We are so glad you are here, and we look forward to a wonderful year with you!

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

Shelly Fox
Shelly Fox
Last week, we celebrated the start of our 10th year as a contemplative progressive school with what may be our largest Welcome Circle yet. Our school community continues to grow! We want to be the kind of place where everyone is seen and heard, so we look forward to greeting the students and families that are essential to our school community in our Welcome Circle and to watching new connections and relationships develop as the year progresses.

Initially inspired by the BMS Summer Coyote Challenge, our staff met regularly this summer to brainstorm about areas that we hope to grow in the coming school year. These areas include school culture and staff and organizational development. It has been productive and meaningful to have these meetings outside the usual school schedule, and we are looking forward to bringing to life some of what was cultivated in these summer meetings as the year begins.
We hope that you have enjoyed your summer, and that the BMS Summer Coyote Challenge was inspiring for you, too. Even if the Challenge simply increases the amount of time that kids are outside and that families are able to connect over the natural world, it has done what was intended by those who initially created Coyote Mentoring and Coyote Challenge. We will be incorporating more Coyote Mentoring core routines into our school days as the year continues (starting with doing Sit Spots in our staff meetings)!

Upper Elementary & Middle School
Holly Haworth
Holly Haworth
I am excited to begin my third year at Blue Mountain. I will be teaching a small class this year that is directed toward the Middle-School grades.

We are beginning with a course I have designed called Migrations: A Natural History. We'll learn about the monarch migration as we raise monarch caterpillars through the chrysalis stage and into butterflies that are ready to fly to Mexico for the winter.

We will continue to study many kinds of insect and animal migrations, observe the fall bird migration, and then move into the history of human migrations with the idea that migration is natural and beautiful. In culmination of the unit, we will focus on current migration issues along the US-Mexico border, looking at how the media has portrayed human migrants. As part of our monarch project, we are sending monarch art to schoolchildren in Mexico, who will send them back to us in the spring.

I look forward to probing deeper into large questions as my students begin to expand their vision and enlarge their worlds.

Upper Elementary
Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan
Here we go again! As the summer winds down and the trees begin to lose their luster, I once again feel deeply connected to our yearly cycle around the sun. Of all the cyclical happenings throughout the year, going back to school seems to hit me most profoundly as a measure of time. Perhaps it is the stark shift in routines, or that I am both a parent and a teacher at BMS, but at this time every year I find myself in a deep state of change.  Some of the changes are welcomed, some of them are more difficult to embrace, but ultimately I am thankful for this time for reflection, expectation and transformation.

And I am looking forward to a particularly transformational year as I step out of my role as art teacher and into my place as a full time classroom teacher!  Thank you to students, teachers, parents, family, and friends for all the encouragement and support.   

Here we go.......

Middle Elementary
Shelly Sherman
Shelly Sherman

As the school year begins, I am reminded of how happy I am to be part of the Blue Mountain School community for so many different reasons. I am happy to be in a place that encourages and teaches peace, social justice, a love of learning, creativity, kindness, reaching for academic potential and social emotional well being. I am happy for the trust that exists between the members of our community. And I am deeply grateful and touched by the care and kindness that has been offered to me. I look forward to a great year full of adventure and learning with a diverse group of learners.

This year our Middle Elementary class has four new-to-Blue-Mountain friends and families! I am excited to get to know them and to help them, as well as my returning friends, grow and learn. We have already begun to formulate a list of interesting topics that we intend to study further. Among those are: circuits, how batteries work, fort building, cooking, sewing, volcanoes, lightening, sea horses, and knots.

Early Elementary
Tammie Sarver
Tammie Sarver

I'm grateful to be returning to our Early Elementary class after a relaxing and fun summer, and I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to already have built relationships with each child in the classroom!  
These student-teacher relationships are a great part of teaching and learning at Blue Mountain School. They give me a unique opportunity to start the year with curriculum plans that are not just aligned with state and national standards but that are sourced from conversations and interests with each of Early Elementary student. 
As we begin the school year, I'm looking forward to growing everyone's math and science development as well as building community, self image and sense of place with an exploration of rocks, minerals, measurement, and mapping.   
I think all of these important learning opportunities will flow through the curriculum and meet our academic standards while also meeting the early elementary learning requirement of interesting and fun!!

