Peek At Our Week in Lower School

It’s hard to believe it’s just over a week since we started the 2019-2020 School Year! Our teachers and students have been hard at work building community, utilizing Responsive Classroom frameworks, learning about each other and the stories that shape us as we enter this year, launching their first investigations, and so much more!

Heard Around the Lower School:

  • “WAIT…. Does my parent know that I am learning this?....But, do they know I’m doing this at school?... Can I tell my parent that I learned this! They will be so proud of me!” - Kindergarten student during Mandarin, in complete awe and filled with excitement.

  • “Nooooooo! Let's stay a little longer! We were thinking so hard!” - Engaged mathematicians who learned it was time to clean up and go to their next class.

  • “This story made me think of my sister when she was nice to me and it made me feel really good. My drawing represents that moment.” - First graders in Writer’s Workshop connecting to a mentor text.

  • “Come look! Come look! I love this!” - K-5 students :)

  • … and so many expressions of joy!


Peek at our Week:

  • Fifth grade students did a Gallery Walk to brainstorm about leadership and build their community as Leaders of the Lower School.

  • Science students practiced inquiry-based questions, listening skills, and making hypothesis to determine what was hidden in Mystery Boxes.

  • Mathematicians began thinking about our Math Mindsets (from Jo Boaler) and discovering “Math is Life.” We learned that math is a language we use to describe our world. We learned about the math in our classrooms, the math in ourselves, and the math that connects us.

  • Lower School students used Responsive Classroom frameworks to set goals and develop class norms: From Art to Engineering to Readers/Writers Workshop, students thought about what a positive classroom environment looks like, sounds like, feels like, and needs in order to meet our goals.

  • Readers and Writers began routines, check-ins and conferring conversations, and strategies that build voracious reading/writing habits.

  • … and so much more!

7 Healthy Habits to A Successful School Year

7 Healthy Habits to A Successful School Year

By Amy Pearson,, Director of Admissions and Marketing

School is back in session! Whether your child is headed to kindergarten for the first time or you’re a few years into elementary school, here are some tips to ensure an even smoother transition from summer sun, to school day fun. 

1. Say Goodbye the Same Way 
Form a routine around the ritual of drop off – whether it’s at the bus stop, in the car line, or after walking your child into school, one of the best things that you can do for you little one is to stay consistent with the transition from home to homeroom. 

2. Scaffold the Day
Many children benefit from knowing what to expect before it’s going to happen. I typically share with my four year old about what to expect a day in advance. Talk through logistics as well as feelings, both positive and negative. This helps kids feel like they’re part of the process and more in control, while also adding some structure and support.


3. Don’t Forget the Protein
We all know kids have a better day when they’ve had enough sleep. Helping them make good food choices (especially as they get older) and keeping protein levels up improves their stamina, mood, and attention span. Pack a lunch together, and while you’re at it, sprinkle in some info about which foods will be best for their midday refuel.

4. Surprise Them
Look for ways to engage in the unexpected, and reward good behavior. It might be breakfast for dinner or, their favorite dessert before dinner. Why not an impromptu dance party right before bath time? When you’re consistent with daily routines, there’s nothing better than showing your kids how to throw caution to the wind, and break out of the norm.

5. Stop Comparing
By the time I had my third child, I realized I had spent way too much time worrying about what other parents thought about my kid, my parenting, and my choices. Don’t waste your time on that. You know your kid best. Do what’s important to you, and save your energy for more important things.

6. Get Involved
Elementary school age kids love it when you learn more about their life and school day. Some parents have the flexibility and interest to volunteer during the school day, while others prefer to help by contributing to projects that can be tended to during the evening or on weekends. No matter what your level of involvement, it’s a win-win for you and their school.


7. Connect with A Peer
Sharing your peaks and valleys with another parent brings perspective and often a much needed laugh about the ebb and flow of parenting. I’ve made plenty of mistakes as a parent and sharing those stories with a trusted friend can dispel worries, create lasting bonds, and offer a welcome reminder that you’re not alone. 

After 15 years of parenting, it’s still a work in progress. 

Welcome Back to School!

We are so excited to be starting the new school year! Our faculty has been hard at work preparing for students’ arrival, and the campus is once again alive with shouts of joy on the playground. We can’t believe how much our students have grown over the summer, and they are diving into their classes with gusto. During the first all-school welcome gathering on Wednesday, Lilianna introduced the new Mt. Tam school song, which she and her husband wrote. Then the school sang it together while the 8th graders escorted in the new kindergarten class. Next, Andrew spoke about our guiding principle for this year: “MTS: A Community That Cares.” You can read his full welcome speech on the TGIAM blog post here. 2019-2020 is going to be a great year!

