Thank you all for Giving Really Big last month and supporting our Social and Emotional Learning and Buddy Bench program! We received nearly $8,200 in donations from over 60 contributors, and nearly 90 people attended our School Spruce Up Giving Day Event.

With special thanks to Board Trustees Bob Sisk and Rick Parrish, our first Buddy Bench has been completed and will be installed on our playground very soon. Over the summer, we will be working on building more benches and developing our SEL and Buddy Bench programs to share with the community.

Thank you for supporting this project and our school!

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

Shelly Emmett
Shelly Emmett
Every year after school is finished, our staff completes a timeline of events from that year. It is always a rich experience to look back at all of the moments that make up a school year and see them all on paper. There is usually laughter, sometimes tears, and always the kind of storytelling that helps to put things in perspective. By the time we are finished, there is a collective sense of accomplishment and gratitude for having the opportunity to work with the children and families that we do, in the way that we can because of where we work.

This year, I am especially grateful that we were able to navigate the big challenge of adding time and school days to our calendar, thanks to the flexibility of our students, parents, and staff, as well as some timely feedback from parents. Thank you to all of you for handling this challenge with ease!

Knights of the Round Trailer
Andy Anderson
Andy Anderson
During OM a few weeks ago, the kids were introduced to Frederick Bailey, a.k.a Frederick Douglass (see if they remember his name!), in a picture book based on his autobiography.

Now, the Knights of the Round Trailer have begun reading Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass. As Douglass himself puts it, this is harrowing stuff - Douglass illustrated a firsthand account of the horrors of slavery, lending an invaluable credibility to the abolitionist movement. Students will compose a major reflection on their thoughts and feelings when we are finished with his story.

In place of our usual morning quotes, we are reading Aesop's fables.  However, the kids have to arrive at their own moral for the story and then relate it to their own lives. Next, we share our reflections and see how they match up with Aesop's given moral. We learned that like Frederick Douglass, Aesop was also a slave who gained his freedom.

Soon, and very soon, we will finish reading Custer and Crazy Horse and hopefully devote more time to Howard Zinn's A Young People's History.  

In science, we're exploring the elements of the periodic table, and the kids are well on their way to having all of them memorized in order. Not only can they recite them to you, they can sing them to you to the tune of Offenbach's Infernal Gallop (the can-can)! 

We continue to welcome friends into our classroom. The kids are enjoying walking the Rainbow Path with Ashera Rose, as well as mindfulness practices through technology with Beth Spillman. With their help, we are learning to look outward and inward to find peace.

A new addition, Haley Leopold, will also be joining us once a week for the remainder of the year to provide some math enrichment.
Thanks for your generosity with your time and talents, Ashera, Beth, and Haley!

Our end of year field trip is taking form, as the students unanimously decided to explore sensory deprivation at the AquaFloat flotation center in Charlottesville. We will study the words of sensory deprivation pioneer, John C. Lilly, to help prepare us for this unique experience, as we near the date of the field trip, still TBD.

Black Falcons
Shelly Sherman
Shelly Sherman
I have just begun reading The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall. He talks about how central stories are to our own humanity and why we are a storytelling animal. I am fascinated with the topic of story and human development. One of the reasons I enjoy teaching so much is that I get a front row seat to the magical world of a child's story construction.

This past month, the Black Falcons have been immersed in stories. As we gather together we share stories about our daily lives.
Our play, T he Three Woodlems, the Evil Witch and her Cat Luna, was a story that we wrote together as a class and then performed for our family and friends.
We have also been writing individual stories about topics that range from our autobiographies to fantasy stories about dragons, princesses and chickens.

Everyday we take time to read stories together as a class, on our own, or as partners.

The time to tell their stories is a gift that we give our children. Together we not only tell our stories but we take the time to create new stories together. Jonathan Gottschall theorizes that the stories we read and tell and make have the power to change the world.

Ruby Diamond Dragons
Hari Berzins & Jenni Heartway
Hari Berzins
Jenni Heartway

One of our favorite places to visit this time of year is Spring Valley.  It's one of the first places that we notice signs of spring on our campus.
Once we arrive, the students slowly make their way down the creek...stopping to explore the nooks and crannies carved out by the water.  On our last visit we were rewarded with many insects, lots of algae, spring ephemerals, a newt, and an animal skeleton that the students identified as a racoon.

