Frequently Asked Questions
What is a charter school?
In Alaska a charter school is part of the school district like other public schools. Being a public school it is tuition free, largely funded by the state, and meets all state regulations, such as those pertaining to state standards and mandated testing.
What makes a charter school different from other public schools?
A charter school is permitted to embrace a particular philosophy or method by applying for waivers from the district’s policies and regulations. This allows the school some freedoms, such as to use their own curriculum materials, alternative scheduling and school day structure, etc.
Where will the school be located?
We will be located at 2404 South Barnette St., in Fairbanks. Lily of the Valley Church is being renovated over the next several months to become our school. Until then, the best way to contact us is through email and phone calls.
When is the first day of school?
Our starting date will be the same as most other Fairbanks North Star Borough schools: August 17, 2017.
Is there busing for your school?
Families will need to provide transportation for their child(ren). We are still determining if there is a possibility to utilize some of the district’s existing bus routes. When our site is finalized, we’ll be able to answer this question. Charter schools have additional financial burdens. Buses are not affordable, unless they are already in place for the district.
Do you provide school lunch?
We will not be able to offer a school lunch program. Parents should plan on packing a healthy snack and lunch for your child daily.
Is there a fee for Boreal Sun?
Boreal Sun has a supplies fee of $50/Semester, due in August and January. This supply fee covers the cost of our specialized student supplies. No additional supplies will be required at the beginning of the year, so you will not need to shop for pencils or notebooks, for example, prior to the first day of school. Financial assistance is available through the district’s Free and Reduced Lunch program. This confidential application will determine if you qualify for a free or reduced supplies fee. In order to ease the burden to families with multiple children, no family will be required to pay more than $250/year for supplies.
What is the daily schedule at Boreal Sun?
We are still determining our schedule. If there is a chance of using district busing, we will plan our daily schedule in order to take advantage of that opportunity. Please note that there will be an early out day every Thursday to facilitate faculty meetings and professional development.
Does Boreal Sun require parents contribute volunteer hours?
Boreal Sun depends on parent involvement and support. We will ask parents to pledge to contribute the number of volunteer hours they are able. The school suggests 20-45 hours per year, per family.
What is a Public Waldorf Charter School?
A Public Waldorf charter school strives to blend the Waldorf philosophy (traditionally found in private Waldorf Schools) with traditional public school standards and goals.
What is Waldorf Education?
Waldorf Education strives to meet students’ readiness at each age and stage of development. Waldorf Education is known for nurturing a lifelong love of learning. Today more than 900 Waldorf schools exist worldwide. Those outside the United States are predominantly public schools. In the United States, Waldorf Education began as a private/independent school movement, but has become a charter school movement as well.
Waldorf schools are known to utilize movement, experiential, and artistic elements in every subject so the children have a hands-on experience of learning. Teachers aim to teach the whole child—the head, as well as the heart and hands. Subjects are explored deeply and interwoven together in order to encourage children to be deep explorers, connected to and interested in their fellow human beings and the world.
What are the main differences between a charter school inspired by Waldorf Education and other public schools?
- Lessons are cross-curricular and arts-integrated to provide in depth study of each subject.
- Introduction of subject matter corresponds with the developmental age of the students.
- The daily routine is structured with recognition of a child’s natural learning rhythms.
- Kindergarten is play based.
- Children will keep the same teacher and class group (also known as looping) for grades 1-5, and 6-8.
- Students make their own lesson books.
- Technology use is limited, particularly in the elementary years.
- World language instruction begins in first grade.
What is cross-curricular and arts-integrated?
Cross-curricular instruction integrates content and skills from multiple subjects (reading, math, social studies, science, etc.) into one cohesive learning experience. Arts-integrated instruction infuses art (drawing, painting, drama, poetry, music, modeling, handwork such as knitting and sewing, etc.) into core academic subjects to deepen and enliven those subjects. Both are utilized simultaneously in Waldorf Education. Studies have shown that these approaches result in highly engaged and motivated students who are invested in their own learning.
What subjects will be taught?
In grades 1-7, in addition to standard academic subjects, handwork, world language, and music will be taught. Physical Education is incorporated into the daily routine, and will also be part of the weekly schedule.
Is it true that children aren’t taught to read at a Waldorf school until third grade?
This is not true. The language arts approach in a Waldorf school is deeply rich and fosters a love of language through storytelling, poetry recitation, joyful exploration, and drama from kindergarten through eight grade. Initial emphasis is placed on the spoken word in kindergarten with repetitive storytelling and recall, which develops comprehension. Writing begins formally in first grade, and the alphabet is introduced pictorially. Phonics and phonemic instruction also begins in first grade in a playful and joyous way. Children will be learning to read through these experiences, and by reading their teacher’s writing and what they’ve written themselves. The children get their first formal book at a well chosen moment, and it is an exciting occasion. Typically, by fourth grade most Waldorf students are voracious readers. Comprehension and love of language are strengths grown from this approach.
What about Kindergarten?
Full day kindergarten will be offered at Boreal Sun, but we will encourage parents to pick up their children early when able. The kindergarten curriculum is rooted in creative play, painting, storytelling, baking, handwork and nature crafts. The curriculum is designed to enhance the young child’s physical development including motor skills, language development, and sensory development. This prepares the child for a more structured academic curriculum in the grades.
How can I learn more about Public Waldorf Education?
You can find some links on our website under the resources tab: www.k12northstar.org/borealsun. You may also go to our Facebook page where you will find articles and videos that give you a window into what Public Waldorf Education looks like.
***When searching the internet for information about Waldorf Education, bear in mind that the there is a lot of information that pertains more to the private Waldorf Education movement. We are a member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education, which is an oversight organization for the standards of Public Waldorf Education.