A St. Patrick's Day rainbow over the hills

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 March 20, 2015


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Willow Room
Birch Room
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop

Girls on the Run
Cultural Cooking 
LAST CLASS of the session

Spanish 3:30-4:30

LE Work Share 8:30-9

Creative Movement 

All School Gathering 

UE trip to Windham Orchestra at the Latchis 9:30-10:30

Girls on the Run 3-4:30

Drum Circle 3:30-4:30



Contra Dance Photos

Keep a lookout on our Facebook page for a photo album containing pics from the Middle School's fantastic Contra Dance! 
Smaller vs. Larger Class Size

Attending the American Montessori Society conference last week was inspiring. It was a wonderful reminder of the benefits of the true Montessori programs we offer. One feature, imperative to implementation of the Montessori philosophy, is class size.

In traditional classrooms, one teacher serves as a "muse" who needs to capture and keep the attention of all the students and keep them - quite literally - on the same page. Montessori classes are designed to have a larger mix of students to reap the benefits of the Montessori method.

At Hilltop Montessori School, we have a student to staff ratio averaging less than 10-1. Yet, we have class sizes of 20-30+ depending on the age and program. (Except for the Toddler Program with a ratio of 4-1 and a class size of eight). By having two to three teachers with a larger group, students gain the advantages of a larger classroom but have the attention of a teacher when they need it. Some benefits of a larger class size include:

More Learning Opportunities for differing learning levels - With more than one teacher circulating throughout the group giving individual and small group lessons, opportunities are available beyond the whole group learning one topic at the same level. This allows for different learning styles and paces to be naturally accommodated.

Allowing for Learning from Others - With a larger group, students are learning independently from a range of materials, as well as from each other. Older children solidify their learning by teaching youngers, and youngers are motivated by what older students are working on.

More Social Opportunities - A larger group allows students to work on their social skills with a greater variety of personalities and ages.

Trusting Relationships with Adults - Having a two or three year cycle with the same teachers allows for deeper relationships to develop. Having more than one teacher provides an opportunity for students to learn to work with different personalities.

Development of Self-Management Skills - The larger group allows for students to develop their time-management skills and to further their drive to learn from within, not from someone imposing demands on them. When children need more guidance in these skills, the teachers can adapt their level of focus based on the needs of each student. Children who have developed more independence with these critical executive function skills are free to work at their level.

Growth of Independence and Confidence - If there is not an adult immediately at hand to help a child, they are more likely to develop and demonstrate the skill themselves or to ask a friend to help. 

The larger groups certainly bring challenges - planning, management, noise, etc. However, the benefits make it well worth these challenges. Our classrooms stimulate wonderfully busy, independent learning. If it has been some time since you had the chance to see and appreciate the classrooms firsthand, please attend work shares, set up a time to observe in a classroom, and/or join a school tour. There is beautiful learning going on in these programs. We want all the families to understand the educational experience your children are having here at Hilltop.

This article also points out the benefits of our larger class sizes and some of the challenges of reduced class size.

Parent Survey
Many thanks to the 53 parents who have already filled out our survey which is being used to help us develop our new strategic plan.  We are keeping the survey open one more week in hopes of getting a few more respondents (it's quick and painless!) We'd especially like to get a few more parents of toddlers, Middle School, and Lower Elementary students. Thank you in advance!

Ultimate Frisbee
We are excited to be offering Ultimate Frisbee to both the Middle School and Upper El this year. Ultimate begins on Monday, March 30th, and runs through Wednesday, May 27th. Ben James is looking forward to another great season full of fun practices and games with neighboring teams!

We are looking for more recruits for Ultimate - both Middle Schoolers and Upper Ellers. For those who have not signed up, please come on over to the front desk and fill out a form, or download the printable version and have your student bring it to us with the payment. Thank you!

