Toddlers playing instruments with Jay

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 February 27, 2015 


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

Girls on the Run

Cultural Cooking 
Spanish 3:30-4:30

Creative Movement 

Girls on the Run

Drum Circle 3:30-4:30


Hilltop Emergency Planning
Dear Families,

Emergency planning is an emotionally difficult thing to do, but it must be done to be prepared for potential threats and to keep the children and staff safe. Hilltop Montessori School has had an emergency plan for years. It is regularly revised and updated. Just last year, we prepared "shelter-in-place" facilities for the two main school buildings. We also installed a buzzer system to be used at the front doors, if necessary. We also began the process of updating our evacuation plans, should that ever be necessary. 

Then, Brattleboro's fire fighters to the rescue!

It turns out that a group of initial responders have been working over the past two years to develop a comprehensive emergency plan for Brattleboro schools. They had started with the public schools and are now prepared to incorporate all schools in the area. Fire Chief Michael Bucossi and Assistant Fire Chief Peter Lynch, along with Chief Dispatcher, Wayne Stires, met with us and invited us to participate in their planning process. We welcome such an opportunity and are looking forward to having their experience and expertise facilitating the development of our revised emergency plan.

One tip that came from the meeting that we all can do immediately is to sign up with Vermont Alert. This free service allows the public to receive notifications through the mode of your choice (text, email, or phone). This system will be used to alert residents and businesses of localized alerts.

We will be meeting with them in the coming weeks and incorporating our school into the town wide responder and organization plans. Safety first!

Parent-Teacher Conferences

It's that time again - Parent-Teacher Conferences will be held on Thursday, March 19th and Friday, March 20th. Please note that there will be a half day on Thursday and no school on Friday. Childcare will be offered on Thursday from 12-5 and Friday 7:40-5, and will be provided during your conference time free of charge. We have emailed parents to sign up for conferences via VolunteerSpot - please let us know if you need any help with that.

For the Children's House olders and Lower El, there will be a NECCA Taste of the Circus event on Friday, 10-11. The cost is $12 per child. Please come to the front desk to sign up (and fill out a waiver for NECCA), or email the front desk, if your child would like to join in on an hour of hooping and juggling! 

And on Friday, March 27th, there will be no school and no childcare provided, so that all staff are available to attend the Teacher In-Service day. 

Hilltop Heroes

Welcome to our new space where we celebrate Hilltop Heroes, members of our community who go above and beyond for Hilltop.

Thanks to Ellie and Andrew Pennell and Ellie's dad, Andrew Thompson, for the beautiful makeover to the adult bathroom. If you haven't had the need to visit the space, make a special trip to check it out! HGTV couldn't have done it better!

We'd also like to say thank you to Lynn Dewald, Upper El mom, for all the volunteer time she puts into testing our water. Lynn was able to apply for a grant from Entergy Vermont Yankee, where she works as a biologist, to cover her volunteer time at Hilltop. Thanks to her volunteering and applying for the grant, Hilltop received a check for $500! 


Tiny House Raffle 2015!

Prototype of our 2015 Tiny House
first Tiny House Raffle in 2013 was such a success, we decided to do another one this spring! Proceeds from the raffle go to Hilltop's financial aid program and to Morningside Shelter. Jamaica Cottage Shop of Londonderry, VT has generously donated a tiny house kit to us. 

Families are invited to help assemble the house under the guidance of our super duper resident carpenter, Rob, on a series of Saturdays in late March and early April. (You'll be able to sign up for a Saturday soon - stay tuned). The house will then "travel" around town to different spots and will be a feature at the Gallery Walk before the Strolling of the Heifers and will be available to tour on the Common after the Heifer parade. One of our goals with this raffle is to highlight and model Hilltop's commitment to social justice issues in our community.

To read more about the raffle click here.

