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Our Mission is for students to attain responsible independence.

Like us on FacebookHilltop Montessori School                               March 8, 2013

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Annual Report
Next week at Hilltop
Notes from the Head
Willow Room
Birch Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School
One sure way to beat the winter blues is to think "Summer". And that means -- SummerFun at Hilltop! 
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.
Coming up...
Monday, March 11
March tuition due. Avoid a late fee and pay by 3pm!

Tuesday, March 12
Open house for prospective Children's House students. Tell your friends! 9-10:30.

Girls on the Run first meeting! Meet at 3:15 in the kitchen. Don't forget a snack and warm clothing. Pick up at 4:30pm.

Friday, March 15
Girls on the Run 3:15-4:30

Thursday, March 21
Lower El Field trip to the Latchis to see Children's Orchestra. 9:15am

Parent Conferences - Noon dismissal

Friday, March 22
Parent Conferences - 


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! 


From Sara Coffey (Izzy and Daniel's mom in the Upper El)

Just wanted to invite Hilltop families to an event that Vermont Performance Lab will be putting on at the Broad Brook Grange in Guilford next Saturday, March 16th:  a Community Shout -  with Reggie Wilson and his Fist and Heel Performance Group starting at 7pm. 
Reggie Wilson is an African American choreographer and performer who is nationally recognized for his works that combine dance and vocal performance. His work draws from the ritual and body languages of the blues, slave and spiritual cultures of Africans in the Americas, Wilson combines those elements with post-modern structures to create what he calls "post-African/Neo-HooDoo Modern dances." Wilson will be in residence at VPL with the two vocal artists from Fist and Heel Performance Group to developing a sound montage new dance performance piece, (project) Moseses Project. At the Community Shout audiences will get to have a listen at some of their latest and participate in a transformative sing-along with Wilson and Fist and Heel.
It's a free event, and we anticipate "selling out". So we are recommending that people make advance reservations by emailing VPL or calling the VPL event line at 802-257-3361.



Notes from the Head

A Different View of "Happiness"

Perhaps one of the most jarring questions that arose on the trip to Laos and Myanmar was how one views what we, as Westerners, would describe as poverty or at best subsistence living. On this trip I received emails from Hilltop regarding lock-downs, snow days, fundraising and hiring updates; meanwhile I would be walking through a dusty village in southern Laos watching children playing with one marble, guiding their buffalos down to the Mekhong, or sitting and reciting in school. Limited electricity, shoes an extravagance, rickety houses, unrelenting heat. And of course there are issues with childhood diarrhea, landmines, limited educational opportunities, and probably abuse. 


On the other hand, from what I observed children also experience a freedom to move about their village, to swim, ride bikes, and wander that is hard to come by in this country. There is seemingly a lack of worry: there were often two kids scrunched on a motorbike with no helmets or children asleep on a table while their mother waited tables.

It is quite a contrast to life here. Below are some photos from my adventure!

On the road to school. 

 A very typical school building.



Children on the playground


Blackboard learning and lots of copying. A mixed age group; uniforms required.


Soccer field



Water pump donated by a Dutch NGO


Nap time in the restaurant


Hilltop Out and About


Hilltop Middle Schoolers masks and poems are still on display at Amy's Bakery Arts Cafe in Brattleboro. They are amazing creations and are well worth seeing in person. Here are just a few of the masks you'll see.




Willow Room 


It's been so good to have a normal schedule this week. The children are returning to the school schedule and rhythm of the classroom. There are many new works in the classroom, especially in Practical Life and Cultural. We have started to learn about the sugaring process and the children are excited to visit Lilac Ridge Farm on March 19th for a hands-on sugaring experience and some lip smacking syrup tasting!


All School Gathering resumed Thursday morning and our classroom hosted. Jamie shared his human body project and Connor and Davey shared their journals. Everyone enjoyed reconnecting with his or her peace buddy and singing songs with Jay.


