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 / January 26, 2018
Sports Listings  

Monday 1/29/18
MS Basketball 3:00-4:30

Tuesday 1/30/18
UE Basketball Game vs Putney
5:30-6:30 @ Putney Central School

Wednesday 1/31/18
MS Basketball Game vs Marlboro
4:30-5:30 @ Marlboro Elementary

Thursday 2/1/18
Winter Sports

Friday 2/2/18
UE Basketball 3:00-4:30
Come Join Hilltop's Kids Block Party!

Saturday, February 3
Come drop your kids off for some fun with the Big Blue Blocks and Rigamajig while you attend the Curriculum Morning! 
Other Events...
January 31: Open House 9-11 a.m.
February 3: Curriculum Morning & Kid's Block Party 9am-12
We have been inspired by our Mission Statement update process and want to share how the mission guides our day-to-day activities for the school and for life. Join us on Saturday, February 3rd from 9-12. Kids Block Party in the Arts Barn! Community Lunch afterwards.
February 14: UE Poetry Performance 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Note from the Head of School
In a Montessori world the “Cultural Curriculum" includes science and much more, in a beautifully integrated way. Dan Filler (Director of Elementary) and Tamara Mount (Head of School) have bandied about for 5 years how to title this section of Progress Reports. Dan posits that science, geography, and history all fall under the umbrella of the Cultural Curriculum, because these three topics are deeply interconnected and these connections inform the interdisciplinary way we teach here at Hilltop.

When students study Egypt, Greece, and Rome they also study simple machines. The science of simple machines (including physics of pulleys, trajectories, etc.) is taught in this ‘history’ study, because the technological advances of these cultures helped shape the cultures themselves. As part of the human body study, students examine public health issues connecting science and human communities. For example, students look at how the stress of poverty impacts the long-term health of people living in poverty.

The study of biomes highlights how an understanding of science informs students’ understanding of human cultures. It begins as part of the study called Sun and Earth in lower elementary. In this astronomy study, students learn about how the tilt of the earth in relationship to the rays of the sun creates arctic, tropical, and temperate zones on earth. Students learn the characteristics and locations of different biomes within these zones. Next, students learn how humans adapt to meet their needs in these different biomes. These adaptations, the types of foods people eat and the types of homes they live in, help create human cultures. When students study botany and biology, they study not only plants and animals, but also explore how we are dependent on them for everything from clean air, to food, to the cotton or wool clothing we wear. Students also look at how the action of human cultures impacts plants and animals.

Our current political climate highlights how science and human culture cannot be separated. Funding of scientific study, the use of science to shape policy, the trust we put into science are being questioned within our culture. Because of the science of climate change, the outcome of these current debates could have profound impacts on our natural world and future human cultures as we adapt, or not, to a changing climate. Science and culture cannot be separated, Dan says.

Tamara gets it and agrees, yet worries that parents, not as steeped in the Montessori lingo, might not know this subtlety. When they read the word “Cultural”, they are not thinking about science. And when we revised the format for the Progress Reports several years ago some curriculum description, that included science, was lost in the interest of efficiency and focus on the individual student’s specific work. We no longer detail the robust science curriculum that includes:
                       - ability to form a hypothesis,
                       - ability to make thoughtful and accurate observations,
                       - ability to construct knowledge from observations, and
                       - understanding of the various fields of science.
For this reason, Tamara has maintained that the section of our Student Progress Reports that covers the vast array of lessons and activities under the science, geography, and history curricula should be titled “Science/Cultural”. So now, for those of you who have students in the Elementary programs, you will be getting a progress report via email next week that includes the header of “Science/Cultural”. Has Tamara worn Dan down? Convinced him of her case? He’s not telling, but feel free to let either of us what you think!
Toddler Program
While browsing through pictures taken this past week we were struck by the range of hand coordination and skill represented in the Toddler Room. Children in the classroom range in age from 18-36 months and it's striking to see how much a toddler's fingers and hands develop in a relatively short period of time.
Our youngest friend, Natalia, beautifully demonstrates early skills in using a spoon to eat. She so enjoyed the yogurt and alternated between using a spoon and her hands to eat snack.
The materials in the classroom encourage children to develop various skills. Finley uses the box with bins to practice using various wrist movements - and to check out the little treasures found in each bin, of course! 
While very young children also water plants in the classroom, an older child like Zhong Yi demonstrates how to water without putting the spout of the watering can into the plant soil or spilling water on the shelf and floor. His hand movements are smooth and controlled. 
Toddlers have a strong interest in teeny, tiny things. (Have you ever noticed how a toddler will zero-in on a rogue paperclip on the floor upon entering a room?) Eleanor delights in using well developed finger strength and hand control to peel small stickers off a backing and affix them to a piece of paper. 

