2019-2020 Slate School Student and Parent Handbook
Purpose of Handbook
Slate School expects that all families will read this Handbook and use it as a resource for important information about the School, our mission and community expectations. The Handbook is designed to acquaint you with our school and contains information that will be helpful in guiding you through the school year, including important policies and procedures. As a school, however, we are aware that there may be times when the School may need to deviate from standard policies when in the best interest of our students and School. As such, you should read, understand and comply with all provisions of this Handbook, but understand that our policies and practices may be modified as needed to address specific situations.
Slate School is designed to cultivate student creativity, foster ingenuity, and inspire a deep passion for lifelong learning and discovery. Slate School’s mission and priority is that each child’s innate and natural love for learning be nurtured and enabled to grow and flourish.
School History and Philosophy
Slate School is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, independent, co-educational day school in North Haven, Connecticut. Located on a 25-acre nature-based campus, Slate School is one of the most environmentally friendly schools in the country.
At Slate School, each child’s creativity and curiosity is embraced, and students learn joyfully through a curiosity-based and child-centered program. Slate School’s community promotes the love of the journey itself, and through exposure to diverse, enriching, and unique childhood experiences, enables each child to discover and explore his or her own path.
Slate School’s community expects each child, teacher, and family to demonstrate compassion, kindness, integrity, and respect for others and for their environment. The School is a comfortable and safe place to learn, where families are valued as an important part of their child’s education.
The natural world is an inherent component of the Slate School curriculum. Slate School’s grounds invite hands-on exploration of a variety of native Connecticut habitats, including meadows and wetlands. The opportunity to indulge in everything that makes a student curious is an essential aspect of Slate School, and the large and small-scale landscapes of the campus provide infinite possibilities for exploration.
Slate School’s central tenets are kindness, integrity, and respect. All members of the Slate School community adopt and practice these fundamental values, which are reinforced and reflected throughout the school day. It is expected that all families and staff will similarly value character and ethics as central tenets. Slate School's character education will be modeled by the adult community at the School, and this social curriculum is integrated into the academic curriculum. For example, all books and stories selected for the classroom model the central tenets of kindness, integrity, and respect.
Slate School utilizes the Responsive Classroom approach to build social and emotional competencies, including cooperation, empathy, and responsibility. Routines established in the first six weeks of school form the bedrock for social and academic growth throughout the year and beyond. Each day begins with a morning meeting, when everyone in the class gathers for a greeting, sharing, group activity, and morning message. The day ends with reflection and questions of the day. This Responsive Classroom approach fully integrates social and academic learning throughout the course of the day.
All children are also engaged in reflection and goal setting. Early in the academic year, students identify their hopes and dreams for their own learning for the year. This process leads to a conversation about the way we must behave in order to ensure our success and the success of all of our classmates. These positively stated behaviors are displayed for all who enter our classroom, and as a daily reminder of our purpose.
Respect for the child is at the heart of our mission. Slate School's students are embraced in a safe and nurturing community of lifelong learners. Each child embarks on guided discoveries that are designed intentionally and lovingly to excite and motivate the children, and to nurture each child's innate love for learning.
Slate School believes that offering students the opportunity to make meaningful choices about their learning is central to their success as lifelong learners. Therefore, every activity at Slate School has a purpose that can be understood and appreciated by the child as well as by the teacher. Time is built into every component of the day for exploration and tinkering. All of the students have opportunities to choose their own deep investigations and project work. Children whose studies are based wholly on their interests will ultimately grow the skills needed to fully explore their curiosity. They seek greater understanding in reading, math, and expression as they learn and share their discoveries. Students also quickly identify topics of expertise and immediately seek to teach each other. The result is a classroom that is transformed into an active learning workshop for all who enter.
Contact Information and Key Staff Directory
The School and its officials may be contacted as follows:
Mailing Address: 124 Mansfield Rd, North Haven, CT, 06473
Web Address: http://www.slateschool.org
Founder: Jennifer Staple Clark
Head of School and Grade 2 Teacher: Julie Mountcastle
K/1 Teacher: Haley Grover
Environmentalist and K/1 Assistant Teacher: Grace Kenney
Grade 2 Assistant Teacher: Brett Pellegrino
Curator: Katy Kessler-Rinck
Writer-in-Residence: Catherine Lamont
Coordinator of Communications & Outreach: Gina Block
Nurse: Nicole Casbarro
September 9: First day of school
September 25: Parent night
September 27: Professional development, 12:30pm dismissal
October 14: Professional development day (no school for students)
October 17-18: Parent conferences, 12:30pm dismissal
November 11: Veterans Day and professional development day (no school for students)
November 27-29: Thanksgiving Break
December 6: Professional development, 12;30pm dismissal
December 16 through January 1: Winter Break
January 20: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and professional development day (no school for students)
February 21: Professional development, 12;30pm dismissal
March 9 through 20: Spring Break
April 10: Good Friday
April 16-17: Parent conferences, 12:30pm dismissal
May 25: Memorial Day
June 5: Last day of school
Components of the Day
Slate School teachers intentionally plan instruction to ensure that children have opportunities to:
Use their own experiences to actively construct new knowledge which connects to and extends what they can already understand and do.
