GTMS Life > News August 30, 2023

Magnolia Classroom (PADM): Welcome to 2023/2024 School Year!

We are so excited to start the year and have been preparing all summer. In this blog, you will find information about our daily schedule, how to get in touch with us, arrival and dismissal procedures, our wonderful staff, birthday celebrations, the phase-in schedule, upcoming events, and what to bring on the first day. Daily […]

We are so excited to start the year and have been preparing all summer. In this blog, you will find information about our daily schedule, how to get in touch with us, arrival and dismissal procedures, our wonderful staff, birthday celebrations, the phase-in schedule, upcoming events, and what to bring on the first day.

Daily Schedule

Before the playdeck is completed: We will start the day with a 3-hour uninterrupted workcycle from 8:00-11:00 with a short gathering at 10:45. Our recess time is from 11:15-11:45. Lunch starts at 12:00 and lunch clean up is completed by 12:45. Rest/nap is from 12:45-2:00. If your child is awake, they are invited to cohort recess- second years at 1:15 and first years at 2:00. Kindergartners go straight from lunch to cohort recess and then to K time. At 2:00, we begin another 3-hour uninterrupted workcycle until 5:00 when the children go to recess again from 5:00-6:00. 

After the playdeck is completed: We will start our morning at recess from 8:00-8:45. We will have a 3-hour uninterrupted workcycle from 9:00-12:00 with a short gathering at 11:45. Then the rest of the day will proceed as before. 

Email and Communication

If you have any questions/concerns, please email Amanda and Maggie at and we will get back to you within 24 hours. We do not use our individual emails for parent communication because we want to make sure all staff have the same information. Please note that teachers are not available for communication during child contact times. 

If there are ANY changes in schedule: vacation, your child is sick at home, your child is arriving late/leaving early etc., please email both as well as the Administrative Assistant at 

NEW THIS YEAR: Incidents and Accidents that happen before 4:00 will be communicated via phone call. If we are unable to reach you, we will leave a voicemail. As always, if you have further questions or concerns, a teacher will be available at pick up to discuss or you can email us to set up a time to chat.

Arrival/ Dismissal

Arrival is between 8:00-9:00. The closer your child arrives to 8:00, the more of a morning workcycle they will be able to participate in. The 3 hour uninterrupted workcycle is a cornerstone of the Montessori method and supports your child in developing concentration. 

NEW THIS YEAR: Dismissal will be from 2121 on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays until the playdeck is complete. You will sign your child out at 55 N 22nd then come over to 2121 where a teacher will let you in and you can walk up to the playdeck to pick your child up. This will allow us to have an outside recess at the end of the day. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and days with inclement weather, we will be in the first floor Movement room for pick up so you will pick up from 55 N 22nd St. Everyday, we will have a sign on the door at 55 N 22nd St indicating where pick up will be.

Staff Bios

Ms. Amanda

Amanda Cunningham (she/her): This is my second year as the afternoon Lead Guide in Primary ADM. Previously I worked in both preschool and toddler Montessori environments as I received my Bachelors Degree in Painting and Education certification. I am very passionate about the Montessori method of teaching, and received my Montessori teaching certification from the North American Montessori Center. I grew up in Havertown PA, but currently live in South Philadelphia with my partner Joe. Outside of work I love dedicating time to creating art through drawing, painting, and crochet. I love to bring these art forms into the classroom when possible to create alongside the children! I also enjoy practicing yoga and traveling whenever I have the opportunity. I can’t wait to get to know, and continue growing along with everyone this school year!

Ms. Maggie

Maggie McCaffrey (she/her): This is my fourth year at Greene Towne as a Lead Guide in Primary ADM. I grew up in New York City but have lived in Massachusetts, Argentina, Minnesota, and now Pennsylvania. I started my career in education working in traditional preschools while still studying at Smith College where I received my bachelor’s degree in Biology. After college, I moved to Puerto Madryn, Argentina to live and work on a wildlife refuge for a year. When I returned to the States, I moved to Minneapolis where I landed a job as assistant in a Montessori Upper Elementary classroom. I was so inspired by the reverence and respect for children in a Montessori environment, I knew I wanted to become a Montessori guide. I also knew working elementary was not for me! So, I pursued an AMI Primary Certificate from the Montessori Training Center of Minnesota in 2015 and received my MA in Early Childhood Education from St. Catherine’s University in 2016. I believe wholeheartedly in the Montessori method as a means of providing loving, respectful, and encouraging environments for children to develop a lifelong love of learning and a commitment to their community. Outside of school, I love to hike, camp, sing, and read. I live in West Philadelphia with my partner, Ruth, and our two cats, Cookie and Geordi.

Teacher Bailey

Bailey Campbell (they/them): Hey there! I am originally from West Virginia, but have since taught in a variety of unique classroom settings in countries all around the world, with instructional experience on 4 continents. Now, I am so excited to be returning to GTMS for a second year. From my first moments on the PADM team, the common mindset shared by GTMS and myself has been clear. Learning is a sacred adventure, and every opportunity to celebrate a child’s hard work deserves to be cherished! When I’m off the clock, I dabble in skateboarding, guitar, woodworking, and any activity that takes place outside.

 Ms. J

Jamie Gillette (she/her): I’m thrilled to return for my third year as an assistant in the Primary ADM classroom, which means the children who I met as first years are now our new kindergarteners! I graduated from Bard College in 2020 with a B.A. in Creative Writing and a concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies. After school, I moved to Philadelphia to teach writing through an AmeriCorps program, and quickly developed a passion for working with students. Last year I also completed my 200-hour yoga teaching certification. In my free time, I take dance classes, run and bike, and share picnics along the Schuylkill River with friends. I am so grateful to have found a home in the Greene Towne community, where I learn and grow and laugh everyday! 

