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Our Mission is for students to attain responsible independence.

Like us on Facebook       Hilltop Montessori School                           October 12, 2012 

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In an effort to save resources and add convenience for you, we've initiated an electronic billing system. Thank you for your patience as we work through some kinks.


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Electronic Billing
Next week at Hilltop
Notes from the Head of School
Annual Fund
Position Posting
Car Pool Update
Literary Star
Head of School Search
Birch Room
Willow Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School
Community Events
Hilltop Classifieds
Next week at Hilltop


Saturday, 10/13

Lower El Soccer Game vs. Guilford at Guilford School



Monday, 10/15
Lower El Field Trip to BEEC
9:30am - Noon
CH Spanish
MS Soccer GAME vs. Compass HOME
Tuesday, 10/16
Spanish Lower El 
3 - 4:10


Upper El soccer 
Wednesday, 10/17
Bagel Lunch 


Spanish Upper El
3:00 - 4:10pm


MS Soccer
3 - 4:30


Thursday, 10/18
Parent / Teacher Conferences


Friday, 10/19
Parent / Teacher Conferences



Notes from the Head of School 


Responsible Independence


Next week's parent conferences started me thinking: How do conferences illuminate Hilltop's mission statement? What is it that happens in every classroom that guides students to attain responsible independence and how is that reflected in discussions that teachers have with parents?


The Children's House students go to their cubbies at 11:30 and I listen while the teachers patiently encourage children to zip their jackets or check whether their shoes are on the correct feet. I watch a Lower El teacher finish up a lesson and assign follow-up work with the expectation that this will be accomplished. When she checks in later, the eyebrow is raised, and the student knows exactly why. If one expects independence then one must be responsible. The student gets the work finished by recess.


A visit to the Upper El or Middle School classroom reveals a broad range of activities. Some are at computers; some in lessons; some chatting in the hallway, some at snack. Several are working on projects together. Teachers and students have a shared understanding of the expectation of responsible independence. Everything that is happening make up lessons about managing one's own learning. The stage is set for conferences.


Starting in Upper El, students know that they will be expected to share their portfolio of work and participate in parent conferences. They know they have to explain the process of taking notes and to respond to questions a parent might pose. In Middle School they know full well that they will be leading the conference. They know they will have to talk about managing their time. They know that they are responsible for what they have or have not accomplished.


Responsible independence is, however, much more than lessons and completed essays and buttons and jackets. It's equally important to understand that one's individual actions impact the larger classroom community. Whether it's pushing in line at the Primary level or unkind words and exclusion in the Elementary program or Middle School, the underlying message is that respecting others is a responsibility that each student has for the well-being of the classroom community.


Implicit or explicit, what you will hear next week at conferences is that Hilltop's teachers are focused on the school's mission: for students to attain responsible independence.



Email Tonia


Annual Fund THANK YOU
(and new total from the week)


Our Annual Fund Week was fantastic - thanks to you all - and was the most successful ever in terms of fundraising. Here are the (new) numbers:


Total giving = $23,306
Participation = 74%
Average gift = $314


Wait! Isn't that figure of $22,956 less than what we reported last week? Why yes it is. In the excitement and cupcake fueled tallying on Friday, a tuition payment got lumped into the Annual Fund tally mistakenly.


The good news is that we can reach $25,000 if we reach 100% participation. And it's never too late to give. If you haven't pledged or donated please don't worry, but please do give. $25,000 is such a nice sounding number and every amount helps our school enormously.


Position Posting


Please pass the word along to anyone you know who might be interested.  

Hilltop Montessori School, a pre-K through 8th grade private school, seeks a business manager to work with the Head of School to provide financial planning and oversight and to manage all day to day financial affairs of the school, including: long term financial planning, annual budgets and monthly monitoring, managing cash position and accounts receivable, insurance, reports to lenders, overseeing billings, payables, payroll & benefits.  Qualifications:  degree in bookkeeping / accounting, "certified bookkeeper" a plus, computer literate including fully competent in Excel, Word, familiarity with QuickBooks.  A minimum of 5 years of experience covering all of the areas above.  Compensation commensurate with qualifications and experience.  Please reply, with resume and references, to Business Office, Hilltop Montessori School, 120 Summit Circle, Brattleboro, VT 05301.