Identify a problem and generate multiple solutions.
Learn artistically and creatively.
Work both independently and cooperatively to accomplish goals.
Develop into flexible thinkers who are able to adapt to a rapidly changing world
Become effective communicators.
Develop an awareness of the interconnectedness of all things.
Learn responsibility and respect for themselves, their environment, and other people.
Develop a sense of competence in their ability to positively affect the world around them.
Develop flexible academic skills that prepare them for success in the 21st century.
Play is a child’s work. In this way, social and academic pursuits exist concurrently at Slate School, and learning occurs in all settings. We begin the day with child choice time, so that students may explore books, revisit activities or tasks that they accomplished previously, or investigate something new. All of the activities that follow in this description are components of an ordinary day and may occur indoors, outdoors, or both, and not necessarily in the order listed:
Morning Circle: The day begins with free play, and students thereafter gather for a morning circle, when they greet each other, respond to a message prepared by their teachers, participate in a whole group activity, and have ample opportunity to share in collaborative learning.
Enticements: Cross-curriculum stations offer children opportunities for interactive learning to support previously taught concepts, or to explore new content.
Friendly Snack: Students enjoy a healthy snack from home while talking with peers and teachers.
Math Workshop: Guided discovery within interactive mini-lessons transition the children to math exploration and independent practice. Students choose from natural tools and loose parts to explore, manipulate, and understand concepts around pattern, sorting, classifying, predicting, comparing, measuring, graphing, number, and place value.
Guided Literacy: Written and oral stories begin the daily literacy block, which is followed by discussion and a variety of independent learning options for retelling, extending, interpreting, performing, and art-making. Mini-lessons provide skills and tools for the children to explore as they expand their understanding of writing and language.
Independent Exploration/Lunch: Students may play inside or outside. Lunchtime will take place in our classroom or outside, weather permitting.
Project Time: Students investigate topics of personal interest across all content areas, including science, history, global studies, and math. They develop questions for research and respond to information and discovery through a variety of media. This is a very active part of the day, as children may be creating plays, songs, artwork or written reports to support their own understanding. It is also an exciting time for the child because imaginations are unlocked, and they can explore the meaning of their work in unique and beautiful ways.
Closing Circle: Toward the end of each day, students gather again for sharing their curiosities and reflections. These meetings often serve as planning for subsequent learning, and many times children develop assignments for themselves to do at home. Most of all, closing circle is a celebration of time together and the fruitfulness of the children’s important contributions to the class learning. Following the meeting, students may enjoy the company of their classmates at play inside or outside until parent pickup.
Enrichment Programs: Slate School's Enrichment Program runs daily from 3:00pm until 5:00pm Families may elect to enroll their children in the enrichment program either for extended day needs, or as an opportunity for enhanced learning. Programs include language, music, science, creative movement, and arts and crafts. A student may participate in the Enrichment Program for one to five days per week, and the number of days per week should be decided at the time of Enrichment Program registration.
Arrival and Pickup Times
Slate School offers a flexible arrival time between 8:30-9:00am, during which children may go into their classroom for free play. Kindergarten children should be walked into the administration building by the adult responsible for dropping them off, and older children may enter the building independently. Dismissal is at 3:00p.m., with similar rules regarding an age-appropriate level of supervision for transferring the student to the parent.
For those requiring extended hours, parent(s)/guardian(s) may register to drop their children off at the library at 8:00a.m. An Enrichment Program is offered from 3:00-5:00p.m. for a limited number of students.
Just as we have a flexible opening at Slate School, we understand that traffic and other circumstances can limit the ability to arrive precisely at 3:00p.m. Students may stay until 3:10p.m. without prior arrangement. We expect all students to be picked up by 3:10p.m. unless previously arranged. During emergency purposes, staff are available to supervise children until 3:30p.m., after which time staff are no longer available.
