Author Archive for jessica

MPIA Focusing on “The Adolescent Brain: The Emotional Years”

Please join the PTO on Tuesday, January 14 at 8:30 am for an informative MPIA focusing on the Adolescent Brain featuring special guest Dr. Caitlyn McLear with Synergy Psych, LLC!

Dr. McLear looks forward to sharing her expertise in the adolescent brain that will give great insight into these self-conscious and emotional years. She will also discuss the effects of Social Media on the brain and its effect on risk-taking behavior at a time when reasoning and risk-taking don’t align. 

We will provide coffee and treats in the main house prior to her presentation. This event is open to the public. If you are not a current parent, please call the front office if you would like to attend this educational event. We hope to see you on January 14!

MPIA Featuring Guest Artist Eva Magill-Oliver

We are excited to welcome local artist, Eva Magill-Oliver, to our Montessori Parents in Action (MPIA) on Tuesday, December 3 for a special guest artist event.

Eva gets her inspiration from the natural world. She creates delicate, meditative collages, drawings, and paintings that reflect and explore different elements in nature and organic environments. Eva’s earthy, fluid brushstrokes channel plant life, the flow of water, and the horizon and they caught the eye of athletic gear giant Nike in 2018. Since March of 2019, her artwork has been featured on their women’s running apparel and footwear. Her dynamic patterns are intentionally soft and bold and serve to connect runners with the environment around them.  “Running is the time when I can focus my ideas and decompress while connecting with nature,” McGill-Oliver says. “I wanted my designs to demonstrate that feeling.” Nike promotes Eva Magill-Oliver’s designs by touting that her designs “give running apparel a meditative vibe.” Her designs are available for purchase at        

Join us to learn about Eva’s art, her process, her journey as a rising woman artist, and how she caught the eye of one of the world’s largest suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel.    

Exploring Global Citizenship in the 21st Century

Five Oaks Academy has partnered with other educational institutions as well as the Greenville business community for a special community-wide educational event, “Global Citizenship: Preparing Students for Success in the 21st Century” featuring Dr. Derrick Gay. Dr. Derrick Gay, an internationally recognized consultant to organizations both domestic and abroad, will address the importance of this generation’s understanding of our interconnected global society. To address this topic, he will focus on issues including Cultural Competency, Inclusion, Diversity, and Global Citizenship that will help prepare students for success in the 21st century.

Dr. Gay has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, 60 Minutes, and on New YorkPublic Radio just to name a few. His Ted Talk “Why Elephants Hold the Key to Success in the 21st Century” has enlightened audiences around the world on the challenges facing students today. He collaborates with thought leaders to cultivate cultural competency, promote empathy, and deepen inclusion in educational and business settings. Global citizenship is a key factor in creating successful businesses and in basic everyday interactions in an ever-changing world.  

We hope this “Synergy” event will inspire and educate our fast-growing international Greenville community. It is free and open to the public. Please join us for this empowering community event!  Seating is limited to less than 300 at the Greenville One Center. To register, go to

Primary Parent Workshop Exploring Sensorial and Practical Life

The Five Oaks Academy Primary Teachers will hold an educational workshop exploring the Montessori Practical Life and Sensorial areas of the classroom on Thursday, September 12 from 6:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. They will demonstrate works from both areas as well as discuss Dr. Monotessori’s philosophy in regards to these areas of the classroom.

If you are interested in attending this workshop, please call the front office by Thursday at noon so we will have the appropriate number of handouts and chairs.

Pets in the Classroom and on Campus

“The child who has felt a strong love for his surroundings and for all living creatures, who has discovered joy and enthusiasm in work, gives us reason to hope that humanity can develop in a new direction.” Maria Montessori 

At Five Oaks Academy, we support Dr. Montessori’s vision of creating a relationship with animals and plants so that students can gain first-hand knowledge of the plant and animal sciences. We believe that animals on campus set a positive, welcoming tone and provide students an opportunity to learn about various aspects of the Animal Kingdom. An emphasis on the natural world establishes a school climate that is accepting, supportive, and curious. We want our students to learn responsibility, compassion, empathy, and to have an understanding and respect for all living things. 

