Tag Archives: Inly tradition

From Oliver to Alice—A Journey of Directing Inly Players Productions

By Martha Sawyer, Director

Martha Sawyer looks on during an Inly Players dress rehearsal.

Martha Sawyer looks on during an Inly Players dress rehearsal.

A remarkable journey, where nothing is as it seems, filled with fanciful characters and a curious adventure at every turn. While that could describe our heroine’s story, it also tells the tale of my wonderful association with The Inly Players. In the fall of 2008, I was asked to step in and direct The Inly Players third production, OLIVER! Since then, I have been fortunate to return and guide this unique and talented troupe through a wonderland of musical stories.

Each year, production begins with choosing the show. As simple as that may seem, it can prove a difficult and tricky negotiation. It is a delicate balancing act to find a show with the right appeal of story and music that will match our pool of actors and resources. Since I began directing for Inly, a production of ALICE in WONDERLAND has come under consideration almost every year. But our creative team was always a little wary of the available scripts and scores. This year, the timing seemed right to create our ALICE. And so we did.

A scene from this year's production of Alice in Wonderland.

A scene from this year’s production of Alice in Wonderland.

The process of creating and telling Alice’s story of self discovery has been a joy. As always with The Inly Players, the blended cast of students, parents, staff, friends and theater professionals forms a unique and inspiring dynamic. Like Alice, our cast and artistic team have been curious and fearless as they looked through the looking glass and jumped down the rabbit hole to find our answer to the Caterpillar’s query, “whoooo are youuuu?”

Our production is being presented in the year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the original publication of this children’s classic. When directing a production based on an iconic story, I am always conscious of what expectations the audience may have about the characters and their journey. I am sure many of you have a clear recollection of your first reading of this magical story—or perhaps you best remember the characters from a film adaptation or animated version.

As I re-read the book and entered the topsy-turvy world of Wonderland, I found Lewis Carroll’s words and wit to be as fresh and as new as ever. What I found most of all was the joy of the unexpected. As I turned each page, and tumbled from adventure to adventure, I felt the story compelling me to keep searching and discovering a new point of view. It is my hope that we have captured that magic from the book and that you will follow Alice’s lead and join us as we take a fresh look at this timeless magical and beloved masterpiece.

Introducing the 2013-14 Inly Fund Chairs…Shawn and Carlos!

DSC_0020Davenport and Kendra Crocker warmly welcomed Shawn and Carlos Perez-Albuerne as the new Inly Fund Chairs at Back-to-School Night. “It has been been a pleasure to serve and an honor to officially pass the torch to Shawn and Carlos!” remarked Kendra while passing an actual ceremonial torch. The Crockers have served as Inly Fund Chairs for the last three years. Under their enthusiastic leadership, the Fund has grown significantly and for the first time surpassed the $200,000 mark.

Shawn noted that while fundraising is outside her comfort zone, “The reason why we agreed to do this is because teachers and administrators at Inly have helped our children to take those leaps outside their comfort zones. After nine years of education here at Inly we see this as the right place and the right thing to do to support the continued efforts of the school.”

Shawn and Carlos have three children – Isabel in UE2, Alec in MS and Katie who graduated from Inly last year and just began her freshman year at Beaver Country Day School. Both Shawn and Carlos have been active volunteers at Inly for many years, most recently serving as co-chairs of the Class of 2012 Legacy Gift Fund.

The Inly Fund is our annual giving program that provides direct funding for our academic, arts, sports, and experiential learning programs for the current school year. Thanks to everyone who participated in the fund last year and check out our new rolling donor appreciation list in the school lobby. Be on the lookout for the launch of this year’s campaign on October 1 at morning drop-off!

If you are interested in taking a leap and getting involved with some truly fun fellow parents to help raise funds for the School this year, we want your input and ideas! Please contact Marie Van Patten at mvanpatten@inlyschool.org.

A Glimpse of Inly at 41

By Donna Milani Luther, Head of School

Luther, DonnaThe school year ahead promises to be filled with dynamic programs and initiatives. A big piece of this will be the launch of our new strategic plan, which will act as a roadmap for the school over the next three years. In the coming months, I will provide updates in my Rhythm & News articles about the different components of the plan and how each will unfold.

