Friday Newsletter / January 12, 2018
Calendar Listings  

Monday 1/15/18
No School -MLK Day

Tuesday 1/16/18
UE Basketball 3:00-4:30

Wednesday 1/17/18
MS Basketball Game vs Marlboro
4pm @ Marlboro Elementary School

Thursday 1/18/18
Winter Sports

Friday 1/19/18
UE Basketball 3:00-4:30
Check out the Hilltop Montessori School window display featured at the Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce (next to Brown and Roberts) this week and as always, if you know someone who might be a good match for our school let them know of the upcoming Open House on Wednesday, Jan 31 from 9 - 11am

All parents are welcome, current and prospective, so you and a friend are welcome to observe classrooms, and sit in on a Q & A with the program directors and some of our older students. Always good to think about what's ahead for your student and introduce a friend to the Hilltop community!
Upcoming Events...
January 15: NO SCHOOL-Martin Luther King Day
Annual Financial Aid Applications Due
January 31: Open House 9-11 a.m.
February 3: Curriculum Morning 9am-noon
February 14: UE Poetry Performance 1:30-2:30 p.m.
February Parent Meeting:
How Each Program Embodies Hilltop's Mission
Saturday, Feb 3, 9-12 noon (snow date Feb 10)

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. 

Pizza and childcare will be provided! Please bring salads or desserts to supplement this potluck lunch.  RSVP for attending   and   for childcare at the front desk!
New & Improved Mission Statement!
Hilltop Montessori School’s mission is for students to  practice  responsible independence  in a caring community of curious critical learners and thoughtful citizens.

This statement is a revision of the mission that has served the school for the past 15 years (and can be found on page 17 of the Student and Family Handbook ) . This new statement is even more succinct than the old one, and also has the additional emphasis on “practice” and on the “caring community”.

The revision process was initiated last April by a subcommittee of the American Montessori Society (AMS) Accreditation Committee for our school. A board member (and parent), several staff (including school parents), and one parent met and determined that it was important to involve all of the teachers and staff in the mission review process. Last spring, all staff were informed and given a month to review and contemplate the mission; then, during the end of the year retreat, the entire staff dialogued for several hours over the history, values, strengths, and shortcomings of the former mission statement. This meeting resulted in a list of ideas concerning strengths and weaknesses as well as a clear call to update the language of the mission. The Subcommittee also put out a call for additional members who might bring a fresh perspective to the crafting of new language. The Subcommittee met during the summer to review the findings from the all staff meeting and to hear what input new subcommittee members might have to offer. At the end of the summer the entire staff met again to craft new language for an updated mission statement. This language was easily developed and four days later the subcommittee reconvened to polish and hone the mission which was then approved by the whole staff and presented to the board. As a staff, we have lived with the mission for a few months now, in our minds, on our desks, and in our classrooms. It continues to resonate well as an inspiration for, and reflection of, what we do daily here at Hilltop Montessori School.

The core of the old statement that we retained was the idea of “responsible independence”. A concept that students, staff, parents, and friends recognize as the heart of the Hilltop mission and can rely on its simplicity and depth to guide their understanding of the school. We like that it is succinct and now also reflects the community that is so important to support that growing independence.

We hope you can join us for the Curriculum Morning on February 3rd, when we will be further explaining, demonstrating, and exploring how we bring the mission statement to life in each program.
Congratulations Marco!
We are thrilled to announce that Marco has received US citizenship!! He passed the test with flying colors and will be taking the Oath of Citizenship soon.
Here he is eating apple pie like a real American in celebration!
He will be meeting with the Upper Elementary class to discuss his long and challenging road to citizenship. . . We are so happy for him, his family, and us!
Welcome Back, Mariam!
Mariam had an amazing trip to Africa! During her stay, she visited the Fathala Reserve, a four hour drive from Mali on the border of Senegal and Gambia. We are fortunate that she shared these amazing pictures with Hilltop. 

In the near future, the Lower Elementary will be studying Africa and will show Mariam's slide show titled "How I escaped the bitter cold of North America to chill with the big cats".

Mariam had a wonderful time visiting with family. She is happy to be back in Vermont and see everyone. Oliviér was especially thrilled to have Mariam back, as is shown by his "Super Mariam" portrait.

