Family Handbook

Mission & Vision

Cultivating the Head, Heart and Hand.

Syringa Mountain School offers education guided by the Core Principles of Public Waldorf Education. With a focus on liberal arts and arts-integrated education, we also incorporate sustainable living practices and experiential learning in a K-6 public school setting. Each child will impart meaning and direction to their lives, through cultivating their intellectual, physical, emotional, social and creative capacities in natural learning environments. Through a supportive community of peers, parents and teachers, each child will become a confident, self- directed and engaged learner, invested in his/her own education.

Syringa Mountain School provides a rigorous integrated educational program through a whole- child approach to learning. By integrating traditional Waldorf methods and curriculum with the Idaho State Standards, children will emerge from Syringa Mountain School with a life-long passion for learning, well prepared for the transition into other academic programs, as creative thinkers, engaged citizens with a strong work ethic, and prepared to become stewards of the earth and its many diverse communities.

Syringa Mountain School embraces the key aspects of the local sustainability movement, providing students and their families with an increased connection to their local environment. By utilizing the rich community resources of Blaine County, and through ongoing cultivation and development of the school’s garden and farm, all children will be enabled to deepen their connection with the earth, self and community.

Educational Philosophy

“I believe that Waldorf education possesses unique educational features that have considerable potential for improving public education in America… Waldorf schools provide a program that…not only fosters conventional forms of academic achievement, but also puts a premium on the development of imagination and the refinement of the sensibilities.”—Elliot Eisner, Professor of Education at Stanford University and former President, American Association for Educational Research

Syringa Mountain School’s curriculum places equal emphasis on a strong academic foundation, artistic expression, social development, and attention to the needs of each child. Waldorf education engages a child’s intellect, imagination, will and sense of aesthetics. How a subject is taught is equally important as what is taught, hence the use of movement and arts in the curriculum. The research‐based, time‐tested pedagogical methods designed by Dr. Rudolf Steiner are at the heart of this mode of education. Waldorf methods inspire student volition, inquisition, and creativity because classroom activities involve three key areas—the head (thinking), the heart (feeling) and the hands (willing).

An educated Syringa Mountain Student will demonstrate:

Reverence and Stewardship

A sense of reverence empowers students with the ability to develop an understanding and appreciation for the interdependence of all life. Students with a strong sense of reverence reflect this knowledge through conscientious respectful actions involving themselves, other people, and the world around them. They have appreciation for truth, beauty and the world. They connect with others. They are compassionate, communicative, grateful, and strive to build interdependent relationships, which positively impact the world.

Creative and Imaginative Thinking

Creative and imaginative thinking empowers students with the ability to think unconventionally, to question assumptions, and to imagine new scenarios. Imaginative thinkers craft astonishing work because they recognize their creative capacities and celebrate them through a variety of artistic mediums. They also act on opportunities and show willingness to take reasonable risk.

Critical Thinking and Good Judgment

Critical thinking and sound decision-making empower students with the ability to assess the credibility, accuracy, and value of the information that barrages them every day. Critical thinkers and wise decision-makers analyze and evaluate information while still honoring their intuitive capacities. They think through solutions and alternatives and explore new options if their approaches don’t work. This often entails working well with diverse peoples to make reasoned, ethical decisions and take purposeful action.

Literacy

Literacy empowers students with the ability to read, write, listen and articulate in compelling ways. Literacy goes beyond the traditional meaning to also include people who are mathematically competent, scientifically and technologically adept. They develop their creative and physical abilities as well.

Responsibility and Self-Reliance

A strong sense of responsibility empowers students with the ability to be vital, disciplined, and hard-working individuals. Responsible people take initiative, self-regulate, and are fully accountable for their own actions. They honor their capacities and have a can-do attitude. They follow-through on commitments and honor their word.

Life Long Learning

Students in the 21st century must be joyful, confident, self- motivated, aware, inquisitive, resourceful, and persistent people if they are to know how to best learn and therefore thrive in an ever-changing world.

Chain of Communication

Chain of Communication
We believe in compassionate and clear communication that is transparent. Communication is a critical part of creating trusting, caring, and effective relationships together and in creating a supportive educational environment for our students. The accompanying communication chart is intended to guide communication when an issue arises that requires resolution or when, in effect, free and uninhibited communication is in danger of being interrupted. Our experience has been that when such issues do arise, they are most effectively resolved by following the “Chain of Communication” represented by the chart.

If a student experiences a problem or faces an issue that he or she believes requires resolution, the first point of contact should be that student’s teacher. If the problem remains unresolved, then the issue is to be taken to the Director of School. It is vital for every student to understand that he or she should always feel free to speak with any member of the faculty or administration concerning a problem.

If a parent or a teacher has an issue that he or she believes requires resolution, the same “Chain of Communication” should be followed. It is particu­larly important for parents to go first to the teacher involved, although the Director of School and Board Chair is also always available. The Director of School will make final decisions concerning curriculum, school operations, and administrative issues. The Board is responsible for major school policies.

Communication is—by definition—a mutual and dynamic process. Good communication does not always result in agreement. The “Chain of Communication” ensures that everyone who wishes to speak will be heard.  It is inevitable that some who are heard will not hear, in return, the answer they wish to hear. That too is a circumstance vital to healthy communication.

