Welcome Back to Middle & High School Students & Their Families!

Welcome to the 2011-12 academic year! School got off to an exciting start with successful middle and high school trips September 6th – 9th, which staff and students proclaimed “the best ever!”

Now that we’ve been on our “regular schedule” for a week, I’d like to tell you about what’s happening on campus this year. First of all, we are very thankful to welcome back all our faculty members from last year! We have an exceptional team of dedicated teachers.


Middle School students will begin most days with 10 minutes of physical activity. Brain research has determined that students are able to focus more during the school day if they begin the day with just 10 minutes of movement. We will conduct an experiment this year and evaluate the benefits at year end.

The Middle School production will be written and designed internally this year and performed in January. Voices In the Middle will incorporate writings from English class about what the student experience is of middle school years plus lots of singing, music and dance. Hooray to our P.A. Department for this new venture into lands untraveled!

PD Rohan is working with the California Math & Science Partnership (CaMSP) project. The project funds a three-year grant supporting teachers in grades 3 through Algebra I and evaluates and documents best practices in teaching math.

Jen Block and Amy Neff are continuing their professional development by working with BITSA, the agency that credentials teachers in the Bay Area.

Middle School Girls Volleyball season has begun with Sidd McDonald coaching the Gold Team (4th-6th grades) and PK McDonald coaching the Blue Team (7th and 8th). The girls are part of the Silicon Valley League, the only official independent school league in our area for middle school girls. Wishing all a great season!

Parents/guardians, please plan to attend our Middle School Back-to-School Night on Monday, September 26th. The schedule for the evening is posted on the MMS website.


Lisa Catterall has been collaborating with Stanford Research Institute and will be teaching a STORE class to some high school students. STORE is studying topography, orographic rainfall and ecosystems using geospatial information systems technology. The class is a series of labs that allows students to access NASA and National Weather Service data on climate change. We are one of six schools chosen to develop this curriculum and the first school to pilot it. Thank you, Lisa for bringing this to MMS!

Seniors have the option of taking one semester courses in Economics (with Matt Meachen) and Spanish 4 (with Colin Cole) this year.  These courses will be taught twice weekly throughout the year.

Amy Neff is teaching the World Religions course to seniors as Dayanand “DN” Diffenbaugh is on sabbatical.

DN is taking a sabbatical from his teaching responsibilities this year but will be preparing the site for our new gymnasium. DN has been volunteering his time and energy at MMS for more than 30 years! When he’s not working outside, moving dirt around on the dozer, attending to the needs of the land or orienting groups to the historical significance of Mt. Madonna, including the Ohlone grinding stones on property, DN is fulfilling the role of scholar in residence at MMC. DN has spent the last 32+ years studying scriptures from all religious traditions and practicing yoga, and he brought his passion and knowledge to the high school classroom to inspire our 12th grade students in exploring their own core values and developing respect for the diversity of world cultures and traditions. DN has also has played a major role in developing our middle school beginning-of-the-year camping trip and spring 8th grade Rite of Passage. We are grateful to DN for all he has contributed to MMS and his continuing service.

Nicola Percy is also taking a sabbatical for a few months. Ross Bryan (Willy, 11th; Susie, Class of 2011) is leading a class in digital photography for the seniors.

Our faculty has been discussing ways to make the senior year second semester more interesting and engaging for our students. We will be meeting soon with our current seniors. We want to address how to engage our 12th graders during this critical time in their lives, continue preparation for college and create space for them to pursue study/activity in areas most meaningful to them as individuals. This is no small task and we will keep you abreast of things as they develop.

We continue to map “Writing across the Curriculum.” Melissa and Sampad continued work this summer and we hope to soon have a completed document, K-12.

The Math Department agreed to change how we sequence our math courses in the Upper School, effective September 2011. The sequence is: Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Precalculus, Calculus and/or Statistics.

High School students will perform Thirteen on December 15th-18th, 2011. Stay tuned for more details and mark the dates on your calendars (posted on our Community News webpages under “Arts”).

High School Girls Varsity and Junior Varsity Volleyball has begun with Trevor Krieg and Jake Dietrich returning as their respective coaches. Please come and support the girls! The Cross Country Team, open to both genders has begun training with Coach John Nink!  Wishing our players and runners all a great season!

Sumana Reddy is continuing on in her role as advisor to the Model U.N. Club and their training and activities are about to begin. Sumana is happy to give you more information about this great activity at Back-to-School Night on Wednesday, October 5th.  Thank you, Sumana!

Amy Neff is joining Bob, Dr. Nicole and Matt on the Guidance Committee.

Janine Roeth (parent of Roger Hooker, sophomore) will continue to work with our students around internet safety. Thank you, Janine!

Special Events this Week

Thank you all for being a part of the MMS community! We are that village.

With deep respect for all you do and give,



Jivanti Rutansky
Head of the Upper School
Mount Madonna School