Indigo Messenger


Welcome back to school! The year is off to a great start, and so is our $10K in 30 Days Growing Pains Campaign! We have received plenty of donations, including several sizable ones.

Please encourage your friends and family members to participate in this campaign because this is very much a case of many hands make light work: the more people who donate, the less we need to ask of them.

And remember, all donations of $25 or more receive a copy of Colored Pencils, and all donors are in the running to win other prizes too. You could win:
  • One of five copies of the BMS Children's Stories book;
  • One of ten copies of the school's upcoming Local Gifts Coupon Book (featuring hundreds of dollars in savings around Floyd); or
  • One of two packets of hand-made, paper greeting cards made by BMS students!

All donations of $100 or more also go in the draw to win a beautiful art piece created by the elementary students.


Finally, the person who makes the largest donation to the campaign will receive:

  • Naming rights for the new mobile classroom,
  • A personalized song, written and performed by the students, and
  • A potluck meal in their honor!

To make a donation, visit the school's website and click on the 'Donate' button. You can also mail or bring by a donation to either school office. 

Thank you very much to everyone who has donated so far, including:

David Lander, Jean Smith, Angela Kessler and Warren Lapine, Lester Gillespie, David & Mary Wiley, Kristan Morrison, Trish Reynolds, Alicia & Doug Fisher, Andrew & Carol Volker, Chris Angileri, Rick Parrish, Virginia Klara, Carrie Keller, Robert & Loraine Coker, Michael & Georgie Crews, Rebekah Hicks & Arthur Rodriguez, Jim Bier, Sydney Wellman, Stephanie & Jim Shortt, Amy Avery, Tamra Billand, and Joanne Stauffer.


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

Elementary Direction
Shelly Emmett
Shelly Emmett


This summer has been a busy one at BMS! At the elementary school, we moved our offices and classrooms and added a mobile classroom, too. If you visited the school over the summer you know what a dramatic transformation took place over a relatively short period of time. We learned that when you start with a dedicated staff and their families, add willing volunteers, skilled laborers, and lots of long hours, then work that at one time seemed insurmountable can actually get accomplished! Thank you to everyone who helped us get the elementary school ready for a new year. We needed every single person who helped (even the 6-year-olds!), and we would not be ready without the unique contribution made by each of you.


We are fortunate to have such a strong school community, and this year it continues to grow: we have quite a few new families joining us, several of whom have moved to Floyd to come to BMS. As a result, we have a new Lower Elementary class, a new classroom space for our Upper Elementary and Middle School class, and a whole new High School!

We also have several new teachers joining the elementary school staff: Katie Wells will be teaching Creative Expression, Ashley Morales will be co-teaching in the Early Childhood class, Jenni Heartway will be teaching the Lower Elementary class, and Brien Egan will be joining the team of teachers for our Upper Elementary and Middle School class. I am always excited to see how our school is able to be a platform for our teachers to bring their unique skills and passions to our students. Our returning staff and I all look forward to working with Katie, Ashley, Jenni, and Brien in the coming year and to supporting them as they become an important part of our school.

Welcome back, everyone! 
High School Direction
Joe Klein
Joe Klein


In just a few days, Blue Mountain High School will be opening its doors to welcome its first students. I'd like to give a special thank you to everyone who has helped make this day possible, including all the BMS staff and Board Members, our generous donors, our supportive BMS and Floyd communities, and of course our wonderful students. I look forward to sharing more about the high school in the days to come!

High School
Ezekiel Fugate
Ezekiel Fugate


This year has been full of new beginnings for my family.  Our cow had her third calf back in February.  One of our chickens just hatched seven chicks. In July, my wife and I welcomed our first baby, Acacia Fox, into the world. And all of us - cows, chickens, and baby included - safely landed in our new home here in Floyd. We've been overwhelmed by the nourishing and warm welcome that we've received, and we feel quite honored to be a part of this special community. 

Ohh, and there's a brand-new high school opening its doors on Tuesday! We're incredibly excited to be kick starting this new chapter of the Blue Mountain School story. The high school will strive to meet the individual needs of our students through a combination of classes, independent projects, and group projects. Students will emerge from the entire Blue Mountain School trajectory with a deep knowledge of themselves, the environment, and the complex issues that define our times. Check out the high school website  to learn more.  Stay tuned as this story unfolds and gives way to many more new beginnings!

