Winter Sports is in Full Swing!


January 8, 2016


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Next Week at Hilltop
Notes from the Head of School
Important Dates!
Toddler Program (TP)
Children's House (CH)
Lower Elementary (LE)
Upper Elementary (UE)
Middle School (MS)
Hilltop Helpers
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop
Monday 1/11/16
Cultural Cooking Begins
MS Basketball Practice

Tuesday 1/12/16
UE Basketball Practice
Adult  Fitness Class @ 5:15

Wednesday 1/13/16
Spanish with Marco Begins
MS Basketball Practice

Thursday 1/14/16
Winter Sports
Winter Outdoor Survival with BEEC

Friday 1/15/16
Financial Aid Deadline

Check out the 2015-16 School Calendar 

Coming Up...

Monday 1/18
No School
Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Tuesday 1/19
Normal School Schedule Resumes

Monday 1/25
MS Basketball Game at Putney Central 3:45pm

Tuesday 1/26
Open House for Prospective Parents

Saturday 1/30
Hilltop Family Ski Day Granite Gorge

Notes from the Head of School

The first week after break at Hilltop Montessori School is often a time of excitement and engagement, and this week was a lovely example of that. The staff and students were eager to get back to it! At 8:35 on Tuesday morning, all the classes were buzzing with activity and everyone was early to school!  The staff started on Monday with an In-Service Day, preparing the classrooms and working on lessons. We also held an All Staff Meeting which included an activity offered by Dan Filler, Director of Elementary. As some of you may know, in addition to his teaching, administration, and art contributions to Hilltop, Dan also uses his Montessori teaching expertise for the Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative, a teacher training program based in Lexington, Massachusetts. He shared one of their activities with our staff. It was a classic and valuable group engagement where the process was the goal, not necessarily the end result.
We divided into three groups, Children's House and Toddler Teachers, Lower El and Upper El teachers, and Middle School teachers. We then discussed how the Montessori components (see below) related to one another while attempting to prioritize them in order of importance. Here are the components we discussed, in no particular order:
-        Sense of Community
-        Students' Social Emotional Skills
-        Physical Environment
-        Curriculum
-        Teacher-Student Relationship
-        Student Autonomy
-        Teacher Modeling/Attitudes
One group engaged in a lengthy discussion about which component they believed needed to be developed first, versus which was more important by mid-year. Another group focused on what starting component would be best to address when things seem amiss and the students need help in becoming more engaged. We also had a "wild card" and it was interesting to see that the younger programs added "Humor/Fun" while the Middle School used it to note the importance of "Real Work". The process of seeing what each group emphasized and noted was worthy and enlightening. In the end, all components were deemed critical and very much interconnected.  Please know that those teaching your children at Hilltop Montessori School give a great deal of thought, care, and intention into every interaction with every child and group!
Upcoming Important Dates!
January 15th 2016- Financial Aid Deadline 
To those families interested in applying for financial aid, please remember to complete your Parent Financial Statement, and upload all tax documents required by the deadline. If you need to check application requirements you can go to our website at:

Families who have met the Financial Aid deadline will have their application processed in time to receive a grant award by mid-March. 

January 29th 2016 Re-enrollment Contracts  will be sent home at dismissal

February 2nd 2016, 6-7pm- MOVING UP NIGHT
For Parents of students transitioning from K to grade 1, 3 to 4, and 6 to 7
Faculty will present the program overview and the details, outline the expectations, and answer the 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, childcare will be provided, please sign up at the front desk.

February 12th 2016 Contracts  due back to school 
In order to be considered for a financial aid award the re-enrollment contract (s) must be submitted by February 12, 2016. Should the financial aid decision be unacceptable to you, you may elect to cancel your contract and receive a full refund of your registration deposit. 

Mid-March, 2016 Financial Aid awards sent home
Families who have met the financial aid and re-enrollment contract deadlines will receive their financial aid grant letters in mid-March. If at this time your grant does not meet your need, the contract and deposit will be returned in full. 

