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Toddler Room
Willow Room
Birch Room
Lower El
Upper El
Middle School
Community Events
Next Week at Hilltop

Cultural Cooking 


Drum Circle 3:15-4:15

NO Creative Movement 
(Anna will be away)

UE Basketball 

Winter Sports!

Fire & Stone 3:15-5:00

MS Basketball 3:30-4:45

Kids' Night Out 5:30-9:30

Celebrity Sighting
Tune into CBS's Blue Bloods on January 30th and you'll get a glimpse of Hilltop Alum, Eric Guggisberg, Class of '05.

We're proud of you, Eric!
Moving Up Night

Please consider attending Moving-Up Night on Tuesday, February 3 from 6-7 p.m. This event is for all families interested in learning more about the program that their child or children are in at Hilltop Montessori School and is especially critical for those families whose child is moving from one program to the next. When a child moves from one program to the next (Children's House to Lower Elementary, Lower to Upper Elementary, or Upper Elementary to Middle School, as examples), they are moving from one "plane of development" - as Maria Montessori coined this phase - to another. Our programs step up their level of expectations and new skills are emphasized for the maturing child. On Moving-Up Night, you will have an opportunity to hear the teachers speak about the components of the program that change and what inspires them to teach this particular age group.

All families are invited to attend, but it is especially important for those who are "Moving-Up":
- Families of Kindergartners/CH Olders whose children will be transitioning to Lower El next year.
- Families of Lower Elementary moving-up to Upper Elementary
- Families of Upper Elementary students moving to Middle School
- Families of 4 year olds who will be Kindergartners next year

We will not be holding a program for Toddlers moving to Children's House next year, as many of those moving have siblings in the Children's House so the families know what that program is about. Instead, Jonathan and Cheryl will be speaking to the families of 4 year olds who will be Kindergartners next year to explain the importance and beauty of that third year in the Children's House, as children transition to become the leaders in the classroom and so much comes together academically, physically, and socially. 

We will provide childcare, including pizza for the children, during this adult meeting. Please RSVP at the front desk to attend and to sign up for childcare. The teachers look forward to seeing you and getting this opportunity to get better acquainted all around.
See you Tuesday, February 3!

Changes at the Front Desk

You may notice a slight change in staffing at the front desk - Tara and Jennifer will now be sharing duties! Jennifer is looking to spend more time on her artistic endeavors, and Tara is excited to bring her parental viewpoint and supreme organizational skills to the task. Jennifer will continue to check her email, but please use the front desk email for all future general inquiries. 
Thank you!

Get your Contra on
Friday, March 6th

Support and celebrate the 2015 Alabama Odyssey with


Becky Tracy / Keith Murphy and friends 
Stomp The Arts Barn
7 to 9 pm 

Hilltop Middle School's Alabama Odyssey is a biennial encounter and exploration of civil rights and reality in one of the U.S.'s most culturally rich but economically depressed regions.

Tickets: $5, $20 cap per family; children under 6 free. Delicious gourmet snacks, refreshments, and crafts available. Cash or checks at door please.  

Gettin' into the Swing!
Saturday, April 4th 
"Vintage Swing" Dance and Auction - Not too early to start thinking about the dress!

The Auction committee needs your help finding enviable items and or experiences. Have an uncle with a house in Tuscany? Know someone with a hot air balloon? Contact Amelia if you have ideas.

Proceeds of this event benefit the Financial Aid Fund at Hilltop.

Tiny House II

Two years ago, Hilltop Parent, Amelia's husband, and all around swell guy, Chad Farnum, worked with Upper El students to build a Tiny House. Chad secured all the donations of materials and time to complete the house. We raffled it off and raised nearly $18,000 which benefited Hilltop's Financial Aid Fund and Morningside Shelter. It was a lot of fun and was quite a draw at the Heifer Expo. 


2013 Tiny House

Well, hold onto your hard hats - because we're so thrilled to announce that Jamaica Cottage Shop of Jamaica, VT has graciously donated a Tiny House "kit" to Hilltop to serve as our Tiny House II!!! 



Coming up in late February or early March, Rob, our capable carpenter, will be leading a series of Saturday "workshops" for families to help build our Tiny House. Stay tuned for more details. 


