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BMS Blog

BMS is Building Lasting Relationships

At BMS, we follow a set of core values, one of which is that "we nurture loving, respectful relationships and seek emotional balance. We take responsibility for ourselves and work to develop our understanding of others." Relationships are truly key at our school.

This week, the beautiful necklace for our drawing was donated by Anne Vaughan Designs.

This local company is owned and operated by former BMS parents Anne and Aaron Vaughan. The Vaughan's children attended Blue Mountain for a number of years, and Aaron served on the Board of Trustees for several of those years. In the photo below, Aaron helps his daughter with her research presentation when she was in the middle elementary class at BMS.

Although the Vaughan's are no longer a part of BMS on a day-to-day basis, our school's focus on and value of relationships has created friendships and connections with the Vaughan family that continue to remain strong years later. Blue Mountain School isn't just teaching children how to read and write; we are strengthening community by nurturing connections that last.

To enter your name in the drawing for the AVD necklace, make a donation of $50 or more to BMS by noon on Tuesday, November 10. Not only will you have a chance to win this prize, but you will also be entered in the drawings for the rest of the campaign!

Anne Vaughan Designs unique handcrafted designer earrings, bracelets and necklaces for women are designed and made with love in the Vaughan's Floyd, Virginia, USA studio. Each collection features layered necklaces that can be worn together or individually. Local Floyd stores that carry AVD include Bell Gallery, Hey Helen, and Troika Gallery. For more information or to shop, visit

Strengthening Our Community - One Child at a Time

Welcome to our annual Fall fundraising campaign. The focus of this program is to build our scholarship fund so that Blue Mountain School can continue to be as inclusive and diverse as possible and to reflect the unique characteristics of our rural community. Our school is enriched by each student who attends and each family who is able to offer their individual perspectives, ideas, and gifts in the classroom and beyond.

This school year, BMS families will receive nearly $40,000 in financial aid. We can't do this without your generous support, and we thank you all: our alumni, family, friends, and neighbors. Our Blue Mountain School Community.

Who will your donation help?

Your donations have a significant impact on real families in our community. We'd like to share one of these family's stories with you, in their own words:

Dear Blue Mountain School Community,

Without scholarships, many of the families and children enrolled at BMS would not have the opportunity to join. My family is a single income family, and like most families we live paycheck to paycheck. We don't drive the newest car from the car lot, we don't buy the latest electronics on the market. What matters to our family is our child and his future, his social interactions and connections. We have found that this matters to BMS, too.
It was important to us to find a school where our child could grow and be respected as an individual and where his artistic, creative and adventurous mind could explore both in and out of the classroom. After meeting a few of the teachers on several different occasions, we knew we found the right place for our child. Without scholarship
awards, our son would not have the wonderful experience of cultivating these early relationships between friends and teachers that are necessary for a balanced education.

- A Blue Mountain School Scholarship Recipient

We'd like to give back!

As a token of our gratitude, we want to give a little something back to you! Everyone who donates will receive a handmade thank-you card featuring student art.

Donate $25 and we'll send you one of our unique Blue Mountain School bumper stickers.

Donate $50 for a chance to win one of three gifts donated by local businesses. One winner will be drawn each Tuesday afternoon. The first gift is a stunning necklace designed and made with love in Floyd, Virginia, by Anne Vaughan Designs.

Donate $100 and choose either a Blue Mountain School Free-Range Parent or Free-Range Kid t-shirt.

Donate $500 and qualify for a 65% Virginia state tax credit through the Neighborhood Assistant Program.

Share with a friend and win!

Please consider sharing this information with your family and friends. For every first-time donor (of $25 or more) you refer, we'll enter your name an extra time in our weekly drawings. Just make sure the person puts "Referred by <your name>" in the special info section on the donation page.

Welcoming Fall

This article first appeared in The Floyd Press on October 13, 2015.

Every year, the Blue Mountain School community gathers to welcome the arrival of Fall. This year the celebration began with a discussion circle, where the meaning and myths of the Equinox were shared. The circle gathered around a mandala the students made earlier in the day with art teacher, Lore Deighan, using natural materials.

Next, music teacher, Kari Kovick, led the group in several songs. The first was “The Apple Picker’s Reel,” by Larry Hanks. For the second song, “Red, Yellow, Orange, Brown,” by Patti Gille, Kari brought along fall-colored scarves for everyone to share. The younger students had practiced this song in their music classes with Kari, and they helped lead their older classmates and friends with the words and accompanying movements.

