Parent Handbook

Ivy Greene: an Acton Academy

Parent Handbook

2020-2021

Goal of this Handbook

To equip parents with the “how to” of daily operations at Ivy Greene Academy so they may support their children’s Hero’s Journeys.

Philosophy of our Operations

There are three underlying values that drive every policy and system created for our community to function and achieve our mission:

  1. Freedom for families.  We believe parents, not schools, are in charge of their families and trust you to make your own choices for your families. 
  2. Sanctity of studios as learning spaces for students only. This includes basic safety as well as protection against interruptions, distractions and the threat of lowering standards of excellence.
  3. Sanctity of parent/child relationships: We will not come between you and your child. 

Contents of Handbook

  • Fast Facts 
  • Our Purpose 
  • Mission Statement 
  • Our beliefs 
  • Our promises 
  • Accountability: Contracts and Covenants 
  • Daily Life: Hours, Arrival/Dismissal, Lunch, After-school program, Chromebooks and supplies 
  • Health Policies, Absenteeism, Internet Safety and Social Media 
  • Staying Informed on my child’s learning: Points Tracker, Blogs, surveys, Feedback/Assessing Learning: Points, 360 Reviews, Exhibitions, Standardized tests, Pathbrite Portfolios, Portfolio Reviews 
  • Badges versus Report Cards 
  • Observation in the Studios 
  • Tuition 
  • Google Calendar 
  • Parent meetings 
  • Growth Mindset article – attachment
  • Parent reading list – attachment
  • Ivy Greene student breaks/calendar – attachment

Fast Facts

Address:          395 Highway 9 South

Website address:     www.IvyGreeneacademy.com

Studio Nicknames: Elementary school studio: ES

Middle school studio: MS

High School studio: Launch Pad (Coming soon)

Contact info: Elementary studio:  jalanep@yahoo.com

Middle school and Launchpad: donnaakers@rocketmail.com

Staff 

Jalane Householder – ES Lead Guide

Georgia Akers – Elementary Studio Development Guide

Dr. Donna Akers – MS Lead Guide

Andrew Duff – ES/MS Athletics Coach and Process Drama Guide

LaDonna Hutcheson – ES PE Bible Guide

Dr. Donna Akers – Curriculum Developer

Dr. Lee Waltress – Art guide

Owner

Donna Akers

The Purpose of Ivy Greene Academy

Mission Statement

Ivy Greene Academy’s mission is to inspire each person who enters our doors to find a calling and change the world. 

Our Beliefs

  • We believe each child has a gift that can change the world in a profound way.
  • We believe in learning to learn, learning to do and learning to be.
  • We believe in a closely connected community of lifelong learners.
  • We believe that the American Experiment, with all its faults, is the best hope on earth for protecting human liberty.

Our Promises

We promise your children will:

  • Begin a Hero’s Journey;
  • Learn to learn, learn to do and learn to be;
  • Discover their most precious gifts, along with the dedication it takes to develop real talent;
  • Understand the importance of strong character;
  • Cherish the arts, the wonders of the physical world and the mystery of life; and,
  • Treasure economic, political and religious freedom.

Accountability: Covenants/Contracts

Creating clear, consistent expectations for Ivy Greene Academy families is an important part of our school. As such, the parents, students and staff will reaffirm this commitment by signing a covenant each year that describes the roles and responsibilities to which we are agreeing.

The purpose of this living document is not to promote rule-following or bureaucracy but rather the opposite: to draw clear boundaries to encourage innovation between children, parents and guides who through commitment and action show support for the creation of a world-class school. 

Daily Life: Schedules, Lunch Programs

School Hours

Ivy Greene Academy’s school hours are 8:00am until 3:15pm.

Arrival/Dismissal Procedure

Arrival starts at 8:00am sharp. The doors will be opened at 7:30. From 8:00 to 8:25am, students engage in free time, reading, socializing and getting organized for the day. When you arrive at school, a Greeter will be in the main drive to greet each student with a handshake, greeting and eye contact, the customary start to our day together. 

The chime rings at 8:25 so students know they have 5 minutes to arrive to their studio’s morning launch discussion circle. The doors will be closed at 8:30am.

In order not to interrupt the others who will be focusing on the morning launch discussion, a latecomer is required to wait at his or her desk until the discussion concludes at 8:45am. In addition to learning the life skill of showing up on time every time, these discussions are critical parts of the daily learning at Ivy Greene. For this reason, being on time is part of our contract to each other. 

If a student is chronically late, it will impact the quality of his or her learning journey at Ivy Greene as well as the culture of the studio community. In the rare case this occurs, we will contact you to discuss a plan to support your family being fully onboard with this commitment.

