Our Tiny House trailer has arrived!!  
Stay tuned for more photos on the progress of our house here and on our facebook page.

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 April 3, 2015


Click heading to skip to section
Next Week at Hilltop
2015-16 Calendar
Notes from Tamara
Front Desk News!
Board Parent Night
Hilltop Parents Write in
Tiny House
Summer Fun
Toddler Room
Willow Room
Middle School
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop

Ultimate Frisbee 

Girls on the Run

Language Curriculum Follow-Up 8:30-9:30

Tennis! 3:30-4:30

Spanish 3:30-4:30 

LE Work Share 8:30-9

Ultimate Frisbee 

Creative Movement 

All School Gathering 

Girls on the Run 3-4:30

Drum Circle 3:30-4:30

Story Stars: Teaching
9:30-10:15 &

2015-16 School Calendar
For those of you who like to plan ahead, the 2015-16 calendar is ready. Click here for a pdf.

*Please note that fall Grandparents' and Special Friends' Day has moved from Thanksgiving week to the Friday before Fall Foliage Day. Save the date.

Notes from Tamara and Dan
To read, children must be able to hear distinct sounds, turn symbols (letters) into sounds, sounds into words, and words into meaning. Reading success is built upon a foundation of specific skills. These skills are: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Each of these skills must be taught to guide children toward literacy. Unlike speech, humans do not learn to read simply by being immersed in human culture; it requires direct instruction. The human brain did not evolve to help humans read; it is a relatively new human endeavor. Multiple parts of the brain and multiple processes are used when reading. Research has helped educators learn about the general process of reading in the brain and best practices for teaching reading. The complexity of both the task and the brain, however, means each child will learn to read a bit differently. Each of the five skills listed above are taught in our Montessori classrooms as children emerge into reading and then progress onto increasingly complex texts. Many of you got a taste of these lessons at our Curriculum Night last Monday.

As a follow up to our Language Curriculum night, we will have Wendy Lynde, our Learning Specialist, share how she works with students to support their classroom and life learning, specifically in the area of literacy. Through observation and assessment, teachers determine when a child needs more direct instruction in one skill than another. There are many ways we provide additional support to children in our classrooms. To learn more about how we help children who need support with one or more of these foundational skills, please join us for a conversation with Wendy.

She will also be sharing tips for supporting your child's reading at home. Please sign up at the front desk ([email protected]org) for either:
Monday, April 6th: 6:30pm - 7:30pm
or Tuesday, April 7th: 8:30am-9:30am

*Childcare will be available on Monday evening. Please sign up at the front desk.

Changes at the Front Desk!
As Tara prepares for the arrival of her twin boys(!!), we have another new face at the Front Desk. As of April 10th, Sarah Freeman will be taking over from Tara, sharing front desk duties with Jennifer. Sarah has returned to the area after many years living in New York and the United Kingdom, working in arts and museum education. Sarah is excited to be back in the Green Mountain State, and very happy to be part of the Hilltop community. As before, please use the front desk email ([email protected]org) for all general inquiries. Stop by and introduce yourself!

Parent Confab Night


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!

Childcare will be available.

Notes from a Hilltop Parents

On Monday night I, along with about 30 other families, went to Literacy Curriculum p
resentations at Hilltop. Parents had the privilege of sampling a lesson from all of the teachers to experience how literacy is taught at each program level. In each classroom I kept thinking "I wish more parents were here to see this terrific presentation!" It was such a gift to experience the magic that is the Montessori method, to really grasp what our kids are doing each day, to get a glimpse into their world (so much more informative than "how was school today?"). It was such a re-invigoration for me, going into our tenth (10!!) year at Hilltop, with 5 more to go, as to why we made this commitment to our toddlers so many years ago. I believe deeply in Montessori, and every opportunity to learn the philosophy behind how our children learn is one I do not want to miss. And, as usual, I came away with new insights. Did not know hand-raising is not the preferred method of dialogue in MS, or that the shapes of the metal insets in the Children's House are a pre-cursor to writing the alphabet letters, or that toddlers are not urged to repeat language, but to listen until they are ready to spontaneously repeat what they hear. I learned you could play charades with adverbs, and that spun is a much better word than turned to set a panicked mood.

