Later this month, we will be introducing our "Sustaining Our Mission" campaign. With this campaign, we are seeking to raise much-needed funds to keep our school's budget healthy. Please support our effort to deliver a holistic approach to education that nurtures the whole child by donating to this campaign. Please also introduce us and the vital work we are doing to your family and friends by forwarding our upcoming fundraising emails. We have plenty of great incentives in store to help sweeten the deal!

Stay tuned to your email and our Facebook group for more information and pictures.



Direction
Shelly Emmett
Shelly Emmett

 

If you had asked me two weeks ago how the school year was going so far, I would have answered: "Things are so peaceful this year!" I don't know if that would be my response now, after a valued teacher was involved in a serious accident. Now, we are faced with supporting Brien and his family, our students, our staff, and the wider school community as we all adapt to the changes that moments like these bring. It's easy to feel overwhelmed when difficult things happen to someone in our school community, but there are always saving graces when crises arise.

I am grateful for our strong, grounded staff who are able to support students and each other through difficult times. I am also grateful that we have created a school where, when crises arise, we are able to balance the need for flexibility, authenticity, and responsibility with the need for maintaining normal rhythms and structure.


Thank you to all who have offered support, in all of its varied forms, during the past few weeks.


The Fellowship
Brien Egan & Corey Avellar
Brien Egan
Corey Avellar

 

Following his accident, Brien is now on an indefinite leave while he heals and works towards being able to teach again. Currently, Corey is holding down the fort and keeping the class running smoothly on the path Brien created.


Corey says...


I have really been enjoying my time with the Fellowship. Brien has his curriculum all planned out and ready to go, so stepping in and consistently and harmoniously continuing the teaching of the class has not been a challenge. The students have helped the transition go as smoothly as possible even though they have been faced with big changes and big feelings. Recently, Brien came in for a visit, and we were all so glad to see him. I was also able to check in with Brien to make sure I had all the ins and outs of working with the Fellowship.

 

After a few days of special activities, the class is now back on schedule. In language arts, we wrapped up Flowers for Algernon, and now we are moving on to our next book, City of Ember. We have also been working on descriptive words with nature and our five senses while we spend time in our Sit Spots. Below is poetry that arose from this work.  

 

In math, we are on working on multiple-digit multiplying, in science we just experienced the life cycle of a star, and in social studies we are exploring the culture and history of Native Americans. Our social emotional learning recently has focused on how to deal with change and also, as we learned from Charlie in Flowers for Algernon, how to live in the moment and be happy. 


Mad Scientists
Shawna Williams
Shawna WIlliams

 

This first month of school has been full of finding the rhythm of our classroom, learning about each other, and developing a system that flows and encompasses the multiple ages within the Mad Scientists' group. It has been a busy month with all engaged in a variety of educational activities as we learn with our mind, heart, and hands. The morning begins with our three morning verses, morning movement games, riddles, and our daily  rebuses. From here the class moves into our centering and meditative practice. This month we have focused on our breath and chakras. Next, we take time each day to creatively write in our Writing Journals. We pause for snack... which leads us into the time set aside for form drawings, language art activities, and math time.

 


Another pause within our day dedicated to socializing during lunch and playing during our recess time. After a breath of fresh air, we find our way back to the classroom for another mindful meditation of coloring mandalas as we listen to Read Aloud, a novel voted on by the class to be read. Following Read Aloud, the class breaks into two smaller groups to engage in a Natural Science class with Jenni or time with myself in the classroom engaged in a Social Studies lesson or an extra mini-lesson in language arts or math. We wind down our day with our closing verse, enrichment class, and a hand shake.

 

If you took a peak into the classroom this month you would have seen a chalk board full of colorful form drawings, students tracing each other in a meditative position and filling in the space with colorful representation of the chakras, or maybe fourteen students with bare feet passing acorns between their toes.


Early Learners
Hari Berzins and Jenni Heartway
Hari Berzins
Jenni Heartway

 

Hari says...

 

The Rhythm of Our Day

The predictable routine and rhythm of our day is established from the moment the kids walk into the room. The sign-in sheet is ready, and students sign in and then go off to their morning work in language arts. We take a pause once all students have arrived for the day. This is our Mindful Circle--a quick moment for focusing on the breath and listening to the bell. We've been practicing Th�ch Nhất Hạnh's pebble meditation. It goes like this:

Breathing in, I see myself as a flower, breathing out, I feel fresh.
Flower, fresh
Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain, breathing out, I feel solid.
Mountain, solid.
Breathing in, I see myself as still water, breathing out, I reflect things just as they are.
Still water, reflecting.
Breathing in, I see myself as space, breathing out, I feel free.
Space, free.

