Are You Ready to Give Big? 

On April 24, 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 two weeks, we'll be sharing more with you about how you can help us raise $15,000 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 & Heidi Dickens
Shelly Fox
Heidi Dickens
Our registration for the 2019-2020 school year began at our Spring Celebration and Open House in March. Registration is an exciting time of year for us as we receive confirmation from our returning families and welcome new families to BMS. Often, new families share stories with us of how they became interested in our school. This gives us the opportunity to reflect on the unique gifts that BMS has to offer its students and families.
One of the gifts that we offer is a fundamental belief that human beings learn through relationship. This means that developing strong relationships among our staff, between our teachers and students, among our families, and among our students is one aspect of BMS into which we put a great deal of intention. This is the foundation upon which everything else at BMS rests, and it is our North Star when it comes to decision making. We want people to know that they are seen and heard here!
From our Monday Welcome circles and Thursday Gratitude circles to our staff meetings, to our regular community events, to offering as much tuition assistance as possible, BMS values relationships. We hear from new and returning families alike that this is one of the things about BMS that shines: people feel like they matter here and like they belong here. This has a positive effect not just on our registration, but on the real lives of the adults and children who are part of our school.   
We'd love to have you and your children join us for the 2019-2020 school year! Whether you are returning to BMS after many years or joining us for the first time, send us a note or give us a call (540-745-4234), and we will help )you get started at Blue Mountain School!    

Special Pickle Kids
Holly Haworth
Holly Haworth

I am so proud of the Special Pickle Kids for placing 4th among 18 national and international teams in National Geographic's Landmarks Game last month!

The game gets students using the globe, world map, and Google Earth to search for landmarks, using latitude & longitude, hemispheres, and country clues. It was super fun to look all over the world for landmarks and get to our destinations. We learned a lot about the planet and how many places there are to go.

TheˈfəNGkē Wolf Gang
Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan

There are many moments in teaching where I find myself at a crossroads: I have planned a lesson for the day, I am ready to teach, but wait a minute.....something is not right. The energy is off and things just are not working out as planned. 

This happened just recently, first thing on a Monday morning. It was a bright and sunny spring morning outside, but inside the classroom was gloomy. Mondays are genearlly the most difficult day of the week as we're all transitioning back into being at school, but the mood felt especially off this particular morning.  

Our class has enrichment first thing in the day, and when I left the students with Jagadisha for Mindfulness class, I had a feeling. It was going to be a challenge to successfully inspire these friends into the peer editing activity I had planned next.

When I returned after enrichment, my concerns were confirmed. Jagadisha shared with me how the Wolf Gang had struggled with listening and how they continuously spoke out over each other and Jagadisha. It was clear we needed an energetic shift.

These are the moments in teaching where I find myself at that crossroads I spoke about. Do I push through with my plans for peer editing, or do I take the time to respond to the emotional needs of the classroom?  

Following my intuition and the values of our school, I switched gears and re-designed our morning to seek out emotional balance in the classroom. I facilitated a group conversation with consistent boundaries that fostered a safe space for everyone to listen and be heard. While we talked, we worked on a calming, artistic project -- making mandalas for a school fundraising project.

The mood shifted tremendously, and our discussion lasted for an hour and half. The Wolf Gang explored a myriad of topics, including:
  • What does it mean to truly listen?
  • How long does it take to truly learn something?
  • Are we learning how to listen?
  • What is learning?
  • What is education?
  • How does learning look different at Blue Mountain School and public school? 
  • What are we supposed to be learning?
  • Is school just a place for kids to be told what to do?
  • What does it feel like to be a kid and unheard by adults?
  • What would it look like if kids were able to make more choices about their education?
  • Are we in school just so we can go to college and get high-paying jobs?
  • Why do we not teach more life skills in school?
  • What is the ultimate goal in life? To make money?
  • What if it was like the "old days" when we worked for our resources directly instead of working for money to obtain resources?
These topics (and more) were thoughtfully initiated and discussed among the students, while I helped hold the space for everyone to be heard. Although we did not get to our peer editing or the fraction work I intended to cover that morning, valuable learning occurred. I witnessed the students listening and responding to each other, forming opinions and expressing themselves clearly, speaking in front of their peers, being vulnerable with each other, developing thought-provoking questions, and exploring new ideas. 

Discussions like these are a rich and valuable part of what we do at BMS. Unfortunately it can be difficult to accurately quantify or clearly share this type of learning experience with others. I hope that this story about one Monday morning with the Funky Wolf Gang begins to convey the rich, critical thinking that occurs in our classroom daily, to share how learning takes on many different forms, and to address ways in which the social and emotional well being of the students enhances the learning experience. Taking time to focus on the emotional needs of these young people is valuable work!