Snacks and Lunches
We believe that educators should provide children with an opportunity to appreciate and care for their environment, and that the School is responsible for ensuring a healthy environment for each child. Therefore, parents and guardians should provide their child with a healthy daily snack and lunch. All food brought to Slate School should be nutritious. Students should not bring unhealthy foods, such as cakes, donuts, cookies, candy, gum, etc. Please help us reduce the amount of trash and recyclables by sending food in reusable containers.
Please provide a water bottle as a beverage. Please do not send milk, soda, juice, or other types of beverages.
Slate School may occasionally provide snacks, which will mostly be derived from the organic garden. All food provided by Slate School will be plant-based and certified organic.
Slate School is a nut-free school and requires strict adherence to this policy. Please always review ingredients before sending your child with food to school.
Parents should notify the Head of School if their child has a food or other life-threatening allergy that may require medical attention or other accommodation.
In order to respect the food culture of Slate School, we ask that parents not bring snacks or food for birthdays. Instead, our birthday tradition involves reading your child’s favorite book with the class, or sending the book in with your child if you cannot attend.
Lost and Found
Slate School has a designated and reasonably secure location for collecting items left behind by students, staff, faculty, and visitors at the the school. All items will be kept until the end of the marking period, at which time, if not claimed, all items will be donated.
Communication between home and school is critical to the success of all students. Slate School values all opportunities to share expectations, growth, and challenges with families in order to support students. Shortly after the year begins, there is an opportunity for families to see the classroom and hear more from the teacher about the daily routines and the classroom community. As the school year continues, teachers share daily and monthly communication about the life of the classroom with families. Additionally, two parent/teacher conferences are scheduled during the academic year to discuss student progress.
Similarly, communication generated from home to school is equally valued. In most cases, email is the most efficient form for this communication. Teachers typically respond to emails by the end of the day, and in all cases within 24 hours. Paper notes sent to school are discouraged, as they sometimes get misplaced, and important communication may be delayed. Teachers may also be reached by phone in the classroom in case of emergency. The teachers’ primary task and central focus, however, is on daily interactions with students, and they may therefore be unavailable for school-day conferences and conversations unless agreed upon in advance.
Additionally, at 6:30pm on the second Tuesday of every month, parents are invited to Garden to hear a brief update from classroom teachers and the Head of School, followed by an informal conversation about upcoming events.
Guidelines for parent visitors
Parent visits are encouraged, and parents may register in advance to share or assist in the classroom. Parents may also choose to work in the garden or library by prior arrangement. All visitors, including parents, must wear a visitor lanyard.
Parents should register the day and time of their visit in advance. If it becomes necessary to cancel, please be sure to notify the school as soon as possible.
Turn your cell phone ringer off, and put your phone away.
Wash your hands, and please remove your shoes.
Photos should not be taken in the classroom. In order to maintain the privacy of individual students, please refrain from posting about your visits on social media.
Respect all children and families in the school. Please do not inquire about your child, or other children, during your visit, including their behavior, academics, or other personal questions.
Speak respectfully at all times.
Always use positive, encouraging language, and refrain from using any labels, including shy, rowdy, hyper, bossy, etc.
Any concerns that arise from your experience in the classroom should be confidential and discussed privately with the teacher or Head of School at a scheduled time.
Dress appropriately for the task and weather. All participants in the school, including students and parents, should wear well-fitting clothes that provide full coverage of the torso. All clothing should be free of printed pictures and text.
Additional guidelines for projects: In project work, the students' curiosity must drive the research. If a student has a finished feeling about a question, follow their lead and move on. Though challenging, it is important to resist the impulse to give information to the student beyond what they are seeking, unless it is done in side-by-side learning. We are trying to create for them a feeling of expert. Students may need various levels of support in reading, but should always be encouraged to fully explore illustrations for understanding, prior to listening to text. Response to new information by students can be dictated to parent helpers. Please write the child's actual words in large, recognizable letters so that the child can reread their own thinking.
There are also opportunities for students to practice talking about and presenting their project ideas. In this role, the parent is an interested listener. Occasionally, students may have the desire to create a chart or an illustration to accompany their project presentation. This is also an area where parent participants can listen to the student artists as they describe their picture. The role here is to encourage the student to make a representation that is aligned with his or her understanding.
Parents are encouraged to help any or all students, and not just their own child.
School Closings and Delays
Slate School typically follows the decisions of the North Haven Public Schools with respect to school closings and morning delays due to snow or other weather related conditions. However, Slate School additionally reviews the considerations and decisions of other nearby school districts, and we will post its own decisions for school closings, early dismissals, or delayed openings. In the event of a school delay, closing, early dismissal, or other emergency, parents will be notified by email and by Remind, and alerts will also be submitted to WTNH.