The children have learned this gatha and say it aloud with me. It's a wonderful moment we share each morning, welcoming each other and the new day.

After Mindful Circle, students go right back to what they were working on. It might be letter work, focus groups, literacy games, fine motor work, or a creative art project to help aid in learning letters and sounds. 

From language arts we move into Community Circle where we read the morning message out loud together. It says something like this:

Dear Early Learners,

Today is Wednesday. It is October 1, 2014. We are going to play drums.

Love,
Hari and Jenni

This daily repetition helps with one to one correspondence since we only read what "Mr. Pointer" points to. It's also helping familiarize students with the days of the week, ordinal numbers and sight words. The students are super curious to know what the message says each day.

After the message, we sing a song, play with rhythms, read about the latest letter in Letterland, and discuss anything needing discussing. This is also the time for Book Shares and Kid Science.

Then out comes the Buddy Bag, a tiny zipper bag filled with the names of everyone in class. We pull a name out one at a time to dismiss students to get shoes, snack and water for Outdoor Explore. Our goal is to get outside in any weather (please send a raincoat on wet days!) to explore Fort Village, Silverberry Hideout, Stick Mountain and other favorite places on campus. We sit together on blankets and eat snack while listening to a story. Once snack is finished, we explore the woods. 

We return to the classroom and gather to prepare for enrichment class. 

After enrichment, we eat lunch in the classroom and head out to recess. After recess, the students choose a spot to rest for 20 minutes with a blanket, pillow and books.

After rest, we gather for Math Circle. This is a favorite time for many students. We dance the Math Macarena (counting by 1s, 2s, 5s, and 10s) sing The Days of the Week (to the tune of The Adams Family), and The Months of the Year (to the tune of Micheal Finnegan). We add a paper clip to our Days of School counter, a dot to the ten frame, and a segment on the centipede. Today is the 17th day of school, so then I write 17 on the board and the students raise a quiet thumb with ideas for equations that equal 17. They get pretty creative and often fill the board. For example: 17+0, 10+7, 8+9, 2+15, 4+3+5+5. From Math Circle, we move to math work. This includes solving the problem for the day in the math journal, playing math games, counting, patterning, focus group and more.

After math comes Writer's Workshop where students are learning to put ideas to paper in the form of pictures and words.

And it's clean-up time. Each student has a job for the day, and the classroom bustles with the activity of eleven busy cleaners, wiping tables, stacking chairs, sweeping rugs, taking out compost and recycling, and organizing books and art. 

Then out comes the talking stick and we sit in our last circle for the day. We pass the talking stick and share something we liked or will remember about the day. 

It's a full day! I bet they are hungry. I sure am!

Jenni says...

 

What's in a name? A lot. The Early Learners are taking the naming process very seriously. Since the first day of school we have been engaged in discussions about what a great name for our class might be. The suggestions can range from the serious to the seriously silly at times, but overall the students have been adamant about two things: The name needs to be perfect, and we all need to agree on it. Teaching the group strategies for coming to consensus, especially when our class is composed of 11 very strong willed gentlemen, has been challenging. BUT, it's a welcome challenge.

 

Being able to speak to each other about the thoughts behind their choices is an important and empowering skill. Being able to listen to each other and respond in a socially appropriate way is essential. We could have easily voted on the first day and left some students feeling disappointed, but it was important to us to provide all of them with an opportunity to discuss, buy into, and have ownership of THEIR name.

 


Over the past month, they have gained speaking and listening skills that have allowed our class meeting time to become longer and full of deeper conversations. Sure, we don' t have a name yet, but we are learning so much along the way. It is a good reminder to focus on and enjoy the process. We look forward to watching this group grow as individuals and a cohesive class.



Invisible Magic Horses
Stefi Schafer & Ashley Morales
Stefi Schafer
Ashley Morales

We are all becoming familiar with each other and with our class routine. We are learning songs for transition times, and we all sing along now as we "find a seat on the rug by a friend" at circle time, or "find a hand for your hand" on the rail to get ready to move to specials, and as we clean up: "pick up our toys, put them away, everybody cleans when we play, play, play." These songs are important parts of our day as we establish a routine and consistency in our class. They are an effective way to let children know what they need to do as we are about to begin a new activity.