I do not have pictures from this particular day, but I do have pictures of some of the different ways that learning looks like in our classroom....



Yellow Electric Wiggly Weasles
Shelly Sherman
Shelly Sherman

In March the wind blows down my door and spills my soup upon the floor."

-- Chicken Soup with Rice by Maurice Sendak

The Weasels made some delicious chicken soup with rice for our Spring Equinox Celebration! We learned about the scientific research that has been done on how chicken soup can be helpful in reducing the symptoms of the common cold.

Another March adventure included a two-part field trip to both the the Floyd Transfer Station and Skyline Rehabilitation and Nursing Facility.

Fun Facts From the Transfer Station:
  • The Floyd Transfer Station is heated by recycled motor oi
  • Two days worth of trash from Floyd County can fill up a semi truck
  • The biodegradability of a plastic water bottle is-NEVER


We watched the baling machines squish plastic bottles and cardboard to get it ready send it off to be recycled, and we learned that only type 1 and 2 plastics are being recycled at the moment. We watched workers as they sorted the recyclables and garbage trucks as they dumped huge loads of trash from the day's pick up.  

All of this information and these observations raised a lot of questions. We had a great discussion about some possible solutions for ways to reduce the trash on a household level and as a community, state and country. Some ideas we had: 

  • Outlaw plastic bags and bottles
  • Buy in bulk
    Fix things when they break instead of buying new ones
  • Shop at thrif stores
  • Grow food instead of buying it packaged
  • Try to help others learn the recycling and throw away rules

After we left the Transfer Station, we headed over to Skyline. Our time at Skyline was sweet and active. The people there love to play games, and guess what? SO DO WE!!!

We had a wonderful time playing Horseshoes and Keep the Balloon in the Middle.

When the games were done, we shared some cards that were made by some of our other BMS friends and asked the residents to tell us some stories of what their lives were like when they were our age. We are hoping to back for another visit in May!

Golden Crystal Turquoise Dragons
Tammie Sarver
Tammie Sarver

The Golden Crystal Turquoise Dragons are SPRINGing into the warm weather and expanding our hands on learning!  
The Turquoise Dragons are spending lots of time observing the animals visiting our classroom, noticing details, making comparisons, announcing changes.   
It's so rewarding to hear the conversations among the children as they gather around the tanks!  
It feels very powerful to be engaged in detailed conversation with young learners as we discuss something as in-depth as the differences in two different snake skins we've collected. There is a lot of excitement as we watch the tadpoles become frogs and as we share our observations with each other.
Expanding our amphibian and reptile study, scholarly Dragons have decided to transform our classroom into "The Reptile Room!" We can watch our learning environment begin to transform as the children use their Hundred Languages by representing their research with clay, painting, drawing, and writing that is growing around the walls of our classroom!     

As our days grow warmer, we are looking forward to adding some focused time in the woods by introducing Sit Spots and Nature Journaling. We created nature journals using food boxes brought from home. This project gave us an opportunity to represent ourselves and build connections while we talk about foods we like.   
We personalized our journals by individually deciding their size and shape and then making covers by selecting and collaging animal and plant pictures from magazines. Working on our journals together has provided lots of great opportunities for conversations and assessments as well as focuses for future projects.
I'm looking forward to spending our Tuesday Discovery Workshop sessions in "Sit Spot Tuesdays." Weather permitting, the Dragons will be found each Tuesday afternoon in the woods using Nature journals, field guides, and other resources.   
During Sit Spot time, we'll be focusing on observing and representing our observations, sharpening our ID skills, and playing Coyote Mentoring inspired games. Families and teachers will be able to observe the children's budding and blossoming along with our spring!  

Secret Magic Amberwings
Jenni Heartway
Jenni Heartway
In this era of high-stakes testing and memorization, it is refreshing to think about how Blue Mountain students are spending their spring. Many classrooms across the nation are practicing their bubbling techniques, their ability to narrow down multiple choices, and how to identify unknown words in a question. When I see our students working to identify native trees and learning about water protectors and community resources, I am filled with hope.

I began teaching, in a public school, the year No Child Left Behind was implemented. Our staff trainings were focused on how to help those students who were on the cusp of passing the tests to attack them with strategies to help winnow down choices, how to document learning for those who would not pass, and how to help those who would pass easily to show enough growth. Unfortunately, the test scores did not reflect how I knew my students learned or what they were passionate about. There was a disconnect between who my students were, and the grade they were given by a Scantron.

