Subscribe to our newsletter
Email:

BMS Blog

Fall Campaign Begins!

We are planning an old-time barn raising here at Blue Mountain School, and we hope you will join us! Of course, we won't be building an actual barn (though that could be fun!). So what are we planning?

In 2018, construction will begin on a new space for our enrichment classes! This space will also be used for school and community events.
We are super excited! 


Like all barn raisings, we can't do this alone. We need your help! To get things started, we have a goal to raise $10,000 over the next few weeks. We also hope to bank pledges for 500 volunteer hours towards the actual Barn-Raising Day. (Keep reading for more info about our Time Bank!)

Click the button below to donate online now, or if you would like to send a check or make a donation in person, you can send an email with your pledge.

A Firm Foundation: Building the Contemplative Progressive Model 

Nearly ten years ago, during the 2008-2009 school year, the school's enrollment dropped to less than 20 students. Big questions about the sustainability of a small, parent-run school in a rural community came up. With those questions also came a sense of possibility as our Board of Directors imagined the ways we could see the school through this part of its story, which was already more than twenty years old.

With open hearts and minds, our Board began the process of identifying some reasons for the drop in enrollment and subsequently began the creative process of developing our current educational model. Exhilarating meetings and passionate debates about education, kids, and community were balanced with grounding, homemade potlucks and camaraderie as we all took turns hosting the group in our homes throughout that winter. Our current educational model and organizational structure grew from a place of friendship, shared vision, and common purpose.  To read the rest of the story about how we have already built a strong foundation for Blue Mountain School, check out our blog...


Many Hands: The Value of Volunteers  

Another memory for me has to do with building the school. After we purchased the property, someone had to cut down the pines (it was 8 acres of wooded land) to clear a site for the school itself. I remember wading into the thicket of pines on a Monday morning with chain saw in hand and wondering where to begin? So, I just started felling trees and limbing, and on it went for basically a week.

-- Bob Grubel
 

When you visit BMS, the buildings that you see were constructed in large part by volunteer labor. (Check out an article in the June 1986 Floyd Press.) Our school's first families donated countless hours of hard work to create the classrooms we enjoy today. It is in the spirit of the Blue Mountain founders that we call on our community to pledge your time to erect the new Enrichment and Community Building.

We hope to bank 500 pledged volunteer hours, which works out to one work day per student enrolled. We need to fill a wide variety of jobs, including preparing food and providing music for Barn-Raising Day. To make your pledge of time, stop by the office or send an email

Get Paid to Donate!
 
Would you like to be paid for donating to Blue Mountain School? Through the Virginia State Neighborhood Assistance Program, anyone who files Virginia state taxes is eligible to receive a 65% state tax credit on donations of at least $500 ($616 for a business). Your $500 donation will cost you less than $175!

Help Us Share Our Story

Do you know someone who may be interested in supporting Blue Mountain School? Please consider sharing this email with your family and friends. We love welcoming new faces into our school community!

Gray
 
 

A Firm Foundation

Nearly ten years ago, during the 2008-2009 school year, BMS’s enrollment dropped to less than 20 students. Big questions about the sustainability of a small, parent-run school in a rural community came up, along with a sense of possibility as our Board of Directors imagined ways that we could see the school through this part of its story, which was already more than twenty years old.

 

With open hearts and minds, our Board began the process of identifying some reasons for the drop in enrollment and subsequently began the creative process of developing our current educational model. Exhilarating meetings and passionate debates about education, kids, and community were balanced with grounding, homemade potlucks and meals as we all took turns hosting the group in our homes throughout that winter. Our current educational model and organizational structure grew from a place of friendship, shared vision, and common purpose.

 

With the help of Radford University School of Education Professor Kristan Morrison, in the late winter and early spring of 2009 our group sifted through months of dialogue and reflection and identified the key elements of contemplative progressive education. We began drawing out the philosophical and practical aspects of these models, which would provide the inspiration for the next part of Blue Mountain School’s story as it began with the 2009-2010 school year.

 

The contemplative progressive model felt like a familiar one, even though at that time there was only one other school that we could find in the country that explicitly practiced mindfulness with elementary students; contemplative studies in education were just beginning to appear in higher education at that time. This aspect of our model felt like the right balance to the BMS community’s historical belief in progressive education and respect for family, community, and nature as great teachers, colleagues and partners.

 

Excited about our new model and organizational structure, our enrollment increased for the 2009-2010 school year to 46 students, only 8 salaried staff members, and a budget of $119,000. With nearly 60 students enrolled in the 2017-2018, 15 salaried staff, and a budget of nearly $300,000, we are celebrating the growth of our school community and an increase in financial stability.  

 

Now mindfulness in elementary schools is commonplace, and progressive education is again attracting more attention as our country’s schools seek methods that serve a wider range of students. The field of education continues to evolve, and so does Blue Mountain School. But our foundation, first laid in 1981 when BMS began, strengthened throughout its history, and established in its current form as a contemplative progressive school, will remain. Staying true to our foundation is the simple key to our continued growth and sustainability, as this piece of our first welcome letter to families in August 2009 suggests:

 

When sitting, just sit.

When eating, just eat.

When walking, just walk.

When talking, just talk.

When listening, just listen.

When looking, just look.

When touching, just touch.

When thinking, just think.

When playing, just play.

And enjoy the feeling of each moment and each day.

 

Narayan Liebenson, “When Singing, Just Sing: Life as Meditation”


(from Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn's The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting)

Save

What We Learned: Lunas

This year we learned about....

