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 / February 2, 2018
Dear Families,

All Elementary and Middle School families should have received an email with their child’s progress report last week. (The transition to electronic delivery had some bumps, please let Rebecca know if you need a report to be resent.) I find it so rewarding to read through the reports and see all the “Progressing” students. It is important to note that “Progressing” is really where everyone should be. By the time a child is in the third year of the cycle, they might have more “Secure” ratings, but in the first and second years they really should be "Progressing" or we aren’t challenging them enough. “Progressing" is doing very well. “Secure" is over the top.” Needs Support” usually means that they are also making good progress in that area, but do need a bit more support than expected for their age and stage. They are getting the support they need to further progress. (Please review the ratings definitions on the reports for more detail on this.) 

We have the students in Upper Elementary and in Middle School read over their reports at school and dialogue with their teachers about any part of which they might have questions. We work to have the focus be mostly on the text, where a student is commended for all their qualities and efforts, and the teachers work to identify the next steps for growth. Actually, I guess that is my main point, we always are working to identify growth opportunities, not perfection. If you have any concerns or questions about the reports, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s teachers to set up a time to talk. More information and communication is always good when there's a question.

And, if you have any questions about our curriculum, PLEASE JOIN US TOMORROW MORNING! (see below)

February Parent Meeting: 
How Each Program Embodies Hilltop's Mission
Saturday, Feb 3, 9-12
followed by potluck lunch!

What is "responsible independence" and why does it matter? PLEASE join the faculty in this participatory presentation on what the school's mission means for you and your child and how it informs all that we do here at Hilltop. 

Childcare provided! Kid's Block Party! Bring your kids for some fun with the Big Blue Blocks and Rigamajig while you attend the Curriculum Morning.

Pizza will be provided! Please bring salads or desserts to supplement this potluck lunch.   RSVP for attending   and  for the Kid's Block Party or sign up at the front desk!
Sports Listings  

Monday 2/5/18
MS Basketball 3:00-4:30

Tuesday 2/6/18
UE Basketball 3:00-4:30

Wednesday 2/7/18
MS Basketball Game vs Guilford
3:30-5:00 @ Guilford School

Thursday 2/8/18
Winter Sports

Friday 2/9/18
Hilltop Basketball Jamboree 3:00-4:30
Other Events...

February 3: Curriculum Morning & Kid's Block Party 9am-12
February 14: UE Poetry Performance 1:30-2:30 p.m.
A note from a Middle School teacher to our Learning Specialist
Hi Wendy,

I just wanted to thank you again for inviting me into your classroom on Monday (on short notice, too!). It has always been a bit of a mystery to me what goes on in there, but I came away from that short visit with some "ahas" that I thought I'd share with you.

First of all, I have never (as far as I can remember) been explicitly taught how the sounds in the English language work. As a native speaker, I think I picked it all up subconsciously through hearing, speaking, and reading the language everyday. On the other hand, your lessons reminded me intensely of how I was taught a foreign language (Spanish): here are the vowel sounds, here are the possible consonant sounds and combinations, here are the patterns in spelling, etc. It has to be very intentional because otherwise it's a nonsensical code. I realized watching you that for some English speakers, that's how English feels, and so a codified approach is beneficial. And, as you so beautifully demonstrated, it can be fun!

I so appreciated the order and structure of both your physical space and your lesson. The students knew exactly what to expect, were comfortable with the rhythm and ritual of the lesson, and even could find what they needed around the room (when reminded). I had to smile at how challenging it is for Lower Elementary students to use a binder--to find the right page, to use a pencil case, to manage that clumsy object on the table and on the floor. It reminds me of the same struggles I see with Middle Schoolers, at times.

I also loved seeing how the [older Lower Elementary student] took care of her younger friend during the lesson, reminding him to zip up his pencil case so that it wouldn't spill, helping him find the right page in his notebook, reminding him what he needed to be working on, all in a kind, supportive way. And he responded well!