Ultimately, if all members of the school community communicate directly and responsibly, it will be rare for an issue to reach the bottom line of the chart. More importantly, responsible and direct communication will guarantee a healthy school environment.

School Calendar

The school calendar is maintained on the website.  You can access the school calendar any time by going to the school website and clicking on the “Calendar” button.

Daily Schedule

Start Time Dismissal Time After School Care
Kindergarten 8:00 a.m. 12:20pm 12:30pm – 2:45pm
1st – 6th Grades 8:00 a.m. 2:45 p.m. N/A

Contact Information

Faculty and Staff contact information is maintained on the website.  You can access the contact list on by going to the school website and clicking on the “Faculty/Staff” button.

Main Office

Position Name Phone Email
Office Manager Christi Thompson 208-806-2880 cthompson@syringamountainschool.org
Director of School Nigel Whittington 208-806-2880 nwhittington@syringamountainschool.org

Syringa Mountain School Board of Directors

Position Name Phone Email
Chair Randy Flood
Treasurer Tenaya Kolar
Secretary Angie Hunter
At Large Sandy Viau
At Large Racheal Arndt
At Large
At Large Amy Jonas
Teacher Liaison Amy Schlatter

Our Organization

School Organization

Syringa Mountain School is a free, public charter school authorized by the State Charter School Commission. The authorizer has provided the authority to operate as a charter school within the district boundaries. The authorizer provides oversight, ensuring the tenets of the charter are adhered to.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors is responsible for ensuring that the school’s practices are consistent with the vision and mission of the school. It approves all personnel, financial/budget, curriculum, instruction, calendar and policy and procedures for the school. The Board ratifies the annual budget. A copy of the Board of Directors Bylaws, meeting agendas and minutes are posted on the school website.

Staff Council

The Staff Council delivers the educational program. The Staff Council meets regularly to discuss important instructional issues. The Staff Council also assumes a wide range of roles to support school and student success. Whether these roles are assigned formally or shared informally, they build the entire school’s capacity to improve.

Parent Association

The Syringa Mountain School Parent Association serves as an essential support group formed by family members. The Parent Association upholds the mission and vision, promotes the school’s educational program, contributes to the physical maintenance of the school, conducts fundraising efforts, coordinates volunteers for festivals and events, and generally provides support to families. All parents/guardians are encouraged to attend and participate in Parent Association Meetings. Parent Association information is available on the school website.

Classroom Lead

Each class has at least one Room Lead Parent. They provide support and facilitate communication at all levels for the classroom teacher and families. They provide direct teacher and classroom support; such as organizing field trips, room volunteers, class meetings, play performances, and class projects. They create and maintain a classroom contact list. They coordinate the class parents to assist the teacher on class projects, plays, field trips, and festivals. They assist the teacher in keeping the class parents apprised of news and events. They inspire and encourage participation in community and school-wide events. 

School Policies

Attendance

Students are expected to be at school and in class on time. Any student arriving late to school or late to a class will be marked as tardy. The school believes that consistent attendance best supports student learning.

However, we also understand the occasional necessity for absences. The school should always be notified by e-mail () or by phone (208-806-2880) of any student absence. The school believes that absences of greater than ten (10) percent of the days in any term will have a significant negative impact on a student’s education.

The school recognizes the difference between excused, acknowledged, and unexcused absences. Planned absences will require the submission of an Excused Absence Form for approval by the Director of School. Students or their parents should notify teachers, and all groups with whom they are working, by email at least one week in advance of their upcoming absence. Students should connect with teachers upon return from any absence.

Excused Absences

Excused absences are absences from school that cannot be avoided. They may result from illness, athletic competitions, or school-sanctioned field trips. In the event that these absences can be anticipated, students should communicate in advance with their teachers and the Secretary of School.

Students who are ill, but still able to work at home, should obtain work from their fellow students or by contacting their teachers. Upon return to school after an illness or excused absence, students should schedule an appointment with their teachers to make sure that all assignments are understood and that a timetable for completion of work is agreed upon. Teachers will endeavor to assist students as best they can to learn missed material but will not be required to re-teach entire classes/units. Students will be expected to make up work expeditiously.

Students that exceed the ten (10) percent of the excused absences, may be required to participate in a disciplinary committee meeting.

Acknowledged Absences

Acknowledged absences from school can be anticipated and involve some degree of choice on the part of the student and his or her family. Examples of acknowledged absences are family trips for vacations and some medical appointments.

One week before missing school for an acknowledged absence, students must report their intention to the Director of School, obtain and complete a Planned Absence Form by receiving the course work to be completed, due dates, and signatures from his or her advisor, classroom teachers, and the Division Head. Teachers will apprise students of the work they will need to complete while they are absent. Teachers are not obligated to teach material that students have missed as a result of an acknowledged absence.

Unexcused Tardies

Five (5) or more tardies in a term will result in mandatory work hours. Ten (10) or more tardies in one term may result in a disciplinary committee meeting. If a child is late, the child must first get a late pass from the school office before the child goes to class. It is imperative to knock and please wait for a teacher to respond. This may take a few minutes if the class is in the middle of an activity. Parents must notify the front office the same day as the tardy the reason for the tardy.  The parent may come to the attendance office, e-mail, text or phone.

