Once a year, when the mists hang low over the mountains and the fallen leaves crunch underfoot, Boo! Mountain School appears for a peaceful (yet sPoOkY) takeover of our beloved campus. Join us on October 31 at 1:30 as we celebrate the transformative fun of Halloween!
Stay tuned to your email and our Facebook group for more information and pictures.

Shelly Fox
Shelly Fox
There are lessons being learned here at BMS all of the time, and not just by our students. Those of us on staff recently learned an important lesson about meeting challenges with an open mind. In August, we were informed that a newly approved change in Virginia state law meant we needed to go through the licensure process in order to continue to offer a preschool program.

We all knew that we were capable of meeting the requirements of a licensed preschool. The real challenge would be to do so while also maintaining the aspects of our program that make it unique.

Would our kids still be allowed to play outside barefoot, so that they could feel the grass and the sand? Would they be able to climb and play in the ways that we all know are so important for their developing minds and bodies?

We heard stories of schools that removed all of their climbing structures from the playground because the equipment did not meet the standards, and we heard stories of schools who no longer have swings because the mulching requirements were too expensive. It was difficult for us to imagine how licensure would not change important parts of our own program, which relies on a strong connection to the natural world and to bringing real life into the classroom.

We've spent the last few weeks pouring over the guidelines, asking tons of questions, and meeting with each other to discuss how to implement the needed changes. I am pleased to announce that after all our work, we passed our initial inspection without a single violation and were granted our license!

Families and visitors will notice a few changes around campus, but the things that really matter remain the same. Yes, we have more paperwork, and we have some new habits to keep practicing. You'll see more child locks on the cabinets and a lot more mulch on the playground.

But the classrooms remain as creative, colorful, and child-inspired as they ever have, and we still have swings and climbing structures. We continue to spend as much time as we possibly can in our beloved woods, and our kids are still running barefoot through the grass.  

By greeting licensure with an open mind, we learned that we can have a foot in two worlds, and that both worlds have things to offer our ever-evolving school.

Upper Elementary & Middle School
Holly Haworth
Holly Haworth
Our studies are well underway in the Upper Elementary classroom. On Mondays this semester, I am teaching  Coyote School  (which encompasses geography, geology, ecology, botany  and many other earth sciences, as well as mindfulness, writing , art , and many other unnameable skills). We have Language Arts -- which includes grammar as well as poetry, writing, reading, history and politics -- every Tuesday. Wednesdays we study Geography and participate in Ekphrasis (art, creative writing, and art history). Thursdays we learn Mythology, which includes cultural studies, the skill of adapting stories, group cooperation, and drama. We are practicing Math every day, and Tuesdays and Thursdays we have a guest math teacher to give us mathematical inspiration.
I have chosen the frames of these subjects because I am passionate and knowledgeable about them, and I am always inspired to continue my own learning within these subjects. I find it limiting to strictly classify our lessons and discussions within particular "subjects," though. Everything cross-pollinates and is connected. Every subject crosses through other fields. I encourage students to make connections across disciplines and to think big. However, our frames for learning within particular subjects can make our possibilities for creativity seem larger. I can't tell you how excited I am this semester to be working within these particular frames, for each one contains worlds as vast and expansive as to be truly limitless.
In addition to our academics, I continue to develop and teach a pedagogy of interiority. This is a phrase that I gleaned from the poet and philosopher John O'Donohue. When I heard him use the phrase, it brought light and clarity to what it is that I offer in the classroom. Here is a tiny snippet I'll share from the interview that I heard with him by Krista Tippett, on the On Being radio program:  
MR. O'DONOHUE: And we do live in a culture which is very addicted to the image, and I think that there is always an uncanny symmetry between the way you are inward with yourself and the way you are outward. And I feel that there is an evacuation of interiority going on in our times. And that we need to draw back inside ourselves and that we'll find immense resources there.

MS. TIPPETT: When you say symmetry, I don't think you mean that - that there's an equality, but that they are intimately connected.

MR. O'DONOHUE: They're intimately - yeah that's precisely, yep.

MS. TIPPETT: We're putting our energy outward; it's taking something from inside us.

