Enjoy February Break and See You Back Tuesday, February 28th!

February 17th, 2017
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Next Week at Hilltop
Notes from the Head of School
Soren's Phone Number Corrected
Math Morning at Hilltop
After School Programs
Toddler Program (TP)
Lower ELementary (LE)
Upper Elementary (UE)
Middle School (MS)
Winter Sports
Hilltop Helpers
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop
Monday  2/27/17
No School
In Service Day

Tuesday 2/28/17
School Resumes
ASEP: Strength and Conditioning Begins

Thursday 3/2/17
Strength and Conditioning
All School Gathering
ASEP: Person, Place, Play Begins 
(Ages 6-12)

Coming up...

Monday  3/6/17
ASEP: Snacks and Stories Cooking Class Begins
(Ages 4-6)

Tuesday 3/7/17
ASEP Sweet Treats Cooking Class Begins (Ages 7-12)

Wednesday 3/8/17
ASEP Spanish with Marco Begins 
(Ages 4-7)
Girls on the Run

Friday 3/10/17
ASEP Drumming Begins
(K-3rd Grade)

Check out the 2016-2017 School Calendar 

Notes from the Head of School

Proud to have a Learning Specialist at Hilltop

As you may remember, Wendy Lynde, our Learning Specialist was on medical leave before the winter break. She is now back at full speed and we wanted to take this opportunity to explain her role to some of you who might not have heard about the position in the past.

In 2014, Hilltop Montessori School hired Wendy Lynde as a Learning Specialist, a position we had been hoping to add to our faculty for many years.Wendy has filled this position beautifully for the past three years. Her responsibilities include:

  • Doing regular, formal reading assessments of all students from their final year of Children's House through Upper Elementary.
  • Identifying students who are "below benchmark" and need more intentional, direct instruction in small groups, with Wendy or another teacher.
  • Teaching small groups of students who need  a more intensive language instruction.
  • Serving as a "case manager" for students who are receiving outside evaluations or support.
  • Supporting teachers who have questions about how to best meet the needs of particular learners.

Wendy's time is split between the CH, LE, and UE programs, with more of her time being with the Lower Elementary, as those are the years for critical reading development. Wendy works with small groups of students to provide them additional support and instruction beyond that provided in the classroom. Students identified as needing intensive one-on-one reading instruction seek that level of support privately.

We are thrilled that having a learning specialist has enabled us to expand the continuum of learners that we serve at Hilltop. Some students who might need extra support or be on an IEP (Individual Education Plan) in a traditional school do not need unusual accommodations at Hilltop. Our multi-age, open work cycle environment focused on the needs of each individual child naturally accommodates different needs. However, some learners do need a bit more direct instruction with reading so as to not "fall through the cracks" and to enable them to be reading in order to access the language rich curriculum of the elementary years. The support of Wendy as our Learning Specialist has enabled us to better serve all the students at Hilltop Montessori School.


Soren's Correct Phone Number

Our PE Teacher's, Soren Pelz-Walsh, phone number is incorrect in the directory. Please make a note of his correct cell phone number:



Hilltop's Math Morning and Circus Was a Great Success!

What a great turn out for Math Morning. It seems the timing of a  Saturday  morning event worked well for many families. The parents first dropped off their children at the Arts Barn to spend the morning in a Circus Workshop, then continued over to the Middle School for coffee and a brief introduction by Tamara. 

The Toddler program started us off with a wonderful video produced & directed by Amelia Farnum starring Ellie and her toddler group! Check it out here. Who knew all those little hands and minds are working on beginning math foundations. 

We then split up into groups and cycled through the Children's House, Lower El, Upper El and Middle School programs with faculty presenting math lessons. Parents were able to see and experience the sequence of math materials and lessons, how the lessons build and become more complex as students move up in age and concepts move from concrete to abstraction. 

The community lunch was a fun and delicious cap-off to the morning!

Some observations shared by parents:

"The Math Curriculum Morning at Hilltop was wonderful. It was thrilling to see first hand how a concept goes from the concrete to the abstract, developing from one program to the next, and how many of the same materials students use in the children's house are used all the way through the middle school. The mini lessons in each of the classrooms turned numbers into an interesting language, using visual, kinesthetic, and verbal ways of learning, and also creating a context for constructing and deconstructing problems, a far cry from the memorization approach I struggled through as a young learner. I am always so impressed with the teachers dedication, obvious passion for what they do and their attention to the individual learner."  
- Karen Blumberg, mother of Ben in UE

" When you see the grand vision of Maria Montessori in such a direct and purposeful way, you really begin to understand the greatness of her vision. This integration of concepts combined with teaching to mastery at each child's individual learning pace instead of teaching to a test score, ensures that instead of memorization of facts quickly forgotten, it is instead mastery of concepts for which facts can easily be derived. Congratulations and thank you to the staff of Hilltop, for a wonderful experience and providing us with such great insight into our child's education!"
- James Hancock, father of Addie in LE

New After School Programs Starting in March!

