Newsletter Number 16 • Wednesday 27th October 2021

From the Principal

This week I attended an online webinar with Jade Crathern (Board President) on 'What Boards need to know about Wellbeing'.  The webinar was presented by Dr Helen Street an international expert on school-based wellbeing. Her book 'Contextual Wellbeing: Creating Positive Schools from the Inside Out' has become an educational best seller and continues to inform the support of wellbeing in schools worldwide.     

She talked about the importance of explicitly teaching wellbeing strategies to children and young people. She impressed upon the attendees the importance of individuals having a sense of belonging and engagement. If young people have a sense of belonging and engagement they are less likely to:

  • participate in risky and antisocial behaviour
  • drop out of school
  • engage in substance abuse and drugs
  • be depressed
  • have issues with truancy.

Dr Helen Street presented the three keys that students need to develop motivation and self determination which is intrinsically linked to positive wellbeing.   

  • Autonomy and Agency - young people need to have a choice and some control over the things that they do   
  • Progress and a sense of competency - young people need to know that the emphasis should not be solely about reaching the outcome but about the process and continually growing and learning
  •  Cohesion - relationships are key and a sense of belonging within the group/s that one belongs to e.g. school class, sports teams etc        

Helen stressed the importance of relationships between students and staff which also helps young people feel connected.

She spoke at length about competition and not always having a focus on winning. She explained that extrinsic rewards diminish young people's motivation.  Helen said we want to build students who make good choices when 'no-one is watching' and who deal with failure well because the emphasis is not always on winning.

All of these things build resiliency and positive wellbeing in our students.  

Both Jade and myself were very pleased and reassured that many of Dr Helen Street's ideas were in line with the Montessori philosophy and methodology. I felt encouraged and heartened by listening to this presentation.  It once again reaffirmed the common sense and holistic approach that Dr Maria Montessori devised over 100  years ago and made me grateful to be working with like minded adults who also passionately believe in the Montessori approach to working with, and educating, young people.

Cathy France


COVID 19 Update

Last week we were provided with a COVID update from SA Health and the Association of Independent Schools SA (AISSA).  I am sure many parents would have heard the update that secondary students and secondary staff no longer need to wear masks whilst at school.

Some staff members have expressed puzzlement over the timing of this announcement due to the likelihood of our borders opening up in the near future and the inevitable arrival of the Covid19 Virus.  

Requirements for Parents

SA Health and the AISSA's advice regarding school parents is to continue as we have been;

  • parents are asked not to enter the school grounds at both campuses if this is at all possible
  • parents are asked to wear masks when indoors - visiting the office, classrooms or meeting with teachers  
  • parents do not need to wear masks when outdoors unless social distancing is not possible.  
Requirements for HMS Staff
  • all staff have been asked to continue to wear masks in the Yultiwirra admin building.
  • Yultiwirra and Wairoa staff also need to wear masks when meeting with parents indoors (office or classroom).
  • All staff need to wear masks in staff meetings if social distancing is not possible.  
  • Masks are not mandatory in outside areas or in classrooms or when staff are on yard duty.  
Staff have been asked to try to increase ventilation in spaces where they are working (office, classrooms, library etc) as much as possible via the opening of doors and windows. Staff have also been asked to continue to maintain good hygiene using sanitiser on hands and washing down surfaces. Students are also being reminded and encouraged to use good hygiene practices.

We thank all of our parents and staff for their ongoing support as we navigate these COVID challenges.

Cathy France - Principal

Board Communique

The October Board meeting was held at our Wairoa campus so that the Board could see the renovations and extensions that have been undertaken.  It was our first face to face Board meeting since the beginning of this year.

We spent the majority of the meeting undertaking small group activities to provide input for the Strategic Planning process.  Meg Barker (Board member) is chairing the Strategic Planning committee and expertly led the Board through various activities to determine priorities for the future direction of our school.  Staff and Board committees are currently being consulted and are contributing thoughts and ideas towards the consultative Strategic Planning process.  A parent survey will be disseminated soon to gather input and priorities from parents.  I encourage all parents to 'have their say' and contribute to this important work.

Jade Crathern

Board President

Cycle News

Infant Program

We have commenced Term 4 with fun, sunshine and rainbows! Making rainbow pizzas was a highlight for many children, as well as an emphasis on water and sensory play outside. We look forward to enjoying more sunny spring and summer mornings this term!

Infant Program photos

Cycle 1 Preschool

Preschool children are learning about the Space and the Solar System. They are learning the names of the planets and exploring them in a variety of hands-on ways. Inflatable planets displayed in the classroom help the children learn the order of the planets and the gravitational power of the sun. They made their own planets using plasticine, with sparkly dark playdough to represent the universe.

Children also enjoyed listening to Cathy Strong (Jack’s mum) reading a nonfiction book about the Sun and talking about that big star and its solar flares. Extended day program children were role playing and mimicking the Earth and Moon orbiting the Sun. They took turns being the Sun at the centre of the Solar System, the Earth rotating around itself counter-clockwise and the Moon that follows the Earth. 

