Hilltop Montessori School's mission is for students to practice responsible independence in a caring community of curious, critical learners and
thoughtful citizens.

Friday Newsletter / April 27, 2018
Calendar Listings   

Saturday, April 28
Hilltop Community Tag Sale!

Monday, April 30
Spring Foods 3:30-4:45
Girls on the Run 3:00-4:30

Tuesday, May 1
Cross Country Running 3:15-4:30pm
Moving Up Night 6:00-7:00pm

Wednesday, May 2
Girls on the Run 3:00-4:30pm
French with Sylvie 3:15-4:30pm

Thursday, May 3
All School Gathering and Coffee in the Arts Barn 8:45am
Cross Country Running 3:15-4:30pm
MS River of Spirit Odyssey Departure
Greeting the Teachers/Students
First Thing
A highly recommended book, "Hold On to Your Kids" by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate reminds us of the wisdom of Maria Montessori a century ago. She noted that the intentional greeting of the child by the teacher first thing in the morning makes that connection that is so important to the day. It is taught as a “Grace and Courtesy” lesson to our young children as noted in the last newsletter . And, between the teacher and student first thing in the morning this greeting is a means of “collecting” the child. 

“Hold on to Your Kids” discusses the importance of keeping the adult connections for children. Our current society places great emphasis on peer interactions as such a critical influence. But it is vital to keep those connections to parents and other involved adults, importantly teachers. As this book notes, keeping those ties to parents and adults strong is an important grounding part of the child’s development through adolescence. 

Teachers at every program level at Hilltop intentionally make that connection in the morning with a greeting and encourage the children to do the same. At the Children’s House playground gate this can take more effort, as children are often excited to see and play with their friends. We work to have a child to adult moment of connection and hope that you can facilitate this by noting to your child the importance of connecting with a greeting. See you in the mornings!
Upcoming Events:
May 3-9: Middle School River Spirit Odyssey
May 10: Children's House Annual Spring Clean-Up 3:00-6:00pm
May 16: Children's House Workshare 8:30-9:00am
May 24: Upper Elementary Museum 2:00-3:00pm
May 25: Grandparents & Special Friends Day & Upper Elementary Museum - Noon Dismissal
May 28: Memorial Day - No School
May 30-June 1: Upper Elementary Class Trip
Moving Up Night
Tuesday, May 1, 6 - 7pm
Parents with students moving to a new program next year, 
  • Kindergarten to Lower Elementary 
  • Grade 3 to Upper Elementary 
  • Grade 6 to Middle School 
are invited to program presentations and discussion about what lies ahead for your student.
All families are welcome, whether your child is moving up to a new program or becoming an older member of the classroom community, the coming year holds new roles and responsibilities. 
Childcare will be available. Sign up at the front desk, or send an email .
Tomorrow! Don't Miss...
If you have a table at the tag sale, here are a few reminders:

  • A table will be provided for you.
  • Doors open for set up Sat. morning at 7 a.m. - Tag Sale begins at 7:30am.
  • Nutmeg Food Truck will be on campus with breakfast & lunch options to nourish you...coffee too!
  • Each family is responsible for selling their own items, bringing change and taking what doesn't sell home with them.
  • YOU KEEP PROCEEDS! But we won't turn away donations either! Average take home at our last tag sale was about $200 per family. 
Cost to reserve a table is $10.00. If you have not already, please see Rebecca at the front desk or Roselle to secure your table.
The morning forecast is looking bright & sunny. Happy Tag "Sailing".
Thank you everyone!
2018 Parent and Early Childhood Surveys
A huge thank you to all of you who took the time to respond to our survey!

In order to be responsive to the needs of our families and consider future plans, we sent the annual surveys via email a few weeks ago. Additionally, as part of Hilltop's participation in Vermont's "STARS" quality recognition program, we sent Annual Early Childhood surveys. This program makes us able to offer all Vermont families with preschool aged children financial support from State Pre K funding from local school districts and to qualify for payments from Vermont's Child Care Financial Assistance Program. 

