All posts by LCampbell

Notes from the Head of School

The “Spicy Announcement” Big Reveal! – March 30, 2018  The Board, Roselle Garro (Development Director), and I shared the news of an amazing gift to the school that has helped to secure further financial stability to support the families, faculty, and facilities that make up our school currently and into the future.

A Reflection on “Practice – April 6, 2018.  Within the process of re-evaluation of our Mission Statement the word “practice” was enthusiastically embraced as a satisfying way to describe the way we engage in Responsible Independence.

Emergency Preparedness – March 2, 2018.  The event in Florida on Feb 14th reminds us, yet again, of how precious our children are, and how important their safety is. Since moving up to this campus on the hill, we have continued to improve our emergency planning and our drills.

Montessori Curriculum Morning – February 9, 2018.  Hilltop has had a strong and meaningful mission statement for the past 15 years. We all have loved that it has “responsible independence” at its core and that most students, parents, and certainly teachers, have it guide our daily activities.

Montessori Cultural Curriculum – January 26, 2018.  In a Montessori world the “Cultural Curriculum” includes science and much more, in a beautifully integrated way.

Hilltop’s Early Childhood Program Receives 5 Stars, Again! – January 19, 2018.  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).

New & Improved Mission Statement – January 12, 2018
Hilltop Montessori School’s mission is for students to practice responsible independence in a caring community of curious critical learners and thoughtful citizens.

Winter Sports – December 1, 2017

“Practical Life” is a classic part of the Montessori curriculum. Students like doing real work that accomplishes something in real life and teaches practical skills. In every program we have lessons and activities in Practical Life – and in Southern Vermont, “Winter Sports” is a part of our Practical Life curriculum.

Emergency Drills – November 10, 2017
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.

In Service Days – November 4, 2017
One day a year, we use our In-Service Day to visit other schools to get ideas for and gain perspective on our teaching and community.

Peace Presentation for Grandparents & Special Friends Day – October 6, 2017
The national political rhetoric, climate, and actions of the past year have been disturbing to me. I could have been thrown into a deep depression, finding it hard to get out of bed each day, were it not for what we are doing here at Hilltop Montessori School.

Supporting Middle School Micro-Economies – September 29, 2017
Throughout the year the middle school takes on the daunting task of raising around ten thousand dollars for our odysseys! This year we are raising money for our River of Spirit Odyssey to Boston, a comparative world religion and science of water study, connecting with many different faith communities and cultures.

Peace Day – September 22, 2017
Peace Buddies are an important and wonderful part of the Hilltop community. Each year, on or near International Peace Day, students are paired with another in a different program. This results in disparate height friends walking through the halls together, singing at All School Gathering, and developing lovely relationships across programs and ages.

Free Play – September 15, 2017
If you travel to Hilltop Montessori School around noon on a weekday, you might be surprised to hear chatter and laughter coming from the forest adjacent to the parking lot…

Montessori Tenets: “Work” – September 8, 2017
It is only week two and the classrooms are already settling in and getting “normalized”.

Hilltop Graduates on the Board of the Putney School! – April 7, 2017
We are proud to share that two of our 2015 graduates, Emmanuel Keppel and Greta Wolfe, have recently been elected to the Board of Trustees of The Putney School, a position of great responsibility and honor.

School State Re-Approval Granted – March 24, 2017
On March 21st, the Vermont State Education Board voted to renew our school’s general independent school approval!

Proud to have a Learning Specialist at Hilltop – February 17, 2017
We are thrilled that having a learning specialist has enabled us to expand the continuum of learners that we serve at Hilltop.

Building Confidence – February 10, 2017
How can we, as parents and caregivers, support our children as they grow into self-sufficient, resilient people?

State Funding Helps Hilltop Increase Equity and Accessibility – January 27, 2017
There is much discussion, both nationally and in Vermont, about how to best support our education system. As conscientious educators who want to “make the world a better place” many of us at Hilltop think about these issues regularly.

Alumni Night – October 28, 2016
Alumni Night, as we call it, has become a wonderful tradition at Hilltop. Hearing our graduates speak on topics related to how Hilltop prepared them for high school is a testament to the exceptional education they received here.

Teaching Consent at All Ages – October 28, 2016
For the youngest children, we teach them about each other’s personal space, and how to ask permission for a hug, and their right to say “No, Thank you.” For the Elementary ages, this progresses to ensuring that everyone is comfortable with an activity or discussion, and addressing potential appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the larger context of “consent”.

Emergency Preparedness – October 21, 2016
We have several types of emergency drills as part of our school safety and emergency preparedness program. You may hear your children talk about these events, and we wanted to share a bit about what we do.

