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BMS Blog

Friday Forest Kindergarten Starts Sept 9

Originally published in the Floyd Press.

Starting this Fall, Blue Mountain School will offer a Forest Kindergarten class on Friday mornings from 9:00 to noon for children 4 to 6 years old. The class will be led by BMS early childhood co-teacher, Jenni Heartway, who taught at a daily forest kindergarten school in North Carolina before joining BMS four years ago.

“Based on the German model of Waldkindergartens, forest kindergarten programs are becoming more and more popular across the country,” said Ms. Heartway. She continued, “Some people ask me if we really stay outside in rain or snow, and the answer is yes! We will spend the entire morning outdoors in all types of weather.”

The goal of this educational model is to provide young children with the opportunity to explore and engage with the outdoors and others. Following a play-based and emergent learning approach, the program strives to give students a predictable rhythm that allows them to be comfortable and empowered while providing enough flexibility to pursue individual interests. 

During a typical day at BMS Forest Kindergarten, children will arrive and settle in with a few small group activities. After a morning circle, which includes songs, instruments, and a discussion about the day’s plans, the group will pack up and hit the trail. The majority of the day will be spent in the woods surrounding BMS. Shortly before parents arrive, students will gather for a closing circle where friends can reflect on the day’s activities.

The first fall session is from September 9 through October 7, and the second fall session is October 21 through November 18. The cost of the program is $125 for one session, or $200 for both sessions. Registration forms are available on the school’s website or in the school’s office. For more information, call 540-745-4234 or email

Yoga Jam Childcare Registration Open

Floyd Yoga Jam is right around the corner, and now is a great time to sign up for child care for the festival! While in our care, your children will play games, do crafts, hang out in the creek, visit the Art Village, and check out the kid classes. As the day winds down, we’ll have comfy places to relax and share stories.

Basic Info:

  • For children ages 2 to 12
  • Children must be potty trained
  • Suggested donation is $10 per hour per child
  • Thursday 4:00 to 8:00 pm; Friday through Saturday: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm

To Register:
Spaces are limited, so we encourage you to sign up in advance to reserve your times. If you are interested in making a reservation or if you have questions, email us!

Spaces will be available on site for drop-in care as available.

Family Lounge

But that's not all! We'll also have an area where families can stop in to rest or play. Parents are welcome to have a seat with us while still being able to keep an eye on kids romping in the sandbox or checking out other activities in the Kids Village. We do ask that kids not in our care be supervised while visiting the lounge area.

Register Now for FloydFest Child Care

With Blue Mountain School childcare in the FloydFest Children's Universe, kids can be in skilled, caring hands while parents are free to enjoy other parts of the festival. Playing games, taking part in kids' concerts and open mic, checking out everything that the Children’s Universe has to offer, reading books and watching movies with the late-night crew...these are just some of the things that kids can do while in the care of BMS childcare staff.

  • For children ages 2 to 12
  • Children must be potty trained
  • Cost is $10 per hour with a 1 hour minimum
  • Wednesday 5-9 pm, Thursday thru Saturday: 11 am – 10 pm, and Sunday 11 am – 8 pm

Spaces are limited, so we encourage you to sign up in advance online to reserve your times. If you are interested in scheduling a time not listed here or if you have questions, email us and we’ll see what we can do!

Registering your kids in BMS Childcare is a fun and safe way for your whole family to enjoy the festival!

Thanking Our Staff

Written by BMS Director, Shelly Fox Emmett.

I feel fortunate to work, learn, and grow with our staff and teachers every year. This year, we all noticed that many important things were happening with more ease here at school. School events that in the past may have been stressful or difficult to pull off were less so this year. Raising money took energy, but we successfully raised much more than we anticipated. And daily life with our students was smoother, too. It feels like everyone knows their part, and knows how to do it. We are not likely to ever be a ‘well-oiled’ machine because there is just too much creativity here for that. But parts of a living, moving system that works? Yes, that we are.

