Middle School Films premiere tonight at the Brattleboro Museum. See you there at 7pm!

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Mark Your Calendar
Monday, January 20
  • Martin Luther King Day - No School
Tuesday, January 21
  • Drum Circle: 3 - 4pm 
Wednesday, January 22
  • Bagel Lunch
  • Lower El Workshare: 8:30 - 9am 
  • Beginning French: 3 - 4pm  
Thursday, January 23
  • Winter Sports (No All School Gathering) 
Friday, January 24
  • Stepping Stones Toddler Program Open House: 9-10am  
  • Pizza Lunch 
  • Junior Bakers: 3 - 4pm
  • Ukelele: 3 - 4pm 
  • MS Basketball: 3:15 - 4:45pm  
  • Kid's Night Out in the Middle School - childcare from 5:30 - 10pm *see below for details  

Coming Up...

Tuesday, January 28
- Open House to prospective families: 9 - 11am

Friday, March 28th - Hilltop Family Dinner and Contra Dance at the Dummerston Grange with very special musical hosts and Middle School parents, Keith Murphy and Becky Tracy. You won't want to miss it!

REMEMBER: To see events further in the future go to the calendar on our website.
Notes from Tamara

Winter Sports Note

We are thrilled to report that this Thursday's Winter Sports was a huge success. One might have thought that the conditions were less than favorable, but everyone reported to have a wonderful, successful, winter, athletic experience! The skaters were invigorated, the cross-country skiers reported lengthy adventures, and the Mt. Snow group returned calmly and appropriately (without candy induced behavior issues) having had a great afternoon on the slopes! Here's to many more successful Thursday Winter Sports outings! A huge thank you to all the chaperones who help make Winter Sports possible!!!!

Tonia is doing well!

Most of you know the wonderful and amazing Tonia Wheeler. She was the founding, long-time head of Hilltop Montessori School, and was back as Interim Head-of-School last year. As some of you may have heard, Tonia experienced the scare of a heart attack last Friday. She and her husband quickly recognized the signs and got her to Hanover where they put in two stents. She was home four days later, answering the door, fully dressed, waiting to watch the Australian Tennis matches on TV. She is doing well! Keep sending the "get well" wishes her way!

Sign Up for Childcare for Parent Conference Day March 28
Exciting nature activity offered on Conference Day, March 28th

Friday, March 28th, (No School) 8:30 - 12:00 Cost: $25

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."
Charles Dickens 

We may not know what the weather will be, but let your child join us Friday, March 28 during teacher conference day for hours of fun as we play and learn in the fields and forests of the Hilltop campus. Come investigate the natural world around us through games, activities and exploration. Our adventures may include learning how to make snow forts strong enough for winter survival, following the tracks of an animal, or investigating a vernal pool.

This program will be lead by a Brattleboro Environmental Education Center (BEEC) educator.   BEEC offers a number and variety of science and nature-based programs for elementary classrooms in Southeast Windham County. Each of the programs can be tailored to fit grade level and classroom needs, which is why we are requiring an early response for sign up.

Please email Ann or stop by the Front Desk to sign up by Friday, February 14th, for your child to participate in this fun activity.

(Childcare during your conference time will be free of charge.  Afternoon childcare from noon until 5pm will be available at the regular rate of $7.50 per hour.)

Board Notes

The Board held its December meeting and discussed Hilltop's financial needs. The Board fully supported the Head of School's initiative to simplify the tuition and fee structure.  It is also discussed the need to keep tuition as low as possible for families while also meeting the needs of the continuously improving high-quality programs of Hilltop Montessori School. The Board discussed the need to invest in current programs and facilities while also securing the long term financial stability of the school. 

While most of our time was spent planning for next year's contracts and budget, we also took some time to reflect on the calendar year that was closing and on what a great first half of the school year Hilltop Montessori School has experienced. We are excited to have dynamic administrators and faculty led by Tamara.

The next meeting is on Wednesday, January 22, at which the Board plans to approve a draft budget.

Mark Loevy-Reyes
Board Chair

Open House


Have a friend who you think might be interested in Hilltop?  

Wondering what's ahead for your student? 


Hilltop Montessori School Open House

January 28, 2014  Tuesday morning, 9 - 11 am


Now is the time to reach out to those families or join us yourself for our Open House. This is the perfect event to introduce friends to Hilltop and get to know our school or peek at the programs ahead for your student.  


Our Open Houses are both friendly and informative.  Tours and classroom observations begin promptly at 9:00 a.m. with current parents here to greet you and guide you through the school. Teachers from every level will also meet with parent groups to discuss and answer their questions. Current parents will enjoy this. Some of our middle school students will be here to take questions from parents about their experience at Hilltop.


Reservations are not necessary for Open Houses, but please be sure to sign in when you arrive.  This event is for parents only, but if your Middle School student is interested in joining us, they are welcome.  


So tell a friend or just come join us yourself and see what lies ahead for your students next program level!  


Development News


Big news! We now have an official committee structure for parent / grandparent / friend volunteers. All are welcome and encouraged to get involved. Don't let the "committee" title frighten you, we are very sensitive to busy family schedules. The goal is to have a good time while supporting our wonderful school.   


