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Our Mission is for students to attain responsible independence.

Like us on FacebookHilltop Montessori School                              April 26, 2013

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Tag Sale
Annual Report
Next week at Hilltop
Spanish Classes
Notes from the Head
Get Happy Hour
Raffle Update
Willow Room
Birch Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School



The COUNTDOWN for SummerFun has BEGUN!


It's no wonder that with the exciting camps we have to offer, SummerFun camp registrations are arriving at the door and camps are beginning to fill.  Be sure to take advantage of the early bird registration and save 15% by registering for camps by Friday, May 24th.  If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact Melissa at

[email protected] 


Join the FUN!!





Tag Sale Anyone?

Hilltop Family Tag Sale 


We all have "stuff" lying around the house, not to mention the garage/barn, that we'd like to be rid of. If we can make a little green for ourselves and, maybe for Hilltop AND get rid of a load of stuff, we'd feel really good, wouldn't we? Here's the plan:


"Rent" a space for $20, bring your tag sale items and a table if you have one, to Hilltop on Saturday, May 18th We'll sell from 8am till 1pm. Set up your own table, sell your own items, keep all the money for yourself or, if you're feeling generous, donate some to Hilltop. It's up to you! When you're done selling, pack up what's left and take it with you. Sound like a plan?! Who's with me?


Reserve a space ASAP with Amelia. This is a rain or shine date. Shine--we'll be outside, rain-- inside the barn. We will take care of advertising. All you need to do is show up with your wares, and make some extra $$.


Is there anyone out there who'd like to organize a bake sale for the Tag Sale? I'd love to talk with you!


By the way, our Tiny House will be on display too!



Annual Report
The 2012 Annual Report is now available in web and print versions.
Click here:  to read the web version. 
Print copies are available at the front desk.
Coming up...

Saturday, April 27
Hilltop Get Happy Hour
Whetstone Restaurant 

Tuesday, April 30
Girls on the Run 3-4:30pm

Wednesday, May 1
Monthly Tuition Due

Lower El workshare 8:30am

Friday, May 3
Green Up Day at Hilltop!

Girls on the Run 3-4:30pm

Save the Date!
Grandparents and Special Friends Day is coming Friday, May 24 from 8:30 am - 12 noon.

If your child doesn't have a grandparent nearby please let us know if you'd like to invite a special friend. We'd be happy to send a postcard invitation to that person.

Coming up in May...
FREE Tennis clinic coming to Hilltop, 4 consecutive Tuesdays starting May 7. First two sessions at Hilltop, second two possibly at the Outing club. Open to students ages 6-13. Jacob Miller of the Outing Club will teach tennis basics. Let Amelia know if you are interested.
Spanish Class Update


Spanish classes will start next week for the Children's House and Lower El, and the following week for the Upper El and Middle School.
Children's house: Mondays, April 29 - June 3 (no class on Memorial Day), 3 - 4pm ($70)  
Lower El: Wednesdays, May 1 - 29, 3 - 4pm ($70)

Upper El / Middle School: Tuesdays May 7 - May 28 ($56)

Classes include a healthy snack.

For adults: Intermediate/Advanced class April 29 - June 17. 5:30-7:30 at Hilltop.

Please contact Elissa McLean for more information or to register: [email protected].







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.Thanks!


New family to Hilltop (and Vermont) this fall is looking for a 3+ bedroom house to rent in the greater Brattleboro area, starting in August.  Please email or call Linda Schmidt: [email protected] or 608.320.9298 (cell). 


Want to HOST a student from Spain for the month of July!! For more info contact [email protected] and check out this link




Host families are needed for the exchange students who will be attending BUHS next fall through PAX, the Program of Academic Exchange. 

Contact Ann Newsmith at 802-257-4710[email protected].  



Mark your calendars for this family-friendly activity!  August (aka Auggie) from the Willow Room will be there:)  
Camp for a Common Cause
A collaborative fundraiser to benefit 
Morningside Shelter and the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center
Friday, May 3rd| The 2nd Annual Melinda Bussino Memorial Food Drive 
Friday, May 3rd | Camp out on the Brattleboro Common 
Saturday, May 4th| Community Pancake Breakfast | 7 - 9:30
All events take place on the Brattleboro Common Park Place, Brattleboro @ the intersection of Routes 5 and 30
To register and donate, visit: MorningsideShelter.org






Notes from the Head




I happened in on a spring lesson in the Birch Room this morning. It was all about the planting sequence from seed to a delicious plate of beans.


Olders and youngers settled into circle and answered questions about what would be needed for the work that Cheryl was presenting: scissors, pencil, glue, paper. Ideas popped out as to what one could do with the sheet of paper that showed the sequence. Besides a straightforward glue and paste there was the concept of a matching game or making an accordion book. This resulted in a big discussion about the word "accordion". "That's what Jay has". Puzzled looks on the youngers. How could the paper on the tray become an accordion like Jay's? Olders do their best to explain.


Then the discussion began about the sequence of growth - from seed to plant to edible bean.