Dr. Montessori famously said, "The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” By this she meant that children learn by doing. Through rich, multi-sensory experiences greater depth of learning is achieved. What incredible depth of learning these toddlers experience during regular activities like feeding oneself, opening a bin, watering plants, and removing stickers from a sheet of paper! It's a pleasure to observe children's development though the way they use their hands. 

Enjoy the weekend.
Ellie, Marco, Jessica and Amanda (in spirit)
Willow Room
This week was a full and busy week! We have spent much time working in our classroom, and hoping for better conditions on our playground. As the weather or ice may not permit us to be outside, we will drop off inside. For your convenience, and to follow our "at the gate" drop off model, children may be signed in at the front desk and then proceed down to the cubby area independently.
On Saturday, February 3rd, we will be exploring our curriculum through Hilltop Montessori's newly revised Mission Statement. In Children's House, we will be focusing on "responsible independence" and how we prepare children for life! You will get to see some of the wonderful work in our classroom, including a lesson from Cheryl! You will also get to journey through all levels and see how each program embodies the Mission Statement. We hope to see you there! 
(Above) Phoebe practices pouring water into small cups. She also practices cleaning up a spill! 

(Left) Athena practices using tweezers to pick-up and sort objects. She is also working on her fine motor skills!
Birch Room
It’s been a cold and icy couple of weeks here at Hilltop which has been limiting our time on our playground. Of course, the children still need to move! We’ve been working to accommodate that need by going for walks, spending more time in the gym, incorporating movement into our circle times, and even setting up obstacle courses in the hallway. Enjoy the pictures, and have a great weekend!

-Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam
Sophie takes a flying leap off of some mats in the gym.
The children pretend to be bunnies taking a nap before they begin to run in a circle game.
Going for a walk down the fire road.
Oliver navigates an obstacle course in the hall.
Leo uses the balance board as part of the morning work cycle.
Lower Elementary
Helen works on an adverb layout.
Max practices division using the stamp game.
Hazael and Layla read together.
Leo gets started on a poster about Tiktaaliks.
Wren uses the Timeline of Life to learn about Earth’s earliest life forms.
Upper Elementary
Carmen helps Mark and Will cut out the frame for their lung capacity experiment.
Marian researches for her 6th grade independent study project on William Shakespeare.
Annelise works on a poem, with Robert Frost sitting nearby for inspiration.
Abby sinks into a lit assignment for "One Crazy Summer".
Pete, Rhys, Mark and Luke revisit an old friend from Lower El, the magic snake, this time including negative integers!
Ben and Sam's demonstration of osmosis: Small molecules of ink have seeped through a semi-permeable membrane (the plastic bag), to react with cornstarch inside the bag and turn it black.
We have enjoyed quite a spread of activities and topics in the Upper El this week!! Here are a few highlights:

  • Students were introduced to the wonders of our "second brain," the microbiome in our gut. They were fascinated by the promise of fecal transplants to combat drug-resistant strains of E.coli. 

  • Those studying Native Americans reviewed the unique features of North American grasslands, which once covered 40% of what is now the U.S. In individual work, they looked at how parts of the buffallo were used to meet nearly all of the Plains Indian's "fundamental needs."

  • Sixth year students used map resources to learn about the expansion of U.S. territory in the 1800's. They are also reading biographies of real historic individuals (a cowboy, a Chinese railroad worker, a miner, a small farmer, and an African American sharecropper) to understand the pushes and pulls that moved people across the continent. These biographies offer poignant stories of hope, courage, loss, despair, adaptation, resilience. Through all of our history studies and particularly in U.S. history, we continually look at how the land influenced human society, and in turn how humans have affected the land and the people already there.

  • We finished the preliminary rounds of the National Geography Bee. Each of the seven rounds had a particular category (such as forces of nature, history, weird but true, culture) as well as a particular format (multiple choice, or you name the country described!). Those who got five or more right are moving on to the championship round.

  • During peace education, the class reflected on a piece from NPR's series, "Been There: Lessons from a Shared Experience". Students were visibly moved by the stories of the two prison inmates, and the tools they are using to bring their best selves through the experience.