In the meantime, here’s a preview of what you can expect at Inly in the 2013-14 year:

Expanded Bus Service
Inly now has an expanded bus service with stops in Boston, Dorchester, Quincy, and Hingham. It is our hope in offering this service that we can make Inly School more accessible to the greater community and continue to draw students from these towns.

Speaker Series
The Omran • Nelson Speaker Series is in honor of two Inly faculty members, Sue Omran and Brien Nelson, who were sadly lost to cancer. Both Sue Omran and Brien Nelson were, in their own unique ways, extremely passionate about Montessori education, adult education, children, and learning. To perpetuate this speaker series in their names is a wonderful tribute to them and their ideals.

This year, to kick off the series, Inly will be welcoming esteemed speaker, Joe Ehrmann. Joe is a former professional athlete turned inspirational, speaker who works with corporate, civic and community organizations and associations to promote growth, teamwork, effectiveness, and individual responsibility. We hope to see you all on Wednesday, October 23.

Sports Initiatives
In another article in this issue, “Amping Up Sports,” you will hear from our new physical education specialist, Jabari Scutchins, and learn about the different ways we are improving the sports programs at Inly and providing more opportunities for physical activity throughout the school day and school year.

Middle School Programmatic Initiatives
This year, Inly is working with NuVu Studio in Cambridge to offer our 8th grade students a truly groundbreaking experiential learning program. For two intensive weeks, our students will work with experts and PhDs from MIT and Harvard on multi-disciplinary, collaborative projects that solve real-world problems. It is the first time NuVu Studio has worked with students younger than high school and we are honored that they have agreed to work with our students.

For the second year, Inly School is working with “Intercultural Experiences” to bring two middle school students to Inly from Guatemala. Middle School families will host the students who will attend Inly Middle School for six weeks. These students quickly become a part of and add to the Middle School community. They also work with our elementary Spanish instructor, Kaela Conroy, in her classes as a way to connect with the broader Inly community as well.  To expand this exchange experience for our students, we are also partnering with the service learning program “Con Los Ojos Abiertos” to offer our graduating 8th graders and alumni students an opportunity to work and learn in Guatemala for two weeks over the summer. There will be more information on this program in the coming months.

Parent Insight Series & Student Assemblies
This year, we will continue to offer a Parent Insight Series of educational talks designed to provide opportunities for parents to practice lifelong learning, whether about Inly and its philosophy and programs, or about parenting in general. The series will touch on topics including Montessori in the home, discussing adolescence, beyond sticks and stones, building lifelong readers and writers, and keeping learning alive.

In addition, there will be a number of student assemblies throughout the school year that are designed to complement and enrich the curriculum. This year, we have an exciting array of assembly speakers including Jacqueline Davies, author of The Lemonade War, artist Ventura Fabian and his “Dancing Chickens,” singers Alastair Moock and Mama Steph, and science exploration with EarthView.

Outdoor Classroom
In the spring of 2012 Inly expanded its campus, adding a four-acre lot of land to be used as an Outdoor Classroom for the entire school community. On Sunflower Hill, volunteers have been busy with groundskeeping, while students and teachers utilize the space for hands-on experiential learning, science classes, gardening, bird watching, and outdoor exploration both during and after school. Each level has its own curriculum developed and implemented at all levels—from Toddler and Preschool through Middle School—for expanded experiential lessons in science and integrated curriculum studies.

There is now an Outdoor Classroom Committee, which includes faculty representatives from every level of the school. Their task is to find ways to expand the school’s curriculum and to incorporate different offerings using Sunflower Hill.

In addition, Sunflower Hill is used for school-wide events, committee meetings, and parent social gatherings.

The Year Ahead
It is very exciting to see what this year and the next 40 years will hold for Inly School. The 2013-14 academic year will most certainly be filled with insightful events, new offerings, and continued growth. Please stay tuned for my future Rhythm & News updates as the school year unfolds.

Giving Thanks to Grandfriends

Grandfriends’ Day is a special annual tradition at Inly School when children can share their classroom experience with members of their families or other special friends.

Donna Milani Luther, Inly’s Head of School, addressed a crowd of Inly community members on Grandfriends’ Day (November 21, 2012), and shared the following:

When I was a little girl, whenever asked the question “what are you going to be when you grow up?”, I said “a teacher.”  I’ve been lucky, and also probably typical of someone my age. I have been teaching for 39 years and have had the great pleasure of working in 4 different schools, landing here at Inly 17 years ago.