Early Dismissal

When a parent or guardian plans to pick a child up early, they need to send a notice at the beginning of the school day to the teacher. Students may go on walking field trips and the student may not be on campus unless the teacher is notified prior to leaving. Parents must pick up the child at the front office (not the classroom) and sign out the student.

Truancy

Failing to attend classes or class activities are examples of unexcused absences.  Unexcused absences will result in disciplinary consequences. All students are required to be in attendance at school at least ninety (90) percent of the time for each formal grading period. This is equal to sixteen (16) school days per year. Multiple unexcused absences may result in a disciplinary committee meeting.

Appointments

Appointments for students should be scheduled outside of school hours, whenever possible. If an appointment (doctor, dentist, physical therapist, etc.) must be scheduled during school hours, parents should send an e-mail to the teacher ahead of time. A student will not be permitted to leave school without the student’s parent, a note, or prior arrangement. Any student who leaves school during the day must sign out at the Front Office, and sign back in upon return.

Visitors

Students who wish to bring a visitor to school must request permission from the Director of School at least one day before the visit. The student should introduce the guest to his/her teachers at the beginning of each class.

Disciplinary Policy

We recognize that children will make mistakes, and, at times, their behavior will fail to meet the Accountability Expectations of Syringa Mountain School. The school makes every attempt to respond to mistakes as opportunities for student growth.

Students are expected to be accountable for their words and actions. Students are also expected to accept responsibility for their actions, accept the consequences of their actions, and refrain from engaging in inappropriate conduct in the future. Staff and faculty must handle such situations in a fair manner that corresponds to the severity of the behavior and the subsequent conduct of the student in question. Parents, and other members of the school community, are expected to support, or at the very least, accept the consequences of student’s inappropriate behavior. In some cases, students will be required to participate in the Disciplinary Committee Process.

Social Misconduct Policy

Social misconduct is defined as conduct or behavior that violates any school rule or policy or that may physically or emotionally damage any person, or the general welfare or educational environment of the school. In addition, the school expects all students to be honest in their relationships with the faculty, the administration, and with one another. Social misconduct can include a wide range of behaviors, including, but not limited to:

Examples of conduct that may physically or emotionally damage a person include:

  • Physical or emotional bullying, including “hazing”
  • Abusive language, including excessive profanity
  • Sending abusive notes or electronic messages to harass or intimidate
  • Racial, ethnic, or religious harassment
  • Sexual harassment

Examples of conduct that may damage property include:

  • Vandalizing the school or its property
  • Stealing or intentionally damaging another’s property

Examples of violations of school rules or policies include:

  • Violating other significant school rules related to academic honesty, facilities use, responsibility, and/or safety that have been communicated to students orally or in writing
  • Engaging in acts of academic dishonesty or lying to a member of the faculty or administration.

Shared Accountability

When a parent is on site with their child, they are responsible for their child’s safety.

Here at Syringa Mountain School, we adults are united in our love and care for the children. Here are some ways to stay involved

  • Read email updates from the office as well as our school newsletter
  • Attend a parent evening hosted by your child’s teacher
  • Attend a Parent Association meeting
  • Become involved in directly supporting your child and your child’s teacher

The most essential form of parent participation starts with supporting your child to be a successful student.   This includes making sure he or she gets plenty of sleep, arrives to school regularly and on time, comes with a healthful lunch and completes homework (where age appropriate).

Lunch, Snacks AND Food Allergies

Please make sure your child has an adequate breakfast at home. Kindergarten students only need to bring a hearty snack on Fridays (hike day). We will provide a hearty, organic mid-morning snack Monday –Thursday. Kindergarten children participating in the aftercare program must also bring a lunch.

All grade students need to bring a mid-morning snack. Send wholesome ingredients such as fruits and vegetables, and as little sugar as possible. No gum, candy, soda, fruit juices or unhealthy foods.

We offer a wonderful farm to school lunch option that also incorporates harvested foods from our very own garden! You can sign up for a hot school lunch for your child on our website. Otherwise, students need to bring lunch from home. Healthful sandwiches, warm pasta or rice, legume dishes, or any wholesome, healthful carbohydrate-rich fare is a boon for your child’s developing body at lunchtime. The young child, especially, benefits greatly from a lunch kept warm in a Thermos.

Help us in our effort to reduce waste by sending snacks and lunches in reusable containers with reusable utensils in lunch boxes void of media or commercial images. Our students typically eat in their classrooms. Some of our students have food allergies therefore we discourage sharing of foods.  Your child’s teacher will notify you if there are any food restrictions in the classroom to ensure all of our students are safe while at school.

Safe School Zone

Syringa Mountain School is a drug and weapon free campus. The school is committed to support the health and welfare of its students, whether on or off campus. There will be no possession or use of tobacco products, alcohol, or the illicit use of other drugs by any adult member of the school community (board members, faculty, staff, students, parents, or other participating individuals).

Medicine & Medical Conditions

Parents have the primary responsibility for their child’s health and should provide the school with information about their child’s medical condition. Parents should obtain details from their child’s General Practitioner (GP) or pediatrician, if needed. Parents should provide the teacher and administration with full information about their child’s medical needs. Any medicines, even non-prescription medications needed by the child must be accompanied by written directions from the child’s doctor.