Congratulations to the Class of 2019!

We our proud to announce our 8th grade graduates will matriculate to the following high schools:

The Bay School
The Branson School
Brentwood College School
College Preparatory
Marin Academy
Marin Catholic
Midland School
New Hampton School
Phillips Academy Andover
St. Ignatius College Preparatory
San Domenico School
Santa Catalina School
Shawnigan Lake School
Tamalpais High School
University High School

Photos from Commencement, June 2019.

Spring Musical, Shrek

Middle School students put on an outstanding performance of Shrek for the MTS Spring Musical. This fun musical gives a modern day twist to the old fairy tale plot of a princess awaiting her shining knight in honor with lots of humor and great music. MTS student Max was transformed as Shrek, Nell shined as Princess Fiona, Alex was a hilarious Lord Farquaad, Logan stole the show as the Donkey, Tara wowed the audience with her impressive rendition of Forever in the “Dragon’s Keep” scene, and every one of the cast members wonderfully embraced their fairy tale characters. Congratulations to all the performers, those behind the scenes, and the entire performing arts department!


Set in a mythical “once upon a time” sort of land, Shrek the Musical is the story of a hulking green ogre who, after being mocked and feared his entire life by anything that crosses his path, retreats to an ugly green swamp to exist in happy isolation. Suddenly, a gang of homeless fairy-tale characters (Pinocchio, Cinderella, the Three Pigs, you name it) raid his sanctuary, saying they’ve been evicted by the vertically challenged Lord Farquaad. So Shrek strikes a deal: I’ll get your homes back, if you give me my home back! But when Shrek and Farquaad meet, the Lord strikes a deal of his own: He’ll give the fairy-tale characters their homes back, if Shrek rescues Princess Fiona. Shrek obliges, yet finds something appealing–something strange and different–about this pretty princess. He likes her. A lot. But why does she always run off when the sun sets?

Director’s Note:

In Shrek, the prince isn’t charming, the princess isn’t a damsel in distress, the sidekick isn’t wanted, and the hero is an ogre. At times, our ideas of worth are driven by how we imagine life would be in a fairytale. Shrek, thankfully, turns those ideas upside down and shakes us awake from our traditional make-believe dreams.

Although Shrek seems a children’s story at first glance, it is a prime example of how our preconceived notions of beauty can be misguided. Even the seemingly oddest people can be those that have the most beautiful character within. In Shrek, we are reminded that everybody needs some companionship, especially when we feel withdrawn from the world. The road toward self acceptance can be a rocky one, and we must battle our own negative self image to discover where our true spirit and inner beauty lie. Well written stories entertain us and address the many complex dimensions of human nature. As an audience, we are able to project ourselves upon the characters and consider what kind of people we really want to be. This is our story and in many ways we are just like the characters in Shrek. It’s refreshing to have an entertaining reminder in our hectic lives.

Goats, chickens, and dolphins - oh my!

What an amazing day for our first grade class on their Field Trip to Slide Ranch.

First graders milked goats, hugged goats, fed chickens, baked bread, churned butter, and made farm cheese! Everyone was brave and had a great attitude throughout the trip. 

Nature threw in a special surprise with the sighting of a whole pod of dolphins while students were eating lunch.

PS. Slide Ranch is open to the public daily! You too could commune with the goats.

Thank You To Our Amazing Parent Volunteers

As we write our “Mahalo grams” for Gratitude Day tomorrow, we are thinking about how deeply we appreciate the help of all our amazing parent volunteers. We absolutely could not put on all the incredible events we have throughout the year without your dedicated time and support. THANK YOU! Enjoy this thank you slideshow in appreciation of the entire MTS Community.


This is Collaboration

Here at MTS, our teachers collaborate. Our Lower School Science teacher, Suzanne Beard, joined with our Studio Art teachers, Evy Packer and Tyler Bewley, to provide the Kindergarten students with an in depth experience of common backyard birds and their nesting habits from both a science and art perspective. Taking advantage of the California Junco bird that nested in front of Evy’s home, the kindergartners viewed footage of the bird’s daily activities, the hatching of the eggs, and their flight from the nest.

During this mini unit on birds, K students learned to observe and describe a bird’s nest as a structure, as well as learn about the birds behavior around nesting, laying eggs, and the process of baby birds growing feathers in order to fledge (fly). They were able to observe and touch real nests, familiarizing themselves with the materials, and then manifested their growing knowledge to build and create their own nests in science class. At the same time, the kindergarteners talked about these same types of nests in art class and thought about the structure and texture of the outer and inner parts as described by line and color. Then they practiced translating what they saw into visual marks drawing with pastels.