In a 2010 Wall Street Journal article, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the next generation of young people will spend an average of 3.8 years in a job and have 7 different careers in their lifetime. Quite different from my experience, and I dare say different than yours.

In his recent book: Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World, Harvard professor Tony Wagner says that we must  “graduate all students to be innovation ready.”  According to Wagner, they will need the following Survival Skills:

–critical thinking/problem solving
–collaboration/leading by influence
–agility and adaptability
–initiative and entrepreneurialism
–effective oral and written communication
–accessing and analyzing information
–curiosity and imagination

Montessori education is proving to be at the head of the class in educating innovators. Famous Montessori graduates who were innovation ready include Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, Will Wright the creator of the SIMS video game, and the founders of Google, Sergey Brin and Larry Page. In fact, Brin and Page credit much of their success to their Montessori education. In a Barbara Walters interview, they said they learned to be self-directed and self-starters as pre-schoolers. Brin and Page said that Montessori allowed them to learn to think for themselves and gave them freedom to pursue their own interests.

We’re proud to be educating the next generation of innovators, your grandfriends, here at Inly. We know you are, too!

Grandfriends’ Day continues to be a wonderful way to share the Inly experience with friends and grandfriends near and far. Thank you again to everyone who participated and we hope to see you all again next year!

Toddlers, Kindergarteners, Third and Sixth Graders Find Their Wings

Toddlers get ready for Montessori preschool at Inly.

Toddlers "fly up" to their new classes at Inly School

The “Flying Up” Ceremony: Celebrating transitions and soaring to new levels at Inly

On the last day of school each year, Inly honors children who are moving up to a new level: from Toddler to Preschool, from Kindergarten to Lower Elementary, from Lower to Upper Elementary and on up to Middle School. The entire preK-8 school community, including teachers, staff, family and friends, gathers in the Inly Artsbarn for the annual event.

“The ceremony is a tangible representation of their growth as they move on to the next step in their education,” explains Liz Knox, director of admission. “It’s a way for older children to practice leadership and welcome these new members into their community.”

It’s also a bit of a tear-jerker. Note for next year: Bring your hankies.

Marking growth, development… and transformation

In Toddler House, teachers “raise” butterflies in the classrooms each spring so that toddlers can observe their transformation up close. The children are fascinated as each chrysalis slowly changes and finally breaks out into the world as a magnificent butterfly. During the Flying Up ceremony, in an especially poignant moment, the butterflies are released and flutter out into the world.

Transitions ceremony for toddlers going to preschool at Inly School

Montessori student "flying up" from Toddler House to Children's House preschool at Inly School

Toddlers and Bridging students proudly don butterfly wings as they cross from one side of the room to the other, holding hands with older preschool students who welcome them to Children’s House with big hugs and handshakes.

First graders escort kindergartners next, welcoming them to their mixed-age classrooms (comprising grades 1, 2 and 3) in Lower Elementary. On the following day, kindergarten students also take part in the Inly graduation ceremony.

At Inly, Montessori students “fly up” to the following levels:

Montessori kindergarten student moves to first grade

Kindergarten student escorted by her brother and another Lower Elementary classmate

“The most amazing thing to me is the Middle School students flapping their wings,” remarked Lisa Crist, head of parent and alumni relations. “I expect it from the preschool kids, but to see 7th and 8th grade students — teenagers — flapping their wings as they bring the 6th graders up into their world… that just gets me every time.”

See Life and Events for more about Inly School traditions.

Student Perspective on Being Head of School

Experiential learning (or “learning by doing” “) permeates every part of the Inly curriculum, at all levels. It is part of our educational approach, in which students actively engage in relevant, authentic experiences that reinforce academic lessons or teach skills. It is also part of the environment outside the classroom. One Inly tradition that blends a fun twist to learning by doing is letting a student be in charge of the school for a day.

This year, eighth grader Chris G. had the opportunity to take over for Inly Head of School, Donna Milani Luther. From leading the all-school Morning Share, meeting with each department, granting extra recess time to all levels, and working in Alumni Relations, Chris got to experience a wide range of leadership roles.

