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Like us on FacebookHilltop Montessori School                           January 25, 2013


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Annual Report
Financial Aid Update
Next week at Hilltop
Hoodies are back
Notes from the Head of School
Moving Up Night
Willow Room
Birch Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School
Annual Report
The 2012 Annual Report is now available for download.  
Click here:  to read the web version. 
Print copies will be available at the front desk soon.
Financial Aid Update
All applications should include a PFS, (Parent Financial Statement) and your most recent tax documents (2011). Once your 2012 tax forms are completed they should be submitted as well.
ALL PFS forms are submitted on line, tax documents can be sent electronically or by mail directly to SSS. Once your 2012 documents are submitted your account will show up as complete. 

Coming up...
Tuesday, January 29
Open House for prospective parents
Tell a friend!

Thursday, January 31
Winter Sports! Pick up Mount Snow skiers/boarders at 4:30pm
Hoodies are BACK
If you missed out on ordering a Hilltop Hoodie last month, good news! We're placing another order. Either download an order form here, or pick one up at the front desk. We'll place the order on February 1.



If you have an item, service or community event you would like to post in this space, email Amelia. Deadline for entries is Thursday afternoon. Entries will be posted for one week unless requested otherwise. Thanks! 



After-Care requests:
Dress-up clothes. Ideally they would be "grown up" go-to-the-office clothes that are appropriately sized for a child.
A head-set for the CD player

MAKE ART at River Gallery School 
The 15 week Winter Spring semester begins Feb. 4th.
Art Classes for Children, Teens, and Adults. Please call Donna at 257-1577 or email; [email protected], for more information or to enroll. Scholarships, installment payment plans and work trade options are available - inquire at the office. Check out our website



Winter Camp is a collaboration between the Brattleboro Food Co-op and the Boys & Girls Club. Camp will run Mon.-Fri., Feb. 18-22, from 8:30-5pm.  


During the week we will embark on outdoor adventures and expand wilderness skills, make homemade candy and flavored popcorn for a movie outing, explore the Art Museum and excite the imagination with food art projects, learn kitchen skills while creating fun snacks for our field trips, including wild, messy fun at the Mad Science center and a taste of spring with a picnic at Smith Botanical Gardens in Northampton. 

Cost for the week is $100 for Club members or $150 for non-members. Lunch and snacks are included.  Contact Ricky at the Club (802-254-5990,  ext.4) or Vicky and the Co-op (802-246-2842) for more details or to register.  



Winter Explorers Vacation Camp at Beec
Join us for a fun-filled week in February.  Come for one day or all four!
Feb 19: Hole in a Tree
Feb 20: Art for Animals
Feb 21: Tracking the Wild Ones
Feb 22: Into the Frozen Forest
Grades 1-4, 9am - 3pm.
More information on daily camp themes, registration, and our organization on our website.  Visit beec.org, email [email protected], or call 802-257-5785.

 Back to top


Notes from the Head of School 


I realize that last week's newsletter article prompted questions that need answering about timing and staffing changes for the upcoming change in the lower and upper elementary.

First off, nothing will change until next fall. The schedule, the teachers, the rhythms will remain the same. The planning, however, for the change is underway. It does mean two new teachers - one in the upper el to work with Tom and one in the lower el to work with Kerstin. Connie will continue in her role as academic support. Dan will be the Elementary Director; his base will be the art room. As I described in the newsletter, he will teach pieces of the Montessori language and math curriculum to both upper and lower el students as well as incorporating art skills through the cultural curriculum. Exactly how that will be structured is yet to be determined. 

Ads for the teaching positions have been placed on the major Montessori websites, as well as through connections that Tom/Dan/Kerstin have through their Montessori training. The goal is to hire Montessori trained teachers; however, the school is also willing to train a candidate if the match is right. If you know of anyone who might be interested please have them email me. 

Thanks to those who contacted me last weekend with questions. I hope this helps clarify the timing and the staffing expectations. 


I am off to Laos/Myanmar and the UK until March 6. This is a trip that had been planned before I committed to be interim head. Lauren and Amelia will maintain the smooth operations of the school while I am gone; Colleen will answer billing questions.

The circle can get congested...and dangerous...at morning drop off. In watching the traffic flow it is obvious that the shortest distance between two points means that cars stack up near the beginning of the circle. Someone almost got hit the other day when a car passed on the inside of the circle to find a spot to stop. Please be hyper-sensitive to the traffic flow.




Email Tonia


Moving Up Night!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Moving Up Night

7 - 8:30 pm


Moving Up Night is a presentation by program for current parents moving up to a new program (3 & 4 year olds in Children's House, K to 1 in Lower El, 3 to 4 in Upper El & 6 to 7 in the Middle School) and parents applying new to the school. This is a presentation by the program directors and teaching teams, to discuss program details and expectations with a question and answer session to follow. 


We strongly encourage all Elementary parents to attend to learn more about the changes planned for next year. Tamara Mount, our new Head of School, will also join us for the evening to discuss the shift and answer questions.

These are very important opportunities to get acquainted with the environmental, developmental, and curricular transitions and expectations associated with moving up to new program levels.


Child care available, make a reservation at the front desk by February 1 so we can plan for supervision, thank you.




Willow Room 


January 26, 2013


A friend of ours recently lamented about all the winter clothing she had to help her 3 young children into before taking them outside. She summed up, "We spend 30 minutes putting on all of the gear and are out for such a short time!" We were sympathetic; it does take a long time to bundle up children to go out into frigid weather. From this parent's perspective, it felt frustrating and perhaps not even worth all the effort.