Together at Circle one morning, our class voted on a class name. We are now the Invisible Magic Horses! The teachers had some other name ideas in mind, but none of them held interest for the children. This name grew organically in that circle and was voted and agreed upon by the class! Democracy at work!

In just one very short month, we have learned so much! It is actually amazing to think about how much our kids have accomplished in this amount of time. Most of them were unfamiliar with our class and with us as teachers. Some had never been in school. Some had separation anxiety. In a short time, everyone has acclimated to the daily routine, learned lots of new names and faces, and made friends. The Invisible Magic Horses now know that when the second bell rings, recess is over. They know to grab a place mat at lunch time. They can pour their own water into a glass and can clean up after themselves as well. They know where everything in our classroom lives. They know to wash hands before eating and after pottying. They know how to make a "sandwich" when we go on walks, keeping themselves between the two slices of bread, which are the teachers. The Invisible Magic Horses have formed a herd and are feeling safe and respected in our class.

Big interests in our class so far have been painting and working with numbers. We have explored watercolors and tempra paint. We've painted with different kinds of paintbrushes and even with q-tips. We have painted on small pieces of watercolor paper as well as large paper on easels. Many are learning, through practice and observation, how to make new colors. Numbers, counting and math concepts are explored in our morning meeting when we count people. We often ask questions like "If we normally have 11 kids, and today we only have nine here, how many are missing?" In circle, the abacus is being used and each child gets a chance to count to ten. Counting mats, counters and the abacus are curently available for further exploration and learning.

Our class is a little family within the wider community of BMS, and it is really beginning to feel that way!


Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy

 

Invisible Magic Horses & Early Learners:

For the little guys I have found that a steady structure to my class works wonders for our 40 minutes together! We start out every class with a welcome bow and different centering exercises. This week we have been singing a welcome song with everyone's name, and then each child gets to ring the mindfulness bell and listen until it stops. It is a special time where I get to connect with each child, we practice listening, and start the class in a calm mood. After our welcome centering time, we move into movement and yoga. We have been learning beginning yoga poses through STORYTELLING and SONG.

One of the stories I created is about a wise, all-knowing, and helpful purple fairy and her adventures in the forest rescuing animals in peril! During the story we practiced fairy pose (dancer), tree, mountain, bamboo, frog, sun, owl, rabbit, downdog, cobra, and other poses. Another story was about a herbal healer toad who would take medicine to animals who needed it. The story evolved to a point where the animals the toad helped ended up helping the toad with an issue! Such is life! To end our classes after our movement and games, we go back to our centering and calm time laying on our backs in savasana, relaxation pose.

Mad Scientists:

We begin our class with a bow and centering. We have been practicing volcano breathing, moving our hands from our heart past our forehead to the sky opening up our hands, moving our arms down to our sides like lava from an active volcano. We let our nervousness, anxiety, and negative thoughts arise and flow out of us like lava from a volcano. This is such a simple exercise that helps to center us, and it seems to work! (You are welcome to try it, too!) This age still likes storytelling, so I usually tell them the yoga story of the day that I share with the younger classes, and we practice our beginning poses during the story. We usually move into another 10-15 minutes of flowing poses after the story. This class has also been doing TEAM BUILDING exercises outside to build classroom community. We have done some fun activities to get to know each other better like conversation scramble. In this game, everyone has a partner and we answer questions on a index card such as "Where is your favorite place to relax at home," "What do you do when you get angry," and "What is your favorite dinner food?" We switch partners every question, so we get to be with everyone. We have also played "Super Hero Charades," where we act out something we are good at that people might not know about us. This was a fun and popular activity!

The Fellowship:

Every class we begin with a bow and centering. We usually take multiple deep breathes, and lately we have been practicing volcano breathing. We start with our hands folded near our heart, move them past our forehead, open our hands to the sky, moving our arms down to our sides. We let our anxiety and negativity arise and flow out of us like lava flows from a volcano. This is such a simple centering exercise, and I encourage you to try it at home! In this class, we have been doing a lot of team building and group dynamics with some yoga, mostly sun salutes. Team building activities have included the "Super Hero Charades" and "Conversation Scramble" I also did with the Mad Scientists. A lot of the activities in the beginning of the year focus on belonging, sharing who we are, and respecting our differences. As the year progresses, we will be doing more yoga, movement, and cardio activities.

