SCHOOL MISSION

WHAT IS THE MISSION OF NFSIS?

The North Fork School of Integrated Studies is a Waldorf-inspired public school that nurtures intelligent and courageous human beings who create beauty and bring solutions to a diverse world.


VISION

Our vision is to awaken confident, competent, and compassionate individuals to the wonder of learning so they may thrive within a vibrant community.


VALUES

  • We value experiential learning steeped in the arts and nature, and grounded in practical life.
  • We value a developmentally sensitive a culturally rich curriculum.
  • We value curiosity, wonder, and imagination as the beginning of knowledge.
  • We value teacher-directed learning.
  • We value students creating their own learning materials using high-quality supplies/products.
  • We value collaboration.
  • We value goodness, beauty, and truth in the world.


What is so unique about NFSIS?

Some distinctive features of NFSIS include the following:
  • Movement and hands-on, experiential learning is emphasized in the early years of schooling. In the kindergarten there is a good deal of cultivation of pre-academic skills such as cooking, sewing, drawing and painting, counting and singing. Literacy readiness begins in the kindergarten while formal reading instruction begins in 1st grade.
  • Beginning in First grade the teacher stays with the same students as they progress through to 6th grade. The ideal is that the class teacher stays with the class as a guide and mentor. However this is not always the case for different reasons.
  • Art, music, gardening, drama, and handwork are central to learning and interwoven with academic subjects at NFSIS. Usually children respond well to this imaginative approach and it engages the emotional and heart qualities along with the intellect. All children learn to knit and play the recorder and are involved in a dramatic presentation.
  • There are no’ text books’ as such in the first five grades. Instead the students create their own reference book from their lessons and the research of their own projects. This inspires a learning from inside-out and a sense of ownership, pride and integration of the work. In 6th grade the students may use a math and grammar textbook to supplement skills development, especially in math and grammar.
  • Learning at NFSIS is a noncompetitive activity. Instead children are encouraged to improve on their own previous work. There are no grades given at the elementary level, however the teacher meets with parents twice a year and writes a detailed evaluation of the child every semester. Competitive sports are not introduced in the lower grades, instead cooperative games are played in Games class.
  • Use of electronic media, particularly television and video games by young children is strongly discouraged. The reason for this has as much to do with the physical effects of the medium on the developing child as with the questionable content of much of the programming. Electronic media seriously hampers the development of the child’s imagination - a faculty that is believed to be central to the healthy development of a human being. (Several books have been written expressing concern with the effects of media on the young child: Endangered Minds by Jane Healy, The Plug-In Drug by Marie Winn etc.

What is the curriculum like?

NFSIS is developmentally based. This means that it is designed to be responsive to the various phases of a child’s development. The academic subjects are taught in a two hour Main Lesson block each morning, staying with one subject for a period of several weeks. This gives the students time to find the relevance of one subject to another which in turn gives meaning to their studies. The curriculum has been likened to an ascending spiral: subjects are revisited several times in the year and each new exposure affords greater depth and new heights.

A typical Elementary School curriculum would likely look something like this:

  • Primary Grades K-3
  • Pictorial and phonetic introduction to the alphabet, writing, reading, spelling, poetry, grammar, drama.
  • Folk and fairy tales, fables, legends, Hebrew mythology.
  • Numbers, basic mathematics functions, measure and money.
  • Science beginning with nature observation, house building and gardening.
  • Middle Grades 4-6
  • Writing, reading, spelling, grammar, poetry and drama.
  • Norse mythology, history and stories of ancient civilizations.
  • Review of four math functions, fractions, decimals, business math, geometry.
  • Local, North American and world geography.
  • Comparative zoology, botany and elementary physics, astronomy and geology.

Are the teachers highly qualified?

All our teachers have college degrees. They are required by the district to take a placement test and the class teachers have been given a year in which to study for their Colorado Teaching Certificate. They are also receiving ongoing training in Waldorf methods of teaching. In the early years the children look to the teacher for guidance and direction; as they grow they are gradually given more responsibility and independence for their school work.

