4975 Decathlon Ave Fairbanks, AK 99709 www.thewatershedschool.com MISSION STATEMENT The Watershed School fosters the development of students with a strong sense of place who will be prepared to serve as stewards of their community. By gaining an understanding of the history, government, culture, and ecology of Alaska's interior, students will achieve academic excellence and expand their competency to the rest of the world. At every opportunity, we provide students with meaningful explorations and activities outside the classroom. We teach each child with care, encouraging imaginative work and play, analytical and critical thinking skills, and a sense of social and ecological responsibility. ESSENTIAL INFORMATION • The Watershed School is a free K-8 public charter school open to all students in the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. • The Watershed School will maintain a small enrollment of approximately 200 students. The student-teacher ratio will be 1:22 in all grades. • When operating at full capacity, the school will not have multi-age classrooms. • The school will follow a looping model beginning in first grade. The looping model allows students to spend two years with their teacher. • The Watershed School will include a full-time kindergarten program. • School will start at 8:30 am and end at 3:00. • The Watershed School will follow the FNSBSD calendar during the 2010-2011 school year. ADMISSION CRITERIA The Watershed School Charter School is a parent choice school. A student enrolling at The Watershed School must be between the ages of five and fourteen. In order to be eligible to apply to attend kindergarten, children must be five years old on or before September 1. Children must be 6 years old on or before September 1 to attend first grade. A copy of the child's birth certificate is required for each pupil entering kindergarten or first grade. All new students must submit proof of immunization before being admitted into school. At least one parent, or legal guardian, must be a resident of the Fairbanks North Star Borough. The Watershed School may, upon written notice to the FNSB School District, decline to accept students who have been determined after due process to have violated FNSB School District Policies 1042.61 (Firearms and Other Guns) or 1053.3 (Alcohol and Other Drug Violations). PARENT INVOLVEMENT All parents who enroll students in the school are required to contribute volunteer efforts to The Watershed School. Parents may choose from a wide array of opportunities to become engaged in the day-to day operation of this school. Flexible opportunities will be offered, organized to fit into the schedules of parents. With the opportunity to choose their own volunteer experience, and on a schedule that fits different parentʼs family and professional demands, The Watershed School is confident that parents will have a positive and enjoyable experience. Possible opportunities may include in-school tutoring, small group instruction, assisting in recreational and community-based activities (both inside and outside the school), clerical tasks, classroom organizational activities, car pooling, cooking, and fundraising. School staff will provide volunteers with a sign-up sheet for each semesterʼs volunteer needs. As a rule-of-thumb, an average voluntary contribution by a family would be approximately 10 hours per semester. TRANSPORTATION The Watershed School will not provide busing for its students due to budgetary and logistical constraints. Parents are strongly encouraged to form carpooling groups to provide transportation to and from school. The Watershed School will assist parents to set up carpools. ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE School begins promptly at 8:30 a.m. for all students. The Watershed School will open its doors for early student drop off at 8:15 as a courtesy to parents who need to get to work. Students will be expected to sit quietly outside their classrooms until 8:30. Students who are unable to behave appropriately during this early drop off time will lose this privilege. School ends for all students at 3:00. Parents are expected to pick children up at this time. LUNCH PROGRAM The Watershed School is unable to provide the FNSBSD school lunch program to its students due to budgetary constraints. All students will need to bring a lunch from home. Families should also be aware that classes may sometimes be away from the school building during lunch periods. It is our recommendation that students do not bring lunches to school that need to be heated. Students are strongly encouraged to bring healthy lunches. The Watershed School will follow the guidelines set by the FNSBSD Wellness Policy. PLACE-BASED EDUCATION – A UNIQUE APPROACH TO TEACHING AND LEARNING Place-based education is a significantly different approach to teaching and learning from that offered in other schools. The goal of this approach is to develop connections between students and their community. A place-based charter school will help students come to know and care for the place in which they live. It is a way to take full advantage of the unique characteristics of the Tanana Valley. Place-based education involves using the local community and natural landscape as a reoccurring theme to teach concepts in language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and the arts. Place-based education relies heavily upon authentic real-world learning experiences to increase