MR. O'DONOHUE: Right. It's taking something - exactly that's exactly what I mean. That it's taking something from inside and we're secretly debilitating ourselves. And it's understandable too. Because if you look at the educational system and you look at most of the public fora in our culture, there is very little time or attention given to what you could almost call learning the art of inwardness or a pedagogy of interiority.


MR. O'DONOHUE: That's why I find the aesthetic things like poetry, fiction, good film, theater, drama, dance, and music actually awaken that inside you. And remind you that there is a huge interiority within you.

It is my goal to awaken the interior realms of creativity and original thought within my students, to introduce them to the landscapes that unfold within when one travels inward. Each day, in our Choose Your Own Beginning practice, I offer time and space for students to journey into their own interior landscapes. During this time in the mornings, after completing certain tasks, students have the option of quietly creating art, reading, or journaling. I emphasize the quietly part, in that this time is about the students accessing the small, still voice inside; it is not about interacting with their friends, which they get to do throughout the whole rest of the day. In the morning, tired and fresh from dreams, students have the daily opportunity to tap into their creative center, to seek meaning and reflect through these activities. This gives them the opportunity to begin their days with meaning and centeredness and a sense of their own creative power.

Black, Fire-Breathing Pythons
Shelly Sherman
Shelly Sherman
The desire for symmetry, for balance, for rhythm, in form as well as in sound is one of most inveterate of human instincts.
-- American Novelist, Edith Wharton

Routine and rhythm are necessary tools in the lives of us all. I especially notice this in young learners. Rhythm has been a theme during September for the Black, Fire-Breathing Pythons. We have been learning and practicing the new rhythms of each school day.

We have fleshed out the details of our learning rhythms. We have been noticing the earth's changes as her rhythm continues to reveal itself to us. We have been mindfully listening to the rhythm of our bodies as we breathe.

In math we have been playing with the rhythm of patterns by turning isosceles right triangles into beautiful quilt squares. We have been researching and studying the rhythm of our new rat friends Cloudy and Caramel.

We have also been learning and creating rhythms using our bodies as percussion to unify our learning family community. To further practice and to celebrate this learning, we took a trip to the Moss Arts Center in Blacksburg to experience Third Coast Percussion's "Think Outside the Drum." This group shared a wonderful, interactive learning experience with active participation emphasizing rhythm, timbre, and melody. After the show, we had lunch on the drill field and shared what we learned.

Lemon Turquoise
Discovery Dragon Butterflies
Jenni Heartway
Jenni Heartway
"You always say that! About every book!"

That's what my students say every time I begin to read a story and tell them about how much I love the book or the author. I choose the books I share with my students carefully. Life is too short to read crummy books, and in a classroom that feeling is amplified!

With beginning and emergent readers, it is essential to read a wide variety of very good books. Imagine learning to talk and only being surrounded by mumbles. Children are more inclined to gain literacy skills when surrounded by quality interactions with books and writing.

So far this year the books we've read have focused on friendships and families. We've had many picture books, and we're transitioning to reading beginning chapter books. One author I enjoy sharing with children this age is Atinuke, who writes stories of children in Africa. We have read The Number One Car Spotter and the Anna Hibiscus picture books. Students this age also enjoy Robert Munsch books, which are often very funny.  Our latest chapter book, Nuts To You, is about squirrels rescuing a friend. 

Shiny Inchworms
Stefi Schafer & Tammie Sarver
Stefi Schafer
Tammie Sarver

This past month, the Early Learning Class has been very busy reconnecting with old friends and welcoming new ones into our community. (Can you believe it's already been more than a month? Time flies when you're having fun!) The children are not only getting to know each other and us, their guides on this learning journey, but they are also getting comfortable with our daily rhythm and expectations.

Several of our new friends have learned how to say good bye to their parents and go to school for the very first time in their life. While there might have been some separation anxiety to start, everyone has grown stronger and is now comfortable working and playing with each other here at school.

It is amazing to watch how the "newbies" look to the returning students for strength and guidance while at the same time we get to witness the "big" kids as they blossom in their newfound role. As classroom leaders, these second and third year students show their new friends where to get their snack and run eagerly ahead to lead us to enrichment class. When a new student is unsure about what to do next they will often look at their experienced classmates, and if all of them come to the circle with confidence, they follow. This kind of positive role modeling can only occur in a mixed age group, where each member is respected for her or his own merit.