Car Pool

Thank you to all who have been loyal supporters of the Hilltop Ride Share. Due to low participation, we will cease scheduling a volunteer to coordinate rides at Memorial Park. After next week, if you wish to coordinate rides at Memorial Park, I am happy to facilitate matching families with regular users of the Ride Share.


Madeline Fan

[email protected]

Literary Star



Mariam Diallo, our wonderful Children's House assistant, snack manager and After Care provider, is the inspiration for the main character in Karen Hesse's new book, Safekeeping. After hearing of Mariam's work with the Orphelinat Foyer Evangelique in Haiti, Hesse was inspired to use Mariam as the basis for the character Radley, and to get involved in helping the children who survived the terrible earthquake in 2010.


Read more about Mariam's work, Hesse's efforts to help the orphans and her new book here.


Connect with Mariam's Facebook page to help the orphanage.

Read more about Hesse's latest book.




Head of School Search Update


We are quickly arriving at the time when the Search Committee and school community will meet candidates for our next Head of School.  The Search Committee will begin reading applications on October 18 and will choose semifinalists on October 26.  We have decided to give each semi-finalist (there may be six to eight of them) a short interview on campus the weekend of November 3 and, then we will bring the three to four finalists for a two day visit to Hilltop in early November when they will meet everyone who wants to be involved in the search.  Parents will be invited to an evening reception/talk with each candidate and to a more casual morning coffee and chat session with each candidate. The Search Committee will use a Survey Monkey survey to gather your impressions of the candidates after you have met them.  For those of you who plan ahead, here are those dates:
The evening receptions will be from 5-6pm at Hilltop on the following dates 
(child care will be provided):
Tuesday, November 6 (This is tentative.)
Thursday, November 8
Wednesday, November 14
Thursday, November 15

Parents will also have informal chat time with the candidate from 8:30-9:30 in the morning:
Wed, Nov 7 (tentative)
Friday, Nov 9
Wed, Nov 14
Friday, Nov 16 
As always, if you have any questions about the search, please let me know!  I can be reached at 802-387-4560 or [email protected]
-- Jenny Smith
Volunteers needed!
When Head-of-School finalists come visit Hilltop in early November, they will bring their spouses with them.  Moving to Brattleboro will be a family decision, so we want to help the spouses get to know the Brattleboro community.  Are you interested in being a host for one of the spouses?  This would involve you showing the spouse around town, with a focus on places of interest to that person.  You would potentially spend part to most of the school hours with this person.  Please let Jenny Smith, Chair of the Search Committee know if you are interested.  
or 802-387-4560 





Birch Room


Recently several parents have asked the question, "What approach should I use to discipline my child?"


Here are some ideas for ages 3-5: As your child grows and begins to understand the connection between actions and consequences, make sure you start communicating the rules of your family's home.


Explain to kids what you expect of them before you punish them for a certain behavior. For instance, the first time your 3-year-old uses crayons to decorate the living room wall, discuss why that's not allowed and what will happen if your child does it again (for instance, your child will have to help clean the wall and will not be able to use crayons for the rest of the day). If the wall gets decorated again a few days later, issue a reminder that crayons are for paper only and then enforce the consequences.


The earlier that parents establish this kind of "I set the rules and you're expected to listen or accept the consequences" standard the better for everyone. Although it's sometimes easier for parents to ignore occasional bad behavior or not follow through on some threatened punishment, this sets a bad precedent. Consistency is the key to effective discipline, and it's important for parents to decide (together, if you are not a single parent) what the rules are and then uphold them.


Discipline is not just about punishment but also about recognizing good behavior. It's important to tell kids what the right thing to do is, not just to say what the wrong thing is." For example, instead of saying, "Don't jump on the couch," try "Please sit on the furniture and put your feet on the floor." (Disciplining Your Child)


You can read more about discipline by exploring these websites:






The Peace Table is a major component of our own modeling and conflict resolution work in Children's House.


