From Jack – Lupine News

Hi there Lupine parents,

It’s the penultimate week of the school year! May went quickly, as expected; now we’re in the midst of tying up any loose ends, completing works still in progress, and looking forward to some fun days next week to wrap up the year before we head off on our various adventures or to our various local camps.

Human Growth and Development

I sent an email last week filling you in on what was happening, socially, in the Lupine Room. We are continuing to hone in on acts of kindness, courtesy, gratitude, and empathy, and it has been inspiring seeing the children rise to the occasion. As it turns out, we can all use a reminder sometimes about treating each other with respect!
The big event last week was the mini Human Growth and Development unit. It went very well, and we discussed a lot! We started by learning about the systems of the human body (endocrine, nervous, skeletal, etc.), and how it is  necessary that they all work in harmony to promote happy and healthy growth. The following day, it was on to hormones and puberty, and the shared and individual changes, both physical and emotional, the children undergo on their way to adulthood. Thursday we focused on the details of human reproduction, and Friday, we discussed gender and sexuality, including all things LGBTQ. Aside from the requisite giggles, and there were many, the children listened attentively and asked appropriate questions. They have many questions! I can’t promise that they will be coming to you with them in the very near future, but it’s important to know that they are currently thinking and wondering further about sex, puberty, sexuality, and pregnancy. I want to share with you some of the topics of questions that I read from the anonymous question box on Friday:
– menstruation
– ejaculation
– masturbation
– pregnancy- attraction and courting
Fun stuff! We really did have productive, positive talks, and the children were respectful throughout.

From Jack – Human Growth and Development Unit
Hello parents,
Later this month, I will offer a series of lessons to our Lupine students centered around the topics of human biology, reproduction, and adolescence. I call this the Human Growth and Development unit. My primary goals in offering these topics to the children is to open up a dialogue between your child and you, to normalize the process of going through puberty, and to educate the children on healthy adolescent growth  and sexual reproduction.
I approach these topics with sensitivity; I want the children to feel comfortable as we discuss the changes they will all experience in the coming years. At the same time, this information can be uncomfortable for some. I’ve found that the ability to laugh helps alleviate potential anxieties surrounding this material, so we will keep the mood light.
Beginning the week of May 28, just after the Memorial Day holiday, I will be presenting lessons to the entire group. We will start with a foundation in basic biology – sexual versus asexual reproduction in both animals and plants. We will move on to the life cycle and the reproductive systems of both males and females; together, boys and girls will learn the systems of each gender. I will set some ground rules for the discussion including the idea that no question is out of bounds or too silly to be asked. We will discuss physical and emotional changes that occur during adolescent growth, and emphasize the importance or a good diet, exercise, hygiene, and communication during this important time in their lives.
Including the entire Lupine class, instead of just the oldest students, fosters community, as the younger students witness changes in their older peers and can cultivate understanding and sensitivity.
Throughout the week, there will be a box placed discreetly in a corner of the room into which children can places questions written on cards; these may be questions they have but felt unable to ask in front of the group, or questions that may have occurred to them later as they had time to process the information presented. At the end of the week, I will gather the children and read the questions aloud, as well as any others that come up.
You may not feel that your child is ready for this information or that you would rather handle these topics at home; that is absolutely fine. If you prefer that your child not participate, please let me know, and we will find something else for him/her to do during these lessons.
I strongly recommend getting some books on adolescence, puberty, sexual reproduction, etc., for your houses so that your children have a place to go for information if they feel uncomfortable talking to you directly (a good book chosen by you is obviously preferable to getting information from another child who might not have correct information at their disposal!). The purpose of this unit is not to provide all the information they will need during the coming years, but instead to give them an overview and open a dialogue between them and you, their parents, the primary educators in their lives.
As far as literature goes, I will point you to the series by Robie Harris. These books are wonderful, funny, accurate, and highly rated. There are three:
It’s Not the Stork! – for ages 4 and up
It’s So Amazing! – for ages 7 and up
It’s Perfectly Normal – ages 10 and up
Thank you for taking the time to read all of this. Please let me know if you have any questions.

