Renewal Contracts and Student Assessments went out today! See the front desk Monday morning if you didn't receive it.
January 27th, 2017
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Next Week at Hilltop
Notes from the Head of School
Willow Room News!
Toddler Program (TP)
Children's House
Lower ELementary (LE)
Upper Elementary (UE)
Middle School (MS)
Winter Sports
After School Activities
Hilltop Helpers
Community News
Next Week at Hilltop
Monday 1/30/17
MS Away Basketball Game vs Marlboro @ 5:30pm

Tuesday 1/31/17
UE Basketball Practice
Open House for Prospective Parents

Wednesday 2/1/17
MS Basketball Practice

Thursday 2/2/17
Winter Sports 

Friday 2/3/17
UE Home Basketball Game vs Guilford in Guilford @ 5pm

Coming up...

Friday 2/11/17
Curriculum Math Morning

Check out the 2016-2017 School Calendar 

Notes from the Head of School

State Funding Helps Hilltop Increase Equity and Accessibility

There is much discussion, both nationally and in Vermont, about how to best support our education system. As conscientious educators who want to "make the world a better place" many of us at Hilltop think about these issues regularly. How can public and independent schools continue to work in tandem to best serve the variety of learners in our community. While this question is complex, here are the goals that we focus on, and work towards, at Hilltop: 
  • increasing our diversity and making Hilltop available to a broader economic spectrum
  • serving students with different learning styles who can thrive in our environment when they might not be served as well in a traditional environment
We participate in programs that allow some state funding to help families cover the tuition for Hilltop, including the PreK funding for Vermont residents, Vermont's Child Care Financial Assistance Program, and vouchers from towns who do not have elementary or middle schools. This participation requires significant administrative efforts from teachers and administrative staff. The benefits of the programs make it worth the extra effort. We want to expand the economic diversity at our school and increase the access that lower income families have to an authentic Montessori education. By using some state funding and generous donations to reduce the portion of tuition necessary from families, more lower income families are able to come to Hilltop. 

As a Montessori school, a wide spectrum of students can be successful in our environment. With our multi-age classrooms, children who are "ahead" or "behind" in an area, get the lessons they are best ready for. This can reduce some of the issues that can arise with these students in a more traditional school environment. We strive to capitalize on the aspects of the Montessori environment (work choice, movement in the classroom, mixed age classrooms, regular use of manipulative physical and kinesthetic materials, etc.) that enable a "different" learner to function well. We have many students who might need an Individual Education Plan (IEP) if they were in a traditional environment, but in a Montessori environment those accommodations are made naturally. Yet, some different learners will not fit in our environment because of the nature of the classroom. We work to incorporate the learners who will most benefit from our project-based, interdisciplinary, self-driven approach. 

We respect and understand concerns about state funding for education. And, we work hard to have the state funding that we receive INCREASE access to high-quality education and feel confident that it helps us to "make the world a better place", one child at a time.

Willow Room and Hilltop News!

We welcome the newest member of the Hilltop Montessori School community!

Willow Room teacher, Jonathan and his wife Kate had a baby girl on Sunday, January 22nd. Baby Josephine and her parents are all doing well, we hear. To welcome her, the staff had a very special onesie made just for her!

Toddler Program 

"While it is necessary to give good food to the child, it still must be an educative action." Dr. Maria Montessori,  The Montessori Method.

In Montessori classrooms, Practical Life works, like food preparation, are designed with several goals in mind: to aid in the development of coordination of movement, concentration, and language, to encourage growth of self-esteem and self-confidence, and to instill a sense of belonging to the child's culture and community.

On Wednesday morning, we prepared snack together. The children practiced cracking and whisking eggs and then watched as they were cooked in an electric skillet. Then they learned to use a drum grater to prepare cheese to sprinkle on the eggs. 

Once the foods were prepared, the children took turns serving themselves from the communal dishes and carrying their plates back to their places at the table (amazingly, there were no spills!). 

What better way to instill a sense of belonging and encourage self-confidence in each member's contribution to the community effort than to prepare and eat a meal together!

P.S. To increase continuity and reduce transitions for our youngest students, the Toddler Before Care will take place in the Toddler Room classroom. While the cold weather continues, please bring your toddler to the classroom door in the hallway.

Enjoy the weekend.
Ellie, Amanda & Marco

Children's House (Birch and Willow Rooms)

The "Work" of Recess

While it's easy to see the literacy, math, and cultural work children accomplish during our classroom time, sometimes the "work" of recess is less readily observable. The work of this time of day is mainly social and emotional, as children practice taking turns and playing together in larger groups. Through this play, children develop flexibility of mind as they practice building a story "script", take on different play roles, and adjust when other children in the group want to do something different.  

Inevitably, conflicts arise in the course of all this complicated work. Those conflicts present an opportunity to learn how to communicate one's feelings appropriately, to develop listening skills, and to read nonverbal cues such as facial expressions and body language. Teachers support this work by asking questions, modeling language, offering possible solutions, and sometimes just by helping everyone take a deep breath before continuing the conversation.

Next time you see the children crawling in a "wolf pack", building a snow fort, or pushing each other on a swing, think of all the great social-emotional learning going on! 

Have a great weekend!