There were almost as many teachers present as parents, so a huge shout-out to teachers and admin who worked a good 12 hours on Monday, in addition to the preparation for their presentations. I urge parents to keep an eye out for the parent education opportunities that Hilltop makes an effort to provide.


Next week Wendy Lynde will be sharing her expertise as a reading specialist. I can promise from working with Wendy firsthand that she is a goldmine of information and a fantastic presenter. Please put one of her sessions on your calendar. She will be presenting on Monday, April 6th at 6:30 p.m., or on Tuesday, April 7th at 8:30am. I hope to see you there!

Mel Kahn - Long-time Devoted Hilltop Montessori School Parent

Being a new Montessori parent I am so glad I was able to attend, and truly benefit from curriculum night.  Just by observing my child outside of school I see how much she is learning but it was amazing to see behind the scenes. In the toddler room Ellie showed how intentional the process is even from showing kids things such as watering cans and whatnot, they are shown from left to right helping to prepare children for the reading process. In the Lower Elementary class we had a lesson on verbs and adverbs using a bouncy red ball full of energy. The way things are taught here is so amazing, and makes so much sense. Our children are learning about the world in the way they were meant to, with their hands. They are able to experience the world! This school is filled with staff and parents who care. There is a real community within these walls and it is such an honor to be able to be a part of something our society has become detached from at times...the hands. Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience with me; I am so glad my daughter is able to benefit from the teachings of Dr. Maria Montessori!

Amber Mosca - New Hilltop Parent 

Tiny House 

Please share the link!


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. 


This photo says it all!

Come join us for SummerFun! Check out brochures at the website or pick one up at the front desk. 

You're not going to want to miss this!
Tickets are on sale NOW for our "Vintage Swing Gala and Auction"!  You can purchase at the front desk or on line at www.hilltopmontessori.org/gala
Please join Hilltop and the community at large Friday, May 22nd from 6-10 p.m. for a night of swing style dancing featuring local musicians, Jazzberry Jam, which includes our very own Jay Cook!

Please invite friends who are not connected with Hilltop to the party! If you'd like us to send someone an invitation, let Amelia know.

Toddler Room

Mazin names the picture in a language lesson

Hattie and Kennedy use sticker dots

Asha poses with a picture of carrots

Willow & Birch Rooms

Children's House had an exciting week!  We began exploring spring materials in our classrooms and went on a sugaring field trip to Lilac Ridge Farm.  On Thursday, we hosted All School Gathering where Aiden, Avery, and Lucas M.C.'d.  Jade and Lucy also impressed everyone with their knowledge of sugaring while sharing materials with the rest of the school.  Thanks so much to all our drivers, organizers, and chaperones for our field trip!  We look forward to warmer weather and exciting Spring discoveries next week.

Sebastian and Jade check for sap

Amanda shows us some sugaring supplies

Jade shares at All School Gathering 

Enjoy the weekend! 

-Jonathan, Rebecca, Mariam, Cheryl, and Serina


Lower El

Thank you to everyone who attended our Language Curriculum Night.  It was fun to share  a lesson that your children experience in the classroom.  We hope it was informative and enjoyable.

This week, we began our study of fractions.  A unit, it turns out, is divisible, after all, as the younger students discovered.  We demonstrated this by using an apple to represent a unit, and we cut it into equal pieces.  This was the only fraction material we were able to eat after the lesson.  Older students reviewed fractions, composing them and adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing them.  The Olders used a number line to review the concept of whole to half, etc.  They were able to take each fraction card ("1/5," for example) and place it in the correct order on the number line.  This made for an effective review.

