Winning isn't everything, but..
the Middle School
Basketball Team is 6 (wins) and 2,  w ay to go team!

January 22, 2016


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Next Week at Hilltop
Notes from the Head of School
Important Dates!
Granite Gorge
Donate to Support
Toddler Program (TP)
Birch Room
Willow Room
Lower Elementary (LE)
Upper Elementary (UE)
Middle School (MS)
Winter Sports
Kids Night Out
Hilltop Helpers
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop
Monday 1/25/16
Cultural Cooking
MS Basketball Practice

Tuesday 1/26/16
Open House for Prospective Parents

Wednesday 1/27/16
Spanish with Marco 
MS Basketball Practice

Thursday 1/28/16
Winter Sports
Winter Outdoor Survival with BEEC

Friday 1/29/16
Kids Night Out!

Check out the 2015-16 School Calendar 

Coming Up...

Tuesday 2/2
Moving up Night

Wednesday 2/10
UE Poetry Performance 1:30pm
Open Board of Trustees Meeting  6-8pm

Friday 2/12
Re-enrollment Contracts Due

Monday 2/15
Mid-Winter Break Begins

Monday 2/22
No School
Teacher In-Service Day

Tuesday 2/23
School Resumes

Notes from the Head of School

Three of our teachers dedicated last Saturday to professional development and attended the Montessori Schools of Massachusetts annual conference. This year's keynote speaker at the conference was Dr. Steve Hughes. He is not a Montessorian by training, but is the Director of the Center for Research on Developmental Education, and a board-certified pediatric neuropsychologist. After learning about the Montessori Method and having his own child in a Montessori school he has noted how beautifully Montessori principles are supported by brain development research.

During his lecture, Dr. Hughes provided a quick overview of children's neurological development. He emphasized how brain development occurs through a child's interaction with his or her environment. Dr. Hughes went on to discuss executive function and the important role it plays in a child's development and learning. The final part of his presentation was about the impact of parenting on a child's self-regulation skills, an important component of executive function, and socialization.

Dr. Hughes discussed four types of parenting as defined by the intersecting levels of warmth/ affection/love and control/direction/firmness. These four types are authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful. He focused on authoritative and permissive parenting. The authoritative parent has high warmth/affection/love and high control/direction/firmness. A permissive parent has high warmth/affection/love, but low control/direction/firmness. Dr. Hughes spoke of his concern about the current trend of permissive parenting and its focus on immediate happiness and self-esteem. Dr. Hughes shared research that supports authoritative parenting as the parenting model that best supports a child's self-regulation and positive socialization. 

Dr. Hughes described the ideal authoritative parents as parents who:
-encourage independence with limits
-expect kids to work independently and to use their own reasoning skills
-encourage children to discuss options
-listen to their kids
-have high expectations for behavior
-provide guidance and reasons with their kids
-discipline consistently and fairly
-express warmth and nurturing
-are flexible
-are role models

Below are links to to presentations by Dr. Hughes. The first link is similar to the presentation some of our teachers attended. The second video focuses on parenting.

(presentation starts ten minutes in)

   Cheryl Matthews
And, as Dr Hughes notes, ideally, the adult has a balance of strong warmth/love AND control/firmn ess in their interactions with children. Cheryl Matthews, the Lead Teac her in the Children's House Birch Room, is the embodiment of that balance. Cheryl is the quintessential Montessori master teacher and she has recently been recognized by  Let's Grow Kids  for these very skills with our students. 
Upcoming Important Dates!
Tuesday, February 2nd, 6-7pm- MOVING UP NIGHT
For Parents of students transitioning from Toddler to Children's House, 4 year olds to K, K to LE, LE to UE, and UE to MS.
Faculty will present a program overview and details, outline expectations, and answer questions of all parents and prospective parents entering a new program level or any parent interested in what lies ahead for their student. All parents are welcome and childcare will be provided. Please sign up at the front desk.

Wednesday, February 10th, 6pm- Open Board Meeting 
Please join us for our Annual Open Board Meeting and hear about Board Committees and Activities, Board service, the "state of the school" and the ongoing Strategic Plan Process.

Granite Gorge
Hilltop Ski Day at Granite Gorge Vouchers are here!

Join Hilltop friends on the slopes Saturday, January 30th for a day of fun tubing or skiing.

You can purchase vouchers at the front desk.

$15 for 2 hour tubing pass
$38 for Youth Day Pass
$45 for Adult Day Pass

Checks payable to Hilltop Montessori School.

Donate to Support Morningside Shelter and Foodworks!