From Jack – Special Assignment

Hello parents,

Today I gave the Lupine children a special assignment – to plan and cook a meal for the entire family. Many of them spent today browsing the cookbooks we have in the classroom and creating menus to cook for you some time before next Friday, 5/17. It seems as though many are planning to cook this weekend.
Some of the children are wanting to make multi-course meals and/or slightly ambitious dishes. I know every family’s schedule is different, so talk with your child about availability and what will work and what will not! The purpose of this project is to get children comfortable with cooking, shopping, reading recipes, handling a knife, and other meal-related tasks. It should not be stressful for you!
I ask you to lend them your support, but please do not cook for them! Take them grocery shopping, assist them in the sauteing, dicing, baking, etc., show them how to load the dishwasher if they don’t already.
Lastly, take some photos of the process and share them with me, if you would. I loved seeing all the photos from last year.
Let me know if you have any questions, and look forward to having a meal prepared for you!
Take care,

Hello Lupine families,

It was so great to chat with you all during conferences – connecting with you about your child’s successes and challenges is so helpful. I love this group of kids and it’s a pleasure to work with them day in and day out. And I thank you all for the well wishes on the upcoming birth of my son – Talia and I couldn’t be more thrilled!
It’s hard to believe that May is upon us. The last few months have been a bit of a blur – the graduate trip, practice testing, spring break, and the play have all come and gone. It is feeling great to get back to some normalcy with regular lessons and work periods. We’re going to aim for a very productive final six weeks and put our best feet forward.
There are a few tasks you can help with at home. The children have been challenged to memorize all 50 states and capitals by the end of the year, as well as the function and an example for nine parts of speech (noun, pronoun, article, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, interjection). The latter task is better practiced at school, but please quiz your children on the meaning! The hope is to have all the P.O.S. and states and caps done by graduation. Thank you for your support in this.
There are a few items coming up in the classroom and in the greater Sunstone community in May that I’d like to mention.
– First, I am planning to lead a Human Growth & Development unit in May. This means a week’s worth of biology lessons focusing on puberty, wellness, and yes, reproduction of all living things, but notably humans and our sexual development. There will be lessons presented to students of both sexes, and likely some presented to just boys and to just girls. I haven’t quite worked out all the details yet, but stay tuned for more information coming soon!
– Secondly, we will be reprising the cooking-as-homework project in May. More info to come on this topic as well, but I thank you in advance for assisting and overseeing your child’s shopping, chef-ing, and clean up! The children loved doing this last year and are looking forward to it.
– The 2019 Wine and Cheese Night to welcome incoming families is Thursday, May 16. As a former cheesemonger (really), I can say that Brenda puts on a great spread, and it’s nice opportunity to meet new Sunstone community members. I hope to see you there.
– On Monday, May 20, is the Sunstone Family Dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. Get in touch with Molly to attend. 
– Lastly, the Elementary End-of-year Celebration will be on Thursday, May 30 at Willamette Park. It should be a great way to wind down the year. 
Thank you all for attending our play, and a special thanks to those who helped out. The children and I had a blast putting it on, of course. The teamwork that I see happening throughout the play process is really special – the kids do such a great job collaborating. 
That’s all for now – take care. 

From Jack 3/20


I wanted to give you a quick update on the collective spirit of the Lupine Room today. There was certainly a touch of sadness present, and children dealt with that feeling in a couple different ways. Some utilized the helpful availability of the Trauma Intervention Program volunteers, making crafts and sharing thoughts in a small open forum; some spent time in the classroom among small comfortable groups of friends; some opted to carve out some individual space to work alone and process. I think that our group work on the play presents a powerful bonding aspect that is helping alleviate some feelings of sadness and confusion.
All in all, the Lupine Room felt cozy, comfortable, and accessible today, which was just as I would have wanted it.
I wish you well in continuing to process tragic event with your family, and as always, thank you for supporting you children during this difficult time. I’m available – please don’t hesitate to reach out for any reason.
Take care,

From Jack 3/19

Lupine families,

As you know, I shared with the children this afternoon the sad and unfortunate news. I wanted to give time and space to allow them to begin processing their grief, so I kept it short. I let them know that there is not one right way to feel about this event, and that feelings may change or develop over the next few hours, days, weeks, and months. They understand that all humans process information differently, and that mourning does not look the same for everyone. I will ensure that there is sufficient opportunity to express and/or work through their feelings this week, either with me, with friends, or by themselves. They’re such wonderful children, and I know they will do an admirable job comforting and consoling each other during this difficult time.
Please let me know if you have any questions about the rest of the week. Thank you for loving and supporting your children the way you do.


