Weekly Feature: A Window Into Our Classrooms

A month ago, some 8th grade Spanish students were incredible risk takers and decided to enter a poetry contest the organization Mundus Maris created to raise awareness on the importance on taking care of the Oceans.

Today, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate World Oceans Day than by congratulating both Gillian and Nina after winning the Sea Lion and Shark prizes, respectively!! I couldn’t be more proud of all of them today! They are all incredibly talented and so willing to step out of their comfort zones by participating in a contest where everyone was submitting their work in their first language!
Please take a moment to look at the webpage where they haven been portrayed.

Weekly Update: A Window Into Our Classrooms

MIS IB Award Winners For 2016/2017…

Kindergarten/1st Grade

John’s Class:

Nico – Balanced
Sofia – Inquirer
Lucas – Inquirer
Owen – Inquirer
Hudson – Inquirer
Esme – Inquirer
Betty – Inquirer
Jack – Knowledgeable
Solomon – Open-Minded
Carmen – Reflective
Logan – Risk-Taker
Ava – Risk-Taker
Owen – Risk-Taker
Camas – Risk-Taker
Sarah – Thinker
Monroe – Thinker
Luca – Thinker

Andrea and Virginia’s Class:

Chase – Balanced
Alexandria – Caring
Violet – Caring
Aspen – Caring
Alina – Caring
Dylan – Communicator
Sophie – Communicator
August – Knowledgeable
Charlotte – Knowledgeable
Finn – Open-Minded
Eleanor – Principled
Kaiden – Reflective
Keilan – Risk-Taker
Thomas – Risk-Taker
Daniel – Risk-Taker
Piper – Inquirer
Russell – Inquirer

2nd/3rd Grades

Miriam’s class:

Colin – Balanced
Jackson – Balanced
Sebastian – Caring
Damia – Caring
Stefanie – Communicator
Ezekiel – Inquirer
Basil – Inquirer
Intza – Knowledgeable
Emilia – Principled
Nico – Risk-Taker
Alex – Risk-Taker
Indy – Risk-Taker
Maya – Risk-Taker
Rowan – Thinker
Isaiah – Thinker

Patricia’s Class:

Mai – Balanced and Thinker
Astra – Caring
Jorin – Caring
Sadie – Knowledgeable
Holly – Open-Minded
Jasper – Principled
Isaac – Reflective
Sebastien – Risk-Taker
Myla – Risk-Taker
Camila – Thinker
Astra – Thinker
Armaan – Thinker
Fiona – Thinker
Fischer – Thinker
Michael – Thinker
Land  – Principled

4th/5th Grades

Carme’s Class:

Sylvie – Balanced
Liam – Balanced
Stella – Caring
Emma – Caring
Wren – Communicator
Ruben – Communicator
Michael – Communicator
Axl – Communicator
Sophia – Knowledgeable
Wilson – Knowledgeable
Ana – Reflective
Caj – Reflective
Celia – Risk-Taker
Natalie – Thinker
Mason – Thinker

Ibrahin’s Class:

Maximo – Balanced
Eliana – Balanced
Liev – Caring
Oliver – Caring
Hannah – Communicator
Claire – Communicator
Grace – Communicator
Athena – Communicator
Araitz – Knowledgeable
Rye – Open-Minded
Ezra – Principled
Ellis – Reflective
Summer – Risk-Taker
Anna – Risk-Taker
Graham – Risk-Taker

Karim’s Class:

Samuel – Balanced
Spencer – Balanced
Chloe – Balanced
Isabelle – Caring
Isabella – Communicator
Ava – Inquirer
Craig – Open-Minded
Rowan – Risk-Taker
Amelie – Thinker
Jolene – Thinker
Luca – Thinker
Quynh – Thinker
Maye  – Caring
Ridley  – Risk-Taker
EB – Knowledgeable
Edwin  – Open-Minded

Middle School

Barb’s Advisory:

Eden – Caring
Mia – Communicator
Grace – Inquirer
Oliver – Knowledgeable
Alexis – Open-Minded
Elijah – Principled
Cyrus – Reflective
Jasper – Risk-Taker
Sage – Thinker
Emma  – Balanced
Henry  – Reflective
Ruby  – Reflective