Early Learning
Jenni Heartway & Amy Adams
Jenni Heartway
Amy Adams
Jenni says...
My summer was filled with great books and lots of time outside with my family. The Coyote challenges were an exciting addition to our summer routine, and we had fun looking for new hikes.   
We did have a particularly memorable coyote fail on one of our camping trips. After biking and hiking in Damarcus, we wanted to visit The Channels, a slot canyon. Unfortunately, construction and poor planning meant we parked in the wrong lot and ended up hiking a logging road a mile and a half, uphill, in full sun. Eternally optimistic (or maybe just really stubborn), my family finally convinced me that we should turn around.    
Luckily, Cedar and I had a chance to go back a few weeks later with friends.  We parked in the correct parking lot, and after a 3-mile hike found The Channels and spent a few hours exploring the natural rock labyrinths.    
It was also a nice reminder of the saying, "If you aren't failing, you probably aren't trying hard enough." And I think it is fair to say that we tried hard enough this summer!
Amy says...
We've had a great summer with lots of outdoor time at our homestead in the woods. Time with our goats and chickens, playing, climbing, swimming, and eating lots of fresh farm fruits and veggies. Although we've enjoyed our break, we are all eager to return to school, our friends, and the routine it brings to our life.  
This year as a teacher I really look forward to getting back into the classroom and exploring the educational needs of each of our students. I'm excited to learn from Jenni and bring what I can to the class as well. In my own development, I am embarking on becoming more familiar with Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and weaving that into my daily life. I hope to bring the fruits of that personal exploration to the class with a mindful presence each day.  

Early Childhood
Stefi Schafer & Angie Barrett
Stefi Schafer
Angie Barrett

For teachers, the school year begins a few weeks before the first day of class. Creating a meaningful, inviting, and safe learning environment is the first step to a successful year. As we arranged and rearranged furniture and went through and organized boxes and boxes of learning materials, it could be easy to become overwhelmed and feel a bit discouraged. We sometimes got flustered by the sheer volume of stuff and frustrated with the physical limitations of our space. Misplacing items was so frequent that our slogan became a humorously-chanted, "Where is my..... Tape, sharpie, magna tiles, seashells, sunglasses, sandwich, water, glasses...?"

As we worked together, we discussed why what should be where and questioned the purpose of each item and how it can support the learning of children in our care and our teaching. We also talked about how we were nervous about meeting the new families and a bit anxious to see how the class would all look in the end. It was not easy and there were a lot of "Where is my ...?" and many "Why?" and "How?" But it was through precisely the frustrations and questions and perserverance that we came to a successful classroom arrangement. Our hard work paid off and our learning environment was ready to receive our students and their families. "Where is my..." turned to "Here is my...fellow teacher, classroom, new group of friends, school community!"

At the same time we were working on our classroom, our families were doing similar work and asking similar questions. Parents ask: "Where do I need to sign this form? What does my child need? How do I say good bye? What can we do to have a successful first school experience?"

The children, too, have questions. Some are easy to answer like, "Where is my lunch?" And some are not so straight forward: "Why can't I play on the big climber? Why do I have to come in when I still want to play in the sand?

Many of the questions are unspoken and can be emotional: "Where is my mom & dad? When will they come back to get me? Why am I here?" And probably the most important question: "Am I safe here? Am I safe here, am I respected, seen cared for and appreciated for being me?"

Children are new to the world, new to relationships. Rational explanations are a great tool to support children, and what we all really need is time. By going through these growing pains together we build community; a community where the children can feel safe and free to explore, to ask questions and find answers.We need  time to get to know each other, build routines, and find a sense of predictability and security.

