Please join us on Thursday, Nov 19, 7-8 pm, for the “Town Meeting” where Tamara will talk about more of the preparations we have been doing for winter with more inside time, and answer any questions you might have.
New Winter Break Dates
12/21/20 – 1/8/21
Last day of school Friday, December 18
Students return on Monday, January 11
The main considerations for these changes are needing to:
- Allow for safe quarantine time after possible increased travel/visitors/socializing over winter break
- Close the campus for the final HVAC updates (testing and balancing)
However, we still need everyone to continue to make safe choices that are protective of our staff and families well-being and support continuing in-person instruction.
By extending our December/January Break by one week, families and staff will be able to quarantine after possible holiday travel or visitors in late December without missing school. We do not believe it is realistic or productive for us to police our community around travel and visitors. Please note that November break does not allow for this quarantining time, and risky behavior would require missing school to quarantine.
We need to have the campus closed to accommodate ARC Mechanical doing final HVAC work safely without mixing with students/staff. They have been able to accommodate us by scheduling the work during this closure time.
We want to make sure staff are able to enjoy a full break as well as getting proper planning time before the Spring Semester. The week of January 4th – 8th will include inservice days for all staff.
There is no scenario in which we are able to meet the needs of every individual in our community. We have attempted to meet the needs of the greatest number of people as possible, while also being able to accommodate for adequate teacher planning and contractor time, as well as keeping our top priority the health and safety of all.
For a visual summary of the new schedule, please refer to the School Website Calendar.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Tamara or Zoe.
It is already time for parent teacher conferences! October conferences are for all families, new and returning, from the Toddler Program through Middle School.
Conferences will, like most things these days, happen over Zoom. Families will have received sign ups this week, and Zoom invitations will follow next week from your student’s teachers.
- There will be a half day on Thursday, October 22, and no school on Friday, October 23, to accommodate for conferences.
- No childcare will be available this year, so please plan accordingly.
- Lower Elementary families please note that LE will hold their conferences on Wednesday, October 21 and Thursday, October 22.
- If siblings are in the same classroom, you should have received this email yesterday for the opportunity to sign up for a double slot.
If you have and questions, or any difficulty with your sign up, please contact Zoe at the Front Desk.
This is an evening meeting for all new and returning parents to learn about the upcoming year’s curriculum, program, expectations of students, and ways to be involved in your child’s education. This year, as with all of our community events, these meetings will be held over Zoom. With each program meeting taking place on a different day, we are hoping that families with multiple children will be able to attend each of their children’s meetings. We strongly encourage all families to attend. This is an important opportunity to learn about your child’s classroom, “see” and meet other parents in the program, and hear about what this year will be like for them.
Dear Hilltop Families,
The classrooms, indoors and outdoors, are coming into being in their new distanced forms. Teachers have been very busy! And, as we gear up to start our daily health checks during next week’s orientation, we wanted to remind you of a few things. Firstly, we are being very cautious and careful as we get together in-person. We need to do everything we can to protect individuals within our community and our community as a whole. Please share our cautiousness with us by:
- keeping your child home if there is any chance of exposure or risk of sharing illness
- answering all of the health questions truthfully and with the safety of the community in mind
We have also updated our HMS Re-Entry Plan (Updated 8/27/20) to align with new and changing Vermont State guidelines. We strongly encourage you to read through the plan thoroughly before coming to school for Orientation or for the first day of instruction on Tuesday, September 8th. You will note that all new information is in green. Taken from the plan, here are six key details to be sure to note as we being the year:
- We have plans for every stage of re-entry and are in a great position to meet in person, on campus, every day of the week, even if the State mandates we decrease group size down to as few as 15 people in a group.
- With every phase of this plan, Wednesday will be a half day for all students, a planning/meeting afternoon for teachers, and a deep cleaning day for facilities’ staff.
- Drop-off and pick-up procedure will require staggered timing and places, so check your children’s drop-off and pick-up times and procedures carefully.
- In accordance with the State guidelines, parents, guardians, and caretakers may not enter school buildings during any stage.
- BeforeCare and AfterCare are available if the mixing of groups can allow for pods of 75 or more people, but not for the smaller groupings.
- All students must be in compliance with the State of Vermont Travel Restrictions in order to attend school.
Lastly, though certainly not least important, also ask that you please sign the HMS Shared Responsibility Agreement and hand them in to teachers during your student health check whenever your child first comes to school, during Orientation Week (full schedule here) or on Tuesday, September 8th. Students will not be let out of vehicles without a signed copy of the Agreement.
If you have any questions regarding the HMS Re-Entry Plan or our Covid procedures, please feel free to reach out to Zoe Proctor, HMS’ Covid Coordinator.