Toddler Program 

Happy new year! The first week back to school has been an exciting time with lots of firsts - lessons on Sandpaper Letters, playing outside in the snow (finally!), and a ukelele duet during music! And we welcomed a new student to toddler classroom, Patrick Iams, brother to Minjae in the Birch Room. It's good to be back together again.

Happy weekend.
Ellie & Hannah

Toddlers Pulling Friends on Sleds

 Patrick Joins the Toddler Room
Kennedy Knows the Letter A Makes the Sound "a"

Jay and Lucas Play a Ukelele Duet

Children's House

We had a great week in Children's House getting back in the swing of things with friends, new works, and snow! Our scooters and bikes were exchanged for shovels and sleds, and the children enthusiastically explored our new winter landscape. We also said hello to Cooper, who joined the Willow Room, and Isaac, who joined the Birch Room. Both boys were in the toddler program this fall, and are having fun "moving up" into the bigger world of Children's House.

After a break, it's not uncommon for children to experience some sadness at saying goodbye in the morning.  Even though it's completely normal (and over surprising quickly!), it's hard for everyone involved, so we wanted to offer some ideas this week for helping make drop-offs smooth.  

1) Be calm and matter of fact. Children use the adults in their families as emotional barometers. If you seem sad, worried, or unsure, they do too. This can be tricky when the most important person in your world is crying and begging you to stay, but giving a clear and confident message is what actually helps children the most!

2) Set a routine and keep to it. For example, "In the morning, we hang up your backpack, walk to the gate, have 3 kisses, and then say goodbye."  This gives children a sense of predictability and control, which makes the transition easier for them (even though they will always try to bargain for "extra" :-)  
In the winter having 2 routines, one for inside drop off and one for outside drop off, might be helpful.

3) Get help! If your child seems to be feeling sad about saying goodbye, we will try to come over and offer a hand, hug, special job, or help to find a friend. That way, you can stick to your predictable routine, but your child can get the extra support he or she needs that morning. If for some reason, we don't come over, please get our attention and we will! 

4) Communicate. We'll try to send an update to you during the day if your child had a rough drop off, but if you are worried, please feel free to call or email.  Even with hard drop off times, children are usually busy playing and working within a few minutes, while families worry all day! We are always happy to share how your child is doing, just ask!

Ayla Shows Off Her Muscles

Isaac Points Out Some Reflective Rainbows on the Wall
Cooper Explores a New Work in the Willow Room

Back to top

Lower El

Everyone seems to have returned to Lower El rejuvenated after our much-needed December break.  

Thank you so much to all of our chaperones who accompanied LE students on our first winter sports day yesterday. It means so much to us to have parents give of their time for the benefit of our students. Judging from the smiling, rosy faces, it looked like everyone enjoyed themselves!

We received a visit from Leila Young and Leah Sutton-Smith this week, inviting us to contribute to a food drive they are holding to benefit Morningside Shelter. A box sits outside of our classroom. At the end of January, Leila and Leah will return to collect our filled box, so it would be great if we began contributing as soon as possible. Thank you for your help.

Studies this week included:
-grammar work, including prepositions for some and adverbs that answer the questions when?, where?, and to what degree?
-group work to prepare for writing biographies: pre-reading, recording what we already know about the subject, and what we hope to learn upon reading