New After School Enrichment Program (ASEP) forms have been sent home earlier in the week.  Flyers are also available at the front desk! Click here to view.

Please return forms by February 28th as we will need to see if we have enough enrollment for classes to run!

Here is what we are offering:
  • Two Cooking Classes: one class for 4-6 year old's and another for 7-12 year old's- yum!
  • Spanish with Marco: 4-7 years old (always a big hit!)
  • Person, Place and Play Circus: 6-12 years old (these are the folks who did the math curriculum morning circus workshop!)
  • Drumming: K-3rd grade (who doesn't like to bang on something?!)
  • Strength and Conditioning: UE and MS (morning sessions with a focus on nutrition too!)


Saturday, April 29th
*7:30am - noon
In the Arts Barn

*come when you want, but tag sale people are an eager bunch

Hilltop  Multi-Family 
Tag Sale and Market & 
Pancake Breakfast  (maybe) 

Believe it or not, spring IS coming... and you know what that means. Spring cleaning! Want to turn those no longer needed items into cold hard cash? Here's a fun solution: Join us for the Multi-Family Tag Sale and Market. Each family reserves a table for $10 and is responsible for selling their own treasures - you keep the profits. This year, we're adding a twist...

We're hoping to host other merchants who sell items that would be of interest to parents! So, if you know of someone who you think would fit this description, let Amelia know. The only contribution to selling at our market would be one small item that we will then put in a tricky tray raffle (like the one we did at the holidays). So, think children's clothing, activities, products etc.

Let the decluttering BEGIN!

Toddler Program 


Elijah and Children's House Students


Birch Room

Fantasy vs. Reality in the Children's House- What's "Really Real?"
"It is we who imagine, not they; they believe, they do not imagine." - Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori believed that young children's ability to distinguish between fact and fantasy during the Children's House years is a tenuous and developing process. This idea has been supported by the work of Piaget, modern psychologists, and any parent whose child has donned a superhero costume and attempted to fly off the couch!  
In our classroom, we try to support this development by offering authentic materials and experiences rather than pretend ones. For example, we might cut real apples instead of wooden ones. Later, when a child pretends in another setting, he or she will have the real experience to draw from. Outside, children can explore pretend games within the real context of our school. For example, real animals might pounce on one another but children pretending to be animals cannot.
We also talk about "true stories" vs. "tall tales".  These can be obvious- such as whether a dinosaur really scratched Cheryl's eye. They can also be more subtle, such as whether a spill happened by accident or because a child carefully turned over a cup and watched the water pour out. We also work to differentiate fact from fiction in the course of social disagreements. Often children have different understandings of what transpired during an event. If we witnessed the event, we will sympathize with the children's feelings, but we will also be clear with the children about what actually happened. This is important not only because it helps draw a line between fact and fiction, but also because it allows the children to problem solve from a point of common ground.
Please feel free to ask any of us about imagination, truth, and fantasy in the Birch Room.
Have a great vacation, and don't forget to clean out those cubbies!
-Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam

Paisleigh sorts different types of tops.

Isaac practices pouring.

Wren and Layla practice their letters.

Charles explores sounds.

Carter, MJ and Dylan (not pictured), create a maple sugaring scene.

Willow Room

As you may have noticed, I (Jonathan) am back in the Willow Room! I would like to extend a big thank you to Rebecca, Rachel and Nayeon for continuing to provide wonderful care and guidance for the children of the Willow Room. We're ready for an excellent rest of the school year! 

Making Friends: 

In the beginning of Children's House, children are more aware of their peers than during their Toddler years. Children seek out playmates for short periods of time. Some of these relationships may last, while most simply come and go. It is not all too uncommon to see your child wanting to play on their own most of their time in school as well.

In a Montessori classroom, friendship is a part of a child's work. Children learn to care for each other through helping, and learning from conflicts. Our Peace and "Grace and Courtesy" lessons give gentle guidance through modeling and using respectful language. 

What can you do to help support your child's journey into friendship? There are a lot of wonderful resources available for support on ways to support your child's development of peer relationships. The following advice comes from Fiore Montessori School. We find it to be clear and very helpful!