Groundworks Collaborative

Did You Know...

That Groundworks Food Shelf, Foodworks, serves an average of over 1000 individuals per month? Or that Groundworks Shelter houses many Vermonters in need as well as giving them food and necessities? That's why we want to help them! For our school project, we (Leah and Leila, two middle schoolers) are doing a school-wide food drive for Groundworks! Our goal is for each classroom to donate at least 100 non perishable food items before Tuesday, January 26th, so please contribute whatever you can to support this very helpful organization!


Toddler Program 

We are well into January and are enjoying the cold, snowy weather. Inside we've been filling our days in comfortable and cozy ways: making warm snacks (like scrambled eggs), upping our vitamin C intakes, creating colorful artwork, and, of course, getting down with Jay. Never a dull moment and we wouldn't have it any other way!

Enjoy the weekend.
Ellie and Hannah


Birch Room

Supporting Handwriting in the Children's House Classroom: Part 2

Last week, we talked a little but about pre-writing works in the Children's House.  As children continue to work on building foundational concentration, independence, and fine motor skills in the Practical Life and Sensorial areas, they also begin work on specific literacy and handwriting tasks in our Language area.  These works progress from learning the basic form and order of letters through works like tracing sandpaper letters, to building and copying words with the movable alphabet, to writing independently in journals.  As children learn to write, they also learn to read, sometimes even sharing their new abilities with friends, as Sebastian does below! 

Have a great weekend!

Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam 

Cheryl and Dylan work on letter formation with chalk, water, and the sandpaper letters. In the background, Matai and Addy write in their journals.

Serina, Dylan, Alica, and Vera work with the movable alphabet.

Sebastian reads "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" to MJ.

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Willow Room


At this point in the year, in a Montessori classroom, children are building and expanding various skills. For example, we are noticing fine motor strengthening and sensorial development being more directly applied to language and literacy. Mazin has been exploring concepts of rough and smooth and differentiating between different sounds. He then began exploring sand paper letters. He is beginning to form letters using chalk and white boards, as well. He forms each letter and then erases the letter using his finger, saying the sound out loud. 

Owen moves beyond color matching, into gradation, using the 3rd color box to grade each color from lightest to darkest. Moving towards abstraction, Pasture continues to explore concrete addition with the positive snake game (adding together a "snake" of beads, replacing each set of ten with a golden ten bead bar). 

Please remember to practice practical living skills, like hand washing, to stay healthy!

We wish you a peaceful and warm weekend! See you next week.

Jonathan, Rebecca and Jaime 

Max reads out loud to his friends!

Lower El

We are thrilled and appreciative to have a fleet of sleds donated by an elementary parent for Lower and Upper Elementary students to share during recess and AfterCare. We love them! No need for people to bring in sleds from home.

Have a great weekend!

Classroom Work

Outdoor Fun

Upper El

The Upper Elementary class is thrilled to have parent, Debra Rosenzweig, sharing her expertise with teaching mindfulness to young people.  This was our third  week of a 6-part series on mindfulness and attention training called "Peacetime.
Ea ch module includes activities dedicated toward training students' capacities to attend, focus, and regulate their reactivity. The students are practicing sustained mindful attention for longer and longer periods each week, gearing toward developing their skills so that they will be able to make use of these practices in daily life.
We are studying how mindfulness effects the brain, mindful eating, breathing, listening, movement and communication. Students journal about their mindful experiences at the completion of the weekly activity. Please ask your child about their mindfulness experiences on Tuesdays and allow them to teach you what they have been learning. Any way in which you can support their practices - whether it is before bedtime, in the car, 5 minutes before or after meals -  will go a long way toward fostering their growth of this important skill set.

Call for needles...

Our next Poetry Performance is on Wednesday, February 10th at 1:30pm . The snow date is Friday, February 12th at 1:30pm.

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Middle School

This week we continued our series of speakers participating in the "Struggle for Peace" curriculum. On Tuesday, four veterans from the Brattleboro American Legion came to the classroom to speak about their choices they made to serve in the American military.  The veterans had an array of experiences. One arrived in Korea  just as the armistice was signed.  Another served in the Philippines during the Vietnam era specializing in electronics and the other two both served in Vietnam actively engaged in combat. Two had been drafted and the other two enlisted. You can imagine the depth, pride, regret, and sadness that entered into the conversation. Our students prepared and asked excellent and respectful questions that elicited a breadth of responses. Here are several excerpts from their reflections:

"It is very interesting to compare the opinions of the veterans and Gandhi. The veterans were not necessarily against nonviolence, but told us that they think that sometimes nonviolence just does not work and you must resort to violence in order to protect yourself and what you love. On the other hand, Gandhi's belief was that nonviolence is always stronger than any form of violence. I think Gandhi and the veterans had much the same goal - peace for everyone."