Professional Development for Children’s House Teachers – January 22, 2016
Three of our teachers dedicated last Saturday to professional development and attended the Montessori Schools of Massachusetts annual conference. This year’s keynote speaker at the conference was Dr. Steve Hughes.

Montessori Principles Revisited – January 15, 2016
Yet again there have been articles noting wonderful new trends in education that are what Montessori has been doing for 100 years, and Hilltop Montessori School for more than 40 years!

Professional Development for Staff – January 8, 2016
We held an All Staff Meeting which included an activity offered by Dan Filler, Director of Elementary. As some of you may know, in addition to his teaching, administration, and art contributions to Hilltop, Dan also uses his Montessori teaching expertise for the Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative, a teacher training program based in Lexington, Massachusetts. He shared one of their activities with our staff.

Notes from the Board – December 11, 2015
Many members of the Hilltop community believe expanding our level of diversity at the school is an important goal in our developing strategic plan. We put a request for interested participants in the weekly newsletter back in October and formed the Equity Task Force.

Supporting Children Who Hear Scary News – November 20, 2015
As we hear both local and international news of tragedy, we need to process the information, and help our children process the information in age appropriate ways.

The Strategic Planning Process Continues! – October 16, 2015
As some of you may recall, last Spring we began the process of developing a new Strategic Plan for the school. The last 5-year Strategic Plan was done in 2010 (Strategic Plan 2010) and we have achieved, or made progress towards achieving, all of the goals laid out at that time.

Notes from the Board – September 11, 2015
It’s been a real privilege for me to serve on the Hilltop Board of Trustees the last six years. Hilltop has transformed itself in so many exciting ways during this time, from the creation of our beautiful new campus to the formation of a marvelously effective administrative team.

Montessori Tenets: 3 Year Cycle – September 4, 2015
There is a reason we go from Olders back to Youngers in each cycle transition. Children grow in confidence spending three years in a program, feeling at home and in control. Then, they take that confidence to a new arena and use it to grow at the next level.

Professional Development – August 28, 2015
The teachers and staff of Hilltop Montessori School are spectacular! It has been wonderful for us all to be back together this week again preparing the school for your children, and engaging in Professional Development. In other years, we have had an expert from the outside come in to educate and inspire us in a new way. This year, we decided to capitalize on all the knowledge, skills, experience, and inspiration that we have right here amongst our staff.

Not So New To Us! – May 22, 2015
So often things that are reported as new “discoveries” or trends in education are things that Maria Montessori observed 100 years ago and incorporated into the time-tested, scientifically proven approach we use at Hilltop.

Notes from the Board – May 1, 2015
We are at a terrific moment in Hilltop’s story. Through much hard work over the past several years, Hilltop has achieved stability throughout the school, and we are thus in the enviable position of being able to proactively plan for the school’s future.

Classism in the Classroom – April 16. 2015
On Wednesday, Kerstin (Lower Elementary Teacher), Rebecca (Children’s House – Willow Room Assistant) and I attended a training at the Vermont Learning Collaborative on “Classism in the Classroom”. At Hilltop, we work consciously to address diversity and inclusion in many ways.

Montessori Tenets – April 10, 2015
One of the most important components of an authentic Montessori program is a long uninterrupted work cycle. The reason for this is to embrace and increase a child’s ability to concentrate.

A Note on Reading – April 3, 2015
To read, children must be able to hear distinct sounds, turn symbols (letters) into sounds, sounds into words, and words into meaning. Reading success is built upon a foundation of specific skills. These skills are: phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Each of these skills must be taught to guide children toward literacy.

Montessori Tenets: Smaller vs. Bigger Class Size – March 20, 2015
Attending the American Montessori Society conference last week was inspiring. It was a wonderful reminder of the benefits of the true Montessori programs we offer. One feature, imperative to implementation of the Montessori philosophy, is class size.

An Invitation to All – December 16, 2014
We realize and appreciate that you are trusting us to educate your child and to help her or him grow in a way that, for many of you, is very different from your schooling. We know that without grades and test scores, you are having to use other measures to know that your child is growing and thriving in this environment.

Starting the Day – November 21, 2014
The mornings in our classrooms have a lovely natural rhythm. For the Toddler and Children’s House programs to start off on the playground gives those energetic students an opportunity to play with friends and get exercise first thing in the morning, before coming inside and settling down to choosing their work.

Let’s Grow Kids – November 14, 2014
Time and time again, Dr. Maria Montessori’s ideas from 100 years ago are validated by modern science. Hilltop has been participating in the statewide campaign, Let’s Grow Kids, a public education campaign to raise the awareness of the importance of the early years in development.

Hilltop Investments Moved to Socially Responsible Funds – November 7, 2014
The Hilltop board is pleased to announce that we have recently moved our investments into a socially responsible portfolio that will be managed by the local firm Prentiss Smith and Company.