Unique to the Montessori curriculum is the direct link Dr. Montessori observed between child and nature. In developing the student’s understanding of the natural world, Dr. Montessori created a curriculum that involved students in caring for, being exposed to, and studying the Plant and Animal Kingdoms. Another aspect of the curriculum is Grace and Courtesy, which encourages an environment of love and respect for all living things, including plants, animals, and people. As part of the Montessori Science curriculum, caring for the pet teaches children about Biology, Life Cycles, and Parts of the Animals, all of which incorporate correct vocabulary. “Just as a child is learning to be kind to one another and to respect plants, this is the time to give careful hands-on lessons on being kind to animals too. Children naturally have a wonderful disposition toward animals. Having animals in the classroom (also the homes) provide a child with daily and correct demonstrations of how to care for them. Children find satisfaction in learning the tiny details of feeding, giving affection, and cleaning after animals” says Dana Severidt of Montessori Tides School. 

Some pets to be considered for the classroom or campus are fish, turtles, snakes, lizards, iguanas, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets, cats, dogs, chickens, etc. “Especially if a child has no experience at home with pets, exposure to a wide range of animal life in the classroom can benefit a child: from touching, observing, caring for, and making connections to the natural world, to understanding the delicacy and uniqueness of all life” says Severidt. 

Having a rich plant and animal life will greatly benefit all community members, children, and adults. Health benefits such as a reduction in blood pressure and heart rate have been shown as well as reducing stress and anxiety and helping children and adults who struggle in social interactions. Our goal is to create a warm and caring environment. 

First MPIA (Montessori Parents in Action) Meeting Next Week

Please join us for our first MPIA of the school year next Tuesday, August 27. Dr. Caitlin McLear, Ph.D of Synergy Psych will be explaining how to look for warning signs of academic, social, and/or emotional distress and when to seek intervention. There will be a Q & A session following her presentation.

We welcome anyone from the Greenville/Simpsonville community to attend this event. If you are not currently a part of the FOA community and would like to attend, please call the front office and ask for Jessica Greer to confirm your attendance.


The Montessori Elementary Experience

We would like to invite the parents of our elementary level children to join us for a night exploring the “Montessori Elementary Experience” on Tuesday, August 20 from 6:00-7:00 pm! 

We will be covering the following topics that will help parents understand the logistics of the elementary classrooms as well as the social and emotional components:

  • Subject Teaching
  • Daily Schedule & Related Arts
  • Independence & Accountability: Student work in the classroom
  • Role of Contact Groups
  • Homework & Projects
  • Field trips
  • Cooking & Snack Preparation
  • Social Dynamics of the Elementary Child 
    • Planes of Development
    • How Montessori helps increase social awareness
    • How you as a parent can support your child’s social awareness and development
    • Book discussion- Queen Bees and Wannabees
  • Preparation for Middle School

A Message from the Executive Director

As we close this year, I want to thank you for making the 2018-2019 academic year such a memorable year at Five Oaks Academy. Your commitment to excellence and to the partnership between parent and school/student has brought forth continued growth.

In May we earned our STEAM accreditation and received the following comments from SCISA’s Dr. Spencer Jordan. “Five Oaks Academy is an excellent example of a school taking advantage of SCISA Professional Development to meet desired outcomes. The faculty and students were very good ambassadors for the school and expressed notable enthusiasm and engagement. The STEAM program developed by the administration and staff is exemplary and more than meets the SCISA requirements of STEAM Certification.

SCISA’s committee acknowledges the following Powerful Practices:
1. Vertical Alignment throughout the school for the STEAM
program is impressive
2. Practical life applications were integrated into the initiative
3. Complete buy-in by faculty
4. Adequate funding for the program was evident
5. Built-in staff meetings and collaborative design were impressive as they relate to the STEAM initiative

SCISA commends the outstanding work of the Five Oaks staff in developing the STEAM curriculum. SCISA Executive Director, Dr. Spencer Jordan, and former SCISA Executive Director, Mr. Larry Watt, gave a glowing evaluation of their on-site accreditation visit of Five Oaks Academy. They said they were “speechless” because this was the best on-site visit for STEAM accreditation that they have had in the entire state. They went on to say that by adding empathy to our design process, it sets us apart from other programs. This empathy connects students to real-world applications and makes the design process more meaningful. Some of our students and lead teachers were interviewed for the evaluation and there was an extensive review of all classroom practices for STEAM.

