March 11, 2016


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Next Week at Hilltop
Notes from the Head of School
Save the Date!
Family Contra Dance
Toddler Program (TP)
Children's House (CH)
Lower Elementary (LE)
Upper Elementary (UE)
Middle School (MS)
Hilltop Helpers
Shop and Drop
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop
Monday 3/14/16
Cultural Cooking 

Tuesday 3/15/16

Wednesday 3/16/16
Spanish with Marco Make up Class

Thursday 3/17/16
Noon Dismissal 
Parent Teacher Conferences
Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition Focus Group 4:30-5:30pm

Friday 3/18/16
No School
Parent Teacher Conferences

Check out the 2015-16 School Calendar 

Coming Up...

Friday 3/25
MS Hilltop Family Contra Dance

Notes from the Head of School

Staff Announcements 

We are proud of many things at Hilltop Montessori School - at the top of the list is our dedicated, caring, and enthusiastic staff. At this time of year, we look to what our staffing needs will be next year. We will have two existing positions to fill, and two new positions to fill.

It is with sadness for us, and excitement for her, that I announce that Hannah Viens will be moving away from Brattleboro, for the first time (other than college). She will be finding her next adventure in the Boston area. We have so appreciated and benefitted from Hannah's nurturing care in the Toddler Room. It has been amazingly rewarding to have a born and bred Hilltop Montessori School alum be so critical to the launching of this wonderful program with Ellie. We adore Hannah, wish her well, and hope that she returns to Brattleboro and to us, after seeing the big world out there.

We will also need to allow for professional opportunities for Kelsey Carew, though we are grateful that her adventure keeps her near by and will still enable her to be in the loop. She has provided wonderful help to the Lower Elementary classroom, been a huge support to Children's House in the afternoons, and been a steady hand for the Elementary after care. Kelsey will be doing a teaching internship in a traditional Kindergarten class in Brattleboro and will be available to us on a part-time basis, or as a sub. We will try to get her for as much time as we can!

We will also be looking for a Facilities/Custodian Caretaker, as the facilities responsibilities have grown and now require a dedicated position. In addition, we will be looking for a Technology Facilitator/ Instructional Specialist to help with both student instruction and classroom/administration support.

In summary we are looking for:

-Toddler Program Assistant
-Lower Elementary Assistant and After-Care      Lead
-Facilities/Custodian Caretaker
-Technology Facilitator/Instructional Specialist

We would like to begin identifying and interviewing candidates. Please see the  employment
section of the Hilltop website  for more details. 


Saturday, APRIL 23 
2pm at The Latchis

Hilltop Montessori School and The Latchis Theater

for a very special children's concert
to benefit
Hilltop's Financial Aid Program

"Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem's Ranky Tanky is barefoot, front-porch, tap-your-feet folk music for families!" - USA Today

"Raucous toe-tappers and  stirring harmonies for the young and the young at heart." - FamilyFun

" of America's most inventive string bands..."   
 -The Boston Herald

We have a special ticketing option for this show. Purchase an extra ticket(s) and it will be donated to a local agency that will distribute to children who might not otherwise have the ability to attend the concert. Some of these children needing tickets might be Hilltop students and we're also partnering with the Boys and Girls Club, Youth Services, Groundworks Collaborative, Windham Childcare and HCRS.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for kids

Family Contra Dance Hosted by the Middle School

Join us on  March 25th  in the Arts Barn for a Middle School Boston Odyssey fundraiser. It will be a family-friendly contra dance with live music from Becky, Tracy and Keith Murphy. Admission is 5 dollars and there will be delicious appetizers and drinks to munch on. We would love to have you there!

-The Middle School

Toddler Program 

Children's House

During early childhood, there is a tremendous amount of growth and learning in academic skills, social competency, and independence. It is also a time where children naturally become curious about their bodies, and how they are the same and different from one another. This can lead to questions and talk about hairstyle, skin color, height, and other facets of our bodies. It can also lead to discussion about "private" areas of our bodies as well. This curiosity is completely normal, and we try to answer any questions in a simple, matter of fact way. We also work to let you know when they come up, in case children have questions for you at home. 

Part of learning about our bodies involves understanding appropriate boundaries around touch. These boundaries include being gentle with each other and using words rather than hitting to get our point across. They also mean respecting when a good friend just doesn't want a hug right now. And, of course, these boundaries mean that we avoid touching another person's "private" areas, i.e. parts of our bodies that are covered by a bathing suit.