Big Picture Committees 

  1. Development Committee: umbrella brain trust group that will guide the fundraising efforts for the year. Are you a big picture person with lots of ideas? This group is for you.
  2. Keystone Campaign** "The Final Mile" Committee: picking up where the original Keystone Committee left off, this group will steer capital campaign fundraising efforts to furnish our barn and finish our campus.   

Event Committees

  1. Hilltop Contra Dance and Dinner Party, March 28th, held at the Dummerston Grange with highly acclaimed musical hosts, Middle School parents, Keith Murphy and Becky Tracy. This committee will shape a wonderfully fun evening of dinner and dancing for the whole family. A silent auction or raffle could be included as well.
  2. Arts Barn Informal Ginormous Hors d'oeuvre Pot Luck and Cocktail Hour, date tbd. Once our barn has 4 walls, a roof and is safe to enter without protective head gear, we're going to warm it up a little by having a gathering there! Game night for the kids at the Middle School, or some such thing. 
  3. The now infamous Hilltop Multi-Family Tag Sale, May 31, hosted right here on our soccer field. Tag Sales are an Olympic style sport in Brattleboro. This event is wide open for new ideas!   
  4. A Red Carpet Gala Type Event, Fall 2014. To celebrate the completion of our Arts Barn! 
Come lend a hand to help Hilltop and you may just have a ball doing it! Email Amelia to join any or all of these committees. You won't regret it!


 **Keystone Campaign, if you weren't aware, is the name of the capital campaign that was founded to raise funds to renovate the barn. 


Kid's Night Out is BACK!

Middle School Announces more Kid's Night Out dates!


Next Friday, January 24th And Friday, February 7th   


Ready to have a fun night out on the town?
Having trouble finding a babysitter? Your troubles are over! Drop your child/children off at the Hilltop Montessori Middle School from anywhere between 5:30-10:00 on Friday, January 24th or Friday, February 7th to have an exciting night out with our Middle School babysitters!  

There will be fun, games, crafts, and tons more! At least one certified babysitter, and one adult will be there. We will provide snacks, but in addition, please pack a nutritious dinner or feed your child before you come. This fun night for you and your kids costs only $6.00 an hour and $4.00 an hour for additional children. All proceeds from Kids Night Out go to the Hilltop Montessori Middle School Odyssey Fund.


15 children is our maximum, once the sheet is full please wait until our next notice (coming up soon). If you are interested please email us at [email protected] 



Real Testimonial: My fourth grader had such a great time, when picked up said she wanted to be sure to get there on time the next time there was a "Kid's Night Out"!
Thank you to all of the fearless winter sports chaperones and Jared Smith for his apple deliveries. He made his last one of the season this week. We'll miss those yummy apples. Alas, we'll have to wait until next year!

All the Children's House teachers want to extend a very special thank you to all of our parents for the software gift you gave to our program. Boardmaker has been on our wish list for many years and we are so excited to have it. THANK YOU!

Buildings and Grounds Update
Barn Update:

The walls of the gym and theater are going up soon. Foard Panel will be on site with a crane to erect the walls and put on the roof panels.  These "SIPS" panels, which stands for Structural Insulated Panels, sandwich insulating foam between two sheets of wood. SIPS create a highly insulated envelope. 

We continue to work on siting the pump house for the sprinklers. There is hope that the State will allow us to use the pond instead of buried tanks to store the water. Keep your fingers crossed.


If we want to be able to use our new Arts Barn to its fullest capacity, we are going to need more parking. We've asked our site engineers for a preliminary opinion and a few options are under consideration. Stay tuned for more on that subject...

Birch Room


Last week,  the olders in both Birch and Willow rooms started their 6-week Winter Sports skating session.   Time at the rink includes free skating and a lesson.



On Tuesday, January 14 we had a great turn out for our parent classroom visit. As you can see from the photos the children enjoyed sharing their favorite works with their parent(s) and younger siblings! 

Willow Room

It was wonderful to have so many parents visit on Tuesday for parent/child sharing. The children were excellent teachers and the parents were super students. What a great way to start our week! We're looking at the calendar now and will let you know when the next scheduled classroom sharing visit will be.




We have a new book in our classroom, Jacob's Eye Patch written by Beth Kobliner Shaw and Jacob Shaw and illustrated by Jules Feiffer. It's a funny and inspiring book about how being a little bit different is no big deal. Everyone enjoyed the story of Jacob, a little boy who wears an eye patch. During the story Leo shared his feeling and thoughts with the class about what it's like to wear an eye patch. Thank you to Leo and his family for sharing this wonderful book with us.


This week was the second week of Winter Sports. The Olders journeyed to the Living Memorial Park skating rink on Thursday to enjoy another afternoon on the ice. Ellie reports that all of our skaters have observed how "slippery the ice is" but that hasn't stopped them from having positive attitudes and lots of fun!


