If you've been on campus lately, you no doubt have noticed the work that has been done and is still ongoing. Classrooms have new floors, old furniture has been replaced, signs are being revitalized, and the trailer is being renovated. Our little school is growing, and we are racing to keep up! 


Later this week, we will begin our annual Fall Campaign: A Blue Mountain Barn Raising. Tune in to see what's next at BMS!

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

Shelly Fox
Shelly Fox
We just finished up our first set of conferences for the school year, and in preparing for them our staff also reflected on the bigger picture of how BMS's values and practices are reflected in the growth reviews and social emotional learning assessment that we use for conferences. There are three internal assessments we have been using for several years to evaluate how well we staff members are meeting our ideals and intentions as a contemplative progressive school. Every year, we find new ways to refine our practices to more consistently meet the markers on these internal assessments: indicators that we are practicing the model that we intend to practice.

Some of these markers include:
  • Use of language that encourages compassion and awareness toward self and others.
  • Students have high expectations of themselves and teachers are committed to helping them gather the tools necessary to reach those goals.
  • Mutual attention and space is given to questions and answers, there is room for the rhetorical and there are opportunities to reflect before answering or drawing a conclusion.
We believe that these markers (and our annual review of them) of our school set us apart, and that they are central to our students' positive learning experiences here at BMS.  
Staying true to ourselves means that we must make room for honest reflection about the areas on which we are compelled to focus in order to improve our consistency. It takes patience and practice, but with greater consistency in implementing our model comes an increased sense of accomplishment and integrity, which is our goal.

Los Burritos Banditos
Holly Haworth
Holly Haworth
Know your watershed. This is a principle of Deep Ecology that the students and I are exploring this year. Watersheds are geographical boundaries cut out by water that shape our land. They are not the boundaries of highways, property lines, or county lines. Knowing our watersheds is a way to go deeper into our place and discover what's really here. Knowing a watershed is to reach back into ancient time and contemplate earth's processes. It's to contemplate how the land was shaped and how it shaped the species that evolved here, how it shapes us.

My Watershed is a learning unit that I am building this year, based on a brilliant curriculum that a Native Hawaiian teacher shared with me. It centers around the question "What are my waters?" It looks at how waters connect one place to another, and how they shape the particular place in which we live. 

In our My Watershed program, I aim to get my students thinking deeply about their home ground. I want them to dig in and start asking questions.

We began to dig in-literally-last week on a piece of farmland that sits on the banks of the Little River, and the students found pottery shards, fire-cracked rocks, and arrow points made by the people who lived here long ago, the Tutelo. They discovered a deep history just beneath the dirt, close to the surface. They began to think about how water shapes culture and patterns of human habitation. 

This is only the beginning of what I hope is an incredible journey inward- into our place, into the mountains, into the past, into the ground beneath us. 

Black, Fire-Breathing Pythons
Shelly Sherman
Shelly Sherman
The Pythons have been having a Monster Mash! For the second year, we participated in The Global Monster Project along with classes from all over the world. Each class designed a piece of the monster; we did the monster's pet snake. Then, the designs were sent to the other participating classes, and we received the descriptions of the parts they designed. We spent the entire month of October creating our monster, whom we named Sugar Booger 47.

Our monster has a skateboard, a pet bat, an x-box, a cane, and a toothbrush as well as toes, fingernails, knees, elbows, and a very large blue tongue.

We are asked in the project how our monster could help the world using science, math and technology. Here is how the Pythons responded to that question:

 "Our monster would be president of the United States instead of Donald Trump. It would end capitalism by redistributing wealth among all of the people in our country. It would rid the world of air pollution and stop global warming by sucking up the bad air and releasing oxygen like plants do. It would fix the ozone layer so that we would be safe from the sun's rays. It would come up with cures for allergies and fear. It would help all of humanity to not be frightened of snakes."

Some of the schools who participated are in countries that are facing very serious struggles. Children are creating monsters in Myanmar, Turkey, Russia, Brazil, and Poland. We have mapped all of the countries and states where monsters are being built and have had a chance to talk about some of the differences and similarities in our cultures and our ways of life.