Prescribed Medicines

The School will only store, supervise and administer medicine that has been prescribed for an individual child by a doctor. Medicines will be stored strictly in accordance with product instructions and in the original container in which dispensed. Parents should ensure that the supplied container is clearly labeled with the name of the child, the name and dose of the medicine and the frequency of administration. Medicines must be in the original container as dispensed by a pharmacist in accordance with the prescriber’s instructions.

Emergency Procedures for individual students

In the event of a health emergency, procedures listed on your medical waiver will be consulted and every effort will be made to contact a parent so that they may accompany their child to the hospital. If a parent is unable to get to school, a member of staff might accompany a child taken to hospital by ambulance. Health professionals are responsible for any decisions on medical treatment when parents are not available.

Allergy Policy

A life-threatening allergy is considered an allergy that can lead to anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an immune system response that can cause the throat to swell shut or blood pressure to drop, leading to a heart attack. The only way to avoid an anaphylactic attack is to avoid the food that causes the reaction. Parents of children with life threatening allergies must meet with their child’s teacher, the school director in order to develop an emergency action plan. A 504 plan is strongly recommended. Children with severe allergies need to have epinephrine (EpiPen) available at all times. All staff will be trained to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis and to administer EpiPens.

Classrooms at SMS that have students who have been identified with life-threatening allergies may maintain an allergen free zone. The school will inform you if there are any food restrictions in your child’s classroom. Children with severe allergies are also instructed not to trade food. Furthermore, all food brought to school for celebrations may need to be allergen free and clearly labeled as such.

Procedures for Action in Case of Misconduct

Cases of misconduct will be resolved either by the teacher or Director of School. The Director of School will notify the student’s parents as soon as possible, and the student, his or her parent(s), and the Director will meet to discuss the violation. The Director of School may discuss the case with others he or she believes can assist in making a decision concerning how to resolve the issue.

If, in the conclusion of the Director of School, the misconduct in question may result in suspension or expulsion, the Director of School will refer the student to the Discipline Committee for review. Only the Discipline Committee, in concert with the Director of School can impose suspension or expulsion.

The Director of School has the discretion to impose up to a two day “Disciplinary Leave” in cases that are not referred to the Discipline Committee. The Leave will not be considered an official suspension.

The Discipline Committee is comprised of a minimum of three members:

  • The Director of School
  • Two members of the faculty or staff (the Director of School may, at his or her discretion, invite a member of the wider community who is not employed by the School to serve on the Committee.)

A member of the faculty or staff may be chosen by the student to guide him or her through the process. This person will be present during the Committee’s deliberations regarding the student’s conduct, but will not participate in the imposition of disciplinary consequences. In the event that the student selects the Director of School who would normally serve on the Committee, another faculty or staff member will replace him or her on the Committee.

In case of a referral to the Discipline Committee, the Committee will meet at the earliest reasonable time. The student’s parents are entitled to be present with their child at the meeting of the Discipline Committee, but may not represent their child. The Committee may request others to provide information at the meeting.

The Discipline Committee will, at the conclusion of its meeting with the student, deliberate in closed session (with only Committee members and the student’s faculty representative) to determine if a student has engaged in misconduct, and if so, to decide what consequence to impose. The Committee may recommend sanctions including, but not limited to, verbal warnings, written warnings, exclusion from various school events, mandatory community service, probation with or without conditions, mandatory referral to a counseling program, suspension with or without conditions, or expulsion. The Committee’s recommendation to the Director of School will be a consensus decision.

The Discipline Committee, in concert with the Director of School, may also decide that the offense is not serious enough to warrant action and refer the case back to the Director of School for resolution.

The Committee will consider all relevant guidelines in making its recommendations. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The severity of the offense
  • The extent of the injury to person or property or to the school
  • The character and reputation of the student, including whether the incident is a first or repeated offense
  • The precedents of prior decisions in cases of relatively similar circumstances
  • The relative culpability between or among students
  • Whether the student was truthful from the beginning about his or her involvement (dishonesty at any point in the process is likely to result in more severe sanctions)

All decisions of the Director of School and the Discipline Committee are to be written and delivered to the student and to his or her parents as soon as it is practical. In addition, the Director of School will notify the student, his or her parents, and the faculty, within one day of the final decision made.

No disciplinary decision is subject to review by the school’s Board of Directors.

Dual Household Ploicy

Syringa Mountain School welcomes a diverse range of families. The school will make every effort to communicate equally with every household. We ask that in all situations, parents, faculty, and administration work in the best interest of the student. If your child lives in dual households, we request that each parent/guardian fills out a Dual Household Form.

In addition:

  • The school finds that it is essential that information about a child be shared openly and consistently with both parents. Therefore, we do not provide separate parent/teacher conferences or special meetings regarding the child for separate households unless absolutely necessary.
  • The school requests both parents’ contact information to allow the school to communicate equally to all households.
  • The school’s primary point of contact is custodial parents. It is the custodial parent’s responsibility to communicate information to step-parents or other interested parties.
  • The school asks that both custodial parents sign all emergency forms to assure that there is agreement with regards to emergency contact and health information.
  • Both custodial parents are required to sign the enrollment forms.
  • The school will abide by all court orders if we have a copy of them on file, but ask that parents work together to allow for seamless flow of school operation.
  • Unless the school has received legal documentation, either parent may pick-up the child or designate others to pick up their child from school.

