Friday Newsletter / December 8, 2017
Kaleb from the Willow Room presents a painting with some helpers at yesterday's All School Gathering.
Calendar Listings  

Monday 12/11/17
MS Basketball 3:00-4:30

Tuesday 12/12/17
Hanukkah Begins at Sunset
Spanish with Marco 3:30-4:30
UE Basketball 3:00-4:30

Wednesday 12/13/17
Marionettes and Backdrops 3:15-4:30
MS Basketball 3:00-4:30

Thursday 12/14/17
All School Gathering 8:45 a.m. (MS hosts)
LE Basketball Clinic 3:15-4:30

Friday 12/15/17
Chess 3:15-4:30
UE Basketball 3:00-4:30
Kid's Night Out! 5:30-9:00

Monday 12/18/17
MS Basketball 3:00-4:30

Tuesday 12/19/17
UE Museum
UE Basketball

Wednesday 12/20/17
Cookie Swap & Snowflake Raffle

Thursday 12/21/17
December Break begins.
Winter Solstice
Last All School Gathering

Thank you all for getting in the Winter Sports sign-ups. We have the students in groups and are now looking for chaperones and drivers. Let us know if you are interested in helping out with x-country skiing at the BOC or skating down the hill!

In January and February, we have our Thursdays full with Winter Sports, so we do not hold All School Gathering. This Thursday, December 14th will be the last ASG for a few months. Come join us for the sharing and singing! Coffee and treats from the Middle Schoolers available before.
Upcoming Events...
December 12: Hanukkah begins at sunset
December 15: Lower El Authors tea and potluck
December 19-20: Upper EL Museum presentations
December 20: Ginormous cookie swap and Snowflake Raffle Noon Dismissal for all!
December 21: December Break begins. Winter Solstice!
January 2: No School. In-service day.
January 3: School Resumes
January 15: Annual Financial Aid Applications Due
January 31: Open House 9-11 a.m.

Notes from the Head of School:
 AMS Accreditation! 
There is no copyright on the name “Montessori”. Any school can call themselves a Montessori school. Not all who do are as wonderful and authentic as Hilltop Montessori School. There are two main accreditation organizations that put their seal of approval on Montessori schools. We are most closely affiliated with the American Montessori Society (AMS) ( ) and have been a “Full Member” for several years. [Their website has valuable information about Montessori, for parents, teachers, and anyone wanting to learn more about this approach to education.]

For many years, Hilltop has considered going through the extensive official accreditation process. In the Strategic Plan that we presented last winter, we identified AMS Accreditation as one of our Strategic Goals. ( ) The benefits of the accreditation include:

- an extensive self-study process that will lead us to analyze and document every component of our organization and community in an empowering and revealing way;
- encouraging self-evaluation and identification of areas for improvement, and further requirements for continuous improvement;
- affirmation to current and prospective parents that our school meets “a standard of excellence recognized within the Montessori community and by educators worldwide"; and
- better articulation of our Montessori identity for ourselves and the broader community.

Our self-study process is well underway. We are on track for submitting our self-study report in June, have site visitors scheduled  Fall 2018, and hope to receive our accreditation by 2019. So far we have already:

- identified lead players for all sections of the self-study process and report, including:
  • Profile of the School,
  • Mission and Vision,
  • Governance, Leadership, and Continuous Improvement,
  • Teaching and Learning - Educational Nature of the School,
  • Documenting and Using Results - Learner Outcomes,
  • Personnel,
  • Facility Resources,
  • Finances,
  • Records, Resources, and Support Systems, and
  • Stakeholder Communication and Relationships.
- noted which components will take large group efforts and processing over several months; 
- held working sessions for all staff in June and August to revise the Mission Statement (will be rolled out to the school community shortly!);
- continue with staff and program meetings to collaborate and develop (Educational Nature of the School, Learner Outcomes);
- accomplished extra fundraising for money to pay a part-time staff person for additional hours to coordinate and maintain this effort; and
- convened groups for each chapter to begin collecting information and writing the self-study report.