Once again, we will be sharing the proceeds of the raffle with Morningside Shelter and more importantly, we will be trying harder to shine awareness on homelessness in our community and serve as an example to individuals, schools and organizations to get involved.


If you want to get involved, email Amelia.

Toddler Room


Earlier this month several faculty members attended the Montessori Schools of Massachusetts conference at Dean College. The keynote speaker, Dr. Joyce Pickering, talked of the uniqueness of the Montessori Method's focus on directly teaching the development of the senses.


In the Toddler Room, we introduce materials to help children use their stereognostic senses in order to refine their tactile senses. The stereognostic sense is the ability to perceive and recognize the form of an object by using tactile information to provide cues from texture, size, spatial properties, and temperature, instead of relying on visual or auditory cues. (These kinds of works continue into the Children's House in the Sensorial Area.)


This week, Hattie and I sat down together for a lesson with one of our stereognostic bags. First I presented the random objects in the bag and named them. Hattie had an opportunity to touch and explore each item and hear its name several times.


After returning all of the items to the drawstring bag, I demonstrated how to reach into the bag, choose 1 object, and without looking guess what object I held. Hattie caught on quickly and was eager to give it a go herself.  


Hattie thrust her hand into the bag and after briefly feeling around, she said she had a ball. She then pulled her hand out of the bag WAS the BALL! Smiles and celebration!


We continued on with the work, Hattie reaching into the bag and naming the object before she pulled it out. It was great fun! When Hattie held the pan inside the bag, she guessed bowl - close enough! She was able to generalize her knowledge and provide the name of a similar object. It didn't matter as much that she got the name correct than she had practice using her stereognostic sense. With all the fun we were having, Cooper soon joined us and observed the rest of the lesson.  


After the lesson, Hattie and I returned the bag to the shelf. And guess who chose the work next...



Have a happy, healthy weekend.

Ellie & Hannah


Willow Room

Hello Families, 

It has been an interesting past week. Illness, iciness, cold temperatures and long weekends have given us the opportunity to practice patience and flexibility. In the Willow Room, we have been taking care of our environment through daily cleaning, as well as ourselves with hand washing and nose-blowing. We will also begin a daily tea-time during lunch, with warm herbal teas to sooth and maintain our health. 

Last week, we had a wonderful visit from Matt Buchanan, Avery's father. He came to our classroom to share stories and pictures from his long camping and hiking trips in Utah wilderness. He also showed us how the native people of Utah may have started fires by using a bow. The friction caused by fast moving sticks rubbing together cause enough heat to make a hot ember. The ember is then placed inside of a cone made from birch bark, packed with small shreds of bark and cattail fluff. With careful blowing, the ember ignites the material in the cone to make fire! We all agreed that it must have taken a lot of patience! 

As we continue into the remainder of winter, please remember mittens, hats, snow pants, and appropriate footwear. We have been enjoying these beautiful days outside, slipping and sliding on our hands and knees around the playground.

Warm Wishes, 

Jonathan, Rebecca and Mariam


Birch Room

We have been busy reading many books about Winter. Recently we read Lois Ehlert's book Snowballs. This story demonstrates to children how to use "good stuff" (as she calls it) to construct a variety of snow people and their pets. The children have been using their creativity to design original snow people from Elhert's inspirational illustrations.

Others have been busy writing numerals on a paper replica of the 1-100 board, or practicing writing their alphabet using the sandpaper letters as a guide. Last
Thursday was our first skating afternoon, and many of the olders were out with the stomach bug. This week, everyone was here for skating! Don't forget to bring your helmets and car seats next week.

Stay healthy and warm!

- Cheryl and Serina

Lower El
Some highlights of our week in Lower El:

Our geometry studies continue, with students measuring angles, constructing triangles, and identifying geometric solids. 

Some biologists have been involved in the "Functions of Vertebrates" layout, an extensive work that requires reading about the six functions (protection, support, movement, circulation, respiration, and reproduction) and determining how each class of vertebrates (fish, amphibian, reptile, bird, and mammal) meets their needs in these areas.  