Dismissal is at 3:15pm sharp. For your convenience, at 3:00pm you can pull in and wait for your children. Please wait in your car and follow the line for efficiency and safety. You are in charge of being clear with your child about who is driving him or her home if it is someone other than yourself. Your child should be confident and knowledgeable about the people who are allowed by you to drive him or her home. This is not a guide’s nor Ivy Greene’s responsibility. It is a family responsibility. If your child is ever confused by who is there to drive home, he or she should go immediately to the guide to request help. 

If you are picking up your child at any time other than dismissal, please park and walk to the studio to get your child. Please do not ask a guide to watch for you and send your child out. This is up to you and you are free to come into the studio at any time to pick up your child. It is most helpful if you inform your child so he or she can be mentally prepared to stop working and leave the group without hesitation. 

Weekly Schedule

In general, the schedule consistently includes the following activities:

  • Socratic discussions
  • Individual work time – Math, reading, writing, foreign language
  •  Collaborative work time in Projects/Quests and Civilization (our term for History because it includes studying economics, politics, art, geography and philosophy)
  • Lunch and free times
  • Art, Music and Process Drama for ES
  • PE for all studios
  • Town meetings and running partner/squad meetings

Lunch and Snacks

In order to keep our tuition costs low and support each family’s healthy food choices, Ivy Greene does not provide standardized lunches. Each child brings his or her own lunch. We have a refrigerator and microwave for use by students. 

Students choose to eat at their desks, outdoor community tables, or picnic-style on blankets inside or outside. Cleaning up after themselves is an important part of our community culture. Snacks and water are also important for healthy refueling. Please pack healthy snacks and a water bottle each day for your child.

Ivy Greene Academy’s Property, Chromebooks and School Supplies

An integral part of our learning program is using technology for students to learn math, reading and writing skills at their own pace. We provide one laptop per student as needed to use during the day on campus. They are school property. If one is damaged or lost by a student, the family is responsible for reimbursing the school in the amount of $200 that will be added to your tuition bill.

In addition, if any part of the school campus is intentionally damaged by a student, he or she will assist in the repair.

Included in your tuition are also the basic necessary school supplies such as pens, paper, pencils and project supplies. 

Your child is welcome to bring his or her own laptop and books to read. He or she is responsible for the care of any personal items brought to school.

Please note: All devices we provide on our campus have SafeSearch installed. It is a requirement that all laptops/devices brought into the studio from home have at least the same level of safety measures enabled. It is up to parents to verify that SafeSearch, or equivalent, is enabled on incoming devices before they arrive at school. If you fail to equip your child’s devices as such, he or she will lose internet privileges until you have installed protective software.

Health Policies/Absenteeism/Internet Safety and Social Media

Health Forms

Before the first day of school, it is necessary to have a copy of your child’s health records from your pediatrician’s office. You may email, mail or hand deliver this information.

Medication

Students may not carry medicine into the school. Parents must give the medicine and written instructions to a guide. For prescription medicine, please send the medicine in the original container from the pharmacy with the child’s name on it and a dated note listing the times and amounts to be given that day. Include whether or not refrigeration is required.

Illness Policy

Following the state law for illness policy, a student with any of the following symptoms must be isolated and the parents notified and asked to remove the student from school as soon as possible:

  • Fever of 100.5 F.
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Severe cough
  • Unusual yellow color to skin or eyes
  • Stiff neck or headache with one or more of the symptoms listed above
  • Difficult breathing or wheezing
  • Complaints of severe pain.

If your child is not feeling well in the morning, please observe them carefully before sending them to school and risking the health of the others. 

Children must be free of symptoms for 24 hours before returning to school.

If your child develops any of these symptoms while at school, we will call you immediately to come pick up your child.

Substance Misuse and Abuse

Ivy Greene Academy has a zero tolerance for chemical and substance misuse and abuse. Disregarding this policy may result in immediate dismissal.

Internet Safety and Social Media

Internet Safety: Please read the last paragraph under Ivy Greene Academy’s property (above.)

At Ivy Greene Academy, we have found excessive gaming, video watching and social media can have a negative impact on work habits and respect for others in general and in the studio in particular. As such, an immediate honor code violation (MS) or strike (ES) will likely result for:

  1. Any non-work use of the Internet or texts during the school hours, except at free time. (Parents are often the cause of such violations when they expect their children to answer emails and texts during the school day.)
  2. Searching for or displaying any inappropriate material.
  3. Rude, unkind, belittling or inappropriate remarks sent through social media or by email or text at any time.

Attendance/Absenteeism

Ivy Greene Academy does not have an attendance policy that specifies a required number of days that your child must be in school. It is the school’s philosophy that traveling with family and engaging in experiences with family is fruitful and educational.