  • Hopes and Dreams
  • Letters to Standing Rock
  • Glossary of Nonviolence
  • Arawak book
  • Columbus Day studies of Arawak people
  • History with Howard Zinn
  • Native Foods
  • Cooking: green chile-corn pudding, maple-whipped sweet potatoes, greens: collards, spinach, water cress, spiced black-eyed peas and sweet potatoes, boiled maple syrup
  • Evaporation
  • Grains
  • Herpetology

  • Species profiles and poster presentations on five-lined skink, spring peeper, green snake, eastern box turtle, green frog, rattlesnake, hellbender
  • Coyote School: tree identification, choosing a tree, tree sketches (leaves, bark, silhouette), stream explorations (salamanders)
  • Berlese funnel
  • Microscopes
  • “The Hermit’s Story” by Rick Bass
  • “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving
  • Spelling and Vocabulary
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
  • September and October Almanacs
  • Aldo Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac”
  • Nature sketches, nature journaling, and insects from Suzanne Stryk

  • Writing poetry: pantoums, aubades, haikus, rhyming couplets, Herpepoetry, persona poems, shape poems
  • Reading poetry
  • National Poetry Month
  • Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day
  • Rhythm, meter, voice in poetry
  • “The Raven” and Halloween poetry
  • “The Complete Misanthropist”
  • Memorized and performed ballads: “The Elfin Knight,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Bonnie Barbara Allen,” “The Mermaid,” “The Gardener”
  • Students Teaching
  • Films: Metropolis (German Expressionism), The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (German Expressionism), Gandhi (biography film), How Plants Think and Communicate (science and nature), Spirited Away
  • Caligari film drawings
  • Creating self-portraits for heritage project
  • Ornithology from ornithologists from VA Tech
  • Bottom Creek Gorge: saw 200-foot high waterfalls, “The Kettles,” virgin hemlocks
  • Buffalo Mountain: saw the rare plant three-toothed cinquefoil, climbed mountain

  • Octopus Week: poems, videos, article “Deep Intellect”
  • The water cycle
  • Sylvia Earle speech about the oceans
  • Prochlorococcus
  • Our connection to the ocean
  • Making watercolor greeting cards
  • Multiplication tables
  • Sequences
  • Long division
  • Fractions
  • Ekphrasis for the artworks of Mark Rothko, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, M.C. Escher, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Henri Rousseau
  • Singing with the Golden Black Koalas and Kari
  • Holding a fundraiser at the Farmer’s Market
  • Making origami cranes and peace crane strings

And we celebrated...

  • Christmas and Winter: snow cones, Rudoloph, popcorn, snacks, Secret Santa
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Day: Martin Luther King, Jr.'s “I Have a Dream Speech” and writing our own “I Have a Dream” speeches
  • Give Big Day: volunteered, work day, tree hugging
  • Special Person’s Tea: made chocolate-covered strawberries, made tea, served guests, performed “I Like You as You Are"
  • International Women’s Day: “A Day Without a Woman”… (we were in the newspaper!)

Save

What We Learned: Golden-Black Koalas

 

These are the things we could write books about:

  • Koalas!
  • Double-digit subtraction
  • Monarch butterflies
  • "Said" is dead (using descriptive words)
  • Riddles
  • Paper flowers
  • Homophones
  • Creativity
  • Finger knitting
  • Prayer flags
  • Rube Goldberg machines
  • Polywogs
  • Group art
  • Singing

  • Mother's Day gifts
  • Measurement
  • Selu -- Life on a '30s farm
  • Reading
  • Friendship
  • Making board games
  • Area
  • The Monster Project

  • Tadpoles
  • Character Studies
  • Descriptive words
  • Zoos
  • Baking cookies
  • Dancing

  • Mindfulness
  • Animal adaptation
  • Times tables
  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Letters to Santa
  • Dissecting a Monarch chrysalis
  • Self regulation
  • Harriet Tubman
  • U.S. maps

  • Meditation
  • Animal classification
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • U.S states
  • April the giraffe
  • Writing
  • World maps
  • Poetry
  • Addition
  • Creativity labs
  • Goal setting
  • Raising Monarch butterflies
  • Working together
  • Writing time
  • Reading Aloud
  • Dragon in the Sock Drawer
  • Multiplication
  • Frogs

 

  • Perimeter
  • Dioramas
  • Vertibrates
  • Experts
  • Valentines
  • Habitats
  • Double-digit addition with carrying
  • Christmas presents
  • Planting flowers
  • Invertibrates
  • Speaking out
  • Handwriting
  • Family heritage
  • Self portraits
  • Special person's tea parties
  • Field trips

Save

What We Learned: Rainbow Jellybean Wormsnakes

This year we learned...

  • A mountain weighs the same as a teaspoon of a neutron star
  • There is ice on Mars
  • To be calm
  • Cheese has protein
  • Seeds fall from flowers
  • My teachers are nice
  • About space

  • Baking soda and vinegar react
  • You can be kind even if you're rough
  • Plants help the earth
  • Autumn is called Fall
  • How to spell
  • When my friends' birthdays are
  • To read

  • To add
  • About different planets
  • To spell
  • BookShares
  • KidScience

  • To get clues from pictures, beginning sounds, and letter chunks as we read
  • Sight words
  • To put finger spaces between words
  • To try using lowercase letters
  • Capital letters go at the beginning of sentences and important words
  • Patterns - color, number, shapes
  • Estimating
  • Haunted House Project
  • Space Shuttle Project

  • Problem solving
  • Counting by 2s, 5s, 10s
  • Finding the "middle point" of numbers
  • Combining numbers
  • Breaking apart numbers
  • Shapes - 2D and 3D
  • Measurement
  • Surveys and graphs
  • Gardening Project

Save

Save

Shopping on Amazon?

Use our link below and a portion of your sale will go towards the school!

Shop Amazon Now

Shopping at Kroger?

If you shop at Kroger, you can help BMS earn money for its scholarship fund. Our Community Rewards number is 84005.

Link your Kroger Card