Spring is a time for growth and renewal...and registration for the 2015-16 school year! Registration forms went home with current students last week, and new families are invited to contact us to learn more about Blue Mountain School and enrollment.


This is also a great time to finish up your summer plans, and we hope those plans include BMS summer camp!  


Stay tuned to your email and our Facebook group for more information and pictures.

Shelly Emmett
Shelly Emmett


Recently we had our first accreditation visit with Betsy Hunroe, the Executive Director of the Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS), and Andy Jones-Wilkins, Head of Tandem Friends School in Charlotteville, who is a member of the VAIS Accreditation Committee. I was pleased to hear that after talking about our school's development and hearing what kinds of organizational structures, policies, and procedures we already have in place at BMS, both Betsy and Andy noted that we have already met quite of a few of the standards for the accreditation process, before we've even begun!


VAIS is in the process of becoming a more progressive organization, asking participating schools to meet more big-picture standards and allowing the more detailed standards and expectations to be delineated according to each unique school. This makes for a rigorous but meaningful and fair accreditation process, and protects the distinctive qualities of BMS from having to change to fit a one-size-fits-all accreditation process. Andy and Betsy remarked several times (especially after seeing the teachers and students in action!) about how excited they are to be working with a school that does things according to a progressive educational model. They were also excited to learn more about how mindfulness and Social Emotional Learning play such a significant role at our school.  VAIS accredits more traditional schools such as North Cross in Roanoke, as well as other private schools that have been in existence for generations; BMS will be one of a group of more progressive schools with whom they have recently begun working toward accrediting, as well. 

The next steps for us involve engaging in an extensive two-year self-study, which requires us to look closely at everything we do, to be sure that it supports our mission. This includes our educational philosophy and mission, the community of our school, our instructional methods and program, our personnel policies and procedures, our governance and administration, and our financial plan, human and financial resources, and strategic plan. When needed, we will be required to take steps to strengthen our foundation in these areas, in the process of becoming accredited. 

If you have questions or are interested in learning more about the accreditation process, I would be happy to share more.

Mad Scientists
Shawna Williams & June Kelly 
Shawna Williams
June Kelly


June says...

I just wanted to let everyone know how much I enjoyed the parent conferences. As Hari and I, and Shawna and I, discussed and evaluated the students, it was wonderful to realize how much they have grown. It was also great to be able to report this amazing growth to the parents. As someone new to the BMS model, I am excited to see how effective it is in helping students learn and mature, while at the same time having fun. This time of reflection and evaluation reaffirmed for me how wonderful our school's approach to education is for both teachers and students.


During the past few weeks with the Mini Mad Scientists, I have been trying to incorporate some art projects into our literacy learning. However, the main goal has been and will continue to be having the students read as much as possible during reading instruction. The students have been enjoying recording themselves reading and I hope to be doing more of this, as well as, adding reader's theater during our reading time. In math, we have been working on three dimensional shapes and the students made cones, cylinders, cubes, and rectangular prisms. In our measurement lessons, students weighed and measured various items and on a warm day they enjoyed exploring liquid measure equivalents. Everyone ended up a little soggy though!

Shawna says...

The older Mad Scientists designed and built bridges with toothpicks to see what shapes would hold the most weight.

We also created a shadow puppet show, which we shared with the other students and with our families at a special after-school presentation.

Hatching Playful Dragons
Hari Berzins & June Kelly 
Hari Berzins
June Kelly


Hari says...

Spring brings with it a special excitement. We are all bursting with energy that makes staying in the classroom difficult. It also makes sense to have a break, so we can enjoy this time of transition. I'm reminded (again) why I'm so grateful to teach at a school that honors balance. Our students need the balance of "hom daze" and "skool daze" (as seen on a Hatching Playful Dragon's calendar), just as the staff needs this balance. Being surrounded by a community that honors and works for this balance is something rare and special. 


Just before we left school for spring break, the weather was spectacular, and we knew we had to plan activities to get outside. After reading All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan, one of our students was inspired to make boats, so we pulled out our bag of recycled items and declared Trash to Treasure Tuesday. This class loves creating out of trash! We set up a large bin of water on the deck for the Dragons to test their boats. It was great to watch them discover and fix flaws in their designs. Some boats tipped, so they devised pontoons with corks and taped several bottles together. Once the boats were built, the students wrote messages on little strips of paper, like Grandma does in All the Places to Love.
We packed our boats and our messages and hiked to our neighbor's property at Jubilee. Every time we hike those beautiful trails, I am reminded of the incredible generosity of our friends, Rosemary Wyman and Walter Charnley, for opening those lovely trails and awesome swing to us.

We got to the creek at Jubilee and realized there were too many rocks and not enough water for a good sail, but we tried anyway. Then we headed off to the rope swing.

Once we got to the big tree with the swing, we checked the time and a quick calculation told us there was enough time for everyone to get one minute on the swing. Our special helper, Rebekah Hicks, took requests for low swinging or high swinging. What a great way to send these kiddos off to spring break. Giggles for miles!

Then we gathered up our boats and water bottles and hiked back to school just in time for talking stick and pickup.

Because balance is so valued at our school, we are able to explore and learn in ways that might not appear if we had to stick to a rigid curriculum. I see kids learning in such deep ways because of this balance. Thank you, families, board members, colleagues, for continuing to uphold this important value.

June says...

