No school on Monday.

Next All School Gathering on Thursday, November 14
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Mark Your Calendar
Monday, November 4
  • NO SCHOOL - Teacher's professional development day visiting other schools. 

Tuesday, November 5 

  • CH and LE Spanish 3-4pm  

Wednesday, November 6 

  • MS students attend Youth Environmental Summit at the Barre Civic Center.   
  • Fire and Stone 3-4:30pm
  • Historical Fencing 3-4pm  

Thursday, November 7     


  • Open House for prospective families 9-11am. Tell your friends!  
  • No All School Gathering 


Friday, November 8     

Looking Ahead...


Thursday, November 21
4ths and 5ths field trip to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Leaving 8am returning between 5-5:30pm


Friday, November 22

Lower El field trip to the Bassett Planetarium at Amherst College in Amherst MA. 


REMEMBER: To see events further in the future go to the calendar on our website.
Notes from Tamara
There is so much wonderful involvement and enthusiasm for Hilltop Montessori School these days! I've heard:
  • "That was the best beginning of school picnic I've even been to!!" [referring to the Spofford Lake event]
  • "There was more excitement and participation in the Annual Fund Carnival Kick-Off party than anything Hilltop has even had!!"
  • "That was the best Upper El Parent/Student soccer game ever!"
We also had fantastic participation in the Annual Fund, exceeding our financial goal and achieving an amazing 91% participation. We had great response to the families' survey and have had nice turnout for All School Gatherings, soccer games, Middle School presentations, etc. Parents and grandparents have stopped by my office or caught me at the circle in the mornings to share their observations about how well things are going. I've also had parents email me and/or set up appointments to share concerns they have about a particular situation or suggestions for improvement. I welcome it all. Please keep the communication coming.

To further this interest, involvement and communication, we will be hosting "Parent Gatherings" in the mornings after All School Gatherings. This week we won't have an All School Gathering, as it is a short week and we have an Open House for perspective families on Thursday. But we will start the next week, on Thursday, November 14th - Mark your calendar!

Do you hear the calling?
The board is looking for new members. We need people with an interest in Hilltop Montessori School, some expertise, and a little time to further their involvement in the forward momentum of the school. There will be a "Candidate Information Session" for prospective Board members in the next few weeks, and an outside expert coming to do Board training on December 6th and 7th. We'd love to have you get involved now!

The Hilltop Board of Trustees Annual Call for Nominations


The role of the Hilltop Board of Trustees is to determine and oversee policies that support the mission of the school and to ensure the school's fiscal stability. This includes the hiring and evaluating the Head of School, appointing standing and ad hoc committees, overseeing the lease and facility use, fundraising, and strategic planning. HMS board members also serve as ambassadors for the school to the community at large.


Specific Professional Experience or Areas of Expertise sought by the HMS board


Serving on the HMS board or on one of its various committees is a great way to offer your professional expertise, experience, and time to Hilltop. The board has an ongoing need to attract potential trustees from within and outside the Hilltop community who have experience or expertise in the following areas:


Law, Finance, Development/Fundraising, Contracting/Architecture, Agriculture/Landscaping, Education, Administration/Organization, and Community Connection


Time Commitment/Expectations


Board members attend a monthly meeting, typically from 6-9 p.m. on the third Wednesday of the month (though this could change to include Mondays). There is some report reading and meeting preparation required in the days before the meeting. There is a varying amount of time throughout the month, depending on what committees of projects each member is involved in. There are also occasional longer meetings as part of an annual retreat or board training.


Interested?? - Next Steps . . .


More detailed information about serving on the Hilltop board is available at the front desk. If you decide you're interested in becoming a board candidate, please complete the HMS Board Candidate Information Form and return it to Ann, who will forward it to the Committee on Trustees. (Electronic copies of the Board Member Description and Info Form are available from the e-mail address below).


If you have any questions, please contact the Board Chair of the Committee on Trustees, Patrick Keppel via email or telephone 802-254-5028.


Barn Update


Thank you again for your patience!!

The large concrete slab is ready to be poured! Foard Panel is prepping the insulated panels that will sheath the entire building. The team is working hard choosing the right roofing system. Currently we are considering a Fabral metal roof. Work is in progress choosing sound absorbing materials for the ceiling of the music room, theater, and gym. Final designs are in for the sprinkler system and the team has worked diligently siting the sprinkler mechanics without compromising our barn design.