Please remind your children to have yoga pants, clothes to move in, and tennis shoes available Tuesdays. Thanks!


Art
Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan

 

It's around this time of year that I always return to the feeling that life is cyclical.  Back to school, back to routine, and seeing the colors change as the cool weather begins to set in calls forth many years of similar sensations and memories. It feels very appropriate at this time of year to be working with CIRCLES in the art room.  From simply learning to draw circles, to using them to create the sacred geometrical pattern--the flower of life, to exploring and creating mandalas, the CIRCLE can bring forth many creative works of art.  Below are just a few of the CIRCLES we have created in the art room this year...


I would like to give special thanks to Rebekah Hicks for helping with the preschool during enrichment time and to Carol and BMS for ordering every student a sketchbook!


Contemplative Studies
Jagadisha
Jagadisha

 

Contemplative studies has gotten off to a good start this year with our new meditation cushions! (Thank you Chris and Katie Newitt!) Students seem more receptive even though it may be difficult to be still and calm; everyone always feels good when this is the case!

This year I will be encouraging students to develop a practice. And this practice will be natural to each student's nature. Mindfulness is easy when we are doing something we love. Everyone has something they love to do where they are naturally mindful and present. Then we must develop the skill to direct this mindfulness wherever it is needed, in math class, focusing on a team sport, or perhaps in the sometimes unkind, sad, reactionary actions toward ourselves and others.

Regular practice is the main ingredient. This is why we sit quietly every class when we meet, so we can cultivate our calm and notice our minds (for little ones it might be only a few minutes). A few precious minutes of training at home with daily support with family members can make a big difference for all!

By the Power and Truth of the Practice

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness
May all be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow
May all never be separates from the sacred happiness
Which is sorrowless
And may we all live in equanimity
Without too much attachment and too much aversion
And live believing in the equality
Of all that lives

- Author unknown

May we all develop some kind of practice of mindfulness that allows us to be happy and free!!


Creative Expression
Corey Avellar
Corey Avellar

 

In all the classes, we have been working on building confidence and comfort with acting and pretending with our friends. We want to feel safe while thinking and acting outside our comfort zone. We are practicing thinking about things in different ways, looking at the world from different points of view, and applying unusual physical properties to our imaginary objects and games. We have also been studying several core dramatic techniques including improve, actors neutral, miming, and emotional display through games and activities.


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
Direction
The Fellowship
Mad Scientists
Early Learners
Invisible Magic Horses
Yoga & PE
Art
Contemplative Studies
Creative Expression
Calendar
Parent Reminder
Board
Gratitude
 
Oct 22-23: No School
Oct 23: Parent Conferences
Oct 31: Scheduled Make Up Day and Halloween Celebration (1:00)

 
It's officially Fall, and the weather is beginning to turn. Please remember to send warm outside gear and boots and maybe even an extra change of clothes since kids will be outside in increasingly cold and soggy weather.  
Board of Trustees

The Board spent the last weekend of September in a retreat to renew its purpose, re-commit to the work, and make plans for the future of the school.

Special thanks to Luke Staengl for making the Anahata Community Space available to us; to Dr. Ann Roberts for co-facilitating the retreat and providing delicious lunches both days; and to Dr. Tay Keong Tan for co-facilitating the retreat. 

The expertise of our leaders along with the participation by board members and board committee chairs made for a powerful experience.

We continue to encourage other members of the Blue Mountain community to get involved with our Board. We can only move forward and continue to provide an excellent education to our students through community effort!

 

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is Wednesday, October 8, at 5:30 in the enrichment room. The public is welcome to attend.  

 

In Gratitude We Thank
 
Linda Johnson and Rebekah Hicks for helping in the classroom.

Perrin Heartway for unlocking a door.

Andy and Anya Volker for building a shoe shelf for the Mad Scientists.

Strengthening Our Systems for allowing the Invisible Magical Horses to pick apples.

Tim Da'Mes for donating a desk.

Abundant Dawn Community for donating to the scholarship fund.

Chris Newitt for donating a laptop for the preschool teachers.

Apple Ridge Farm for hosting the Fellowship for two days of team building and trail blazing.

Dr. Ann Roberts and Dr. Tay Keong Tan for donating their time and expertise during the Board retreat.

Chateau Morrisette for donating refreshments for the Board retreat.

 

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Blue Mountain School 

470 Christiansburg Pike, Floyd, Virginia 24091