On April 18, non-profit organizations throughout the New River Valley will be joining together with the Community Foundation of the New River Valley to celebrate GiveBigNRV Day! Over the next few days, we'll be sharing more with you about our Big Plans and how you can help us raise $10,000 in just one day!

To get started now, click the picture below to schedule your donation, or email us with your pledge. Every little bit helps us reach our goal!

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

Shelly Fox
Shelly Fox
Each year in late winter, we set our school calendar and daily schedule for the upcoming year. Part of this process includes reflecting on the current year and asking a few questions like: How does our current calendar and schedule support our model and the values that our model represents? What areas need to change in order to better support our model?

Balance is a common theme in these reflections. For example, we want to make time to offer stimulation for students' minds, as well as their bodies. We see that our students' ability to focus and learn in their classes is directly affected by the amount of recess or mindfulness practice that they have in a given day.

We also know that having specific class time during which students are encouraged to be creative, to express themselves, and to learn about becoming an important part of the group has a positive effect on their ability to practice new reading or math skills.

State regulations also play a role in what our calendar looks like. There are a certain number of hours children are required to be in instructional activities each school year, and the State also defines what kinds of activities count towards this requirement.

In an exciting turn, in March of 2018 the Virginia House of Delegates passed House Bill 1419, and the state senate passed an identical Senate Bill 273. This legislation decreases the minimum amount of time that the state of Virginia requires schools to spend on " the four academic disciplines of English, mathematics, science, and history and social science ," and increases the amount of " unstructured recreational time that is intended to develop teamwork, social skills, and overall physical fitness in any calculation of total instructional time or teaching hours... "

These bills were signed into law and will take effect in July of 2018. It is encouraging to know that something so central to our model--a balance between academics and play--has now been recognized by lawmakers as a vital and essential part of school.

The Burritos
Holly Haworth
Holly Haworth
Happy Spring!

The last day of winter, we pilgrimaged to Roanoke College to see the Paper Blooms Project, a community-made art installation composed of handmade paper flowers created by students and volunteers all over the state. Some of Blue Mountain School's students participated in making flowers several years ago, when the project began, and were able to see them now, come to fruition among a large garden of blossoms. 

It reminded me of the slow process of unfolding, of growth, that we nurture at Blue Mountain School. Often, we are unable to see or envision the longer project of becoming and belonging. Scores and metrics and tests are unable to measure the invisible blossoming of a soul, its opening into the world. What's important is to keep fertilizing the mind with beauty and ideas, turning our eyes toward the light of whatever inspires us or moves us, remaining patient through the seasons, rooting into our passions. I like to think that I am teaching this, as I practice it myself. 

It is a joy to witness the growth of my students for the short time they are with me, just a green flash in what is the work of their lives, each of their colorful becomings.

Black, Fire-Breathing Pythons
Shelly Sherman
Shelly Sherman
The desire to take things apart must be built into our DNA. It is hard to find a child who does not derive pleasure from taking an object, with multiple pieces, apart in order to see how it works or to just see what is inside. Maybe it appeals to our curious nature or our need to solve a mystery.

This semester, the Pythons have been participating in Take Apart/ Creativity Lab. A collection of old and broken printers, speakers, keyboards, CD players and more sit in a box in the classroom waiting for Thursday afternoon when they become learning tools.

The Pythons, wearing safety goggles, use screw drivers, hammers and pliers to take these broken things apart. Inside they find tiny motors, gears, and circuit boards. Some of these are examined and put to the side and others are used to make new creations.

As I watch and help I hear students use and share the vocabulary of reverse engineering, They collaborate, practice using tools, use observation skills and pose questions about what they find. I know that the act of taking things apart is helping them understand that an object is simply the sum of it's parts. There is a power in understanding what things are made of and that they can be fixed or changed or turned into something new.

We take turns using the lab. While half of the class explores the lab the other half practice collaboration, communication, problem solving, and many other skills as they play games together.

Magical Flying Basilisks
Anna Nation & Tammie Sarver
Anna Nation
Tammie Sarver

Anna says...

We've been growing our knowledge around parts of speech. It's been a wonderful study of how powerful words are and when we use difference types of words. The Basilisks have had the opportunity to work with nouns, verbs, adjectives, and just recently adverbs. We've enjoyed playing group games around these parts of speech and applying them during our Language Arts times. We worked hard on creating an alphabetical list of verbs. It's been awesome to watch children ask to add to the list throughout our day when they've discovered or thought of another interesting verb they'd like to add.

Our work around the parts of speech has been done to support the Basilisks in developing their abilities as story-tellers and writers. We've been widening our vocabulary and the scope of language we think about when we're writing. Writing mad-libs through our knowledge of the different parts of speech has given us the space to develop humorous, often absurd stories together as a group. We've also been using a storytelling card series called And Then to create storylines together.

