The Farm School Handbook

2018/2019  Whole School Agreements

The Farm School Agreements

  • The agreements between the parents, teachers, and students of The Farm School and the keeping of those agreements are central to our school community.
  • We will do our best to always keep our agreements and acknowledge that there may be times when we will not be able to do so.
  • We will give as much notice as possible when we know in advance that we will not be able to keep an agreement.
  • We also agree to acknowledge when we have failed to keep an agreement and to then clean up any resulting mess.

General Agreements about How We Want to be Together

  • We agree to support each other having our needs met including our need to grow and learn together.
  • We agree to treat each other with love and compassion as we wish to be treated.
  • We agree to respect the different experiences, needs, interests, points of view, strengths and challenges that each of us brings to our community.
  • We agree to honor each other’s right to make our own decisions and not to use force or threats to make another do things against her or his will.
  • We agree to keep our school a safe place where each of us can be free from fear of emotional and physical violence.
  • We agree to treat our word as sacred and to speak our word truthfully from our hearts.
  • We agree to communicate with each other about our needs, feelings and requests without the use of verbal or physical violence.
  • We agree to listen to each other deeply with our full attention.
  • We agree to treat our material school as our collective treasured possession.

Specific Agreements

  • We agree to be peaceful: to not commit emotional or physical violence on others.
  • We agree to clean up any mess we make (material or otherwise) and to help in the general cleanup required even though we all do our best to clean up after ourselves.
  • We agree to let a faculty member or designated student know where we are.
  • We agree to be accompanied if we’re having trouble with the above agreements.
  • We agree to come to school for all hours we have agreed to attend and to notify the staff ahead of time when we cannot keep this agreement.
  • We agree to attend all classes we sign up for and to notify the staff ahead of time when we cannot keep this agreement.
  • We agree to keep all agreements made at any meeting. In the case of an agreement made at a morning meeting we choose to miss (for other then an excused absence) we further agree not to challenge that agreement until we have attended meeting for 2 consecutive weeks.
  • We agree to slip into class or meeting subtly if we’re late and to let others slip in rather then creating dramatic entrances.
  • We agree to obey the school board rule that we must wear helmets on all wheeled vehicles (excluding cars) during school hours.

Morning Circle

We love circles at The Farm School. In circle we can all see, hear and talk with each other as equals. We pass the role of facilitator from one to another on a daily basis much as we pass the talking stick on each turn around the circle. We encourage active listening as the act that turns talking into communicating.

Our circle includes three components: announcements, show and check-in, and practice. The facilitator initiates circle by asking the group if there are any announcements and calling on announcers in turn. Announcements are short statements about events that potentially impact the whole group. The facilitator then asks if anyone wants to start show and check-in. During show and check-in we pass the talking stick around the circle giving each member of our community a chance to share an item of interest with the group and to check-in with the group. Check-in itself includes four suggested components: how we are feeling in the moment, requests of the group, requests of the universe and gratefuls (something we are grateful for). We close our circle with a spiritual practice: a song, a minute of silent attention, an AUM, listening to a bell, or something else that puts us in touch with fact that we are each a part of something much larger than ourselves.

Our opening circle gives us a chance to start our day connected with ourselves, each other and the universe.

Clothing Agreement

All members of The Farm School community will keep the front and rear of their pelvic regions covered at all times when on campus or at a school activity. All members of The Farm School community will keep their chests covered when on campus or at a school activity (excluding activities in and around water, where local customs will be followed.)

When to Keep Your Child Home Due to Illness

Please keep your child home if, within 12 hours of the start of any school day, they show any signs of being sick (e.g., fever, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.). If you send your child to school sick, please expect a friendly phone call asking you to bring your child home.

Agreements regarding Devices

Computer devices (laptops, tablets, smart phones, and MP3 players) are used for four main purposes at school: schoolwork, listening to music, playing video games, and social media. All members of The Farm School community agree to use devices only during the following times and for the following purposes:

  • Devices can be used for schoolwork at any time by class agreement and at all other times, with the exception of Friday mornings.
  • Devices can be used to listen to music during class by teacher agreement,  during breaks, before classes begin (i.e., before 9:00AM), and after school (after 4:00PM).
  • Agreed-upon video games (e.g., Minecraft and Civilization) and other non-violent games can be played only on Friday afternoons, for less than an hour.
  • Devices can be used for social media for less than on hour a day, and only during lunch breaks, before classes start (i.e.before 9:00AM), and after school (after 4:00PM).
  • No devices will be used on Friday mornings (9:00 AM-12:00PM).
  • Anyone breaking these agreements will have their right to bring hand-held devices revoked for one month.

Food Agreements

The Farm School staff will provide specific times and a space for your child to eat lunch and a snack. The Farm School staff cannot force a child to eat, and students need to eat in a timely manner during designated lunch and snack times.

Ideally, and especially during periods of pleasant weather, lunches should be ready-to-eat without any further preparation, such as cooking or heating. When bringing a lunch that needs to be prepared/heated, the student needs to be able to achieve the preparation without adult help.