This weather this week has made playing outside a bit of a wet and muddy challenge, and the children have had a great time. There have been lots of wet and muddy snow pants and mittens and we appreciate all our parents understanding that this is just part of the joy of living in Vermont. It's so important for children to be outside experiencing the snow, the ice, and the water and of course the MUD! Thank you for sending in extra pairs of mittens and keeping extra clothes boxes well stocked.


All the Children's House teachers want to extend a very special thank you to all of our parents for the software gift you gave to our program. Boardmaker has been on our wish list for many years and we are so excited to have it. THANK YOU!


And thank you to Jen Betit-Engel for the collection of prints. We are enjoying the new artwork on the walls.


We hope you enjoy the three-day weekend and we look forward to seeing everyone on Tuesday.


Melissa and Ellie


Notes from Dan Filler, Elementary Director
One of the most important tasks of the elementary teacher is to spark the imagination of a child. This is done through telling stories, giving impressionistic lessons, presenting materials with deliberateness, and crafting engaging and challenging follow-up works. When a child's imagination is engaged, she will seek out books from the shelves, work with materials with deep concentration, come up to teachers to report what she has learned independently, and share newly discovered information with peers.

Observing students in both the Lower and Upper Elementary, it is clear that the teachers have engaged the students imagination about a range of topics. In the Lower Elementary, students have been digging into books about prehistoric life, discussing new animals they have discovered through their reading, and sharing prior knowledge about dinosaurs and megafauna with one another. After watching several students work diligently with the checkerboard for multiplication earlier in the week, more than one student exclaimed, "Yay! Checkerboard," when invited to a lesson.

Two Lower Elementary students stopped Tom in the Children's House hallway to explain to him that they were measuring out the length of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

In the Upper Elementary, "Which element are you studying?" was an often overheard question this week. I was asked if I was aware that mercury did this or that antimony did that (and no, I did not know that about antimony!). After a lesson on area, one student decided to compare the 'area' of students as determined by height and shoulder width. Others decided to compare the area of different sport fields. And we have only been back at school for two weeks!

Middle School


What is courage? What is patriotism? Is breaking the law ever the right thing to do? Should our conscience be our guide or our leaders? These are some of the questions we have been exploring in the middle school as we move deeper into our "Struggle for Peace" study. The novella, "I Had Seen Castles", posed the questions and the characters and the moral dilemmas they faced continue to resonate as we read and discussed Thoreau's influential essay, "Civil Disobedience" and Arthur Laffin's "An Introduction to Plowshares". We tried to understand the peace activist, Elizabeth McAlister's quote: "There is not going to be any real disarmament until there's a disarming of hearts." We discussed how all of us, in some way or another, have armed our hearts and how it takes tremendous courage to lower our defenses. It is not a big leap then to understand why nations struggle to disarm themselves. Trust never feels as secure as a missile defense system. It also was not a big leap to understand why so few people put themselves at risk even when they believe something is morally wrong. As Thoreau so succinctly put it: "There are nine hundred and ninety nine patrons of virtue to one virtuous person" and "There are thousands who are in opinion opposed to slavery and to the war, who yet in effect do nothing to put an end to them..." and finally, "Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator?"


Today we hosted Daniel Sicken, a Plowshares activist and long time war tax resister, who clearly knows and never resigned his conscience. For his actions he spent three years in a federal penitentiary and in numerous county jails. When asked about the sacrifices he made throughout his life for his beliefs, Daniel's response was not one of sacrifice but one of a deeper knowledge of self. His life has been defined and guided by his spiritual beliefs. It was a privilege to be in discussion with someone whose choices and clarity of belief stands in such contrast to much of our culture.


On Tuesday, February 4th, in collaboration with the Brattleboro American Legion, we will be hosting a roundtable with local veterans spanning World War II to Afghanistan. Once again we will contemplate the concepts of patriotism, courage, and service through equally committed and passionate voices. The discussion will take place at the middle school beginning at 9am. You are, of course, invited.


We look forward to seeing many of you tonight at the gala premiere of the Society Project films.


Community News

Weekend Family Class: Learn Spanish with your kids! 
Elissa McLean is offering a weekend Spanish class for families
February 15th-16th in Brattleboro (Recommended for ages 9+). Participants will learn Spanish through stories, movement, and engaging discussion. Materials will be shared to help keep Spanish alive in your household beyond the course. Our engaging and innovative methods get students understanding and speaking Spanish in the fastest way possible. 
Course Schedule:
February 15th-16th
9am-12pm Saturday
9am-12pm Sunday
$80 + $15 registration fee (waived if paid by Feb 1) for first adult.
Second adult $60
Children $40 (accompanied by adult)

For more information, call 802-275-2694 or email  [email protected]. 
Our winter session begins Jan 30th- check out for more info.

River Gallery Winter Art Classes
are in session.
Click here to see the list and descriptions of classes offered. Scholarships are available.

Harris Hill Ski Jump is looking for volunteers. This year's jump will be happening on February 15 and 16th. If you are interested, get in touch with Children's House parent, Kathryn Einig. If you're not familiar with this quintessential Brattleboro event, you are in for a treat. Visit the Harris Hill website for more information and discounted tickets.
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