Annual Fund – October 17, 2014
I was recently reminded, by a parent, about how long Hilltop has dreamed of having a Learning Specialist on staff to assist teachers and students. Wendy’s involvement with the children working hard to learn to read has indeed been a dream come true.

The Importance of Blending the Three Years Within a Program – September 12, 2014
One of the critical components of an authentic Montessori program is mixed age groups, usually three years in the same classroom. Hilltop has always had three years together for Children’s House, Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary.

Summer Notes – August 6, 2014
Well, I thought things might slow down in the summer, but they haven’t . . . It has remained extremely busy and productive up here on top of the hill!

New Mailing Address for Hilltop – July 22, 2014
The Middle School house was built in 1905. It was known as the Stafford Family Farm. We have chosen “Stafford Farm Hill” as the new name for the driveway/road leading to the school.

Notes from the Board – May 2, 2014
The Board is excited to announce two new members.

Arts Integration – April 15, 2014
Time and again, important components of the Montessori approach, developed one hundred years ago, are proven to be beneficial in a modern context. One of these is the benefits of integrating arts into other components of the curriculum.

Montessori Tenets: Nothing New – April 11, 2014
Time and again, Montessori is shown to be spot on. Often a Montessori tenet will be touted as a “new” method, yet we know Dr. Montessori developed these 100 years ago.

Montessori Tenets: Prepared Environment – December 6, 2013
There are so many things to highlight and appreciate about how Hilltop Montessori School is a true Montessori school. One that came to mind this week is how wonderfully “prepared” the HMS environment is.

 

March 8 & 9 at 7 p.m.: Middle School Performance, “The Field”

This is a time when we reflect on the big ideas we have been exploring through the year and collaborate to craft a theatrical presentation. It is interesting that the theme for this year’s performance, The Field, was greatly inspired by an essay that the students read by the Vietnamese Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, and a poem by the Sufi poet, Rumi, that he includes in his essay. Students are striving to understand the complicated and divisive world we live in and are putting their thoughts and words into action in this community centered work of theater and music.
Performances of The Field are on Thursday and Friday, March 8 and 9 at 7:00pm in the Arts Barn Theater. There will also be a performance for the school on Friday, March 9 at 10:00am. All are invited and we hope you can join us for this provocative, humorous, tuneful, and thoughtful show.

Parent Meeting, Saturday, Feb 3, 9-12 noon followed by a Community Lunch! (snow date Feb 10)

“How Each Program Embodies Hilltop’s Mission”

This is the most informative pedagogical parent education event of the year — The Montessori Curriculum at its CORE. Don’t miss out!

We recently went through the process of reviewing and revising our Mission Statement, and were struck by how intentionally we live out the “practice” of “responsible independence” at Hilltop. We also felt it was very important to include the “caring community” within which we grow these responsible independent learners. Join us for a participatory morning with a visit to every program

Childcare provided with fun activities
and materials planned.
Pizza provided by Hazel and Hilltop,
bring a salad or dessert if you can.
RSVP to frontdesk@hilltopmontessori.org
or sign up at the front desk.

January 5, 2018 / Middle School students present “Life in Brattleboro” – The Society Films Project

Hilltop Montessori Middle School presents – Life in Brattleboro The Society Films Project. Please join us for an evening of student films celebrating the work of individuals in the Brattleboro community

January 5, 2018
Showings at 5:30 and 6:30 pm At The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center 10 Vernon St., Brattleboro, VT

For more information: www.hilltopmontessori.org 802-257-0500

To watch the films here, click play list on upper left to choose a film:

Open House Wednesday, January 31, 2018 from 9 -11am A Look at the Montessori Environment and Experience

Current and prospective parents are invited to join us as we observe the classrooms in action and talk with students, current parents and teachers about the programs, the school and the Montessori method of learning.

This is a great first step to learning about the school and hearing from our program directors and students.

The event is designed for parents and interested adults. RSVP at 802-257-0500 or info@hilltopmontessori.org

Cancellations will be posted on our website if we need to cancel due to weather conditions at www.hilltopmontessori.org or at the WKVT or WTSA radio websites.

 

Middle School / Love Hate/Curriculum Vitae performance on Monday, November 6 at 7pm

The seventh graders are creating poetic lists of their loves and hates and the eighth graders are crafting their curricula vitae, their resume for life.  They will be reciting these lovely and insightful pieces on Monday evening November 6 beginning at 7pm in the Arts Barn Theater. The recitation of these poems of identity is always fascinating, humorous, moving, and revealing.

Graduates on Board of The Putney School!