It is easy for me to compare my first experiences with staff trainings to the training Blue Mountain has during the spring. This year, the Early Childhood, Early Learning, and Early Elementary teachers attended the Virginia Association for Education of the Young Child state conference in Roanoke. Last spring, we all spent a weekend learning about Coyote Mentoring. And coming this April, Tammie and I will be presenting at the Eastern Regional Association of Forest and Nature School's teacher retreat. These trainings and workshops have allowed us to return to the classroom with new ideas to engage students with literacy, math, and most importantly the world around them.

Assessment is an essential part of teaching. We cannot teach and be reflective practitioners without assessing student growth. The assessment we have at Blue Mountain School--the summative assessments shared with families at the end of the year, the diagnostic assessments teachers use to inform and shape student instruction, the student reflections, the narratives and anecdotal records we keep--say so much more about our students than a letter grade or number ever could. 

Blue Mountain Flying Unicorns
Stefi Schafer & Angie Barrett
Stefi Schafer
Angie Barrett

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen Make for ... Good Learning!

Our tradition at BMS for our Spring Celebration is to have every class make a  dish to share. The Unicorns choose to make chicken noodle soup, and it was YUMMMM!  
Soup making ignited a deeper interest in cooking and food preparation, fueled by our 5 senses study, we decided to cook more.
The first meal ALL the unicorns wanted to make was PIZZA. We added a toaster oven to our classroom and went to work.  
We generated a list of toppings and set up a pizza making station.  
Each friend created his or her own customized pizza to eat at lunch.

Cooking with young children offers many learning opportunities like these from the Creative Curriculum for Early Childhood:
Socio-Emotional Development
  • Work cooperatively in small groups
  • Develop self-help skills
  • Develop independence
  • Complete a task...following a recipe from start to finish, including clean-up
  • Develop pride
Cognitive Development
  • Learn about nutrition
  • Gain a foundation for math concepts such as sequencing and measurement
  • Learn about the scientific properties
  • Express creativity
Physical Development
  • Develop fine muscle control
  • Enhance eye-hand coordination
  • Learn directionality
Our list of things the Unicorns want to cook keeps growing: tacos, spaghetti and meatballs, mac and cheese, cheese toast and tomato soup, apple sauce, bread and butter, ice cream, mini cornbread muffins.

Yoga & P.E.
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy
Breathwork to Release, Check in, & Calm

I thought I would write a bit about the importance of the breath in yoga and our yoga classes at BMS. It could be said that breathing is something we take for granted as we move throughout our days as humans. It might be because we don't have to do anything to breathe; our breath happens automatically. It is one of the brilliant features of being the living homo sapien animal that we are! It is also something that is crucial for our survival and can tell us a lot about our health and how we are feeling in our bodies and heartmind.

So that is why we start each class with a quiet moment to check in with ourselves and surroundings. Here is some breathwork we have been doing lately. Some is old news and some is a little newer.

We start with our animal friends, our breathing buddies. I have been using this breathing technique since I began teaching. I learned this in my Asheville children's teacher training over 10 years ago, and I still love it and think it has tremendous value! We lay on our back to arrive and transition to yoga time. We feel the supporting floor on our backs. We put our animals on our lower belly, breath through our noses, and let our belly rise big as we inhale. On the exhale, we notice our belly going down. This diaphragmatic yoga breathing is a big part of slowing down and calming our bodies in yoga. It is our calming breath.

We have also been practicing woodchopper breath. This is a releasing breath where we stand tall with legs hips-width apart bringing our hands together and bringing arms over our head letting gravity bring our arms down through our open legs. We inhale big through the nose lifting our arms up and exhale as we bring our arms down through our legs. The focus is really on the exhale, which is strong and fast. When we need to release energy and let go, we practice this one.

We also have been doing a Kundalini yoga pranayama breath, which one children's yoga teacher calls garbage truck meditation. The kids love the name! We use the SA TA NA MA mantra. This mantra breaks old habits and behavioral patterns--letting go of thoughts and emotions we may not need in the present moment (taking out the garbage). We are sitting tall in lotus pose for this one. Inhaling through the nose, then exhaling we repeat SA TA NA MA and touch our thumb to each finger starting with the first finger, following down to the pinky as we say each syllable. It is pranayama for it is equal inhale and exhale. Pranayama breath gives the mind something to do bringing us closer to the present moment. And to think yogi's have been doing this for thousands of years! It's so very cool :)

Contemplative Studies
Here is an exercise from Mindfulness on the Go by Jan Chozen Bays.

Listen to the Sounds

Several times a day, stop and just listen. Open your hearing 360 degrees, as if your ears were giant radar dishes. Listen to the obvious sounds and the subtle sounds -- in your body, in the room, in the building, and outside. Listen as if you had just landed from a foreign planet and didn't know what was making these sounds. See if you can hear all the sounds as music being played just for you.