Looking ahead, we have some notable events upcoming in the month of March:

– This Saturday is the Sunstone Gala – I look forward to seeing many of you there!

– Monday and Tuesday, March 11-12, the Lupine children will participate in practice standardized testing. We view this is a practical life skill, as their answers are not officially submitted for scoring and the testing is not state-mandated. Since the concept of traditional testing is foreign to many Montessori students, I think of these practice tests as a way to familiarize the children with the type of assessments they may encounter in future schooling.

– Later that week, we will begin work on our class play (it has not been chosen yet!). Though the actual performances of the production do not occur until Friday, April 12, we ease into it learning about post-middle ages Europe, Shakespeare’s life, and theatrical terminology. Regular school work will happen concurrently throughout most of this time, albeit it to a slightly lesser extant. It is important to limit student absences from the beginning of our work on the play through performance day, so please keep that in mind.

That’s all for now – enjoy your week, and I’ll see you soon.


From Jack – February News

Good afternoon Lupine parents,

It was wonderful to see so many of you at Presentation Day last week. The children worked very hard, and I’m always impressed with their stamina – two hours is a long time! I hope you learned something new.

It’s day of the graduates’ trip to the Summit Meadow cabins outside Government Camp, where we’ll be until Friday afternoon. The four graduates have worked hard to plan the trip, raising the money to fully fund it, and it will be a wonderful way to for them to get out into nature, have some fun, and reflect on their time spent at Sunstone.

While Anika and I are off adventuring with them, Kristen Sevier, our Outdoor Program Director, will be taking the reins in the Lupine Room. Kristen has spent a good deal of time in our community, understands the schedule and expectations in the classroom, and is very respected and appreciated by the children. I have full confidence in her abilities to guide the children for the rest of the week. She will be supported throughout the week by Julia, one of our subs, as well as Francesca from time to time.

Though there will be fewer lessons presented this week, due to my absence, the work will continue. I’ve spoken with the class about my expectations, and left them with many ideas, suggestions, and even lists of recent lessons for them to guide their follow up.

Hello Lupine parents,

I hope this email finds you well and back in the swing of the school thing. Here in the Lupine Room we’ve had a nice few weeks together, picking up where we left off in December, and getting our school brains back in action. I spoke with the children at the beginning of the month about expectations, and how those that I have for their work, as well as those that they have for their work, should be rising. Your children know how to work, how to focus, and how to learn – it’s my goal to ensure that all of those things are happening in our environment every day, and setting very clear expectations (repeatedly!) helps.

New Year’s Resolutions

The children shared some New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of the year. I asked them about one school-related plan, and one out-of-school plan that they’ll try to stick to. There were some great responses! Additionally, your children have resolved to:
– play fewer video games
– get outside more
– read more books
– get more sleep
– eat 5 apples every day
– learn French
– help out around the house more
– practice the ukulele
– try new foods
– help the homeless
Such great ideas in here!

Upcoming Events

There are some upcoming dates to know; please put them in your calendar.
  • On Friday, February 8, is the annual Bingo Night fundraiser. Proceeds go to funding the graduates’ trip to a cabin on Mt. Hood for 4 days at the end of February. Win prizes, eat pizza, have fun.
  • Speaking of the graduates’ trip, it will be taking place from Tuesday Feb. 26-March 1. Both Anika and I will be accompanying the children to a cabin near Trillium Lake, where we’ll explore the area on cross-county skis, drink hot chocolate, and generally enjoy each other’s company. Our nature coordinator, Kristen Sevier, will be stepping in to very capably lead the Lupine Room, with occasional help from Francesca Lowes.
  • Elementary Student Presentation Day is on Thursday, Feb 21. Lupine will host guests to see the children’s work and lesson presentations from 1-3, while Trillium and Camassia host from 2-3. This is a very fun and important event, where the children show off what they know and teach you how to learn it too.
  • The Sunstone Gala is March 2! Please join us; it’s so much fun to spend time with friends, faculty, and staff outside of the school environment. I look forward to seeing you there.
  • Lastly, on Monday and Tuesday March 11-12, we will be taking practice standardized tests in the Lupine Room. As always, the taking of these tests is more for the practical life skill aspect than the actual examination. Francesca and I are currently looking into acquiring a newer, more updated test, so I can’t tell you at this moment which one we’ll use, but it will likely be your standard pencil-and-bubbles-to-fill-in version, which apparently is still relevant!
That’s all from me for now – thank you for reading, and have a wonderful upcoming weekend.
Take care,

From Jack – October News

Hello Lupine parents!