As part of the Accreditation process, we have been noted by AMS as being on Step 8 of the 10 step process and have been authorized to use this Seal to designate our accomplishment! 
This seal doesn’t look very “Montessori-like”, but, by definition, this is an external evaluation and acknowledgement of our accomplishment. The real work and benefit is coming through the self-study process. I am so grateful to the staff, board members, and parents who have pitched in with time, money, thoughtfulness, and effort to work to achieve this higher level of performance. And a special thank you to Tonia Wheeler, former Head of School, who has done so much for this school since its inception and who has also generously donated to support this effort. Thanks to the work of many, we are making steady progress! If you have any questions or would like to participate, please contact me. ( )
Snowflake Raffle, Sale & Cookie Swap!
It is time for our annual Snowflake Raffle, Sale and Cookie Swap. We are happily accepting donations for raffle prizes throughout next week. 

Don’t forget the ginormous cookie swap! Bring your most delicious cookie, bar or treat to the barn at drop-off on Wednesday morning, December 20th. The more cookies, the more fun (and the more boxes we sell). Everyone loves a delicious box of cookies!

If you are interested in helping to organize this year's event, would like to donate something to the tricky tray raffle or would like to set up a table to sell crafts, email Roselle here.
Kids Night Out
Friday, December 15th

Only 8 spots left!

Do you want to have a fun night out on the town? Are you having a hard time finding a babysitter? Do you want your children to have just as much fun as you do while you’re out? Drop your Children’s House, Lower Elementary, or Upper Elementary child/children off at our Arts Barn anytime from 5:30-9:00 pm on Friday, December 15th, to have a night of fun and games with our responsible middle school babysitters.
There will be fun, games, crafts, and tons more! At least one adult and lots of fun middle schoolers will be there. We will provide snacks, and have a new option:   Pizza!  Please sign up for the pizza in advance. If you don’t want pizza, please pack a nutritious dinner or feed your child before you come. This fun night for you and your kids costs only $7.00 an hour and $5.00 for each additional child. Pizza is $5.00 more for two slices. All proceeds from Kids Night Out go to the Hilltop Montessori Middle School Odyssey Fund. Our businesses are an important part of our fundraising, so your support really helps! Your child must be at least three years old and potty trained.

If you are interested in signing up, or if you have any questions, email us.  We have only 8 spots left, so don’t wait, sign up now!
Toddler Program
We've had a really nice week in the Toddler Room! Back from the west coast for his annual visit, alum André Silberman has been helping out each day. He is calm and gentle and the children have really enjoyed his presence. 

The reintroduction of painting has been a big draw. Not only the painting but the opportunities to play hide and seek, try out different brush strokes, and clean up with a spray bottle and cloth make it very appealing to our young friends.
And a few more pictures from the week...
The past few Fridays Solomon from Middle School has joined the toddlers for the morning. The children really look forward to having their friend visit! Today they all took a walk in the woods with Marco and André. 

Enjoy the weekend - and the SNOW!
Ellie, Amanda, Marco & André
Birch Room
Self Regulation in the Children’s House

What is self-regulation?  

Simply put, it’s the ability to monitor and control our own behavior, emotions, or thoughts, and alter them in accordance with the demands of the situation.

Why is self regulation important?

The ability to self regulate allows children to navigate the social world, to attend to tasks, and to focus on achieving their goals. The ability to self regulate makes it possible to work through a conflict with friend without being overwhelmed with anger, or to learn how to fasten a zipper by practicing over and over without dissolving into a puddle of tears. A strong ability to self-regulate in young children is strongly correlated to later school and life success.

How do we encourage self-regulation in our classroom? 

We work to provide consistency in our rules and routines. This provides children with predictability, a necessary component for making decisions about how to act in a given situation. For example, children always clean up before coming to circle. If we skipped that one day, it would become confusing for the children at the next day’s circle, and that confusion could lead to frustration when the expectation returned to cleaning up. 

The Montessori classroom also provides an environment in which children have long blocks of self-directed work with self-correcting materials. This allows children the intellectual space to work through problems on their own, and to practice making choices in a prepared environment. The one-person works also require children to practice impulse control by asking them to wait their turn.

When children do encounter difficulties regulating their emotions, we work to help them mange their “big feelings”. This can involve simply giving a child a space to calm on his or her own, or it can involve brainstorming ideas about what to do to help himself or herself feel better. We try to offer empathy while at the same time allowing the children to feel their emotions and practice dealing with them. Our goal is to give empathy, to scaffold decision making, and to help the children process their feelings. Our goal is not, as much as we may be tempted, to solve the problem and make it “all better”. If we do that, we allow children to outsource their emotional self-regulation to us, which will not help them with the next challenge.

Interested in supporting self-regulation at home?