Also on Thursday the Olders journeyed to Bonnie Stearns' studio for their first clay class. We arrived and were greeted by our new instructor, Sarah. Bonnie is out of town on personal business, and she will return in time for our third week of class. The children spent the first few minutes of class looking at clay animals made by children in Russia, making observations on how the animals were formed and positioned, then it was off to the tables where large balls of chocolate brown clay were waiting for them to be formed into animals of their choice. Dinosaurs, a bat, a rabbit and a dog began to take shape as the children looked at photos of animals to help them analyze and create body shapes and then add other body parts and details. Everyone was so engaged in working with the clay that time seemed to fly and before we knew it, it was time to head back to school.


Parent/Teacher conferences are just around the corner. Please be sure to check the board in the front lobby and sign up for a conference time.


As the snow continues to fall PLEASE be sure to pack all the outside snow clothes. It's that time of the year when our extra clothing supplies are very depleted. If you find any borrowed snow pants or mittens please return them to school so they are available for others in need.


Enjoy the weekend with your family.


-Melissa and Ellie








email the Willow Room


Birch Room 


"Remember- we never learn anything through words- but rather through direct experience." Dr. Maria Montessori


The Practical Life area of the classroom has exercises that help the child learn how to care for himself and his environment. Some of the different exercises are washing hands, using dressing frames, washing and drying dishes, sponging a table, putting on a coat, setting a table, etc. Large motor and small motor skills are improving using interesting everyday activities children see adults doing and long to do themselves. They develop good study skills through the concentration and coordination it takes to master new skills in this area of the classroom.


At home you too can assist in the development of these skills by "guiding" rather than doing for your child. When you make the choice to do it for them, then the expectation will be exactly that. They will continue to expect you to do it. Model the expectation and encourage with a smile. Be very consistent and build in lots of time to allow the process to unfold. This will lead to independence for your child and you!










Please do your best to leave extra "items" home- we are having difficulty trying to accommodate all of the items arriving daily that children want to share and display.


Tuesday March 19: Field Trip to Lilac Ridge Farm for sugaring. Please stay tuned for more information. Drivers will be needed.


The first Pottery/Clay class for the older group was Thursday March 7 (yesterday). Don't forget car seats. We need them for transportation to Bonnie's studio.


Please sign-up for Conference. They are Thursday March 21 and Friday March 22. On Thursday March 21 is a half-day for students.


Please do your best to be on time... when children arrive late it is more difficult for them to enter a classroom already in full swing. Your child's success is always foremost in our thoughts.



Lower Elementary 


As our study of vertebrates and the classification of them continues, we are moving forward with other work, too. 
Our study of geometry has begun, and will continue for the remainder of the year. The Youngers have been presented with the the concept of a solid, surface, line, and point. They gathered these solids from around the room. 
Everything that occupies a space is called a solid, and the Youngers discovered that a place occupied by one solid cannot be occupied by another. The surface is just the shape, with none of the thickness, and all surfaces are limited by lines. Those of us who could bear it, plucked a hair from our heads to examine (this was done spontaneously and with enthusiasm); these thin strands of hair acted as our lines, although an actual line is much, much thinner - just length, and no thickness. A line can be found on the edge of a surface.  
The Middlers were introduced to the definitions of angles: right, obtuse, and acute ("such a cute little angle!"). They measured them with our colorful Box of Sticks. The Olders also worked with angles, but in a different way. They heard the Montessori "Presentation of the Stars," which puts the measurement of angles into historical perspective. The ancient Babylonians, who studied the stars, were able to calculate approximately the length of one year, which was 360 days. They used 360 as a unit of time. Time cannot be calculated only in years, and so, to obtain a smaller measure, they divided 360 into 360 parts, and 1/360 is what we now call a degree. This system of measurement of a circle has not been changed since the time of the Babylonians. The Olders measured angles using the Montessori protractor and the fraction pieces.  
Parents, Please sign up for conferences to find out more about Geometry and the many other things your child is studying here in Lower El!  Our sign-up sheet is in the lobby on the bulletin board. Conferences are in two weeks.
Drivers still needed to take us to the Latchis Theatre for the Children's Concert. We will leave just before 9:00 and will be back by 11:00 at the latest.
Enjoy your weekend,
Kerstin, Jessica and Connie