Leland Smith

Basketball comes to Hilltop


Basketball Team!

Gimme the ball, gimme the ball, yeah!  Calling Hilltopers in 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th! Hilltop is in the process of starting a basketball team and looking for a league to play in.  Please RSVP to Ann if you think your student would like to participate from mid-November until February break.  That's 12 weeks, Mondays and Fridays 3:15 - 4:45. Approximate cost will be $150, depending on enrollment, with a maximum of 10 players. Are you game?!

Practices will be held at the Austine School. Let us know if you can help coordinate rides. 



Birch and Willow Rooms


We hope everyone had a Happy Halloween. We enjoyed hearing lots of stories about trick-or-treating adventures and Halloween parties. It sounds like a lot of candy was collected, counted and sorted. Please remember to keep all of these yummy treats at home.


It was wonderful to visit with parents during parent/teacher conferences. We love having the opportunity to connect and share stories about your child's work in the classroom. Thank you for making time in your busy schedules to attend. The children enjoyed sharing the classroom with their parents on the Wednesday before conferences and we have scheduled another work share opportunity on Tuesday, January 14th from 8:30 - 9:15am.


It appears we are entering our first cycle of illness in the Children's House. Several students have been absent this week due to colds and intestinal viruses. We thought it might be helpful to review our illness practices and policies so we can work together and help keep everyone healthy.


In the classrooms we teach and model "catching" a cough or a sneeze with the elbow rather than the hand. Children are instructed to wash their hands after wiping/blowing their noses. This is the best defense in the battle to stop the spread of germs and your support with these practices at home is greatly appreciated.


If your child is ill and has a fever please remember your child must be fever free (without the aid of acetaminophen or ibuprofen) for 24 hours before returning to school. If your child has been vomiting we recommend that your child return no earlier than 12 hours after the last episode. And as a general rule your child should be able to fully participate in all school activities before returning to school.


BRRR! The weather is truly reflecting the season and it's time to take an inventory of appropriate outdoor clothing. Many young children need assistance in choosing appropriate clothing for the weather as they are still learning how to regulate body temperature. November is often a rather rainy month so please make sure your child has a rain jacket and boots. And just behind a rainy November lurks the cold wintry months. Each child will need a winter jacket, snow pants, boots, hat and mittens (it's also very helpful to have an extra set of mittens because nobody likes to wear wet and cold mittens). We go outside in all sorts of weather and we want the children to be able to participate and enjoy outdoor play and activities.


Have a happy weekend!


Cheryl, Ellie, Mariam, Melissa and Sarah




Dan's Reflections as Director of Elementary

It has been a busy fall in the elementary classrooms. Kerstin and Patrick in the Lower Elementary, and Tom and Jennifer in the Upper Elementary, have been working hard to make the transition to new teachers and teaching teams as seamless as possible for the children. To make this happen, both teams have put a tremendous amount of time into planning, preparing for lessons, and communicating effectively with one another. Their efforts are evident in the spirit of community in both classrooms, the children's purposeful work each day, and the trusting relationships that have been established between children and teachers. On top of all of this, both teaching teams have been working hard to strengthen their programs. Exciting work is happening in the math curriculum as well as the cultural curriculum. This week, however, we would like to detail some of the work being done in the language areas of both classrooms.


In the Lower Elementary, Kerstin and Patrick have been giving considerable attention to the reading curriculum. They have begun to use a new literature anthology to guide early and transitional readers through a sequence of direct instruction in the foundational reading skills of phonemic awareness, phonics, and whole language practice. For fluent readers, Kerstin and Patrick are actively scouting for new books and short stories to use for reading groups. They are also implementing a structured sequence of comprehension strategy instruction. All of this direct reading instruction happens alongside the language work done in spelling, grammar, word study, and the language rich lessons and materials of the cultural studies. Kerstin, Patrick, and Connie have also been updating and reorganizing the classroom library. Almost two hundred new books have been purchased so far this year to introduce new titles to the classroom and to meet the needs and interests of all readers. New books will continue to be purchased throughout the year for reading groups, cultural studies, and read aloud. Connie took on the task of leveling all of the new and old books in the room. This means that the books are now organized by reading level so that students and teachers can easily select appropriate books to support a student's growing skills.


