November 12, 2016 – The performance of the VMS drama production “Robin Hood” on Friday, November 11th was a huge success. The Elementary students stunned the sold-out crowd of parents, extended families and friends with an amazing show at the Old Stone School in Hillsboro. Village Montessori School’s Anni Bryner wrote the entire play and had been practicing with the students for months. The annual drama production is one of the highlights of the VMS school year. As every year the announcement for next year’s play came after the conclusion of Friday’s performance: ‘A wrinkle in time’ will be the title of next year’s show!
November 7, 2016 – Our Village Montessori School at Bluemont community is collecting Thanksgiving donations for those in need on behalf of Loudoun hunger relief this year. Any non-perishable food items or money and grocery store gift cards are welcome. There is still time to participate. The deadline is Monday, November 14.
VMS Special Exception approved
October 13, 2016 – The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the VMS Special Exception to expand the school with a 9-0-0 vote during the Board of Supervisors Public Hearing on October 12th. Both Chair Randall and Blueridge District Supervisor Tony Buffington recognized the school’s tremendous contribution to the community as well as the unique culture of the school during the hearing. The Special Exception allows VMS to expand to up to 108 students.
VMS drama play prep in full swing
October 8, 2015 – The preparations for the VMS Drama Play ‘Robin Hood’ are in full swing. The play will be on November 11 at the Old Stone School in Hillsboro. Tickets for the show sold out within days. The popular in-house theatre production by VMS’s own, Anni Bryner, is one of the hallmarks of Village Montessori School at Bluemont.
Special Exception moves forward to Board of Supervisors
9/27/16 – Village Montessori School at Bluemont (VMS) received the approval of the Loudoun County Planning Commission at their Public Hearing for the Special Exception to expand the school. The Special Exception will now go before the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in October as the final step in the process. Final approval of the Special Exception will allow Owner Toby Gress and her team to meet the growing need of the community and open up its doors to the families and children waiting to become a part of the VMS family.
VMS students participated in Indian Village opening ceremony
9/19/16 – The students of Village Montessori School participated in the Opening Ceremony of the Indian Village at the Bluemont Fair this past Saturday, September 17. Over the summer and for the first three weeks of school, students had been helping Native American artists prepare and build an authentic Indian Village. On Saturday it was time to open the village up to the public. Thousands visited the attraction over the weekend.
After accompanying the procession of the Native American honor guard through the fairgrounds to the actual Village, the students were part of the ribbon cutting ceremony. Chris and René White, the Founders of the Native American Organization ‘Sanctuary on the Trail’ and organizers of the event asked Toby Gress, Owner and Head of School at Village Montessori School at Bluemont, to cut the ribbon and officially open the Village. The children then guided the Native American dancers on stage for their performances.
A grant awarded by the Virginia Commission of the Arts and tremendous local support, including a generous donation by Ken and Julia Falke of Bluemont, and the dedication of Chris and Rene White and all artists involved made this amazing experience possible. Activities will continue throughout the school year.
VMS Receives Accreditation
9/8/16 –Village Montessori School at Bluemont is the first Montessori School in Northern Virginia to receive accreditation by the International Montessori Council (IMC) for its Primary and Elementary Program.
The milestone decision was finalized on August 22, 2016 at the International Montessori Council Board Meeting and concluded a two-year accreditation review process that culminated in the IMC visit to the school this past May. Village Montessori School at Bluemont owner and Head of School, Toby Gress, and all teachers and administrative staff were working tirelessly to prepare for this day.
“Accreditation has been an important step for us in helping us solidify our vision and goals as a Montessori School.”, said Toby Gress. “It has also given us important feedback pointing out weaknesses and strengths as well as the strategy for the future.”
A central part of the official review process was the continuous self-assessment of the school in all areas of operation. This assessment included the contribution of all stakeholders, including teachers, staff and the parents and families over the two-year period. To finalize this process, IMC paid a visit to the school in May 2016. For three days, IMC staff observed operations inside and outside the classroom, reviewed documents and interviewed a wide
variety of stakeholders.
Accreditation for a Montessori School carries great significance as the term ‘Montessori’ is not trademarked or protected and schools may use the name Montessori without any requirement to show adherence to the Montessori methodology. Hence, a school carrying the Montessori name does not guarantee the school actually operates according to the Montessori philosophy.
Going through the demanding process of the International Montessori Council assessing the school’s operations and strategies allowed Village Montessori School at Bluemont to authenticate its long-standing program through an independent source and officially establish it as a legitimate Montessori School.
For owner Toby Gress and her team it all went far way beyond that: “This process did not just help us by receiving the official accreditation status. It encouraged us to pull together as a team and establish the core values of who we are, and where we are going. It also allowed us to write the vision for the future and with that provide a blueprint for others ensuring sustainability and quality control for future families and students of VMS.”
