Meet Our New Teachers: Madeline Starling

Meet Mrs. Starling! 

meet madeline our new teacherThe school would like to welcome our new 3rd grade teacher Madeline Starling! Madeline has been a member of the Fairfield and MIU community since August 2012 when she enrolled at the university to complete her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. By the time she’s graduated and completed her Initial Teaching License in 2015, she’d become a wife and a mother.

She believes in the whole-child approach to learning and her teaching style is reflective of the many experiences she has had: classical musical training, gymnastics, deep love for language and thought, poetry, theater, working with the land,
body and spirit. She considers the role of the teacher to be an anchor, to tie together and unite the students, facilitating an experience where every moment is an opportunity to breathe in the madeline new teacherfuture vision of humanity.

“As a first year teacher, I feel blessed to have a
class as amazing as this. Walking in, I was
immediately welcomed by all. I know many of you
already and I look forward to knowing all of you

 As I begin, I hope to inspire each student from within
to do their very best, take responsibility and care
with their environment and each other, and to
find their true voice and learn to use it.”

You might find Madeline jogging on the trails with her twins, riding a bike with her eldest daughter, dancing in a studio, singing with the Chamber Singers, making a mural with her husband, Chad, or just enjoying some coffee in the park. If serendipity’s not working for you and you need to get in touch, you can email her at or text/call at (641) 451-0913.


To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

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Interviewing Susan Harper the New K-2 Grade Montessori Teacher

Have you met Susan Harper?

I had the great honor of interviewing a new teacher at Maharishi School, Susan Harper. Read this blog to

montessori teacher at maharishi school susan harper

Susan Harper
Montessori Teacher

get to know her and find out how she’s invigorating the Kindergarten through second grade program at our school!

“Susan, can you tell us about your background in Montessori ?”

I began working as classroom assistant in a Montessori school in 1995. My younger son was enrolled in the infant room. After a year, I was invited by the director to take my teacher training. I trained with Dr. Feland Meadows, Director of the Pan American Montessori Society. Shortly after that, I was hired to teach in an upper elementary (9-12) classroom at Athens Montessori School (AMS) in Athens, GA.

I took my Elementary training with Ceres York, Director of North Carolina Center for Montessori Teacher Education (retired). I was at AMS for 11 years. During that time, in addition to teaching, I was the administrator and a teacher trainer for MTI, Montessori Teacher Institute, working in Georgia and South Carolina.

My family then moved to Auburn, AL. I took a job at an independent school where I helped them become a Montessori school. I then worked with a group of parents to open a Montessori (farm) school in Montgomery, AL. All students spent time working with and learning from a group of urban farmers. I took a position at a small Montessori preschool back in Auburn and served there for the last 7 years as lead teacher.

My husband and I planned to move to Fairfield when he retired. I sent a letter of inquiry about whether there were any positions open at Maharishi School and here I am!

Bringing Montessori to Maharishi School

“What makes Montessori special in Kindergarten through second grade?”

Actually, it is unusual. Kindergarten is traditionally part of the Primary (preschool) program in Montessori. Dr. Montessori describes the Planes of Development in/as 3 year increments/cycles. That is why the classes are multiage groups. Each child is given the opportunity to be the novice, the worker bee, the leader. We are going to include Kindergarten with the lower elementary students this year.

The shift will take a little time and each child will find his/her place in the class. This is part of what we call the “normalization” process. The initial orientation, establishment of routine, understanding of expectations, taking on responsibility, development of self control and skillful focus and concentration. Settling in and relaxing in the prepared environment created just for them and getting to work!

“For those who have never heard of Montessori, how is it different from traditional school?”

Montessori is different from traditional educational methods in many ways. Montessori focuses on the whole child and respects each child’s individuality. When they arrive that first day in the preschool class at 3 years of age they are shown how we do things. Slowly they are given more lessons and more choices. It is not a free-for-all; quite the contrary, it is a carefully designed environment that is stocked with real life objects and tasks that encourage the child to follow their natural instincts to prepare themselves for life, to become independent, to rely on themselves and to be self sufficient.

