Friday Newsletter / November 10th, 2017

Peace Education Matters.

Your investment in our children and our school helps us further the efforts of peace; peace in the individual, the environment, and in the community. 

 Monday 11/13/17
Cookies 3:15-4:30

Tuesday 11/14/17
Spanish with Marco 3:30-4:30

Wednesday 11/15/17
Marionettes and Backdrops 3:15-4:30

Thursday 11/16/17
LE Basketball Clinic 3:15-4:30
Anxiety Presentation with Paul Foxman

Friday 11/17/17
Chess 3:15-4:30
UE Author's Tea 2-3pm
LE Workshare 3-3:50pm
Kids Night Out!
We have extreme gratitude for the wonderful participation of our families who show their appreciation for the work that we do everyday to grow a caring community of curious, critical learners and thoughtful citizens. 

We had spectacular 96% participation. Thank you all for your support. 

Congratulations to the following programs that reached 100%: Toddler Room, Willow Room, Lower El and Upper El!! 

Thank you to Marta Bernbaum , (Mom to Finn in Lower El) for creating and crafting the idea of the spectacular sunflower/petal pledges.
They surely have been a bright addition to our foyer. Marta, thank you for your creativity and time with this project.

Congratulations Hilltop Families!  
Our week of challenges have ALL been met. 
  • 20 gifts over $10 to receive a matching donation of $200 to Groundworks Collaborative from Farnum Insulators.
  • Congratulations Toddler Room!! Each family will receive a batch of treats. You were the first program to reach 100% participation.
  • Congratulations Lower EL! Your program reached 100% participation and one donor will double their donation. 
  • Thank you to the 7 new families that ALL donated to the Annual Fund. Each family will receive a Hilltop tote bag. 

A total of over $26,000 pledged or donated from families, faculty, staff and board members. A significant step towards the $75,000 goal for Annual Fund donations from families, grandparents, friends, alum, alum parents, and businesses. 
Emergency Drills
We are required to practice emergency drills. We do these for the whole school and explain it in an age appropriate way to each level. You may hear your children talk about these events, and we wanted to share a bit about what we do.

SECURE THE CLASSROOM = Students stay in place at their work, while the doors to the school and classrooms are locked.

TAKE SHELTER = Students quickly and quietly go to a location where they could shelter for an extended period if necessary.

EVACUATE THE BUILDING = a very loud alarm goes off in the school buildings and the children and staff evacuate with each class going to specific meeting places outside for attendance taking. These drills might be followed by instructions to . . . 

EVACUATE THE CAMPUS = Practicing for a bigger emergency that would lead to all students being bussed off the campus to a town prescribed Reunification Site. We don't practice the bussing part, but do gather in preparation for that possibility.

We are part of the "Town of Brattleboro and Brattleboro Schools Emergency Response Plan". We have coordinated with local officials and emergency responders to ensure that they know our campus and community well and will be able to assist efficiently in an emergency situation, including evacuation, should the need arise. Having these drills helps us be ready and confident that we could respond in an emergency.
Upcoming Events...
November 16: Anxiety Presentation @ 6:30pm
(RSVP and carpooling encouraged)
November 17: UE Author's Tea @2pm, LE Workshare @ 3pm
November 21: Stone Soup Day, no lunch necessary today!
November 22: Thanksgiving Break Begins
November 27: School Resumes
Late Pick-Ups
Children's House and Toddler Program pick-up ends at 3:00pm, Elementary pick-up ends at 3:10pm. After pick-up, students are considered to be in After Care and charged $15. There will be an additional $15 charge for each additional hour. After 5:00 p.m., there is a $1.00/minute charge. We appreciate your understanding of our staffing planning needs!

Stone Soup

Stone Soup is an old folk story in which hungry strangers convince the people of a town to each share a small amount of their food in order to make a meal that everyone enjoys. We encourage you to ask your child about the story. The story has been read in most classrooms. We have included a brief synopsis below as well.

“Some travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty cooking pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers. Then the travelers go to a stream and fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they are making "stone soup", which tastes wonderful and which they would be delighted to share with the villager, although it still needs a little bit of garnish, which they are missing, to improve the flavor. The villager, who anticipates enjoying a share of the soup, does not mind parting with a few carrots, so these are added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup which has not yet reached its full potential. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, the stone (being inedible) is removed from the pot, and a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by travelers and villagers alike. Although the travelers have thus tricked the villagers into sharing their food with them, they have successfully transformed it into a tasty and nutritious meal which they share with the donors.”

This year, in planning for our Stone Soup day (and holding true to the meaning of the story), we would like each student to bring a vegetable for the soup. Next week, we will designate a specific vegetable each student in each classroom can contribute. More information to come next week.
Toddler Program
Shelves in our classroom are updated regularly depending on the changing interests of the children, the weather, and the materials' use or lack thereof. This week a set of nesting boxes came to one of our manipulative shelves. What a lot to explore - and fascinating for a teacher to observe!

First some children unpacked the boxes and noticed the animal pictures printed on the sides. This led to finding matching animal objects on the language shelves in the classroom - the elephant was placed on the box with a picture of an elephant, same with the deer, tiger, raccoon, and a water lily! 
Elijah and AJ spontaneously matched objects from the language shelves with the pictures on the nesting boxes.

