Subscribe to our newsletter

BMS Blog

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!

Wrapping Up the Year

This article originally appeared in The Floyd Press.

“Instead of final exams and report cards, we showcase our students’ learning with a Project Fair,” said school director Shelly Fox Emmett. This year, the fair featured several plays, a musical performance, handmade books, robots, and a pinewood derby race.

The Project Fair was also an Open House event, and community members were invited to view the exhibits and enjoy refreshments donated by Red Rooster Coffee Roaster and Confectious Shenanigans. “This event is a chance for people who aren’t here every day to see what goes on at BMS. Grandparents, new families, and BMS alumni were among those who joined us, “ said Fox Emmett.


The final event of the year for Blue Mountain School is the End-of-the-Year Celebration, which includes a Bridging Ceremony. During the ceremony, each student shares three things they learned this year: one academic, one related to enrichment, and one social. Teachers speak for younger students while the older students speak for themselves. After they share, students cross over the stage to represent moving on to the next level of learning.

This year, two students graduated and will be moving on to new adventures: Gabriel Miller and Summit Roberts. After words of gratitude and encouragement from their teacher, the graduates received the traditional “Certificate of Awesomeness” and custom-made graduation hats. “Each year, the hats are different depending on the students and what’s happened during the year. This year, I made space alien hats that reminded me of the spray painted space art we worked on,” said art teacher Lore Deighan.

Time Traveling in the Early Childhood Class

Written by BMS Office Manager, Carol Volker. Photos are from the 2010-11 school year.

A few weeks ago, I took off my Office Manager hat and put on my Future Preschool Mom hat, so I could spend the morning with my son test driving Miss Stefi’s class. As I sat on the brightly colored rug with Kostya and his friends, I remembered the first time I visited Blue Mountain School…

It was a rainy, muddy February morning six years ago. Andy, Anya, and I weren’t quite sure where to go at first because back then the buildings didn’t have signs. We took our chances with the largest building, and when we were a few steps inside, Shelly appeared and greeted us with a big smile. She ushered us into the early childhood room, which was where Shelly’s office is now, and she introduced us to the “Chickadee’s” teacher, Amy Meyers, and class assistant, Kari Zoller.

We joined the class for their morning circle and played a name game where each person says their name and then the group repeats it back. (If you’ve been to a BMS Monday-morning circle at the beginning of the year, you’ve likely played this game, too!) I remember hearing and saying, “Alonzo! Summit! Satya!” Names that belong to three people I now know well.

I remember feeling unsure about how long we should stay. Shouldn’t we just pop in, look around, and then vamoose before we interrupted the class? But it quickly became apparent that we were welcome to stay as long as wanted to. After just a moment, I already felt like we belonged. So, we stayed for a while!

After snack (“Would you like a baby bear, mama bear, or papa bear bowl of oatmeal?”), it was time for art with Lora Leigh Giesler. Anya was feeling a bit unsure and wasn’t interested in joining her new friends for this activity, so we sat on the piano bench and watched Lora Leigh and the kids put finishing touches on a project they’d been working on for some time. I think it was gnome homes, but I’m a bit fuzzy. Actually, I’m a bit fuzzy in general about the rest of the morning. A visit to the office to talk with Shelly? Taking a quick peek in the other classrooms?

What I remember most about the our visit that day was that even though it was cold and gloomy outside, inside we were all snug and cozy. The snug little classroom with the furry rug on the floor, the shelves full of wooden blocks, pine cones, and bits of cloth to create with, a basket of play clothes, dolls and a doll house, puzzles, and books. The art room with its splashes of color. And of course all the people--the staff and the students who made us feel very much at home.

If you were to visit Blue Mountain’s early childhood class for the first time today, you’d notice that a lot has changed since my first visit back in 2010. The class has it’s own building with a loft play area inside and a giant deck outside for picnics and projects with a sandbox tucked in underneath. Stefi has been the preschool teacher for five years now, and Amy and Kari have moved on to new adventures. You’d find the office right away, and although there may be some mud about, the parking lot is nowhere near as sticky as it used to be.

For all the changes you see, though, the core parts of BMS are the same. Shelly will greet you with a big smile, the teachers and students will welcome you like family, and no matter how unpleasant the weather outside, inside you will be snug and cozy.



RIT Students Give A Helping Hand

This article originally appeared in The Floyd Press on April 7, 2016.

Spring Break Visit Appreciated

Seventeen students from Rochester Institute for Technology journeyed to Floyd County recently as part of an alternative spring break experience organized through the Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project. The RIT students spent most of their week on projects at Apple Ridge Farm, but they took one afternoon to journey to the town of Floyd and work at Blue Mountain School.

Along with BMS students and staff, the college students helped complete several projects including improving drainage near the main building, installing a tire climbing wall on the playground, and clearing trails in the woods. Early childhood teacher Stefi Schafer said, “Our students had a great time working and learning alongside their new friends, and they even got in a game of soccer!”

If you’d like to help make more improvements and additions to the Blue Mountain School campus, you are invited to join school students, staff, friends and family on April 20th from 1:00 to 4:00 for the school’s annual Earth Day Work Day, which is a GiveBigNRV Giving Day Event.




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 QK830.

Link your Kroger Card