ll usually plan a ton of elaborate meals for the week and spend all day Sunday shopping and cooking.

6. Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
I’ve had the good fortune of being asked to take our MSR Upper School students to Europe on seven different occasions. Because of this I’ve gotten to see a large majority of the big cities in Western Europe. I really only travel to eat and so my favorite cities are Florence (Best Pizza Ever!) and Paris (Best Desserts…I think I once passed out from the sheer joy of eating a chocolate mousse thingy).

7. What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
Oh man…I did not like being 13. I think I would tell myself that it’s okay to be yourself. That sometimes kids are mean because they want to be cool or because they might not feel so good about themselves. I would tell myself to tell my parents to send me to MSR!!! I wish the Middle School was as exciting for me when I was 13! The community feel and the safe environment are one of the reasons I love working here.

8. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I am the oldest of six boys. My baby is going to be a boy. I think only boy genes run in my family. I think I’ll be ready!

9. Who is/are your biggest inspiration/s?
As far as teaching goes my biggest inspiration is a guy named Dan Meyer. I saw a TED talk with him several years back which completely transformed my teaching. He has since gone on to become somewhat of a rock star in the math teaching community. I saw him speak at a conference recently and people were literally lined up for autographs. I was shocked. Since when are math teachers celebrities? How cool!

10. Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to NC State for my undergrad. Originally I wanted to be a doctor, but I realized that I don’t like blood or broken bones or really anything like that so I changed my mind and studied psychology and sociology. Very interested in how people work. Received a Masters in Education from Xavier University a few years later.

11. Ten years ago, where did you think you would be now?
Ten years ago I was at MSR and here I am today. I think back then I hoped that I would still be here because I loved it so much. I also thought I would have more hair…but that’s a different conversation.

12. What’s the coolest (or most important) trend you see today?
I love that secondary math education is finally moving away from a teacher in front of the room lecturing for an hour. I love that we are moving away from doing math solely from textbooks and the focus is now on problem solving, modeling, and reasoning. I love that technology is being used in such cool ways in math classrooms around the country.

13. What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t a teacher?
Possibly an architect. But I also get super absorbed into shows about people living in remote areas (like Alaska) who make a living by hunting and fishing and living off of the land. So maybe one of those guys.

14. What is your favorite thing about working at MSR?
I love that Montessori in general is about the whole child. I think traditional education often misses this piece. Academics are important, but more important is the growth of the whole person.

15. What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to your students?
It’s okay to make mistakes! It’s hard to reach your goals in life if you are not willing to take risks and possibly fail in the process.

Faculty Spotlight: Crystal Lange

Meet Crystal Lange!! Crystal is a new faculty member this year at MSR. As a Permanent Substitute, she will be providing coverage for teachers and supporting students in classrooms. She is pictured here with her husband, Benjamin, and children, Carsten, Zoe, Soren and Gabrie. We are so excited to welcome Soren (UE I) and Gabrie (CH IV Ext. Day) to MSR as well! Be sure to say HI to Crystal when you see her around campus!

Tell us about your summer!
This summer was low key, we did a few day trips in the area and really spent a lot of time rebuilding our family structure and identifying ways our family can function better as a cohesive unit.

Tell us a bit more about yourself!
1. What three traits define you?
Loyal
Trustworthy
Giving

2. What is your personal philosophy?
I believe that everyone has a unique purpose and that purpose is to bring some measure of positive change in our culture and/or in the life of someone else.

3. What are you listening to/reading these days?
Reading The Esther Anointing by Michelle McClain Walters and Safe House by Joshua Straub.

4. Do you have any pets? What kind?
Yes, Ethan, our bearded dragon!

5. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
Relax, try a new restaurant or recipe and just sit on my deck and take in the beauty of creation.

6. Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
Italy. My dear friend of 18 years and I had not seen each other in several years and just needed a girls getaway!! Italy is full of beauty and history.

7. What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
Value your family and your friends by spending quality time with them and don’t hold grudges against people!

8. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I am an only child and I really did not enjoy it growing up. When I was 12, I was determined that when I grew up and got married, I was going to have a big family.

9. Who is/are your biggest inspiration/s?
I’m inspired by people that live with integrity, and make a positive impact in the lives of others.

10. Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I earned a B.S. in psychology from James Madison University and a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Phoenix.