The lessons for the 3-6 year old are designed to prepare the child for the work ahead in math and written language. For example each movement of a table-scrubbing lesson, is preparing that 3 year old for writing, moving from left to right, top to bottom. The scrubbing motion is strengthening the muscles needed to hold and wield a pencil. And then there is “freedom” of movement. Children need to move, just as they need to rest. Dr. Montessori observed that children are not meant to sit in a desk all day, especially if that desk does not fit the child’s body.

The 6-9 year old group that I will be working with is moving into the next plane of development. These students are ready to learn! They want to know everything and they demand justice and fairness.

Explore maharishi preschool

The Elementary curriculum is research driven. This is the best employment for this age child. They learn and want to share what they know. They are very social. For the next 5-6 years they will be internalizing a great deal of information, developing and following interests, and growing. These are the years of loose teeth, leaner, rangier bodies, rapid growth spurts.

There are no letter grades in the Montessori classroom. Children work at their own pace and personal level. Work is evaluated by both the teacher and the student. Dues dates are given to help the student develop good time management and organizational skills that will prepare the student for real-life expectations and experiences. There is little homework in the Montessori classroom. Students ideally have intensive, uninterrupted work cycles where they are able to focus and complete more than adequate amounts of work.

The students govern themselves for the most part. Teachers facilitate group meetings where they can sort out issues, problems, or develop plans for a future event or project. Students learn to be an active and respectful community member, taking responsibility for their words, actions and deeds.
There is freedom in the classroom. With freedom comes responsibility. If a student is having difficulty making good choices or is overly distracted, a teacher might make suggestions to assist that student in getting back on track. This is generally enough to help a child redirect his/her focus and get back to purposeful work.

“I’ve noticed that the afternoon teachings are Montessori and not the mornings. Why is Montessori not incorporated into the morning structure of reading writing and phonics?”

Maharishi School has been using The Lucy Calkins phonics, reading and writing program for the last few years and have found it very successful. I have not trained to use this program (yet) and will be using traditional Montessori materials for phonics, reading and writing with the Kindergarteners. The Preschool will continue to use traditional materials as well. In fact, this year cursive writing will be introduced in the preschool and I will be doing cursive with K-1 students too!

Goals for teaching this year

“What are some goals you have for this year as well as in the long term for teaching Montessori at Maharishi School?”

Covid-19 has changed a lot of our plans. I am flexible. That is part of being a Montessori teacher. Rather than be a grumpy rock in the stream fighting the water that will flow regardless of what I do, I go with the flow. My goal this year is to be a stable presence in the classroom for my students. I want to do my job, which is facilitating student learning, encouraging independence and self control, inspiring students, opening “doors and windows,” honing skills, and encouraging exploration. My goal is to make our classroom a place where we all want to be: peaceful, exciting, studious and playful.

My long term goals are to expand the program over time to include the entire Elementary and perhaps Middle School one day.

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

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Becoming A Big Fish: A Shark Tank-like Event

What is Shark Tank?

Modeled after the popular TV show “Shark Tank,” five student finalists pitched their best creative

ideas to a panel of expert entrepreneurial judges, competing for cash prizes, scholarships, and top business feedback.

Maharishi International University held their own event called “Becoming A Big Fish: A Shark Tank-like Event,” featuring business feedback from the original “shark” on Shark Tank, Kevin Harrington.

Maharishi School students selected as finalists

We are proud to announce that two of our Maharishi School students, Lily Fenton and Shristi Sharma, have been selected as finalists in the Becoming a Big Fish Shark Tank Event! Their concepts are extremely innovative and practical for our world today.

Lily talks about her design, “My idea was to limit distracted driving especially concerning taking hands off the steering wheel by creating a device that warns drivers when their hands are out of the correct driving position.”

Shristi received a 500$ scholarship from MIU for her work, she is currently researching and using her technical skills to create projects with a crossover between psychology, computer science, and cybersecurity, to benefit the community and the world.

Another of our students, Polo Altynski, was selected as the alternate should any of the top five finalists be unable to participate.

Watch the video of the presentations for the panel of judges here, our students are represented at 1:14:20.

maharishi school student finalist on shark tank event

Shristi Sharma with Cliff Rose and Vicki Alexandar.


