It's time to sign up for camp! We have several new camps this year including a pair with our Artist-in-Residence, Jean Stark, and we will also be offering child care the last two weeks in July.
Click the links to read more about each camp:
To register, download the fillable
, and return it and the deposit to the office. Questions? Send us a
We humbly thank all who celebrated with us at our 10th Annual Mardi Gras Costume Ball in Floyd. You made it a great night! The dinner was delicious! The music was hot! And the vibe on the dance floor was grand! Congratulations to our Mardi Gras King and Queen, Tom and Jody Franko, and all of the costume contest winners!
Hop over to our
section to see all the people it took to make this event happen. (And that doesn't include the hundreds of guests!) Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
What is most important about Floyd Mardi Gras is that you helped us raise nearly $9,000 for our scholarship fund! The school cultivates capable and resilient community members through a contemplative progressive educational model. Our scholarship fund supports a diverse set of students, who are seen, heard, and valued every day that they attend school because of your financial support.
Blue Mountain School will continue to offer meaningful programs, rich in nature and play, for our community because of you. Thank you for your participation at this event, and please stay tuned so we can do it again!
Stay tuned to your email and our
for more information and pictures.
Shelly Fox & Heidi Dickens
Summer camps at BMS are not the kind of summer camps that just fill the time while parents are at work. Instead, our camps provide opportunities for kids to be kids: to play, to create, to be joyful, to take time to celebrate the small, in-the-moment things that make a big thing like a whole summer memorable.
With a staff skilled at creating positive group environments and implementing social emotional learning into daily language and activities, children will feel welcomed, find connection with each other, and feel supported to learn and grow with each other throughout the week.
BMS also has nearly 9 acres of magical woods to inspire creative play, awe, and wonder at the beauty of the natural world. Campers will find that nature exploration and nature connection reside at the heart of each camp.
To learn more about our summer programs, visit our
or contact us via
or by phone (540-745-4234).
"A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves."
As I mark my 75th day of work at Blue Mountain School, I still marvel daily at the magic that happens when a learning organization operates from a caring perspective with a mission to educate children as beings of infinite worth. Learning is truly transformative at Blue Mountain School, and not just for the children. I am experiencing a tremendous amount of growth as an educator and administrator. And, the area where I am feeling the most growth is in my understanding of the world of a non-profit school led by administrators, teachers, and a board of directors.
As I work in, learn in, and read about the world of non-profit organizations, I am appreciating more and more the role of the Board of Trustees. This short blog post by Joan Garry,
The 14 Attributes of a Thriving Non-Profit
, does a good job of outlining what the best non-profits are doing really well.
, the school history and governance is presented on page four. I'll excerpt a bit of it here:
Blue Mountain School was founded as a parent cooperative in 1981 by families seeking alternatives to public education.
In 2004, Blue Mountain School developed a Board of Directors, composed mostly of school parents, who worked alongside the Parent Council and contributed to the leadership of the school. In 2009, Blue Mountain School parents voted to change the organizational structure of the school to reflect the evolving needs of school families and the wider Floyd community. As a result, the school no longer functions as a traditional parent cooperative. Instead, parents are encouraged to participate as often as they wish, with opportunities ranging from work/trade for reduced tuition, to leading class projects, to taking an active role in school governance as members of the Board of Directors.
Call to Action
Each May, new members of the Blue Mountain School Board of Directors are nominated and elected. Elections take place at the regular meeting of the Board in May. The Board strives to include a broad range of members of the community as nominees, seeking to provide a balanced representation of backgrounds and skills for Board membership.
We are proud and appreciative of the efforts of our current board:
Martha Sullivan, President
Luke Staengl, Secretary and Treasurer
Stefi Schafer, Teacher Repr
esentive, Non-Voting Member
Shelly Fox, Director, Non-Voting Member
Help Blue Mountain School continue to be that special place, where students, families, teachers, and the Floyd community grow together.
I am asking each of you in the Blue Mountain Family to consider how you personally (or someone in your organization, neighborhood, or community) can participate. Consider nominating yourself and/or someone you know who is passionate about education, Blue Mountain School, and/or the Floyd community.