Village Montessori School gearing up for Indian Village at Bluemont Fair
9/6/16 – On September 17 & 18 the Annual Bluemont Fair will yet again draw thousands of visitors to the small town of Bluemont in Northern Virginia. For the students of Village Montessori School at Bluemont this is a very exciting time each year as they are eagerly preparing for this big event from the very first day of each new school year. This year, the event is even more special with the students’ involvement in a Native American Indian Village that will be part of the Bluemont Fair for the very first time.
Through a grant awarded by the Virginia Commission of the Arts to the Native American Organization ‘Sanctuary on the Trail’ and through tremendous local support, including a generous donation by Ken and Julia Falke of Bluemont, Village Montessori School students have the opportunity to learn first-hand about Native American traditions, lifestyle, history and culture and participate in building the interactive Village.
A group of local Native American artists, led by Sanctuary on the Trail founders Chris and René White, will introduce the children to their ways of life, both in the past and present. They will share their artisan skills and life experience inside and outside the classroom, and pass on truths that have been long lost, connecting the children to the land and nature, to themselves and to each other.
All Village Montessori students will be involved in various ways in the Indian Village activities during their first two to three weeks of school and beyond. Many parents are involved in the planning of the activities too.
The children in the Outdoor Classroom and in the afternoon Wilderness Awareness Club as well as all Elementary students will have the unique opportunity to assist in the construction of the Indian Village WigWam. They will gain hands-on experience that will expose them to the richness of the native cultures and the wisdom of rooted and sustainable living.
“As they participate in these activities they will learn to problem solve, to exercise their fine and gross motor skills, to work as part of a team, and to contribute their own particular part in the larger process”, said Ben Drenning, the Lead Teacher for all projects involving the Native American Program. “These activities will help them experience and explore the inherent values of self-sufficiency, cooperation, and community”, Drenning continued.
Elementary students will also help create medicine pouch bags that the students will sell during the fair explaining the tradition and use of the bag as a part of it. In other segments, all primary students will learn about Native American culture and traditions in the classroom and artists will share and impart their knowledge and skills as part of those sessions.
More program activities on the actual fair weekend are still to be determined, and activities will continue throughout the rest of the year.
While students at Village Montessori have already been learning about Native American Culture as part of their curriculum, the partnership with Sanctuary on the Trail opens up a wealth of new opportunities. “Our vision statement as informed by the works of Dr. Montessori is to create a living model of a culture of peace for the students, families, teachers and community of our school,” said Toby Gress, Head of Village Montessori School. “The collaboration with Native Americans and Veterans flows perfectly with our vision while supporting our mission to provide our students the necessary tools, in a prepared environment, indoors and out, to foster the joy of learning.”
That joy of learning can be felt all across the Village Montessori property these days. As the school year has just kicked off this week, the excitement and anticipation is rising high amongst students, parents and teachers, as well as amongst the artists. Undoubtedly, both children and adults will benefit and this partnership will impact many.
“It may take a village to raise a child, but I believe it takes artists to help children raise a village” said René Locklear White, Sanctuary on the Trail Co-Founder, Lumbee Indian artist and military veteran who is the organizer of the Indian Village project. In the weeks leading up to September 17 and 18 exactly that will now happen.
Village Montessori School at Bluemont offers an authentic nature-based curriculum for students aged 2 to 12. Its pastoral setting in the vicinity of Metro DC and its family atmosphere provide for a unique and optimal learning environment for children of all different backgrounds. The International Montessori Council (IMC) recently awarded Village Montessori accreditation for its Primary and Elementary programs. The IMC accreditation makes Village Montessori School the first Montessori School in Northern Virginia to receive this distinction by IMC. For more information please visit www.villagemontessori.org.
The Indian Village is an exciting new interactive event at the Bluemont Fair. It is designed to educate children (and adults!) about Native American culture. The Village will be open to the public during both days of the Fair. Visitors will be able to experience dance, regalia, storytelling, interactive-downloadable online passport, QR coded hidden facts, survival skills, living history exhibitors, trading post vendors, North American Bushcraft School, music from Dark Water Rising, Indigenous Virginia tea and a Military veteran and uniformed services tribute. Authentic Native American Indian jewelry is available for purchase and exhibits of unique works of art by artisans are showcased. Suggested donation for entrance to the Indian Village is $3 per person or $15 per family. The general fair entrance fee is $5 per person. Children nine and under are free to both the Indian Village and Bluemont Fair.
Proceeds help bring educational cultural programs like this to the area and set educational standards, and benefit Native American Indian artists. Event times at the Indian Village can be found within the Fair schedule at www.HarvestGathering.org.
For any further information or to set-up a school visit, please contact Birgit Zepf at 703-789-7487 or