Strata Montessori Update: Week of Nov. 17, 2014

Strata WkNov17 2014 cardigan

Chris’s great cardigan has a great story.

We’re kicking off this week’s Strata update with a great little get-to-know-me story about Strata: Montessori Adolescent School guide Chris Marks, and his awesome cardigan.

“Ten year’s ago I was touring with Sarah Harmer through the States. We pulled up in front of a friend of her’s house to stay overnight in this dumpy little suburb. We were playing frisbee on the front lawn and attracted the attention of this guy who was walking by with a big dog. We started talking to him and playing with his dog and it ended up being Dave Matthews’s manager who lived on the other side of town in the great big houses.”

“We had a great time hanging out with him and ended up spending the night at his house, because his wife and kids were away, in this giant Dave-Matthews-empire-funded house. The next day he took me down to this market and I found this amazing sweater from 1945. So it’s my reminder of my brush with Dave Matthews’s manager.”

What was Chris doing touring with Sarah Harmer?

“I was the tour manager and front of house sound guy,” said Chris. “We met at the benefit show Sarah did for DVMS a number of years ago. I didn’t know her before then and I worked for her for a couple of years after that just for fun.”

Strata WkNov17 2014 snack

Working with Chris on keeping track of all your snack payments.

A number of you have received invoices from Strata Montessori students recently for their snack program. Chris took a little time to explain the purpose of the program (and why it is a little disorganized sometimes).

“We deal with all of the snack payments, so any issues that come up do filter their way down to us,” said Chris. “If you want to avoid the middle man, come right to Lex or Theo in the Strata program. They’re taking the lead this year. You can call us at 289-494-1107, you can send an email to, or you’re welcome to come down and talk to them at the end of the day. If you have any bigger concerns, you can talk to Sarah or I.

“The kids are learning about economy, about transactions, about social interactions — commerce. That’s what the snack program is, for the kids to learn in a really safe, loving, and accommodating environment how to run small businesses. They make mistakes. They write letters and they struggle with business letters and work through the process. They struggle with the books and work through the process, with banks and deposits and keeping track of this mass of information and data that’s coming in on their own, with a little bit of supervision, when needed, from Sarah or I.”

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“We’re gearing up for the big release of the third Hobbit movie,” said Chris about their literature work lately. “We’ve started to read the Hobbit and we’re watching the first two instalments of the movie and doing some comparing and contrasting and discussion. The kids have been doing some character analysis. In Strata, academics is not strictly words on paper; there are other ways of illustrating and showing knowledge. The student above is doing a character study through drawing. She’s taking information from the book and she’s illustrating her version of Gandalf from the book. She’s also got her contrasting Gandalf from the movie that she’s drawn as well.”

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The rotten weather this week also necessitated the winterizing of the Strata bee hives

“This is the way occupations work,” explained Chris. “We tackle science and biology and subjects like that. We do it in theory but we also do it in practice. The kids keep a couple of bee hives and there’s nothing like a natural deadline to help them finish projects. As you can see, we got the bee hives winterized as the snow was falling. It was a need. It was a need in the community that just had to happen. There was no way this work was not going to happen.The budgeting, the research, it had to happen. We started this back in October and got away from it for a little while, but it was the falling of the snow that really lit the fire to get it done. This was work that may, in another world, have fallen away and been forgotten about, but that’s not possible here.”

Please Note: The next set of Strata Montessori Parent-Student-Teacher Conferences are on Tuesday, December 9, from 4:00-8:00 pm. Please click here to book your 20 minute timeslot.

To stay updated on everything going on at Strata: Montessori Adolescent School, be sure to follow their website at You can sign up to receive regular emails each time they post an update, often daily.

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