After a while, the activity changed. Elijah and Zhong Yi began stacking the boxes up. And then AJ was moved to add a little something extra on top!
Building up, up, up...
...and the finishing touch.
And, as one does, the boxes were nested again and returned to the shelf.
Nested again.

Enjoy the weekend.
Ellie, Amanda & Marco
Birch Room
Social Conflicts - What happens when friends argue or fight?

One of the most amazing things about young children is their ability to be truly “in the moment”.  When they are happy, they quite literally shake with excitement, and when they are mad, their whole body gets involved in expressing it. When they are curious, they explore with deep concentration (and a total lack of care for adult’s time tables!) Is it any surprise that children’s interactions with their friends follows the same pattern?

Young children can develop close, intense friendships that last an afternoon. They can offer their favorite toy to a playmate in the morning, un-invite that same friend to their birthday party in the afternoon, then tell their parent the very same friend is sleeping over later that night! When young children disagree, they often do so with the same intensity and focus on their immediate feelings. When those strong feelings are mixed with the natural low impulse control and developing language skills of young children, sometimes unkind words or hands come into play. It’s never what we as teachers or families want, but it is normal. It also gives children a chance to practice and learn how to solve problems the right way.

There are many different ways that we as teachers work to support children during times of conflict. The first is to “pre-teach” by using books, stories, and discussions to talk about what to do when we disagree. We role model solving problems as they naturally come up, and at times, highlight a particular situation that’s been leading to conflict. For example, a few weeks ago Cheryl and Serina had quite a disagreement about who was going to get to go inside from the playground first! By modeling a conflict and asking for solutions from the children, we were able to talk about ways to problem solve outside of the “heat of the moment.”

When conflicts between children do happen, we try to offer as much support as the children need in the moment. Sometimes, that only means being nearby in case things escalate, while at other times it may mean redirecting the children to the peace area to talk about the problem. Sometimes just giving each child a chance to calmly express their feelings is enough support for the children to be able to solve things on their own. At other times, each child may need help to articulate their feelings, and to generate possible solutions. In each case, we try to find a balance between letting each child’s voice be heard and figuring out what we want to happen next. Usually, the children move through the problem solving pretty quickly and get right back to playing with each other, shaking with laughter and excitement all over again!

Have a wonderful weekend,

Cheryl, Serina, and Mariam
Cheryl gives a lesson on the metal insets, a pre-writing work.
Sofia gets ready for a lesson on the multiplication board.
Esme and Charles play letter bingo.
Andrew practices writing his name.
Willow Room
We recently added a water table to the Willow Room and it’s been fascinating to observe how the children interact with it. Playing with water provides children with opportunities to use and refine all of their senses. It is also a tangible way of exploring the properties of water. Initially a child may just test out how the water feels, “Is it hot or cold?” or “Do I like how it feels?” In the table is a measuring cup, a funnel, a sponge, a pipette, and a squirt bottle. Children seem most interested in filling the squirt bottle with water and then squirting it out back into the table. They’ve also been experimenting with using the funnel to pour water into the bottle. The big table accommodates making spills and such so it’s a great way for children to test out their pouring skills. In addition to the water table, we’ve added a sink and float work to our Science area. This offers a more controlled way of experimenting with this concept. Children fill a small bowl with water and then test out various objects to determine if they sink or float. It’s been fun to predict whether or not an object will float or sink beforehand. We’ve had a few surprises!

We’ve also noticed a surge in children who are interested in letter and sound recognition. In addition to the Montessori materials that focus on letter and sound recognition, we offer extensions that further work on building these skills. One of these is a work on matching letters. In the picture below, you can see Annabel and Patrick working together to match clothing pins with a letter written on them to the letters on the mat. Amaya and Athena are working on a puzzle where they match the letter/sound with a picture that starts with that letter/sound.


Tuesday, November 21 st is our Stone Soup Day. The whole school will work together to make the soup and then will eat lunch together with our Peace Buddies. If your child doesn’t usually stay for lunch, they are welcome to stay until 1:00 pm on this day.

Wednesday, November 22-Friday, November 24 School will be closed for Thanksgiving Break.

Have a great weekend!

Jonathan and Rebecca
Alexander watches as Harper explores the water table.
Amir experiments with sink and float.
Amaya and Athena match pictures to the letter sound they start with.

Above: Annabel tests out an object to see if it sinks or floats.

Left: Patrick and Annabel work on their visual matching skills.
Lower Elementary
During Peace Time on Thursday, we presented the first of several lessons on growth and fixed mindsets. We talked about the brain being like a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to get stronger. This includes practicing how we talk to ourselves about things that are challenging for us. If I say "I'm not good at multiplication," I am telling myself that I will never improve, that it has already been determined, and that there is nothing I can do about it. However, if I add the word "yet" to the end of my sentence, it changes everything. "I'm not good at multiplication  yet"  gives me an opportunity to grow. Students shared some areas of challenge and what they could do to improve in that area. "I can't skateboard  yet,  but I will keep trying;" "I can't write every letter in cursive perfectly  yet,  but I will practice every day and ask for help when I need it." Talking to ourselves like this, every day and often, can change the way we think about ourselves and our capabilities. 