Now that we are settling into our routines, we have decided our class name for the year. As always, picking a name is very involved process. As we thought about what this class is interested in, a few themes have emerged...an interest in measuring and comparing and an ongoing curiosity in insects (especially caterpillars), all mixed with a repeated request for glitter.... We are the Shiny Inchworms!

Our interest in caterpillars has also lead us straight into our first science exploration. Tammie ordered Monarch chrysalises, and we found a caterpillar on some milkweed. These new creatures moved into their habitat in our classroom. We have been observing their changes and released the butterflies who emerged, so that they can join the thousands of friends on their way to Mexico and continue the circle of live.

While the Shiny Inchworms have been keeping an eye on the caterpillars, we teachers have eagerly begun our observations of our youngest learners at BMS. Every day we get to see them grow, transform, mature, and undergo their own metamorphosis.

Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy
We have started the year off getting to know what yoga is and discussing what we will be doing this year. We also brainstormed the guidelines and rules we will have in our class, so we can respect each other and enjoy our time together.

For those of you new to BMS, in my class we spend some days doing yoga, and on other days we play games for P.E. On yoga days, practice asanas (postures), tell stories, and enjoy other activities that help us to practice yoga in a fun way. While we often practice yoga inside, we do move our mats outside to practice with the trees and the open sky when weather permits.

Our P.E. activities are usually held outside, where we are free to move in the wonderful open space on the playground. We will playing cooperative and team-building games that involve familiar P.E. activities like tag, running, and obstacle courses. As the year goes, on the kids will help create their own games.

So far this year, we have begun learning yoga breathing techniques and some basic sequences in yoga. We have also begun doing team building exercises, which are so important as we get to know each other in our new classes. One game we've played recently is  our belonging game. We spread out in a circle and then answer questions about who we are and what we like and don't like. This is a great game to help us learn that we are all different in some ways and similar in other ways. It goes like this: I ask, "If you have blue eyes, walk around the circle like a crab," or "If you love to eat chocolate, do 20 jumping jacks."

In the older classes, the kids generate and ask the questions. Recently an upper elementary student asked, "Do you ever feel unsure of yourself or lack self confidence? If you do, fly around the circle." Woah! I believe most of us flew around the circle more than once!

My goal is to provide an environment where we can tap into ourselves and get to know ourselves and others in a deeper way. Sometimes it is through asana, sometimes through quiet moments, sometimes through moving our bodies, and sometimes through connecting with others. May we learn to FLY.

Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan
The school year is off to a delightful start in the art room. I have enjoyed reconnecting with students and getting to know our new friends with lots of joy and ease as I begin my sixth year teaching at Blue Mountain School. 

I remember back to my first year at BMS when I was feeling a bit lost, and Jagadisha told me that teaching is like having a bag of tricks. The more you teach, the more tricks you will acquire to pull out of your bag when needed. Well, I feel like I have a full bag of "tricks" now - or simply put, just more experience; and my experience is blossoming this year as my relationships with the students grow and the level at which I can connect with them deepens.

With four art days behind us, all the classes have completed the same two beginning projects. First, all the students decorated their names to display around the enrichment room.

This was a nice project to hold place while we talked about the year ahead. We discussed basic agreements that we all will follow in the enrichment room and what projects and ideas the kids are interested in exploring this year. We also discussed the proper way to get, use, and put away our markers.

Our names on display together in the art room was a great segue into our next project about COMMUNITY. The Floyd Center for the Arts is hosting an exhibit for and about our community October 13 - November 25, and each student will have a piece in a collaborative work displayed in the exhibit. When discussing what projects the kids were interested in exploring this year, one early learning student said "puzzles."

This idea began to evolve as I talked to the kids about making a collaborative work of art that connected with the idea of community. All the students seemed excited about making a collaborative puzzle, with each child making his or her own puzzle piece. 

"A puzzle is like a community because it is a lot of pieces coming together to form one big thing, just like people in a town," one student commented.

And we are hoping to take it to another level of collaboration and community by making it something that community members can rearrange on the gallery wall, creating new configurations with the pieces.