During times of inclement morning weather, Slate School may have a 90- or 120- minute delayed opening.
During times of inclement afternoon weather, Slate School may have an early dismissal at 12:30pm and/or cancel the after school Enrichment Program.
School closings will be announced as early as is practical.
The School does not usually replace or make up snow days or other closings due to weather.
Slate School is committed to providing a learning environment that is free from all forms of unlawful discrimination. To that end, the School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, alienage, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, religion, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law in the administration of any of its educational policies, admissions policies, or other school programs. Further, it is and shall be the policy of the School to admit qualified students to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school without regard to race, color, alienage, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, religion, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law.
With respect to students with disabilities, Slate School is not generally equipped to provide individualized educational programming for students with severe physical, cognitive, or mental disabilities. However, the School complies with applicable federal and state laws and shall provide reasonable accommodations in accordance with its obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Accordingly, the School shall conduct an individualized assessment to determine whether it can reasonably provide accommodations without bearing an undue burden or fundamentally altering its program. Importantly, reasonable accommodations shall not require a fundamental alteration of Slate’s academic standards or program.
Slate School believes that a clear understanding of developmentally-appropriate expectations for student growth are the best guides for measuring student achievement. Slate School has therefore created thoroughly researched and vertically aligned expectations for all academic areas of study. Academic, social, and emotional goals have been developed to help the student, educator, and family to reflect and support the learning, creating an optimal environment for growth.
Slate School believes that the social curriculum is as important to student success as the academic curriculum. We utilize the Responsive Classroom approach as a framework, but we make use of a wide variety of resources to provide children with a rich social experience.
Literacy instruction is the joyful foundation for most areas of study at Slate School. Students participate daily in Readers and Writers Workshop, and they engage in direct instruction in decoding and making meaning from written and spoken language. Students have daily shared experiences in reading, writing and listening to great literature.
Mathematics is a language that provides a unique capability for understanding our world, and instruction follows a workshop model. Discreet skills are taught in response to the teachers’ observation of student work. Students then have an opportunity for guided practice and are encouraged to engage in independent practical application. During this time, teachers confer one-on-one with students, work to remediate misconceptions in small groups, and concurrently offer material for extension and deeper understanding.
Science is all around us at Slate School. Students have ongoing independent studies, take part in investigations in small groups, and also learn when appropriate in whole class groupings. The environment is the master teacher, and hours are spent exploring, investigating, understanding, caring for, and connecting with our surroundings.
Social Studies embraces the study of culture and history, and the youngest students begin with a study of their family and local community. Through the Global Studies curriculum, all Slate School students are immersed in learning about the diversity of the world’s people and cultures. Each year, Slate School students choose a continent to discover and dive into deeply. Each classroom chooses a country of focus, and each child selects their own topic to study, which may range from architecture and cuisine to language or animals. The Global Studies unit culminates in a Museum Night, in which students serve as docents to teach each other and their families through presentations that they create from their own wonderings.
World Languages are encouraged and taught at Slate School through both immersion and direct instruction. Spanish is integrated throughout the curriculum, including reading books in Spanish, singing songs, and eating lunch and holding Morning Circle in Spanish once per week.
Visual Arts are embedded in the work of the class as a whole, and for each student, as they identify the artistic language that best suits their expression of learning. Direct instruction involves artistic tools and skills for student experimentation, and independent practice and expression are always available and encouraged as ways to respond to literature, capture beauty, share understanding, and explore color, line, or the art of others.
Music lives in our classrooms. It is explored at play and as a study of rhythm, tone, tempo, dynamics and mood. The children are immersed in music through singing, transitioning, teaching, expressing our learning, as well as sharing our joy, sadness, calm, and excitement.
Student Progress and Reporting
Progress reports are issued two times per year, and parent-teacher conferences are scheduled twice per year. Slate School measures a student’s growth according to their own performance and progress, and using developmentally appropriate grade level expectations.
Slate School’s teachers provide specific narrative comments on progress reports in order to provide a more detailed assessment of a student’s performance, attitude, and behavior in all subject areas.
At Slate School, we recognize and value individual learners, knowing that children develop skills and progress at different rates at their own time. In the event that there are concerns that a student may not be meeting appropriate age-based or grade-level expectations, the School will work with the family and the child’s teachers to identify interventions or other means of supporting the student within our school community. If a student is not able to achieve skills or developmental milestones needed to advance grades, even with such supports, the School may require that a student remain in his/her current grade placement for another year to allow additional opportunity for growth, mastery, and development.
