Family Halloween Party is TONIGHT!
Kegan gets us ready for our party tonight!!! Come join us in celebrating the completion of our Annual Fund Week and the beginning of a Halloween weekend! 
October 28th, 2016
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Next Week at Hilltop
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 10/31/16
MS Home Soccer Game vs  Greenwood

Tuesday 11/1/16
MS SSAT Prep Course

Wednesday 11/2/16
Bagel Lunch 
Spanish with Marco

Thursday 11/3/16
All School Gathering (ASG)

Friday 11/4/16

No School

Teacher In-Service Day

Check out the 2016-2017 School Calendar 

Coming Up...

Tuesday 11/8/16
UE Trip to Boston

Thursday 11/10/16
LE Work Share 3-4pm
MS Love/Hate- Curriculum Vitae Presentations

All School Gathering

Upper Elementary Band #2 accompanies us for an All School Gathering singing of "I've Got Love in my Fingers!" All School Gathering happens on Thursday  mornings from about 8:55 to 9:10  in the Arts Barn, click here for link. Parents are welcome to come be in the participatory audience. We even have coffee available during your wait between drop off and ASG. See you next Thursday!  If you have any questions about this or anything else, please email  me  or catch me at pick-up or drop-off.


Financial Aid


Beginning October 24, 2016, go to: .

For step by step instructions go to  our website  for details about completing the Parents' Financial Statement (PFS) online.

We partner with School and Student Services (SSS) by NAIS in our financial aid process. To begin your financial aid application, you will complete SSS's Parents' Financial Statement (PFS). 

The PFS is a comprehensive application that will take some time to complete. Give yourself the time you need by not waiting until the deadline, January 15, 2017 to begin. 

You'll need your most recent tax return before beginning the PFS. We also recommend that you review the wide range of materials that SSS has put together to help families with the financial aid process. They can be found at

Here's key information you need to know about our school as you complete the PFS:

School's full name: Hilltop Montessori School

Our school's SSS code: 1435

Due date for completing PFS and submitting your most recent tax documents: January 15, 2017

Financial aid decisions will be sent in March. To make our decision, we use the information from the PFS as a starting point but also consider our school policy, practices, and available budget.

Alumni Night

LISTEN to the voices of our graduates!

Two weeks ago, nine graduates returned to the Hilltop Middle School to speak to current and potential Hilltop Middle School parents and students about how their experience at Hilltop prepared them for the high schools they are now attending. Public and private schools were represented by sophomores, juniors and seniors. Alumni Night, as we call it, has become a wonderful tradition at Hilltop. Hearing our graduates speak on topics related to how Hilltop prepared them for high school is a testament to the exceptional education they received here. It's also wonderful to see the camaraderie between old classmates!

Parents may wonder how the small Hilltop community experience will translate for their child in larger institutions and various high school programs. It's impressive how well Hilltop students know themselves as learners and are able to adapt to any of the programs, public and private. 

See for yourself HERE by reading some of the questions and responses from the evening.

We Love Teaching about Consent at All Ages

For the youngest children, we teach them about each other's personal space, and how to ask permission for a hug, and their right to say "No, Thank you." For the Elementary ages, this progresses to ensuring that everyone is comfortable with an activity or discussion, and addressing potential appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the larger context of "consent".

In Middle School, the topic of "Consent" is also discussed very intentionally as part of the health curriculum. Becky attended a discussion on "Consent" that was held at the library last week. She shared these notes with the staff at our staff meeting this week:

Becky: In attempts to further my development as a health educator, I recently participated in a discussion group at Brooks Memorial Library. Anna Mullany, Youth Educator for the Women's Freedom Center (who has also participated in our Middle School's health classes for the last several years) is leading a 4-part discussion series on Wednesdays nights, once monthly for the next four months. October's topic was consent. How do we teach the youth of our community about consent? Although the discussion group would have benefitted greatly from more voices, Anna offered a valuable glimpse into the questions she uses as a guide when teaching children all over Vermont.

1. How do we define consent?
2. What are signs of incapacitation that may impair ones ability to give consent?
3. What would make it unsafe for someone to say no, even though they may want to?
4. What are some things other than sex that we need to give/ask consent for?
5. How do power dynamics (popularity, age, gender, etc..) affect ones ability to give/ask for consent?
6. Does consent always have to be verbal?
7. What are some phrases that we can use to ask for consent?
8. What are some phrases we can use to affirm or deny consent?

Anna's model of asking children for the answers instead of just giving them rang true to the spirit of our seminar style classes. See below for a list of future discussions led by Anna.

Wednesday,  November 16th at 6:30pm: Social Media, Sexism, and Sexting
Wednesday,  December 14th at 6:30pm: Healthy Relationships, Warning Signs, and Teen Dating Violence
Wednesday,  January 18th at 6:30pm: What to Wear?! A discussion on school dress codes

Toddler Program

Children, especially between 1 and 3 years of age, love to imitate what they see adults doing. Practical Life activities offer children opportunities to participate in life around them and encourages them to grow in independence and develop a sense of security. These activities are related to real life experiences and are not intended to just keep children busy. 

Practical Life works fall into two categories: Care of the Environment and Care of the Self. Tending to plants, sweeping the floor, scrubbing a table, and folding laundry are all examples of Care of the Environment works.  Any of the dressing frames, wiping the nose, hand washing, and food preparation are some Care of the Person activities. 

Practical Life works have logic, consequence, and purpose. They allow children to develop movement, adapt to their culture, and learn to take care of others. Children may repeat them as many times as they like and they give children great satisfaction. Practical Life works also help children keep external order which in turn helps them to construct their own sense of internal order. When children are given opportunities to contribute, they develop a sense of belonging. What Practical Life activities does your toddler do at home?