Thanks again!
Toddler Program
The Toddler Program staff have been busy preparing a video for tomorrow's Curriculum Morning...come out and see it!
Children's House
We hope that you can make it to our journey through the Curriculum event this Saturday! In the Children's House, we will be exploring how children embody the mission statement in our 3-6 classrooms. 

A glimpse: In the pictures below, you will see Harry counting using the Red and Blue Number rods. The Number Rods are one of many concrete materials. Built into their design is a "control of error," or self correcting design. As numbers get bigger, so do the rods! When a child chooses this material, they will be able to notice whether or not the rods are in order because of their length and color segmentation. Harry slid each number down, counting as he placed his hand on each piece. When finished, he carried each rod back to the shelf, one at a time. On Saturday morning, we will explore materials like this, and connect them to your child's journey as a responsibly independent learner. 

See you there! 
Lower Elementary
There are two cultural studies occurring right now in Lower El, each lasting for several weeks and providing us with much challenging and creative work. The first, our science study, is the Timeline of Life. Children are learning about the disappearance of the dinosaurs, once rulers of the Earth, and the rise of the mammals, on land and sea, that took place during the Cenozoic Era. The creatures who had been small, mouse-like minor characters on the new Earth, evolved and grew over time to become the dominant species. The Cenozoic was the time when whales swam in the sea, and deer, bear, wolves, and large cats roamed the land. Flowering plants had their moment here, too, as did grasses. You could say that the Cenozoic was a very furry and green time for the Earth. 
Our Economic Geography study highlights the interdependence among people. "What Does the Farmer Give Us?" was the most recent presentation. The list was long: cheese, meat, vegetables, fruit, grains, and so on. It generated conversations about local bakeries, the farmer's market, and the work it takes to produce these products. Previously, we had discussed how many people, and how much effort, it takes to get that bread from the store to your table. "Who Does the Farmer Need?" will be a presentation in the near future. If you have any connections to a local bakery, grocery store, or farm that welcomes school groups, we would love to have a conversation with you about possible field trips. Please email both Patrick and Kerstin. 

Independence is the theme of Saturday's Curriculum Morning. We look forward to presenting what we do to help each child toward this goal, focusing on more "showing" rather than all "telling." Please join us! 

Have a fantastic weekend.
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia
Jade and Matai practice finding the lowest common multiple of two numbers. 
Sophia and Ayla set up an economic geography layout: What the Farmer Gives Us.
Wren, Claire, and Layla design their noun families as part of a grammar and word study work.
Upper Elementary
Poetry and more poetry! The enthusiasm around our activities is palpable, from the artwork students are creating about poems, to the poems they are writing about art. 

To introduce the art-based poem, Tom had the class examine an abstract painting from the collection "Eating Atom Bombs," by Dana Schutz. Using "VTS" (visual thinking strategy), the students took unhurried turns sharing what they observed in the painting, which over time grew, and grew, and grew some more; what had seemed impossible for many students to relate to moments before now took on multiple layers of possibility. We eventually had to curtail the comment period so they could have time to record ideas in words and phrases.

We've had several whole-group poetry share sessions this week. The group is showing huge interest in sharing their poems, taking in comments and suggestions, and giving one another good, thoughtful feedback. Yesterday, as Diana shared a revised version of a poem she had read last week, you could feel the whole group perk up, look at one another wide-eyed, and nod in agreement around the improvements. Among comments for her: "I really like how it's more descriptive now, it's just deeper," "It totally hangs together now and makes sense," "It was neat how you go into the snake's eyes and then back out to your eyes again," "Wow, you really worked on that!"

The culture of trust and support within this group makes the sharing possible, not to mention a lot of fun.