But from a different perspective, it can also be seen as a time rich with opportunity. The children practice important lessons like: Practical Life skills such as zipping, buttoning, and putting on gloves; Grace and Courtesy when asking for help and offering assistance; fine motor skills while learning to fasten snaps and buttons; following a sequence - first the snow pants, then the coat, then the boots, then the hat, and finally, the mittens; and caring for themselves while keeping track of all those winter belongings and storing them so items dry.


Surely the benefits of allowing children to learn to dress themselves for winter activities far outweigh the time it takes for caretakers to wait for these skills to blossom. And how beautiful it is to watch this process unfold! The greatest gift adults can give children is the opportunity to develop independence. From independence come self-confidence, self-reliance, and a sense of belonging to a community.  


Winter sports were cancelled this week due to very cold wind chill temperatures (resulting in logistical challenges that required cancelling ice skating as well). We will make up this day after we return from February Break on Thursday, February 28th.


Many thanks to our laundry volunteers! We really appreciate clean cloths, tablecloths, aprons, and sheets on Monday mornings.


Enjoy the weekend - stay warm!

Melissa & Ellie



Birch Room 

"Of all the forms of water, the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow, that form in such quantities within the clouds during storms, are incomparably the most beautiful and varied. " W.A. Bentley


This week we read a story and learned about Wilson Bentley a.k.a Snowflake Bentley. "He discovered two important truths about snowflakes: first, that no two are alike, and second, that each one is startlingly beautiful." After a lengthy discussion about snow, snowflakes, ice, sleet, etc. we gathered a tall clear vase full of snow and discussed solid and liquid. We then became scientific observers and throughout the day watched for the changes that happened with the snow in the vase.






Our next collaborative Art project is a Fall Color Collage. This will be completed in the same materials as the Winter Color Collage. 





Henry and Ian learned how to make and bake soft pretzels for snack on Wednesday! Each week 1 or 2 children help with school snack. Both boys obviously had a great time cooking! 





Lower Elementary 


On Thursday, the Olders went to the Putney Library to begin their biography project. They will spend the next week or so reading about their person of note, learning how to take notes from their reading, and putting it all together into a cohesive report.




Sharing is a big part of being in Lower El. The children love to share the work that they have done during the morning. They proudly display their cultural projects and explain what math they are currently working on.






The sharing of personal news is also very popular. A lost tooth, a special trip, or a newsworthy event such as seeing an owl in one's yard all make it into the day's sharing. Many children enjoy this experience, and take pleasure in the attention from their peers. From time to time, we discuss what makes a suitable sharing for our circle.   Everyday funny anecdotes can be told to friends any old time: upon arrival in the morning, or at lunch or recess. Toys need to stay home, but a found treasure - a feather, bone, or an item from a recent trip - are welcomed at our sharing time. The person doing the sharing must speak up in order to be heard. The audience has a responsibility to look at the person who is sharing, and to listen attentively.


We'll end our letter this week with pictures of some students hard at work on grammar. Have a good weekend!





Jessica, Kerstin, and Connie


Upper Elementary 

If your child wasn't very interested in the chicken dinner you prepared this week, I apologize. As part of our zoology study, we dissected a chicken this week to learn about the skeletal and muscular system. We examined muscle tissue, tendons and ligaments, joints, and the inside of bones. We also looked at the liver and heart. You can learn a great deal from the deli case!

The sixth years were busy working on their cell study projects. Many were very engaged in stop motion animation projects for this work. Students also examined different types of cells underneath the microscope.

Practical life is in full swing. Students worked on building the walls of the Tiny House. Students making instruments built cardboard guitars or pipe flutes. In the book arts workshop, students worked on a variety of book projects including tunnel books.


Middle School  
I got back from California late last night.  The conference I attended (in beautiful Sonoma) was a powerful reminder of the essential nature of music and singing to not only building community but of truly being in community.  I was kind of the odd guy out.  I was in the company of church music directors, rectors, priests, and spiritually based song leaders (hospice bedside singers).  It was an incredible assembly of musicians and spiritual leaders who are searching for better ways to deepen singing and worship.  What really connected with me is the deeply human need to sing. According to many linguists and people in the know, singing, melody and rhythm predate spoken language.  Sadly singing has become one of those societal things that people don't do.  We have become a listening culture with singing left to the "professionals".  I believe this has a negative impact on the connections between people and the community.  Fortunately Hilltop is full of song and hardly a day goes by when voices are not raised in some way or another.



While I was away pondering the power of song, the middle school has been at full tilt with Finn, Nora, and Rolf moving the curriculum forward.  Nora introduced the brand new science curriculum, "The Science of Race" and started things right off with the instant challenge of examining "white privilege".


From Nora:


This week, students began a study of the science of race by exploring the societal implications of white privilege. The students discussed a list of fifty "unearned assets" which white people can count on being true in their daily lives. Students pondered whether familiar every day experiences such as hearing rap music on the radio, getting a haircut, and being accepted to college might mean something different when you are part of a majority group. Many students noted that where you live impacts your experience of white privilege; especially here in predominantly white Vermont. To further this important conversation, students will be interviewing their families this weekend about their family members' experiences with white privilege. Typed transcripts of these conversations, handed in on Monday, will be touchstones for our upcoming look at how science informs our perceptions of the differences and similarities between people.


Mask making, song making, movie making and examining and wrestling with our cultural heritage.  Minds are on fire.







Hilltop Montessori School