Afterwards, Chris shared his thoughts on being Head of School for the day:

Being principal for the day at Inly School is a lot like being the captain of a ship. The captain oversees the operation of a hardworking, dedicated crew. During my day as Head of School, I saw firsthand how much the School and those who run it rely on their leader.  I believe that having an encouraging, reliable, and adventurous principal is a gift. Leading a school is a big job and not many can run it the superb way Donna does.  I enjoyed walking in Donna’s shoes. Serving as Head of School for a day made me really appreciate the effort our great teachers put into making sure we have a thorough and vigorous education.  We have a great faculty and are very lucky that our teachers care so much about us. Throughout the day, I was reminded of some quotes I’ve read. I thought I might share some:

  • “The best confidence builder is experience.”
  • “Most powerful is he who controls his own power.”
  • “A great student is what a teacher hopes to be.”
  • “A plan is only as good as those who see it through.”

The chance to be Head of School for the day is a small opportunity to gain insight into leadership at Inly. Providing all students with leadership education is an important part of the Inly experience. Read about the Student Leadership Summit to learn more.

The Halloween Parade: An Inly School Tradition

Inly celebrated Halloween this year with plenty of style. In keeping with tradition, students, faculty, and many parents showed off their creativity with many unique costumes.

The highlight of the day was the annual Halloween Parade and an impressive synchronized dance by the student body.

(Check out the sights and sounds of Halloween by clicking the video below)

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Mother's Day Tea—An Inly Kindergarten Tradition

By Jennifer DiGregorio, Inly Parent

It started several weeks ago in very subtle ways. Other mothers of Inly kindergarteners will know what I mean. The knowing looks. The whispering. The secret.


At our house, we talk every day about the “best” part of our girls’ days. Usually, they state “everything.” Lately, Abby had been telling us, “I can’t tell you.” A six year old, however, cannot keep a surprise in, especially when she is working on it. I later learned that “I did not need to bring my own cup,” that “I would have lunch,” and that “it would start at one-three-oh.”

Abby preyed upon our mailman, waiting anxiously for the “surprise” to arrive. Like Willy Wonka with his Golden Ticket, she carefully brought the yellow tulip invitation to me, and she was overjoyed that she now could talk about the special event: The Mother’s Day Tea.

For about a week, I was able to use The Mother’s Day Tea as the rationale for early bedtimes and an extra bath or two. It worked flawlessly. “You don’t want to be dirty for the tea,” “You don’t want to be tired for the tea.”

Abby planned her outfit carefully, a long-discarded Easter dress with a spinning skirt and twinkly-toed high-top sneakers. She arranged for a special hair do, and she was good to go. Was I?


I started to well up half-way between my office in Marshfield and Inly School. In Children’s House Two, we have a few moms who had experienced an earlier tea with an older sibling. They gave us other moms knowing smiles as our seven creative and enthusiastic kindergarteners stormed through the door and grabbed our hands. Each of the children’s faces beamed with pride. From the placard listing our menu to a set of beautiful two-top tables, it was clear our CH2 kindergarteners had worked for hours to prepare for the celebration.


I sat down to a personalized placemat which matched my daughter’s. Abby showed me the pink flower she had potted and watered for me. She held the pottery pieces she had shaped and painted like precious jewels. She served me perfect cucumber and butter sandwiches, banana chocolate chip muffins, and fruit before she served herself. One by one, each student carefully poured iced tea from pitchers into the “tea cups.”

All around me, I could hear the other students and their mothers talking about the sweet music, the delicious food, and the wonderful company. These conversations were highlighted by “please,” “thank you,” and “you’re welcome.” The Mother’s Day Tea, after all, is the culmination of three years of “practical life” and  “grace and courtesy” lessons learned and practiced in a Montessori Children’s House.


All of our children shared the work—as a team—of preparing their room and the meal for our party. At Suzy’s cue, each child brought his or her mother fantastic gifts: a laminated list of words describing  each “mother” surrounded by a rainbow of art; a beaded bracelet interwoven with inspirational sayings in a beautiful gift bag; a big hug; a juicy smooch.


While the sugar from the iced tea and the muffins eventually kicked in and sent our children into a tickling, wrestling match, we were able to regain some calmness and peace out on the upper field. It was great to see Abby playing with all of her classmates in their element, no holds barred. For me, it also was special to experience the magic of Inly as a mom, having tea, grooving to music, and loving our girl.