Recently, we read Your Body Belongs to You, by Cornelia Spelman, as part of circle time.  According to the author, "This book is meant to convey a few simple ideas in simple language: a child's body is his or her own; a child has the right to decline touch-no matter how innocent; and the parts of a child's body covered by a bathing suit are never to be touched by others except in certain circumstances." The book is short and positively worded, and seemed to be enjoyed by the students. 

If you have any questions about the book or our approach to teaching children about touch, please let us know!

-The Children's House Team

Ayla reads a book to Isla
Marco shares a book in Spanish with the olders

Lower El

We have been devoting several of our math lessons these past two weeks, to practicing our math facts. The Montessori materials are well-suited to this work. The addition strip board, the subtraction "bingo board," the colorful bead chains, and the division finger boards help to solidify quick recall of basic math facts so the more involved math process work (long division, two-digit multipliers with the large bead frame, dynamic subtraction with the stamp game) can become easier. The control of error that each material has allows a child to work independently with these materials. The empty addition finger board, with only the numbers one through ten stacked vertically and horizontally along the outer edge of the board, has a "control" that shows each number in its place. The student can consult this while filling in the empty chart with number tiles. Of course, simply using the materials will not guarantee math fact mastery, and so children have been practicing on an almost-daily basis. For the bead chain multiplication work, students first lay out the bead chain and number it with the small flags; next, they flip the flags over and challenge themselves to skip-count without looking. When they have deemed themselves proficient at this, they make flash cards of the times table the chain represents, and focus on practicing those. Our Friday "Math Fact Challenge" gives students the opportunity to see how they have improved. If they become quicker at recall and their answers are accurate, they receive a sheet with new facts, or perhaps a new operation, the following  Friday. If you would like to help your child with math facts by practicing at home, there are many games and websites that give good practice. Please ask your child, or teacher (during Parent Teacher Conference), what facts they are working on, and there is lots of practicing to do! 

Where you live determines the type of home in which you live: This was our fundamental needs theme this week. If you live in the temperate forests of North America, where it often snows in winter (although not this year), your home most likely has a sloped roof to enable the snow and ice to slide off. People who live near water, or in wetlands, live in homes on stilts, thereby staying high and dry.  

Inside Shoes: It is essential that every child bring an extra pair of slippers or shoes to school, to avoid mud being brought in and ground into our carpet.  Please ensure that your child has a pair in her or his backpack before they come to school on Monday. Many thanks! 

Have a restful weekend.

-Kerstin and Patrick

Upper El

Geometry has made a grand comeback in Upper El after being on hold during winter sports. One group of students is exploring equivalence between polygons, working with our unique "constructive triangle" materials. Here they rearrange the triangles within various polygons to demonstrate similarity, congruence, or equivalence. Other groups are studying relationships between angles, or testing how many diameters fit into the circumference of various circles.

In language work, our literature groups are reading Because of Mr. Terupt and One Crazy Summer, while the sixths read The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents for seminar. The class has also been introduced to analogies. Students are putting analogous word pairs into sentences to show the relationship, then applying the relationship to other word pairs.

Math groups are shoring up newly acquired skills by multiplying fractions or decimals; using knowledge of percents to look at state participation in the primary elections and caucuses; measuring and comparing the portions of different colored M&M's in different sized bags; or constructing pie charts based upon the percentages of elements found in the atmosphere and the ocean, among other locations. We've also been practicing math facts through a variation of bingo that relies on the multiplication of dice combinations by sevens. 

Students chose topics for their newest research projects connected to Native Americans or vital functions of animals. They spent a few days on background reading, selected the research questions that would guide their research, and have been taking notes on their topics.

Mark your calendars: Please note that on Wednesday, March 30, the class will visit the Pequot Museum in Mashantucket, CT. 
We will depart at 8 a.m. that morning, and we will return for 5 p.m. pickup.

Mindfulness request:
The class will be continuing the mindfulness explorations begun by Debra Rosensweig.  If anyone has a meditation "singing bowl" they could loan or donate to the class, we would put it to good use!

Have a great weekend.

Back to top
Middle School

It finally happened! The middle school original performance, "Illusion of Seclusion", opened to great accolades last night, had a stirring school show this afternoon and concludes this evening at 7pm. The show is a powerful examination of the forces (apathy, conformity, ignorance, and fear) that prevent us from fully being ourselves and connecting with others and our efforts to overcome those forces through compassion, knowledge, and respect. We hope you are able to witness and enjoy this memorable and important work of our middle school students.