We received anonymous feedback from almost half of the families (46) from the Annual Parent Survey, with a nice distribution from all programs, Toddler-Middle School and almost half (21) from the Annual Early Childhood survey (which encompasses Toddler and Children’s House.)

If there is anything you would like to discuss further, please contact me, Tamara
Toddler Program & Children's House
Parent Involvement Opportunities
It’s Spring Clean Up Time!! 

We will be holding our annual Spring Clean Up on Thursday, May 10th from 3-6 pm. We’re hoping to get the bulk of work finished between 3-5 and then follow with a pizza dinner provided by the school. Aside from this being a big effort to beautify our playground, it is also a wonderful opportunity to build community amongst our Children’s House families, Toddler families, and our teachers.

In addition to the usual tasks of spreading wood chips, moving sand, weeding, and general playground cleaning, we have a few bigger projects that we are very excited about: 

With your help we’d like to re-configure the bike path to make it more fun and accessible for the younger kids on the playground.

We would also love to build a mud kitchen! This will require more time than we have for the Spring Clean Up, so we need to assemble a group of parents and staff who are willing to volunteer some extra time on another day. The addition of a mud kitchen will provide a wonderful dramatic play opportunity for children. See the picture below to get a sense of what we are hoping to build!
Here is a wish list of items/materials we need for the Spring Clean Up:

  • logs to be cut into tree rounds for building with
  • tree stumps
  • wood scraps; 2 x 4’s and 1 x 3’s (minimum 4’ length)
  • old kitchenware: pots, pans, muffin tins, colanders, spatulas, spoons, wooden plates and bowls 

We hope you’ll be able to join us to help create an even more beautiful outdoor play space for your children!
Children's House Workshare
Wednesday, May 16, 8:30-9:00am
Please join us the morning of Wednesday, May 16 from 8:30-9am. This is a great opportunity for you to get a sense of your child in their classroom. They can show you what they are currently working on as well as their favorite materials; even introduce you to their friends. We hope you can make it!
Toddler Program
Having a Prepared Environment is central to the success of any Montessori space. Furniture that matches the students' size and materials that feed the children's Sensitive Periods of Development are two aspects of Prepared Environments. Below, Liam sits at a low table in a chair that allows his feet to touch the floor while he works on developing his fine motor skills.
This week Marco's Loft (That's right! This beauty was designed and built by our very own Marco) debuted in the Toddler Room! Not only is it a gorgeous piece of furniture that is perfectly sized for 1 - 3 year olds, it also fulfills their Sensitive Period for movement. Our youngest children enjoy going up and down the stairs over and over while the older children relish charging up the stairs and enjoying their new vantage point of the classroom. 
Preparation of the outdoor space is important, too. Giving children opportunities to practice all kinds of large motor skills, to take care of their outdoor environment and to provide spaces thoughtfully designed with the children's sizes and abilities in mind are key. 
What is needed for the success of the outdoor Prepared Environment? Adult elbow grease! Please join us for the playground work party on May 10. We'll be spreading mulch, cleaning out flower beds, refilling sandboxes, and prepping the gardens for planting. Please see specific information above.

Thanks to all of our parents for sending their children to school well prepared to play in the rain this week! The children had a grand time.
Enjoy the weekend.
Ellie, Amanda, Jessica and Marco
Willow Room
Here are some moments from our week in the Willow Room. Please join us for Workshare the morning of Wednesday, May 16 from 8:30-9am.
Birch Room
This week in the Birch Room the children reconnected with each after the break and explored some brand new works in the classroom. Africa is the new focal point in our Cultural area, and the children enjoyed exploring works from the continent both in our Cultural area and in Practical Life. In the afternoon, our Olders began writing in journals, and many of our middlers have been practicing writing at the word level. Outside, we organized some group tag and ball games, and just generally enjoyed playing in the warmer weather! Spring is finally here, so please check your child’s clothes cubby to make sure there are two sets of extra clothes for days of mud and unpredictable temperatures.

Have a great weekend!

Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam

P.S. Please join us for Workshare the morning of Wednesday, May 16 from 8:30-9am.
Lower Elementary
We had a wonderful first week back after our much-needed April break. 

Some of the things we did this week:

  • presented our Africa biomes projects to each other; ask your child about their role in this project!
  • discussed what a conversation is, and practiced having one
  • learned about positions of lines, polygons, and congruence, similarity, and equivalent in geometry

Enjoy your weekend!
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia 
Upper Elementary
We are back at it this week. Some highlights:

  • Looking at the physiographic regions of Vermont in order to understand settlement patterns in the 1800s (U.S. History)

  • An introduction to the geography of Central and South America, and the Mayan, Aztec and Incan cultures. This week the group focused on the Maya.

  • New lit books. Each year we do one book that the whole class reads, and this year that book is Counting on Grace, by Elizabeth Winthrop. This wonderful story about a girl in the Vermont Milltown ties in with the sixth grade study of Vermont history.

  • We launched our final unit in Writer’s Workshop, which will be a persuasive essay on individual topics related to public health. This helps culminate our human body studies within the science curriculum this year.

  • The final round of electives include metal jewelry, clay, music notation, woodworking, competitive sports games, and new types of printmaking.

Here are two important dates that should be on your calendar to close out the year:

UE Museum   - Thursday, May 24 (2:00pm) and Friday, May 25 (9:30-10:45am)

UE 3-day trip   - Wednesday, May 30 - Friday, June 1
Middle School
On Thursday morning we hosted Ryland White’s Social Justice class from SIT. This has been an annual event in the middle school for a number of years, which sadly came to a close this year due to the structural changes that SIT has recently adopted. In this time together we sing and initiate a dialogue about our shared interests. This year we spoke about the significance of religion, faith, and spirit in our lives and in the world, as well as the intersection of social action and justice with religious practice and views. It is always fascinating to recognize just how much our students and the graduate students share.

We are off on our “River of Spirit Odyssey” next Thursday. Every night students reflect and journal after our very full days. We will be posting excerpts from these reflections along with Finn’s photographs on the “River of Spirit Odyssey” blog found on the Hilltop website. We hope you take a look.
Building journals for our River of Spirit Odyssey.
We sing and dialogue with students from the School for International Training.
After Care
Community Events
Disappointed there weren't any Elementary camps being offered at Hilltop this summer?
Well, we have a couple that will be held on campus, see below... flyers available at the front desk!

Traditional Music Camp
for Kids 
Led by Andy Davis, Keith Murphy, Becky Tracy
June 25 – 29, 8:30 am – 3:00 pm
Ages 9-14
Tuition: $260 / 5 days
at Hilltop Montessori School

Click here to register.
Poetry, Bookmaking & Art Workshop
"Attention is the Beginning of Devotion" - Mary Oliver
Once again a summer workshop combining poetry, bookmaking and art will be held at Ann Gengarelly's Poetry Studio in Brattleboro. As always, young people will have the opportunity to write and draw in a natural setting with woodlands and beautiful gardens. Each student will have both a poetry and bookmaking class each day.

Poetry classes will be taught by Ann Gengarelly who has been a poet-in-the-schools for over 25 years. Bookmaking and Art Design will be led by Tony Gengarelly who teaches Art History at Massachussetts College of Liberal Arts.

For younger students - Register for the week of July 30 or week of August 6.

* Students do not need to know how to write. Ann and an assistant teacher act as scribes for their poetry.

For older students (grades 5-12) - Register for the week of August 20 - only a few openings remain!

If interested call Ann at 802-257-8972 or email at agengar@sover.net.
Sundays 4:00-6:00pm
Hilltop Helpers
Thank you to Martin Humfeldt and Green Mountain Creamery for donations of yogurt!
BIG thanks to Brattleboro Tire for donating our Hilltop van's winter snow tires and for rotating them each year!
Thank you to Nathan Rupard and Hazel restaurant for delivering our pizza each week and providing our staff with delicious pies!