For more information on the nomination process for the Blue Mountain School Board of Directors, please contact Martha Sullivan.
We Love Water Protectors!
At our Special Person Tea last month, guests helped us write Valentines to six indigenous water protectors who are currently serving time in prison. Dallas Goldtooth,
Mdewakanton Dakota and Dine,
who works for the Indigenous Environmental Network, says that the word
"protester" is negative, a colonized term for people who see it as their sacred duty to protect water from contamination. Several of those who gathered at the Standing Rock reservation, as they stood up to protect waters along the Dakota Access Pipeline, were arrested and are now serving sentences on federal charges.
We wrote to five water protectors who are currently in prison:
Red Fawn Fallis (Fort Worth, TX)
Michael Little Feather Giron (Bruceton Mills, WV)
Dion Ortiz (Sandstone, MN)
Michael Rattler Markus (Sandstone, MN)
James Angry Bird White (Fort Yates, ND)
Our guests and students sent heartfelt messages of appreciation as a gesture of love to those who are standing up to protect America's waters.
Last week, we received a letter from the Federal Correctional Institution in Sandstone, Minnesota. Michael Rattler Markus had written the students back. Rattler was sentenced to three years in prison last September. His legal counsel says that, "
A commissioned survey found that 77% of potential jurors in Morton County and 85% in Burleigh County had already decided that defendants were guilty and many potential jurors have close connections to law enforcement or the oil industry."
Rattler is an Oglala Lakota who was raised on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He is a Sundancer and a ceremonial pipe carrier in the Lakota spiritual tradition and a Marine Corps veteran of the Gulf War. At Standing Rock he took on significant responsibilities caring for and protecting others in camp.
I would like to say thank you to everyone that sent me a card. They make everything I am going through right now worth it. I did what I did because of the future generations. I want them to enjoy fresh water. Water they can play in and drink without worrying about getting sick. I have been to Virginia many times and I know they are doing mountain top removal to get coal. I hope and pray that when you all are old and have grandchildren that them hills and mountains are still there for them to enjoy. So I encourage you to talk to your parents and see what you can do in your home to help Unci Maka, Mother Earth. Remember this is your planet too. And your voice matters.
Love, hugs, & prayers,
Reading the letter aloud in our morning circle was an emotional experience for all of us. In his letter, Rattler reminds us that it is for future generations that he makes his stand (and sits in prison).
Rattler's letter encourages the students to stand up for clean waters in their own homelands; it brings water from the level of the national media, as an "issue," down to the level of their lives, and asks them to engage with the world around them. (Although he was mistaken that the significant issue threatening the waters of our region is mountaintop removal coal mining; rather, it is the Mountain Valley Pipeline.)
As the teacher of the eldest students at Blue Mountain School, it's my goal to engage my students with the broader world and with their homes, to get them asking big questions as they explore their own power. It is activities like these that connect them to the larger political and environmental conversations happening in our nation.
Artist in Residency Program
While I greatly enjoy being a classroom teacher this year, I also miss being the school art teacher. I am an artist, I am deeply inspired by art, and I love watching children explore and develop their connections with art making. I miss spending concentrated time and having a more personal relationship with all of the students of the school - watching their artistic visions and individual personalities develop from pre-school up. I am still a part of the school and their lives, and I often have students outside of my class communicate with me about their art and connect with me personally, but I really did love spending focused time with all the Blue Mountain School kid.
So lucky for me, I am very excited about working with an "artist-in-residence" at Blue Mountain School this month, getting to spend time in all the classrooms doing art for two days!
The artist-in-resident, Jean Stark, will be with us for an entire week leading a four-day art project. I will teach alongside with her Monday and Tuesday, and Corey will be working with her on Wednesday and Thursday. Jean, who was introduced to BMS by director Heidi, has extenstive art-teaching and art-making experience.
She has put a lot of thought into being with us for the week, and I am very excited to welcome her into our community. I invite you to visit her website to check out her art and learn more about the gifts she has to offer.