email Lower El 


Upper Elementary 


This week the fifth graders began their Model United Nations project. This year the students, acting as representatives of different countries, will come together to discuss how nations can help each other best adapt to the meet challenges created by climate change. To answer this question, students will be introduced to the various challenges created by climate change such as drought, rising sea levels, or more frequent flooding, and the subsequent human impacts of food shortages and displacement of people. Students will research the particular challenges faced by the country they represent. In addition, students will research how the government and people of their country are adapting to climate change. This work culminates in a U.N. conference in which students present their findings to one another and then confer on ways their nations can help one another. 


This project is part of both our peace curriculum and our cultural curriculum. The topic of climate change is connected to our first term study of the work of air. As part of the peace curriculum, this project exposes children to challenges faced by others. Through their research, students will also learn way people are working together to overcome these challenges. 




As part of our study of animal adaptations, the fourths and fifths devised numerous ways to keep their sponge as wet as possible over a twenty-four hour period. After being introduced to the adaptations of a few desert animals, students worked on 'adapting' a sponge to help it retain water.  Students had to weigh their sponge before and after the experiment to determine how successful their adaptations were.


Middle School  


As the snow piles up outside the window and a chill wind blows it is 70 degrees and sunny in Selma, Alabama today. Of course that is not the reason we are working so hard to journey there, but today it is a very compelling reason to head south. We pride ourselves on our integrated studies but I'm not sure today's Probability Sweepstakes is part of the humanities curriculum unless we are honing our gambling skills to help raise funds for the Alabama Odyssey. They were tough games to beat. 


I think it most appropriate to let Nora explain what is happening in the Pre-algebra world:


The pre-algebra students have been delving into the world of probability through the lens of games. What makes a game fair or unfair and how do you know your chances of winning? Through a series of challenges involving cards, dice, spinners, and bags of beads, students have explored the math behind random events. This two-week study culminated in the Probability Sweepstakes, in which their peers put the pre-algebra students' self-designed games to the test. The games, although fair, were designed to favor the House, so players beware! The students will compare the experimental data from the Sweepstakes with their calculated theoretical probabilities and explain any discrepancies. And now, onto Las Vegas!






In addition to the Probability Sweepstakes today we examined Dr. King's powerful "Letter From Birmingham City Jail" and talked about the March on Washington and the violent reaction when the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham was bombed. An exciting element of our upcoming odyssey to Alabama is that the Birmingham Movement including the Children's March happened 50 years ago this April. We will be visiting the 16th Street Baptist Church as well as speaking to some of the participants of the Children's March who as six to fifteen year olds chose to march, face the fire hoses and police dogs, and spend weeks in jail. Standing in this Baptist Church that once resounded with the voices of the young singing freedom songs as well as the cries of sorrow and outrage with the bombing death of four little girls just a few months later is a singular experience.


At certain times during the day the Middle School looks a bit like a sweatshop with students busily employing needle and thread, piecing their square that eventually will combine with all the other squares into a magnificent quilt. This quilt is our gift to the Gee's Bend community for the many years of hospitality and love extended to us. Speaking of gifts, thanks to those who have offered half pints and pints of maple syrup. There are many to thank during our journey so we could use many more (especially half pints).




The odyssey is now just three and a half weeks away. If the sequester does not leave us high and dry and everything goes according to schedule we will need some carpooling parents to help us get to the airport on the morning of the 3rd (leaving at 7:00 am) and pick us up at the airport on the 10th (9:00 pm). If you can help out let me know which direction and how many people you can transport.


Many thanks,


Paul, Finn, Nora, and Rolf




email the Middle School


Hilltop Montessori School