After the songs, it was time for some traditional autumnal snacks: apple cider and popcorn. Agatha Grimsley and her father, Alan Kaplan, set up their apple press to turn the bushels of fruit brought by students and other community members into fresh cider. Several students and a few parents helped turn the crank on the press, which was run completely on human power.

Celebrating the rhythm of the seasons and honoring community traditions is important at Blue Mountain School. Events are held monthly and most are open to the public. The next event on the calendar is the Halloween Celebration and Open House on Friday, October 30 at 1:00.

For more photos from this event, check out our Facebook Group.


The Importance of Outdoor Play

Written by Early Learning Co-Teacher, Jenni Heartway

One of my favorite things about Blue Mountain is our commitment to providing children with time outdoors. In this age of high stakes testing, it is comforting to know that our little space in the woods is not only offering students with hands-on learning experiences and choices in the classroom, but that we’re also holding our time with nature sacred. We view it as inextricable from learning. The two dovetail so nicely, we wonder how other schools may manage with only 20 minutes outside each day.

The gains made by our students during Outdoor Explore and Recess are not only physical. We’ve watched students learn social skills such as sharing, responsibility, and valuable problem solving skills. Students on our playground experiment with all branches of science in the way they manipulate the materials they find (physics, chemistry and natural science), and math is essential when you’re dividing into equal groups for a game or adding scoops of sand to a “soup” mixture.

The students develop stories and games in an oral tradition that are passed from class to class (Stick Mountain, the swing at Jubilee, Silverberry Hideout). Look at the forts they've created in the woods, and it is easy to visualize history and world cultures being shared between students. Art is also present in the way students sculpt cakes of mud or create fairy houses. Writing can be as simple as scratching letters in the sand or as elaborate as creating a closed sign for a restaurant. 

You can see that our students are doing so much more than “just playing” when they are spending time outside at Blue Mountain!

A Study of Friendship

From the Early Learning Class...

Every two weeks, Jenni and Hari send a newsletter to their class families highlighting the work students have been doing. Families are also kept up to date on class happenings with short emails, notes displayed outside class, and chats with teachers at drop off and pick up. Here is the first class newsletter for the year.

Dear Families,

Welcome to our year together! The students are ready to dive into their first project of the year. Here are some details about our study of Friendship.

We started the school year focused on Beginnings and working together to become familiar with the environment, the rhythm of our day, our school, and each other.

As these new friendships are forming and old friendships are transforming, the idea of how people fit together as friends has become quite a topic of discussion and exploration. Friendships are very important to 5 and 6 year olds as they sort out their broadening understanding of the world and their place in it. Friendships also offer many natural challenges requiring listening, negotiation, understanding, sharing, taking turns, and reaching beyond one’s own interests. Those challenges provide wonderful opportunities for exploration, inquiry, discussion, and study.

In our child-guided, project-based curriculum, we take our cues from the children as we select and plan studies. We have observed the children in their moments of excitement, wonder, and challenge around the topic of Friendship. We knew that Friendship would be a great topic of study when we observed similar events and ideas recurring day after day for many different children: valiant and caring attempts by children to use language to resolve conflicts, spontaneous gathering discussions about friendship, conversations about who will sit next to whom at lunchtime, deep interest in picture books about friends, and passionate declarations of “You’re my very best friend!” made while washing hands, on the swings, in the sandbox, in the book nook....The group was sending a sure signal that Friendship was on everyone’s minds.

We always begin our studies by discussing what we know, and what we’d like to find out. This helps the children frame their ideas and develop the concept of establishing prior knowledge, posing questions, and conducting research. It also allows them to be the ones defining and pursuing their own ideas and learning—such essential skills for life-long learners! During our gathering time next week, we will be generating questions around the topic of friends and friendships.

We will be exploring answers to these questions through work with puppets and role playing; reading and discussing stories about friendship; working with new partners; getting to know each other through shared art work; body games and group movement activities; exploring friendships in the animal and plant worlds during Outdoor Explore; writing and drawing books about friends; graphing information about friends; and many other investigations that the children will create to help them find answers to their questions. As the work in this study evolves, we will keep you posted on where the children are going and how their explorations and plans grow and change.

In the meantime, we’d like you to help at home by co-authoring a book about your child with your child. This will help all of us all get to know each other better and provide an excellent opportunity for early reading and writing. Talking with your child at home about friendship, reading picture books about friends, and telling your child stories about your friends when you were little are all lovely ways to keep the home/school connection strong.



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If you shop at Kroger, you can help BMS earn money for its scholarship fund. Our Community Rewards number is QK830.

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