In the Art Room...
I do have the fortunate pleasure of continuing to make art with the oldest two classes at Blue Mountain School.
Many of them participated in an exhibit at the Perspective Gallery in Blacksburg, centered around the idea of "choosing love, not hate." It was a lovely exhibit, and it is always a treat to see student art on gallery walls.
While in Blacksburg, we also walked over to the Moss Center for the Arts to check out the current exhibit,
. This beautiful, dynamic exhibit features artists locally and from around the world, all exploring the topic of Trees. It is open through March 24th, and I highly recommend checking it out if you have the opportunity.
I'm looking forward to buds on our trees, as we plow through the end of winter and look forward to spring!!
One of my favorite events at Blue Mountain School is our Special Person's Tea. It gives the students a chance to share with the people they love and to practice important relationship skills. It gives them a chance to practice putting someone else before themselves, to practice manners, to practice planning and preparing for the event keeping in mind what their guests would want, to practice following through to see the fruits of their labors. This year the Weasels did all of that and so much more. Here are some photos from our amazing day!
The Weasels worked very hard to make the classroom clean and ready for their guests.
They decorated and made special treats that included chocolate dipped strawberries and cookies.
The Weasels have been enjoying the art of origami in the last few months. They decided to incorporate this into their decorations for the tea. They came up with the idea to make origami balloons to place on a string of lights. It turned out to be so beautiful and festive!
The Weasels filled tea bags with loose tea and made handmade tea tags for their guests.
Waiting for their guests to arrive was the hardest part!
We also had some questions written on the board to help the Weasels start conversations with their guests. As I walked around the room I heard some wonderful stories being shared.
The Weasels were asked to finish the sentence: Love is... We finished the event by asking our special people to finish that same sentence and share with us. It was such a gift for the Weasels to hear the wise words of their special people.
As the Golden Crystal Turquoise Dragons collaborated on our next emergent learning thread, it was clear that the predominant interest in our classroom is learning about animals!
With Haven as our class pet. It felt natural to start with reptiles and amphibians.
We began our study by determining What We Already Know and What We Want to Know. This work inspired a journal prompt asking the Dragons to reflect on characteristics of reptiles. Each child pondered something that reptiles can do that they themselves wish they could do in a reptilian fashion:
- Avery: Red-Eyed Tree Frog, "I could climb better."
- Phoenix: Chameleon, "I could run and change color and be safe."
- Myla: Tree Frog, "I could climb better."
- Bailey: Tree Frog, "I could climb small trees!"
- Juniper: Iguana, "I could hang from my tail, because I like hanging."
- Wren: Iguana, "I like blending in."
- Elijah: Snake "I could protect myself because I'd be poinsoney."
- Ben: Gecko, "I could climb walls!"
Among the resources we've explored during our reptile and amphibian study so far, is my husband, Eric. He was at a Wildlife Biology conference recently and brought back enough Turtles of Virginia publications for each Dragon to have her/his own! The children were so excited that they were each inspired to choose a Virginia turtle species to individually research! It feels really gratifying to see scholarly activities so joyfully inspired. We look forward to taking this project throughout our curriculum.
To continue to inspire our curiosity and research, we invited a few new friends into our classroom. We have a young corn snake, a gecko, and tadpoles visiting our room alongside Haven.
We also invited our local reptile expert, upper elementary student Wubi, as a guest speaker. He did a fabulous job leading the discussion and answering questions about his adventures.
The Golden Crystal Turquoise Dragons look forward to more guest speakers and hands-on learning opportunities as we scale our reptile project.
The Amberwings were happy to finish their town project and share it with families and friends at the beginning of this month.
Shortly after winter break, we decided to study and create a town. We learned about many different parts of towns beginning with homes.
After planning and creating homes, we moved on to learn about transportation, and then spent several weeks learning about businesses and community helpers.
We were able to incorporate our study into writing projects by creating characters that lived in the towns and making books about things that could happen in the town.
Math was an integral part of designing and planning both out buildings and our town. Our Discovery Workshop time has also been rich with storytelling and creating settings.