Student Dress Code

Students will wear clothing that is appropriate for our learning environment and are expected to exercise good judgment in selecting clothing for school and school events. Children are expected to dress neatly, cleanly, warmly and modestly. Students work and play hard, and clothing may become soiled so keep this in mind when dressing your child for school. We wish to discourage focus on superficial, outward differences and protect students from influences that tend to prematurely push them into the world of adolescence before they are out of grade school.

Shoes

Students change into their indoor shoes when they arrive at school and wear them while inside the school building. Both indoor shoes and outdoor footwear should support the foot and fit snuggly so they do not fall off during active movement. Loose sandals and flip-flops are not permitted. Please have your children wear socks every day. Each student needs to bring a pair of indoor shoes at the beginning of the school year to leave at school.

Hats

Students are not permitted to wear hats or hoods in the classrooms and common areas unless approved by the teacher.  They are allowed outside for sun protection and warmth in the winter.

Weather

Students go outside every day so prepare your child for changing weather including rain and snow. Please dress children in layers, as we can experience many different types of weather in one school day – for example, a good undershirt and long underwear (during cold months), a long sleeve, light sweatshirt or sweater and a coat. Please have your children wear socks every day.

Please Note: Parents are asked to send and leave at school one long sleeve and one short sleeve shirt, a pair of undergarments, a pair of pants, and a sweatshirt. If a student is dressed inappropriately, or needs a change of clothes for any reason, he or she will be asked to change into one of these items. Please provide a cloth bag with the child’s name, for these items to be contained within in the child’s classroom.

Logos

We strive to be a model of quality and beauty in the educational process and to create an atmosphere of care and respect in all that fills the lives of students at our school. To that end we ask that all clothing, shoes, school bags and lunch containers be free of any logos, corporate advertising, and media images or characters.

Dress Code Policy Consequences

If a student is asked three (3) or more times in one month to change clothing due to being out of dress code, it may result in a disciplinary meeting with the Director of School. If a student is asked ten (10) or more times to change in one term, it may result in a disciplinary committee meeting regarding student behavior.

If you, or your child, are confused about dress expectations, please ask your child’s teacher. Please make it clear to your children when you or they purchase clothes, which clothes you consider appropriate for school and meet the above criteria. We want the school environment to be conducive to learning and ask parents to collaborate with us regarding our expectations for dress.

Field Trips & Festivals

Walking Field Trips

Classes may go for a walking field trip as part of their daily activity at the school. Parents sign an acknowledgement when enrolling a student giving permission for students to go on walking trips. Parents will be notified when these are scheduled. If a parent knows they need to take a student out early on any day, they need to send a notice to the class teacher so arrangements can be made to pick up the child early.

Off-Campus Field Trips

Parents must sign a field trip permission form every time a class goes on an off-campus field trip. One copy of this form stays in the office and one copy goes with the teacher.   These permission slips detail where the class is going, the cost of the trip, and what the children need to bring with them. The form also contains  the  parents’  signatures  and  emergency  contact  information  for  parents. Unless public transportation is  being  used,  we  most  commonly  rely  (with  much  gratitude)  on  parent drivers.   These are the requirements for parent volunteers who drive on field trips:

  • Every driver on a field trip, whether parent or teacher, must photocopy his or her driver’s license and proof of car insurance, and leave it with the office before embarking on the field trip.
  • Teachers are responsible to ensure that all parent drivers have completed requirement number one before departing campus. The office will keep this information with the copies of field trip permission forms.
  • All parent drivers should have with them directions to the field trip location and the contact information of the teacher leading the field trip.

Festivals & Ceremonies

The festivals serve as an opportunity for the entire school community to join together in seasonal celebrations. Planning and working together in anticipation of   the festival and celebrating during the festival creates bonds among the entire community. The festivals serve as an important bridge between home life and school life. This is a listing of possible festivals, but specific events will be decided each year in conjunction with the Staff and Parent Council and the SMS Board. Before each festival is celebrated, information about it will be included in the newsletter and school website. These festivals would not be possible without the participation of the children and their families.

Opening Ceremony

Traditionally, the opening ceremony is held on campus the morning of the first day of school for all grade students. Friends and family (including kindergarten families) are invited to attend. Amid speeches and stories, the community is welcomed back to school. As the children file back to their classrooms to meet their first day’s work, parents are invited to stay and visit, enjoying refreshments provided by the Parent Council.

Harvest Faire

The SMS Harvest Faire is an event that celebrates the autumn season, the abundance of food, and gathering together as a community.  Music, stories, poems from cultures around the world are shared, homemade breads and soups, crafts and activities are regular features of this event.  We warmly invite all families to join us for the day as we celebrate this time of Harvest!

Lantern Walk

This festival represents how we must prepare the vessel and then ignite our inner light in order to meet the darkness of winter. Our KG, 1st & 2nd Graders make beautiful lanterns at school.  One crisp fall evening in mid-November, we light our lanterns, walk and sing in the dark evening and gather for hot cider and refreshments.