In the Upper Elementary, Jennifer and Tom have been paying particular attention to writing. They have been reviewing the grammar and writing curriculum to find the best places to introduce lessons on punctuation and mechanics. Jennifer and Tom have also been breaking down and adding more structure to the prewriting process for creative, narrative, and expository writing. This should help students improve the organization, flow, and narrative punch of their writing. In addition, new lessons to guide children through the research process for their cultural studies will also impact their writing. These lessons help students develop questions to guide their research on a chosen topic. These same questions help the children later organize their writing on the topic. The teachers have also added more structure to the self-editing process to help the children take more responsibility for their own writing.


When we first envisioned my role as Director of Elementary, we weren't sure exactly what it would look like once the year was underway. We knew that being flexible to meet the needs of both programs would be key. As it has turned out so far, most of my day is spent directly teaching in small group lessons. I teach reading and math groups in both Upper and Lower Elementary, in addition to Latin and cultural lessons incorporating art. The central "Art Room" that has become my base of operations is often filled with children quietly engaged in a myriad of activities. The space has worked more beautifully than we had even imagined: quiet reading, building a river model out papier-mâché and plaster, making a diagram of a jellyfish, or three children working on literature questions together. So much has happened in the first two months of this year, it is exciting to imagine the further growth of these already wonderful programs.


Lower Elementary
Students in Lower El worked hard this week, completing their mobiles, polishing vertebrate and planet research projects, and studying parts and functions of fish. Yesterday, some of our parents put together an awesome Halloween party! The children loved the exhibits: from the bowl of guts, to bean bag toss, to donuts on a string, to the ring toss. Special thanks to Kim Korson, Rita Ramirez, Rebecca Fontaine, Alix Fedoruk, Leah Nessbaum, Rachel Zamora, Karen Berg, and Andrea Burke for making it happen.

Our peace curriculum this week included a discussion of responsibility, led by Tamara, and how body language can say more than our mouths can.

Ask your children about:

Community meeting

Tiny Tales of Terror and Acrostics 

Queen Minus (first-years)

Bead Frame (second-years)

Math without materials (third-years)

Save the Date:
Friday, November 22 -
Field Trip to Bassett Planetarium. We will put a sign-up sheet outside the lower el door next week for drivers.

International Space Station:
We studied the moon and its relationship to Earth in our Sun and Earth work over the past month. Many students are fascinated by Earth's natural satellite. For those who are interested, going to the ISS website allows you to be notified when one of our man-made satellites is visible in the sky. It's worth making the effort to see, but I would probably wait until it becomes visible in the evening again:

Have a great weekend!
Kerstin and Patrick

Upper Elementary
The Upper Elementary students were visited by a man from ancient Greece who implored them to be thankful to the Greeks for so much of what we have today- architecture, theater, and a little thing called democracy. Then along came a Roman centurion who refused to let his Greek friend take all the credit. Our visitors helped us kick off our study of ancient Greece and Rome.

Jennifer Hed in the role of Plato.

Yes, that's Tom as a Roman soldier.

The sixth graders began their study of the Constitution by learning about our nation's first attempt to organize itself, the Articles of Confederation. Then, just as delegates to the Constitutional Convention did, students worked on deciding what might be a better plan for our then young nation, the Virginia Plan or the  New Jersey Plan. Before the lesson was even over, more than once student asked, "Well what if we like parts of both?" That is a question teachers love to hear!

Middle School

"To be rooted is perhaps the most important but least understood need of the human soul." (Simone Weill) We often hear the phrase, "a sense of place" but what does it mean? How much of our identity is caught up in where we live? Where we were born? Where we grew up? We have set off to discover who we are in the context of place, through the lens of history and community. On Monday, we descended upon the unsuspecting citizens and institutions of Brattleboro to ask for their descriptions of Brattleboro (in one sentence) and the role that the institution plays in the life of our community. It was not only a beautiful day but also one full of adventure and new discoveries. Some students found their way to the courthouse and witnessed a trial in criminal court, others had interesting encounters with some of the colorful characters that walk the downtown, and all enjoyed lunch in one of the many downtown restaurants. It was a day of practicing independence and responsibility. We will be journeying downtown once again next Tuesday. This time the focus will be on observation and investigation. Students will be writing and painting as well as visiting the History Room at the Brooks Memorial Library and the Brattleboro Historical Society in pursuit of their "Before Our Time History Project".