Upper Elementary & Middle School
Brien Egan, Jonathan Vandergrift, and Inge Terrill
Brien Egan
Jonathan Vandergrift
Inge Terrill



Brien Says...

What a great welcome I've had to Blue Mountain School so far! I can't wait to spend more time working with the upper elementary and middle school students and my awesome co-teachers. Here's to a spectacular year! 


Jonathan Says...

With the new school year, so comes new changes.The biggest - especially in size - is our move to the new mobile classroom.It has really come together after many folks dedicated countless hours to getting the space ready for the kids.I greatly appreciate all those who assisted in making it happen - particularly a couple guys I know who spent some late nights working on the space leading up to the Welcome Back Tea.


Another change is that I will be teaching History and Social Studies this year.While I truly enjoyed having math and language arts with the kids last year, I'm eager to begin various hands-on activities to help the students better understand ancient civilizations and current events and how our government works...and sometimes doesn't work.  Sadly, I'm sure there will be moments during our discussions when the students will become completely baffled about our political system as much as anyone else!

Inge Says...

I can't believe it is that time again. Time for all of us to get into a new routine. To get used to waking up earlier in the morning and to heading off to school.


Wow! This is going to be a big year for the upper elementary and middle school students at BMS! We have a whole new classroom. In fact, a whole new building all to ourselves. We also have a new teacher this year. We are welcoming Brien Egan into our fold. He will be our main teacher. We are very excited to be working with him and to getting to know him better. Brien will be teaching each morning and Jonathan and I will be teaching in the afternoons.


My plan for this year for Science will be to continue what we started last year in Health: learning about our bodies and all the systems in it. This year we will review what we learned and expand on that by studying nutrition. How can we keep our bodies healthy and vibrant? What foods are good to eat? What does it mean to have a food allergy, and why do so many people these days suffer from food allergies? How do you make kombucha? How do you make kiefer? Oh what fun we will have this year!!


We will also be studying more about subjects like nature, ecology, botany, and entomology. We will be working together on projects with the high school students and their science teacher, Ezekiel Fugate, who has moved to the Floyd community and is eager to work with the upper elementary and middle school students again. He and I have some great ideas about what the two classes can learn together.


I recently started working with the fine folks over at the Spikenard Farm Bee Sanctuary. Gunther Hauk and his wife Vivian Struve-Hauk are bee keepers and educators, among many other things. They are interested in developing educational programs for children at BMS (elementary and high school) about honey bees, pollinators, and environmental stewardship. I will be helping them develop these new programs and plan to have the BMS students be part of a pilot program.


I am also working as the Environmental Education Coordinator at Apple Ridge Farm in Copper Hill. I am looking forward to having our class be a part of their educational programs again this year and to do some fun community service projects there. Perhaps we can have the students do the zip line this year and climb the 60 foot climbing tower! What fun, what fun!!


I believe this will be a fantastic, funtastic school year! I look forward to living, loving, and learning together as a school and as a community!

Middle Elementary
Miranda Altice
Miranda Altice


Summer break is always hard to give up. But for Blue Mountain School teachers and staff, the last few weeks are solely dedicated to the preparation of the new school year so that everyone - especially the students - are welcomed back to an inviting and fun place to learn, socialize, and grow. When I think about all of my returning students and the new ones we are so happy to include, I acknowledge the memories and the ghosts of my summer, and I truly look forward to this new year! So remember for the first day of school, "A smile is a universal welcome."

Welcome back!!!
Lower Elementary
Jenni Heartway
Jenni Heartway


It is hard to believe that the summer is drawing to a close and the new school year is beginning.  I spent my summer enjoying time with family and friends, settling in to our new home, and excitedly preparing the classroom for students.  I am very excited to join the Blue Mountain School community, and I look forward to getting to know the students and families in the coming weeks!
Early Learning
Hari Berzins
Hari Berzins

What a blessing and honor to be gifted with the opportunity to teach our five-year-olds. Thank you, parents, for the faith you place in me and Blue Mountain School to nurture the growth of your children.
As we sat together at our class meeting on Thursday, I was overwhelmed with tears of joy. I loved watching you create your prayer flags together. I found this on Wikipedia: "The Tibetans believe prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all. By hanging flags in high places the blessings depicted on the flags are carried to all beings. As wind passes over the surface of the flags, which are sensitive to the slightest movement of the wind, the air is purified and sanctified by the mantras." I like thinking of our prayers being blown by the wind as they spread good will and compassion. Thank you for showing up willing to be present and open to this journey we are on together.

