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

Josephine Gilbert, daughter of Jen Griffith (formerly at the front desk), sports her new Hilltop onesie!
Friday Newsletter / February 16, 2018
2018 Calendar and 2016-17 Annual Report are here!
Hilltop Montessori School’s board is a lively and generous group currently consisting of 13 parents and alum parents who work to guide the school. They meet monthly and have committees who help to support the schools activities including: Development, Finance, Buildings and Grounds, etc. One of their responsibilities is to ensure the fiscal stability of the school. They met this Wednesday to hear a presentation of the tax form for the 2016-17 fiscal year from our new auditor, Joe Wolkowicz of Hadley, MA. This is an important part of their fiduciary responsibility for the school. The board approved this report, which includes the numbers officially reported in our Annual Report.

The Annual Report for 2016-17 is complete and posted on our website. The annual report includes the financial numbers for last year along with letters from the Board Chair, Head of School, and Board Treasurer. Highlights include a full audit of our finances and a “clean report” from our new auditor. The report also has a list of all the generous donors to whom we are deeply grateful.

The Annual Report is also available in printed form in the NEW CALENDARS distributed today! If you did not get one at pick-up, please stop by the front desk after break. Key dates for the 2018-19 school year can be found here . And on the website calendar here. If you have any questions about the Annual Report, calendar, or anything else, please contact Tamara.
Upcoming Events...
February 19-26: February Break
February 26: No School/In-Service Day
TUESDAY, February 27: School Resumes
March 1: Last Winter Sports
March 5: After School Program Sign-ups Due
After School Programs
We have some new and exciting classes to offer for the Spring! 
Parlez vous francais? Want your child to take part in learning a different language? We'll be offering French lessons this time around! How about some dancing   and exploration of music through the cultures to get their groove on?! Coach Mace will be offering Cross Country Running in and around the campus on Thursdays, and Ultimate Frisbee will back. Let's get out and enjoy the fresh spring air! Don't forget the delectable Cooking Class with Lizi, always a scrumptious delight!

We need enrollment for these classes to run. Forms went home with students today and are available on the website here. There will be a stack of them at the front desk, come on by...

All forms are due by Monday, March 5th, 2018 to the front desk.
Consistency of the Mission for School and Home
We had great feedback from our Parent Education morning two weeks ago. One of the suggestions was to share more words and phrases that we use at school to help students  "practice responsible independence in a caring community of curious, critical learners and thoughtful citizens.”  One parent noted that:  "Consistency has been integral to supporting our daughter's independence and in bringing the sense of joy and accomplishment she experiences at school into our home environment. It's incredible how key phrases used in the classroom instantly empower her to achieve new levels of independence.” Lindsay Fahey - Toddler Parent

The Toddler, Children’s House, and Lower Elementary programs have written their newsletter pieces around this theme. Enjoy!
Toddler Program
Here are a few key phrases used in the toddler room that you may find helpful to use at home:

"Do you remember where that work came from?" 
"Find your loop (on your jacket)." 
These are prompts we use to encourage children to put their "works" and belongings away without nagging. 

"Use your strong legs/arms to (walk up the hill/carry your bag/etc.)" 
A way to instill the idea of power in the child and let them know you aren't going to do it for them.

"I know you can do it; I have full confidence in you."
When a child is struggling to persist and needs a little boost of encouragement to continue, we use this. Not often, but at just the right time this phrase can work wonders.

"Give it a go!"
Instead of "try", use this phrase. "Try" connotes an expectation of failure. This means, "See what you can do!"

Say nothing.
One of the most valuable gifts we can offer children is silence. It honors their focus and concentration and it allows them to figure things out independently without an adult jumping in. On many occasion I have held back and been pleasantly surprised and/or thoroughly impressed by a child's creativity in solving a problem without my help. Inevitably they've learned a whole lot more from the experience, too!

This week we ventured out for a few short walks in the woods. We had a great time!
Many thanks to the Osborne family for sharing bouquets of flowers and a delicious fruit salad for snack. Our classroom is fragrant and beautiful with fresh flowers again and the snack was so enjoyed by the children.
We are so pleased that Amanda has returned to working a few mornings a week. We've missed her and are happy she's back!
Enjoy the break! See you on Tuesday, February 27.
Ellie, Marco, Amanda and Jessica
Children's House
This has been a busy week in Children's House. We explored Kindness and Love as a Valentine's Day activity. Children used art materials to make cards for each other and for their families. We also thought about how our actions effect others, asking ourselves, "Is this kind?" Is it kind to play with a child who is alone? Is it kind to say, "I'm not your friend?" Is it kind to take something from someone, when they are not looking? Is it kind to offer someone a hug? Before we act, it is important to  stop and think

Language is an incredibly important tool in helping your child process their feelings and emotions in a productive and successful way. Here, in the Children's House, we rely on observation to intuit  why  a child may be behaving, or reacting in a specific manner. For example, if we see a child is next to a chair crying, and we did not see what happened, we often approach the child and simply notice what they are doing, and then offer help. "I see that you are feeling sad. Would you like my help?" If you saw what happened, we say, "That was a big fall! Are you OK? Can you shown me how you sit on a chair safely?" 