Personalized support is a defining characteristic of the academic program at Slate School, which begins with small class sizes that allow teachers to pay closer attention to their individual students. Slate School’s teachers work to meet the varied needs of the children in their class. There may be times, however, when a student may need additional support to meet their needs and/or the academic expectations of the School. In such circumstances, Slate School will collaborate with a student’s family to determine if additional supports and/or resources may be available. In the rare circumstance that Slate School is not able to meet the child’s needs, despite the best efforts of the school and the family, the student may be required to withdraw, and the school will assist the family in transitioning to another educational program more suitable for the student. For information about additional academic support, please contact the Head of School.
The Slate School is not a special education school and is not generally equipped to provide individualized educational programs for students with significant disabilities. The School does, however, comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and will make reasonable accommodations for students with identified disabilities in order to assist in meeting the academic and behavioral expectations of the School. This is an interactive process, and any parent who believes their child may be in need of such accommodations should contact the Head of School.
Attending school on a daily basis is essential for all children. Slate School expects that families will be diligent about ensuring their child’s prompt and regular attendance. Families that know in advance that their child will be absent should report the absence by 9:00a.m. by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Absences may be either excused or unexcused, as determined by the School. Reasons for excused absences include illness; medical appointments; funerals; religious observances; special family occasions; and certain extra-curricular commitments. In order for an absence to be excused, it must be verified by a parent/guardian with a call or email. For absences longer than three consecutive school days, additional information, such as a doctor’s note, may be required. Absences will be considered unexcused if they are for purposes of extended school vacations or other avoidable absences, or are not accompanied with appropriate verification from a parent or guardian. Extended absences, and absences for reasons other than those previously specified, need to be well considered and provisions put in place to maintain student success.
As with attendance, punctuality is an extremely important habit for students to develop. It is essential for students to arrive to school on time, so that they can be ready and prepared to start their day and to avoid any disruption to the day’s events. Any student who arrives after 9:10a.m. is considered tardy. Slate School will work with families to notify them of attendance or lateness concerns that affect the School’s ability to work effectively with a student or the class as a whole.
If a student does not enroll at Slate School for an academic year and wishes to return to attend Slate School, the student is required to reapply for admission.
Homework and Field Trips
Homework, or “out-of-class work,” plays an important role in a student’s academic experience at Slate School. Namely, it strengthens creative learning, expands upon concepts and discoveries from the classroom, and helps students develop the habits of mind of scholars as the foundation for a lifetime love of learning.
At Slate School, homework is intentional, meaningful, and joyful. Each student is expected to share their day by reading the Daily Buzz with their families. This practice serves the dual purpose of keeping families informed and engaged in the daily learning, while also providing the student with an important opportunity to synthesize and describe their experiences. Students are also encouraged to continue their research and discovery about their chosen projects beyond the school day. We encourage families to nurture the interests of their children whenever possible and practical.
Additionally, in order to promote the joy of literacy, students in all grades are urged to engage with books for at least 30 minutes at home. Students may be read to, or they may read to others or to themselves.
During the school year, Slate School’s teachers may elect to expand learning beyond the classroom walls by taking field trips related to our curriculum. In such instances, transportation will typically be provided by the School unless otherwise noted on the trip’s permission form. Parents must provide safety seats for any child whose weight is 40 pounds or under. A permission form will be sent home prior to each field trip listing specific information, including purpose, place, time, cost, and transportation needs for families.
Slate School’s Book Policy
The book policy at Slate School is in harmony with our mission of purposeful kindness. To that end, we are careful and determined not to introduce any child to the unkindness of the world before they encounter it themselves. Quality fiction is abundant, and its power to heal and teach is infinite. However, one child's healing is another child's introduction to the possibility of unkindness in the world. It becomes the responsibility of the educator, in constant collaboration with parents and vigilant observation of children, who must decide when and what book is appropriate. It is for this reason that we strongly encourage families to consider choosing books reviewed for their kindness, quality, and responsible messaging as well. Parents should also use their discretion to edit and amend stories to eliminate unnecessary instances of unkindness whenever possible. Even more seductive are the characters brought to life on the screen, and these require extra vigilance, as their impact is felt nearly immediately in the behaviors of children.
