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 March 13, 2015


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

Girls on the Run
Spanish 3:30-4:30

Children's House 
Work Share 8:30-9

Creative Movement 

Early Dismissal 12 noon




American Montessori Society Conference

Hilltop Montessori School is part of a network of schools nationally and internationally that communicate continuously to further improve each other's schools. We do not implement the Montessori philosophy in a vacuum. One of the largest and most active networks of Montessori schools in the United States is the American Montessori Society (AMS). Hilltop Montessori School is a Full Member School of AMS. Each year, the AMS holds a conference to allow teachers and administrators to come together and get further professional development, inspiration, and camaraderie with other Montessorians. Ellie Pennel (Toddler Program Lead Teacher), Jonathan Sellers (Children's House Lead Teacher - Willow Room), Dan Filler (Director of Elementary), and Tamara Mount (Head of School) are in Philadelphia for this year's national AMS conference from this Thursday through Sunday. We are excited to attend training sessions on topics such as:
  • Fine Motor Development and the Lessons on the Shelf
  • Peace Activities: What's on Your Peace Shelf
  • Science for the Elementary Student
  • Building the Self: A Toolkit for Self-Regulation
  • Introducing Children to Matter and Atoms
  • Student Leadership in the Early Adolescent Classroom
  • Respecting Each Child's Learning Differences

We are each greatly looking forward to the time to learn and be inspired by others, have the quality of our school confirmed, and reconnect with former colleagues. We will be sharing our new ideas and enthusiasm with our community upon our return next week.

Strategic Plan Parent Survey
39 Families have given their feedback on our survey, have you?!

Earlier this week you should have received an email with a link to a parent survey, but here it is again! We really want your input. Please, take a few minutes to give us your 2 cents and it won't cost you a dime :)

Tiny House 
$1,720! That's how much money we've raised so far on our Tiny House Raffle. Let's keep the momentum going! Forward this link to your friends and family, post on your facebook page, shout it from rooftops... 

The Coffee Cart is back!

The middle school will once again be offering fresh, delicious Mocha Joe's coffee and home-baked treats on Thursday mornings at drop-off. All donations will help to fund their Alabama Odyssey in April. 

The Swing Dance has moved to May!!!!
Tickets will be going on sale soon for our "Vintage Swing Gala and Auction"!  It's now scheduled for May 22nd from 6-10pm and will feature local musicians, including our very own Jay Cook, Jazzberry Jam.

We're still looking for auction items; contact Karen if you have something cool!


Toddler Room

Ellie is in Pennsylvania, getting great new ideas for the Toddler Room!

Enjoy these photos from this week~
Paisleigh threads a bead

Mazin enjoys the sunny day

Lucas shovels

The gang at the fence

Enjoying music with Jay


Have a good weekend.
Ellie & Hannah



Willow Room

Jonathan, our head newsletter writer, is at the AMS conference this week, so please enjoy these photos from the Willow Room!  

Reminder: Willow Room Work share on Wednesday, March 18th, 8:30-9. 

Lydia and Sophia drawing at the white board

Astrid finishes her puzzle!

Aiden and Max build with the red rods and brown stair

Enjoy your weekend,

Jonathan, Rebecca, and Mariam


Birch Room

Have you ever had an experience where you were drawing quite happily and confidently until someone, peeking over your shoulder, laughed and remarked "What is that?"  Suddenly, your happiness is transformed into hurt and your confidence is replaced by doubt.  The book Ish by Peter T. Reynolds deals with this problem and was the topic of discussion this past week.  After we read the book together, we had a lively discussion sharing our experiences and our feelings about the main character in the story.  We talked about drawing what we feel without worry.  We can draw-ISH or paint-ISH!  Our  work can be vase-ISH, tree-ISH, or boat-ISH!  It doesn't have to be perfect.  It only needs to feel "right" to you - and that's all that matters!

If you want to take a look at Ish, the book is on display outside our classroom.

Also, thanks so much to everyone who shopped, donated, cooked, and served for the overflow shelter dinner last Friday. 

Reminder: Birch Room Work share on Wednesday, March 18th, from 

Charlie works on pattern blocks

Minjai and Marta shred carrots

Lydia and Rosie bakes together



Have a great weekend! 

Cheryl and Serina

Lower El

It has been quite a long time since we opened our doors to parents for work share!  Now that the Winter Sports program is over, we'd like to give you some upcoming work share dates:

 March 25, April 8, May 6, June 3

We hope to see you on these Wednesday mornings, from 8:15 or 8:30 (depending on when you arrive), to 9:00.