The Basilisks have enjoyed creating absurd stories that often end with large explosions or encounters with predators. We've also worked hard on developing stories that follow a logical storyline. As we work together as a group to build these stories it becomes necessary to take in what your classmates have added to the story and find ways to continue the story while maintaining your own creative voice. It's challenging but still has been such a well-loved group activity!  

We spent our last week before spring break welcoming Tammie to our space. The Basilisks and I got to share our days with Tammie and introduce her to all of the work and community-building that we do together. As I begin my maternity leave, I'm so happy to see how seamlessly Tammie has blended into the Basilisks' classroom. I can't wait to hear about how the rest of the year continues in our beautiful little space. The baby and I will send Tammie pictures to share with the children and hope to visit the Basilisks for "Pet Day." Working and spending my days with these children has been such a rich, knowledge-building beginning to 2018- I'm excited to see where the year takes us all next.

Tammie says...

One of the main principles of the Reggio Emilia teaching philosophy is "Nothing without joy." After nearly 25 years of joyful teaching, I am very delighted to be learning with the Magical Flying Basilisks!

While we're all sad to say goodbye to Anna, I am so happy for her as she begins this new, magical time with her family and their new baby girl!

It has been a real pleasure to spend time with Anna and the Magical Flying Basilisks, getting familiar with the routines and ongoing projects, and planning to cultivate the interests and learning that is already blossoming in our classroom. I look forward to many joyful days to come with these friends.

Golden Turquoise Swooping Owls
Jenni Heartway
Jenni Heartway
"Oh lovely mud!"

This spring I've been reminded of the book, Mrs. Wishy Washy, by Joy Cowley. In the book, the animals jump into a mud puddle, and Mrs. Wishy Washy cleans them up. Almost every week in March has had one thing in common here at BMS...mud. Lots of mud. 

Watching the way children interact with mud is always fascinating. There are those who don't go near the muddy spot on the hill or the large puddle, those who skirt the edges, those who find objects to throw into the puddles, and those who, literally, dive in the center.  

The children in the mud are obviously happy. And they have good reason to be. When you play in mud or dirt the mycobacterium vaccae there stimulates the immune system and the release of serotonin. Not only does this make you feel happy, but it also stimulates cognitive development.   

Mud, sand, and water provide great opportunities to understand physics and engineering. I've heard that one question asked of engineering students is "Did you play with sand and water as a child?"

Mud play is also a full sensorial experience; the smell, the textures, watching it ooze or splash, listening to it squelch.     

In our large puddle at school, we have had students create fishing rods, make boats, cook soup, bake mud pies, and create mud people.  

A great way to extend mud play at home is to provide children with old pans and spoons. Help kids describe their creations and join in the fun yourself. Just make sure you have a hose nearby!

Shining Inchworms
Stefi Schafer & Angie Barrett
Stefi Schafer
Tammie Sarver


The Inchworms have experienced some changes this month.The biggest change is that our friend Tammie moved next door and is now teaching the Basilisks. Before leaving, Tammie spent time talking with the children, explaining her new role. Everyone agreed that we would still be friends and see each other all the time on the playground.

Our new teacher is Angie! As a substitute in our class on numerous occasions and as a class parent, Angie was already a familiar face for the Inchworms. Before beginning her new role, Angie was not only already very familiar with the routines, schedule, and expectations for the class but she also knew all the Shining Inchworms from day one. It's been a very smooth transition for all our friends!

We have also welcomed a new student to our class! The kids were open and eager to welcome her into the Inchworm community. On her first days, our new friend was still a bit unsure of herself, and several children came over to great her and show her the classroom. I overheard a conversation as one friend talked to the newcomer and others stood nearby to observe.

"Maybe she wants to play with the magnatiles?"

"She wants a cuddle buddy," as another child brought over a stuffed animal to share.

"She doesn't want her mommy to go." Turning to the new child, "It's okay. She'll come back to get you!"

"She is just a little shy 'cause she is new."

All these thoughts came from the children without any prompting beyond a simple introduction. The insight and amount of caring and empathy displayed by our youngest learners are amazing. It shows us that children are capable of deep emotional understanding, able to step out of the self and see another person's point of view, as well as a willingness to alleviate suffering.

I attribute this not only to an innate desire to connect and be kind but also to our model here at BMS. We spend a lot of time and effort to cultivate and support social emotional learning, and the children are grounded in the security they feel in our Inchworm community. Our relationships are based on mutual respect, trust, clear expectations, and boundaries.
In addition to the changes in in our community members, we of course observed the rapid and extreme changes in the weather. We talked about spring, and then it snowed. We brought in sleds and snow-pants, and soon it was warm enough to play outside without a jacket on. In between, there was mud. Lots of glorious mud!