Each discovery led to interesting discussions and wonders. "Is that insect on our field guide? " "What do raccoons eat?"  "Is this much algae good for fish?" Some questions we were able to answer, and some we were not.  

Allowing students the space to wonder and look for answers on their own nurtures their innate curiosity. Rachel Carson, author of The Silent Spring and The Sense of Wonder, once said, "If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."

We are so fortunate to live in a community where our children have the opportunity to be supported by many adults who value these important outdoor experiences, whether at home, during recess, on a field trip, or in the classroom. 

Rosa Sharks
Stefi Schafer
Stefi Schafer

One of the values at BMS is reverence for life. How can we use our school values in our everyday practice? What does it look like when our values are part of the curriculum?
We catch and release bugs that have found their way into our space, and we agreed not to squish ants we encounter at our school. We even have caterpillars in our room, well they are now chrysalises, and we are waiting to see them emerge as butterflies.  
While Reverence for Life is part of our learning year round, spring naturally lends itself to deepen our understanding. New life emerges all around us, and we are noticing changes in nature. These observations lead us to think about flowers and plants. I brought in some daffodils and forsythias, and we painted, creating two dimensional pieces of art representing what we see.

We talked about how plants grow and what they need to flourish. "Dirt, water and sun, and a seed and then it grows..." We prepared trays with soil and sowed grass, bird seeds and chia. These plants emerge quickly and allow for easy observation.
What did we observe? We noticed that all the sprouts were leaning in one direction...towards the window... The children formed several hypotheses including "the plant grew towards the sun in the window because there is a roof on our classroom and the sun cannot come down like that..." We tested the hypotheses by turning the tray around, and by the next day the plants began leaning in the opposite direction!

Our interest in planting continued during our Give Big Day playground spruce up, when the Rosa Sharks helped to plant some flowers in the garden beds. We have been checking on them and watering as needed. We also brought plant-themed items for Show 'n' Share, and read several books about gardening and flowers.  
Currently we have some beans soaking before they go into the soil. We want to compare beans that had been soaked with dry beans. Which ones do you think will grow first?

One of our favorite projects has been planting seedlings in a window box for our deck. After we were done, we realized we needed to add a new job, gardener, to our job chart. Every day a different child will check the flowers outside and water them if needed, as well as take care of our potted plants.

It is this hands-on, meaningful doing that connects not just our brains but our emotions to true understanding to vague concepts in the world of a preschooler and laying the foundation to grow into capable community members who possess the courage and wisdom to lead fulfilling lives.

Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy
This month, we began doing Spanish and yoga together, and it has worked out incredibly well!

We have been continuing with the weather, which is great for this fluctuating spring season! Hace sol, (it's sunny), Hace viento (it's windy), Have fresco (it's chilly), Esta lloviendo (it's raining), Esta nublando (it's cloudy).

We have also been working on parts of the body with games and lots of repetition. The kids love the word for 'backside' the best. I understand because ' pompesito' is so much more fun to say than the English word. Ask your child how to pronounce it. They will know!

We have a new excitement for our asanas now that we are doing them in Spanish and making a simple game to see who can move into the pose first when I say it in espanol. We have been doing serpiente (snake), cangrejo (crab), bujo (owl), arbol (tree), perro (dog), gato (cat), guerrero (warrior), pajaro volando (flying bird).

For Cinco de Mayo, we celebrated by learning the history of the holiday then doing a craft project. We created a Cinco de Mayo ' bosillo de vocabulario', a vocabulary pocket. We decorated our pockets with bright colors and made flags to hang from them. We will use them to put our vocabulary words inside and play games to practice our new words. Come visit the enrichment room to see them! 

Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan
As we gear up for the last stretch of school we will be welcoming two visitors into the art room.... 

Taliaferro Logan, director of Olin Hall Galleries at Roanoke College will be bringing a paper flower making studio up the mountain to work with the two older classes as a part of an on going installation project that will be displayed at Roanoke College in 2008, the Paper Blooms Project.  (can you insert this link under paper blooms project -   This project is free and open to the public so if you are interested in participating yourself please follow the link for a schedule of Paper Bloom workshops available.  We are fortunate at BMS to have the workshop come to us!