Come feast your eyes and ears on their creations, Wednesday, February 14 at 1:30 p.m. (Friday snow date).
Parker illustrates the dodobird poem she has memorized for class.
Luke shows off the bicycle that is the subject of his haiku.
Morgon constructs the wolf that will accompany his poem.
In a phonemic awareness activity, Sander counts out phonemes with the blocks.
Abby and Diana, Rhys and Mark, use transparencies and markers to visually create taking a fraction of a fraction.
James makes a color coded map of the world to show differences in per capita daily calorie intake.
Students begin creating music that will accompany their poetry for our upcoming performance.
Middle School
Beginning tonight at Gallery Walk and continuing through all of February, the middle school will have an exhibit at Amy’s Bakery. The show consists of framed photo collages from their “Life in Brattleboro - the Society Project” and charcoal portraits of student selected “peace person” research subjects. In addition, due to their popularity, the Brooks Memorial Library has asked to extend the display of the Brattleboro History books the middle school students created for the “Before Our Time” project. Please go take a look.

We look forward to sharing with you how we practice and build the skills of responsible independence at this year’s Mission Statement Curriculum Morning.
Join us for an exhibition of Portraits and Collages at Amy’s Bakery!
Winter Sports
Community Events
Skate the Night Away
Brattleboro Figure Skating Club
Sunday March 4, 2pm
Nelson Withington Skating Facility
Adults $7 - Students & Seniors $5 - Children under 5 FREE

Talk to Luci in Lower El or email Vanessa !
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 .   
Thank you to Hilltop parent Todd Einig for demonstrating the indoor ski jump apparatus for the Upper El!
If you were intrigued by working with Todd on the indoor jumping apparatus, imagine what it would be like really flying through the air from a ski jump! Contact Todd to join the JR. Ski Jumping Program!
Brattleboro Outing Club JR. Ski Jumping Program

• Jump Facility – Vermont Academy 10m, 20m, 30m jumps. (Saxtons River, VT)
• Practice held 2x per week (Mon, Thur or Fri. 6:30-8pm.)
• Must be Intermediate level downhill skier.
• Start with downhill equipment. Jumping equipment is available to borrow/rent at VA. 
• Regional tournaments scheduled (calendar available by request)

Todd Einig  – Organizer & Coach.   Home    802 254 4447     Cell 860 990 5536 
Girls on the Run / Heart and Sole
Southern Program Registration has Started!
We bet your GOTR or H&S girl is anxiously awaiting for you to register her for the 2018 spring season! We are pretty excited to unleash girl power too! More than a running program, being part of our Girls on the Run or Heart and Sole team will help your girl learn more about unlocking her limitless potential to be her best self, navigate her relationships and community, and change the world for the better.

Registration for our region opened o n January 30, 2018 and will end February 21.

Our coaching team at Hilltop for  3rd-5th grade Girls on the Run  will be: 
Kathryn Einig , Jennifer Griffith, and Debra Rosenzweig.

The coaches for  6th-8th grade Heart and Sole  will be: 
Alix Fedoruk , Sarah Levine, and Shawn Magee.

Both programs will meet (separately) on  Mondays  and  Wednesdays  at Hilltop, from 3-4:30 pm,  starting the week of February 26th.


Saturday, May 12th in Brattleboro

Call our office at  802-871-5664  or email us with questions.
Register online here (starting Jan 30). 
February 17–18, 2018

You don't want to miss this exciting event! You can also BE A PART OF THE TEAM that makes it happen.

Kathryn Einig (Lower EL parent) is  seeking adult volunteers   for 2 hour shifts on Saturday and Sunday, February 17 and 18, at the Harris Hill Jump. Participation gets you into the event for the day.

Also   seeking Middle School students : 2 each day, starting at 1:00, to count cars in the parking areas. Mostly to count license plates for out-of-state attendees.
This volunteer job helps with our media outreach.

Please contact  Kathryn Einig  ( 802-258-1983 )  with any questions or interest.
Hilltop Helpers
Thank you to the Putney School for letting us use their "bussette" for Winter Sports!
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!