Five Oaks Academy’s S.T.E.A.M. Model

Thank you to the students who participated in our Raise Craze fundraiser. Funds raised for their acts of kindness allow each classroom to purchase STEAM materials that furthered the cause!

Please enjoy your summer and if you are returning, we will be looking forward to seeing you in August! If this is your final year at FOA, please know you will always be a part of our community.

With much gratitude and Happy Summer!  

Ms. Kathleen

Italian Honey Bees Find a Home at FOA

We are excited to announce that we now have a honey bee hive that houses Italian honey bees! We have cultural diversity everywhere here at FOA even in our honey bees!  Our hive of Italian honeybees (Apis mellifera) includes approximately 10,000 bees, including nurse bees, forager bees, guard bees, drone bees, and a newly mated queen bee. Our hive is located on the nature trail next to the stream and will be available for observation to our students. Bees are so fascinating and essential for our existence. We know this will spur a lot of new research and interest among our students. 

Once the bees establish themselves and draw out new honeycomb, the queen will start laying eggs. The first bees will hatch in 21 days. Up to 2,000 bees per day could hatch during peak foraging. New supers will be added as the colony size grows. The hive may have as many as 60,000 bees by midsummer. If the current hive is growing well, it can be split to start a new hive.

We also have a blog dedicated to our Italian honeybees where you can read about the exciting developments in our hive and also subscribe to it if you’d like. We are so grateful for our beekeeper/ FOA parent, Dan Magner, for overseeing this amazing project and being a mentor to our students. Several of the Upper Elementary students have taken a special interest in learning about these extraordinary creatures and how to care for them. These junior beekeepers got to experience a hive check and even taste a tiny bit of the sweet honey our bees have made. To keep up with what is happening in our hive, go to

Interesting facts and safety information to share with your child: 

  • This species produces more honey than it consumes and this will allow us to collect honey from them. An established hive will produce up to 60 lbs (5 gallons) of honey per year. Generally, not as much or sometimes no honey is collected during the first year because the bees are using much of it to build new wax honeycombs. Bees must consume 6-8 pounds of honey to produce 1 pound of wax.
    • Will honeybees sting? Honeybees are very gentle creatures! You could stand at the front entrance of their hive all day and they wouldn’t bother you. Honeybees really don’t want to sting you. That being said, they will sting if they feel you are threatening their eggs or their honey, and you don’t back off after ample warning. In other words, you are most likely to be stung when the hive is open.
    • How can I tell if the bees are feeling threatened? They will give you plenty of warning that is pretty easy to figure out. Some bees will come out of the hive and bump into you repeatedly as a way to say, “back off a little bit.” If
    the person is being bumped naturally takes a few steps back, it’s usually enough to satisfy the bees. If that doesn’t work, they give off an alarm pheromone that smells just like bananas! It’s really quite amazing!
  • Why do you need a bee suit and smoke when opening the hives for inspection or to collect honey? Bees feel threatened when their hive is opened. Smoke is used primarily for two reasons: it masks their alarm pheromone so they can’t signal other bees; and it simulates a nearby fire, which encourages the bees to start eating honey in lieu of all else in case they need to depart in a hurry. Since the bees are so busy doing other things, smoke makes it easy to check the hives. The bee suit is an extra precaution, but really all that is needed is a veil.

STEM in the Montessori Environment

Dr. Maria Montessori developed a STEM curriculum over 100 years ago knowing that the best way for students to retain information is through a hands-on inquiry approach to learning.

Dr. Montessori went against traditional education norms by insisting that, even at age 3, students needed to focus their attention on the natural world of sciences. Today if you visit a Montessori Primary classroom consisting of 3, 4 and 5-year-olds, you will see real-life photographs and maps pertaining to continent studies and biomes. What you won’t see are photos of fantasy and make-believe cartoon characters on the walls or on the shelves.

Entrenched in the Montessori philosophy is a scientific method that corresponds to the modern design process touted by the STEM Curriculum. These two educational ideas work hand in hand to support student driven inquiry and reflection.