Winter Spiral

The spiral walk is a festival that is practiced in most Waldorf schools on or near the winter solstice with KG-3rd Graders.  The tradition honors the seasonal cycle of light and darkness by arranging a simple spiral labyrinth walk.  Everything about this spiral walk is rooted in symbolic meaning:  from the form of the spiral to the red apples, evergreen boughs, beeswax candles and the objects placed in the spiral.  Beautiful music accompanies the event.

May Faire

As the days get longer, the sun brightens not only the outer world, but lightens our inner selves too. Spring bursts forth and new life appears all around us. We celebrate with a traditional Maypole around which the children and parents dance to lively music and celebrate spring.  Crafts, food and various activities are all part of this beautiful spring tradition.

Closing Day

As the school year draws to a close, teachers and children will begin to prepare their classrooms for their move into the next year’s classroom.  This is truly a moving up ceremony where all supplies are organized, cleaned and finally on the last morning of school, moved by the children and staff into what will be their classroom for the coming year!  A great sense of excitement and anticipation encompasses this activity!  Finally, before dismissal, a gathering of all classes in the Heart Space will revive songs sung throughout the year and often a short story, before all hands are shaken as children leave for their summer break.

Enrollment

Syringa Mountain School is a public school of choice chartered by the State of Idaho. Each spring we open a three-month enrollment window.  The dates of this window will vary by year.  For the 2017-2018 school year, the enrollment window will be open from Feb. 2nd, 2017 – May 3rd, 2018. During that time, any interested family may fill out the initial enrollment forms located on our website under “Enrollment” and return them to the school no later than May 3, 2017 by 5pm. State requires that we conduct an annual lottery when demand exceeds the number of available spots.

There are two scenarios for enrollment:

  1. Not Full By Enrollment Deadline:
    • At the end of the enrollment deadline (May 3, 2017), if the demand for a given grade does not exceed the initial capacity of the school, then all children who submitted enrollment requests for that grade will receive admission.
    • We will continue to accept enrollment until we reach capacity.
    • If we continue to receive enrollment requests once we are full, we will establish a waiting list.
  2. Demand Exceeds Capacity at Enrollment Deadline:
    • If at the enrollment deadline, demand for space for a given grade exceeds capacity, we will hold a lottery for that grade. More information is available on our website regarding lottery priority.

Mid-Year Trasfers

Students wishing to transfer to Syringa Mountain School after the start of the school year must complete the following steps:

  1. Schedule a day and time to tour the school with your student. Contact the front office.
  2. If it’s decided that SMS would be a good fit for your student, determine student start date with Class Teacher, family and Director of School.
  3. Schedule an interview to discuss your child’s needs, your motivation for transferring schools during the school year, and to answer questions about Syringa’s offerings.
  4. If special support is indicated, meet to discuss with the Special Education Director.
  5. The registration packet must be completed prior to enrollment. 

Educational Guidelines

Homework

Homework can be an integral part of a grades curriculum at Syringa Mountain School. It is framed by the philosophical ideal that we wish our children to be excited about learning and confident in their abilities as students. Our curriculum teaches to the head, heart, and hand of the child and homework should be balanced in the same way. Finally, rhythm between activity and quiet, in-breath and out-breath, is important in all that we do at school. It is our intent that homework will fit into a similar rhythm at home.

We value homework for it can also strengthen the bridge between school and home by providing parents with a glimpse of the work being done at school. However, homework should include only work that a student can do by himself or herself. Once students begin our strings and flute program, it is important that they practice their instrument at home regularly.

Academic Reporting

In order to continually monitor student progress, Syringa Mountain School holds parent/teacher conferences at the end of October and at the beginning of March. Student reports are mailed or emailed home in the end of January, and at the end of the school year for grades 1-6. Student reports contain attendance records (grades 1-5), a rubric of specific standards and narrative evaluations.  As our students move in to the middle school, letter grades will also be given.

Academic Concerns

Please contact your child’s teacher with concerns or questions regarding your child’s academic status. If you feel that your child is not succeeding to standard or the academic reporting shows concern, it is best to meet with the teacher to discuss and determine an academic plan together.

Media at Home

The cumulative effect of repeated exposure to television, video games, movies, radio and computers can negatively impact a child’s development. Your child’s teachers will be providing information regarding media use and your child’s education and engaging you in a dialogue that we hope will be stimulating and rewarding. Our goal in doing so is to do our utmost to create a learning environment that is conducive to active, imaginative learning.

Our recommended guidelines regarding media use are as follows:

  • For children in kindergarten: None, or as little as
  • For children in grades 1 – 3: No television, video games, computers or movies during the school week; minimal parent-directed media use on weekends and
  • For students in grades 4 – 6: No television or video games or computers in the morning before school; minimal parent-directed media use during the school week; parental involvement in determining appropriate media and computer-use choices at all other

Special Education & Interventions

Syringa Mountain School may conduct annual hearing and vision testing. In addition, we participate in the federally mandated Child Find program, designed to identify children who may be in need of special education services.