Ms. Shawn

Shawn Bankoff (she/her): Hi! I’m Shawn and I’m very excited to be returning for my second year at Greene Towne! I grew up in Bucks County PA and just recently moved to Manayunk. I discovered my love for working with children when I became a tutor in high school. I became a certified yoga and reiki teacher 5 years ago and enjoy bringing mindfulness and movement into the classroom. I graduated from West Chester University with a degree in Early Childhood Education. In my free time, I enjoy crafting, cooking, and dancing.  

Teacher Milo

Milo Alvarez-Binkowski (they/them): I’m excited to join the Primary ADM team as an assistant teacher this year! Before Greene Towne, I worked in private childcare for six years. In 2017, I graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, initially aspiring to become a high school English teacher. During undergrad and my time as a nanny, I had heard the Montessori name being used, but my a-ha moment didn’t come until last year when I read Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara’s book about Maria Montessori to a three-year-old I was babysitting. Reading about Maria Montessori’s life and unique journey to education inspired me to research her more. The more I learned about her dedication to scientific observation, spiritual preparation, and peace education, the more Montessori education resonated with me. I am currently enrolled in Chestnut Hill College’s Master’s in Early Childhood Education program, pursuing an AMS Primary guide credential. Outside of work and school, I take care of my house plants, hike, play board games with friends, and spend time with my dog Sloth and cat Callie.

Birthday Celebrations

We love to celebrate everyone’s birthday in PADM. There is a short circle either in the morning or the afternoon. The child “walks around the sun” holding our painted globe while the class sings a special song then they take questions or receive birthday wishes from their peers and teachers. We invite you to create a birthday poster of photos of your child’s life so far and the people and things they care about. We cannot accept edible treats for birthdays but if your child would like to offer a plant or a beloved book- does not need to be new- we would gladly accept that! 

NEW THIS YEAR: First year parents: On the day we celebrate your child’s birthday at school, you are invited to attend a snack circle at 4:30 to read a book. You can bring a favorite book from home or pick one from our library.

NEW THIS YEAR: Second year & K parents: On the day we celebrate your child’s birthday at school, you are invited to eat lunch with your child in the classroom. Our lunch is from 12:00-12:30. You will be seated at the snack table with your child and a friend. 

Phase-in Schedule

CHILDREN RETURNING TO PADM: The first day of school will be Tuesday, September 5th. All returning PADM children will follow their regular schedule. Next Tuesday will help our returning Primary ADM children to remember our routines. We hope it will give the returning children the information and confidence to be the best helpers for the children who are soon to join our community.

CHILDREN NEW TO PADM: On Wednesday, September 7th, new children will visit for half an hour in two groups, unaccompanied. Then Thursday, September 7th, all new children will visit from 8:30am until noon (No lunch required). Friday, September 8th, all new children will be welcomed from 8:30am until 2:45pm (Please bring lunch!). Beginning Monday, September 11th, your child will follow your family’s regular school year schedule starting at 8am. On this day, it is possible that your child may be emotional when it comes time to say goodbye. Rest assured that all Primary ADM staff are prepared to receive your child with love and encouragement. We have observed that the briefest transitions make for the easiest transitions. 


  • 8/31- Intro visits for new PADM children- 30 minutes in small groups
  • 9/5- First day of Phase In (regular schedule for returning PADM children)
  • 9/11- First day of school for everyone
  • 10/6- NO SCHOOL: Professional Development
  • 10/9- NO SCHOOL: Indigenous People’s Day
  • 11/10 & 11/17- Parent Teacher Conferences
  • 11/23- Pajama Day & Half Day
  • 11/24 & 11/25- NO SCHOOL: Thanksgiving Break
  • 12/22-1/1- NO SCHOOL: Winter Break

Items to bring on the first day

Firstly, please bring the following items on your child’s first day:

  • 2 complete labeled sets of seasonally appropriate clothes (shirt, bottoms, underwear, and socks- because space is limited, items should be easily stowable)
  • A labeled blanket for nap or rest time (something light and compact)
  • A pair of comfortable, indoor shoes (Here are just a few examples: 1, 2, 3, or 4) *We have found that Tom’s and moccasin-style slippers are not safe indoor shoes for school.* 
  • 2 labeled epi pens, if prescribed, with a doctor’s note and prescription attached and benadryl
  • A labeled reusable water bottle to be sent home daily
  • At least 2 extra labeled face masks (in case their mask gets soiled or wet)

**To prevent items being lost, please label all clothes, blankets, shoes, masks, and epi pens with your child’s name**

Because fostering your child’s independence is one of our primary objectives in a Montessori environment, we ask that the items you bring- extra clothes, lunch boxes and containers, and shoes- are easy for your child to use on their own. We want each child to feel a sense of self-confidence and self-determination when they dress themselves, open their own containers, or change their shoes.

Thank you and we are looking forward to a year of meaningful connections with your child and supportive partnerships with your family.

Ms. Maggie, Ms. Amanda, Teacher Bailey, Ms. J, Teacher Milo, Ms. Shawn

Read more
September 28, 2023

October at a Glance

Read More
September 28, 2023

Parent to Parent Coffee

Read More
September 28, 2023

Teacher Coffees are coming up!

Read More
September 28, 2023

Important Calendar Updates You Need to Know

Read More
September 26, 2023

Trip to the Firehouse

Read More