Indigo Messenger
Hiya   

 

Welcome to the January newsletter for Blue Mountain School.

It's time to use your imagination.

Imagine you are holed up inside in the middle of a stark, bleak, miserable winter. You're going stir-crazy. All you want to do is break out and dance.

Which is what Floyd's Mardi Gras Costume Ball is usually all about. This year has been a little different, and still, Mardi Gras - on Saturday, February 18 at the Sun Music Hall - is a great opportunity to celebrate in the name of Blue Mountain School.

This event is one of our biggest - and funnest - fundraisers, so please come along. And if you are able to, we'd love some of your help volunteering on the night, too. Contact Jamie Reygle if you are able to donate some of your time.


 

Stay tuned to your email and our Facebook group for more information and pictures about activities happening at school.


Direction
Shelly Emmett
Shelly Emmett

 

The new year has brought some new faces to BMS, and I'd like to officially introduce them to you. Earlier this month, Hari was offered a position teaching 8th grade English at Christiansburg Middle School, so we said goodbye to a wonderful teacher, but will of course still enjoy seeing her as a friend around Floyd. As often happens, with one ending comes a new beginning: we are all excited that Vicky Town and Jonathan Vandergrift have joined us to work with the Elementary and Middle School students. Vicky, with whom the students are already familiar as our drama teacher, is now also inspiring them to consider all of the different perspectives and voices that create history. Jonathan has quickly made the students comfortable with his presence in the classroom, some great stories about life before Floyd, and his willingness to play soccer and other games with them at recess.

Two other faces you will see frequently at school are Rebekah Hicks and Winter Koeppe. Rebekah has stepped in to volunteer her time and energy with Corey and Virginia's emerging readers, and Winter Koeppe has also joined us as a volunteer, providing her positive presence and skills as a behavioral aide. We are grateful to both Rebekah and Winter for what they are offering our students.

In addition to our staff changes, we also have several new students who have joined us this month. The early childhood class is now officially full, with 18 students and two teachers. We already have a waiting list established for next year for this class! And our elementary class is enjoying another opportunity to learn and grow as they welcome a new student with significant food allergies. Our students and staff now have heightened awareness about the importance of clean hands and eating spaces, which will help all of us stay healthy. It is no surprise that Miranda has gracefully woven the topic of different types of foods and food allergies into her recent science lessons--who says school doesn't directly relate to 'real' life? 

Jonathan, Vicky & Winter
 
The 3-4-5s
Stefi Schafer
Stefi Schafer
 

The 3-4-5s are growing and changing!

 

Our class is continuing to get bigger. Since the beginning of the year, four new friends have joined our classroom family, and one has left. In February we will be welcoming our last addition, and then the BMS early-childhood class will be full. This brings our total number of enrolled students to 18. In order to provide the same level of care and education for all the children, Virginia has joined us as well, and she will be a second teacher in the classroom on the days we are full. If you or a friend is thinking about joining us in the fall, feel free to contact the office and get on the waiting list.

 

 

 

Not only has the overall class size changed, but it seems that each and every child has grown over the winter break. Friends have gotten taller and have matured. The "old timers" are eagerly helping our newcomers to get acclimated by showing them where things are kept and how to get around the classroom and playground. I even have heard some of the older children telling their new friends, "No that is not how we do it," and, "Stefi said that is not OK." Children teaching each other is clear evidence they are learning about the world around them.

 

 

 

The children have also grown more confident and competent in their social interactions. Friends are inviting each other into their play. If there is conflict, children have found their voices and let each other know "I don't like when you...," and, best of all, the children are listening to each other

 

 

 

Virginia is working literacy and phonics into our daily activities. As the children are working and talking with each other ,Virginia is pointing out sounds and connections between letters and words. Several of the children have shown an increased interest in letters, asking us about spelling names and "what does this say" as they point to a row of letters they carefully wrote down. We are excited to follow and foster this emerging interest in writing with the children.

 

With such a large group, meal times have become bigger, too. This is a perfect opportunity to socialize, talk about nutrition, practice manners, build vocabulary, and even weave in some academics.

 

 

 

Art
Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan

 

While having time off to spend with family and friends over the holiday was much appreciated, I was actually rather eager to return to school. I enjoy seeing those smiling faces and receiving hugs by whole classes at a time. This feels like it's going to be a good year overall, and I am enjoying being back with the kids in the art room!   