Mariam, welcome back and thank you for sharing your experience with us.
Thank You, Lucia!
Thank you to co-op student Lucia Morey, who is wrapping up her time at Hilltop! Here is a message from Lucia to Children's House families:

Hello Parents of children in the Birch and Willow rooms! I have enjoyed working with your children as part of my Early Childhood Education Class. I am available to babysit and would love to do so! I am CPR and Wilderness First Aid Certified. I've been offering my professional media-free childcare services for 5 years for children 2 - 8 years old. 

Please contact me with any questions or for rates:
Toddler Program
The cold has lifted and finally we've been able to get out and really enjoy the beautiful winter weather. The children have gotten creative keeping themselves busy - from investigating and righting skis that had fallen outside the elementary wing to running down shoveled pathways with abandon and, of course, eating snow "cookies". A large part of a toddler's day this time of year is managing their winter gear and learning to dress and undress themselves for cold weather. 
To prepare the classroom environment for their success, we have changed around the classroom so that the cubbies are now located near the porch entrance. Now the children have less classroom to traverse (and get distracted by) before going outside. We've also been using a pictured chart to show the order garments should be donned (so that boots aren't put on before snow pants and so on). To make this visual even more exciting, once a child has put on a piece of gear, she can then remove the corresponding picture from the chart. What a wonderful way to break down a task that can feel insurmountable to a young child to accomplish independently!
After an extended break children often return to school ready to completely immerse themselves in challenging and exciting works. This week Sage enjoyed vigorously scrubbing a dirty table and Zhong Yi delighted in repeatedly stringing wooden spools onto a leather cord. This energy and the addition of new friends to the classroom has been an invigorating and welcome way to start 2018.
Enjoy the weekend.
Ellie, Marco, Jessica, Kristin and Amanda* (in spirit)

* Amanda is on a leave of absence healing a sore back. We wish her well and hope for a full recovery soon. In the meantime, Jessica and Kristin are filling in adeptly and with enthusiasm.
Willow Room
Over the weekend, several teachers from the Toddler Program, Children’s House and Lower Elementary went to the Montessori Schools of Massachusetts annual conference in Franklin, MA. The day began with a talk on the importance of Observation in our Montessori classrooms, given by Sandra Girlato, a veteran Montessorian. Following this, there were a host of different workshops to choose from, ranging from developing the social and emotional curriculum, to teaching social justice in Montessori classrooms. We were happy to have this experience together and have already begun implementing some new ideas into our curriculum and planning. In the Willow Room, we have been enhancing our circle time, observation methods and record keeping.  

Observation is an important part of our everyday learning experience. In a Montessori classroom, teachers and children observe throughout the day. New children may spend a great deal of time just watching— they are noticing how other children use materials, move through the classroom and follow daily routines. Often it may appear that a child just isn’t choosing work, but through our own observations, the child really is working. They are watching intently as a peer completes a task. In this picture, Phoebe observes Harper using art materials.

For the teacher, observation allows us access into the world of a child. We notice the purpose and intent behind work choices, behaviors and habits. Our daily observations allow us to plan for new lessons, change materials, and even alter our classroom environment to control movement. It is wonderful to notice how much can be learned and accomplished by just watching. 

Observation can help at home too! Begin by imagining yourself navigating the morning at the level of the child: how big does the world seem? Door knobs are at eye-level, and grown-ups moving around are like giants. Try stepping back too and just watching — you may be amazed at what you can learn about your child. This perspective will give you new insight into the small, yet wondrous world your child lives in. Observation may help to give you ideas for how to help your child be more successful at navigating routine and challenges as well. We are happy to offer some more ideas on how to observe and get to know your child’s perspective more. Let us know if you have any questions!

We hope you have a nice weekend!

Jonathan & Rebecca
Birch Room
“The child’s conquests of independence are the basic steps in what is called his ‘natural development’.” -Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind

One of the fundamental goals of a Montessori education is to support and guide children in their innate need for and drive towards autonomy. Part of this work includes the development of self-sufficiency, which begins in its most basic form in the Toddler Program and Children’s House classrooms in learning how to care for one’s own basic needs. To support our students in this important work, we not only give children specific, intentional lessons in self-care routines such as washing hands, using tissues, and cleaning up after spills, but we allow children the opportunity to practice. Sometimes, the practice occurs during the natural flow of the day, such as when a tray is accidentally tipped and the contents spill on the floor. At other times, those opportunities to practice involve materials the children can choose to work with such as a dressing frame, a hand washing station, or a mitten work. This week, we added a nomenclature ice skate work to allow children the opportunity to practice tying laces ahead of Thursday’s “Olders” trip to the rink. Look below for some pictures of the children developing self-sufficiency through classroom works and beyond.