We plan to display our town at the Spring Celebration on March 20th. We have enjoyed this project and are looking forward to beginning our next study!
Stefi Schafer & Angie Barrett
The 5 senses are the earliest learning tools of any child. A newborn infant will turn her head towards the smell of her mother's milk, a baby startles at loud noises, as soon as a child can manipulate items in reach they go to his mouth to be investigated. Infants use their sight to discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar faces and often enjoy a tickle session. As children grow they continue to use their 5 senses to make sense of the world; they touch, taste, smell, hear, and see what is going on around them and learn from it, building on previous experiences.
This month, the Flying Unicorns have started with a more formal study of the senses. In an early childhood classroom, we often describe what children are doing using words like soft, wet, loud, bright, and so on.
We began with our sense of touch. The teachers prepared two paper bags with a selection of identical items in each bag. A soft pom-pom, a fuzzy pom-pom, a smooth heart, a round crayon, a squishy foam shape, and a pokey toothpick. During circle, two children at a time had a chance to play, "Can you match it without peeking?" One child would choose an item from the bag and show it to the other, and then they would try to find a match in their bag only using their sense of touch. Some items where harder to match up than others. As the children worked we focused on descriptive language.
For Show & Share the kids brought in items related to touch. We had soft and fuzzy stuffed animals and hard and cold cars.
Next up the kids choose to explore sound. During circle we had a number of identical containers filled with a variety of objects to make a sound when shaken. The children took turns shaking a container and guessing the match. We had bowls with the corresponding items on the rug.
Nearly all the kids were immediately able to match the pom-poms: "They are soft and make no noise." The coins, too, got assigned easily. A friend said money makes a "clink clink sound" as he went through all the containers looking for the coins. Rice and macaroni have a similar sound, but after a few miss matches, the Unicorns quickly became able to hear and differentiate all the sounds.
At lunch we spent lots of time talking about hearing the crunch of crackers and veggies, and we discovered that different water bottles make different sounds when drinking.
During Show & Share, we had a lot of sounds. We listened to Ms. Stefi's heartbeat and had a truck that made noise and a pig that squeaked.
We will continue to explore our senses and increase our descriptive vocabulary over the coming weeks.
Less is more:
Your children do not need more
Each day adds more facts
and more confusion
to their lives
Your task is to subtract .
each day seek to remove,
Society's wisdom adds,
and confusion grows.
The wisdom of the Tao subtracts
and serenity flourishes.
If each day one minute less
was spent doing something.
And one minute more
was spent being present,
in simple pleasures,
with your children.
In two months
you would transform your life
One minute less.
--The Parents Tao Te Ching by William Martin
River of Change
The child you see today
will not be here tomorrow
The child arriving home from school,
is different from the one
who left this morning.
Every moment is a death
of all that has gone before,
and a birth
of all that is to come.
You must jump into the river
and let it carry you on its journey.
If you try to stop it
you will drown.
-- The Parents Tao Te Ching by William Martin
What would Drama be if there was no Drama! So due to the drama of life, the play was postponed. The students took a vote between performing the play in May or making a movie of the play and giving families a copy to view at home.
An overwhelming majority said, "Film it!" So over the next month we will have someone coming in to film our production piece by piece. Please be sure to bring all costumes to school as soon as you have time, so that when the videographer comes we will be ready. Meanwhile, we will be continuing to work on other fun entertainments and skills!
March and 18 degrees, brrrrrr. February brought Jack Frosts and Frost Fairies to the Flying Unicorns Class. We looked at real and photographed frost on leaves, and then we painted our own frost onto leaves. Sometimes frost covers the whole leaf, but most often it goes all along the edges and the ridges. We also finished our Nature Collage project, which should be coming home soon.
The Secret Magic Amberwings also participated in creating frost colored leaves and the Nature Collage project followed by yarn art. Nierikas (pronounced Near-eeka) are traditional yarn paintings made by the Huichol people. We looked at some photos of their beautiful art and then worked on our own.