Use of Screens and Devices
Children learn best through experience and through the sharing of play and discovery with others. The world is full of amazing wonders, and children are astute learners. We strongly recommend that school aged children therefore have many experiences exploring their world in hands-on-play. We also recognize the value of screen time as a window to wonder. For example, there are no words that can adequately express the artful movement of a cheetah running across the savannah. These screen experiences should be limited, however, to brief non-fiction nature programs and fully-vetted, child-appropriate fictional programming. There is evidence that children who encounter images and narratives that introduce them to the unkindness of the world before they are developmentally able to understand the gray areas of more mature themes demonstrate behaviors commonly associated with trauma. We urge all parents to read this article about “Too Much Too Soon.”
Slate School’s child-centered values provide the foundation for our shared expectations for behavior and respect for others. To this end, the School expects that students will engage in safe behaviors and demonstrate respect toward others, treating everyone in our school community with kindness and compassion. We encourage empathy and the recognition of diversity, while reinforcing the need to care properly for our physical surroundings and for one another.
Slate School will not permit any behavior that is harmful or dangerous to others or that demonstrates dishonesty or disrespect. Students are expected to follow teacher instruction, particularly in outside areas where it is important to remain within expected school boundaries when engaging in supervised exploration of our outdoor space. We expect families and all adults in our community to provide positive reinforcement for appropriate behavior, and we expect that parents and guardians will support school decisions regarding behavioral interventions in a respectful and collaborative way.
Behavior that violates or otherwise fails to meet our guidelines and expectations will be addressed using a variety of educational and behavioral responses, with the cooperation of parents and guardians as may be needed. If a student is unable to follow our guidelines, even with these interventions, they may be subject to dismissal from Slate School.
Slate School’s behavioral guidelines apply at all times during a child’s enrollment and extend to all school-related activities, whether on or off campus. If a student’s behavior away from school significantly impacts our school community, is harmful to peers, or is contrary to the mission of our school, the school reserves the right to impose conditions for continued attendance and/or to take appropriate disciplinary action as may be needed under the circumstances.
Appropriate dress and grooming are important factors in reflecting a positive image in the school community, maintaining a healthy campus, and helping contribute to a distraction-free learning environment. As such, each student must adhere to the following:
Students should wear comfortable, well-fitting clothes that provide full coverage of the torso. All clothing should be free of printed pictures and text. For example, clothing should avoid pictures of TV and other characters, super heroes, princesses, etc. Skirts may be worn, but pants will need to be worn under them when students go outside. Please see the note below regarding essential outdoor wear. Indoor shoes will be kept at school and worn in the classroom. These shoes should be comfortable and flexible with some support so that children can engage in a wide variety of activities, including yoga and dance.
Water activities, sand play, and occasional bathroom accidents necessitate that an extra set of clothing be kept at the School, and this is especially necessary for our K-2 friends. All extra clothing should be labeled with the child’s name. If wet or dry clothes are sent home, please return a clean set of clothes the next school day.
Children typically go outdoors daily, and should be dressed accordingly. Since the School is located in a wooded area where insects and insect-borne diseases are possible, we strongly encourage parents to take reasonable precautions by sending their child with outerwear that can limit exposure and by being vigilant in inspecting their children upon arrival at home. Children should have long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and tall socks during all times of year. In lieu of sunscreen, students should wear long clothing and sun hats. Once the weather turns cold, warm hats, mittens and appropriately warm footwear are essential. You might consider under layers of wool or silk for cold weather. Consistent with our school philosophy and mission, if parents would like to apply insect repellant, we require that parents apply only environmentally-friendly insect repellants for use with any outside play or activity. The children and the environment should not be exposed to synthetic pesticide-based insect repellants. In consideration of allergies, if a child intends to wear an environmentally-friendly insect repellant to school, the name and ingredients should be submitted in advance for review by Slate School's nurse.
Students should seasonally keep at school their rain gear, including a coat, hat, and rain boots. During winter months, they should have snow boots, a snow jacket and pants, hat, and mittens.
Please have available at school each day:
Inside shoes which are well fitted. For example, this is a good resource: https://www.softstarshoes.com/kids-shoes/classroom.html
Outside shoes which have closed toes and backs.
Two changes of clothing: socks, underwear, pants, shirts. Please include the child’s name on the clothing.
Raincoat and rain boots.
Sun hat for warm months, as well as warm hats, mittens, and warm footwear during cold months.
Children are inherently generous and will often enjoy the giving of gifts to classmates. We encourage this generosity, but within these parameters:
Gifts should be handmade by the child.
Colors should be random and not indicative of gender stereotypes.
Gifts in general should be shared with a classroom teacher in advance, as we have high standards for materials for the purpose of keeping our environment safe for all.
Children should refrain from giving gifts unless they can give to all students.