Have a great weekend! 
Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam 
 Eliza practices buttoning using a dressing frame. 
Odin works on a glove and mitten work, then puts on his own gloves before heading outside.
 Henry shows off his skating work.

 Henry and Eko get ready to head onto the ice.
At the rink!
Lower Elementary
Our first five-day week finally arrived, and we made good use of it. The Clock of Eons, a series of lessons that will lead up to our larger study of the Timeline of Life, began on Monday. We have used our imaginations to travel from the Earth's tumultuous beginnings in the Hadeon Eon, which began approximately 4.6 billion years ago, to the Archeon Eon, which was 4 billion to 2 billion years ago.  Thursday's presentation introduced us to an oxygen crisis on the young planet Earth, which took place in the Proterozoic Eon. It was resolved creatively by eukaryotic cells that consumed mitochondria, the "oxygen eaters." 

What follows are some questions you may want to ask your child:

  • What was the name of the small planet that crashed into proto Earth?

  • How was the moon formed? 

  • Was it hot or cold during the Hadeon Eon? Why?

  • What are the bubbles? What are the thinkers? What happened when they came together during the Archeon Eon?

  • Where did all life forms live in the Proterozoic Eon?

  • Earth's story will continue in the days to come.

THANK YOU to all of our wonderful Lower El parents, for the gift of three beautiful and comfortable "teacher chairs!" They have already been used many times. We love these new additions to the classroom!

Have a great weekend!
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia
Dylan completes a fraction work.
Sebastian completes his daily review on the small bead frame.
Kiersten and Ciana work on the Conjunction grammar layout.
Upper Elementary
Our first full week back since break allowed us to delve into our new cultural studies. The sixth grade's U.S. history thread is now moving into Westward Expansion. The group is looking at paintings from the early 1800s to learn about attitudes towards the land and the people living on it. The rest of the class is looking at how the first inhabitants of the North American continent, having migrated through Beringia, adapted to the changing land following the last glaciation. In our continuing human body studies, the class got pretty grossed out when Tom introduced the digestive system study with a demonstration of peristalsis--the muscular contraction that moves food down the digestive tract; he spit some chewed up food into clear plastic tubing and tried to squeeze it through! (To everyone's relief, it stayed put.)

The new crop of fiction under study includes  Locomotion by Jackeline Woodson (6th grade seminar),   One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia, and  The Fighting Ground by Avi making its first appearance as a lit book in UE.

But the real bread and butter of life in UE now is poetry: reading poems, writing poems, memorizing a poem, illustrating poetry in art, and soon composing music to accompany our poems. The students demonstrated a high level of trust on Thursday at our first group poetry share, in which they read a poem-in-progress to the group for comments on feedback. (See some of our first drafts below.) It's not too early to mark your calendar for our poetry performance on  February 14, Wednesday, at 1:00 p.m. 

Finally, students have an exciting new opportunity during recess. Our new PE teacher Mace is offering xc skiing -- yay! He created a challenging loop out on the slope beside the driveway. So far it has been a big success, with up to a third of the class heading out.

With the fluctuating temperatures, students will need to have boots and outer gear at the ready every day of school--even on the "warmer" days that take us into the 40's or 50's. Have a great weekend!
A penguin
may be black and white
like the color of day
and night. And every other 
penguin the same. That black and white bird will never

by Will

A small snowflake drifts to the ground and listens
as the snow-covered pines creak with their load

the muffled sound of a skier slowly making her way down the 
powder-covered slope seems to echo in the silence
          and smelling the pinesap 
and freshly fallen snow

all the trees seem to watch her,
a dancer on a stage of snow.
by Parker 
Middle School
Seems like the word, ’independence’ and that magical combination of words, ‘responsible independence’ have been bandied about quite a lot recently. The combination of this year’s mission statement conversations and the ongoing AMS accreditation work have reminded us all of the place of honor these concepts have in our work. In the middle school, as in all the Hilltop programs, responsible independence is woven into every element of school life.

With the beginning of the term we entered our new study: Struggle for Peace, an exploration of peace and conflict. Students are currently making a number of important choices concerning this study. They are choosing an individual to research who has made or is making positive impacts on their community, nation, or world. Students are selecting a local, national, or international conflict to research and deciding if they want to work individually or with a partner. They are identifying interests and passions, connecting them to the larger overall themes of the study and designing a project to pursue (we call these spontaneous projects). Students are also reading and preparing essays from a variety of authors (tackling Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience this weekend) for class discussions and classroom guests.