If you are interested in learning more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

Presented by MIU’s Concept to Market program:

For more ChangeMaker event videos and info, visit:


Maharishi School 2020 Graduation Featured on KTVO

Maharishi School bids farewell to Class of 2020

KTVO at maharishi school graduation ceremony

Article by Beth Waldon at KTVO News station

Graduates at Maharishi School are getting three days to celebrate their commencement.

Celebrations kicked off with a farewell ceremony Thursday night.

“Graduating Class of 2020, let’s give ourselves a big round of applause,” Thu Tran said to her classmates Thursday.

All 15 graduating seniors gave speeches, some in-person, and there were a few who addressed the in-person crowd via video conference.

Among this year’s group of graduates is Jaiden Jarmosco. She delivered her farewell message with a series of uplifting letters to her younger self.

“Dear freshman Jaiden,” she said. “You are about to take on quite a journey these next four years….

… Dear senior Jaiden …

…this year comes to an end during a global pandemic this has taught you that your productivity does not define your worth, and you are truly never alone, no matter how hard it gets.”

Other graduates who spoke Thursday dedicated their message to rising seniors.

maharishi school senior 2020 graduation“Embrace your time here,” said Maharishi graduate Anh “Percy” Phan. “Every single minute that passes by is an opportunity for you to improve yourself.”

Thursday was night one of a three-part graduation ceremony.

On Friday, Maharishi teachers are scheduled to deliver their tribute to the Class of 2020. Students will then receive their diplomas on Saturday.

Anyone who attends this weekend’s celebration is being asked to wear a mask—and to practice social distancing.

Click here to see a short video of our graduation as featured on the KTVO news channel!



To learn more about how Maharishi School is responding to the coronavirus, click here.

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Who is Speaking At Graduation?

Jessica Hawthorne-Castro to speak at 2020 Graduation Ceremony

We are honored to have Maharishi School Alumni Jessica Hawthorne-Castro as our distinguished guest speaker for the 2020 graduation ceremony! We will be having an “outdoor (in person) – online” hybrid, using event our spacious courtyard to accommodate the 10 graduates who’ll still be here, while the other five students will be tuning in online from China, Korea, and Mexico.


We wish we could share it with everyone but it needs to be a private event to maximize safety, everyone will be wearing masks, sanitizing hands and practicing social distancing. A video of the full graduation ceremony will be posted on our Youtube channel at a later date.

About Maharishi School Alumni Jessica Hawthorne-Castro

A Fairfield native and proud Maharishi School graduate, Jessica Hawthorne-Castro is currently based in Los Angeles and the CEO and owner of
Hawthorne Advertising, an award winning technology-based advertising agency specializing in analytics and accountable brand

maharishi school 2020 graduation speaker alumni jessica hawthorne

campaigns. Hawthorne Advertising was founded in Fairfield, IA nearly 35 years ago by Tim Hawthorne, and now has offices in Fairfield, Los Angeles and employees in several other states across the country.

Hawthorne Advertising has a legacy of ad industry leadership by being a visionary in combining the art of right-brain creativity with the science of left-brain data analytics and neuroscience. Many of the company philosophies can be tied back to the curriculum she studied at Maharishi School. Jessica’s role principally involves fostering long-standing client relationships with the company’s expansive base of Fortune 500 brands to develop highly strategic and measurable advertising campaigns, designed to ignite immediate consumer response. From strategy, creative and production to media and analytics, Jessica is committed to premium quality and innovation throughout all agency disciplines.

CEO of Hawthorne Advertising

As CEO of Hawthorne Advertising, Jessica has prioritized company culture and corporate social responsibility and is a Climate Change Reality Ambassador. Today, Hawthorne is a certifiedwoman-owned business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a Great Place to Work®, and on the Inc. 5000 list. She is a member of the Forbes

maharishi school 2020 graduation speaker alumni jessica hawthorne

Agency Council and Ad Age’s Agency Collective, invitation-only organizations for senior-level executives in public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. She is the incoming Chair of the Board for the  ANA ECHO Board of Governors, the elite group behind one of the most coveted prizes in marketing as well as a participant in TED International, TED Women communities and Vistage International. She is also a member of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), the global organization empowering more than 28,000 members in more than 130 countries and is the Chapter Chair for YPO Los Angeles and on the YPO Pacific U.S Regional Executive Board.