Birthdays are a wonderful reason for celebration. In school, children’s birthdays are celebrated with a family member reading a book of the child’s choice from our school library to the entire class. Additionally, children enjoy singing to the birthday child.
Birthday parties for children outside of school can be a lot of fun. Please consider inviting all of your child’s classmates, or in the event that this is impossible, keeping birthday invitations outside of the classroom. As you might imagine, the uninvited children can feel left out if the celebration is repeatedly referenced during the course of the days before or after. This is a great opportunity to help your child grow in empathy for others.
The School generally does not permit students to bring or use personal electronic devices such as cell phones, iPads, smart watches, or other electronic devices to school. In the event parents or guardians believe it is necessary for a student to have such a device at school, they must obtain specific permission from the Head of School, and the device must be turned off during the school day and not be a distraction to the student or others.
Computer, Internet, and Technology Use
At Slate School, technology is utilized in a limited and responsible manner. While the teachers have access to a computer and projector for any necessary demonstrations or learning needs, the children do not utilize laptops or mobile devices at school. We believe that learning is best achieved through hands-on, collaborative experiences. Teachers can apply technology when appropriate and necessary, but the vast majority of learning is best achieved without screens and digital devices.
Slate School provides computers, equipment, services, and Internet access in furtherance of our curriculum and educational goals. Use of technology within our classrooms for these purposes is extremely limited and will be monitored; students will be supervised as appropriate, according to their age and the nature of the activity. However, it remains the expectation of our school that students will continue to follow our behavioral guidelines in the use and care of the School’s technology. The expectation for acceptable use of technology extends off campus and students and their families are asked to avoid use of the internet, the School’s network, or social media, in any manner that would negatively impact our school community.
All users of the School’s network, including faculty, parents and students, must be aware that they should not have any expectation of privacy in any communication, post, or other use of the School’s technology or network. The School expressly reserves the right to monitor our computers, network and related services, and any violations of school rules may result in restrictions on the use of such systems and/or discipline if warranted.
Healthcare and Policies
Slate School has access to the services of a licensed school nurse during school hours for treatment of minor student ailments and illness, though the nurse is not always available on campus. Slate School additionally has an on-staff school nurse who is off-site and available by phone. Any student experiencing an injury or illness during the school day will be attended to by the the Head of School, who is trained in emergency medical response, including CPR, Epi-Pen, and medication administration. Consultation is available with the on-staff nurse as medically necessary. Parents of any student who has a medical condition that requires medication during the school day or who has a need for the routine assistance of a nurse should contact the Head of School to discuss student specific needs and accommodations.
Immunizations and Medical Forms
Students are required to have all medical forms completed prior to the start of the school year. All students are required to have a current physical on file and to provide any documentation required by law related to immunizations and/or health screenings. State law requires that all students be protected by adequate immunizations for certain illnesses, unless specifically exempted by Medical Exemption or Religious Exemption under the law. Any parent with questions regarding required medical information or immunizations should contact the Head of School.
Slate School values hand washing as an effective tool to stop the spread of disease. Therefore, children wash hands with environmentally-friendly soap several times each day.
Slate School asks that parents recognize the signs and symptoms of illness that warrant keeping a child at home, and support teachers when the decision is made to send an ill child home. If your child will be absent, please email the Head of School by 9:00a.m.
Any of the following conditions would prevent your child from attending school, or would warrant Slate sending your child home. It is our expectation that the child will remain home until they have recovered sufficiently to return to full activity at school.
Fever: Over 100° orally. Child may return 24 hours after temperature has returned to normal without the use of fever-reducing medication.
Diarrhea: Loose, watery stools. Watch for malaise, irritability and poor appetite. Child may return once bowel movements have returned to normal.
Vomiting: Be aware, if accompanied by fever and/or lethargy. Child may return 24 hours after last vomiting episode.
Streptococcal or other Bacterial Infections: Attendance is determined after throat culture results. Child may return 24 hours after they have started antibiotics.
Conjunctivitis: Highly contagious eye infection showing reddening inside eyelid (pink eye or thick discharge). Child may return after 24 hours of treatment with topical antibiotics.
Impetigo: Blisters on the skin forming honey-colored crusts. Child may return after 24 hours of oral or topical antibiotics. All draining lesions must be covered to prevent cross infection.
Pediculosis (Head Lice): Return is dependent on treatment and subsequent check. The child must be examined and cleared by school nurse prior to returning.
Chicken Pox: Calls for strict isolation until all vesicles and most of the scabs disappear (usually one to two weeks after onset of rash.)