Our tiny house will be mounted on a trailer. Here's where we could use some help. The trailer needed for the project costs $3600. We have a donor who has committed $1000 towards the cost. If you or someone you know would like to make a contribution towards this project, contact Amelia.

Our Tiny House kit arrives!!!

The Swing Dance has moved to May!!!!
We have moved our spring "Vintage Swing" dance and auction to May 22nd which is also Grandparents' and Special Friends' Day! We're extending the fun beyond the school day into the evening with dancing, bidding and good eats. We're hoping that lots of GP's will want to join in the fun too.

The Auction committee is still looking for enviable items and or experiences. If you've got a lead on a fabulous item or experience, contact Karen Blumberg and let her know!
Proceeds of this event benefit the Financial Aid Fund at Hilltop.


Toddler Room


This week we had an exceptionally fun music class with Jay.  He brought his kalimba and everyone got a chance to play it.


Jay plays kalimba with Asha and Isaac

Cooper has snack

And then each child took an instrument and paraded with it around the room with Jay.


The Pied Piper

Thanks also to the Richards family for bringing necklaces from Mardi Gras.  They make great snack necklaces!


Stay warm and happy weekend.

Ellie & Hannah




Willow Room

Hello Families, 

Welcome back from February break! It has been wonderful to hear about all of the relaxing/fun adventures. Since our return, we have been re-visiting the Peace Curriculum. We designed, wrote and illustrated a new Peace Book and contract. In addition, we have been noticing peaceful actions, and writing them into a Peace chain (which has grown significantly every day). Peace begins with each of us -- knowing how to communicate effectively with others, express thoughts and feelings, and connect productively with the world around.

We are also exploring the world around us. Along with map puzzles and learning about physical geography (land, air, water, etc.), children in the Montessori classroom are exposed to images, artifacts and ways of life in different parts of the world. We recently explored Coffee, its origins, and mythology in Ethiopian culture. From my own recent trip to the country, I brought back some things that are traditionally used in coffee ceremonies. Children were also introduced to Coffee Grinding as a Practical Life activity. We will wait until we are older before we taste the coffee -- the pleasant aroma is energizing enough!  

Our Olders are finished with winter sports -- thank you to all who helped chaperone these weekly skating trips! Up next: Pottery!

Warm Regards, 

Jonathan, Rebecca and Mariam   

Avery adds a link to the Peace Chain

Graham grinds the coffee

Leo and Moses build together with the Brown Stairs

Uri explores tools used for sugaring


Birch Room

It's hard to believe but it's sugaring time!  All over New England "sugarmakers" will be stringing line and hanging buckets, tapping their maple trees to collect sap to boil into syrup.  The Birch Room's decor and work have changed to reflect this yearly event.  Books, artwork, pouring, sorting, and other works have taken on a Maple theme.  When the weather begins to truly cooperate we'll send you information about a sugaring field trip.  In the meantime, don't be surprised if you hear words like tubing, health tap, grading kit, hydrometer, and evaporator!  Enjoy the season!

Eko works with tubing

Caroline looks at the inside of a maple tree

Ayla poses as a tree while Cheryl shows how a sap bucket is hung

Starting next week, the Birch and Willow room "olders" will begin taking clay class with Bonnie Stearns.  The classes will cover several Thursday afternoons (March 5th and 12thApril 2nd, 9th, 16th, and 30th.)  Cheryl and Jonathan will assist Bonnie in this wonderful clay experience at Bonnie's Hillcrest Terrace studio, just down the road from Hilltop.  Don't forget to leave labeled car seats at school on Thursdays for the trip down!  And thanks so much to Jennifer Betit-Engel and Kathryn Einig for their continued help with driving the olders to extra activities!

Have a great weekend!