 

In lieu of Martin Luther King Day, we all started the year off talking about our differences and about acceptance. I read the book Whoever You Are with the 3-4-5s and Fire Cheetahs, and we discussed how everyone looks different; we have different eye colors, facial features, skin colors, etc. We also talked about how we should never be mean to anyone else because of the way they look. The 3-4-5s enjoyed making different faces of all styles and colors. The Fire Cheetahs made "Diversity Dolls," collaging more realistic skin tones and facial features cut out of magazines. They were especially surprised and concerned that people with dark skin were once not allowed to eat in the same restaurants and ride on the same buses as white people. What big hearts that group has.

 

In the older two classes we discussed the Civil Rights Movement, and I shared images of art that came out of that time period. We talked about the power that art can have on social change, and an artist's ability to capture the essence of a time, place, and culture. We looked specifically at the art of Romare Bearden, an African American artist who made collages capturing the essence of Black culture in the United States during the Civil Rights Movement. Currently, both classes are working on collages; the Purple Platypuses are expressing something about themselves through a "place" and the Rainbow Monkeys creating a collage about a social issue they are concerned with. We have been leafing through copious amounts of magazines searching for colors, patterns and textures, changing their context to create original images. It's been fun.

 

We'll be wrapping up all these projects in the next week and then, on to the next fun thing.....

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Service Learning
Jamie Reygle
Jamie Reygle

 

We have two words for you: Skit Night!

If you've been keeping up with Service Learning, then you're doing better than me. But more to the point, if you've been keeping up with Service Learning, you will know that the Purple Platypuses and Rainbow Monkeys are saving up for a trip to Washington DC.

We have a target of $2,500, and so far, we're about 10% of the way there. All this money has been raised by the students, through doing odd jobs, raiding their piggy banks, a small bake sale, smiling cutely and asking for money, and any other means at their disposal.

On Thursday, March 1st, they are bringing back a Floyd institution: the Floyd County Skit Night, at the Sun Music Hall. All the money they raise from this will also go towards their DC trip. So please come along and join in the fun, and let me know if you'd like to perform.

 

 

And if you have a child in one of these classes, please be sure to do everything you can to help them raise their money. Each child has a personal target of $150. Some are getting close to reaching it, while many haven't even started yet.

 

Meanwhile, the 3-4-5s and the Fire Cheetahs have been working on their own projects. The Fire Cheetahs continue to work on their ever-evolving maze, that they're making for the 3-4-5s, while the 3-4-5s have been finding out a little about the environment. We are in the middle of a decomposition experiment, and we have tested all the toilets at the school for leaks. If you have a 3-4-5 and some food coloring, I invite you to ask them to check yours!  

   


Contemplative Studies
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy

 

Theme of the month: Being our own unique self, walking our own path



We have been exploring - through movement, quiet, and story - the idea that we each have our own path to walk in this life. It is so easy to want to be someone other than ourselves. Each of us is unique, and we must celebrate those differences in each other while honoring our own personality and ways.


 
We have been using animal migration stories to help understand our own unique paths in life:
  • The story of a Nepalese bar headed goose who has to travel over Mt Everest for migration. The goose crashes into a tree and is helped by a wise mountain goat into the safety of a cave to heal.
  • The story of a rabbit who was tired of being a rabbit. She left home to live and try to become other animals: a bear (too much growling); a snake (she didn't like eating salamanders and bugs); a butterfly (flying was a real hard one for her!); an alligator (not a great fit being a prey animal,she got out of there fast); a spider (she didn't quite fit in the web). After her long journey, she decided in the end she really didn't mind being a rabbit.

With the Rainbow Monkeys, we have been using yoga to work on honoring our own unique personalities, bodies, and journeys. Our storytelling focused on humans (and a few animals) who took their own different paths in life for the happiness of all beings. In P.E., we did a machine-creation activity where small groups formed a machine with their bodies. The machine had to have: a function, moving parts, and sounds. Some of the machines they created were an airplane, factory cookie mixer, and box production factory.  I wish we had gotten a video!