Note: The above list is not exhaustive. There may be other illnesses or conditions that may require that your child stay home from school or be picked up during the school day. Please note that these policies are strictly enforced for the health and safety of all children.
Medications should NOT be administered during school hours if it is possible for them to be taken before or after school at home. Students who must take medication prescribed by a physician during school hours or during school activities must have an Authorization for Medications Form completed by a physician. Forms are available online in your student portal. Parents must bring in prescribed medications in original containers, which will be stored and dispensed by the designated member of the School’s faculty and/or staff in accordance with applicable requirements. Over-the-counter medications may be dispensed by the School only when: 1) parents have their child’s physician complete the Authorization for Medications Form; and 2) parents supply the medication in the original container with the student’s name written on it. Parents of any student who has an allergy or requires use of an Epi Pen or inhaler should notify the Head of School and provide the School with an updated Allergy Action Plan or equivalent to assist in the development of any protocols for emergency care.
Bullying and Harassment
Slate School strives to provide a safe and positive learning environment for all of our students. Therefore, bullying or harassment in any form will not be tolerated within the school community. This policy applies to all students, faculty, staff, parents, trustees and visitors to our School.
For purposes of this policy, bullying is defined as subjecting a student to repeated abuse, harassment, or ridicule that causes physical or emotional harm or a reasonable fear of harm and may include damage to property or disruption to the school community. Bullying can be physical or verbal. Bullying may also include inappropriate use of social media or other electronic communications.
For purposes of this policy, harassment (including sexual harassment) consists of verbal, written, graphic, or physical conduct denigrating to an individual’s race, color, national origin, alienage, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or any other characteristics protected by applicable law when such conduct/harassment:
1. is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it affects, denies or limits an individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity, or creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment;
2. has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic performance; or
3. otherwise adversely affects an individual’s learning opportunities.
Harassment as set forth above may include, but is not limited to:
verbal, physical, or written intimidation or abuse;
repeated remarks of a demeaning or condescending nature; or
repeated demeaning jokes, stories, or activities directed at the individual.
Engaging in behavior considered to be bullying or harassment, particularly if such behavior is based upon protected characteristics such as race, color, national origin, or religion, is a most serious offense, and may result in behavioral or other interventions, including dismissal from the School.
Sexual Harassment and Inappropriate Sexual Behavior
All members of our school community are expected to do their part to promote a healthy learning and working environment that is free from sexual or other forms of harassment. Sexual harassment will not be tolerated in our school community. Any member of the Slate community (e.g., faculty, staff, student, trustee, volunteer, parent, visitor) who harasses another member of the community through unwanted conduct or communications of a sexual nature shall be in violation of this policy as defined below.
For purposes of this policy, sexual harassment is unwelcomed, verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual in nature when:
1. submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of a student’s academic status;
2. submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for academic decisions affecting the student; or
3. such conduct denies or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s programs; or
4. such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with the student’s school performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment.
Sexual harassment is not social or courting behavior. It is uninvited and unwanted, and is best seen as an assertion of power. Sexual harassment can be verbal, nonverbal or physical and may include harassment based on sexual orientation. Examples of sexual conduct may include, but are not limited to:
suggestive or lewd remarks about a person’s clothing, body, sexual activity, or sexual orientation;
unwanted touching of a sexual nature;
telling sexual or dirty jokes;
inappropriate personal questions of a sexual nature;
spreading sexual rumors;
circulating or showing emails or websites of a sexual nature; or
displaying or distributing sexually explicit, offensive or demeaning drawings, pictures, written, video or audio materials.
In addition to harassment, the school also prohibits any sexual behavior or conduct that is inappropriate given the ages of the student(s) involved and nature of the activity, regardless of consent.
Any incident involving sexual harassment, or any inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature, should be reported to the Head of School, and may lead to discipline, including dismissal from the School.
Parents and families play an integral role in supporting their child’s love of learning and growth. For this reason, Slate School encourages parent involvement and engagement. Although there is no official requirement for parent and family involvement in Slate School, our community-minded philosophy encourages as much involvement as desired by each family. We welcome parents to participate in whatever way they feel most comfortable at any point of the school day. The sharing of family traditions and learning experiences only enhances the holistic educational culture of the students and school community.
Due to the limitations of space in our classrooms, we can only accommodate one volunteer in the classroom at a time. Sign up for a one-hour slot at least one day in advance of participation. Other opportunities to volunteer at Slate School abound, including helping in the garden and the library, among others.
We ask that parents and visitors model good etiquette by refraining from cell phone use and personal parent-to-parent conversation while in the classrooms.