The class practiced their own kind of natural selection activity this week during our Timeline of Life lessons.  Our lesson began in the Devonian Period, full of many happy little creatures drawn by the students.  Sadly, a volcano came and claimed the lives of most of these creatures.  Only those creatures that could burrow deep underground survived.  As is nature's way, they reproduced, and their babies were stronger and more fit for this new post-volcanic-eruption life.  Regretfully, some of these creatures succumbed to predators.  And so this continued, with the students drawing numerous creatures with different features: some, with longer tails, others with scales or thick legs and claws good for climbing-and having to watch their creatures either survive, or perish.  They drew right on up to the Jurassic Period.  The purpose of the lesson was to learn about natural selection and gain some understanding of evolution and adaptations.  It was a fun, albeit sometimes disappointing, activity as students at each table voted for the most fit creature, and knew that this would mean the demise of the others.  

Monday Sharing: Group C is welcome to share on Monday - Shoshana, Marian, Ely, Ellie, Henry, Tucker, Kaya, Pete, Ben, and Parker.

Have a great weekend!
Kerstin and Patrick


Upper El


Last week's trip to Mass MoCA allowed students to view the human body from a new perspective:  art through medical imaging technology.  We were mesmerized by a video loop that explored the history of the passenger pigeon, alternating between their startlingly high numbers in the mid-19th century and their later decline to extinction.  In addition, we toured the expansive Sol Lewitt exhibit of wall drawings; Lee Boroson's large-scale exploration of nature's elemental forces through inflatables, fabric, and light; and Mark Dion's Octagon Room--a treasure trove of artifacts that "blurred the boundaries between art, society, and history." (See the intriguing discussions of these exhibits on the museum website.)


In the classroom, students are working on persuasive writing, crystal experiments, exploring the microbiome in our bodies, interpreting political cartoons related to public health, and conference preparation.  The group is also breathing a sigh of relief as the weather begins to turn!  



We look forward to seeing all of you at next week's conferences~


Dan, Tom, & Jen




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Middle School 


We had another action-packed week at the middle school!  On Saturday, March 7th a majority of the class and their families joined together at the Latchis Theater to watch the film, "Selma".  We had spent the previous Friday talking about the Selma Movement, and the film was a powerful and searing way to immerse even further.

Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of "Bloody Sunday", and as we watched the horrifying depiction of this tragic and seminal event, thousands of people were gathered in Selma itself celebrating and marking this momentous occasion.  In just a few weeks, we will be making our own walk across that bridge in Selma and speaking with individuals who experienced the tear gas, mounted police, and brutality.  Many of these folks then went on to make the triumphal march to Montgomery and feel the victory in the soon-to-follow Voting Rights Act.

On Tuesday we sat with the fabulous musician and musicologist, Scott Ainslie, to explore how the Delta Blues of Mississippi reflected the challenges of being black and living in the south.  Scott used the life of Robert Johnson as a way in and interspersed songs throughout his story.  Along the way he played some amazing guitars, as well as a homemade single string cigar box instrument called a Diddley - Bo.  This instrument and the multi-rhythmic manner in which it is played are thought to harken back to Western Africa where so many of the slaves were originally taken from.

We look forward to seeing all of you at conferences next week!

Paul, Finn, and Nora

Scott Ainslie shares the music of Robert Johnson
Ainslie speaks of the blues

The proper use of the diddley-bo


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Community News


SummerFun Swim Instructor/Lifeguard Wanted

Hilltop's SummerFun camp program offers the perfect balance of creative learning and fun recreational activities in the fields, woods, and water of our sprawling 43-acre campus for students ages 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Our SummerFun camp program is based in our Montessori classroom and the outdoors are a constant extension, from daily swimming lessons to hikes to our pond. We are currently searching for an energetic and experienced swim instructor/lifeguard to join our team of camp counselors. The position will be part-time for 6-weeks, M-F, plus a possible extra few days for set-up before and clean-up after camp ends. The dates are:

June 22-26
June 29-July 3
July 6-8
July 13-17
July 20-24
July 27-31

Approximately 10 hours/week will be spent teaching daily swim lessons to 3-5 year olds at Hilltop. An additional approx. 15-20 hours/week will be lifeguarding for the 6-12 year olds at Memorial Park. Candidates must have First Aid, CPR and lifeguarding certification! Please contact Becky Eisenhander if interested.



A production of our own Paul Deddell, and featuring the work of Finn Campman and Nora Gordon.
Go check it out!





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Hilltop Montessori School