-The Children's House Teachers

Lower El

Work with our Timeline of Life continues. Children can be observed studying trilobites and when they became extinct, noticing that horseshoe crabs and jellyfish have not really changed in thousands of years, and that the nautiloid looks like a "carrot squid" (actual student quote). This work gives us a great appreciation for the variety of life forms that were on Earth long before we humans made our first appearance.

Along with this study of prehistoric times, we are beginning to work with our own personal timelines: the Olders have begun their autobiographies, the Youngers are working on family graphs and will start their personal timelines next week, and the Middlers will begin to build their family trees (Please refer to this week's email to Middler parents, for details). They also have the choice to do their personal timelines. These projects provide the opportunity for some good conversations:

Does your Older know where she/he was born?
Can you help them remember what they were like when they were babies and toddlers?
Is there something significant to them that they still remember "after all these years?" (A move, the time they broke a bone, a trip, a new sibling or pet...)

Does your Middler know the name of their grandparents?  
Are anyone's parents or grandparents immigrants, and from which country, on which continent?  Do they share similar traits to their parents or grandparents?  

Do Youngers remember their early days?  
Looking through photos for their personal timelines, can they tell a story of that picture?
Do they remember milestones, such as learning to swim, the arrival of a younger sibling, the story of their first birthday? 

We would like to begin work on personal timelines and family trees next Wednesday, with the goal of finishing before February vacation.  
We realize this involves work on your part, and thank you for your help and support.

Have a great weekend!
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia

 Phonics Group - Segmenting Words in Phonemes
(spelling by speech sound)    ch-a-t  =  3 dots  

Upper El

As our chemistry studies continue, we looked at three-dimensional models of some common molecules using a website. Students also used classroom materials to create molecule models of some familiar substances such as acetic acid (or vinegar--CH 3 COOH), propane (C 3 H 8 ), sulfur dioxide (CO 2 ), and nitrous oxide (N 2 O). In small groups, students are also writing skits to share information about the elements they each studied. One group is writing episodes of "Elements Got Talent!", while another is creating job interviews for nickel as a magnet, and chlorine as a cleaner.
Students have been working on a variety of maps as part of our study of the Silk Road. Some students illustrated and labeled a physical map, while others are creating 3-D relief maps with salt dough.  

Our weekly poetry share continues. Valuable feedback is coming from more and more of the group. One new poetry form introduced this year is the two-voice poem. These really captured the imaginations of the students, and they have created some striking interplay between a pitcher and hitter, white and black, beginning and end, horse and hog, and downhill vs xc skiing, to name a few.
Our fourths are moving into deeper operations work with their fractions. While those red divided fraction pieces are an old friend from lower el, in the photos below Shoshana and Parker are using them in new ways. They are reasoning through fractions multiplication problems such as  ½ x ¾, by asking themselves: What is ¾ of this ½ piece I have in front of me? Or next, what is 1/6  of this 3/4 ? Meanwhile, the fifths have revisited lower el skittle material as they divide decimals. It is always an exciting "Ah ha"  moment when they discover that as they divide 3 into 0.1 (exchanging and sharing out the 1 tenth piece for 10 hundredths, and on), they could be exchanging and sharing forever, and ever! 

This beautiful continuity across school programs will be shared at the upcoming Curriculum Math Morning on Saturday, February 11th. Don't miss it! 
Wishing you a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Middle School

We study health in the Middle School to give students some of the tools necessary to make informed decisions and to inspire and empower them to make positive choices.  The two-year health and wellness study is a continuum that starts with care of self, moves into care of others and culminates with a critical look at community and society and how this might affect the view of the self.  Health classes began after winter break and continue (with a few breaks) every Tuesday through the end of the year. These classes will be broken up by grade, with slightly different focuses for each age group. Nora and Becky's classes will focus on human biology and anatomy related to reproduction and informed sexual decision-making. Anna Mullany from the Women's Freedom Center will be joining us again in February and March to lead discussions addressing emotional and social health and wellness issues.

Winter Sports

Ice Skating!

Bluebird Express!

After School Activities

Soft Pretzel Making!

Hilltop Helpers

Wow, thank you so much Tom Call for donating a new snow blower to the school! Check out Tom's Excavating business here!

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.  or call them at 802-254-5411.

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Community News

Jay's Band is Playing Saturday-Tomorrow Night!

Ice Party Fundraiser

Items Needed for Newly-Arrived Refugee Family
Please help us welcome Angelique, Bahati and Cody to our community! This wonderful family has just arrived in Brattleboro after a long journey from a refugee camp in Uganda, and they need many items to help set up their new home. If you have any of the following items to donate, please contact   Rachel Zamore

Blankets & bedding
Housewares of all sorts
Toys/games, books and art supplies for a 7-year old girl
Gift certificates to Experienced Goods, grocery stores, Amazon, etc would also be helpful
(At the moment they're feeling overwhelmed by clothing donations, but they might find there are items they still need, especially as the seasons change, so feel free to let me know if you want to be on a contact list for future needs this family may have.)

Thank you for your generosity!

Cross-Class Dialogue Circle

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

Looking for adult volunteers and possible positions for Middle Schoolers for both days. Shifts can be 2 hours to all day if you are really into it.

Kathryn Einig  by email by clicking on her name or call 802-258-1983.