Martha Taylor, a Floyd local, will be coming to work with the Ruby Diamond Dragons in creating a Peace Train.  Martha has worked with students and staff at BMS over the years, exploring and interpreting dreams with our older students and leading the staff in playful games to promote laughter and connection.  Martha will be talking with the students about what Peace means to them, what it feels like and what it looks like, and then each child will create a train car with their visual interpretation of peace.  

I am excited to welcome these two guests into our art making process and look forward to wrapping up the year with a bang!

Contemplative Studies

"Have a cup of tea."

Once, Chao Chou asked a monk, "have you been here before?"

The monk responded, "Yes, I have."

Chao Chou said, "Have a cup of tea."

Later, Chao Chou asked another monk, "Have you been here before?"

The monk replied, "No, I haven't."

Chao Chou said, "Have a cup of tea."

The head monk of the temple had been observing this, and said to Chao Chou, "Whenever Your Reverence asks a monk, 'Have you been here before?' whether they say 'Yes' or 'No,' you say, 'Have a cup of tea.' What's the meaning of this?"

Chao Chou answered, "Head Monk! Have a cup of tea."

-- Wu teng ho yuan

May we all be in the Present Moment.
May we all be content in every moment.
May we all play in our moments.  

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
May 6: Friday Class - OM
May 20: Friday Class - OM
May 30: No School - Memorial Day

June 1: Field Day
June 3: Friday Class - ALL Students and Last regular day for preschool and kindergarten students not participating in the extra June days (June 6-9)
June 6: Project Fair and Open House (6 to 8pm)
June 10: Friday Class - ALL Students and End-of-Year Celebration (1 to 3:15) 
As we spend more time outdoors and in the woods, please be sure to keep an eye open for ticks! 
Board of Trustees

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is Wednesday, May 11, at 5:30 in the enrichment room. The public is welcome to attend.  


In Gratitude We Thank

Andy Anderson, Andy Volker, Angela Kessler and Warren Lapine, Angie and Chris Barrett, Anita and David Kessler, Ann Mary Roberts, Arthur Swers, Ashley Morales, Billy Weitzenfeld, Bob Grubel, Bob Sisk, Carol Volker, Cassie Wilson, Cheryl Carter, Chick & Linda Fox, Chris Carter, Corinne and Bill Graefe, Craig Carter, Elisa DiFeo, Georgia and Mike Crews, Hari Berzins, Inge Terrill, Jamie Reygle, Jayn Avery, Jean Smith, Jenni Heartway, Jennifer Powell, John McBroom, Justin Miller, Kari Kovick, Kathleen Brennan, Kathryn Ashera Rose, Katie Roberts, Kelly and Shanti Posadas, Lore Deighan, Luke Staengl, Martha Sullivan, Michael Maslaney, Nancy Parrish, Pat Shoemaker, Pat Stroud, Patti Talbot, Paula Doughtie, Rick Parrish, Rose McCutcheon, Sarah McCarthy, Shelly Fox, Shelly Sherman, Shirleyann Burgess, Stefi Schafer, Steve Weber, Susan Heath, Susan Icove, Susan Sisk, and Terrie Wood for donating on Give Big Day.
Clark Gas & Oil, CERC, Kristan Morrison, and Anonymous for being matching donors on Give Big Day.
Wills Ridge Lumber, Slaughter's Nursery, and Luke and Ashera for donating materials for our Give Big Day Event.
Hope Sharp, Andy Volker, Bob Sisk, Rick Parrish, Kristan Morrison, Paul Sullivan, Ed Gralla, Winter Hart, Jagadisha, Rissy Berliner, Luke Staengl, Ashera Rose, Misty Harris, Josh Clay, Jamie and Elisha Reygle, Lara Davis, Justin Grimes, Justin Miller, Mike Jones, and all the other parents, friends, staff, and students who helped during our Give Big Day Event.
Community Foundation of the New River Valley
for hosting Give Big Day.

Endowment of Floyd County for awarding BMS a grant through the Community Foundation of the New River Valley.

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

Citizens Telephone Cooperative for donating internet services.

Beth Spillman, Linda Johnson, Jessica Maas, and Max Biskup 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