Everyone in Lower El now has a book or cards on the subject of South America or plants, and has been hard at work reading and taking notes.  On Wednesday, Older reading buddies paired with Younger ones to help with reading and guide them in the note-taking process. It was a peaceful and productive work time! 

Lower EL Reminders:

Please join us for our Lower Elementary works share on Friday, November 17th from 3:00 - 3:50. There is no charge for childcare during the work share, but we would like everyone to please sign up using the clipboard at the front desk or email Rebecca directly here. We tend to have many children in aftercare on work share days and Mariam and the team really need to be able to plan accordingly. Thank you. We look forward to seeing everyone!

Please remember that more layers and proper footwear will be needed as the weather turns colder and wetter. We want everyone to get outside in the fresh air, every day! 

Enjoy your weekend.
Kerstin, Patrick, and Amelia 
Lydia and MJ match collective nouns with plural nouns.
Wren practices addition using the bead bars.
Hazael L. assists her reading buddy (Hazel R.) with her bubble map for her non-fiction picture book.
Sebastian writes his own math story problem. 
Upper Elementary

Wish List: If any of you own a band instrument in working condition that is not being used (such as flute, clarinet, trumpet, or saxophone in particular), we would be glad to take it off your hands for our new instrument elective.

We will be sharing some of our writing from this fall at  Author's Tea  on  Friday, November 17 at 2:00 p.m.

Still needed for many students: indoor shoes, and a water bottle that lives in the classroom.

Enjoy the weekend.
Nora teaches sum of angles in a polygon.
Sam and Otto examine the strengths and weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation, and compare the New Jersey and Virginia Plans for a rewritten U.S. Constitution.
Ilona looks for new information in her layout about the muscular system.
Pete color codes his personal narrative for elements such as dialogue, transition words, and strong lead.
Lyla works on a lit assignment.
UNICEF Trick or Treat
We are happy to report positive results for the UNICEF Trick or Treat.
The students are super proud of the donations they received!! Your donation to UNICEF helps save children's lives.

The totals by group:
Lower EL: $71.09
Upper EL: $52.78


This is a great start to something we can really build on next year!
Thank you to all our Elementary students for your participation.

Middle School
We began the week with our Love Hate/ Curricular Vitae recitation night. It was a delightful evening of student poems exploring identity. Many thanks to our families for contributing lovely edibles for the reception that followed.

On Tuesday morning, Melany Kahn treated us with a class about how to conduct a photo shoot. The session was tremendously helpful in preparing the students for their ‘Life in Brattleboro: The Society Project’. In this project students select an individual in our larger community to interview and photograph and then make a film and collage. The films will be shown at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center on January 5th and the framed collages will be on display at Amy’s Bakery the month of February.
Friday marked the beginning of the elderly companion/younger mentoring program at the middle school. For five Friday mornings the seventh graders will be helping in the Toddler, Children’s House, and Lower Elementary programs while the eighth graders are building a relationship with a resident of one of the assisted living facilities in Brattleboro.

These are just three of the ways we are exploring a sense of place and the connections with ourselves and our community.
Weeping with the onions - Middle School Soup makers show their commitment as they dice 20 pounds of onions for Armenian Lentil Soup.

Welcome, Kristin!

Kristin joins the Hilltop community helping with the Toddler Program and After Care. Prior to her time at Hilltop, Kristin received her BS in Elementary Education from UVM, and then received her MS in Curriculum and Instruction from ASU. She taught both first and second grade for five years in Rhode Island. This past year, Kristin took time off to travel around the world with her husband. Upon returning, they decided to plant roots here in Vermont. In her free time, Kristin enjoys reading, skiing, yoga, photography, and being outdoors.
Hilltop Helpers
A Children's House family is looking for local housing, can you help?
See below!
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!
A message from Julia Fedoruk, 8th grader in the Middle School:
I am once again collecting clothes for refugees, which local nonprofit  Carry Me Home  sends to camps and outreach programs in Greece.  We currently need adult winter clothing sizes small and medium, warm adult sleeping bags, and shoes/boots for all ages.  Needs change as we hear from our contacts in the field, so please check this space for any updates! All items should be clean and in good condition. Please leave them in the box in the lobby. 

To help defray shipping costs (the only item in the budget of this 100% volunteer organization), Carry Me Home will offer a  delicious Greek Supper  benefit   at Centre Congregational Church on  Saturday   November 18, 5-7pm . We hope you will attend! All the information is on our  event page . We are also seeking donations of ingredients for the supper, and some volunteers to help us cook, serve, and clean up. Please sign up on the list by my collection box, or email me.

Thank you for all of your past support, and Kalí óreksi ! (bon appétit in Greek)
Brattleboro Sunrise Rotary and Project Feed the Thousands
Show your support for the Brattleboro Sunrise Rotary’s community care projects and buy a chance to win delicious meals at 5 of our local restaurants! Email  Deborah Rosenweig  to buy your ticket! $5 a ticket or 5 for $20. Going fast…