  • Offer opportunities for play and socializing.  Some ideas include: having friends over for play dates or lunch.
  • Give children unstructured play time. Allow for some conflict to arise, and give your child the opportunity to resolve a conflict on their own. Less and less adult intervention will be needed with appropriate modeling. 
  • Include your child when talking to people out of his normal range of peers. Take him or her to visit a neighbor, or bring him or her along to the grocery store. The more exposure he has interacting with all kinds of people, the more he will learn to do the same. Those little eyes and ears are absorbing much of what you say and do!
  • Provide Grace and Courtesy lessons on how to approach a friend, join in play, or start a conversation. These lessons can happen in the family and then your child can try them out on the playground. Show your child how to be a good friend and make friends. The best way is to model the behavior you would like to see.
  • Provide emotional support to your child by listening to her stories about peers. Try to develop relationships with her friend's parents.
  • If your child has a hard time making friends, empathize with your child, but keep it in perspective. Making friends is a lifelong process and will of course have its ups and downs. Be confident in your child and never share or show any anxiety you may feel about your child's social relationships.
  • Help your child realize his or her own strengths.
  • Listen to your child without criticism. Avoid criticizing, or expressing dis-like for another child. Remember that this is a learning experience for everyone! Your child can even help to stop behaviors by using appropriate tools.  
  • Model: be kind, give compliments, wave to friends, open the door for someone. 
  • Be understanding of what others are going through by showing empathy.

As always, we are available to help. Let us know if you have any questions!

Be Well! 

Jonathan, Rebecca and Rachel 

Lower El

Many children shared their measurement "homework" with us this week! Thank you for helping to make that happen. If your children continue measuring people and things over vacation, they are welcome to share that with us.  

Speaking of vacation, we hope everyone continues to make time for reading and a bit of math fact practice - and some relaxation and fun. Enjoy your time together!

Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia

Upper El

Thank you to all who attended our poetry performance on Wednesday.  Despite the snow days, students presented their poems with a striking variety of live music, recorded audio, shadow puppetry, stop-motion videos, and other original artwork. Here is a brief selection of our poems.

Have a wonderful break!

by Carmen

Quicksilver liquid
Like dewdrops on the dawn grass
Waiting to break into perfect little balls
Shimmering like pinpricks in the midnight sky

by  Parker Toyloy

Cold                  Fluffy
Falling            Floating            Melting 
Shaved               Ice                    Now                Liquid
Flowing            Swirling             Rushing 
Cool                   Wet

Haiku for March
by Siri Harrison

Sweet smelling
tulip bursting through 
winter snow

Moon Light
by Leo

The moon looks down on us every night
Half empty 
full of sleep
Wakes up and rises
once in awhile the moon smiles at us on the full moon
The moon's smile  slowly fades away into the sunshine
But the moon always comes back

By Owen Bonneau

A quiet monday night
with a deserted street
Lit up by a bar selling five cent cigars
A lady wearing a rose red dress
a man drinking a cup of coffee
Across from them a quiet man
No one knows when they will leave 
With no end in sight
they sit til night's  end
They're hawks
They're nighthawks  

by  Ilona

Who said women are supposed to look perfect?

to have a beautiful face 

Thin eyebrows,flawless hair

Living with a man?

Who made these rules 

Who said these things

In my mind beauty is just another

Small thing is this

BIG BIG world 


Make your own perfect



Middle School

We finally found a moment when snow, rain, or ice was not falling and celebrated the poetic mind and voice with our Poetry Night. Many thanks to all for your flexibility, good humor through all the cancellations, and great food contributions.  

Once we return from February break we enter our countdown for the Alabama Odyssey.  An exciting addition to this particular journey is that documentary filmmaker Christopher Irion is accompanying us and documenting our experience. He has already "embedded" himself with the class, joining in with conversations, interviewing students, and getting us used to the presence of microphones and cameras. His plan is to be with us right through our performance in May capturing the process and progress in our journey exploring race, prejudice, class, and privilege. His efforts will result in a film that we all look forward to.

Recently Christopher shared his first film collaboration with students and we are pleased to share it with you. Here is what Christopher had to say about this project:

Joining Our Voices 
An account of Hilltop students participation in the 2017 Women's March.

Ten Hilltop students joined with hundreds of thousands of others in participating 
in the Women's March on January 22, the day after the inauguration. I met with the students shortly before they left and encouraged them to  take cameras and video equipment with them to document the event and interview as many fellow participants as possible.

They came back with hours of material and along with interviews of the students upon their return, I edited the material into a seven minute film that shares their experience.

Please be sure to mark on your calendar that we are having an Alabama Odyssey information night on Tuesday, March 21 at 7:00.

Wishing everyone a great break!