Conflict resolution and respect for the environment (both physical and environmental) are two very important concepts in Montessori education. In a Montessori environment the teaching of these concepts take years to impart through developmentally appropriate experiences. The goal is for the child to learn compassion and responsibility for his actions. We teach children to reflect upon their behavior and its influence on the world around them. When a child attains awareness of truth and justice, their desire for fairness leads to learning to think before they act.


The "Peace Table" involves the children in "Active Listening." The adults in the classroom help the children to take turns listening and explaining their conflicts and feelings. After all sides have not only explained their take on a conflict but have explained how the other side(s) perceives the conflict, the children are guided through solving the problem together. Besides learning to work together, children learn to look at the "big picture" before making judgments. Through this process they discover that most conflicts are due, not to the actual "meanness" of others, but to "misunderstandings."



Ian and Henry resolve their problem at the Peace Table 


Special thanks to Stephanie Betit-Hancock for washing and drying all of the extra laundry this week.


Reminders: please continue to check your children's heads daily. Read the information on the fact sheet that was in your child's cubby for guidance.




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Willow Room


Dr. Montessori used the term 'The Absorbent Mind' to describe the most crucial period of development in a child's life: birth to 6 years. During this time children easily soak up information around them. This information is used to build a foundation or blueprint for all future learning and understanding. Not only does this apply to children's academic success but also to their understanding of relationships, their ability to meet challenges, and their senses of self. They are creating their own understandings of "normal" (what feel comfortable and natural) that they will continue to seek for the rest of their lives.


This is why the classroom is so carefully prepared for the children. It is rich with language, math, Practical Life, sensorial, and cultural materials. The works are inviting and beautiful. They draw children in to explore and learn. Advanced concepts such as counting into the thousands, writing books, building a trinomial cube, or learning the names of geometric shapes are introduced. The goal is to expose children to a wide variety of experiences to feed the Absorbent Mind during the period when learning is effortless. Knowledge gained after this time certainly can be acquired, but it requires greater effort and more time.



Davey practices reading and building words 



Delia and Quinn 


As mentioned before, this is the period when a child's understanding of relationships is also established. It is important for adults to model appropriate behavior and demonstrate how conflicts can be resolved. We spend a good part of the day leading children through challenging social situations, often supplying the language needed to express feelings and work out solutions. This is also when children can learn vital skills for success such as persistence, optimism, empathy, and develop a thirst for knowledge. Adults who demonstrate these qualities inspire the children in their care.



Hailey and friends set out for a nature walk  

With this in mind it is important for adults to think about a child's development in the broadest sense with the power of the Absorbent Mind in mind and ask themselves: What kind of role model do I want to be? What kind of family do I want to help shape? What kind of community do we want to nurture? The answers to these questions can guide teachers, parents, and caregivers to be thoughtful and intentional role models to young people.


* It is imperative that each child has a pair of outdoor shoes in his/her coat cubby! We are outside on nature walks and on the playground; ballet flats and Crocs are neither practical nor warm. With the changing weather comes a muddy playground. Shoes just for indoor use keep our classroom floors clean.


* Please remember to sign up for a parent/teacher conference. They will be held on Thursday, October 18 and Friday, October 19. Note that Thursday will be a noon release day and there will be no school on Friday.


Enjoy the weekend!

Melissa & Ellie





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Lower El


We hope everyone had an enjoyable long weekend!


This week, we concluded our "Clock of Eons" lesson with the last part of the story, which introduces the Phanerozoic Eon - the time of the trilobites. This last eon is divided into three eras: the Paleozoic (Greek for "old life," in which there was an explosion of many different forms of life), the Mesozoic ("middle life," or the age of reptiles), and the Cenozoic ("new life," the time when mammals and birds dominated the earth). Here on our special clock, there is also one thin red strip, which corresponds with our Long Black Line. This signifies the coming of human beings into the world - the Neozoic Era, or "very new life."


On this Clock of Eons, the Cenozoic Era is depicted in green, which symbolizes the grass and plants that began to grow on the land at this time in the Earth's history.