Have a good weekend.
Kerstin and Patrick

Upper El

Happy New Year!  
A belated thanks to those of you who visited our UE museum in the final days before break (see pictures below). We also want to give a special thanks to Jenny Smith, Andrea Burke, Alix Fedoruk, Rita Ramirez, Elissa McLean, Virginia Ayres, and Mac Ogelsby who donated their time and crafty inspirations for present-making day.
On to poetry! We have immersed ourselves in the January-February poetry study.  Students are listening to poems, reading and discussing poems, writing poems, memorizing poems, and illustrating poems. We had a poetry circle on Thursday, in which students began sharing their work, and receiving specific feedback and suggestions from their peers. Based on the sensitivity, clarity, and directness of the comments given, we are truly off to a great start in the peer conferencing component to this unit. Students have also taken the initiative to revamp the way poems are traditionally presented at the February poetry performance. Stay tuned, but keep the date on your calendars: February 10, 1:30pm.
The class began a six-week exploration of mindfulness, led by parent Debra Rosensweig who brings much experience and expertise in this area. A future newsletter will describe this work in more detail.
We've also begun delving into a new cultural area: vital functions of animals. At the end of the last term, students were introduced to an evolutionary timeline which depicts the progression of simple to complex organisms. The current vital functions unit is essentially an examination of the various ways the phyla shown in this timeline satisfy their fundamental needs.
Please remind your students to come to school prepared with boots, snow pants, hats and gloves, and to label these items with their names. Throughout the year, it is important to keep a water bottle in the classroom.
Pictures from the Upper El Museum, Enjoy!


Middle School

Tonight is our big night downtown and the finale of our "Sense of Place" study.  Middle School student work is represented in three venues in tonight's Gallery Walk and throughout the month of January. The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center is hosting the Society Project films for two showings at  5:30 and 7pm tonight . Thirty three local people are featured in these digital collages that are the result of student interviews, photo shoots, and careful editing. We want to thank both the individuals for their willingness to work with our students and the museum for showing the films. The whole community is also invited to the Whetstone Station tonight at 8pm to join in an Alumni Reunion!

An extension of the Society Project can be seen at Amy's Bakery through the month of January.  In this case, the student's subjects are featured in framed photographic collages.  Stop by for some of Amy's great food and view the inventive ways the students assembled these photographic representations.

Along with this contemporary view of our community, students also ventured into Brattleboro's past and through the examination of primary sources available at the Brattleboro Historical Society, the Town Clerk's office, and the Local History Room at the Brooks Memorial Library, conducted research on a topic of their choice.  From the wealth of information and depth of their learning, students designed and constructed books and pamphlets that are now on display in the lobby of the library. They are a fascinating and often fanciful read. Again many thanks are due to the Brattleboro Historical Society who opened numerous times for us, to the town clerk's office who let students into the mysterious vault of property deeds, and to reference librarians, Jeanne Walsh and Therese Marcy for invaluable assistance.

Hope to see you downtown tonight!

Middle Schoolers Enjoying Ice Skating on the Pond

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  to all the families who donated time, energy and efforts to support the Rashed family during their time of loss. They have been so appreciative. Here is a snap shot of the note of gratitude Sheena and Mazin passed along to the school:

Support for Sheena and Mazin is ongoing, and we will continue to help with any efforts in  coordinating meals, and anything else families would like to offer. Please let Rebecca know at the front desk if you would like to help in any way.

Hazel Restaurant, t hank you for donating spectacular pizza  to our staff here at Hilltop, we greatly appreciate it!

Winter Sports Chaperones, we are grateful for all parent participation. Here are the fearless souls of the skating brigade! Forge on, brave ones!

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

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, as trainings for coaches begin next week!
We will decide amongst each coaching team which two days each program will meet. The number of coaches will also determine how many girls we can accept. 
You may also call Alix at 802-355-2256.

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January 26 - March 15, 2016, Tuesdays, 6:00-8:00pm
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Note: Free & required orientation/information meeting 6:00-7:00pm Tuesday, January 19th.
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Carry Me Home  
Is a group of volunteers that run a project called Carry Me Home.  They are now collecting used baby carriers in good condition, gently used snow boots, children's winter jackets, hats, gloves, scarves, sox, lined winter pants, small stuffed animals and toy cars. They ship these items to aid the refugee crisis. Carry Me Home works with a grassroots volunteer organization that recently received the status of the non-profit humanitarian organization in Zagreb, Croatia, which helps to get the supplies directly in the hands that need them most.  You can find them on  Facebook at or you may email them.
Hilltop parents Lynn Dewald and Kate and Josh Traeger have helped with this effort in the past, and would welcome any questions about the project.

Hilltop Montessori School