As I mentioned in our class meeting, we will start each morning with a mindfulness circle. When time permits, you are welcome to join our circle for a few minutes. Our silent time will start at 9:00 and I'd like to sing good-bye to the parents as soon as we finish. A quick exit will help this transition. Tears happen, and they will all be fine! 

A few requests:
  • help your child choose an item from home for our first show and share on Tuesday
  • we will spend a lot of time on the floor, so please remove your shoes and leave them in the foyer
  • save sugary treats for home
  • send a change of clothes with your child on Tuesday
Our Wish List:
  • floor pillows
  • dress-ups
  • dish drainer
  • musical instruments--shakers, bells, etc.
  • scarves
Early Childhood
Stefi Schafer & Ashley Morales
Stefi Schafer
Ashley Morales

Welcome! As summer winds down, we are gearing up for a new school year. We are excited to welcome many new children and their families to our preschool class this year as well as a new teacher, Ashley Morales. Ashley is the mother to Lula and Sully, both students at BMS. She is the former farm manager at Floyd EcoVillage and a long time preschool teacher and avid gardener. She is excited to have the opportunity to teach in such a progressive and supportive environment.


As we all come together to form a class, we will be getting to know each other through games, songs and activities. We will spend the first month of school learning about one another and establishing a comfortable routine. We can accomplish this effectively by creating a warm, safe and predictable atmosphere that allows children to play and learn with ease. Circle time, outside time, centers, yoga and art will be daily activities in our classroom. We will be placing an emphasis on self care and cleaning up after ourselves as well.


This year promises to be rich, nourishing and fun and we are excited for the bonds that will be formed and for all the new beginnings!


We are curious to see what name this new class will choose, stay tuned to meet the ???

Literacy & Culture
Virginia Klara
Virginia Klara


School is Opening!

Opening (Encarta definition #6):  an opportunity to do something


So school is by definition an opportunity to do something.


What that something is will be unique for each child and family member involved with Blue Mountain School.


As this school year opens, I welcome the opportunity to do something significant for myself, the children, and the community.


I also welcome the opportunity to do some things and some more things with you and yours --- some things fun; some things challenging; some things creative; some things academic; some things enlightening; some things deepening.....


I am here for you and you are here for me. And for this, I am grateful and eager to be involved teaching Literacy and Cultural Connections at Blue Mountain again.

Yoga & Physical Education
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy


When I think of returning to teach at BMS after the summer, I think of the energy and excitement of our kids and their dynamic smiles. I am looking forward to connecting, focusing, and playing with the kids in my 5th year at Blue Mountain! We recently finished our teacher retreat and planning meetings, and I continue to feel part of something very unique and dynamic at our little school in the Blue Ridge Mountains! I am constantly inspired by our staff and teachers and the gifts and excitement they bring to this new year of activities, learning, and growth.


This year in Yoga and P.E, my aim is to create an environment of self discovery, routine, physical movement, team work, communication, sometimes calm and quiet, appreciation, reflection, honesty, and joy. We always start and usually end every class with quiet reflection time, learning tools to slow down our mind and bodies, to focus joyfully in the present moment.


In Yoga and P.E., it can be powerful weaving the quiet with the outward activities, gathering ourselves inwardly, then practicing to be in touch with our peers during group activities. During the first semester the focus will be on team building, group games, and communication exercises. We will be doing more with the older classes but some with the younger students as well. Building healthy relationships in the classroom in the beginning of the year helps build a strong classroom community for the year. My aim is to practice and play some fun belonging exercises where students feel part of the classroom community, witnessing and honoring the special gifts of their peers as well as their own gifts. We will be outside as much as possible to enjoy the beauty around us as we learn how each one of us is part of our classroom community through yoga and games.
Lore Deighan & Corey Avellar
Lore Deighan
Corey Avellar


Lore Says...
With the new school year approaching and all the buzz that surrounds this exciting time of change, I find myself a bit sad that I will not be there to kick off the year.  However, I also know that home is the place for me right now taking care of our beautiful new baby girl, Ari June Grimes. 