The school’s small size, student-staff ratios, and looping model allow educators to develop special sensitivity towards individual student needs and backgrounds. This translates into a nurturing learning environment with low-stress levels and maximized success. However, some students will invariably need additional individual support.  Our goal is to meet the needs of all our students through the use of a three-tiered system of support.

Tier I: Prevention

Tier I includes high quality classroom instruction delivered by qualified teachers and regular assessments of all students to monitor their progress toward reaching grade level benchmarks. Teachers are trained to address different learning styles of their students and the classroom teachers work closely with the specials teachers to ensure a unified, supportive learning approach for all of our students.

Tier II: Identification and Selected Interventions

Beyond academic performance, teachers look for other signals of need as we recognize that there are many factors that affect a student’s performance. Selected interventions are implemented by teachers for students who are not experiencing success in any of SMS’s offerings. The teacher will work closely with staff, parents and the child to intervene on their behalf.

Tier III: Student Study Team Intensive Interventions

If there is minimal or limited success or no improvement during the first two tiers of support, the student will likely be referred to the Student Study Team (SST), for further assessment. The school will follow the state SST processes with appropriate documentation and referral to special education assessment for services when indicated. Assistance will be requested/contracted when needed.

Care Team: To ensure that no student “falls through the cracks” a standing committee known as the Care Team—comprised of staff members, the Student Support Coordinator and the Director meet regularly to monitor all students’ progress and to advocate for students. The Care Team uses a systematic problem-solving approach to assist students with any concerns that are interfering with success. Parent input may be solicited for the Care Team process.

Standardized Testing

As a public charter school, we are required to administer standardized tests annually.   Currently, K-3 grade students are individually interviewed in the fall and the spring to assess their pre-reading and reading skills using the Idaho Reading Indicator (IRI). Students in grades 3 through 8 are tested in the spring in English Language Arts and Mathematics using a computerized test.  Additionally, 5th grade students are also tested in Science using a computerized test.

In addition to meeting state requirements, these tests can be a valuable tool to the school, when viewed in light of our multi-faceted approach to assessment. The message being conveyed to students in our classrooms is that the purpose of the testing is to help the student drive their learning through skill based activities in the classroom. Our expectation is that the students will approach their experience of standardized testing in the same joyful, confident way that they approach any other aspect of their school life.   As a parent, we ask that you foster this attitude as well.   If you have any questions about your child’s standardized test scores, please speak with his or her class teacher.

Notices of times for standardized tests, hearing and vision tests, and any other screenings will be given in the school newsletter.

FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children’s education records. Parents or eligible students have the right to inspect and review the student’s education records maintained by the school within 45 days of a request made to the school administrator. Schools are not required to provide copies of records unless it is impossible for parents or eligible students to review the records without copies. Schools may charge a fee for copies. Parents or  eligible  students  have  the  right  to  request  in  writing  that  a  school  correct  records  that  they  believe  to  be  inaccurate  or misleading. If the school decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student then has the right to a formal hearing. After the hearing, if the school still decides not to amend the record, the parent or eligible student has the right to place a statement with the record setting forth his or her view about the contested information.

Communication

Home Visits: To build a  bridge  between  the  child’s  school  and  home  life,  teachers  value  the  opportunity  to  visit  your  home  as  part  of  the educational experience. Children often forge  a  special  connection  with  the  teacher  who  comes  into  their  environment–the  home. The teacher is able to experience the child in the home setting and thereby gain a deeper understanding of the child.   This helps to expand the teacher’s ability to appreciate the child’s way of being and behavior in the classroom.

Parent/teacher conferences and conversations: We have regularly scheduled dates throughout the school year for parent-teacher conferences. There may be other times that teacher or parent would like to share observations with respect to a child’s participation in our program.  At such  times,  a  parent-teacher  conversation  may  be  arranged  by  appointment.   All teachers have regularly scheduled office hours during the week and will let families know when they are available outside school hours.   When there are attendance or discipline problems, additional parent/teacher conferences may be required.

Bi-Monthly Newsletter: Two newsletters are sent out monthly via e-mail with notices and updates about upcoming events, classroom activities, and committee/faculty/board business. Should you not have an email address or would prefer a hard copy, have your name placed on the “hardcopy list,” so you can pick one up at the office at your convenience, or it can be sent home with your child.

Our website: www.syringamountainschool.org The website is the “go to” resource for information, forms, updates and upcoming events.

School office: Syringa Mountain School has an open door policy. You are always welcome to visit the school office. For specific meetings with the Director of School, please call ahead to make an appointment to ensure availability. Otherwise, we are happy to provide you information, clarity and conversation in person at the front office.

Operations & Miscellaneous

Transportation

Syringa Mountain School does not currently provide school bus service to our students. We partner with Mountain Rides and support car-pooling and public transportation options for our families. Our goal is to reduce the number of cars coming onto our campus as  much  as  possible.   The benefits of doing this are tremendous:  less stress for families; stronger community connections; less pollution, and improved relations with our neighbors.   We ask that everyone make a concerted effort to car pool or bus pool as much as possible.

Parent Lending Library

SMS has a small library of books for children, on parenting, child development, and Waldorf education. These books are available to all school families.  All books must be checked out and borrowed for no more than two weeks at a time.