I hope this letter finds you able to enjoy the summer, despite the uncertainty and ominous news from other parts of the country. We, as a school, have been working hard to develop our plan for Re-Entry in September. Here is Hilltop Montessori School’s Re-Entry Plan for the Fall of 2020. I have great appreciation for the staff, teachers, Board members, and parents who offered and helped to develop this plan. It is nimble and able to adjust to changing situations.
In a typical year, re-enrollment deposits are made in February, and the first May tuition payment from each family is the final commitment for the enrollment and tuition for the full year ahead. This year we offered families the option to delay the first payment until July. We also offered COVID Hardship Requests, and about a dozen families have applied for and received those.
At this point, almost all families have made their first tuition payments in TADS, and we are assuming you are on board for the year. We are making staffing and facilities decisions based on this level of enrollment. We are committed to being here in person if at all possible. Our teachers and staff are under contract and lined up to serve your children. We hope that this grace period, as well as the plan enclosed, have given you the time and information you need to feel confident in your decision to enroll your children in Hilltop programming during this uncertain time.
The year ahead will require a strong partnership between families and the school. Please read through the attached document carefully and thoughtfully to begin that shared commitment, and set both ourselves and our children up for a safe and successful year ahead. If you have any questions about the plan generally, or about your particular family circumstances, PLEASE reach out to us.
So, have a good read, and know that we have planned for what we can predict might happen, and will be poised to respond to the unexpected too.
Please join us for the Open Board Meeting on Thursday, April 30th at 7pm.We had hoped to serve pies with pie charts, but instead we will chat by ZOOM. [The ZOOM invitation link will come in a later email and is available in the Google Classroom Calendars.]
Do you wonder:
- What has the Hilltop Board done in the last two months to adapt to the rapidly changing COVID-19 world?
- How will Hilltop support families who have experienced financial hardship related to the COVID-19 crisis?
- How would the school continue to provide support for learning at home, if it were to become necessary again?
- What does Tamara staying on as Head of School mean?
- What does the Board do vs. Hilltop’s Administration?
- Who is on the Board and how might I fit in?
- How can I contribute to the social and financial sustainability of Hilltop?
Come and learn more on Thursday, April 30th at 7pm!
We understand that there is a new context, and the Board of Trustees has been guiding the school through this. We value your perspective. We invite you to be part of the conversation to ensure the collective voices of our families are heard as we move forward and shape this “new normal”.
We have been able to document what we are doing as a school and what each program is doing as we continue school remotely in our HMS: Learning from Home Handbook. This will also be provided in hard copy to every HMS family next week. We are working to translate both the sense of community that Hilltop provides, along with the academic and “whole child” offerings that are regularly given by our school.
|Hilltop Montessori School current status and plans for continuing student engagement at home. All in-person school activities have been cancelled for this school year, as directed by the state.|
Hilltop Montessori School has been transitioning to provide support/education virtually, as our campus has been “shutdown” to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 infections. We are also working to support families of “essential persons” with their childcare needs.
Notes from Tamara Mount, Head of School
It is so strange for all of us to be working from home and not visit in person with you, each other on staff, and of course spend the days with your children. This has been a transition for us all, some more than others. . . I’ve been astounded by the work of the teachers and by what I’ve seen and heard from your homes. Moving online as a Montessori school is, by definition, especially challenging. We have no textbooks or workbooks our students are methodically working through. Each child works in our prepared classrooms at their own unique place in each subject area – their own spot in an individualized curriculum. Clearly, it is not possible to fully replicate this model at home, although I’ve been amazed at how the teachers have worked to do so and how quickly many of you have been able to implement their suggestions.
Go easy on yourselves and your children. We can’t all turn into home schoolers overnight, no matter how much support is given. Within each program, and for each child, there is a different level of responsible independence with work at home, just as there is for work at school. If you are trying to work at home yourself, know that there will be bumps in the road for us all. As we adjust to the “new normal,” please continue to communicate with teachers and administrators as we work together to support productive, engaging, and enjoyable remote learning from home. Here is a fun example from Lower Elementary!
The Society Project
in the Time of Climate Change
Wendell Berry wrote: “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” A place is as much a community of shared values as it is a physical environment and the Middle School set out to discover how their community is responding to the threat and reality of climate change. The Society Project is the centerpiece of this exploration. For the project, students selected, interviewed and photographed a member of the wider Brattleboro community and created a digital montage. The interview and resulting montage focused on how the individual in both their work and life addresses climate change.
The resulting series of short films reveals a committed, aware, and involved community who care deeply about the future of Brattleboro and the world.