11. Ten years ago, where did you think you would be now?
In a school somewhere in the world, surrounded by children.

12. What’s the coolest (or most important) trend you see today?
Pay it forward. When people are intentionally doing good for others not just to get something but solely motivated by love and care.

13. What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t a teacher?
I would serve in and build orphanages.

14. What is your favorite thing about working at MSR?
The peaceful work environment and the way the staff is encouraged to pursue further learning and experiences.

15. What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to your students?
Never allow negative words from others shape who you are. Know that you are valuable and significant.

Golf Tournament – Payment

 

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Faculty Spotlight: Justin Tosco

Justin Tosco is a Director in Upper Elementary III with Liz Macaulay. He is entering his sixth year at MSR. He is pictured above with his wife, Peggy, and sons, Jet, Tipton and Ezra. Justin brings many talents and a lot of enthusiasm to his classroom and is well liked by his peers. We sat down and talked to Justin to find out what he’s been up to and just a little more about him. Enjoy!

Tell us about your summer!
This summer, I had the honor of being invited to the International Montessori Congress in Prague, Czech Republic to present my masters research on technology in the Montessori classroom. It was a four day conference that included 2,000 Montessorians from 75 countries.

I felt incredibly grateful to be there to represent MSR and constantly thought of all the Montessorians that have been so influential throughout my journey including my grandmother, my mom, the Montessori teachers I had growing up, and my teaching partner – Liz Macaulay. I was able to meet so many amazing Montessorians and came away feeling refreshed, inspired, and excited to bring new ideas back to the classroom.

Tell us a bit more about yourself!
1. What three traits define you?
Inquisitive
Purposeful
Hard Working

2. What is your personal philosophy?
“Everyone can be great because everyone can serve.” -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

3. What are you listening to/reading these days?
Listening to Kendrick Lamar, Phoenix, and Haim. Reading “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson.

4. Do you have any pets? What kind?
No pets!

5. What is your favorite thing to do on the weekend?
Hike with my family. Play basketball and soccer.

6. Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
New Zealand. It’s an amazing country for outdoor adventure.

7. What would you most like to tell yourself at age 13?
It’s important to be able to laugh at yourself.

8. Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
I was a touring musician for five years after graduating high school.

9. Who is/are your biggest inspiration/s?
My Mom and Dad.

10. Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to UNC and majored in media studies and video production.

11. Ten years ago, where did you think you would be now?
Working as a documentary filmmaker.

12. What’s the coolest (or most important) trend you see today?
A trend towards schools including an anti-bias focus in their curriculum.

13. What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t a teacher?
Investigative journalist.

14. What is your favorite thing about working at MSR?
It’s an amazingly supportive community. There’s no better place to be when you need help.

15. What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to your students?
Being exactly and uniquely you is a great way to start making the world a better place.

Real-Life Learning Works: The Thread of Learning

This video is shows the threads of learning that weave throughout our entire curriculum. This is another installment in The Montessori School of Raleigh’s video series highlighting MSR’s complete course of study that integrates real-life learning into every subject area and every subject area into real-life learning.

See below for more videos from the Real-Life Learning Works series.

MSR Upper School Campus

Coming Soon to Brier Creek Campus: MSR Upper School

MSR’s future Upper School will be located on our Brier Creek campus amidst 40 acres of forest, streams, and wildlife in southern Durham County. This campus will provide students the care, support, and freedom to be themselves. It means more space, more masterful teachers, more experiential learning, and more opportunities to collaborate across grade levels.

Green learning “collaboratories” and environmentally unobtrusive learning stations throughout our 40 acres will allow students to benefit from both indoor classroom and outdoor learning opportunities through environmental awareness, scientific field studies, community service, and other forms of outdoor education.

The Upper School will emphasize the deep integration of academic subject matter, student-directed and student-paced learning, practical life skills, social and emotional intelligence, and other real-life learning by providing:

  • A college counseling program that intentionally prepares students for application and admission to a range of best-fit colleges and universities.
  • Extraordinary opportunities for collaborations and real-world internships.
  • Hands-on experience and exposure to a diverse range of art and music forms and materials.
  • A robust, competitive athletics program, with plans to add new teams to our lineup, including boys’ and girls’ lacrosse and tennis and girls’ field hockey.

Visit the Academics section of our website to learn more about our full range of programs or schedule a visit today!