Christian’s Advisory:

Sasha – Balanced
Rex – Balanced
Sasha – Balanced
Juliet – Caring
Camille – Open-Minded
Aidan – Principled
Nina – Principled
Colton – Principled
Emmaline – Principled
Cristobal – Risk-Taker
Elly – Risk-Taker
Karma – Risk-Taker
Joshua – Risk-Taker

Gillian’s Advisory:

Amelia – Balanced
Gillian – Balanced
Allison – Balanced
Ari – Balanced
Alex – Knowledgeable
Elsa – Principled
Colette – Reflective
Cooper – Risk-Taker
Marta – Risk-Taker
Birch – Risk-Taker
Jack – Thinker
Diego – Risk-Taker

Jen’s Advisory:

Collin – Balanced
Bennett – Balanced
Georgia – Communicator
Joanna – Communicator
Ian – Inquirer
Clayton – Knowledgeable
Liam – Principled
Avery – Principled
Julian – Reflective
Cole – Risk-Taker
Evelyn – Risk-Taker
McKenna – Thinker

Weekly Feature: A Window Into Our Classrooms


Diana talks about her preschool class:

The preschoolers are working on the Community unit, under the Transdisciplinary theme, “How we organize ourselves.” An inquiry on how people communicate, collaborate and work together to build communities. This month, we have been very active and visiting various places in Missoula. We’ve been to Bernice’s Bakery, The Food Bank, Upcycled, Peace Center, The Clark Fork Coalition, the PEAS farm and Greenough Park. We have had some parents in to talk to us about their work and how their work helps support our community. It’s been fascinating; students have been learning so much and making connections with their community!

Some of the preschoolers will transition to Kindergarten next year; it’s such a bittersweet feeling but they have been showing so much growth this year, in various aspects. They have shown to be such risk-takers and avid learners; I feel so proud of my students! At this age, it is so easy to create a strong bond which is great but also makes it harder to let them go, I’m sure I’m going to miss them so much!


Get to Know Diana…

Diana can be found doing yoga, reading stories, or running around on the playground with her students. She is always actively engaging with her students no matter what they are doing.

Diana is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico. She joined the MIS preschool team in 2014. Previous to MIS, Diana worked at the Early Learning and Day Care Center at the WHATSOEVER Community Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Diana has a BA from the Autonomous University of Chihuahua. She is also the proud mother of MIS students Camila and Sofia.

Do you have any fun summer plans?
We are planning on doing a lot of camping and exploring new places in Montana; we will try to get the most out of the Summer, like every year. And, we hope to use John Kratz’s new book to find waterfalls 🙂

I really want to use the summer to reconnect with my two girls, I feel it’s been an intensive working year and I feel I haven’t had enough time to spend with them, it’s something that I’m really looking forward.

What do you miss about Mexico?

*Sigh* So many things! Starting with my family! Also, my mom’s farm, it’s a pecan farm that’s been an important setting for my life. It’s where we spent most of our days growing up and now an important place for 8 of my 13 nephews and nieces (5 of them live in KC). I miss my 6 brothers and my mom who used to spoil me big time.

I miss the lifestyle. Mexico moves to a much slower, more laid back pace. There’s less rushing-rushing, so we can spend longer moments enjoying time together as a family. ‘Sobremesa’ is when families linger at the table, chatting after the main meal of the day. For us, it’s usually around 2 or 3 pm before returning to work later in the afternoon. I also miss the simplicity of life in Mexico. We don’t have to make complicated plans to visit a friend, we would just show up! And, that’s such a normal thing to do over there.

Food! I don’t think I have to give much explanation about this subject right? But I miss real Mexican food; Tamales, Pozole, Tacos (real tacos), Pipian, Tortas, Capirotada… everything.

I miss my traditions, my friends, my people.

What do you like about Missoula?

Missoula is a beautiful place in every sense. I love that we can be out in nature as easy as stepping out off the backyard, so many hiking places, without even having to drive. I also love the people! I’ve always found the people to be open and internationally minded. I think it is a great community that knows how to work together to help other people; I love that! I feel really proud to live in a place like this!