Talia works on her Clock of Eons poster



Marian helps paint our Time Line of Life mural   

We have been doing a little of our own planting here in class, potting baby spider plants and tending to them. Thank you to Finn for the plant donations!



Ben waters his spider plant   


Reminders and thanks:


  • Kim Korson has taken charge of our Scholastic book orders! Soon we will be sending the popular book catalogs home with your children. Thank you, Kim!
  • And to all of you who have helped with our laundry, a big thanks. We will need help most weeks with washing.


* Please remember to send your child to school with the following: a jacket sufficient to protect them from a light rain (sweatshirts do not a rain jacket make!), water resistant boots of any kind, indoor shoes, and extra clothes. It is absolutely necessary that everyone have these items! Many children suffered the discomfort of soaked socks and shoes this week, and had no indoor shoes to change into. Thank you in advance for your help!


* Our field trip to BEEC for the insect program is on Monday!


Have a lovely weekend together!

Jessica, Kerstin, and Connie



Upper El


On Tuesday the sixths did a bit of role-playing. They all became citizens of a small Massachusetts town, Sturbridge, circa 1828. On a tour of their town, they watched the blacksmith forge a hook and listened while he explained where the iron came from and where the hook might end up. They tried on shoes at the cobbler shop and heard of a cottage industry of farmer women sewing uppers during the cold winter nights. They watched a potter throw a vase on a wheel and learned that it would sell for 12 cents. They saw water power a sawmill ripping planks and a carding mill making wool batting. At each shop, and on the paths connecting them, they asked their fellow townspeople a simple, yet compelling question: should the town of Sturbridge keep the existing mechanism for caring for the poor, the vendue system of auctioning off the poor to the lowest bidder, person by person, year by year, or should the town buy a farm, the poor farm, to house and maintain the poor under the care of a keeper? With a simple question the conversation changed from information to opinion. In reflection, at our own "Town Meeting", Emmanuel noted that the men generally were against buying a poor farm in that it would increase their taxes and the women were against the vendue as it often split families apart. In the end, the poor farm prevailed in our vote. Most importantly, the sixths practiced posing an important question to adult strangers, listening to differing opinions, and sorting through the arguments to form their own opinions.





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Middle School


The Middle School had a wildly successful soup fund-raiser at the Harvest Festival last Sunday. Over the course of the two-year cycle, students (often with the help of their families) raise half of the middle school's travel budget through a multitude of fundraising activities. The two-year budget for our odysseys (Alabama is our goal this year), various road trips (we are heading for Concord, Massachusetts on the 25th as part of our study of Transcendentalism - still need another driver!) and Upland camping adventures is in the vicinity of $32,000. The value to our students is immeasurable. Other ongoing activities to raise funds are the weekly bagel lunch (you can join up anytime) and starting today, the Friday soup sale. Students recently brainstormed about other ideas and new student-initiated and managed fundraisers are on the horizon. Raising money for our travels is another example of students taking control of their lives and owning their education.






A very important date on the Middle School calendar is rapidly approaching. Our annual Love/Hate and Curriculum Vitae presentation night is on Tuesday, October 23 at 7:00pm. For those of you who have not experienced this magical night of student exploration, the seventh graders write poetic lists of their loves and their hates and the eighth graders write a "curriculum vitae", their resume for life. After deep reflection, innumerable drafts, incisive conversations with Finn, and their own personal wrestling with words, students will memorize their creations and recite on the 23rd. This is always an important milestone in the life of each Middle School student.


Another milestone is next week's student led conference. If you have not signed up, please do so as soon as possible. The conferences on October 18 and 19 are the only dates this round of conferences will be held. At their conference, each student has the opportunity to reflect on and present their work and progress to their parents and staff. They are currently preparing for this expression of independence and self-awareness by writing a self-evaluation that addresses both their strengths and current challenges. We look forward to seeing you all there.




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Community Events

Hilltop Classifieds and Wish List

 Middle School is looking for some large cutting boards for their soup making venture


See this week's Hilltop Classifieds! Submissions to Amelia by noon on Thursday.    

Hilltop Montessori School