We know that this can be a struggle at home. It can be a struggle for us too! But it is important to try to offer support by acknowledging your child's perspective. Your child will likely give you the whole story, without you needing to play a guessing game or over-offering support. Here are some things you can remember when your child is upset — either from an incident, or an emotional reaction: 

  • Stay Calm and Patient: When you offer a BIG reaction, your child may respond even more loudly. Naturally, if safety is a concern, move appropriately, but still offer calm support.
  • Notice what's wrong: Observing the situation, thinking about why. 
  • Offer empathy
  • Offer support
  • Practice: What can you do differently? This applies to both the situation and your response!  

When it comes to conflict, there isn't always a perfect way to help all children involved. Simply focussing on the action might not solve the problem. Think about asking, "what can  you  do to help?" Even in our grown-up world, we react inappropriately to challenging situations instead of pausing to think of how we can more effectively respond. Giving your child the opportunity to think about their reaction too, may greatly improve their ability to independently navigate conflict in the future.  

For conflict resolution, we use  reflective listening . Children take turns talking, expressing how they feel, using "I" statements. We can model solutions for younger children and allow older children to offer solutions on their own. Taking turns and offering solutions are important steps to a peaceful resolution. 

There are a plethora of resources that help parents and children with processing difficult situations and responding appropriately. We have several tried-and-true parent/teacher resources here at Hilltop Montessori. You are welcome to ask about and borrow them![One of Tamara's favorites is "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, Listen So Kids Will Talk" by Faber and Mazlish. Check it out!] We are also happy to meet and talk about language so that we can be consistent at both home and school. Have a great weekend and long break!

Quick reminders for after the break:
  • Monday, Feb. 26th is a Teacher In-Service Day. No School for children! 
  • Remember to sign in and sign out 
  • If your child brings indoor shoes home, send them back in — especially in boot/mud weather, it is important to have comfortable indoor footwear. 
Thank you! 

Lower Elementary
In Lower El,  how  we say things to children is as important as  what  we say. Asking a question includes them in the problem-solving, rather than just giving orders that may or may not be followed. To help them remember what to do during the work morning, we might ask "What is your plan for getting your reading group assignment done?" as opposed to "Remember, that reading group assignment is due tomorrow!" 

Children this age do not respond well to lectures; too many words leads to tuning out, and attention spans are generally very short. In addition, nobody wants to be made to feel bad for something that may, or may not be, within his control. Pointing out what we are noticing is a friendlier, and less wordy, way to make a child aware of her actions-or inactions. "I'm noticing that you don't have your shoes on yet." "I see that your math work is still on the floor." If you've already spoken to them about something, remind them with a single word. A teacher in Lower El might say to a child "Division," after a conversation about the child getting to work right away on her division. If that child is up and wandering, a single word is often all that is needed to remind her of the agreed-upon task. These three approaches - asking a question; telling what you've noticed; using one word to get your message across - are all ways in which we communicate with children in Lower El. They work well at home, too. 

Recently, we combined two of our loves, prehistoric creatures and measuring things, into one work: We used tape measures for dinosaur circumference work, nonstandard units such as five-bars and paper clips to measure the length of an ancient snail, and used inches and centimeters to find out whether a 30-inch or 70-centimeter velociraptor was longer. Life-sized footprints of several dinosaurs lay on the art room floor for children to measure and match to the correct dinosaur name, and in the hallway, another group used masking tape to make the actual lengths of terrible lizards from the past. Perhaps over the break, you and your child will find other, non-dinosaur things to measure! 

Have a great weekend. We'll see you after the break.
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia
Ciana, Caroline, and Addy investigate and measure several dinosaur footprints.
Lucas researches the Albertosaurus for a Dino Report.
Dinosaur measurements in process.
MJ and Carter work on an adjective layout for their grammar and word study unit.
Jade and Luci put the finishing touches on their Timeline of Life dioramas.
Upper Elementary
It was wonderful to have so many of you come celebrate our poetry on Wednesday. Here are a few glimpses of the performers, music ensembles, and art created for our poetry this year.

Have a wonderful break!
by Abby

Tadpole tadpole polywog
Soon to be a
Hopping frog
Leaping through the muddy bog
Returning to his hollow log
Sitting down with Mrs. Bullfrog
To read his favorite catalogue
Tadpole tadpole polywog
Now he is a mighty frog
by Otto

Diego is a funny cat
I like how he is really fat
Everyday his bowl is filled
Gone in a minute but sometimes spilled
On the couch dreaming about food I love Diego and he loves me too!
by Lyla

Skiing fast, skiing slow
never knowing where to go
twisting turning down the hill
So warm but now you feel the chill

shooting flying through the snow
carving out the icy slope.

Chairlift stops, chairlift goes
bouncing through the wind and snow
sliding off but sliding slow
another run down the hill
how to know which trail to go?