Here’s a link with some ideas! They are written for teachers, but the same principles apply at home. 

Have a great weekend!
-Cheryl, Serina, and Maria
Cheryl reads a seasonal story.
Asha works on the teens board.
Magnolia designs with shapes.
Sophie prepares "a stack of 'e's!"
Willow Room
The children have been busy and engaged in the Willow Room. Enjoy some pictures from this week.

Have a great weekend!

Rebecca and Jonathan
Uri paints with watercolors.
Sylvia works at the art table.
Finn and Patrick collaborate on a geography work.
Kaleb listens to the music box at our Peace Table.
Mazin draws at the easel.
Amaya works on a puzzle.
Annabel works on a piece of art.
Lower Elementary
Fraction work began this week with an introduction or a review, depending upon one's experience. 

Our nonfiction picture books have been keeping us busy. In our beehive of a classroom we are writing our "mock up" pages and our final books, while Dan works hard to help every student organize and create just the right pictures for each of their pages. So many skills are used in a big project like this: reading, taking notes, putting thoughts into words, working on legible handwriting, and organizing pages in a way that makes the most sense. In addition to this, the effort to overcome ideas about ourselves and what we may or may not be able to do is a major work: 

- How do you draw a howler monkey? 
- What picture will I draw to show that the desert is a really dry place? 
- How can I write an introduction that will "hook" my reader? 
- What am I able to do on my own when a teacher is not available? 
- How will I approach my work so that I am able to make progress on this big project? 

Writing a book involves a great deal of effort, perseverance, some fleeting lamenting and despair, lots of encouragement, and, ultimately, a sense of pride in our ability to accomplish something so exciting and challenging. 

We look forward to sharing the fruits of our labor with you next Friday, December 15th, at our Author's Tea! 

Soggy Sock Sorrow:
Several children this week had a case of soggy socks from playing in the wet grass. Please make sure that your child has extra shoes and extra clothes in their cubby. Thank you!

Enjoy the (possibly snowy) weekend!
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia
MJ and Carter practice their sight word spelling.
Addy and Lydia complete the types of mountains layout. 
Jade works on snake game subtraction.
Fun at the Montshire Museum of Science!
Maria and Ayla admire bubble foam they created.
Kiersten plays with bubbles.
Ciana uses her legs to power the tiny elevator.
Upper Elementary
Our fifths culminated their hero studies this week by finishing portraits of their chosen heros, and presenting their essays to the class. We heard details on the lives and contributions made by Marie Curie (Parker), Jane Goodall (Carmen), Leonardo DaVinci (Will), the Wright Brothers (Davey), and Frederick Douglass (Shoshana).

Later, the sixths presented skits intended to teach the class about the checks and balanced between the three branches of the government: President Berg meets with members of his cabinet to discuss everything from newly-passed legislation, a new nomination for the Supreme Court, and a treaty under negotiation. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court hears a case on hats in school and welcomes a new Justice. Shorter snippets from the legislative group tied together a wide range of responsibilities and parameters. We can't wait to see these students at work this spring on the UE play!

The sixths have also finished the seminar book,  Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. After brainstorming ideas in small groups and finding strong supporting quotes, they each filled out a very structured essay organizer-- beginning with solid teacher-approved topic sentences! The process sets them up for successes with their first five-paragraph essay of the year. Now on to careful writing, good transitions, proofreading, etc. The whole class has had several lessons on how to identify and work with sentence fragments and run-ons--work that is ongoing.

Finally, students are in the thick of research for their individual museum topics--most of which extend our cultural studies this fall on on systems of human body, U.S. history, or early human history. They have filled in paragraph organizers with helpful topic sentences, are typing up drafts of their papers, and beginning work on the projects that they will present to the community.
Shoshana presents her research on Frederick Douglass at All School Gathering.
Students in a Thursday elective work on a jazz tune.
Sixths present a skit on the judicial branch of our government.
Our electives move into the waning weeks...
Professor Sourdough (aka Cyrus) helps students position their rolls on the cookie sheet.
The scratch art group works on their art.
Tom shows some students the digestive system, and the heart and lung of a chicken that formerly resided on a farm in Westminster West, with mixed reactions. Things we found out: you can find what the chicken recently ate in the gizzard, along with a bunch of pebbles. 
Middle School
As part of our overall study of “What Does it Mean to be Human?” and current study of place and community, the middle school students are spending Friday mornings out of the classroom. The seventh graders are mentoring younger students in the toddler, children’s houses, and lower elementary classrooms and the eighth graders are building a relationship with their elderly companion. Every Friday the eighth graders are traveling to Pine Heights, Holton Home, or Bradley House to visit a resident who volunteered to be part of this project. After each visit students write a reflection of their experience. Here are some excerpts:

