John (Class of 2019) In Spring 2020, Values in World Thought teacher SN Ward Mailliard received an appreciative email from Class of 2019 graduate John Dias, a mechanical engineering major at San Jose State University.
My first semester of school went really well and even amidst all this coronavirus chaos, the second semester has been treating me well. During this shift away from our normal lives, I have been thinking a lot about what I am grateful for and what has helped me get where I am. At school, I have found an amazing community of like-minded engineers to work with and learn from. Building a mini Baja car from the ground up with this amazing group of people has helped me realize the beauty of the collective strength we build in one another. I feel I can give credit to the Mount Madonna program for providing me with the courage to be a leader in such a setting. Building relationships, improving teamwork, and utilizing school resources have been central to my development as an engineer and as an individual. Having the confidence to take a risk and work hard to get involved with something beyond ourselves is something I feel we had to do in the Values program. I hope that you know your dedication to my intellectual development and Mount Madonna School as a whole has had a meaningful impact on me in college. I really look forward to coming back and visiting everyone when this is all over. I hope you have been enjoying the beautiful weather getting work done around the property, it seems like a good time to slow down and reflect on all that we are grateful for. Look forward to hearing what has been current in your life, I hope all is well.
Danielle (Parent) Upon receiving the MMS eNews in the Spring of 2020, parent Danielle Vaden reacted with appreciation and positivity in an email she sent to staff
I love these newsletters. We really appreciate all you have been doing for our children. We are new this year and haven’t been able to really establish a strong connection with many parents, but want to share that both Jessica and Kristin (third and fifth grade teachers) have been very supportive of keeping us feeling a part of the school and their efforts. I appreciate the fluid conversations and constant support to guide our kids through this time and keep them interested in their academics.
Shira (Parent) In the midst of spring break 2020, Lower School Director Kami Pacheco sent a message to lower school families about remote learning for Pre/K through grade five students and spring break ideas. Parent Shira Coleman was moved to share her response:
Thank you so much for this! I am feeling full of hope and empowered to make the decisions that are right for my family after reading this email! This is the most compassionate, positive, and empowering message I could have received in this crazy situation. I have been holding a lot of guilt and stress about the way our family is set up and how that supports or does not support our children meeting expectations for distance learning…Now I am feeling excited to, and capable of, working with them to create a learning experience that works for them and our family as a whole Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Carmen (Parent) Parent Carmen Virgos replied to an email from staff with enthusiasm and positivity:
It is an interesting experience to go through "learning on COVID-19 time." We are very grateful that MMS has put together a remote learning plan quickly. The "live Zoom" classes and gatherings are helping them staying connected to their friends and teachers. I feel our children are engaged and have a sense of purpose. Thank you.
Caroline Smith (Class of 2017) Alumna Caroline Smith (’17) recently contacted teacher SN Ward Mailliard about a Values program project she is working on, and expressed gratitude for the opportunities she was afforded as an MMS student. Smith is attending Smith College.
I want to say that I'm really enjoying transcribing the D.C. interviews. The 2016 D.C. trip I went on remains the best experience of my life, and truly changed me for the better. Transcribing the 2018 interviews reminded me of how much I loved the trip and now these 2020 interviews are honing in on why I loved the trip so much. In the interview I just transcribed, Susannah Wellford mentioned a book that follows 10 of the women who were elected to Congress in 2018. I'm wondering if you know what that book is titled. I've been thinking for a while now of applying to Running Start's fellowship programming and thought I would let you know that hopefully, Running Start is in my future. Thank you again for all the opportunities I was offered at Mount Madonna and the chance to relive them now.
Vivian (Grandparent) First grade teacher Cassia received the following heartfelt note of appreciation.
We met briefly at the Winter Concert. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your work. Recently Britt shared the video of Jules doing his "re-perspective" presentation on Peter Rabbit (at least, I think that what it was called). He took the role of Mr. McGregor in the presentation, but I understand he also wrote other perspectives. What a brilliant assignment! Teaching children to consider the perspectives of others is so important! It fosters peace and friendship on large and small scales. Beyond that, it helps children understand that what they are told (and even what they may see) as truth, may not, indeed, always be true...or at least not in every sense. You are ultimately teaching them to be responsible, discerning critical consumers of news. What an important concept in our evolving world of technology and polarization! When Jules read that he "waved the rake at Peter to get his attention" I nearly cried! I could see that image, but now in a whole new light! I am a teacher, as well, and so I understand the challenges, especially in these difficult and unusual circumstances. I also understand the rewards. There is nothing quite like the sense of satisfaction we experience when a student "gets" it! The connection between student and teacher can be profound and make such a difference to both student and teacher. I know I'm "preaching to the choir" here, but I just wanted to give you a grandmother's perspective and again, to thank you for your important work.
Julia (Alumni Parent) Following the recent 11th an 12th grade Washington, D.C. interviews, teacher SN Ward Mailliard wrote notes of appreciation to those the students had interviewed. This included Senator Joe Manchin, a friend of the Bettencourt family (Maverick, 12th grade, Bella, '17). Julia Bettencourt, upon reading Mailliard’s note to Senator Manchin, felt drawn to expressing her own gratitude
Thank you so much for writing this note [to Senator Manchin]. It is beautiful and thoughtful and I do think that it was a great interview. I agree that it showed the students that you can disagree, but still respect someone for doing what they believe to be the right thing. We will SO MISS our time at MMS and we will always be grateful for the opportunities it has afforded our children for growth. I feel confident that they will continue to realize this privilege in their journey through life… It makes me teary that these dreamy years are coming to a close. I really am SO GRATEFUL to Mount Madonna. My kids are SO BLESSED, my family is blessed, to have been able to grow together at Mount Madonna. I have learned so much from what my kids bring home. And the conversations and input that they lend to our family time give me great hope that they will find happiness and success in life because of the life skills they have developed there. Good grades aren't everything. Character development IS everything. And I believe we are all better characters because of our time with the amazing community at MMS.