In Art, everyone is creating adorable (but ferocious!) dinosaurs, using our many dinosaur books and the Timeline of Life (TOL) for inspiration.  Expect to view these impressive creatures somewhere around the school in the near future.  In the morning, children have been busy with other TOL work, creating life-size, stuffed trilobites, or drawing intricately-detailed dinosaurs to label and include in a book.  Through this work, they are becoming familiar with the beings that were present on Earth so many millions of years ago.  They know now, for example, that jellyfish have been around since the Paleozoic Era, and have not changed much since then.  Plants are studied, too, as students learn what "conifer" means and when the first conifers appeared on Earth.  

ARTIST VISIT: On Monday, April 13th, we will be visited by Marcy Schepker, an artist from New Hampshire.  Marcy is an educator, tapestry weaver, and "painter with wool."  She has had a great deal of experience working in schools of all kinds, including other Montessori schools, and she is looking forward to sharing her talents with us.  She will stay for the entire week before April vacation, spending the mornings with us.  We will focus on learning her craft and incorporating what we've been learning into art.  We would love to invite parents to get involved, and will be in touch soon with more specific information about joining us.  

UPCOMING FIELD TRIPS: On Friday, May 15th, LE will be heading to the Brattleboro post office, to learn how all that snail mail gets where it needs to go.  This visit goes hand-in-hand with a unit on letter-writing that will take place around that time.  Then, on Friday, June 5th, we'll be driving down to the Springfield Museum of Science for a class called "Just Survive!," about evolution and natural selection.  This will take place from 10-11, with time afterward for lunch and viewing the rest of the museum.  We will depart from the parking lot at approximately 9:30am.  As always, we are seeking drivers/chaperones for these trips.  Please let us know, via email, if you can go with us.  Thank you! 

Housekeeping: Every Lower El student MUST have a pair of inside shoes/slippers.  It is getting muddy, and we'd like to keep our carpet, where we spend so much time working and sitting on circle, clean.  

Have a great weekend.
Kerstin and Patrick


Upper El

The play has begun!  Students brainstormed ideas for a play structure, refined these in smaller groups, and made a final selection.  They are now writing the script on our two brand new desktop computers and several new ipads added to our collection.  It's great to see the level of enthusiasm and energy in the room around this project. 

UE play:  April 16th, 1:00pm and 5:00pm, we're still looking for someone to organize the potluck.

We all enjoyed Mason's April Fools gift to Dan:  a spread of 840 cups creatively arranged in the art room the night before--see below.

Have a great weekend.  A real spring will soon be here.


Middle School 

Five days and counting before we board the airplane and fly into the very

different world of Alabama: Spanish moss, wild wisteria, and flowering azaleas

are just some of the visual manifestations of this different culture and history. 

After we land at the Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport in the early

evening, grab our bags and load everything into our two rental vans we are off to

the historic Bethel Baptist Church.  This church was a hot bed of civil rights

activity under the courageous direction of Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth in the

1950's and 60's.  We had the great fortune and privilege to spend time with

Reverend Shuttlesworth during prior odysseys before he passed in 2011.  This

time we are meeting with Reverend Wilder and members of Bethel Baptist,

hearing stories and sharing songs.  Greta will be the first student this year to

recite their speech written in the spirit of a leader of the Civil Rights Movement. 

Greta studied Reverend Shuttlesworth and she will stand at the same pulpit from

which Reverend Shuttlesworth preached and exhorted his congregation to

march, to get arrested, to fill the jails, to send their children to march, and to put

their livelihoods on the line to break down the entrenched culture of segregation. 

After this momentous occasion we are celebrating with homemade peach

cobbler and our first taste of sweet tea. 


Later that night and every night of the odyssey we will be sending photos and

journal entries of our day to the blog that is easily found on the Hilltop website. 

We hope you will follow the days and nights our middle school students immerse

in the history of the Movement and the continuing story of our relationship with



The classroom is ringing with students practicing their speeches and poems they

wrote, snatches of freedom songs, and that palpable anticipation that comes with

such an exciting journey.


Bon voyage.




Community News

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.



Hilltop Montessori School