While mud play may seem like just a big mess to the uninitiated it provides lots of learning opportunities in the early childhood world. There is Sensory exploration, gross motor development, risk taking and assessing, cause and effect, and experiencing the consequences of our actions. (Wet muddy pants are not comfortable.) Mud in particular invites imaginary play, crossing the great abyss of a mud puddle with a bridge, stomping and splashing in hot lava, making mud pies. Of course the best thing about mud play is that it is just plain fun.
As much fun as the mud is, we are looking forward to the nicer weather and will be focusing on gardening and planting seeds!

Yoga & P.E.
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy
Slowing Down in Winter

As much as winter is hard for me, I am always grateful for the lessons it teaches. If we pay attention even for a moment, the lessons are right in front of us. Our environment around us is slowing down and gathering herself. Slowing down is the beauty of winter. So as winter wound down, our classes have been focusing on asana while we waited for warmer weather to come.

Since we have been spending more time on yoga practice, we have been learning harder poses such as pigeon, camel, upward bow, seated spinal twists, side angle, revolved angle, and half moon.

And of course we end with the most important pose: relaxation pose.
It is amazing how everyone enjoys this pose. We have had multiple children fall asleep this winter in savasana. Our body, mind, and heart crave relaxation!

The Owls and the Basilisks' have begun partner yoga, and they are enjoying it. It takes lots of focus and attentiveness because we are helping our partners stretch into a pose. We stop often to make sure everyone is listening and moving slowly. The students are so creative and have made up some of their own incredible partner poses like the one below. We should create our own book!

We have also been practicing techniques to quiet our minds. Mantra is a wonderful, concrete way to tap into the present moment. We have been practicing breathing in repeating "calm" and breathing out repeating "let go." We do not have to attach ourselves to our thoughts although it is pretty hard not to. I have been encouraging our kids to find words that work for them. The idea is bringing in the soft and gentle and letting go of what does not serve them in the moment.

Yoga is a lot of repetition and practice. As we continue the repetition, how we approach it makes all the difference. I have been really enjoying the consistent yoga with the kids this winter. It is a powerful practice, even when teaching. I am really grateful!

Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan
In between snow storms, the two upper classes were able to honor the coming of Spring with a trip to Olin Hall Galleries at Roanoke College to see The Paper Blooms exhibit. 

Two years ago many of these students participated in the making of blue carnations, which were on display amongst thousands of paper flowers created by community members over the past three years in and around Roanoke.  

It was exciting to see the flowers made in our art room years ago, along with participant names on the gallery wall!  The exhibit was stunning, and the students were captivated with the intricacies and details of the thousands of flowers on display. 

I had all the students create an ekphrasis (a work of art - typically writing but not limited to - produced as a response to a work of visual art) as they took ten minutes of silence to reflect upon the exhibit in their journals. I look forward to seeing each of their journal responses and reflect on the experience together, something I wanted to do the same week of the field trip but alas, snow cancelled school on art day that week. 

So with snow on the ground as I write, I wish everyone a happy Spring!

Contemplative Studies
Here are some short phrases (gatha) we have been using in mindfulness to help us stay in the present moment during our sitting practice.

From "A Pebble for Your Pocket" by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.

As my in-breath grows deep,
My out-breath grows slow.

Breathing in makes me calm,
Breathing out brings me ease.

With the in-breath, I smile,
With the out-breath , I release.

Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment

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
Apr 18: Give Big Day & Earth Day Celebration and Open House (5:30 to 7:30)
Apr 20: Make Up Day & Earth Day Work Day
May 4: Make Up Day 
Be sure to turn in your registration forms and fees for the 2018-19 school year! Also, scholarship forms are due June 15th.  
Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees meets regularly in the enrichment room. The public is welcome to attend. If you would like to learn more about the Board, please contact the office.   


In Gratitude We Thank

Daniel Sowers
for snow plowing.

Talia Long for inviting us to participate in the Paper Blooms Project.

Tree Gigante for donating items for the spring egg hunt.

Jenna Elliot, Kayla Jones, Madison Crowder, Cora Nicely, Kaylee Lovelace, and Kyla Kelleher from Virginia Western Community College for teaching us about dental hygiene.

Blue Ridge Accounting & Tax for keeping our books.

Beegle Landscaping & Lawn Care for taking great care of our grassy areas.

Citizens Telephone Cooperative for donating internet services.

Clark Gas & Oil for keeping us and our water toasty warm. 



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