Middle School Basketball

The Middle School Basketball Team concluded their season on Thursday with a narrow victory over BAMS !  The players worked hard all season to develop their knowledge and skills of the game. For a few players, this was their first season playing on a basketball team.  They showed significant transformation as players and teammates  from the beginning of the season to the end! The veterans of the team stepped up all season as leaders and mentors to their teammates.  Hilltop  competed well against local schools from New Hampshire and Vermont including Marlboro, St. Michaels, Dummerston, Monadnock Waldorf, Putney Central, and BAMS.  The team finished their successful season  with an overall record of 9-3!

Winter  Sports

Thank you to everyone who helped by chaperoning and driving this year for Winter Sports! The support of the Hilltop community makes these programs possible, and we appreciate all your efforts!

Hilltop Helpers

Girls on the Run Registration is Open
We are pleased to offer Girls on the Run at Hilltop for the fifth consecutive year, with returning coach Alix Fedoruk, and new coaches Debra Rosenzweig and Kerstin Roos. Girls in 3rd through 5th grade should have received a flyer about Girls on the Run this week at school, which we hope they brought home and shared with their families.

Girls on the Run (GOTR) is an international program founded in 1996, whose mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Girls learn and practice skills to help them take good care of themselves, their relationships, and their community, while also building the mental and physical skills to run a 5K.

We will meet at Hilltop on Wednesdays and Fridays after school, from 3-4:30pm, starting March 8th. The season will culminate with completing a 5K here in Brattleboro on Saturday May 20th, together with hundreds of other girls from Southern Vermont. It costs GOTR-Vermont $150 per girl to offer this program, but thanks to grants and individual fundraising, we are able to offer it to all Vermont girls for a $100 fee. Additionally, need-based scholarships are available, which you can apply for during the online registration process.

You can register online here. Scroll down a little and click on "Register Here for Southern", then use the drop down list to select Hilltop Montessori as your site.  

More information and FAQs can be also be found  here.  You can click on the Get Involved tab, to learn about becoming a race day volunteer, or click the 5K tab, to register to run along with your daughter.  

Please be in touch with the coaches with any questions you have about the program and the schedule. If you want to know about financial aid, please contact Jess Rodrigues. GOTR's goal is to make the program accessible for every girl who wants to participate.

J ulia Fedoruk in the Middle School would like to thank all of you who attended the Greek Supper to benefit Carry Me Home last week, and special thanks to those who helped with cooking, serving and cleaning up the meal. Carry Me Home, a Brattleboro-based 501c3 non- profit, sends clothing to refugees in Eastern Europe, coordinating with volunteer organizations on the ground to make sure the right items are sent, to the right places, when needed. Recent shipments have gone to Athens and to Lesvos, where refugees continue to arrive by boat.  

Collection for spring clothing has begun, with special focus on items for refugee children who have begun attending schools in Greece. Please bring items from the list below to the collection box in the lobby or the box in the Middle School. Carry Me Home is also in need of funds to pay for shipping. The largest box they can send, 44 pounds, costs $164 to ship. Please make donations via Indiegogo Generosity, or leave a check made out to Carry Me Home With Love in the collection box.

NEEDED ITEMS  (In gently-used or better condition)
Children's items:
-long pants, jeans, and leggings
-long skirts
-long or short sleeve tops
-new underwear
-light sweaters and sweatshirts
-rainboots and sturdy shoes
For shipping: 
-Essentials brand vacuum storage bags, size large, 17.5 x 27.5 inches. These are intermittently available at the Dollar Tree Stores in Brattleboro and Keene, and fit our shipping boxes perfectly.

You can find more information about Carry Me Home on  Facebook, or via email.
You may be interested in PBS Frontline's Exodus , a documentary on the refugee crisis that aired in December 2016 and is still available to watch on line.

A big THANK YOU to Hazel for providing our students and staff with delicious pizza each week!

Many thanks to Brattleboro Tire, 558 Putney Road in Brattleboro for donating
snow tires for our Hilltop van . Please visit Dan and the boys at Brattleboro Tire for your car's needs and be sure to say "Thanks" on Hilltop's behalf. 
www.brattleborotire.com  or call them at 802-254-5411.

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Community News

Brattleboro School Without Walls

Brattleboro Figure Skating Club Presents... Reach for the Stars
Luci Boyarko from Lower EL and her mom Vanessa Long are selling tickets for this 42nd annual ice show!  $7 for adults, $3 for children, preschool age is free. They are also looking for business sponsors, for a low advertising price of $30!  
If you are interested in tickets or sponsorship, please contact Vanessa.

It's the 95th Annual Harris Hill Ski Jump: February 18th and 19th!