Our classroom is now complete with 10 toddlers. Last week Zhong Yi Osborne joined the community. We welcome him and his parents, Lifei and Ladd, to Hilltop and to Brattleboro! 

The snow has officially started flying which means winter gear! We go outside in all kinds of weather so please provide your child with the following for cold and/or snowy days: warm boots, coat, snow pants, waterproof mittens (gloves are difficult to get on and keep on their hands), a neck warmer, and hat. Consider how successful your children will be dressing themselves with the gear provided. The children will learn to do much of the dressing on their own if they have clothing that sets them up for independence! If you would like help procuring any of these items, please let one of us know. We are happy to help.

Enjoy the weekend!
Ellie, Amanda, and Marco

Children's House

"If salvation and help are to come, it is from the child, for the child is the constructor of [human kind] and society. The child is endowed with an inner power which can guide us to a more enlightened future." Maria Montessori

Children explore the world in many ways. In a Montessori classroom, we take a close look at the physical appearance of the Earth. The world is primarily made up of elements. In coming to understand this, a child explores two concrete elements that are most recognizable: Land and Water. Air is also added to the equation. We can feel the soil beneath our feet. We all know how important water is to our bodies and the planet. In the geographical context, land and water formations are most obvious features on both physical and political maps.

We begin with Island and Lake. "An Island is a body of 
land surrounded by water. A lake is a body of 
water surrounded by land." From here we launch into the many types of land and water forms, including the fun-to-pronounce "isthmus" and "archipelago"!

In the following pictures, you will see land and water forms being used -- with water and our beloved small objects (fish, boats, etc.). Children also sort and classify animals that "spend most of their time" on Land, in Air, or in Water. 

A few house-keeping reminders: Although it is still only October, the cold and wet weather is already here. Please remember to send in coats, hats, mittens, and if very cold, or wet, snow pants. 

Please also remember to label all articles of clothing. 

Lastly, as a reminder, we do not dress-up or give out candy at school for Halloween. Please be mindful of this, and save the costumes, tricks and treats for home or for our party Friday night! Thank you!

Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Halloween! 

The Children's House 

Lower El

This week we kicked off our nonfiction writing unit in writers' workshop. Students will be working over the next few weeks to write and illustrate a nonfiction picture book. Although this is a "writers' workshop unit," our work on this project extends well beyond our writers' workshop time. At the end of our cultural lesson on Neptune early in the week, a teacher summarized the facts presented using a graphic organizer. In reading groups, teachers modeled using a graphic organizer to record information found in a text. Students then practiced doing this together with the teacher. Next, students worked independently during work time to practice this skill using materials about the planets from our cultural shelves. During read aloud this week, a teacher read a nonfiction book about seeds, tying in our botany study. Finally, students began the process of choosing a topic from a variety of resources about botany and the solar system. In the weeks ahead, we will look closely at illustration techniques in art class. We will keep you updated on our progress with our picture books!

Thank you for wonderful conferences last week. We really appreciate the open communication. If you should have any questions that have come up as a result of our conversation, please let us know.

Reminder: Our next work share is Thursday, 11/10 from 3-4pm. We hope you can join us!

Enjoy these pictures from the LE soccer game against Guilford Central School this past Monday! Great effort during this soccer season everyone!

Upper El

Highlights from UE this week:

- Older students kicked off our Greece/Rome study with words of wisdom from Plato (aka Emmett), and appearances from Socrates, Zeus, Athena, Pythagoras, and Achimedes.

- We used a dichotomous key to identify trees in the yard outside our classroom.

- Students shared their narrative writing and received feedback in small groups.

- A new round of electives began (thank you Alix and Rosie for coming in with knitting/crochet).

- Owen began our sixth grade teaching this year with do-it-yourself spring rolls.

- Fifths made huge strides in their hero research.


Please make sure your calendars include the early 8:00am  arrival and late 5:00pm pickup on Tuesday, November 8th.  This is the day we are visiting the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. We will be using the school van!

Water bottles are still needed for each student in the classroom.

Appropriate boots and winter wear is also needed.

Have a great weekend!

Middle School

To crown our study of Transcendentalism and further connect it to our larger exploration of the evolution of the American identity, we spent Thursday in Concord, MA.  Concord was the nexus of the Transcendental Movement in the mid 19th century and centered around the writing and teaching of Ralph Waldo Emerson. An approach to understanding Transcendentalism, the first truly coherent philosophical and intellectual movement in America, is through the lens of social reform. Women's rights, abolition, the condition of mill/factory laborers, and education (Bronson Alcott's revolutionary schools shared many of the same concepts as Maria Montessori) were all central to Transcendental thought and action.

We visited the Emerson family house and the Old Manse as well as the Old North Bridge, where much of the idealism of Transcendentalism originated, and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, the final resting place for Mr. Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, the Alcott family, and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

To prepare for this journey students read an array of essays, short stories, and speeches by the Transcendentalists and their contemporaries. Often this was a challenging undertaking rich in language and thought but a worthwhile effort in challenging and expanding our individual and collective consciousness.

Emerson House in Concord, MA

In the attic of the Old Manse-home to Nathanial Hawthorne

Old North Bridge

At the Minute Man statue

Red Coat bugle boy

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Henry David's grave

Hilltop Helpers

A big thank you to our Facilities Manager, Kegan Refalo, for getting out in the dark of the early morning to start shoveling the slush for us.

Community News

Brattleboro Museum and Art Center
March 18-June 18 2017A celebration of imagination and ingenuity. Glasstastic children grades K-6 to dream up and draw fabulous imaginary creatures, a selection of which will be turned into glass  cultures by artists throughout New England. 
For more information go here or contact Linda Whelihan @ 802-257-0124 x109.

Hilltop Montessori School