MTS Students Win 20 Medals at Speech Tournament

On Saturday, April 27th, twenty-one of our MTS students competed in the 37th Annual Margie Burke Memorial Speech Tournament at Ross School. Each year our students work diligently to prepare for this highly competitive and prestigious event. This year, with twelve Marin County schools participating, Mount Tamalpais School earned 20 medals including six double medal winners. This was the 26th year that Performing Arts teacher, Deborah Marcom, took a team of students to the tournament. Please join us in congratulating all of them!






Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day! We had so many great Earth Day activities happening on campus today!

Last Friday as part of the Earth Day celebrations, 4th graders led a Wildflower Seed Bomb Workshop. Seed bombs are a form of seed dispersal - seeds wrapped up in a blanket of earth, which acts as a carrier for the seeds. To get ready for seed bomb making, first graders went on a scavenger hunt around MTS to find as many blooming flowers as possible and compared their shapes, sizes, and colors. Students could purchase the seed bombs created and all proceeds were donated to a program dedicated to removing plastic from our oceans, The Ocean Cleanup North Pacific Foundation.

Some of the various activities that MTS students participated in today:

Trash to Treasure (Grades K-1)
Kindergarten and 1st grade students learned about trash, recycling, and repurposing materials and then participated in a mini lesson around repurposing “Trash to Treasure,” transforming every day trash into toys/models/decorations/Mother’s Day gifts. In a short time, students created race cars, dream catchers, flowers, bird feeders, and much more with the trash families contributed for the project - impressive!

The Pup Experience (Grades 2-3)
An educator from the Marine Mammal Center led students through a series of stations. Students explored the behaviors and survival skills of Northern elephant seal pups and the relationship between mothers and pups in their wild habitats. Students also learned how pups are cared for at the Center.

Marine Mammal Mysteries (Grades 4-5)
Students sharpened their marine science detective skills with the Marine Mammal Mysteries project. Much like scientists and veterinarians analyze evidence to diagnose patients, in this activity students worked to unveil mystery marine mammals that reside along the Center’s rescue range. Looking at specimens and other information provided in each box, groups worked together to identify the mystery animal they were given. The students did excellent detective work and most were able to identify their mystery animal!


A Plastic Ocean (Grades 6-8)
Middle School students watched a recent documentary called A Plastic Ocean. In the center of the Pacific Ocean gyre researchers found more plastic than plankton. A Plastic Ocean documents the newest science, proving how plastics, once they enter the oceans, break up into small particulates that enter the food chain where they attract toxins like a magnet. These toxins are stored in seafood’s fatty tissues, and eventually consumed by us. Students broke into small groups after the movie to discuss the topics addressed in the movie.

First Grade Field Trip to Mill Valley Market

The first grade class is starting a new Social Studies unit all about communities. They are learning how individuals contribute to a community and what services help a community thrive. As part of their studies, the class went on a field trip to Downtown Mill Valley and was given a guided tour of Mill Valley Market. It was a fantastic experience!

Ryan Canepa, manager of MV Market was the tour guide. Ryan’s great grandfather started the market in 1929, and it has been family owned and operated ever since. Ryan took students through the market, as well as in the back where they went in the refrigerator, freezer, and dairy case. Students also saw the conveyer belt in action and checked out the store room. What is so special about Mill Valley Market is that it sources a lot of its products from local producers who might not have the capacity to sell to big grocery chains, but make small batches of high quality products. Mill Valley Market is a great example of a business that is steeped in local tradition and supports the local community.

After the tour of Mill Valley Market, first graders walked to Mill Valley City Hall and the fire station. They then broke up into groups and recorded the businesses they saw downtown and what they supply to the community. Lots of fun!

Third Graders perform "Pest in the Apple Orchard" for STEM class

The third graders have been keeping busy in their STEM studies! After learning about pollination (the relationship between pollinators, flowers, nectar, pollen, and seeds) and creating visual depictions of these natural systems, the students then turned their focus toward Integrated Pest Management and how agricultural engineers, farmers, and scientists work together to find solutions for pests in gardens/farms that minimize harmful effects from pesticides on the environment and on other creatures. Often, they accomplish this by introducing a predator of the pest to the ecosystem, or by using chemicals in very limited and specific locations/ways. The third grade put on a play titled “Pest in the Apple Orchard” for kindergarten and first grade students, taking on the roles of engineers, farmers, pests, and narrators to demonstrate three different ways that Integrated Pest Management can be used to solve pest challenges. Such a fun way to share their newfound knowledge and better understand how these systems work!

