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Like us on Facebook  Hilltop Montessori School                           November 16, 2012 

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Next week at Hilltop
Birch Room
School Photos
Notes from the Head of School
Thank You's
Community Service
Birch Room
Willow Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School
Next week at Hilltop


Monday, 11/19
Grandparent's and Special Friends Day!
Tuesday, 11/20
Stone Soup
Weds. 11/21- Fri. 11/23
Thanksgiving Break


A Word from our Sponsors...


Sovernet has been a longtime supporter of Hilltop in many ways. A true local business partner, Hilltop has benefitted from Sovernet's deep discounts on high-speed Internet and our new phone systems. We are SO grateful to the Eshelmans, Sovernet's founders and Hilltop alumni parents, for all that they have done! They truly are remarkable friends of our school.


If you're a Sovernet customer, please consider letting them know how much you appreciate their support.


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Class Photos

The school photos are back from Sarah Lavigne and they are beautiful! Our thanks go out to Sarah for coming to Hilltop this year.


If you would like to purchase more photos, you can email Sarah at,



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Notes from the Head of School 




As we head into this holiday where we give thanks, I realize how thankful I am to have had this opportunity to renew my conviction about a Montessori education.


Thursday I had two deeply satisfying Montessori moments. Both centered on the importance of mixed-age groupings. Both reflected the joy that an older child has in helping a younger child. Both demonstrated how easily a younger child learns from an older child.


I was on my way to the Lower El's "Poetry in Motion" performance and stopped for a moment to peer into the Birch Room's window. I couldn't hear what was going on, but it was very clear that one of the older boys was demonstrating to one of the younger girls how to manipulate one of the sensorial math materials. He was beaming; she was rapt in attention. From all appearances there was no "bossiness", just a graceful explanation.


Perhaps I wouldn't have noticed this if I hadn't seen this replicated in the Lower El. The seamless flow of olders and youngers working together as they read or recited their poems, helped each other remember the movements or looked at each other while playing the accompanying music reminded me how valuable - and how unusual - a mixed-age grouping is.


Learning to work together both as a learner and as a teacher is an essential people skill. We have all worked with people who are younger and older than we are - and have learned and mentored depending on the relationship. So it is with Montessori. Youngers learn from olders and in turn learn how to mentor when they become olders.


A single age classroom will have less developmental diversity - everyone is more or less the same age, and more or less on the same concrete or abstract learning spectrum. A mixed-age classroom obviously has a much broader spectrum. It demands more of the teachers - and more of the learners. It is what we all experience in the "real" world.


We have a responsibility to learn and a responsibility to teach. These students know that. They do it every day. They do it naturally. I thank them for reminding me of the important education that comes in a mixed age classroom.


Email Tonia


Thank you


Hilltop Montessori operates thanks to many, many generous people -- from Annual Fund donors to auction volunteers and field trip drivers. While we have many people to thank, we could not reflect on the meaning of thanksgiving without saying a huge thank you to Lynn and Allan Stewart. Allan, our Board's Finance Committee Chair has been volunteering his considerable time in the business office getting finances in good shape and helping us find the right person to take over the job (more on that soon).


Lynn in our development office is always going above and beyond for Hilltop -- from tending the flower pots to getting amazing auction items.  
Together they are a remarkable duo and Hilltop is exceedingly fortunate to be the recipient of their time, generosity and energy. 


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Community Service
Hilltop is responsible for delivering and serving a meal for the Overflow Shelter at the Baptist Church on Thursday, November 29th. 6-8 people are needed - some to cook, some to shop, some to serve. If you - or your upper el/middle schooler - is interested in participating please email twheeler@hilltopmontessori.org

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Four more weeks of soup Fridays?! Yes, sign me up!


Soup can be pre-ordered for 4 weeks at a time for $30.00. It can also be bought at pickup for $8.00 a quart. We urge you to return your soup jars at marked bins in the main lobby.  All proceeds from the soup will go toward funding the Middle School odyssey to Alabama.


A pre-order form will be available in both the Middle School and Elementary School lobbies.


Please pay in cash or with a check written to the Hilltop Montessori Middle School and drop money at the front desk in an envelope. 

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Birch Room

Making Connections Conference


Recently we attended the Early Childhood Educator's Network Making Connections Conference. One workshop talked about conflicts and conflict resolution - over materials, space and playmates - and how they are all a normal part of the day in every classroom. Though challenging for teachers, such conflicts offer children important opportunities to learn social, language and cognitive skills. We discussed and compared several different problem-solving processes...HighScope, Second Step and CSEFEL. We then watched and discussed a video of children practicing problem solving, and resolving actual conflicts, with the help of their teachers using some of the techniques learned in the programs. Later several teachers shared their successes and unresolved challenges so that we could all offer ideas and our own strategies to assist each other.