Drama & Art
Corey Avellar
Corey Avellar
Beside Making the Movie of our play, each class is concentrating on different projects in Drama.
Special Pickle Kids
We will be learning about the different genres of literature and entertainment. We will conclude this study with a absurdist surreal / whimsical skit that we will either perform or make into a movie. It will be hard to do the special effects in a play.
The fəNGkē Wolf Gang and the Yellow Electric Wiggly Weasels
This month we are concentrating on Role-playing -- to assume the attitudes, actions, and discourse of another, especially in a make-believe situation in an effort to understand a different point of view or social interaction. In other words, to experiment with or experience a situation or viewpoint by playing a role. We will conclude with either a skit or a talk given as the character of their choice. Some skills we are working on: 1. using a loud and clear voice with proper inflections, 2. building self confidence and independence, and 3. expressing a range of feelings and different characters through voice and body language. 
Golden Crystal Turquoise Dragons
This month we are concentrating on: 1. using a loud and clear voice with proper inflections, 2. building self confidence and independence, and 3. expressing a range of feelings and different characters through voice and body language. We will conclude with either a talk on a subject of their choice or reading a book aloud to an audience. 
Secret Magic Amberwings
We have been working on games and activities where we brainstorm problems, think up possible choices, solutions, and outcomes. We have also been working on focus and sticking to guidelines that we have set for ourselves.  Our current project is reading a story and collaborating on how we can turn it into a short play to present to our community.
Other skills we are working on are using a loud and clear voice with proper inflections and working as a group and respecting our peers suggestions, characters and performance 
Blue Mountain Flying Unicorns
We have and will be working on Mime and Switch Drama.  Switch Drama is acting out stories, then switching roles, changing the endings, solving the problem in a different way, taking turns playing different parts, switching the character's personality, etc. This game helps to develop enquiry skills, to encourage negotiation, understanding and creativity. Mime is acting out a story through body motions, without use of speech. This game helps to develop skills in concentration, reading and interpreting body language and emotions.
We had a special artist guest, Jean Stark, with us for a whole week. She went step-by-step through the Elements of Art to create a 3D sculpture project by the end of the week. She has also written us up on her blog. Fun!!

Forest Programs
Jenni Heartway & Tammie Sarver
Jenni Heartway
Tammie Sarver

Registration for 2019-2020 is Open!

Visit the website for more information about Forest Kindergarten and Forest School, or email us to sign up!

Forest Kindergarten
The big excitement for many of our young friends this session is climbing! As you know, there are many opportunities for climbing on our campus. Providing children with places to climb is important to physical and cognitive development. 

Climbing strengthens gross motor skills (and fine motor once you become more skilled). It also helps children evaluate risk, problem solve, and build self confidence. If you haven't climbed a tree in while, we encourage you to give it a try! There are even tree climbing classes available in Meadows of Dan!

Forest School
We have had some very chilly Tuesday mornings for our Forest School group! We've enjoyed cooking apples and eggs over the fire, as well as sipping warm tea and playing exciting games. 

Our Forest Schoolers are also responsible for nature related homework including sharing posters about their adopted Nature Names. Our first presentation was last week, and we all loved how this friend personalized his work! 

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 12: Make-Up Day 
April 24: Give Big NRV Day 
April 22-26: Spring Break 
May 10: Make-Up Day
May 21: Field Day
May 23: Project Fair & Open House 
May 27: Memorial Day - No School
May 30: Pet Day  
Have you signed up for our summer programs?  
Whatcha waiting for? Summer will be here before you know it! 

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
Lori Kaluszka and Staff at the Jessie Peterman Memorial Library for hosting the Secret Magic Amberwings.

Our Students and Staff for preparing delicious food to share with our community during our Spring Celebration.

Blue Ridge Center for Chinese Medicine for donating office and household supplies.

Susan Icove
for storing school materials.

Jean Stark for spending a week with us as our Artist-in-Residence.

Chris Barrett and Jamie Reygle for moving some old furniture out of storage to the transfer station.

Floyd Transfer Station and Skyline Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for welcoming the Yellow Electric Wiggly Weasles for a visit.

Clark Gas & Oil for their generous donation to our school and for their continuing support of our community.

Perrin Heartway for giving our apple tree some TLC.

Blue Ridge Accounting & Tax for keeping our books.  
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, be sure to link your Amazon Smile setting to Blue Mountain School.

Also, if you use the link below each time you open Amazon, even more of your purchase will come back to BMS for 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 QK830.

Blue Mountain School 

470 Christiansburg Pike, Floyd, Virginia 24091