At the same time, consistent attendance will help your child be fully engaged with the community and with the project/quest learning. In fact, most projects depend on the participation of all team members. If you know in advance that you will be taking your child out of school, it is helpful for the other students in the studio to be informed so they can make alternative work plans.  

While away from school, your student will be able to access his or her online programs and the Points Tracker for studio assignments. 

Staying Informed: How do I know what is going on and talk with my children about their learning?

SMART Goals and Journey Tracker

We trust parents to take the initiative to understand and support their child’s weekly goals and badge plans. This is a large part of your journey as an Ivy Greene parent and takes an intentional effort. Your student will be able to share login and password information with you so you have access to the online programs as well as the Ivy Greene “Journey Tracker.” Ask your child to give you a tour of their work and explain the Tracker to you. Talking through the programs with your child (with you as “student” and your child as “teacher”) is the most effective way for you to feel equipped. Most importantly, we encourage you to talk with your child about SMART goals. Asking questions about where they are feeling challenged, frustrated and excited can help you encourage them with growth mindset praise and celebrate achievements with them. Remembering that learning is hard and struggling is part of the journey will help you stress less and share patience with your child.

Note: Please read this page on Growth Mindset praise to be equipped with the language that can best motivate your child toward progress in learning. 

Parent Blog

Please note: Ivy Greene Academy does not give parenting advice and we do not get in between you and your child. We trust your personal choices regarding discipline or parental authority and have absolutely zero input on your personal family life. Each family is unique and we trust you to make your own best choices. 

 We do, however, offer you tools to help you incorporate the Ivy Greene method of asking questions and offering choices with consequences if you wish to use these at home. 

Being an Ivy Greene parent is a unique calling. Your child will bring home new skills and ideas gained from learning in a Socratic way. They will be more independent in their learning and more able to share their ideas and make personal decisions. It is a challenge to be on the other end of this transformation as a parent. The blog written by Donna Akers is geared to help parents understand what happens in the studios in order to incorporate the method at home in ways that support the family’s mission. 

Donna comes to the blog as a parent with challenges and struggles and not an expert giving advice. You may click on the “subscribe” button on the blog if you wish to receive email notifications of new posts. The address is: www.Ivy Greeneacademyparents.com.

Student Blogs/Website

There is no better way to stay informed on the details of the classroom than to read the weekly student website report from the elementary school and the middle school blog. 

Weekly Surveys

As part of our commitment to families, each family will receive a survey via a Survey Monkey email each week. Your responses will be kept anonymous. We ask that you guide your child to provide helpful input rather than anything personal about another student. The summary of these surveys will be shared with Ivy Greene families and guides each week. By sharing the results, we uphold our shared value of transparency and accountability to you. The survey is a place for constructive input. 

Contacting Guides

Our general philosophy is that guides must not come between a parent and child. You are the main authority and shepherd of your child’s education and we are here to support you but with limitations. Because guides move between studios and have contact with all students, communication with parents is through a common email noted below. If you wish to direct your email to a particular guide, simply address your note to him or her but use the common email address. The information on the emails is kept strictly confidential between the guides. Be prepared: guides are Socratic and rather than answering questions may ask you questions and refer you to resources to help you.

Please understand that we will not be available to talk with you during the morning drop off, during school or afternoon pick up times; and will respond to messages between 3:30pm and 4:45pm. 

Email is the most effective communication. Guides have phones only for emergencies and are not able to take calls or texts during the day. 

ES guides may be reached at: jalanep@yahoo.com.

MS Guides may be reached at: donnaakers@rocketmail.com.

For any emergencies, you may text Donna at (662) 419-3014.

In case of an emergency at school, you will receive a group text as well as a group email with instructions. 

Feedback/Assessing Learning

Parent Involvement in Tracking Learning

We encourage parents to find a healthy involvement in their child’s learning that works for their family. 

You have many tools available. (See below.) Documentation weekly goal achievement is available for children to share with their parents at any time. Your child can show you how to log into the Tracker to see the work accomplished and in progress. In addition, you are encouraged to become familiar with your child’s online learning sites. Simply ask your child to teach you how to log in and to give you a “tour.”

As a minimum, we encourage parents to ask their children about their goal setting at the beginning of the week; and follow up at the end of the week. It is helpful to ask: What would you do differently? Do you feel that your work this week was the best you can do? Where are you feeling most challenged? What was your greatest achievement this week? What was your greatest failure? When did you have the most energy today? When did you serve as a guide to someone? Who guided you? Everyone has an off-week now and then. Is there something you need a break from to get back to a strong start for next week? How is your badge compiling going? Do you save time to compile badges? Where do you feel behind? Is there a way I can support you?