Next week we are jumping into our next study, "The River of Spirit" (see photo below), a dual science and humanities curriculum, which examines the world of faith, spirit, and religion in the human experience and the study of water. We plan to visit both the Pleasant Valley town water treatment plant and the Brattleboro waste water treatment center in the near future. We think of it as water in and water out, our very own interpretation of baptism.  We will also be hosting a series of guests from five different faiths.  

March 22 at 12:30 - Ms Shital Kinkhabwala from India now of West Dover.
March 29 at 12:30- Geshe Ngawang Singey and Gary Keiser of the Thosum Gephelling Institute
April 1 at 9:00 - Cantor Kate Judd
April 7 at 12:30 - Reverend Mary Lindquist
April 11 at 10:15 - Dr. Amer Latif

As always you are welcome to attend these conversations.

We will see you all at conferences next week. 

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

We are thrilled to report that  Alex Lier  is home and doing well! If you would like to contribute to a gift card for meals, please stop by the front desk!

Collections for  Carry Me Home
Julia Fedoruk (Upper El) continues to collect clothing and other items on behalf of Carry Me Home, the organization mentioned in the January 8 th Hilltop Newsletter. Carry Me Home is a Brattleboro based non-profit (501c3 approval pending) that sends clothing and baby carriers to Syrian refugees in Eastern Europe. Carry Me Home coordinates with volunteer organizations on the ground in Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Greece to make sure the right items are sent, to the right places, when needed.

Please bring items from the list below to the collection box in the Hilltop Main
Lobby. Julia will deliver items from the box weekly to Carry Me Home, so items can get to Europe sooner. She will keep collecting until spring break. 

Thanks to your generosity, the box has been filled 12 times already!

You can find more information on Facebook , Indigo's Generosity , or Email .

Thank you!

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


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!

Shop and Drop some $$ to Hilltop!

Benefit  is a free iPhone and Android app that allows you to shop at places like Target, Starbucks, Amazon, Walmart, LLBean and many more , while giving up to 20% of every transaction back to your local organization. Just shop like you normally do and when it comes time to checkout, instead of pulling out your credit card, pull out the Benefit app and purchase a digital gift card that you redeem instantly. 

For instance, buy $200 worth of back to school clothing at the Gap, and $16 (8%) goes back to Hilltop Montessori School. It doesn't cost you a dime beyond what you were already going to spend. It's raising funds without fundraising! I recently bought water hog mats for my house from LLBean and raised $10 for Hilltop effortlessly!

Download the app select Hilltop Montessori School as your chosen beneficiary and enter payment information to start giving today.

For more information go to Feel free to share this info with family and friends. The more people who participate, the more funds we will raise.

When placing an order with amazon, simply go to and choose Hilltop Montessori School as your beneficiary.  Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to HMS. 

Purc hase items for a healthy home at and earn green for HMS! 15% of the total cost of your purchase to be exact! Check out their website for all kinds of earth friendly items from lunch box options to household cleaners to wellness products. Log on and choose Hilltop Montessori School as your beneficiary. 

Buying groceries at Price Chopper anyway? You could earn  HMS school supplies by using your Price Chopper Advantage Card. 

Visit and enter our school code 15137, your Advantage card number, your email address and the store where you shop. That's it! Then every time you shop with your card, you earn points towards school supplies. Easy peasy.

Community News

The Man Who Defied God
Singing plants! worms! whales!  .....God in pigtails?
You won't want to miss Winged Productions newest offering
A New Mystery Play by Paul Dedell
Julian Siegel as Jonah
Julia Fedoruk as God       
and Elle Jamieson as the Queen of Nineveh
SATURDAY, MARCH 19 at 7 pm
SUNDAY, MARCH 20 at 3 pm
St. Michael's Episcopal Church, Brattleboro VT
Suggested donation $10/6

Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition 

The Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition's mission is to develop and implement a comprehensive community effort resulting in the ongoing prevention and reduction of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse in the Windham Southeast area. They are putting together a small focus group consisting of Hilltop Montessorri parents to gather thoughts, ideas, and challenges regarding parent seminars. The goal is for us to learn how we can best support and meet the needs of parents in the area of prevention. The focus group is on March 17th at 4:30pm  at Hilltop Montessori for 1 hour. Childcare is provided upon request. All participants will receive $15 gift cards to Price Chopper. Please contact  or call 802-257-2175 by March 15th if interested or if you have any questions. 

Hilltop Montessori School