So this spring when a family emergency left me with no choice but to be away from school for a week unexpectedly, I was so grateful to know innately that everything at school was fine. The kids kept coming to school and great things kept happening in our classrooms with our teachers. Bills kept getting paid, phone calls answered, new families enrolled for next year, summer camp plans continued to be made. Life at school was normal, even though life for our family was not. What a relief!

What does this all mean? It means that here at BMS, our dedicated teachers and staff have created such a synergy that truly, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each of our staff members for their unique gifts that make our school spectacular.

Carol Volker: Even though we had to share you with Kostya this year, it’s okay because you have the amazing ability to be in multiple places at once. Working from home under your sleeping baby, or at night in the wee hours, and just one day a week at school, you still manage to do an amazing job of helping us to keep things together. Thank you.

Ashley Morales: Office Manager, substitute teacher, runner of errands, sometimes did whatever was needed this year, and did it with grace. Thank you for being so willing and able to shift gears as needed. Now you are off to help start a school in will be missed!

Stefi Schafer: You are a humble learner among learners, and you are willing to say it. You know that your students are capable beings and you treat them as such. To have a teacher who trusts you so early in life is a wonderful thing. Thank you.

Hari Berzins: How very glad I am that you found BMS 6 years ago and have stuck around. Here, you will always be welcome and you will always belong. You are playful and willing to let kids be kids while simultaneously holding them to important standards for learning and behavior. Thank you for making room for both.

Jenni Heartway: Your patient, loving, steady approach to teaching amazes me regularly. Your awareness is invaluable and you seem to share your wisdom and insight at the most perfect moments. Thank you.  

Shelly Sherman: You are like an interactive anthropologist of sorts for your class, which is a high compliment. You watch them, you know them, you introduce things and see what happens. You adapt and try again. And sometimes again. You are exactly what this group needs, and I am so grateful that you are here!

Andy Anderson: Your curiosity and inquisitive spirit is infectious. You see the world in unique ways, and you share that gift of looking at things from different perspectives with your students. Thank you for helping them to consider the world beyond their knowing, perfectly timed as their worlds are expanding, too.

Lore Deighan: Thank you for teaching our kids that ‘you can’t do art wrong!’, which I’m pretty sure translates into the very important lesson that you can’t do life wrong.

Jagadisha: You believe that our students have the ability to be practice mindfulness, and they do. Thank you for seeing the beautiful, pure potential within each of our students and for encouraging it to shine.

Sarah McCarthy: We have worked here together for seven years. I think that means we know each other well! I am so grateful that you are an ally, which means that you are willing to talk about what is working as well as what needs attention. You are a gardener of Blue Mountain School, and just look at what you’ve helped to grow!

Shawna Williams: Even though you are no longer a classroom teacher, you were indispensable this year! I am so glad that you stayed with us, a familiar face for Friday school, aftercare, and helping with subbing and cleaning. Thank you!

Inge Terrill: Our behind-the-scenes keeper of safety manuals and tax documents and other things that might not be fun but have to get done. Thank you for your dedication on our path toward accreditation!

Corey Avellar: Our behind-the-scenes cleaner and polisher of our school. We leave at the end of the day, Corey waves her magic wand and works hard, and then we return and the school is clean. Thank you!

Free Summer Play Group Starts July 11

The Blue Mountain School Summer Play Group begins Monday, July 11, and continues each Monday through August 22. This free activity offers area families an opportunity to gather and connect with other families from our community. The group will meet each Monday from 10:00 to noon, on the BMS campus. No registration required.

Each week, there will be a short, focused activity as well as visits from special guests, including musicians, artists, dancers, and scientists. The first gathering on July 11 will have stories and a small "make and take" craft. There will also be plenty of time for free play and visiting with other families in the school's outdoor play space. The activities are geared for children 6 and under, but families with older children and new and expectant families are also welcome to attend.

Check the Blue Mountain School Facebook page a few days before each session to see who our special guest will be!

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