Weekly Feature: A Window Into Our Classrooms


MIS has 13 familias; they are small groups of students, from all grades, who meet about once a month. The younger students look up to the older students, who get to experience being leaders for their younger school mates. The familias get to do art together, share their thoughts and feelings, and learn from each other. At the end of the year, each familia gets to eat lunch together and reflect on their year. MIS’s familias are a strong community builder and the kids love their time together.

Familias lunch and Open Mic assembly.  Friday, June 2 at 12:15 p.m. 
On Friday, our K-8th grade will gather in our familias to share a final lunch and circle.  Then at 12:15, we will all gather in the MIS gym to watch some of our talented students perform at our first open mic day.  We will also honor our final group of students with an IB award.  We plan to finish at 1:00 p.m.  Feel free to join us!

Weekly Feature: A Window into our Classrooms

MIS’s FIRST LEGO League Bee Bots…


MIS has two FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) teams, Bee Bots and Alpha Bots. Bee Bots is going to the North American Open competition this year! The North American Open is an invitation-only, FLL showcase event – an international celebration of teamwork and STEM education. Throughout the 2016/17 season, over 250,000 students participated on 33,000 teams from 88 countries across the globe. Over 1,400 qualifying events were held, and 80 teams were invited to participate in the North American Open, representing MIS and Montana this year.

Each team works on three different pieces: a research project, a robot game and the FLL core values.  For more information about FIRST and FLL please visit: http://www.firstlegoleague.org and http://www.usfirst.org.


Get to Know William…

William is originally from California.  He holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Cal Poly and a degree in Biochemistry from the University of Montana. He has worked as a software developer in a number of industries and taught courses in computer graphics and simulation as an adjunct professor at the University of Montana. He joined MIS in 2014, teaching courses in 3D design and computer programming. William plays a large role in the after school enrichment classes offered and is also one of MIS’s Lego League coaches. 

You are a Lego League coach; what is that like? Are you part of the group going to the competition?

I have been a Lego League coach, but I haven’t been involved in the final competition this year, as I’ve been doing extension classes instead.

Being part of Lego League was exciting these last couple of years as the MIS kids have done very well, winning the Montana regional competition last year and winning additional awards this year. My contribution was just a small part of the success however. Will Bain and Dari Quirk have been outstanding in contributing technical and research-related skills and leadership.

What other places have you lived/worked and where was your favorite?

Other places I have worked include multiple jobs in technology and manufacturing in Los Angeles, CA in my early 20’s. I worked as a TV repairman, a laser-trimmer operator, and various construction and moving jobs in the entertainment industry. After my first degree, I moved to Silicon valley and did some computer hardware engineering. Later, I transitioned into software jobs in Seattle, including stints at an educational software company and as a contract worker at Microsoft.

When I moved to Missoula, I pursued an advanced degree in Biochemistry, with dreams of being part of a biotech revolution, but after a number of years I concluded the revolution wasn’t happening anytime soon, and so I’ve gravitated back to computers, electronics and hardware. However, my education in Biochemistry has profoundly informed my perspective on both biological life (which I prefer to call ‘ribosomal’ life) and human-driven technology and industrial production, which I consider to be an alternative form of life.

Any big plans for the summer?

My plans for the summer include camping with Loryn and continuing to develop more sustainable technology for our personal living situation, which is a whole story in itself.

Weekly Feature: A Window into our Classrooms

Patricia’s 2/3 Multiage Classroom…

Her students just finished learning about ecosystems and the rain forest. Students in her class chose a research topic related to the rain forest. Each student used different resources to gather information and then summarized it into a feature article. All the articles were compiled into a magazine called REPORTERITOS 2017 (Little Journalists). They had a great time and made interesting connections about how all living things are interdependent on each other. Click here to see the magazine.

They performed the play “el capoquero” on Thursday at our assembly.  The students were super excited to present to the audience and did a great job.
Her class just started to communicate with some students in Tunja, Colombia via Whatsapp. They have discovered some things they have in common; for example, they all go to immersion schools. The students in Colombia are learning in English and MIS students learn in Spanish. Our students get to practice their Spanish and shared their new knowledge on the rain forest.

Get to Know Patricia (Patty)…

What are your summer plans?

I love nature; my family and I are going to take camping trips in Montana, Idaho and Washington.  We will also visit my family in Colombia. I love to immerse my kids for a few weeks every year, in the language, the history, and the culture where I grew up. I want them to grow up knowing their roots and appreciate the history behind it.