There was lots of discussion about the bean itself. The shape, the size, how the root emerges underground, how the shoot pokes up through the soil, how long it takes to grow, what plants need in order to grow, how the roots stabilize the plant and make it sturdy.


The vocabulary in such a lesson is unbelievably rich: seed, tap root, rootlets, stabilize, sturdy, pod, stalk, harvest. But it wasn't taught as vocabulary, it was inherent in the discussion. The words "stabilize" and "sturdy" were translated in a simpler form: The little roots help keep the plant from falling over.


A simple lesson to start the day that took place in less than 15 minutes. Science. Vocabulary. Respect on circle. Youngers listening to olders. And even that magical moment when one student likened the tap root to the Connecticut River and the rootlets to the streams that flow into the river!


Watching learning happen. What a satisfying way to start my day.




Rolf Houghton-Parker's obligations outside of Hilltop have grown significantly and he has decided he needs to resign his position at the end of the year. The Middle School is looking for someone who would be excited and intrigued to teach a pre-algebra class and a geometry seminar. Classes will be held 3x week T, W, Th for an hour each, thus allowing some real project based math. Resumes should be sent to [email protected] and to [email protected].




Hilltop (Get) Happy Hour

We're celebrating all the wonderful things happening on campus and our fantastic school on Saturday, April 27 from 5:30 - 6:30 at the Whetstone Station. Come enjoy drinks on us, along with delicious appetizers at a Hilltop Happy Hour. 


Childcare will be available from 5 - 7 pm at Hilltop for those who only want to come for the Happy Hour. RSVP to Amelia.


Want to make a night of it? Book your own babysitter and make a dinner reservation.


Thanks to David Hiler, Hilltop parent and co-owner of Whetstone, for making this happen.


Tiny House and Summer Getaway Raffles


We will be selling tickets during Gallery Walk NEXT FRIDAY (May 3) at the Brattleboro Co-Op and outside Amy's Cafe. Volunteers are needed for both the 3:30 - 6:30 and 5:30 - 8:30 slots. Contact Sarah to sign up. Kids welcome (with adult).


Thanks to all the families who are bringing their tickets and payments in. Some of you are on fire! UPDATE -- We've already sold $6,480 worth of tickets -- well on our way to our goal of $23,000! If you need more tickets stop by the front desk.



We're asking each family to sell 10 Summer Getaway tickets ($5 each) and 2 Tiny House tickets ($20 each), but of course, we hope you'll sell more. 


Put cash and checks (made out to Hilltop Montessori) along with ticket stubs into the plastic bags we've provided and bring them to the front desk. 


More raffle tickets are available - remember that these raffles support our financial aid program, and the Tiny House raffle also supports Morningside Shelter.


Thanks for all you do for the school. 



Willow Room

It's been an exciting and happy week in Willow Room.  On Tuesday the children arrived with many vacation stories and smiles to share with friends.  After circle Ellie and I stepped back and observed as the children got busy and the room hummed with activity. 


On Wednesday Rae Griffiths from Teaching Creatures arrived at Children's House with some very special visitors.  Rae's animal friends, a pygmy hedgehog and two domestic dutch rabbits, delighted everyone!  Rae presented her Story Stars program, a unique story time program for young children.  She read a story about each animal and then shared lots of interesting facts about how the animals live, including eating and sleeping habits, defensive techniques, etc.  The children had the opportunity for up close observation of the animals and hands on experience.   Our school sponsored this program for Month of the Young Child and we were excited to share this presentation with other children from the community.


Mark, Talia and Hedgehog


Rae, Della, Bibi and Davey 


The Olders from Willow and Birch walked together to Bonnie Stearns' studio on Thursday afternoon for their final visit.  Many sounds of delight were heard as the children walked into the studio and saw their work on display.    


Enjoy the beautiful weekend!

Melissa & Ellie


email the Willow Room


Birch Room 


On Wednesday, April 24th, Rae Griffiths visited Hilltop with her "Teaching Creatures." She brought an African pygmy hedgehog and domestic Dutch rabbits.  Rae first shared a book and then followed up with a presentation of live animals for our class and the other children visiting from the Brattleboro community.  Each child was able to touch the animals and observe them up close and personal.  What a wonderful experience and a fun activity to celebrate the Month of the Young Child.  There are still many fun and free activities listed in the Month of the Young Child Brochure.




On Thursday the older children walked to Bonnie Stearns pottery studio to see their own creations in clay.  Bonnie displayed each child's creations for all of us to enjoy first, and then we wrapped and boxed the clay pieces to bring home.  We all had a great creative experience and enjoyed our classes with Bonnie for the past 5 weeks.




Lower Elementary 


How heavy is it?  How far is it?  How long is it?  How cold is it?  How much space is inside it?  


The students of Lower El are learning how to answer these questions through their study of measurement. They learned that a cubit, used by the Babylonians and the Egyptians, was the first recorded unit of length. Originally, it was the length of a forearm from elbow to middle fingertip. They laughed at the thought of building a house using several different peoples' forearms as units of measure - what a crooked house that would be! Eventually, units of measure were standardized, and it is these that we work with today.  