I hope the sugar rush has died down in your household, and that time spent together last night was fun, warm, and a bit spooky. The month of October is over, and we are looking forward to continuing down our path of hard work and kindness here in the Lupine Room.
I’m sure you’ve heard all about our trip to Trickle Creek at the beginning of the month by now. We had loads of fun, and the site was beautiful. I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos I shared with you via the flickr album sent out by email. Bug thanks to Monica Wright for compiling them all in one place!
Around the classroom, we’ve had some excitement in the form of not one, but two yet-to-be-named mammalian additions to the environment. Two white female rats have now found a permanent home in the Lupine Room. In the Montessori pedagogy, having animals in the classroom is an important part of our biology curriculum (learning through observation), as well as a chance for the children to care for another living creature. We’re happy to have them.
Conferences are next week, and I am looking forward to sitting down with you to check in about your wonderful child or children. I thank you in advance for your punctuality!
Tomorrow, Friday 11/2, we’ll be walking up to the Fulton Community Garden as a class with our nature coordinator, Kristen. It’s the oldest community garden in Portland, and beautiful in its variety and space. Please ensure that your child brings a rain jacket to school, if they don’t already. Thank you.
I’ve attached a few photos from a story I told yesterday about the origins of the discipline of chemistry. I mentioned Joseph Priestly, a Brit who in the 1770’s invented air-infused water, which he called “windy water”; we tried some sparkling water, and I was reminded that children usually don’t care for it as much as adults do!
Lastly, I’d like to share with you a quote from Maria Montessori in her Creative Development of the Child; our class is filled with readers, which fills me with happiness, and I think of this quote often:
“Reading is the greatest gift given to humanity because it allows anyone to enter into silent communication with the soul of the writer, to hear the thoughts of the people of the past, to feel their emotions. It is, after all, only the most beautiful things of the past that are worth keeping, that have been recorded. It opens to the child the whole new world of the past.”
That’s all for now. Have a wonderful weekend, and I will see you next week.
Take care,

From Jack – September News

Hello Lupine parents,

What a great first month(ish) we’ve had. The children are getting along swimmingly, and we’re working hard and having fun. The start of a new school year, a new cohort, and for some, an entirely new environment, is exciting, challenging, and can be a bit scary. Your children have navigated their new roles in the Lupine Room with grace, courtesy, and aplomb, and it’s been beautiful. They’re making new friends, gaining new responsibilities, and further developing their burgeoning senses of independence.

Mile Run

The mile run went great today!

What’s Happening In There?

If you happened to stroll into the Lupine Room at some point in September, you may have seen any of the following works:
  • measuring the perimeter of the soccer field in meters AND inches
  • researches on Mexico, Albania, energy, unusual animals, pasta, and the Civil War
  • Expanded Power Notation
  • dioramas of jellyfish in their habitat, early cave peoples, and the time of the dinosaurs, complete with volcano
  • examining the differences between the present and progressive verb tenses
  • experimenting with one-point perspective drawing
  • book-binding
  • bar graphs based on U.S. states’ populations
  •  grasping the difference in size and value between a million and a millionth

Book Groups

We’ve begun small book groups, starting with Because of Winn-Dixie and Number the Stars. Your child is guaranteed to participate in a discussion-based book group at some point this school year. Also, more pointed spelling work will be starting soon; look for your child to bring home a weekly (or maybe a bi-weekly) spelling list to practice.


The academic are in full swing, and the classroom is buzzing. Come in and observe! Observations open mid-October. You can email Spring,, to schedule yours.

Upcoming Events

A few upcoming events to add to your calendar if you haven’t already:

The school-wide Fall Mixer is Thursday, 10/4. We’re really looking forward to this night – an opportunity to meet or catch up with other parents and Sunstone guides, see other classrooms, and have a drink or two. No childcare will be offered for this event, FYI.