"I don't believe in war, I think it is a stupid idea and a horrible way to solve problems.  Although I do have so much respect for all of the people who served this country. They risked their life for everyone in the country to have their freedom, and that takes serious dedication."


"Daniel (our guest from last Friday) was talking about how war is anti-peace and the veterans were also speaking about how war is not peace and not the answer.  The veterans thought that having a military to defend our country was peace. But Daniel thought that having less of a military and no war was peace. This made me think about how the word peace has so many meanings."

-Lucy P.

"Service in the military is one of the greatest things one can do for their is not about war, but instead about protecting our freedom and our people. All the veterans spoke of how they fought for peace. Personally, I believe that nonviolence would be great but it is just an ideal. Something to hope for and aim for, but not something to really be used as a solution to the problems we face today."


"Having those four veterans in the class was like having a history section in a library."


"The contrast between Daniel and the veterans was very drastic, but there was one thing that they agreed on, that the government wastes too much money on war and the fact that education is what makes America a strong nation."


"I think that after spending so much of your life devoting yourself to war, it becomes hard to see it as anything else but the only answer to keep our nation under peace. I don't believe that war is the answer to finding peace. That does not mean I don't believe in our country standing up for what we feel is right, I just believe violence is not the answer."


Veterans Speak of War and  Peace

Darwin Solves an Algebra Equation Montessori Style

Winter Sports

Winter Sports Pictures

At the BOC...

At the skating rink...

Here at Hilltop...

Kids Night Out

The next Kids Night Out  will be Friday, 1/29/16, please email Emma
if you are interested in dropping your child off to the Arts Barn for some good, safe fun!

Mark your calendars, the next Kids Night Out dates are Friday, February 26th and Friday, March 11th!

Hilltop Helpers

Hilltop Montessori School has a wonderful group of helpful families supporting each other in many ways: carpools, meals in time of need, hand-me-down snow pants, etc. We would like to provide this space in the newsletter as a place that people can share needs and "gifts" with the rest of the Hilltop community

Thank you Hazel for providing our students and staff with delicious pizza each week!


Winter Sports  Chaperones
,  we are grateful for all parent participation!

If you have a need, or a service or item to offer, let the  FRONT DESK  k now and we'll get it in the newsletter!

Community News

Youth Services to Host Monthly Parent & Caregiver Group of LGBTQ Youth
Youth Services is launching a support group for parents and caregivers of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth in the Windham County region, in collaboration with Green Mountain Crossroads, a local LGBTQ nonprofit dedicated to connecting rural LGBTQ people.  The first meeting of Joining Our Youth (JOY) group is on Thursday, January 28th  from 5:30-7pm  at Youth Services, 32 Walnut Street in Brattleboro, VT. 

Free and open to the public, the group's mission is to build community while offering support and resources. For more information about this initial or subsequent meetings contact Rosie Nevins-Alderfer of Youth Services at 802-257-0361 or email Nanci.

Girls on the Run Teams
For those of you who don't know about GOTR, it is a really great program aimed at teaching girls to have self-confidence and to navigate the tricky world of adolescence by making healthy choices. It incorporates lessons through games and a running program, culminating in a 5K event in late spring (Saturday, May 21  this year, in Brattleboro). It's a wonderful program that really gives girls a chance to think about important things, share their thoughts and experiences, and be listened to by their peers and coaches. As a coach, I feel it's an amazing privilege to get to know these children from a totally different perspective than you may have as a parent or classroom teacher. The lessons and materials are all created for us, so the only commitment it requires is the initial training session (coming up very soon, next week, in Brattleboro), about twenty minutes each week to review the lessons and discuss them with the co-coach(es) beforehand, and then one day a week after school (the activity runs two days a week, but with enough coaches, we can have a pair or more handle each day). You can find out even more about  GOTR-Vermont at their web site .

Hilltop has traditionally run the Girls on the Run program for 3rd-5th grade girls.  However, GOTR-Vermont also offers a program for 6th-8th grade girls, previously called Girls on Track, and this year it's been updated and renamed Heart and Sole. The curriculum has some similarities, but is very much geared to the different perspectives, interests, and concerns of this older age group. 

If you are interested in signing on to help coach, please let Alix, mom to Julia and Annelise in Upper El, know as soon as possible.  You may also call Alix at 
802-355-2256 .

Hilltop Montessori School