All of these activities and the choices that surround them help a student build their skills of responsible independence and in doing so adopt their learning as their own. This is apparent in the excited buzz as students pore over newspapers identifying ongoing conflicts, the focused engagement of research on someone they admire, and the confidence that comes from offering your ideas and opinions to conversations that bring a larger understanding of important issues and concepts.
Reading the papers as we begin a study of non-violence and conflict.
Art room portraiture
Winter Sports
After Care
Girls on the Run
Girls on the Run is gearing up!

Sarah Levine, Southern VT Program Coordinator for Girls on the Run, met with all the girls of age for their programs (3rd - 5th, and 6th-8th). She will be returning to Hilltop next Wednesday at 2:40pm, this time to meet with parents. Most of our 2018 coaches will be there, too. Please come to hear what the program involves, and ask questions, whether it be from the point of view of a potential coach, GOTR parent, race day volunteer, or community member interested in girls' health and wellbeing in general. We will stay till about 3:15, in case you can't be there right at the start.

If you are still considering being a coach, registration is open! There is a training this Sunday at Landmark College from 9-2, so please  register for that ASAP, or contact  Sarah about alternatives if you have a conflict with that time.

Thank you for your support of our girls!

Brattleboro Outing Club JR. Ski Jumping Program

Todd Einig, Hilltop parent, will be talking to UE students about this new community 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 may be 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
Missed these shows because of the cold?
Here are some films for your at home viewing pleasure!
Emily Mason has been an important grandparent, artist, and supporter for Hilltop Montessori School. She recently had a showing at the Mitchell Giddings Fine Arts Gallery on Main Street. If you missed it, here is an article about it.

And here is a short documentary that premiered in December on PBS, it is truly a lovely homage to Emily’s work and her process and the paintings. And you may see some familiar faces and locations near and dear to Hilltop!
The Middle School Society Films showing at the Art Museum last Friday was a huge success! The first showing at 5:30 was standing room only, with many of the film subjects and producers in attendance in addition to others from our community and the general public. One of the attendees wrote after:

"I haven't enjoyed an event recently as much as I did last night. What a genuine and intimate way for young people to explore their community and its people. I'm so glad I came--I said to Jerry that we must be crazy leaving our warm house last night but I would have been so disappointed to have missed it and not just because Jerry was a subject."

Another attendee could not believe that the film editing was really done by the students. It is! If you missed it and want to see the films, or if you’d like to share them with others...

The film subjects are wonderful contributors in our community and include: Chris Mays of The Reformer; Lydia Thomson, artist and teacher; Dar Tavernier of chocolate fame; Helen Robb of Robb Farm; Gretchen Hardy of Foard Hardy Catering and The Porch; Timberly Hund the architect; Jennifer Moyse of Brattleboro School of Dance; Rodrigo Nava the sculptor; Jerry Stockman the lighting designer; Ann Braden of The Love Brigade; Robin Stronk, the painter of animals; David Major of Vermont Shepard Farm cheeses; Bob Birch, glass artist, Starr LaTronica, Brooks Memorial Library Director; and Elissa McLean of Express Fluency.
Kids Night Out
Kids Night Out!
Friday, January 19th

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 or Elementary child/children off at our Arts Barn anywhere between 5:30-9:00 pm on Friday, January 19th, 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 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 at . We have only 25 spots, so don’t wait, sign up now!
Hilltop Helpers
Thank You Marta Bernbaum for organizing our Arts Barn Kitchen!

Please check the Arts Barn Kitchen for your dishes from the Cookie Swap! We will donate items that do not get picked up by the time Spring Break rolls around!
Are these yours??
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
Join winter/spring pottery classes now
for children, teens, adults & families

"Your classes are so relaxing while providing an atmosphere where our creativity can thrive." - Peggy, adult student

    To sign up,  call Bonnie Stearns at  802-254-4515 ,   complete online registration form , or email .
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
Join Susan Dedell (wife to our very own MS Director Paul Dedell) and the Brattleboro Concert Choir in the stunning musical worlds of contemporary composers Karl Jenkins and Morten Lauridsen.

It is an inspired pairing. The shimmering sounds of Jenkin's Requiem lead, almost inevitably, into the spellbinding 'eternal light' of Morten Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna. 

You will not want to miss Having Seen the Moon.

Tickets can be purchased for $15/$10 students, available online at  or by calling the Brattleboro Music Center at  802-257-4523 Tickets are also available from Hilltop teachers Paul, Nora and Tom, who are all singing!