Emergency School Closure and Snow Days

Announcements regarding school closure due to weather conditions, lack of electricity, or other unplanned closures will be made on KECH and KSKI in the mornings as soon as conditions have been checked. Syringa Mountain School follows the same snow day protocol as the Blaine County School District. When the BCSD schools are closed, we are closed as well. Once the children are at school, school closures that occur during the school day will be announced on the radio and via email.

Emergency Procedures

Standard Response Protocol (SRP)

A critical ingredient in the safe school recipe is the uniform classroom response to any incident. Weather events, fires, accidents, intruders and other threats to student safety are scenarios that are planned and trained for by school and district administration and staff.

The Standard Response Protocol (SRP) is based on the response to any given situation. SRP demands a specific vocabulary but also allows for great flexibility. Execution of the action is performed by active participants, including students, staff, teachers and first responders.

  • Lockout is followed by the Directive: “Secure the Perimeter” and is the protocol used to safeguard students and staff within the building.
  • Lockdown is followed by “Locks, Lights, Out of Sight” and is the protocol used to secure individual rooms and keep students quiet and in place.
  • Evacuate is followed by a location, and is used to move students and staff from one location to a different location in or out of the building.
  • Shelter is followed by a type and a method and is the protocol for group and self protection.

Communication to local Law Enforcement Agency would then be “We are under Lockdown.” There may be situations where both Lockdown and Lockout need to be performed. We are in “Lockdown and Lockout” would be conveyed to emergency services or 911.

In the event of an emergency, an emergency text will be sent to your cell phone number on file, as well as an email through our online marketing communication provider, Mail Chimp.  We will also contact KECH and KSKI radio stations to inform parents and give instructions.

Development

Fundraising

Philanthropic support sustains the excellence of our Waldorf educational and extra-curricular programs. The Board and its Development Director recognize that our constituency is small, that resources are limited, and that continuous fundraising can lead to donor and volunteer fatigue. Therefore, we have created an annual plan for fundraising campaigns.

Unlike Blaine County district schools, however, SMS does not receive any funds generated by Blaine County property taxes, such that our funding comes out to approximately $9,000 less per student than district schools receive.  The result is that we need to fundraise every year in order to be able to offer our full Waldorf program!

The following are the different kinds of fundraising in which we engage:

  • Grants: Individual teacher grants, school grants, academic and other grants are all applied for throughout the school year.
  • Class level curriculum-based fundraising: As a rule we discourage student participation in fundraising. In some instances, involvement in certain money -making activities will occur if it is aligned with grade level pedagogy. Money made by class-based fundraising activities is typically used for class trips, which are also supported by fees paid by parents.
  • Annual Close The Gap: Annual Close the Gap provides board, staff and community members to make a gift to the school at whatever level they are able, with an emphasize on 100% participation. Funds typically support our students directly, by going toward areas that have been identified as priorities by the staff.   Donations can either be  made  as  a  pledge  paid  out  monthly  over  the  year  or  as  a  one-time donation.
  • Capital Campaign contributions: Planning towards our future, these donations are set aside for long-term capital improvements and expansion plans.
  • Event-based fundraising: We hold two large events every year to fundraise toward our operating expenses. The Syringala is held in December and the Idaho Gives Hoe Down is held in April.
  • Donation of Property: We accept property donations at the school. Furniture, books, and other items that could be useful in our school environment as well as items that may be re-sold for operations funds are welcomed.

For additional information on ways to give, contact the Advancement Director at Syringa Mountain School.

Technology Policy

Technology is not used for instruction in K-2 grades. Technology may be used with upper elementary (3-6) as appropriate. State Assessments, book reports, typing practice, and controlled research are all appropriate examples of technology use.

This acceptable use agreement defines the responsibilities that each member of the community must accept in order to use the School’s technology resources. All members of the community agree to follow school rules and commit to the school’s values. Parent signatures are required each school year verifying they have read and comply with the student handbook requirements.

Accountable Use Responsibilities

  • I continuously represent the school whenever and wherever I use e-mail and Internet resources, even if I am using these resources away from or outside of the School’s
  • Any violation of the rules will result in a consequence such as loss of my privileges to use computers and/or possible disciplinary action up to and including suspension and/or expulsion.
  • If I knowingly enable others to violate these rules, I may be held accountable as if I broke the rule
  • Inappropriate use or violating the responsibilities of use may result in disciplinary action including suspension/expulsion.

In Using Technology at School, Students Agree to

  • Use technology resources for academic and school-related purposes only.
  • Use applications, email accounts, and network space appropriately and only for school-related activities.
  • Store my documents and files in places that are assigned to
  • I will not use technology to bully another
  • I will not attempt to discover or use another user’s login name or password, nor will I share my If I become aware of another individual’s password, I will inform that person immediately.
  • Use of social media is not permitted on school campus.

Student/School Safety

The safety of all students and staff is of the highest priority at SMS.  Information about our safety protocols can be found in our handbook or by clicking the link below.  Monthly drills simulating various emergency situations are a requirement of our charter.  Our goal being to have plans in place that will keep the children safe, calm and secure should an emergency situation arise.

Child Mind Institute Article: My school’s new emergency plan includes lockdown drills. How can we keep them from scaring the kids ?