Friday Newsletter / January 19, 2018
Calendar Listings  

Monday 1/22/18
MS Basketball Game vs Putney
4pm @ Putney Central School Forest

Tuesday 1/23/18
UE Basketball 3:00-4:30

MS Basketball Game vs Twin Valley
5:30 @ Twin Valley Middle High School

Wednesday 1/24/18
UE Basketball Game vs Guilford
3:30-5 @ Guilford School

Thursday 1/25/18
Winter Sports

Friday 1/26/18
UE Basketball 3:00-4:30
Winter sports are not just for Thursdays!
Leo of Lower El enjoys a ski around the soccer field during recess, followed by his friends.
Upcoming Events...
January 19: Kids Night Out!
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.
Hilltop’s Early Childhood Program Receives
5 Stars Again!
We are thrilled to announce that Hilltop Montessori School has been recognized once again by the State of Vermont’s Step Ahead Recognition System (STARS). A huge thank you and congratulations to Serina Keppel! In her role as the Early Education Partnership Program Director, Serina led the Children’s House and Toddler Program in the assessment and documentation that resulted in this achievement.

"STARS is Vermont’s quality recognition system for child care, preschool, and afterschool programs. Programs that participate in STARS are stepping ahead — going above and beyond state regulations to provide professional services that meet the needs of children and families.” STARS evaluates early childhood programs by thoroughly analyzing the following areas:

  • Regulatory History
  • Staff Qualifications and Annual Professional Development
  • Families and Community
  • Program Practices
  • Administration

The STARS review process included thorough documentation of qualifications and program policies and procedures. This material is supplemented with an assessment from an evaluator who spent time in each of our early childhood classrooms on multiple days this past December. It was reaffirming, though not surprising, to have her so appreciate and value the quality programs that we are providing.

While the Montessorian in each of us might not want to emphasize the external reward and “gold star” connotation of this program, it is a wonderful accomplishment and yet another confirmation of the outstanding, staff, facilities, and programs that we are offering to your children.

There is also a financial benefit in receiving 5 stars. The STARS rating is a component determining the amount available to our families who are eligible for Vermont’s Child Care Financial Assistance Program . This recognition also enables us to qualify for the PreK funding that all Vermont children ages 3 and 4 receive.

If you have any questions or would like any additional information about the STARTS program, evaluation process or its meaning to us, please feel free to email me or stop by.
Hilltop Graduates Make the News
Recently we’ve had a couple of alum from the class of 2011 in the news! One also offered a bit of a reflection on her years at Hilltop. Please enjoy this news of accomplishments after the Hilltop Montessori School experience.
Elkanah Linder, Class of 2011

What was the most valuable lesson or experience you took away from your time at HMS? How has it impacted your life, your work or your story?
It is hard to recall one experience as most valuable. I think what Hilltop really instilled in me was the importance of being open minded. There is not a lot of diversity in Vermont and Hilltop exposed me to a lot of new and different perspectives between all the readings and trips we went on. Now at school in Philadelphia, where diversity is prominent, I often find myself more willing to listen to different opinions and participate in new experiences than most of my peers.

How did Hilltop prepare you for your subsequent education?
Hilltop taught me how to think critically and problem solve efficiently. I learned how to be a confident learner and engaged in my classes. All the seminars that Paul and Finn led were really crucial to teaching me to love reading and thinking, and then sharing my ideas with others.

What skills and passions did you take away from Hilltop that remain with you today?
A big part of the Hilltop education was the time we spent in our outdoor classroom “upland”. Before Hilltop, I was always anxious about leaving my comfort zone. However, the time we spent in Upland cooking for ourselves, going on night walks led by Finn and spending time on our individual acre of land that we each mapped out really fostered my independence and love for being outdoors. Spending time in Upland and being exposed to the readings of John Muir and Henry David Thoreau really made me appreciate nature and realize the importance of protecting it. Now, as a result, I have started working on designing a sustainable Children’s Hospital with a neurosurgeon in Boston. 

Read the Brattleboro Reformer article about Elkanah's accomplishments!
Peter Owen Hayward, Class of 2011

Peter-Owen Hayward of Brattleboro ended the first half of the 2017-2018 hockey season at Syracuse University with 17 goals and 14 assists, making him the team’s leading scorer.

In addition to his role as assistant captain, Peter has attained dean’s list honors in Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management as a Finance major and in the Newhouse School for Communications where he is majoring in marketing.

Read the full Brattleboro Reformer article about Peter's accomplishments!
Toddler Program
Jessica & Eleanor
Dining in the Snow
Quentin pulls his sled.
Sledding with Marco!
Willow Room
Annabel and Eleanor build a "snow person"
Harry explores the water table
Harper practices her sounds
 Patrick works on the "45 Layout"
Amir and Mazin work on the 100 board
Kaleb makes a maze using the Red Rods
Birch Room
What is 3 cubed? Easy! 3x3x3 = 27. Write it down on a test and move on to the next question. But what does 3 cubed really look like? The numeral 27, or an actual cube made of 27 beads? Which would mean more to a child? Would it make more sense to children if they built the cube themselves? Maria Montessori thought it would, and we absolutely agree. Everything in the Children’s House math area is designed for children to explore with their hands. The materials respect the way that young children learn, through hands-on development of concrete ideas before moving on to abstraction. For example, children will explore multiplication with materials in the Children’s House well before they memorize their multiplication tables in the elementary programs. The experience of laying out 3 beads 3 “ times ” will help them really understand what 3 x 3 actually means. This kind of concrete, hands-on work to build fundamental concepts happens every day in our class, from Olders practicing skip counting and division to Youngers counting out wooden spindles to place by a numeral. 