Here are some helpful tips and problem solving steps:

  1. Approach calmly, stopping any hurtful actions or language
  2. Acknowledge feelings
  3. Gather information
  4. Restate the problem
  5. Ask for ideas for solutions and choose one together
  6. Give follow-up support as needed





Jay Cook, our music teacher, is designing a link to access lyrics to songs practiced in our classrooms. This should be available fairly soon...stay tuned!

We also have another case of head lice... continue to check heads daily and be diligent laundering rest items, etc. Again thanks to our laundry angel for all her help!


We appreciate the wonderful working dishwasher installed in the kitchen... thank you so very much!



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Willow Room


The Moveable Alphabet


When people think about writing they often think of the physical process of putting pencil to paper. Dr. Montessori knew that writing really begins with building words intellectually, or putting sounds together to make words. Children often know enough about letter sounds to begin writing in their minds long before they have the capacity to hold a pencil and physically write the letters down. The Moveable Alphabet was designed to give children the opportunity to build words without having to wait for the hand to catch up. It also gives children the opportunity to hold a letter - a real thing - not just an abstract idea. Children begin writing words phonetically with the Moveable Alphabet. With experience and time, they learn about phonograms (letters that together make new sounds like "sh" and "oo") and rules of spelling.


Jamie builds and writes the sentence, "The canoe can deliver mail."  


Hailey and Brooke practice writing letters



Emma and Mark work on the puzzle map of Africa  

Next Monday is Grandparents and Special Friends Day and Tuesday is Hilltop's annual Stone Soup lunch. Children who normally stay until noon are invited to join the whole school community for a feast prepared together during the morning. Pick up for ˝ day children will then be at 1PM.


We hope you enjoy a lovely weekend.

Melissa & Ellie



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Lower El


This week, our Lower El students focused their boundless energy on our "Poetry in Motion" performance. Movements were refined, words more clearly annunciated, and the classroom was rearranged as a performance space. All of their efforts culminated in a wonderful performance on Thursday. Even students who are more reticent seemed to grow in confidence as they spoke, moved, or played their instruments. We would not have had this valuable experience without the efforts of our visiting artist Mollie Burke, and the support of the Vermont Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. This experience is something that the Lower Elers look forward to every year.










We realize that not all parents were able to attend Thursday's performance. Amelia Farnum filmed it, and we will let you know when the CD is ready for viewing.


Lastly, parents, when writing to either Jessica or Kerstin, please cc the other teacher. This will ensure that we both receive the same information. Thank you!


File under "Broken Record:"

Please, PLEASE send your child to school with hats, mittens/gloves, and jackets every day! Unless it is dangerously cold, we are out in the elements for every recess.


We will see you on Monday, our Grandparents and Special Friends day!


Enjoy your weekend.

-Jessica, Kerstin, and Connie



Upper El

Students were busy this week wrapping up research for their project work. Students are studying an array of topics within the overarching themes of our studies. Topics include hurricanes, types of clouds, global warming, the full family tree of early humans, wind speeds, and the first Continental Congress, to name a few. Some students are working independently and others collaboratively, but all students are learning from each other as they discuss their topics or share prior knowledge with tablemates.  









Come join us for an Upper El museum on Tuesday, December 18 starting at 2 pm and Wednesday, December 19 at 8:30 am when students will share their project work with the school community. 



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Middle School


At the core of understanding who we are in our collective American identity is the study of immigration. After an overview this week of the history of immigration to this country, students are beginning a new project entitled, "Where Do I Come From?" Thanksgiving break often offers the opportunity to dig into a student's family history as extended families gather and pull out the old family stories. The project requires research, imagination, and creativity. You might want to read over the project sheet so you can assist your student in becoming better acquainted with their ancestry.


Poetry continues to permeate our daily gathering as students share poems from their guardian poets or other favorite poems every morning in opening circle. As they learn the vocabulary of poetry and particular skills of rhythm and rhyme, students are writing their own practice pieces. This week they all wrote their own "Motto", inspired by a poem of the same name by Langston Hughes.



by Eben Collins


I can be so confused,

Why, I don't always know,

Everything is random

Though Finn doesn't think so.


If I have a motto,

I don't care what you think,

I will do what I do

For myself, I will think.


You will be able to hear the fruit of their labors at our poetry café on Thursday, December 13 at 7:00pm.


Monday and Tuesday of next week are busy community days for us. On Monday, along with hosting the all school gathering for Grandparents Special Friends Day, we are baking 35 apple pies for the Drop-In Center, Morningside Shelter, Loaves and Fishes, and the Women's Freedom Center that we will distribute on Tuesday. Do you have peelers and/or apple corers you can lend us on Monday? Tuesday is also Stone Soup day. We will be cooking and dining away with peace buddies in tow. We wish you a thankful and joyful Thanksgiving.







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Hilltop Montessori School