In Dragon news, Hari and I have been taking small groups out of the class to work on reading. They have also been recording themselves reading and seem very excited to hear themselves on tape. We have been working on having the students do more writing, and it is exciting to see them learning to space words, spell words, and use proper punctuation. Many of the students have finished their handwriting books and gone on to the next book. Hari has a celebratory dance for each student when they finish their book, which makes the students very excited and proud. Our new listening center has been a huge success, too.

Invisible Magic Horses
Stefi Schafer & Ashley Morales
Stefi Schafer
Ashley Morales

A lot has happened in the last few weeks!


The Invisible Magic Horses have noticed the change in weather and season. We are spending more time outside with less clothing on. During Morning Meetings, the math is getting harder, ...we have 12 children and 3 grownups, how many people are here?


We decided to do a little spring cleaning, so we worked on organizing our room and noticed we had a lot of markers. A lot of markers! We decided to sort them. First we separated the fat ones and the skinny ones, and then we grouped them by color. Finally we tested them all to see if they worked.  


We were surprised to discover that many of the markers didn't work. We had a big pile of markers we couldn't color with, but we didn't want to just throw them away. Surely there was something else we could use them for!


Pinterest helped us find ways to reuse these old materials. We learned how to make our own watercolors, and then we used our new paint to dye cotton balls, paint spring flowers, and dye eggs. The cotton balls were in rainbow colors, so we decided to create a collaborative rainbow collage. We learned a lot about colors and about using our resources wisely: Reusing, recycling and rainbows!


Another favorite continues to be block play. Blocks have been an early-childhood favorite for generations, and the IMHs are no exception. They have been spending a lot of time in the construction area. One of the materials in that area are unit-blocks, which are are geometric wooden blocks. We had fun building and discovering how the blocks fit together to make other shapes: two small squares form a small rectangle, two small rectangles make a large rectangle, a large rectangle is twice as wide as a long column, and a long column is double the length of a short one! There are triangles, too, and two right-angle triangles placed next to each other create a rectangle while two isocoles triangles, you can make a small square instead!   


As the children build they learn about these geometric shapes and fractions. Stacking and designing teaches about weight and balance. Having a limited number of blocks helps friends to learn about sharing and collaborating.  


We also have arches and citi-blocks and a variety of loose materials such as old CDs, silk flowers, fabric pieces to make grass and mud and rivers, pebbles, marker-caps, cars, and animals. All these additional materials encourage creativity and imagination.  


There are many more lessons hidden in the block corner. Here is a great NPR article on the subject: Behold the humble block.


So when you ask an Invisible Magic Horse what they learned in school and the answer is "Nothing, we just colored and played with blocks," you know they really have been quite busy working with math, science, art, environmental stewardship, relationship building, and much more.  

Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy


Last month, the Fellowship students visited with the younger classes to share their migration stories.  


Each story was accompanied by several yoga poses, which the older students helped the younger students with.  

The Hatching Playful Dragons have started doing more partner yoga, and I am realizing they are ready for it!


They really got into the mirroring activity where each child follows their partner  while mirroring movements with their hands. It practiced focus, concentration, connection, and it was fun too. ( I heard lots of giggles!)

We've also started bringing the old yoga mats outside (we have new ones for inside!), and did yoga in the field. We will be making a habit of this with the spring weather coming!

Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan


Here is a look at what the younger students have been doing in art class! The Mad Scientists are beginning a project in clay, and the Fellowship has begun work on painting the mural on their classroom. (If you have any exterior paint you can donate, please let me know!)


We hope you enjoyed reading the Indigo Messenger.

Be sure to  it to anyone you think may be interested.

Thank you,

The folks at

In This Issue
April 22: Earth Day - All-School Work Day (1:00) 
April 24: Scheduled Make Up Day  
April showers are here, and there are lots of puddles to stomp in! Please remember to send along a rain coat and boots when the weather looks stormy.  
Board of Trustees

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is Wednesday, May 13, at 5:30 in the enrichment room. The public is welcome to attend.  


In Gratitude We Thank
Citizens Telephone Cooperative for donating to the scholarship fund.

Bob Sisk and Kristan Morrison for helping pay for the school's mortgage.

Target for donating to the scholarship fund.

Cassie Pierce and Cassie Wilson for helping write thank-you cards.

Jagadisha, Sarah McCarthy, and Satya Rotella-McCarthy for cleaning up the Zen garden and building a bamboo fence around it.

Cleo Keller for donating two scholarships for summer camp.

Buffalo Mountain Kombucha and Fat Bean Farm & Food Co. for feeding us at our Open House and for donating to the scholarship fund.

Hope Sharp, Beth Spillman, Jenni Heartway, Perrin Heartway, Karl Berzins, Katie Cesario, Casey Newitt, Rebekah Hicks, and Corey Avellar for helping organize and prepare for our Open House.

All the parents who helped with our Spring Celebration.

Rebekah Hicks, Linda Johnson, Beth Spillman, and Martha Taylor for helping in the classroom.



Shopping on Amazon?

We encourage everyone to support local businesses whenever you can. However, if you find yourself shopping on Amazon, please use the link below, and a portion of your purchase will go into our scholarship fund.
Going Krogering?

With all the wonderful and farm fresh food in Floyd, it's hard to imagine spending much time in Kroger, but if you find yourself there, please help the school earn a little extra for the scholarship fund.

Link your Kroger Card to BMS with the Community Rewards Program. Our Organization Number is 84005.

Blue Mountain School 

470 Christiansburg Pike, Floyd, Virginia 24091