Prior to joining Hawthorne Advertising, Hawthorne-Castro was a successful TV literary agent with William Morris Endeavor (formerly Endeavor), one of Hollywood’s top full-service talent agencies representing writers, directors and producers for television. As the agent for an maharishi school 2020 graduation speaker alumni jessica hawthorneimpressive list of WME’s top TV talent, she identified and negotiated opportunities for shows airing on all major broadcast and cable television networks. She also packaged key elements necessary to develop shows, working regularly with executives from ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, HBO, USA, Bravo and others.Jessica Hawthorne-Castro graduated from Maharishi School, then moved to Los Angeles and received a Bachelor’s degree from UCLA’s School of Arts and Architecture and then several years later went back to obtain her MBA from Loyola Marymount University. When Jessica isn’t busy with the company, culture, and board participation, she enjoys spending time with family, friends and traveling back to Fairfield and all over the world (over 50 countries so far and can thank Fairfield and its diverse roots for her love of travel). She resides in Los Angeles with her husband, 7 year old son and newborn daughter.

Click here to read, “A conversation with Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne,” and learn more about our graduation speaker.

Maharishi School in the Southeast Iowa Union 4/30/20

Classes have continued over Zoom for Fairfield’s private school

FAIRFIELD — While most schools in Iowa have opted for voluntary distance education during this quarantine, Maharishi School has not. The private school in Fairfield specializing in consciousness-based education has made its coursework mandatory.

That means the school can do everything it would during a normal school year, like give grades, which schools doing voluntary learning have offered options of giving students a “P” for passing instead of typical letter grades.

Maharishi School Head Dr. Richard Beall

Dr. Richard Beall, Maharishi School Head

Richard Beall, co-head of the school, said there were a number of reasons Maharishi School chose to make its classes mandatory, one of which was that administrators believed the students would benefit from sustained structure to their days. But first, the school had to determine whether its students had access to internet and devices to allow for online learning.

“We had to troubleshoot solutions for some families, and there are still instances where signal strength or other problems occur,” Beall said. “But generally our students and families have been able to connect and adjust to this different type of learning.”

Beall said most students strongly prefer the traditional, in-person style of education. Some students actually prefer the online model, while others are struggling with it.

“That is definitely a downside to this, but we’re trying to make adjustments — in collaboration with our teachers, students, and parents — to help these students succeed,” Beall said.

Parental investment

Another reason that Maharishi School is requiring participation is that parents have made a financial commitment to the school, and the school wants to fulfill its responsibility by finishing the academic year to the best of its ability. Academic director Kaye Jacob said a number of parents from other countries have sent their children to Maharishi School to prepare them for entry into U.S. colleges and universities.

“They have entrusted their children to our care and we want to provide them the best support we can, from keeping them safe in the dormitory on campus to offering them a full academic experience even under these circumstances,” Jacob said. “For those students who went home early, that even means setting up synchronous tutorial sessions for them when it is evening here and morning there, just to be sure they are able to keep up with their classes.”

Kaye Jacob, Academic Director, Maharishi School

Kaye Jacob, Academic Director, Maharishi School

The school’s enrollment director Carol Chesnutt said those boarding students who returned home to China or Korea last month are expected to complete their work just like everybody else.

“Of course, we don’t expect them to stay up until 4 a.m. to attend all the classes but they do need to arrange a separate time to meet with the teacher during the early morning or evening,” Chesnutt said. “This has stretched the workload for many of our high school teachers, but we do what we have to do to get these students ready for college.”

Maharishi School students will receive a full semester’s credit for their work, and most importantly, Jacob said, they will be ready for their next adventure. The school’s seniors have gained admittance to demanding colleges such as Oberlin, Sarah Lawrence, Princeton, Agnes Scott, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.

“A significant number of our students are taking AP exams in a total of 11 different courses this spring and of course we want them to be fully prepared for those exams also,” Jacob said.