Tools to measure learning: 

  • Points: Weekly points measure time/effort on task.
  • Badges: Badges represent several weeks of work compiled and reviewed. They are similar to “courses” completed in a traditional school. Badges are significant milestones of learning and represent excellence and progress in learning.
  • 360 Reviews/Full Circle Feedback: Given each session, these survey measure growth in a students’ leadership and citizenship in the studio. Warm and cool feedback, also called “warm-hearted” and “tough-minded” feedback helps students grow in their character and relationships to others. students “own” their scores and we encourage them to share with their parents.
  • Exhibitions of Learning: Each session concludes with a public exhibition for parents on a particular area of learning. students demonstrate their learning through debates, speeches, presentations and demonstrations. They discuss their lessons learned and show their portfolios of work. Your guides will advise you of each session’s exhibition date and time at the beginning of the session.
  • Standardized Tests: Given once a year, these tests measure where students are in comparison to national norms. You will be notified in advance of testing dates. 
  • Pathbrite Portfolios/Learning Plans: These portfolios contain learning goals, achievements, reflections and experiences over a period of years. students will share these with parents twice per year. 
  • Portfolio Reviews (ES Only): Twice per year parents of elementary school students will be offered optional portfolio reviews with guides. You will be given a survey/questionnaire to complete as your “ticket” to secure a review. The purpose of this survey is to document your questions and concerns in advance of the meeting in order to ensure the short time with your guide is spent well and serves you where you most need support. 

Badges versus Grades

Each Buck has a badge plan for the year. At the beginning of the year, you will receive this as well as details about the Freedom Levels in each studio. Freedom is earned by work produced and citizenship in the studio. Your guides will give you a detailed plan so you can see what is required to progress through the studios and to earn more freedom. At Ivy Greene Academy, we do not use letter grades nor do we give written reports from a guide. Students will receive feedback on the work they produce from their peers, guides and from other sources as appropriate. Their progress will be documented through their achievement and mastery of badges in the Core Skills of writing, language arts, Civilization, math, reading and Socratic discussions. The software programs in language and math track the progress of learning and can be accessed by parents at any time. Simply ask your child to walk you through their programs and to share their passwords with you. 

Large milestones of achievement at Ivy Greene are the Servant Leader Badges which prove success in completing a long-term series of leadership challenges. These Badges will document the entire Ivy Greene Academy learning journey.

Launchpad and middle school studio Badges can be translated into traditional transcript requirements for college applications, Curriculum Vitae, and to celebrate authentic accomplishments of each Ivy Greene graduate. (Completion of a badge equals mastery of a subject area and translates into a traditional A+.)

Studio Observation

We welcome parents to visit and observe the studio experience to gain further understanding of the learning journey. The studio, however, is a very special environment for the students and we want to protect their personal space and privacy. The following guidelines will help ensure that the studio experience does not become diluted by interruptions.

Please inform a guide 24 hours before you plan to observe. Include the time of your arrival and your expected length of stay. Please inform your child that you will be visiting to observe and that you will just be watching the group at work.

During your observation time, you may quietly greet your child, and then find a comfortable place to sit. Enjoy taking it all in and then depart quietly.

Tuition

Our tuition totals $6,720 per person annually. This amount is broken down into 12 equal installments of $560. You will receive a monthly invoice to your email address from Bill.com. This will arrive about the first of each month and is due in two weeks. You may set up your invoices to be paid by credit card through the Bill.com website. 

Special Events – Mark your Calendars

Ivy Greene Google Calendar for events each month

You will be sent a link to the Ivy Greene Google calendar later this summer. This calendar will help you manage field trips, Parent Meetings, parent coffees at campus, end of the year celebrations, PE days, Open Houses and other Ivy Greene events.

Other Details for your enjoyment

  • You will have a copy of the school roster shared with you as a Google document. 
  • Please plan to attend our Welcome/Ivy Greene Birthday Party on Thursday, August 20 from 10:00am – 11:30am. This kicks off the school year before the first day of school on September 2.
  • Parent Coffees happen the last Friday of each month. These are casual gatherings on campus during morning arrival for you to get to know other parents and learn more about the Ivy Greene learning experience. We encourage you to arrive at 8am, drop off your student and stay for an easy cup of coffee and to observe a morning launch in the studio of your choice.
  • Middle school students have monthly social gatherings off campus. Stay tuned for details.
  • Keep reading the suggested books. The more you learn about why we created Ivy Greene Academy and why our systems work, the more enjoyable this journey will be for you.  Feel free to email Donna for this reading list.
  • Tuition invoices are sent by email on the first of each month. Bill.com accepts Visa and Mastercard but NOT American Express.