You were born and raised in Colombia. What do you miss about Colombia?

I miss spending time with my family more often, especially now that I have kids. I miss the colorful rainbow of fruits and veggies that I can eat all year long at affordable prizes. I miss seeing the sun everyday.

What would you want someone who has never been there to know about Colombia?

Colombia is  an amazing place with a rich biodiversity of fauna and flora. The geographical location makes Colombia a country with a variety of landscapes to visit. You can go to the rain forest, exotic beaches, tropical grasslands, snow capped peaks, archaeological sites or just be immersed in small towns that nurture you with love, history, culture, music and lots of dance. People are warm, happy and welcoming.

What’s your favorite thing about Missoula?

One of my favorite things about Missoula is the surrounding nature and how much people care about preserving it. People take action and make things happen. It is inspiring!  I also love how friendly and kind people are with foreigners. They make you feel like home and accept you the way you are

Weekly Feature: A Window Into Our Classrooms

Preschool Room 1…

The preschoolers are learning about working together and learning different roles and jobs during their current community unit. Their roles correspond to the unit they are in and their jobs relate to their classroom and change weekly. Some of their roles and jobs include librarian, secretary, and veterinarian. The class has finished their unit on animals and now, as part of their community unit, have a veterinarian clinic set up. Jenny talked about how they predicted the children would have an idea of what their pretend animals would need since they’ve done their animal unit already. “Sure enough, Jasper spilled something when he was trying to get something for his animal to eat,” Jenny says lightheartedly.










Diana, Jenny, and Javier are constantly watching their students to note their development; they observe them playing, interacting with others, and exploring various materials.  The teachers notice emerging literacy skills and the children’s social-emotional and cognitive development. Jenny loves seeing the kids starting to express themselves visually on paper or with other materials and then verbalize what they’ve created and what it means to them. For conferences this week, Jenny sees preschool conferences as a time to reflect on the growth of students and as a chance for parents and teachers to sit down and have a conversation about their child’s development.

Get to Know Jenny…

Jenny came to MIS as a parent and her son graduated 8th grade from MIS last year. Now, for over 10 years, Jenny has taught preschool. She has a BA in History and Women’s Studies from Oberlin College in Ohio. She has worked as an early childhood literacy advocate, as well as an ESL teacher for organizations in Montana and Oregon. Jenny joined MIS in 2006. Her experience shines through when you see her interacting with the children.

What is your favorite part of spring?

The wildflowers and gardening.

What do you like to do with your family?

We enjoy hiking together.

Where is your favorite place to be?

Northeast entrance of Yellowstone Park – Beartooth Pass.

Weekly Feature: A Window Into Our Classroom

Fifth Grade Exhibition…


Anna, Ellis, Grace, and Graham researched how poverty affects the access to education in the community. Anna introduced the topic, then Ellis, Grace, and Graham each dove into a different line of inquiry. Not only did the group members learn a lot in the process but the students in the practice audience were soaking up the information and asking insightful questions. The younger students were even asking about what the group thought of the project and if they had fun doing it.

Click here for a short video on the group’s experience.



Get to Know Jessica…

Jessica came to MIS with a B.A. in Environmental Education from Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington and an M.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Montana.  Jessica joined MIS in 2008. 

Her and her husband, Jason, are expecting their second child. Their first child, Liliana, is almost 3 years old.

What is your favorite thing to do with your family?

We love to spend time outside together!

What are you most excited for with the newest addition to your family?

I am looking forward to seeing how Liliana does as a big sister and getting to spend more time with my kids.

Any big summer plans?

We have a lot of family members coming to visit us! We get to go to the beach and I am going to visit my parents.


Get to Know Kaye…

Kaye has been a part of the MIS community for 3 years now; first as a mother and now as an employee. She has her teaching degree from the University of Montana and has two kids who attend MIS.

What is your favorite thing to do with your family?

We love to go camping and fishing!

What secret talents do you have?

I can ride a unicycle and juggle (but not at the same time)!

Where else have you lived?

I’ve lived in Hawaii, New Zealand, Washington, and Colorado.