Jacob said the school has worked with families to set them up for distance education, whether by helping them get internet connectivity and even dropping off resources at their homes.

“For us, there really has not been a disadvantage to making school mandatory,” Jacob said. “I think our parents appreciate it also, as their kids are productively occupied all day long.”

Getting ready

In March, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that classes would be suspended beginning March 16 to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Even before this announcement, Maharishi School was busy preparing for distance learning. It used a professional development day to make a plan, and rolled it out two days before the school’s scheduled Spring Break. The school and its students took that break as planned, from March 23-27, during which time its teachers were preparing for online courses once the break ended.

Explore maharishi preschool“The next big reality check was when we knew this wasn’t a stopgap but would be our mode of instruction the rest of the school year,” Jacob said. “That called for some additional changes and adaptations, especially in preschool and Lower School.”

Online learning

Chesnutt is teaching an AP economics course to upper school students, and she’s found plenty of material on the internet for her students to study. She said she has made use of the “flipped” classroom model, whereby students are asked to watch a video or read an article at home, and then she will recap the concept and discuss the more obtuse issues during class time.

“Because I only have seven students in my class, I can easily attend to each student and be mindful of who is leaning out rather than leaning in,” Chesnutt said. “In Zoom, you can read a student’s face or expressions much more readily than in a physical classroom. As some students are digesting a new concept, they lean in to the screen, tilt their head, and within seconds they are raising their hand with a question. This close-up view on the learning process is a thrill to me.”

Laurie Eyre teaches two mathematics courses in the upper school. The classes last just 30 minutes each, which means Eyre must be “well organized and efficient.”

“Every minute counts,” she said.

Maharishi School Screenwriting project- online learningThe students meet once a day, five days a week. Eyre said she’s fortunate that her classes are relatively small, which makes it easier to interact and communicate with all the students.

“Zoom has wonderful features like ‘chat’ where I can send a message to all students, a few or one,” she said. “The breakout room feature allows for group work or private meeting time with one or more students without disturbing the others.”

In addition to being head of middle and upper schools, Jacob teaches an 11th grade English class. Her students are working on a literary analysis paper, a major assignment, and that means she often holds video conferences with each student individually as well as in a group.

The school’s physical education teachers are assigning homework, too, in the form of a scheduled fitness regimen. Zara Colazio, who teaches PE along with health and math, remarked “While they are doing their fitness routines on Zoom, I can mute their moans and groans if I want to and just watch the workout.”

Lower school

Lynn Shirai is director of the lower school, covering grades 1-6, and she also teaches third-grade writing. The lower school began its distance education using learning packets from March 18 through April 10, but since then has transitioned to remote online learning through Zoom like the other grades.

The students are receiving instruction in reading, writing, science, social studies, math, physical education, art, and the Science of Creative Intelligence. Shirai said the school is

Lower School student makes bird feeder at home learningtrying to keep parent-assisted homework to a minimum since so many parents are also working at home.

Shirai said teachers are constantly coming up with innovative ways to incorporate hands-on activities with the students, something that is not easy when they can’t meet in person. For instance, many of the grades performed hands-on projects for Earth Day. Second-graders made their own bird feeders.


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25 Celebrities Who Know Transcendental Meditation

What is Transcendental Meditation (or TM)?

TM® (Transcendental Meditation) is a simple technique that is easily taught through one-on-one instruction by a certified teacher. It’s not a religion, philosophy or lifestyle. To transcend, by definition, means to go beyond human limitations and to break boundaries.maharishi school students meditating transcendence

At Maharishi School, we teach you a technique to break internal boundaries and sink deep into yourself. Here, we believe that all parts of ourselves should be developed – the body, mind, heart, and consciousness, and, therefore, the practice of TM® is required for all students. Our school day starts and ends with a few minutes of the Transcendental Meditation® (TM) technique.