On Thursday afternoon, Archer's father, Bob Parks, gave us a class in the art of the interview. Bob is a contributor to Bloomberg Business Week, Make, and Popular Science as well as a correspondent for Wired. He gave the students a multitude of tips of how to set up and conduct an interview. It was an enjoyable and very informative presentation. Every student will soon be conducting an interview as well as a photo shoot in the next two weeks for their "Society Project". The films that result from their efforts will premiere on January 17th at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center. Many thanks, Bob.


Today was the first of six Friday mornings of direct community connection and service. The eighth graders met their elderly companion at either Holton Home or Pine Heights and the sevenths became mentors in the Children's House and Lower Elementary classrooms. Ask your student about their experience.


As you all know, there is no school on Monday. The day has been set aside for faculty and staff to visit other schools. Nora is already in Ohio visiting both the Montessori High School in Cleveland and the Hershey Montessori School. The Hershey school is a boarding middle school with a focus on the land, complete with a working farm that the students run. Nora recently completed her Montessori adolescent training there last summer. Finn and I are not visiting other Montessori schools. Instead we are spending the day at two of the high schools (The Putney School and Northfield Mt. Herman) many of our students attend upon graduation. We hope to visit other local high schools in the future.



Upcoming dates to remember:


Wednesday, November 6 - Youth Environmental Summit being held in Barre. We will be leaving Hilltop at 6:45 in the morning (I know - groan) and returning at 6:00.

Thursday, November 7 - Curriculum Vitae/Love Hate poetry night. Come here your student recite beginning at 7pm.

Tuesday, November 12 - community roundtable on sustainable/resilient communities. More on this later.







I Spy a Big Orange Bike (from Ely, Rachel & Dave)
To all the folks who have asked or thought to ask what the heck we are doing virtually everyday riding that crazy orange bike up and down that crazy hill, we thought you might like to know more and perhaps we'd also like to dispel a few rumors. 

First off, we're not a new race of superhumans with bionic legs. The truth is that while we like to think that we're pretty strong, the bike has an on-board electric-assist motor that helps us up the hill with relative ease. We think that's great news because it means lots of people can do it!   On top of that, it's a total blast to ride and a wonderful way for you and your kids to experience the world.

So, about the bicycle - it's a cargobike called the ElMundo from Yuba Bikes in California and it can carry 3 kids and cargo up to 440 lbs  It tips the scale at 1/100 the weight of the typical SUV and as far as resource consumption and energy usage, probably no vehicle we know of could be more efficient. It's truly the ultimate hybrid of human and electric power combined.

Can you imagine for a moment what it would be like if more families rode up to Hilltop?

To find out more about cargobikes and the electric assist options, take a look at Dave's article in the October issue of Parent Express -

If you'd like to read on how automobiles impact our sensory experience of the world, check out Dave's article in the Commons -

And the New York Times reported this week about how car commuting can undermine your and your child's mental and physical health -

Looking for a housesitter? Look no further!
Our very own Sarah Skuse, from the Birch Room is available to help.

Art Exhibition
by former Hilltop art teacher, Mollie Burke entitled "Endangered Season: Winter in Vermont". Opening reception Nov. 1st, 5:30-8:30pm The Dianich Gallery, 139 Main Street, Brattleboro.

Weekend Spanish Workshop
Escuelita Spanish School is offering a weekend Spanish workshop at Hilltop November 9th-10th. The weekend course really allows students to get into the flow of the language. It is perfect for anyone planning to travel to a Spanish -speaking country or who wants to jump-start or refresh their Spanish. Our courses help you gain confidence and fluency with Spanish in the fastest, easiest, and most fun way possible. Schedule: Saturday and Sunday
9:00-1:00: Beginner/intermediate class; 2:00-6:00: Intermediate/advanced class 
Two half days: $110 Full weekend: $200
For more information, please contact Elissa McLean.

The Hatch presents "Storytellers on a Mission" featuring seven of the nation's hottest storytellers who tell hilarious stories to raise money for the New England Youth Theatre. Featuring Brian Babylon, Ophira Eisenberg, Dave Hill, SRSLY with Alexandra Fiber and Danielle Gibson, Adam Wade and host Tom Shillue. Tickets: $60, $40 & $25, available at  November 14, 7 pm at the Latchis Theatre, Main Street, Brattleboro.


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