Our bird study has been enhanced by the presence of Disco, Leah Brush's visiting parakeet.  He was, literally, at the center of everyone's bird lessons this week, preening and snacking as the children discussed the physical characteristics of his species, his body functions, and the various parts of one of his feathers.  On Monday, May 6th, we will be heading up to Quechee, Vermont, where the Vermont Institute of Natural Science houses injured and recovering birds of prey.  We have already heard from a couple of parents regarding driving, but we are still hoping for more.  Thank you, as always, for considering being a field trip chaperone.

On Friday, May 3rd, Lower El will have Pajama Day.  If students would like to wear pajamas, they may, but it is optional.  Also, everyone may bring in one stuffed animal (small enough to fit in a backpack) if they want to.  In the afternoon, Hilltop will be having its' own Green Up Day, so children might want to have a change of clothes for gardening work.

Finally, please remember the following:

- Please remind your child that they need sneakers for P.E, now that the snow is gone; P.E. is on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  
...and welcome back to Emmy Winter, who has returned to us after a nearly five-month-long residency in Costa Rica!  
Have a good weekend!
- Jessica, Kerstin, and Connie



Upper Elementary 

Welcome back to the final stretch of the school year. Before we start looking ahead Tom and I want to say thank you to all the Upper El families for making our post-play potluck such a wonderful event. It was great to see the entire Upper El community together.


This week we kicked off the final units of our year-long and semester-long studies. As part of the Native American study, the fourths and fifths have shifted their focus to the Maya, Aztec, and Inca cultures. The final part of the zoology study is an examination of advanced classification. Students practiced classifying a set of objects in as many ways as possible. Next, students classified objects by analogy (use) or homology (origin/relationship). Next week students will learn why King David Philip Came Over For Good Spaghetti.


We had planned only one lesson on the brain and technology for the sixths this week, but the students had so many questions about brain anatomy, we ended up giving two lessons on the brain this week. During the first lesson, students looked at the basic structure of the brain. During the second lesson, students learned about recent research findings on how current use of technology -- smartphones, ipads, computers, often at the same time -- may be impacting the brain. Students were very intrigued by the research. The sixths also dissected a pig heart at the end of the week, part of the study of the circulatory system.




The sixths also began their study of nineteenth-century Vermont. Tom kicked off this study by presenting the geological history of Vermont. The guiding questions of this study is how land effected industry, agriculture, transportation, and human migration in Vermont and how these subjects impacted the land.


The spring is a very busy time. Below are some important dates to mark down.


Friday, May 17 Pinnacle day hike for third, fourth, and fifth graders.


Thursday, May 23 and Friday May 24, UE Museum. Thursday from 2 to 2:45 and Friday morning for Grandparents and Special Friends Day.


Wednesday, May 29 - Friday, May 31, UE 3 day trip to Farm and Wilderness.


Middle School  


Thankfully, building community never stops. Even after such a confirming experience as our week in Alabama trying to understand the reasons why people treated and continue to treat each other with a lack of compassion, hostility, and indifference, we find we have to face some of the same forces in our own lives. They are perhaps far different in scale but in many ways emanate from the same human elements of fear and the need for acceptance. We have spent a considerable amount of time the last two days in community meeting over issues of privacy and the invasion of that privacy especially in the world of Google Docs. Ultimately it all boils down to respect and responsibility, which are the same themes we encountered over and over again in Alabama. The trick is to recognize them and act upon them in ones own life and not just see them illustrated on the historical stage. Community can be messy and thankfully Hilltop is a place where we can wallow in the mud, wade through it and clean up on the other side. This community is still kind of muddy but as Dr. King said: "the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice".


Which is exactly the direction our play is heading in. What is justice? Is it universal? Individual? Do we all play by the same rules? Does it have anything to do with rules? We have collectively been in the act of creation this past week and are doggedly making our way forward. The ideas are flowing, enthusiasm is high, and the writing of scenes, songs, and poems have begun. The time between now and performance will be intense, focused, and will fly by in the blink of an eye. So here is the performance schedule: (all at the middle school)


Thursday, May 9 at 7pm

Friday, May 10 at 10am

Friday, May 10 at 7pm.


Come to one; come to all but please come. The play (as yet untitled) is for the entire Hilltop community and beyond. Invite your friends and be prepared for a fascinating, joyful, and powerful evening of original theatre and song.


When we were in Alabama, we visited with the artist, Joe Minter and his wife, Hilda in Birmingham. We have established a wonderful relationship with them over the years and Joe usually sends us home with some of his work. During our visit, Joe and Hilda spoke enthusiastically about how some folks from the New York Times had recently interviewed them and took photos. The article was in Thursday's edition and can be found at:



It is a wonderful article with terrific photos. It will help bring you into the world we just experienced.





email the Middle School


Hilltop Montessori School