The Golden Crystal Turquoise Dragons and the Yellow Electric Wiggly Weasels also worked on the yarn art. Later this month, the Weasels and I will be taking a class trip to view some of this beautiful art and talk about the culture that created them.
Check out Lore's section above to read about what the oldest two classes have been up to in art and to learn about our exciting Artist in Residency program coming this month!
We hope you enjoyed reading the Indigo Messenger.
Be sure to it to anyone you think may be interested.
The folks at
March 5: Forest School Session 3 Begins
March 8: Snow Make-Up Day and Forest Kindergarten Session 3 Begins
March 20: Spring Celebration and Open House -- Registration for 2019-2020 Begins
March 29: Spring Conferences
April 24: Give Big NRV Day
April 22-26: Spring Break
For the most current version of our school events, check the online calendar.
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.
A Little Monkey Business, Aaron Staengl, Abby Reczek Pottery, Abby Thomas, Adija Art, Agatha Grimsley, Alice Moore, Amy Avery, Andrea Goodrum, Andrea Smith, Angie Barrett, Anne Vaughan Designs, Apple Ridge Farm, Aven Tanner, Ayurveda Posters, Barb Gillespie, Bentwood Oddities Rustic Woodwork, Blue Heron Pottery, Brad Collier, Carol Volker, Chantilly Farm, Chaz Freels, Chris Barrett, City Magazine, Classic Caterers, Cocoa Mia, Confectious Shenanigans, Corey Avellar, David Hall, Deb Tome, Devin Dhesi, Dogtown Roadhouse, Dr. Perrin Heartway, Ed Gralla, Elisha Reygle, Ellen Shankin, Elma's Corner, Emily Grace Sarver-Wolf, Eric Wolf, Fields Edge Farm, Flirting with Chemicals, Floyd Community Theatre Guild, Floyd Country Store, Floyd Focusing, Floyd PFLAG, Floyd Safety Aware, Floyd Yoga Jam, FloydFest, George Penn, Give Peace a Dance, Grateful Bread, Greg Sherman, Justin Grimes,
Harvest Moon, Healing Tree Wellness Center, Heidi Dickens, Her Majesty, Holly Haworth, Inge Terrill Wellness Coaching, InStill Mindfulness, Isabele,
Jagadisha, Jake Retting, Jake Thomas, Jamie Reygle, Jamiel Allen, Janiah Allen, Jean Stark, Jeff Liverman, Jenni Heartway, Jody Franko, Joel Stopka, Jordan Harman, June Johnson, Justin Miller, Kate Gonzalez, Lagniappe, Lily Byler, Linda Waggaman, Little River Woodworks, Local Roots Restaurant, Longfin Grill, Lore Deighan, Louise Wolf Chandler, Luke Staengl, Luke Thomas, Manifesting Wellness Family Chiropractic, Martha Sullivan, Martha Taylor, Mary Brown, Max Bain, Medina Mercantile, Melissa Maynard, Michael Jones, Michael Keyes, Missy Branks, Mountain 2 Island, Music Road Co., Naomi Crews, New Mountain Mercantile, Oak Haven Lodge, On the Water, Pat Rose, Pat Sharkey, Paul LeMay, Pearmund Cellars, Photographic Dreams, Poor Farm Pottery, Ray Braley, Rebecca's Pantry, Red Rooster Coffee Roaster, Republic of Floyd, Richard Perry, Rick Hall, Rita Hamm, Rose of the Winds Travel, Sam, Sarah McCarthy, Sarah McCarthy Pottery, Shamama, Shelly Fox, Shelly Sherman, ShirleyAnn Burgess, Skyline National Bank, Starroot, Stefi Schafer, Stephanie Sky, Stephen Wallace, T&E Small Engine, Tammie Sarver, The June Bug Center, Theresa Smyth, This Was a Tree, Tom Franko,
Under the Sun Tattoo, Urban Gypsy, Venture Out Creative Agency, Vladimir Espinosa, Willis Greenstreet, Woodland Wonders, Woolly Bear, and Wrendy Wrenn Werstlein
for contributing to Floyd Mardi Gras.
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!
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.