I so look forward to returning as the art teacher come January and to sharing the new addition to our family with our larger BMS family in the months to come! The school and our Blue Mountain community feels incredibly vital right now - so enjoy this new beginning to its fullest and I will be back in full swing in no time!

Now, over to Corey!

Corey Says...
I can't believe it is a new school year already! But we have lots of great plans for this year, and I can't wait to get started. I am doing something a little different this year because I will be art teacher for Lore, who needs some time at home with her new little girl. She will be popping in to see us from time to time and will rejoin us in January. I will also be teaching the Friday program this year, and it is looking a little different but very fun! Stay tuned to hear all about it.
Contemplative Studies


 "Of all things we teach our children, the teaching of mindful presence is one of the most critical yet often ignored in the rush to cover curriculum and manage the task of supervising children...may we draw our attention to a deeper potential in our relationship with our students based on two basic universal needs: to love and to understand. It is said that the teacher's presence in the classroom is the unwritten curriculum. The transformation of our schools and our society begins with the transformation of ourselves through the practice of cultivating mindful awareness."

-Adele Caemmerer, from Thich Nhat Hanh's retreat for teachers in India, 2008

A sincere welcome to all students and families to a healthy, happy and mindful school year! 
Creative Expression
Katie Wells
Katie Wells


I am so excited to be working once again with the students and staff at BMS! I was fortunate enough to work with many of the students during last year's Friday Enrichment Program and again at summer camp, and I can't wait to spend more time with these wonderful people.
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
Elementary Direction
HS Direction
High School
Upper Elementary & Middle School
Middle Elementary
Lower Elementary
Early Learning
Early Childhood
Literacy and Culture
Yoga & PE
Contemplative Studies
Creative Expression
Parent Reminder
On the Calendar
Sept 3: Half Day
Sept 11: Board Meeting (6:30 at Wall Residences)
Sept 25: ES Harvest Celebration (2-3pm)
Sept 27: ES Snow Make Up Day

Chess Club: Back soon! 

Parent Reminder
Both BMS campuses are smoke free. Please respect our school community and do not smoke on school grounds.
Parent Collective
Welcome back, BMS parents and families! If you are interested in joining the Parent Collective, please contact Misty Harris . We have a variety of fun activities in the works for the 2013-14 school year, so watch this space!

Board of Trustees

What a busy summer it has been for the Board of Trustees at Blue Mountain School! The last few months have been packed with creating more space for our growing school family, both at the lower school and the new high school! Using creative solutions, compassionate communication, and implementing the guiding principles of our vision, each board meeting is full of forward direction for our school and community.  Sound like something you'd like to be a part of?  We welcome your input to each board meeting and have open seats on many committees. Our next board meeting is September 11, at Wall Residences, see you there!

In Gratitude We Thank

Leah and Lily Rodriguez, Kyle, Jason Altice, Marcus Morales, Wes Wenger, Aaron Vaughan, Andy Volker, Justin Miller, Kristan Morrison, Shanti and Kanaya Miller, Misty and Isobel Harris, and all our staff and their families
for getting the elementary school ready for the new year.

Wilder Publications
for donating to the scholarship fund.

CERC for donating to the high school.

David Lander, Jean Smith, Angela Kessler & Warren Lapine, Lester Gillespie, David & Mary Wiley, Kristan Morrison, Trish Reynolds, Alicia  & Doug Fisher, Andrew & Carol Volker, Chris Angileri, Rick Parrish, Virginia Klara, Cleo Keller, Robert & Loraine Coker, Michael & Georgie Crews, Rebekah Hicks & Arthur Rodriguez, Jim Bier, Sydney Wellman, Stephanie & Jim Shortt, Amy Avery, Tamra Billand, and Joanne Stauffer for donating to our Growing Pains Campaign.

Susan Weber for donating class supplies.

Stefi Schafer and Chloe Ruff-Miller for donating items to be sold at Fancies and Follies in the school's name.

Anonymous Donor for paying the school mortgage.



Blue Mountain School 

470 Christiansburg Pike, Floyd, Virginia 24091