Our first winter sports day was a success! Children had smilies on their faces as they returned to school on Thursday. Thank you to all the parents who helped out with driving and chaperoning for this special day.  
SEEKING LAUNDRY HELPER: We are in need of someone to wash our work rugs, either every week or every other week. These rugs get lots of use and abuse during the school week, and are starting to look shabby. If you are able to help out, please let us know. This work can be divided among several people. We'd give them to you on Friday, and then need them back in the classroom by Monday. Thank you in advance!  

Have a healthy weekend.
Kerstin and Patrick

Upper El


There is no big nor any small.

Tall and short do not exist

'Cause it all depends on who it is 

Big is small to giant,

Giant is tall to short. 

Everything is about perspective. 

So size does not


-- Solomon Ponzio



pushing off

quick double-poling

finish line

                                                   -- Leah Sutton-Smith


As our students continue their work writing and analyzing poetry, we are simultaneously renewing our focus on grammar. Various groups are studying types of adjectives, the function of prepositional phrases as adjectives or adverbs, and gerunds, participles, and infinitives within sentence analysis. Our goal with grammar is to explore language, to look at how grammar can improve both reading comprehension and writing, and to develop students' analytical skills.



 Back to top   
Middle School 


The new Coffee Cart manse.

Civil Rights presentations.

Ethan records voice for poetic films.

It has been a couple of busy weeks of poetic filmmaking, student presentations about issues and incidents that led to the Civil Rights Movement, literature seminars on "To Kill a Mockingbird", the inauguration of our health curriculum (many thanks to Dr. Aida Avdic, mother to Malika in the Birch Room for joining us), and always our bedrock and constant - math.  Next week, Nora is starting our integrated science study, the Science of Race.

As we continue our study of race and America and especially as we enter the story of the Civil Rights Movement, the odyssey to Alabama begins to feel more and more like a reality.  The deep south is such a fascinating place to visit.  I just read a news item in the Camden, Alabama Chamber of Commerce newsletter about the largest alligator ever killed in Wilcox County.  This is the county where our beloved friends of Gee's Bend and Camden live, right on the banks of the Alabama River.  The same river in which this over one thousand pound behemoth recently swam, and where we will be gathering for a Sunday after-church picnic with the community of Gee's Bend.  Over all these years I have yet to see an alligator but I keep hoping to.

Although our exploration does not include the study of the flora and fauna of southern Alabama, it is absolutely mesmerizing and exhilarating to experience such a different environment.  When we arrive in April, the azaleas will be blooming and the wild wisteria will be abundant.  Just one of the extraordinary elements of our upcoming odyssey.



Community News
Looking for furniture
Jaime, our AfterCare Program assistant and yoga teacher, is looking for furnishings for her new place. In particular, she is on the lookout for a couch, living room chair, ottoman and/or kitchen stools. Please email her if you have anything lying around - she'll be happy to pick it up. Thanks!

Free Ferret 
Sweet, playful ferret needs a good new home. Ideal first pet for young children: easygoing, easy to care for, loves to play, harmless and very, very silly! Loves to clown around, endlessly curious. Call Joshua Gentile at 802-368-2343 or email [email protected]

Young Shakespeare Players East (or YSP East) in Turners Falls, MA: "Teachers, Students, Parents... lend me your ears..." 

YSP East is a non-profit youth theater company that invites young people ages 7 to18 to perform full length, original works of Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and G.B. Shaw. The program's mission is to provide unmatched growth for young minds and to help young people find a voice through understanding and performing classical theater. YSP East fully incorporates each participant in every phase of production: rehearsing, directing, memorizing, providing technical support such as make-up and stage management. YSP East does not involve auditions or rejections.


Performances are always admission-free, offering an affordable cultural and creative experience to participants and audience members. The program is designed to show its young participants, their families, and the community that the works of William Shakespeare are not dull or above them, but delightful, accessible, and fun.


We invite all area youth to participate in the 2015 production of Julius Caesar. Join the Intro session on Wed, Jan 21, 4-7pm at The Shea Theater in Turners Falls. Described as "one of the absolutely essential texts for true literacy in Western culture," the play deals with themes of conspiracy, assassination, corruption, democracy, liberty, tyranny, ambition and so much more. YSP East actors not only master the entire, full text of this magnificent play, they do so with full understanding.  This program is a wonderful supplement to any student's humanities education. For more information visit the website or contact the Director, Suzanne Rubinstein, 802-258-7922 or [email protected].


Hilltop Montessori School