Sunstone’s annual Fall Festival is next Saturday, 10/6, from 10am to 2pm on the front lawn. It’s such a lovely event; do come by for doughnuts, a clothing swap, a chance to recycle those old DVD players no one uses anymore, and other fun activities.

We depart for Northwest Outdoor Science School’s Trickle Creek Campus on Monday, October 8, and will return the afternoon of Thursday, October 11. I urge you to check out Northwest Outdoor Science School’s website, as it is quite comprehensive. Feel free to ask me any questions as well. Over the next week, the children and I will be talking about this trip quite often, so they may have a lot of answers to the questions you have! Please be prepared to pick your child up from Sunstone NO LATER than 3:15 this day if they are not in aftercare; if your child is regularly scheduled in aftercare, you may pick them up when you normally would. We will be likely arriving back at Sunstone between 1:30 and 2, so feel free to pick up then. Monica and I will work to establish as clear a timeline for our return as possible on the day of.

Please reach out with any questions, and read this Camp Letter for more info.

As I was poking around on the NW Outdoor Science School website today, I found a very helpful document – the Student Handbook, which also has information for parents. I’ve attached it here; peruse it if you wish, as it may answer any lingering questions you have.

Lastly, if you need a medical authorization form, please let me know so I can send one home with your child, or feel free to pick one up at the Big White Desk this week.

Please note that Friday, October 12 is a Staff In-Service Day, and as such, there is no school for children.

Photo Day for Elementary is Thursday, October 18. Note that this is different than CH. You should have received an order for by this point; if not, ask your child (they were put in take home folders).

Please note that unfortunately, we have cancelled the annual Sunstone Middle School Fair due to lack of interest. Sorry for any inconvenience. However, OMSI hosts a terrific Portland Independent and Private School Fair next week!


From Jack – Cosmic Education Article

Hello Lupine parents,

Happy Friday. It was so nice to see many of you at Back to School night; thank you for coming. If you weren’t in attendance, I will happily provide you with my notes/outline to look over – just let me know.
As promised, here’s a link to Camillo Grazzini’s article “Maria Montessori’s Cosmic Vision, Cosmic Plan, and Cosmic Education.” It’s a great read, and expands on what I shared with you last night.
If you’d like to see our Cosmic tasks and practice society in action, please come observe in the Lupine Room. Being able to sit and watch your child work in this environment is a priceless experience, and I strongly urge you to come in if you can. Email Brenda to set up a time, starting next month.
We had a wonderful long recess this afternoon, playing soccer and tag. It was a great way to end our first full week together.
Have a relaxing weekend, and I’ll talk to you soon!

From Room Parents – Welcome to 2018-19!

Dear Lupine Room Community,

Welcome to all new and returning families!  We wanted to take a moment to introduce ourselves as the Room Parents in the Lupine Room – Katy Rustvold, Mom to Josephine (5th yr) and Wesley (4th yr), Leah Nobilette, Mom to Sara (4th yr), and Alisha Wang, Mom to Alinea (4th yr).  Our responsibilities as Room Parents are varied and with this letter we would like to take the opportunity to let you know what we do and how we might be able to help with questions, support and ideas that you might have.

  • Volunteer Opportunities – We help communicate volunteer opportunities within the classroom.  In addition to flowers/laundry and classroom wish list items, there will be many Lupine events including Science Camp, Bingo Night, Winter Solstice, Earth Day, Shakespeare, and Graduation where we will be needing your support.  Some are able to give their time, others would rather offer donations.  We encourage you to volunteer in a way that is right for your family.  You can sign up for Laundry/Flowers or items on the Jobs/Wishlist.  Please let us know if you need assistance with signing up on SignUpGenius or have questions about any of the opportunities.
  • Gifts and Staff Appreciation – We coordinate gift giving efforts for Jack, Anika and the support staff during the holiday season and at the end of the year.  As well, each classroom chooses a month to honor the whole school staff and show our appreciation for all that they do for our children.  Ideas from the past have included bringing breakfast goodies, serving homemade soups and baked goods for lunch or 15 minute chair massages.  If you have any ideas or suggestions, we welcome your input!
  • Class Auction Projects – We help plan and procure supplies for the class auction projects so if you have any special talents, connections or can volunteer your time, please let us know.
  • Lupine Community Outings – We organize special events for the Lupine community.  In addition to a beginning of the year event (information to come soon!) we will be planning another classroom get together sometime in the late winter/early spring and an end of year picnic so watch for those details.
  • Communications – We also have a Lupine Room listserv set up to include all Lupine parents.  This is mainly used for scheduling last minute get-togethers, sharing resources and quick reminders.  It will not be used for any official school announcements.  For those we highly encourage you to check out the Lupine link under “From the Classrooms” in the Tuesday Announcements each week.  We also strongly encourage you to visit the Sunstone Calendar to help stay informed of all important dates.