How is reading taught at NFSIS?

Interest in language arts begins early with the recitation of verses and the telling of stories. Like all subjects at NFSIS, reading is taught experientially. Letters are introduced through drawings, stories, sound, and movement, such as the letter S being drawn on the chalkboard in the form of a beautiful white Swan on a lake, and a story being told about The Six Swans. The letter S can be walked, drawn in the air, shaped with clay, heard in alliteration verses, and finally drawn on paper. Reading is taught first through comprehension of a story which then moves to writing and reading aloud what the children themselves have written, and then reading the printed word.

How will NFSIS work with children who are struggling academically?

NFSIS hesitates to categorize children as having a learning problem before 2nd grade. We want to give children a chance to mature. The teacher will give special attention to a child that needs help. Correspondingly the child who is quick to understand the material will be asked to help another child and be given work that will stretch his/her knowledge. At the end of second grade all the children are given an evaluation to see if there is a learning problem. If there is, there are Individual Plans and special education teachers for helping that child. We are fortunate to have the same resources as the PES teachers in this regard.

Will there be homework?

Homework is given in stages as children develop the capacity for handling learning after school as well as during the day. We provide spelling and vocabulary work consistently to establish study rhythms. Meaningful projects are given in addition to simple weekly activities such as reading for 20 minutes per night during weekdays. Developing proficiency in reading takes practice, hence parents are asked to provide this time in the rhythm of their child’s evening rituals. Math practice for students who need more support is essential as homework for some students. When it is appropriate, challenge problems or activities are given in math in grade 3 and up. It is our hope that parents will enjoy the projects that may take some time at home to create. Generally, a sharing of these creations is done in a presentation format in the regular classroom and sometimes for the greater community.

How is discipline brought to the classroom and what do teachers do about a student who disrupts the class?

The environment of the classroom and the rhythm of the day is designed to instill a sense of calm, joyful activity and harmony within and between children. Discipline is held in the class through the loving presence of the teacher who encourages inner qualities of goodness and kindness. Each child is expected to take responsibility for the order of the classroom through daily chores. If there is a problem arising between students, the children are enrolled in the solution. The teacher will ask, “How can we fix this?” If a child is disrupting the class or acting out, the teacher will find creative and positive ways to work with the child, such as engaging his/ her will through beneficial activity. If they continue to disrupt the class, the child will be brought to the other NFSIS classroom for a’ time out’ from his/ her own class. The student will be asked to write out possible solutions to the problem. The overarching attitude of the teacher is the good humored expectation of good behavior.

Is NFSIS a religious school?

NFSIS is based on experiential learning, arts infused and integrated subjects all of which are part of the Waldorf inspired philosophy of teaching children. While we model wholesome values like gratitude, kindness, respect and care for one another and the natural world, we do not teach children any religion or system of belief.

What are the seasonal festivals?

Seasonal festivals are held outside of school and are optional. Celebrating the harvest, the deep winter stillness of solstice, or the budding of spring are all deep in the roots of our humanity. A sense of wonder and awe for nature is the basis for respect, kindness and peace in young children. There is joy in the anticipation, the preparation, the celebration itself and the memories. NFSIS will hold festivals in which families gather to honor the rhythmic cycles of the year. These festivals include Michaelmas and Lantern Walk, both held in the autumn, celebrating harvest and a time to remember the strength and the light within us as we head into the dark time of year. The winter solstice is celebrated with an Advent festival, in which children are invited to walk in silence and reverence around a spiral of evergreen boughs by candlelight. We celebrate the coming of spring at the May Day festival, in which we dance and sing around the maypole.

These festivals are held outside of school and are optional.


UPCOMING SCHOOL ACTIVITIES

Please visit our calendar page for a list of upcoming events.

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