Cycle 1 Primary

Cycle 1 children especially enjoy our unique hills setting, spending time soaking up our natural environment throughout their day. Some favourites being morning fitness in the bush, lunch play (of course), art inspired by our landscape, bird watching from the deck and the opportunity to get our hands dirty in the garden. At the end of last term we engaged with some new ways to play, learn and create in the outdoors, guided by Nature Play SA. The children excitedly learnt about puggles (baby echidna’s) and later created their own ‘Spikey’s’ out of clay and sticks from the bush. We weaved, we built shelters, played with naturally scented playdough and made homes with loose parts of cut wood. Finally we took a moment of total peace, our foreheads resting on a tree trunk as we listened to all that could be heard. So enjoyed by all, what a spectacular place to call our school.

Cycle 1 primary photos

Cycle 2

This term in Cycle 2 we are exploring measurement.  We have learnt about the origins of the ‘metre’ and the etymology of ‘centi’ and ‘milli’.  We have begun to estimate and measure the length of items using informal measurements, such as the number of paper clips required to span an object, as well as formal measurements, including centimetres and millimetres.  Later in the term, we will learn about other types of measurement, such as capacity, mass and surface area.

Following one of our morning meetings ‘down bush’, the students were asked to go on short ventures, observing and reporting back to the adults as to what they had seen. Students were asked to generally observe, then look high, look low and finally collect something interesting and ‘natural’ from the bush floor to share with the class. This short activity was to encourage the children to observe and appreciate the environment they play in. In the following art lesson, the class discussed ‘totems’ in Aboriginal Culture, what it meant and were asked think about what animals, plants, elements of nature they identified with. Each student then divided their ‘totem pole’ into five sections and drew images of nature that they felt best represented themselves.

Did you know that centi means one-hundredth? - Daniella Evangelista 

Or that milli means one-thousandth? – Lachlan Winslow 

Cycle 2 photos

Cycle 3

Last Friday, Adrian from Animals Anonymous visited Nat and Sam’s class.  Year 6 student Abigail Rayner helped to organise this incursion as a part of her major project.  Abigail completed the theory aspect by researching pythons and creating a bound book and a slideshow presentation, which she shared with the class.

The class had an opportunity to hold some of the animals and certainly got up close to a Bettong, Sugar Glider Possums, Tawny Frog mouth and several pythons.  Adrian shared a plethora of facts about these native animals, with genuine passion about conservation and awareness of the part we can play to support the continued existence of these beautiful animals.

All of the children enjoyed the experience immensely.

"I loved holding and patting all of the different animals.  My favourite animal was the little sugar glider.  It was funny because it thought Nat was a tree and kept climbing up her body.  I really like animals, so this was really fun for me."

Cycle 3 photos

Cycle 4

As 2021 draws to a close, and our senior students look to their years beyond The Hills Montessori School, we again consider the educational experiences with which our students finish. As a school, we collectively take pride in the breadth of our students’ learning, and the nourishing of individual aptitudes. Our Occupations program for this term is an excellent example of this: students have chosen between robotics, meteorology, pasta-making, and celebration-planning.

Our Transitions and Celebrations group is well underway in its planning of events such as graduation and Year 6 transition, and have been meeting with key stakeholders to ensure that the events meet the needs of our students and the school. The Observing Weather group, led by Dave and our pre-service teacher, Jeannette, are studying weather phenomena, and building their own weather stations. Continuing from Term 3, Robotics are preparing for their participation in ‘First Lego League’, building a robot to solve issues around transporting goods. In Making Pasta, students have been participating in workshops at Mercato and Lot 100, as well as practising at school, in preparation for catering for the graduation event in Week 8.

The Occupations program is indicative of the true gifts of a Montessori education: curiosity about our world, and a self-determined diversity of experience.

“I think it’s amazing that we get to choose our different subjects, and getting to experience and learn about different things has changed my perspective on the world.” - Daisy, Year 8.

“Over the time I’ve been here, I’ve done a lot of different things - and that’s pretty epic. I’ve had the opportunity to learn so many different things, and it’s been really fun being able to choose from such a wide variety of topics. Having the opportunity to dictate what your learning is amazing.” - Eamon, Year 9.

Cycle 4 photos

Indonesian with Ellis

Penny and Bonnie’s class recently had the opportunity to travel abroad (virtually!) as part of our strategy to extend language learning beyond the classroom. The class participated in a Zoom meeting with Year 3 students from our Indonesian sister school, SD Alfa Centauri, in Bandung (West Java).

Students took turns practising greetings, introducing themselves and chatting about their hobbies in both Indonesian and English, depending on their language ability and confidence. Talking face-to-face with native speakers was a new experience for all the kids involved, including our Indonesian friends. One of the most rewarding aspects of language teaching is witnessing children successfully communicate in the other’s language – it’s also tremendously empowering and motivating for the learners.