This year Back to School Night will be on Thursday, September 13 from 6pm-7:30pm.  Typically attendance has been low for Back to School Night in the Lupine Room with mainly 4th year families attending.  We would love it if more families would come.  It will be a nice chance for 5th and 6th year parents to meet (and welcome) the new 4th year parents.  Jack has made lots of changes and there may be new information/procedures/policies that he and Anika will want to pass along.  We hope to see you there and are looking forward to a great year!


Katy Rustvold –

Leah Nobilette –

Alisha Wang –

From Jack – What to Bring to School

I received a few questions about the materials list that went out in July with the Welcome letter. I realize this may have been forgotten or lost in the shuffle over the last month, so here it is. I ask that your child bring the following on the first day of school:
– a water bottle with a non-squirt top lid
– a 1 1/2 inch 3-ring binder
– 1 set of subject dividers
– Indoor shoes (preferably with rubber soles; Cros are acceptable. Slippers and flip flops are strongly discouraged)
– a sketchbook (optional)
– a raincoat to keep at school for the year, labeled with initials/name (strongly recommended)

Let me know if you have any questions! Thank you.

From Jack – Important News to Share

Hello Lupine parents,

I hope this email finds you well and enjoying the last few days of summer. I am so looking forward to welcoming the children back into the classroom, and hearing all about their vacation adventures.

There are a few bits of information I’d like to share with you before the year begins.

Welcome Anika

First, I’d like to welcome Anika Tobiason into the Lupine Room as the new assistant. (Yes, there was an official communication about this, but I’d like to share the news personally with you all as well!). Anika has been at Sunstone for two years, working primarily as a substitute. She’s quite excited to be joining our community, and I am thrilled to have her. She and I trained together at Montessori Northwest a few years ago, and she is a devoted Montessorian who will bring fresh creativity and warmth into our space. Please introduce yourself if you have not met her yet.

Outdoor Science School – Oct 8-11

Secondly, the Lupine Room will be going to Northwest Outdoor Science School’s Trickle Creek campus outside of Salem for our camp trip this fall. We’ll depart school the morning of Monday, October 8, and return the afternoon of Thursday, October 11. Many more details to follow. Camp is always a highlight of the children’s year, and I’m already excited for it. This particular program provides chaperones, and as such we do not need any parent volunteers this time around; Cathy, Anika, and I will be accompanying the children on the trip. For those interested, Trickle Creek is hosting an Open House on Sunday, September 16th, for any children who are attending in the fall and their families. If there are any nerves surrounding our trip, this could be a good opportunity to assuage some of them!

Peanut Free Classroom

Next up – the Lupine Room will be peanut-free this year, as we have an incoming child who is allergic. Please plan accordingly!

This Thursday August 30

This Thursday is Elementary Orientation and Campus Clean-up! I hope to see you and your children; Anika and I will be in the classroom so come on by to say hello and see the Lupine Room from 9:30-11:30. Following a visit to the classroom, there will be a casual back-to-school picnic on the front lawn. Please provide your own food, beverages, and any lawn chairs or blankets you may need. Thank you to the Lupine Room parents for setting this up!

Free National Parks Pass

Emilie Machon (assistant in the Butterfly Room and mother to Basil and Sadie) told me about a program launched by the U.S. Department of the Interior called Every Kid in a Park. All 4th grade children across the US are eligible to get a free pass for their family to all the National Parks in the country! Thank you for sharing, Emilie.

New to Lupine Room? See you September 6

Lastly, just a reminder that all returning students begin school on Tuesday, September 4, while all students new to the Lupine Room begin on Thursday, September 6

I anticipate a wonderful school year, and look forward to connecting and/or reconnecting with you all. See you soon.

Take care,