April 7, 2017
We are proud to share that two of our 2015 graduates, Emmanuel Keppel and Greta Wolfe, have recently been elected to the Board of Trustees of The Putney School, a position of great responsibility and honor. Emmanuel graduated from Hilltop having started in the Children’s House and Greta joined Hilltop for the two years of the Middle School. Both students thrived at Hilltop. “Hilltop taught us to notice all of the fine workings of a community and discover our place in the world. With that foundation, we continue to do so at Putney, and will be learning with every responsibility we take on for the rest of our lives” – Greta Wolfe.
Both Emmanuel and Greta were perhaps inspired by their father’s roles on the Hilltop Board of Trustees – Patrick Keppel, Emmanuel’s father, was on the board for 7 years, including three as Chair, and Rich Wolfe, Greta’s father, is the current Board Chair at Hilltop. Each of five student candidates gave a speech to the school at an assembly meeting and later in the day, students, faculty, and staff all cast their votes for the position.

 

This is a 30 person board and the two students elected serve as full voting members. The responsibilities include discussing reports from various members of the school community, such as Diversity and Admissions, and making decisions regarding funding and planning for the school’s future. Greta and Emmanuel follow in the footsteps of Maeve Campman, a 2012 graduate of Hilltop who also held a student trustee position at The Putney School, as well as many other graduates of Hilltop that have thrived in other various leadership positions at The Putney School.

 

Supporting Middle School Micro-Economies, A Real Life Experience!

September 29, 2017
Co-authored by Lily Buren-Charkey, Middle School Entrepreneur, and Tamara Mount, Head of School
Throughout the year the middle school takes on the daunting task of raising around ten thousand dollars for our odysseys! This year we are raising money for our River of Spirit Odyssey to Boston, a comparative world religion and science of water study, connecting with many different faith communities and cultures. In the middle school we are guided by the question,  “What Does It Mean To Be Human?”  Our trips help to answer this question as we experience things first hand, including the task of raising the money.
Raising ten thousand dollars by June seems like an overwhelming task, but with the student run micro-economies it becomes possible. Not only are we cooking and preparing food, we are managing businesses, practicing organizational skills, marketing our products and developing customer relations skills. These business are all about taking the initiative to get things done, which plays into the middle school’s philosophy of independent learning. Micro-economies are small, usually eighth grade student run, businesses. Micro-economies already underway this year include:
  • Bagel Lunch, in which we make bagels to order every Wednesday to serve to the whole school
  • Bake Sales at the Coop once a month
  • Rockin’ Ramen at BrattRock last Saturday
  • Coffee Cart on Thursday mornings, now by donation as part of welcoming parents to stay and see All School Gathering (next one on Oct. 12)

Peace Education Presentation on Grandparent and Special Friend Day

October 6, 2017
The national political rhetoric, climate, and actions of the past year have been disturbing to me. I could have been thrown into a deep depression, finding it hard to get out of bed each day, were it not for what we are doing here at Hilltop Montessori School. The events in Charlottesville, just before the start of the school year, especially hit home, as I went to the University of Virginia, and therefore feel a familiarity and attachment to that town. And now there is the incident in Las Vegas, and the challenges in Puerto Rico, again emphasizing how people are viewed and treated differently, and the many challenges we face as a society.
I have gone back to Dr. Maria Montessori’s writings and have been reminded of her motivations and discoveries. A hundred years ago she saw that the mechanized approach to education was designed to produce people who blindly followed leaders and allowed themselves to be controlled. She put forth the idea that children could be respected as individuals, given choices in what and how they learned, and be supported by caring adults who served as guides to an environment prepared for their learning. This approach supported children in developing independence along with a deep appreciation and understanding for the connectedness and community that they have with all people, with all living creatures, and with the world and universe. Montessori can be seen as an approach to education, but she also developed it as a methodology towards world peace. She evolved her ideas in the context of World War I and II, and was nominated several time for a Nobel Peace Prize. Many of her comments on education and peace resonate strongly today.
At Hilltop Montessori School, we “teach” peace in many contexts:
  • self – developing inner peace and the skills to make peace with others
  • environment – instilling an understanding and appreciation for the environment
  • cultural – celebrating our differences and knowing our connectedness, compassion for all
  • community – living our supportive interdependence
The role that Hilltop Montessori School is playing in supporting the development of responsible citizens, and striving towards peace has kept me going. This was the theme of the message I shared on Grandparent and Special Friend Day along with this presentation. I welcome any comments or reflections, by emailing me or stopping by anytime.

October 12, 2017 6:30 – 8:00 pm, Montessori Outcomes, Discussion with HMS Alumni

High School students, college students and young professionals who attended Hilltop Montessori School, for middle school or starting in pre-school, return to share their Hilltop experiences. How did their education at HMS prepare them for their subsequent education and for life? Parents of our current students as well as prospective parents are encouraged to attend this event. Faculty will also be in attendance.