6-8 Graders Put On a Fun Spring Concert

Spring Concert & Art Exhibition

The 6-8 grade students in the Performing Arts and Visual Arts Enrichment block displayed their talent and hard work preparing all Trimester 2 to perform for the community on the MTS stage. The evening included a showcase including Chorus, Scene Study, Dance Ensembles, Guitar Ensemble, and African Drum Ensemble, as well as slideshow and video presentations from Enrichment classes including digital photography and video. Artwork from the Visual Arts Enrichment class, inspired by the Impressionist artist, Claude Monet, is on display in Summit Hall, and was also showcased in a digital presentation with music.

The African Drum Ensemble featured a medley of South African traditional rhythms, the MTS Chorus sang “Guadeamus Hodie,” and an especially heartfelt “Hallelujah,” and the Guitar Ensemble played “Time of My Life” by Green Day. Scene studies included performances of “The Umbrella,” “Above It All,” and a spirited skit from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” In the final performance of the evening, students hammed it up in the ‘70’s inspired Dance Ensemble, “Risk It All” Game Show, featuring dancing to music by Rose Royce, Kool & the Gang, and Earth Wind, and Fire.

Watch selected scenes from the show. (Find videos of each performance in full at the bottom of the webpage.)

6th grader Kailan created a drone video of the School as part of Dave Baker’s Digital Video Enrichment course with help from Oliver in flying the drone during shooting.

Monet-inspired paintings (acrylic on paper ) by Visual Arts Enrichment students from Trimester 2.

Photos by students in the Digital Photography Enrichment course can be found here.

Watch the following performances in their entirety below:
African Drum Ensemble
The Umbrella Scene Study
MTS Chorus
Above It All Scene Study
Guitar Ensemble
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Game Show Skit & Dance Ensemble

5th Grade Girls Basketball Teams Head to CYO Tournament

It's official. Our 5th grade girls A and B basketball teams are playing against each other in the first round of the CYO tournament this weekend! Coach Gerry is calling in reinforcements since he coaches both teams, so Cathal is going to jump in to help.

The Red team started 0-2, but finished 5-3 to secure the 4th seed. The Blue team won their division and the #1 seed with a 7-1 record. There were 19 teams in the league this year, and we are TWO of the final EIGHT teams!

Come join and support the girls at the game! Saturday, 3/9, 1:30 PM at St. Vincent.

Go Bears!!

MTS Persian Cultural Day

The MTS Persian Cultural Day last week gave students a fantastic opportunity to learn about and explore the Persian culture through authentic performances, art projects, folktales, poetry, cultural artifacts, music, and Persian cuisine!

Introduction and Performances


The day started with a keynote slideshow presentation with an introduction to Persia put together by MTS teacher, Rob Potter. Next the Niosha Dance Academy based in San Francisco performed both traditional and contemporary dances from the Iranian/Persian cultural world. The dance was followed by musicians, Nariman Assadi, Ahmad Rezazadeh, Ameen Rouhani, and Negin Bastani, showcasing traditional Persian musical instruments including the tombak, daf, oud, tar, and setar. MTS students then came on stage to read quotes from the famous Persian poet, Rumi. After the performances, students enjoyed Persian food catered by the Maykadeh Restaurant.

In the morning, lower school students learned about the history of Persian rugs and then worked together to create their own designs and patterns. During the afternoon program, middle school students rotated through 6 workshops and presentations.



Treasures, Tea, and Treats. MTS parents Kathy Zare and Oggi Kashi and MTS student Ryka presented interesting treasures and artifacts from Iran. Students also enjoyed a taste of Lajijan, a black tea from Northern Iran, as well as a sweet Persian treats from Jasmine Market in San Rafael including puff pastries, chickpea cookie-noon, and nokhochi.


Persian Tile. MTS Art teachers, Tyler Bewley and Evy Packer, taught students basic techniques in design to create their own Persian tiles. Students learned about the different ways tiles can be used in art - as a mosaic or Ghlami - a technique where several colors are painted onto one tile with a brush.


Modern Persia & Nowruz. MTS parents, Pooneh Yamini and Atissa Manshouri introduced students to Modern day Iran and the tradition of Nowruz, the Persian New Year.


Musical Instruments. Guest musicians, Nariman Assadi, Negin Bastani, and Don Baker, gave a demonstration of several Persian instruments, and students learned a rhythm pattern to accompany the combined final dance in the finale.


Persian Dance. Dancers from the Niosha Dance Academy taught students short dance sequences, which were performed in the combined finale at the end of the day by all 6th-8th graders.


Persian Calligraphy. MTS parents, Matt Yamini, Parizan Ehsan, and grandparent, Shahla Motamedi, introduced students to the art of Persian calligraphy.


Finale. The day culminated with students in grades 6-8 performing the dance sequence that was learned in the dance workshop accompanied by a group of student percussionists from the musical instruments workshop.

Enjoy selected videos from the day below.