Here are some recent pictures of our young mathematical minds at work. Enjoy your weekend! 

Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam
AJ combines his love of puzzles with connecting numerals and quantities.
Elijah explores size and height with a pre-math work.
Eleanor gets a lesson on squaring with Cheryl.
Paisleigh works on the concept of base 10 using the teens board.
Lower Elementary
Our Clock of Eons has stretched itself out into a linear timeline this week, and our study of the Timeline of Life has begun. This work is big in every sense: it takes up lots of space in the classroom, with it's colorful charts of the different eras, periods, and ages. Everyone is instructed on how to navigate around it, so as not to damage it or disturb the work; and it tells the story of the explosion of life on Earth, from cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, to, at the very end of the timeline, human beings (the study of this particular animal happens in Upper El.). Maria Montessori intended for this work to fill the child with awe at the myriad life forms on our planet. Our goal is to give the students an impression of the diversity and interdependence of life, and to spotlight some plants and animals from each time period. We do not expect a memorization of facts - unless, of course, a student wants to memorize!

Much work emerges from this Timeline of Life, however. Children can explore it by placing cut pieces of animals, plants, and years onto the large charts themselves, and then test their knowledge by using our "mute charts," which have no pictures on them; research of a particular creature or plant can be done, and a report written; a study of how different life forms evolved over time (or became extinct) can be done; math can be used to calculate how long each era, or age, or period, lasted; our classroom command cards encourage further exploration by assigning a task to the student, such as taking a closer look at sea stars, or noticing in which era plants first appeared on Earth. One year, a student was so inspired by the fascinating trilobite that he composed a song about it and sang it at All School Gathering! Poetry, songs, and other artistic means of exploring the Timeline of Life are available to each student.

We move on from the Paleozoic Era (the time of "old life," when all creatures lived in water) to the Mesozoic Era next week.

Enjoy your weekend.
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia
Patrick teaches a Timeline of Life lesson to the class
Caroline practices subtraction using the small bead frame
Iris and Kiersten start work on a pin map of Europe
Upper Elementary
Despite the interruptions to our schedule, the Upper El is buzzing with a wide variety of activities. Of note:
Marco visited our classroom and spoke about his experience leaving his family and the dire economic climate in Equador and walking over the border from Mexico into Arizona. Speaking no English, he was at the mercy of the "coyotes" he paid to facilitate the process. He made his way to New York City where he worked 3 jobs under a false name, not just to live, but to send money back home. Fast forward 17 years, and we all joined him in celebrating his passing of the citizenship test and its accompanying interview gauntlet. If you want to know anything about US history or our government, ask Marco. Chances are, he knows!
Parker shows off her binomial square layout. 
Corbin and Rhys work the digestive system layout.
Jennifer demonstrates decimal multiplication with the decimal checkerboard layout. The emphasis is on determining the place value from the product of decimal as well as whole number factors. 
In poetry, students looked at traits of traditional Haiku, which is more nuanced than the well-known 3-5-3 syllable guideline. Then we visited the ever-popular diamante poem. Here's some poetry from our budding poets:

From Ally:

five wild deer
trotting on shiny
white snow


pouring rain
clearing snow turning
into ice
Our own Marian will be making her singing debut at the Latchis Theater this Sunday at 3PM, performing the treble solo in a performance of the Jenkins "Requiem" with the Brattleboro Concert Choir.
Middle School
The middle school students are currently involved in a multi week short story study with Finn. Over the course of the study, students will be learning the many components and vocabulary of short story writing, experimenting with a number of writing exercises, and writing a series of their own short stories all with different limits and characteristics. An interesting component of this study is that students are expected to read their weekly stories aloud to their parents before reading them to the class and handing them in. Parent’s responses and input allows them to become part of their student’s creative process as well as helping the student to reflect on their work and claim ownership.

This week students read Flowers by Alice Waters, focused on the concepts of setting, exposition, complication, climax, and denouement, and discussed the point of a short story. They explored the intangible but essential aspects of a successful short story; that a story is more than a memory or an occurrence but a revelation of change and transformation.

The study will culminate next month with each student selecting one of their stories, going through a process of careful editing and drafting, and reading the finished story to the class in a formal presentation.
Short story corner
Winter is here and it’s time for exponential decay.
Planning the next Rockin’ Ramen event. Stay tuned...
Winter Sports
After Care
Finding nooks in the library.
Isaac lends a helping hand in the gym.
Hilltop Helpers
Dog Sitting Opportunity!

Have you always wanted a dog but weren't sure you were ready for a ten-year commitment? Or maybe you've already got one dog and think a companion would be welcome. Here's your chance!

We are going out of the country for five months and our beloved four-year-old, retriever-mix Archie is not coming with us. We have someone to care for him from Jan 22nd, when we leave, until the 1st week of March, but are looking for a loving home from early March till mid-June.

If you are interested, please contact us and we'll find a time to meet Archie and talk about details.

Thank you!

Seth Harter, Kate Jellema, Ellie and Charlie 
(, 490-4285)
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
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.
Vermont Raptors: Birds of Prey
January 20, Saturday, 11 a.m.

Meet the birds of prey! In connection with the exhibit   Touchstones, Totems, Talismans: Animals in Contemporary Art  , Southern Vermont Natural History Museum’s raptor expert Michael Clough brings live hawks, owls, and falcons to BMAC for a face-to-face exploration of what it takes to be a raptor.

ADMISSION: Free with regular museum admission. Kids are free.
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. Performing in the choir are Nora Gordon and Paul Dedell from our Middle School and Tom Griffith from Upper El. Marion Wojcik from UE will be a soloist on Saturday night!

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 Paul, Nora and Tom!
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 .