This project crisscrosses our curriculum in the areas of reading, math, science, writing and social studies. The students practice so many important skills including collaboration, decision making, measurement, following directions, map skills, the democratic process, and large and fine motor skills.

Our monster is hanging out (literally) in our classroom for a few weeks and then plans to take a holiday with all of the other monsters from around the globe. Please come take a peek before Sugar Booger 47 flies off to Monster Party Island!

Lemon Turquoise
Discovery Dragon Butterflies
Jenni Heartway & Anna Nation
Jenni Heartway
Anna Nation
Ghosts, bats, zombies, vampires...  Our classroom began buzzing with the talk of spooky things once the calendar flipped to October. It also inspired an engaging project in our student-led, emergent curriculum classroom.

Part of having multi-age classrooms mean that the older students share their experience and past projects with the new students. Last year, the students created a Haunted House based on interesting buildings in the Block Area. This year, we happened to be in the middle of a study of reptiles when we were deciding on our next project. Our older students, remembering their Haunted House from last year, immediately began to look for ways to combine spooky things and reptiles. So, on Halloween, we shared our

There are a few reasons why some children (and some adults) like spooky things. For some, it is way to engage with objects or situations that are exciting without any real danger. It's fun to pretend and can be enjoyable if you are in a safe environment. When the scary situation is over, people are often left with a feeling of confidence. If it is a shared experience, we connect with those who share it because of the dopamine and oxytocin released. 
Frequently, you will see children play scary games or act out spooky scenarios. For example, it was interesting to listen to the conversations our students had while working on our Haunted House project last year. Many knew that the spooky creatures we acted out in our haunted house were not real, but some still had questions. There are stories passed along from cousins or overheard on the playground.  Zombies are some of those creatures they're not sure about. They talked about what zombies actually do and how they need to alter their movements to really look like a zombie lurching across the classroom. They did the same scenario over and over again, to get it "just right." This repetitive play, and acting out scary things, serves an important function. Replaying the scary event is a way to neutralize the scary things, and make them less scary.

As adults, we can become habituated to scary things. We understand what will happen when the creepy music begins to play, and we start to steel our nerves. Children (being young) haven't had as many experiences with spooky things, so they will often create the repetition themselves.
There are many great resources out there if you are looking for a "just right" spooky movie or book for your child. Common Sense Media offers review, alternate suggestions and age ranges for a wide variety of media.  
From Anna...
I had a wonderful first few weeks learning about life in the early learning community at Blue Mountain School.It's been great to hike, play, and work with all of the children.The creativity in this group seems endless!I have spent the past five years working in various Montessori school settings, and I am enjoying learning how my experiences fit into the BMS model.I love seeing children grow as a member of their communities and as individuals, andI am looking forward to meeting all of you and working with you and your children this year!

Shiny Inchworms
Stefi Schafer & Tammie Sarver
Stefi Schafer
Tammie Sarver

This is such a beautiful time of year in our region and in our classroom! The Shiny Inchworms have been observing the season changing during Woods Wednesday, on the playground, and all around our classroom.

We have especially been noticing and discussing the leaves changing. Families have seen us use leaves in all of the centers of our classroom.

Friends have been deeply exploring the beauty and differences in the unique qualities in color, texture, shape and even sound through a variety of provocations and media.

We've encouraged collecting, sorting, and classifying our leafy finds, and we have begun to identify some of the trees the leaves come from.

We've used paint sample cards to inspire a color based nature scavenger hunt during one of our Woods Wednesdays. Friends worked together discussing their observations and found many matches, even in challenging colors! Our classroom has used leaves for tracing, drawing, painting, and even with shape punches!
As October came to a close, the Shiny Inchworms grew together as a community, strengthening relationships and interactions. While our familiarity with each other and our observation skills grow, we're learning to see our similarities and our differences and what makes each of us unique, just like the leaves in our woods. We'll be continuing to explore ourselves as citizens in our community and as individuals as we move towards the warming winter months.

Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy


Throughout the school year, we focus on the core values of Blue Mountain School. Right now we are focusing on Community and Diversity. What better way to build community than by practicing Partner Yoga?


This practice encourages students to work together to accomplish the various poses and helps to strengthen relationships. Below are some pictures from the older two classes as they practice partner yoga. 

Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan
Now that we are all settled into the routines of the school year, the classes have diverged into their own project paths.....

The Shiny Inchworms are working with fall leaves and fall colors.

The Lemon Turquoise Discovery Dragons are making reptile and amphibian masks.

The Black Fire Breathing Pythons are making self-directed work about the theme community.

And the Burrito Banditos are making sketchbooks:

I am enjoying each and every class and the unique and special gifts that they bring to the art room, and I am finding the kids to be exceptionally engaged and focused on their art making. It has truly been a joy teaching every week. Thank you as always for sharing your children with me!

Contemplative Studies
As we journey together in the practice of mindfulness, we begin to realize that all we need to do is stay in the present moment, the place from where all our contentment and peace arises. It is really quite simple but extremely difficult without the desire to be still.

So, how do we nurture that desire to be still? When we immerse ourselves in the things we love to do, we can easily be still.
For me, when I am in nature, there are these moments of wonderment, like noticing a red eft walking slowly across a patch of moist, green moss.

Yesterday, we were on a hike and came upon five deer nibbling in the woods. We were calm and peaceful, so the deer just stayed there. In that moment there was this stillness. Recognizing the power of these moments, we realize that we may be more still than we think. By paying attention to the wonderment we experience in life, we nurture stillness. This is a natural state of mindfulness that everyone has. Let's keep developing it!

Corey Avellar
Corey Avellar
At the beginning of the year, our primary goals in drama class are confidence and comfort, so we've been doing lots of games to build confidence and to get to know each other and ourselves. Performing can be a bit scary, and feelingsafe and secure in our performance space with our fellow actors is crucial!
In the Shiny Inchworm's class we are using drama activities to practice expressing and interpreting feelings, activities, body language, and animal behavior. We are working on developing attention and concentration, working with others, listening, following instructions, and being a good audience. Community is our current school theme, so we are also working with games in which animal communities work together to find food and shelter for the winter.
The three older classes are all working on memorizing poems and performing them for the class. Stage presence, speaking clearly, pacing/timing, eye contact, centering for clam, being present, audience behavior, and appreciation for each other's work are important skills we are practicing.
Please read the drama sheets I sent home at conference time to see what we work on in Drama and how we go about it.

Forest Kindergarten
Jenni Heartway & Tammie Sarver
Jenni Heartway
Tammie Sarver
Last month, Tammie and I were fortunate enough to attend the Virginia Association of Environmental Educator's Conference in Front Royal, Virginia, where we presented a talk titled, Forest Kindergarten From Scratch

Our session was full! There were many educators interested in learning about how we spend time in the woods with young people. We covered everything from budgeting, set up and materials to how to handle tricky situations like snakes, ticks, and toileting. We enjoyed getting to know the other educators and learning about new and exciting ways to share the outdoors with students.

We spent the second day of the conference touring the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, a place dedicated to researching habitat and behavior of endangered species. We felt very lucky to have the opportunity to share the wonderful things that our young friends are doing in the woods here at Blue Mountain School!

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
Nov 14: Original Works fundraiser orders due at school  
Nov 21: Thankful Celebration (12 to 2) at Zion Lutheran Church
Nov 22-24: Thanksgiving Break 

Keep your eyes open for ticks! It may be November, but with the warm weather  the ticks are still out. 
Board of Trustees

The date and time of the November meeting of the Board of Trustees will be announced via email. The public is welcome to attend.  


In Gratitude We Thank
An Anonymous Donor for supporting our scholarship fund.

Will Bason for inviting Los Burritos Banditos to his land to explore the history of Floyd.

Ann Mary Roberts and Katie Phillips for supporting our scholarship fund.

Scott and Mary Freday, Ashleigh Bowman, Chris Carter, and Terrie Wood for helping with our Halloween Celebration.

All the Spooky Chefs who brought delicious treats to our Halloween Celebration.

Parents who helped transport kids for field trips.

Elena Hernandez for helping in the Lemon Turquoise Dragon Butterfly class.

Rachel Troyer for loaning her tiller.

Bob Sisk for donating a tiller.

Rissy Berliner and Linda Fox for sharing yummy treats with the staff.

Ashleigh Bowman for donating a projector.

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