student achievement. Place-based education benefits the community by developing responsible citizens. Place-based education does not promote the elimination of non-local knowledge or the creation of a provincial outlook. When children become intimately connected to and knowledgeable about their own home place, they can intelligently apply this understanding to the rest of the world. CURRICULUM A unique aspect of The Watershed School is its approach to science and social studies instruction. Other content areas are drawn upon to enhance and strengthen student understanding. This approach emphasizes our commitment to depth over breadth and is different from other elementary schools where numerous concepts are taught at a more superficial level. This depth of instruction at The Watershed School is also evident in the thematic integration of language arts, fine arts, social studies and science. The academic advisory board of The Watershed School has adopted the FNSBSD language arts curriculum. The materials used to teach this curriculum will differ from other schools, as we will employ locally relevant materials at every opportunity. The Watershed School has adopted Singapore Math as its K-8 math program. This program emphasizes deep understanding of concepts before moving on to other areas. This program teaches to mastery, rather than employing the spiraling curriculum, as seen in Everyday Math used in other FNSBSD elementary schools. All units of study are developed to meet the Alaska State Content Standards. Students in 3rd through 8th grade at The Watershed School will be assessed by the State of Alaska using the Standards Based Assessments (SBAs) every spring. THEMATIC LANGUAGE ARTS AND MATH INSTRUCTION Because of The Watershed Schoolʼs strong philosophy of thematic instruction, 50% of language arts instruction time will reinforce and relate to concepts covered in the science and social studies curriculum. Mathematics will also be connected to our natural science and social studies themes. Twenty-five percent of our mathematics content will relate to our units of study in science and social studies. OUTDOOR REQUIREMENTS Content Areas Using the outdoors as a classroom is a major theme at The Watershed School. A significant curricular component that distinguishes The Watershed School from other schools in the FNSBSD is its commitment to connecting students to their community and natural environment. Teachers will design their instruction to emphasize combining stimulating classroom lessons with outdoor explorations and studies. It is essential that parents and students understand that learning outside of the classroom will be a regular occurance. Students will be expected to be prepared and willing to go outside, even in inclement weather, to complete curricular studies. Physical Education The Watershed School has doubled the FNSBSD physical education requirement from one hour to two hours per week. Additionally, 75% of all physical education will take place outdoors. Because The Watershed School places such an emphasis on getting students outdoors, it is required that students be prepared and willing to go outside everyday, in all weather conditions , even rain. The only exception to this is when temperatures dip below -200F with windchill. Lack of student compliance or parental support of the out-of-doors components of The Watershed School may result in termination of enrollment or be a basis for nonrenewal the following year. ESSENTIAL OUTDOOR GEAR LIST Rain boots Fleece/wool jacket Hiking shoes Rain jacket/pants Long underwear Running shoes Winter coat Hats, gloves, mitts Backpack Winter boots Snow pants or coveralls Water bottle Neck warmer Cross country ski equipment CREATIVE ARTS Though the educational program at The Watershed School places a great emphasis on the natural sciences and community, we believe that creative arts are crucial to healthy child development and a well-rounded educational program. Teachers will incorporate creative arts into daily classroom activities and school-wide or classroom themes. While The Watershed School may not be able to provide individual or group music instruction (i.e. band/orchestra/chorus) due to budgetary constraints, we will assist families in coordinating private instruction and offer practice and/or lesson space in the facility outside school hours as we are able. We will also partner with other community performance groups and schools to allow students with more advanced musical and dramatic interests a venue for instruction, practice, and performance. HOMEWORK The Watershed School believes in limiting homework in the elementary grades. School- wide our staff will follow the school districtʼs general guidelines of no more than 10 minutes of homework per grade level per night, starting at first grade. For example, a second grade student will have no more than 20 minutes of homework on any given night. A sixth grader will have no more than one hour. Occasionally, a larger project-based homework assignment will be given. This will be the exception, rather than the rule. Students in the middle school grade levels should expect homework assignments based on classroom projects. ADDITIONAL FNSBSD POLICIES See the FNSBSD Studentsʼ Rights, Responsibilities, and Behavioral Consequences Handbook for information about behavior and discipline, immunizations, attendance, dress code, and other policies set by the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.