  • Late Thursday mornings, when the class is reduced to those not en route to Mt. Snow, we've been looking at some unusual math problems from Math Olympiads. It is interesting how many different approaches there can be to a problem such as: $6 is exchanged for nickels and dimes. There are the same number nickels as there are dimes. How many nickels are there? One student used guess and check. Another realized that there is twice as much money in the dimes as there would be in nickels, so there has to be $4 in dimes, and $2 in nickels. Another confirmed this with simultaneous equations in algebra.

On top of all that, students are spending some of their time pursuing choice topics alone or in pairs for our own, in-class "mini-museum" in a couple of weeks.

Mark your calendars: Poetry Performance Wed., February 14, 1:30 p.m. Snow date: Friday, February 16, 1:30 p.m.
Middle School
In our exploration of conflict it is inevitable that we wrestle with the ever present phenomenon of war. Is it inevitable? Is state sanctioned violence an unfortunate but necessary part of living in this world? Are there alternatives? Do we have choices? In an attempt to address these questions we hosted a series a guests who have made these questions a central part of their lives. 

Last Friday, Reverend Thad Bennett, an associate priest at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, spoke with us about his thirty year activism as a war tax resister. Thad came of age at the height of the war in Vietnam and with the threat of the Lottery system hanging over his head realized that under no circumstances could he intentionally kill another human being. This epiphany was one of the roads, which led him to the ministry. He recognized that as he prayed for peace he in fact was paying for war in the form of a significant percentage of his income taxes. After a period of discernment and research, Thad became an active war tax resister in the tradition of Henry David Thoreau. His approach is totally transparent and over the years he has willingly accepted the consequences for his actions.

On Tuesday, John Hagen, the post commander of the Brattleboro American Legion, along with two other veterans, Alex Floyd and Michael Root, visited the class to talk about their military service. John spent 28 years in the Air Force and retired with a PhD in conflict resolution. He served all over the world including time in nuclear missile launch and with the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Iraq. Alex joined the Army National Guard at 17 and served five years as a stateside combat medic. Michael comes from a family of veterans and joined up shortly after high school graduation. In his 12 years of service he was deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. Today, in addition to his work for the post office, Michael works with an organization that sends vets to Cambodia to employ their skills to promote peace through building schools and water systems. 

The following are some excerpts from student reflections:

“The most important things I took from Thad’s visit were: 1) that the IRS cares more about money than people and 2) Stand up for what is right but know the consequences.” Owen James

“Thad taught me that I should think about everything I do, and learn the ramifications of it. Thad learned that he was praying for peace, while paying for war. He knows that by withholding his war tax he is not making world peace. Neither is my clothing collection ending the war in Syria. We both know we’re doing what we can for what we believe in…..” Julia

“A great thing I learned from Thad is that just because others believe differently than you, it does not mean that they are in the wrong, nor are you. So I now fully believe in being a rightfully opinionated person, and spreading my thinking without opposition toward other positions.” Hazel

“I think the biggest thing I took away from Thad’s visit is that if you say you disapprove of something, you should work to change it. I admire Thad’s bravery in the fact that supporting the killing of another human being is something he does not believe in, so he makes a quiet statement in resisting the paying of war taxes. In other words, he does not lend himself to the evil which he condemns.” Siri

“Every action has its consequences and you must be willing to take that consequence if you commit to the action. Thad said that he was fully aware of what his actions could bring upon him and thought that the benefits would be much higher than the consequences.” Huxley

“Having the veterans come was an amazing experience. Some of the things they said were surprising. Like the fact that war is just part of the world and it is always going to be there. Also the idea of having to kill terrorists to get rid of them.” Nomi

“Many of the veterans felt, to some extent, that war and conflict are part of the human condition. It seemed they felt that it would be good to change that, but very hard. I feel that just because something is hard, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.” Solomon

“Although I disagree with some things the veterans said, I thought that the best thing that all three of them took away from the military is friendship was really inspiring. I got kind of sad when they talked about how they are just chess pieces and they are going to do what the higher pieces told them to do.” Emmy

“I enjoyed getting the opportunity to speak with veterans, people who have spent a long time serving for a cause they are passionate about. I personally have some problems with the idea of war and its repercussions but they had valid points of view that made me understand where they were coming from. The discussion ended up being very profound and eye opening.” Lily
We host a panel of veterans from the Brattleboro American Legion.
Reverend Thad Bennet discusses his war tax resistance.
After Care
The Purple Ball Club meets in Before Care.
Elementary and Children's House work on elaborate forts in After Care.
Community Opportunities
Girls on the Run / Heart and Sole
Southern Program Registration is Opening SOON!
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 will be opening on: January 30th, 2018!   and ENDS on February 21st.

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 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!