Cheryl and Serina

Lower El
Our study of South America began this week, with a look at our beautiful biome map of that continent.  We worked in small groups to discover something about the biomes and geographical features, and we discussed what we already knew about the continent, and what we wanted to know.  We will study each biome and how the people who live there meet their fundamental needs.  Animals will be another focus of our studies-a popular subject no matter what continent it is.  
Straight, curved, and serpentine lines were the focus of one group's geometry study on Thursday.  We used the Montessori "box of sticks" and pieces of yarn to create all three kinds of lines.  Other groups learned the difference between right, obtuse, and acute angles, and how to use a protractor to create and measure angles.  
In our quest to help every Lower El student answer those most popular questions "How many more minutes until lunch?" and "When is recess?", we have begun our study of time this week.  Topics include getting to know the clock, practicing telling time, and, for older students and those interested, time research reports.   There were many busy people filling in clock faces or researching sundials this week.  

DINOSAUR PARTS WANTED: Dan is seeking cardboard egg cartons and cardboard tubes for a Lower El project on prehistoric creatures.  If you have been hoarding these, thinking that they might be good for something but not sure what, you can sleep easy knowing that they will be put to good, creative use.  Please send them in with your child as soon as possible so the building can begin.  Thank you!  

We'd say "stay warm," but we'd feel like we're repeating ourselves. So, have a good weekend!

-Kerstin and Patrick

Upper El



With our first 5-day week in awhile, we are back at a regular schedule, and the class seems to be diving into their new works with renewed focus.


Since the December holiday, we have been focusing on one cultural topic at a time, rather than two, allowing for more in-depth study.  In January and February, we covered Westward Expansion.  Now we're back to human body, focussing on the digestive system.  Understanding some of the chemistry around nutrition is a related track here.


In writers workshop, the class is preparing for some persuasive writing by practicing isolated techniques and strategies in small groups.  ("Reasons" vs. "evidence":  At the kickoff, we brainstormed reasons why the government should provide sturdy housing for all pigs, selected the best three, then briefly dreamed up evidence in the form of data, expert quotes, micro-stories, examples, etc.  Acknowledging counter arguments is on the way.  Watch out, wolf!)  This will culminate in a paper they'll each write after researching a topic related to public health.  The group is coming up with great subjects for this short research chunk, which syncs with our work in human body.


The class was also introduced to "Hands-on Equations," an innovated program for exploring algebra; manipulates must balance a scale to discover the value of the pawn (the "unknown").  The middle school works with a similar program, and this will give our students a leg up as they move into more complex problem-solving.   Some of the class had already acquainted themselves with the program through an app on our iPads


Jen, Tom and Dan



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Middle School 


We are now the proud owners of airline tickets to Birmingham, Alabama!  The class jumped right back into our study of the Civil Rights Movement exploring the Albany Movement, Project "C" and the Children's March in Birmingham, the March on Washington and the tragic bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.  Nora also continued the Science of Race with a closer look at genetics and adaptation.  There was a class lab involving different colored skittles (fun had by all) and currently students are conducting collaborative labs of their own design. 

An exciting new addition to the preparation for our journey is a special showing of the movie, "Selma", at the Latchis for the middle school students and their families.  We are also inviting Alabama Odyssey alumni to join us.  Our showing is on March 7, the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday", one of the events the film commemorates.  Many thanks to Rita Ramirez and Tom Bodett for initiating this fabulous opportunity and making it possible.


Speaking of alumni, we are very happy that Hannah Phillips (class of 2005) is traveling with us to Alabama.  She was with us ten years ago and is excited to return, this time as a chaperone.


Don't forget next Friday's Family Contra Dance fundraiser!


Paul, Finn, and Nora



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Community News
Brattleboro Women's Chorus is holding an open rehearsal for the start of their spring session. Rehearsals are either Wednesdays from 7-9 pm starting March 4, or Thursdays from 10 am - noon starting March 5. Rehearsals are at Centre Congregational Church. There are no auditions and you don't have to read music to join! Open to women and girls ages 10 and up (discount available for Family pairs). Come March 4 or 5 to check it out and bring your girlfriends! More info can be found on our website

Hilltop Montessori School