Weekly Feature: A Window Into Our Classroom

MIS 8th Graders Travel to Mexico

The culminating experience for our 8th graders at MIS is a week long experiential learning expedition to Baja California.  The trip is run by Ecology Project International and includes cultural immersion in La Paz, a lively visit to a local Mexican school and then camping, snorkeling and hiking on the gorgeous island, Espiritu Santo.  MIS has been participating in this marvelous cultural exchange for a decade and MIS graduates often remark that it truly is the trip of a lifetime.  Not only does the trip provide our students’ with a real-life language immersion experience, it gives them hands-on scientific experiences and marine biology study that they simply cannot have in Montana.  The children spend their week in Mexico with a small group of Mexican students, thus providing opportunities to authentically connect with young people from another culture.  From snorkeling with sea lions to singing Spanish songs under the stars with their new friends, this culminating trip to Mexico is a remarkable and valuable journey!

MIS 6th and 7th Graders Visit Glacier

In 6th and 7th grade, students go on a 5 day trip with the goals of building community, sharing experiences and making learning come alive in beautiful outdoor settings. This year we will return to The Glacier Institute’s Discovery School at Big Creek Center near Glacier National Park.  The Discovery School provides a hands-on, field based outdoor education program designed especially for our students. We will study aquatic ecology, wildlife adaptations and behaviors, geology and many other outdoor subjects in the Crown of the Continent ecosystem.  In addition to placed based experiential science classes, this spring trip provides students opportunities for  personal growth and stepping outside of their comfort zone. Students build relationships in a deeper, more meaningful way and connect their learning to real-life situations.


Get to Know Our 8th Graders…

The 8th grade students are preparing for a week in another country. For a couple of students this will be their first time out of the country and their first time to Mexico. As they sit in a circle on the floor, they pass around a group journal, and shared what they’d like to leave behind, what they’re afraid of, and what they’re most excited for.

What they want to leave behind in Missoula:

  • English
  • Sunburns
  • Negativity
  • Clique-y-ness
  • Entitled behavior
  • Stress
  • Snow
  • America
  • Their everyday food
  • Anxiety
  • Migraines

Some of their fears are:

  • Stingrays, jellyfish, whales, sharks
  • The food
  • Not getting good sleep
  • Missing a really good snow storm that would be good for skiing
  • Not being able to handle all the Spanish
  • Not being able to keep up
  • That everyone will think I’m annoying

What they are most excited for:

  • To see and swim with all the marine life, especially the sea lions
  • The entire experience
  • To be immersed in and experience another culture and language
  • Meet and befriend the Mexican kids
  • Going out of the country for the first time

Wish them luck on this amazing and unique experience!

Weekly Feature: A Window into our Classroom

Fifth Grade Exhibition…

We spoke with Isa, in Karim’s 4/5 class, who is working with Ava to learn about bacterial diseases. They’ve been exploring topics such as common forms of bacterial diseases. They are researching Salmonella, E. coli, and Norovirus. They are also looking into the governments role during an outbreak.
Luca is working with Quynh and Craig on Renewable Energy. Their group is learning about how alternative forms of renewable energy can change our world. They will be presenting their discoveries through different forms of art.
We also spoke with Grace, who is working with Ellis, Anna, and Graham. Their group is learning about poverty and how it affects education. They will be looking at how living in a poor community can change the access and quality of the education available.
These are just a few examples of what our amazing students will be presenting. The groups will present in Spanish, but will provide information in English. The exhibition is Thursday, April 20th at 3:45 pm. Come learn from our hard working, intelligent 5th graders as they prepare for middle school!

Get to know Karim…

Karim Del Pozo currently teaches our 4/5 multiage students. She joined MIS in the fall of 2008.  Karim was born and raised in Peru.  She graduated from Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania with highest honors.  She holds a degree in Education and Spanish literature.  She has extensive teaching experience in a variety of settings and age groups.
Do you have any fun summer plans? 
I will go to Peru to visit.  I am really looking forward to it.
What is your favorite thing to do in Missoula as a family? 

We go on walks when the weather is nice and we enjoy eating in restaurants that feature food from other parts of the world.

What is your family’s favorite dinner to have at home? 

Whatever we can cook with fresh ingredients from local markets especially in the summer.