Us skiers sure know how to send it
but even more so how to shred it

so ski fast or ski slow
you'll be a skier everywhere you go!
by Morgon

Big gray shimmering coat.
Strong fierce wolf.
         Your growl tumbles like thunder
from your snarling mouth. 
It descends through the woods like a shapeless matter.
Stopping any animal to listen to what soon comes after
your fierce growl.                
Your howl splits the night like a streak of lightning.
The animals fear you coming. Wolf.
Cloud Bridge
by Davey

Reflection of the city
Washed so its not gritty
99 Tons of stainless steel
This weightless looking mirror is unreal
A drop of quicksilver 33 feet tall
A clown mirror or a crystal ball
Middle School
Students explored the power of art to convey vital science through their Humans and Climate in Conflict Projects, which they presented this week. Each student identified a climate-driven conflict from around the world to research and then explored their own emotional response through a piece of art. Topics ranged from wildfires in California, coral bleaching in the Caribbean, salt water intrusion in Bangladesh and beach erosion in Malibu, to the threatened maple industry in Vermont. Here are a few exerpts from student artist statements that accompany each piece:

"My watercolor/collage implies the difference in the lives of rich versus poor people and also gives an image to the overall destruction created by the wildfires. It still has to be recognized that many beautiful places were destroyed and more may follow in the future. I want to inform the community about how important of a conflict this is and inspire people with the same drive to get to the bottom of this problem that I feel." — Emmy Winter

"To express the craziness of global warming and this extreme idea [using gases from volcanic eruptions to cool the planet] I have made a comic about a child who wants to save the world by erupting a volcano. It conveys that climate change is not only the problem of the people living on Earth now, but also the problem for both younger and future generations." — Hazel Handy

"This piece shows a highway that is being consumed by the sea. It illustrates how our beaches and beachfront infrastructure are being lost to the waves, unless we do something. This highway also represents the path that humanity is walking down. While making this piece, I asked myself, 'Where does our highway end?' Someday, if we don't change the path we are walking, humanity will plunge into the sea." — Solomon Ponzi

"The steep increase in CO2 levels began during the industrial age, when we started burning fossil fuels and coal for industry around the world. This increase is apparent on the graph of global CO2 levels that forms the top of the mountains in my [painting]." — Huxley Holcombe
Hilltop Helpers
Hilltop Wish List!
A great variety of items have come up for us to put on a wish list. If you’ve wanted to do something extra for Hilltop, please see if one of these fits your interest and budget: 
Defibrillator  - We are hoping for a heart health focused family that might want to gift Hilltop with an AED to help us be prepared for a possible heart emergency with our students, staff, or visiting parents and grandparents. Perhaps the “Tom Griffith AED Fund”, as Tom has a family history of heart issues and wants to keep teaching for a long time! The unit we’ve found that fits our needs is $2,000 including a “trainer unit”. If you are interested in supporting this purchase, please contact Kegan .
Gender Diversity Children’s Books   -
In our continued efforts towards teaching acceptance and welcoming diversity, we would like to purchase a few more books for the Elementary age that encourage learning and understanding gender diversity. Here is a list of titles we are interested in having in house. If you are interested in buying one or more of these, please contact Tamara .
New Rectangular Tables  - Our folding tables get a lot of use for both school events and outside rentals. It is time to upgrade the 6 ft rectangular tables. Costco has an economic option: Alera Brand with 8 tables at $86.99 each ($695.92) or Lifetime Brand with 4-packs at $349.99 each. If you have a Costco membership and a fondness for smooth topped tables, consider gifting Hilltop with 8 new tables and contact Kegan.
Speaker for Arts Barn Performances  - Throughout the year we use our beautiful theatre for many Hilltop events that feature our students work, parent education series, and community performances. We are also proud to provide it as a resource to the local community for events and performances that bring new faces to our campus. With so much use, we need to replace a broken speaker. Finn has identified the   Mackie Thump15A   as the ideal choice for our sound system and recommends that we have a balanced pair; they are $350 each ($700). Give the gift of a set of speakers, so we don't miss a single syllable of student performances or All School Gathering shares. For more information on this gift, contact Kegan or Finn.
Thank you, Nara!
Thank you to Nara Iams for her enlightening presentation on South Korea! The Children's House enjoyed learning about Nara's native country, which has been in the spotlight recently as host to the Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang. Nara is the mother of Patrick in the Willow Room and Minjae in Lower EL.
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
Punch and Judy On Ice    by Modern Times Theater 
Sandglass Theater’s Winter Sunshine Series 
Saturday, February 17
Public performances at 11 AM and 2 PM at Sandglass Theater in Putney
Mr. Punch is trying to beat the winter blues. With a rollicking cast of characters, live music (played on everything from the ukulele to the bicycle pump) and a hilarious story, this skillful performance brings a puppet classic to life with a contemporary vaudeville flair and a modern family-friendly sensibility.  Hand puppets.     Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Winter Sunshine is a series by Sandglass Theater committed to wonderful puppet shows for family audiences. 

Tickets are $9/ticket
Reservations highly recommended: 
info@sandglasstheater.org   or   802 387 4051 or visit our website .