“Many of the children are at different levels and as Serina has told me, need to be worked with individually depending on their personalities. It needs to become natural for them to be working with different parts of the different activities - different letters for example. Today was definitely an experience of learning to know the child in order to help them learn what they can, and work towards learning more.”
~ Hazel in the Birch Room

“Later I tried doing peek-a-boo and the child burst out laughing. I find it amazing how such simple things for me are so wondrous to them. It is like they are discovering everything for the first time, which I suppose they are. If everyone had that same sense of wonder, the world might be a better place.”
~ Solomon in the Toddler Room

“On Friday morning I walked into the Willow Room, the place where I once poured little sprinkle things back and forth into two pitchers. I watched a little boy do the same. I felt a kind of longing, wishing for the simpler days when drawing was my work and people read me stories. But this time it was me reading the stories.”
~ Siri in the Willow Room

“ My elderly companion is kind but a little forgetful. Over the course of our visit we talked about a variety of things including but not limited to the Red Sox, his time in the army, traveling the world, and teaching. I think my relationship with Bill will grow in our upcoming visits. If I had to take one thing from our time together it would be to enjoy life. Don’t worry about money, have good experiences and have fun in whatever you do. From what I learned from Bill, that is certainly the way he lived his life and that is the way I want to live mine.”
~ Eliot

“Last Friday when I met with Bill he was not feeling very well and was not able to meet with me at that point in the day. However I did get the opportunity to talk with Bill for twenty to thirty minutes. Bill was clearly in a confused state and was forgetful of the day and week. At times he forgot what we were talking about. It was definitely a hard task and very emotionally straining to have a conversation with Bill. I can only imagine the emotional toll it takes on Bill.”
~ Eliot

“My second elderly companion visit was very interesting and quite moving. My companion seemed to light up the room. We went on a walk and everyone we passed beamed and reached down to hug her. I could have sat with her for hours contemplating the meaning of life and the importance of accepting death. Everything she said was a lesson that touched the soul.”
~ Lily
Channeling her NYU days, Melany Kahn provides in depth critique of student’s Society Project films.
Spontaneous Projects abound...
After Care
Hilltop Helpers
Help Support a Montessori School Dream in Zimbabwe

Some of you met Siza Mtimbri this summer when he was here to teach Elementary SummerFun camps. He is pursuing his dream of opening up a school and medical center in Zimbabwe. Please take a look at his organizations WebPage and, if you are inspired to help this budding Montessori school, please participate!
Siza leads Africa Week, Summerfun 2017
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!
Community Events
Friday Morning Adult Basketball @Hilltop!

Mace would like to start adult coed basketball pick up games on Friday mornings from drop off to 9:30am. If you are interested shoot him an  email !
Learn How Vermont’s “Clean Energy” from Canadian Hydrodams is negatively impacting First Nation communities:
We recently released our Holiday Flyer that highlights the exciting programs we will be offering over the school holiday break. It also gives the schedule for many Last Night events that happen on New Year's Eve. Did you get a copy? If not, you can access it here !
You can also visit  under the Recreation & Parks tab or pick up a copy at the Gibson-Aiken Office. You may call office at  802-254-5808  or visit our website  or Facebook for more information.
Parents, do you need to get your kids out of the house? Check out our Winter Mini Camp. Register soon!

"What would you do if you had all eternity...?"

New England Youth Theatre proudly presents its 2017 Holiday Musical: the regional premier of the beloved tale “Tuck Everlasting”, opening on December 7 at 7pm at NEYT,  100 Flat Street  in Brattleboro Vermont. Additional performances will be held at 7pm on December 8, 9,14, 15, and 16, and at 2pm on December 9, 10, 16, and 17.

Tickets for these performances are $15 for Adults, $13 for Seniors, and $13 for Students. 

Tickets may be purchased in advance at , in person from 12-5pm on Wednesdays at the NEYT Box Office, or by phone  (802) 246-6398 . The show plays at New England Youth Theatre,  100 Flat St. Brattleboro .