So please join us at the Floyd Center for the Arts' Community Art reception on Saturday October 21, 5-7pm, to see your child's piece in the puzzle!

And now, I believe that the classes are about to diverge into their own artistic paths for the year. I am excited to see where we go and as always, thank you for sharing your children with me.

Contemplative Studies


I decided to try something new with my class recently. Inspired by the beautiful autumn day, I led the students into the woods for Qigong practice. I have shared Qigong at school before but never in the woods. The physical closeness to nature and to the earth helped us connect to the energy, or Qi, flowing around and through us.

As you develop your own mindfulness practice at home, I encourage you to spend some of your time outside, in a field, in the forest, by a pond, and see if you can connect to the energy around you.

Corey Avellar
Corey Avellar


We have begun work on our play that will we'll be performing in early December. Based on "The 12 Days of Christmas," the play is a unique creation that all the students are working together to develop.

We are also working on other projects, several of which coordinate with what the kids are doing in their main classes. The Shiny Inchworms are transforming into animals as they prepare for hibernation, and the Dragon Butterflies are slithering about as they mimic  reptilian behavior. In the older classes, we are connecting with their language arts practices as we recite monologues, short stories, and poetry.

Coming up later this month, I plan to have professional story tellers and spoken word performers join us for our Enrichment Day.

Forest Kindergarten
Jenni Heartway & Tammie Sarver
Jenni Heartway
Tammie Sarver
Our first session of Forest Kindergarten just wrapped up, and we are having a wonderful time!

We've explored new plants, met many new creature friends, and learned more about our world and each other. Face painting, leaf rubbings, construction projects, mud baking, and songs -- each day we spend together is full and fun!
Later this month, teachers Jenni and Tammie will be presenting at the 2017 Virginia Environmental Education Conference to share about their work with Forest Kindergarten. We are so excited and proud of them!

If you'd like your child to participate in Forest Kindergarten, there are two spaces still available in our next session, which starts October 13. The program is for children ages 4 to 6 and meets on Fridays from 9:00 am to noon. The cost for the five week session is $125. Email now to enroll!

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
Oct 26: Enrichment Day
Oct 27:
Fall Conferences
Oct 31: Halloween Celebration & Open House (1:30 - 3:30) 

If you are dropping off your child after 9:00 am, or if you need to pick them up early, please be sure to check in at the office before heading to the classroom.  
Board of Trustees

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will take place the week of October 16. Details to be communicated through email and on Facebook. The public is welcome to attend.  


In Gratitude We Thank

Everyone who donated to our food drive
, which gathered 130 pounds of food for Plenty!
Stephanie Carr
for sharing her hula hoops and hooping skills with us at the Harvest Celebration.

The Sarver-Wolves for making popcorn to feed our hungry Harvest Celebrators.

Andy Volker for donating two bushels of apples for the cider making at the Harvest Celebration.

Alan Graf and Otis
for bringing their cider press and making cider for the Harvest Celebration.

Enone Mellowspring
for helping Handyman Don assemble new desks for the Upper Elementary class.

Linda Fox for making yummy treats for staff meetings.

Rissy Berliner for sharing Rosh Hashanah with the Shiny Inchworms.

Rachel Troyer for loaning us her tiller.

Tree Gigante, Corrine Ovadia, and the Bauers-Wall Family Foundation for donating to our scholarship fund.

Blue Ridge Accounting & Tax for keeping our books.

Beegle Landscaping & Lawn Care for taking great care of our grassy areas.

Citizens Telephone Cooperative for donating internet services.

Clark Gas & Oil for keeping us and our water toasty warm.  



Shopping on Amazon?

We encourage everyone to support local businesses whenever you can. However, if you find yourself shopping on Amazon, please use the link below, and a portion of your purchase will go into our scholarship fund.
Going Krogering?

With all the wonderful and farm fresh food in Floyd, it's hard to imagine spending much time in Kroger, but if you find yourself there, please help the school earn a little extra for the scholarship fund.

Link your Kroger Card to BMS with the Community Rewards Program. Our Organization Number is 84005.

Blue Mountain School 

470 Christiansburg Pike, Floyd, Virginia 24091