Mark your calendars!
Language: Wired to Learn
Monday, March 30th

5-5:30 Family Dinner/Pizza and Potluck in the Arts Barn

5:30-7:30 Through their interaction with the Montessori prepared environment children become readers and writers. We invite you to attend an evening presentation prepared by the faculty to learn more about the process. You will then have an opportunity to take part in language lessons at all five program levels. Each lesson will highlight a different part of the language arts curriculum. The evening will conclude with time for the faculty to answer your questions. 

Wednesday, April 29th, 6-8 p.m. 
Please join us during an open Board Meeting and participate in planning for the future of 
our school!

Tiny House 
We've passed the $2000 mark! If you haven't shared our link on Facebook yet, please do so! Let's keep the momentum going!  


Want to help build the Tiny House? We're going to start Saturday, April 11th and meet the next 2 weekends in April. Email Amelia if you want to help. 


SummerFun sign-ups are coming soon! Hilltop Montessori School will be at the Camp Fair on Friday, April 3rd during Gallery Walk, from 5:30-7:30PM at the Brooks House. Listen to local radio stations for a clip starring our very own Upper El students, Talia and Julia, announcing the Camp Fair!

We will have fun weeklong camps for ages 3-12 for six sessions from June 22-July 31. Stay tuned for registration information and materials (available by April 1).

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!


Willow Room

Dear Families of HMS, 

I am happy to be back in the Willow Room after an insightful and inspiring American Montessori Society conference. Your children will benefit from many new lesson ideas -- specifically on our Peace shelf. As we make our way through conferences, into next week, we look forward to an eventful end-of-March, with new works, a trip to see Sugaring in action (more details to follow), and warmer weather. As the snow melts, please keep in mind that our snow (or rain) gear will still be needed for keeping dry during recess. Thank you! 

Leadership is an important part of entering into the last year of Children's House. Older children take on new responsibilities, such as giving lessons and modeling for their peers. In the picture below, Lydia is showing Astrid a lesson with the Pink Tower. Astrid will then build on her own skills, and be in a position of leadership as well. Collaborative work is also important. We also see Sunday and Leo working with the Knobless Cylinders, and Ava and Sophia working on a collaborative painting.  

Have a wonderful weekend!

Jonathan and Rebecca

Lydia shows Astrid a lesson

Megan, Avery's mom, talks about Ireland

Sophia and Ava painting together


Birch Room

Enjoy these photos from our Work Share on Wednesday.

Have a great weekend,

Cheryl and Serina

Amber, Layla and Gabe

Charlie and Seth

Jeremy and Vera

Eko, Jay and Jade

Marco, Alison, and Lucas

Dylan and Dad

Upper El


We enjoyed seeing all of you at conferences. Next Thursday, March 26, we are going to the Latchis to see the Windham Orchestra at 9:30 a.m., leaving Hilltop at 9. Please see our email appeal for drivers. 

Have a good weekend, 

Dan, Jen and Tom



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Community News


Out of the Lion's Mouth

Winged Productions, Susan and Paul Dedell, directors, presents a new modern musical Mystery Play, "Out of the Lion's Mouth" with lyrics and music by Paul Dedell this weekend, March 21 at 7pm and March 22 at 3pm.
"Out of the Lion's Mouth" is a new twist on the story of Daniel as he defies his fate when thrown into the lion's pit for his faith, integrity, and for just being different.  The production is well represented by Hilltop students:  seventh grader, Elle Jamieson plays Daniel and Marian Wojcik and Annelise and Julia Fedoruk along with other members of The Choir School, play the corrupt Satraps and spoiled lions.  
Susan Dedell, director of The Choir School, is on the piano with David Tasgal playing the clarinet.  The middle school's own Nora Gordon is behind the light board.
The performances will take place at St. Michael's Episcopal Church on 16 Bradley Avenue in Brattleboro.  For more information call: 802-348-7735.


SummerFun Swim Instructor/Lifeguard Wanted 

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.



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Hilltop Montessori School