Over the next few weeks, all of us in the Early Childhood classroom will be taking time to help each other find answers to these questions and to begin to focus on new ones: "Who are all these other children? How do I play with them? What are the expectations and rules for being a part of this group?"

Yoga & P.E.
Sarah McCarthy
Sarah McCarthy
This will be my 9th year teaching yoga and movement at BMS. Wow! I started teaching as my daughter, Satya, began preschool at Blue Mountain. She is now starting High School!

It was a summer full of art shows (my full time job is a potter), cycling in the summer sun, playing with my family, swimming,and drinking tea outside with Jagadisha. I especially enjoyed watching the flowers, plants, and seeds grow in our gardens and beyond. We are so lucky to live in these beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.

As teachers prepared for the new school year during our meetings and retreat, Shelly asked us to write our teaching philosophy. I thought I would share mine with you:

Through yoga and movement, I wish to share and inspire a sense of balance and healthy lifestyle. May we feel connection with each other and with the changing rhythms and seasons.
May we be in our bodies fully with all our emotions as we practice asana and movement.

May we know the power of relaxing, pausing, listening, and stillness.

And perhaps most importantly, may we practice and experience inter-being, a sense of connection and humbleness with all of life.

Corey Avellar & Lore Deighan
Lore Deighan
Corey Avellar
Corey says...

I'm very excited to be teaching art this year! We are beginning with a look at patterns in nature and seeking out the art of nature.

Lore says...

My upper elementary class and Holly's upper elementary and middle school class will be collaborting in many ways this school year, and one of those ways allows me to spend a bit of time with my Art Teacher hat on. I'll be sharing art with both of these older classes and look forward to seeing the work we create together!

Contemplative Studies
With Great Respect and Love, a Heartfelt Welcome to All!

As the school year begins, I am very grateful to practice mindfulness with all the students at BMS. Self regulation, contentment, and being in the present moment are qualities I hope to help develop in our young people, that they may also practice with their families.

Corey Avellar

Corey Avellar
What kind of plays will we perform this year? Mysteries? Comedies? Musicals? The first few weeks of school, we will be talking about our dramatic interests and planning some fun activities!

Building Blue Mountain
Building Committee

Over the summer, we completed maintenance of our current buildings. We also re-routed the gutters on the main building to divert rainwater from heading into the septic field, prolonging the life of the field. And probably most noticeable, we extended the sidewalk around the lower part of the main building. Not only will the new sidewalk help keep sand and mud from being carried into the building, but it will also help protect the foundation by moving water away from the building.

What's next? It's time to call on our volunteers! On September 22, we'll be holding our annual Harvest Celebration and Work Day. The goal of the Work Day is to clear the brush and small trees from our new parking area. Once we're done, a professional excavator will come in to finish the job of creating the new space, which will be located between the basketball area / swings and our neighbors at Strengthening Our Systems.

This will be messy work, and unfortunately it will leave part of our campus looking a bit rough until the new growing season comes around. Some of our volunteers will be assigned projects to help make the new parking area look and feel as inviting and welcoming as possible while we wait for Spring.

Work Day planners are considering options to replace the trees and vegetation will we have to remove for the parking area. We carefully considered the needs of our growing school and the safety of our families to choose the spot for the parking. A major benefit of locating parking in this area is that families will not need to cross behind or in the path of other vehicles entering and leaving the school.

Keep your eyes open on Facebook and in emails for ways you can be a part of our Harvest Celebration and Work Day !

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

Sept 3: Labor Day
Sept 4: Forest School Session 1 Begins
Sept 7: Forest Kindergarten Session 1 Begins
Sept 22: Harvest Celebration
Oct 19: Fall Conferences
Oct 31: Boo! Mountain School 
We will go outside in nearly all weather, so be sure to pack the proper gear!  
Check with your child's teacher to see about leaving rain coats and boots in cubbies, or pack them at the bottom of your child's backpack so they are always handy. And remember to label everything! 
If you still need to pick up a few items, check out: 

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

Everyone who helped get the school ready for the new year!

Zion Lutheran Church for allowing us to use their space.

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