To learn more, visit

25 Celebrities that know TM:

  1. David Lynch
  2. Jerry Seinfield
  3. Oprah Winfrey
  4. The Beatles
  5. Kendall Jenner

  6. hugh jackman on meditation_2
    “In meditation, I can let go of everything. I’m not Hugh Jackman. I’m not a dad. I’m not a husband. I’m just dipping into that powerful source that creates everything. I take a little bath in it. Nothing has ever opened my eyes like Transcendental Meditation has. It makes me calm and happy, and, well, it gives me some peace and quiet in what’s a pretty chaotic life!” — Hugh Jackman
  7. Clint Eastwood
  8. Mick Jagger
  9. Sheryl Crow
  10. Ray Dalio
  11. Ellen DeGeneres
  12. Cameron-Diaz tm trancendental meditation practices“Meditation is helping you to tap into something that’s already inside of you… that’s you, in essence. That’s something that was super-empowering for me once I grasped that.” — Cameron Diaz
  13. Heather Graham
  14. Tom Hanks
  15. Miranda Kerr
  16. Eli Leib
  17. Jennifer Lopez
  18. Lindsey Lohan
  19. Robin Roberts
  20. Eva Mendes
  21. katy perry on meditation interview“I start the day with Transcendental Meditation. It puts me in the best mood!” — Katy Perry
  22. Liv Tyler
  23. Donovan
  24. Lena Dunham
  25. Ben Foster

Why is it so cool to meditate?

We may feel very different from these celebrities but stress doesn’t discriminate between us and them. It doesn’t take being a celebrity to have the desire for stress release, inner peace, and stability in yourself. Anyone can meditate, anywhere, at any time! Meditation acts as a vehicle that drives you directly towards a more happy and harmonious body/mind/heart. Maharishi School also uses it to increase brain coherence with our students. Want to learn more about how it works with students? Inquire here.
Our faculty and staff enjoy the health benefits that come with practicing TM. In the December issue of Current Hypertension Reports, there was a published study finding that the practice of TM® reduces high blood pressure. If you’re interested in learning TM® click here.


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Senior Pranav Chhalliyil Attending World’s Largest International Pre-College Science Competition

On May 12th – 17th the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF), a program of the Society for Science & the Public, and the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, will be held in Phoenix, Arizona.

Maharishi School Senior Pranav Chhalliyil will be attending Intel ISEF for his fifth consecutive year. Pranav was also recently named Honorary Grand Champion at the State Science and Technology Fair of Iowa, and received an award for 6 years of participation. A total of 5 students are representing the State of Iowa as finalists at Intel ISEF.

Pranav’s project is titled:  “DNA Sequencing of Soil Microbiota From Mulching – A Novel Rotational Fragment Farming for Efficient Agriculture”

“The idea for this project came from my previous research experience on the oral microbiota,” Pranav said,  “which triggered a curiosity on the soil microbiota when I had interesting observations while gardening. I found a higher yield of flowers and vegetables, as well as a higher tolerance to winter frost in perennials after introducing mulching in my home garden.”His project uses DNA sequencing to look at the thousands of bacteria and fungi species which brought diversity in the soil and increased soil fertility.

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) unites the top young scientific minds, showcasing their talents on an international stage, where doctoral-level scientists review and judge their work.

Each year, approximately 1,800 high school students from more than 75 countries, regions, and territories are awarded the opportunity to showcase their independent research and compete for on average $5 million in prizes at Intel ISEF. The competition focuses on identifying, inspiring, and engaging the world’s next STEM generation.

Millions of students in grades 9-12 worldwide compete each year in local and school-sponsored science fairs. The winners of these events go on to participate in 420 Society-affiliated regional and state fairs, from which the top projects are selected and receive opportunity to attend Intel ISEF. Each affiliated fair may send a pre-determined number of projects to Intel ISEF to compete in 22 different categories.

Intel ISEF alumni have gone on to receive some of the world’s most esteemed academic honors, including the Nobel Prize, Breakthrough Prize, three National Medals of Science, and six MacArthur Foundation Fellowships and have been involved in some of the most groundbreaking scientific research.

Congratulations to Pranav and we wish him the best of luck!

To learn more about what makes Maharishi School students like Pranav so successful click here.

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Announcement! New Lower School Director!