Below are some ‘light bulb’ moment from our students:

It was really good to know that we have a sister school in Indonesia because I didn’t know that before. (Kai)

It was really nice to meet them, and their English is actually really good! We can understand them and they could understand us. (Lilly)

It was interesting to see how well we are doing in Indonesian and that they could understand us in their language. (Audrey)

“I was surprised to hear how good their Indonesian is… until I realised they’ve been speaking it since they were born!”, said one of the students, assuming that English was spoken naturally by kids in Indonesia!

Finally, huge congratulations to Hazel and Jak for receiving a ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ for their participation in the Premiers Reading Challenge Indonesian Competition (in partnership with the Indonesian Government) and the National Australia Indonesia Language Awards (NAILA). Hazel and Jak recommend other students take these opportunities in the future as “it would be fun for them” (Jak) and “you learn stuff and believe more in yourself” (Hazel).

SELAMAT UNTUK SEMUANYA! (Well done everyone!)


Congratulations to Cycle 3 student Lucia who features in The Advertiser today. Lucia is a finalist in the 2021 Origin Little Big Idea competition for her invention of The School Stuff Checker, a phone app which was inspired by her own forgetfulness!

Lucia said: “I’m using RFID tags, like they put in the back of library books to keep track of who has borrowed them. If I put a tag on each of my school things then I can scan my school bag with a phone, it will check all the things inside against a list of what I need for the day and tell me if anything’s missing. It’ll also help me find things because it will beep when I’m searching through the house and I get close to the missing thing.”

Lucia said her invention had helped put an end to forgetting her book bag and diary, which had often made her late for school. Now in its eighth year, Little Big Idea is designed to foster creativity and innovation in Aussie kids as part a broader commitment to supporting education and encouraging Australia’s future STEAM talent.

Great work Lucia!

NAPLAN Results

Parents with children in Years 3, 5, 7 & 9 are asked to contact their child’s class teacher to make a time to discuss the NAPLAN results in conjunction with other school records.

We're challenging ourselves for sick kids!

On the last day of term three, Cycle 3 students watched the movie 'Wonder' after reading the book and are raising funds to support sick children who are cared for by the Women's and Children's Hospital (WCH) including children cared for by the Craniofacial Unit.

The WCH Foundation relies on the generous contributions from the community to brighten the lives of patients and their families and support brilliant care at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

Please DONATE NOW by clicking on the link

and support our challenge.

Thank you – Cycle 3 staff and students.

Donations for St Vinnies Christmas Hampers

Many people have been 'doing it tough' this year and so as a community we would like to support those in need.

If families would like to donate non perishable items for St Vinnies Christmas Hampers, please drop off non perishable goods to staff at the gate and / or have your child your drop items into the Office.

Donations will be accepted until Monday 22nd November.

Thank you for your support!

Cultural Connection Zone

The Cultural Connection Zone is a regular spot in the Newsletter highlighting cultural events & information provided by the Cultural Understanding (staff) committee. See items below.

Cultural Events at the Art Gallery of South Australia

Start at the Gallery: Make & Create

Sunday 7 November

11am – 3pm

This event offers a variety of kid-friendly experiences with links to the Indigenous festival, Tarnanthi, and the Oz Asia Festival.   There will be opportunities to explore a range of educational activities including, interactive art experiences, sketching tours, and traditional Ngarrindjeri and Ngadjuri weaving.  For more information, head to:

While you are visiting the art gallery, you can also enjoy the Tarnanthi exhibition as a family by following the ‘Children’s Trails’.  From AGSA:

Explore Tarnanthi with your family and friends using these children's trails that are suitable for all ages. The suggested activities provide you with alternate ways to engage with the works of art on display – no prior knowledge or preparation is required. We encourage you to slow down and take time to have a conversation with the work of art. Most of all, have fun actively engaging with works of art and with each other.

Collect a complimentary sketchbook, activity sheet and pencil from The Studio for you to document your Tarnanthi adventure.

Find out more:

People’s Choice Community Lottery

Hands up if you want to support The Hills Montessori School and be in the chance to WIN some great prizes valued at more than $300,000? 

This year the school is again taking part in the People’s Choice Community Lottery to help reach our fundraising goals. We get to keep 100% from every $2 ticket sold and our goal is to sell enough tickets to raise at least $1500 so we can make improvements to the outdoor spaces at both the Yultiwirra and Wairoa.

Tickets are only $2 each and by buying from us, not only do you support us, you also go into the draw to win one of 40 prizes worth over $300,000. 

To buy tickets, head to  and click buy tickets. Each ticket is another entry to win! 

Please feel free to also send this on to your family and friends.

Diary Dates

Term 4 2021

Thursday 28th October

School Photos

Friday 5th November

Parent Discussion Group with Libby 9.30am

Fundraising committee meeting 9.15am

Tuesday 9th November

I & PC meeting 8.00am @ Yultiwirra

Finance committee meeting 6.00pm

Wednesday 10th November - Friday 12th November

Cycle 3 Camp


“Character formation cannot be taught. 

It comes from experience and not from explanation.”

Maria Montessori


Term 4: 12 October – 8 December


Term 1:  1 February  – 14 April

Term 2:  3 May – 1 July

Term 3:  26 July – 30 September 

Term 4:  18 October – 14 December