 



  
Drama
Vicky Town
Vicky Town

 

This month has been a very exciting one for us! Our actors have been learning about master leading gestures and Laban's energy states. We have also been exploring the "centered-ness" of characters - heart, hip, head, and foot centered characters - and how they move and stand. Lastly, our new skill has been working on the point of view each character has, and how those needs and desires affect other characters in the theater/story piece.

Our current project is a folktale unit. The preschool actors have been listening to and acting out folktales from around the world using movement, music, and folk instruments. Miss Corey's class is currently working on an English song/play, Sleeping Beauty. We have been comparing and contrasting the French version to this new text. The elementary school actors are busy creating a play based on an Anansi trickster tale. They hope to perform their story at the skit night in March. Finally, the middle school students have chosen folktales and have begun learning to tell them. We plan to share them with the other students during our storytelling festival.

Literacy Support
Virginia Klara
Virginia Klara

 

New Year -- New Opportunity

 

True to one of my mantras -- I'm flexible -- I've flexed again in my role at Blue Mountain School.
 
The students in the Elementary class made good progress in their literacy skill development while working with me during the first half of the school year. This semester, as the School's needs have shifted, I am assisting Stefi in the preschool, where I will also be introducing reading readiness skills as I work and play among the 3-4-5s. Having two teachers within this growing group will allow us more time for book exploration and story reading, especially on cold gray days. Since we have many children headed for kindergarten next school year, you'll see more opportunities for word play and phonics games, letter and number writing practice, and mathematical manipulative play at our work tables, too.

I will continue doing some one-on-one literacy support work with Corey's Fire Cheetah Kids each week. Take-home-to-read-with-your family books, selected for each child's individual literacy skill enhancement, have become part of these children's weekend packets. Stay warm, snuggle up, and read, read, read to your children. And let them read to you,too.

A prime moment as a reading teacher occurred for me just recently, when one of the more easily flustered young readers said, "This is actually pretty fun."  Ahhh, that makes it all worthwhile!

My best,

Virginia 

 

 

We hope you enjoyed reading the Indigo Messenger.

Be sure to  it to anyone you think may be interested.

 
Thank you,

The folks at

 

In This Issue
Director
The 3-4-5s
Art
Service Learning
Contemplative Studies
Drama
Literacy Learning
Calendar
Parent Reminders
Board
Gratitude
Parent Reminders
 
 Please be aware of the need to mark foods that have dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts in them in future potlucks and school functions of which food is a part--including birthdays and other celebrations. Thanks!

Starting in February, when students arrive after 9am, we ask that parents please walk them directly to their classrooms, helping kids to join their classes calmly and quietly. This will help ease the discomfort some students feel when joining a class that has already begun.

 

Board of Trustees

At the January meeting, the Board was updated on staffing changes, reviewed the school's current financial status, and worked on scheduling a visioning meeting for early next month.

The Trustees discussed recent and upcoming fundraising events including December's Floyd Feast, Mardi Gras, Equal Exchange, and Vintage Virginia. The members reviewed a proposal for a BMS food booth at FloydFest this summer.

The Evaluation Committee went over the final few items needed in order to file the school's 501(c)(3) status application, and tasked those items to members.

The Board created two task forces:  one to handle the logistics of establishing afterschool and summer programs and a second to assist with the recent staffing changes. 

The February meeting date has not yet been set, but will be announced soon.

In Gratitude We Thank

Tom Ryan of Republic of Floyd & Ray Hatcher of Ray's Restaurant for donating authentic New Orleans beads for the Mardi Gras Ball.

Ron Juftes from Seven Springs Farm for providing dirt to plant acorns in.

Winter Koeppe for volunteering as a behavioral aide.

Rebekah Hicks
for helping with The 3-4-5s and the Fire Cheetahs/Kids.

 

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The Parent's Tao Te Ching 

by William Martin

 

The Parent's Tao te Ching
 
Difficulties Are Overcome By Yielding

Parents facing hardships and sorrow must become like water, 
They must embrace the hardest things of life and enfold them with their heart.
Death and loss are ovecome
with gentleness and serenity.

We all want to protect our children from the sorrow and loss of life.
We cannot.

But the way we behave
when faced with these things
will give our children all they need to remain at peace.

Remember water.

Nothing hard can stop it.
What hardships are you facing?
What are your children learning
as they watch you?

Blue Mountain School 

470 Christiansburg Pike, Floyd, Virginia 24091