Our New Lower School Director

We are excited to announce our new Lower School Director. The last time this happened was in 1991. George H. W. Bush was President and Hopson Hall (our main building) was only two years old. Now, after 28 years of service as the Maharishi Lower School Director, Laura Bordow is changing positions to become our Development Director and her successor is being named.

We conducted a nationwide search for the Lower School Director position through the National Association of Independent Schools and to more than 10,000 contacts in the TM organization. It was gratifying to receive inquiries from across the nation—and even internationally—from educators who admired our School’s mission, achievements, and community setting.

Lynn Shirai Lower School Director Maharishi SchoolAfter a number of interviews and hours of consideration, we selected the person we feel is most qualified and committed to guiding the Lower School to its next level of excellence and sparkle: Ms. Lynn Shirai.

Lynn is a familiar face to many of you. She earned her teaching license from Iowa Wesleyan and taught 1st and 2nd grades at Maharishi School for five years. She was then tapped to serve as the Dean of Students in the Upper School, where she gained administrative experience.

She built on that skill set in several responsible positions in social service agencies and returned to Maharishi School in 2013 as the Lower School Teaching Resource Specialist. She is currently teaching our 3rd grade Reading and Writing classes and has been offering tutoring in the community.

Lynn also received a Montessori 3-6 Certificate from the North American Montessori Center in 2018. That was an especially important attribute because we want to explore the possibilities of adding Montessori elements to our Lower School following on the successes that we see in our Children’s House Preschool.

Lynn’s comments:

“Understanding the history of Maharishi School, the success and promise that is inherent in Consciousness-Based Education, and the knowledge that the education of a child must begin with the whole child, it is my privilege to honor those leaders that came before and have provided a solid foundation for our Lower School.

Thank you for having the confidence in my ability to move the Lower School forward, make changes where needed, and allow my concern for the overall education and well-being of the children to be my goal as Lower School Director.

Introducing Montessori in grades 1 through 3 is one of my top objectives in the coming years. Also, planning a rich learning environment where students are able to take advantage of before and after school programs and field trips that enrich and broaden their educational experiences are my goals for the near future. Parent and community participation will be sought, in hopes of creating a full and diverse Lower School culture.

The times have changed, and so our school must give our children the tools they need to successfully meet these changes, while remaining established in themselves as happy, mindful, and courageous young people.”

We warmly invite you to a reception to welcome Lynn to the Lower School Director’s position on Thursday, April 11th, at 3:30 pm. She will share more of her thoughts and plans for the coming year and looks forward to your input. If you’d like to send congratulations, comments, or ideas, you can contact Lynn at



To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

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Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
Fairfield, IA 52556

5th and 6th Graders Student Gardening

Last week, our 5th and 6th graders had the opportunity to study the ins and outs of gardening by doing two activities for the greenhouse class! They continued on their square foot gardening project Friday, and 6th grade visited Crow Creek on Saturday.

The big project this spring is square foot gardening. Students are following a four step process: discover, dream, design, destiny. The discovery part of this project was researching different kinds of plants. Then students drew inspiration from many types of gardens to dream up ideas for their own gardens, and brainstormed plants they would like to grow. They moved into the design stage where they edited their plant lists to species that do well in our climate and are easy to grow. They are working on gathering all the materials that they will need for their square foot gardens including high quality compost.

Of course plants need soil, water, and sunlight, and so every garden design must start with the soil. This week, the first implementation step, destiny, is to build worm bins to make a home for red wrigglers — a species that has especially beneficial microorganisms in its gut and thus in its manure. Students collected cardboard and newspaper to create a moist and delicious environment for the worms, as well as egg shells to keep the pH from getting too acidic. They are looking forward to building their worm bins and starting seeds!

On Saturday, Greenhouse teacher Lacie Teal led the 6th grade class on a walk to Crow Creek where they collected water samples. These water samples will be sent to a lab for testing to help monitor the health of the creek ecosystem. The saturation of different chemicals, such as nitrogen, will be measured by the lab tests. These measurements will show what types of pollution are present or if the creek is clean which will tell us how wildlife, like frogs and fish, could be affected. We will update you when we get the results!



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Hannah Nichols
Marketing and PR
Maharishi School
Fairfield, IA 52556