All types of food may be re-heated in The Farm School kitchen, including meat products. Cooking of ovo-lacto vegetarian foods (egg, dairy, and plant-based foods) is allowed in The Farm School kitchen. Cooking of raw meat in The Farm School kitchen is not currently allowed.

Additional Information and Suggestions regarding Food

  • We ask that parents/students limit the amount of sugar and caffeine in lunches and snacks. Our request is that you not send/bring food or drink for which chocolate, caffeine, or sugar are listed as the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd ingredient.
  • Even 100% fruit juices contain a fair amount of sugar, and other fruit juices and non-diet sodas contain seriously unhealthful amounts of high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Most diet sodas contain aspartame (NutraSweet), which causes damage to nerve cells, and/or saccharin (still used in some “diet” items), which causes cancer.
  • Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the nervous system and creates an artificial “high”. The “high” that children get from sugar and caffeine can interfere with their learning.
  • Good choices for snacks include fresh fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, popcorn, and cheese or tofu.
  • Please encourage your child to drink plenty of plain water during the school day. Drinking water is the best and most healthful way to quench thirst and remain hydrated!

School Closing

The Farm School may close when weather or other conditions leave the school building unsafe or make travel to and from the school unsafe for a large number of students. The decision to close school will usually be made during the morning of the day in question. When in doubt, check the website at www.thefarmschool.community or call the school after 8:30 and ask. If the school is open and you decide to remain home, no problem. Just document your at-home day as described in the “attendance” section of this document.

Attendence

Students attending The Farm School are required to attend school for 180 days during each school year. Each student may miss up to and including 5 days a year. Any absences beyond 5 days must be made up through at-home instruction for a full school day (at least 4 hours). For any student enrolled in The Farm School, any school day completed at home must be documented by the parent and the documentation must be submitted to the school to be kept on file for the state. The documentation should include the student’s name, the date, the number of hours in the school day and the activities the student engaged in on that date. If you need the at-home form, please contact the office staff.

Excluding Students from Classes

Inclusiveness is one of our central values. We encourage our children to be non-exclusive in their play. We ask them not to form exclusive clubs or to play in groups excluding certain children. We don’t exclude specific students based on individual or group traits. We do limit participation in some classes based on clear criteria.

The Farm School Conflict Resolution Process (Students/Staff)

The primary goal of our conflict resolution process is for each of us to learn how to put our differences together with increasing style and grace.

We believe that the best way to resolve conflicts and to learn how to put our differences together is to check in with ourselves by asking ourselves what and how we want to communicate with each other followed by direct and compassionate communication between the people involved in the conflict with increasing amounts of help as needed.

The steps in our conflict resolution process are:

1. Stop, take a deep breath, and check in with yourself. 

Is this something that needs to be resolved with another or is it a personal upset you can let go of or fix on your own? If it is something you want to resolve with another, what is your request of the other person and how do you want to communicate about it? If you decide this is something that needs to be resolved with another:

2. Communicate with the person in conflict with you. [to request mutuality, etc. ]

Are there any solutions to your conflict that both of you agree will be to both of your benefit? If not, are there any solutions that require you each to give up something in a way that you both think is fair?  If not, can you both agree to disagree? If not:

3. Ask a third person to talk with you and the person in conflict with you. 

If, with the help of a third person, you and the other person can come to an agreement about your request, you’re done. If not:

4. Call a Culture Committee meeting.

To call a culture committee meeting, fill out a “Request to Meet” form for the Culture Committee. This form includes space for the name of the requester, the date, names of participants and  observers, a description of what happened, and the unmet request. Upon receipt of a “Request to Meet” form, the Culture Committee may ask others named in the request to also fill out a Request to Meet form before the actual meeting and will notify caretakers if their child is listed as a participant in a request to meet form.

5. Call a Special Meeting of the PTSA.

If the Culture Committee can’t resolve the conflict, any participant or observer of the conflict of our Principal can call a Special Meeting of the PTSA.

For Adults when a student breaks a school agreement

  • Ask student to stop
  • Ask student why they are doing what they are doing
  • Remind student about the agreement they are breaking
  • Ask student if they’d like to take a (device free) 5-minute break
  • Ask student to go to another location with an assignment (depending on circumstances)
  • Get help from someone else (if student won’t leave)
  • Fill out, and ask student to fill out a Request for a Culture Committee Meeting form
  • Send forms to parent
  • PTS conference

Incident Reports

The following outcomes trigger an automatic incident report and notification of caregivers of all students involved:

  • A physical interaction that results in a persistent injury (lasting mark or pain), or
  • A student loses their self-control and acts out in ways that disrupt group activity (screams or lashes out at others, leaves building without notification, etc.), or
  • A pattern of negative interactions develops between two children or between a child and a teacher.

Admissions and Notification Process

The Farm School’s processes for the admission of new students, the hiring of paid or volunteer staff, the expulsion of students, the firing of staff and the notification of the community regarding the comings and going of students and staff are as follows.  Under no circumstances do we discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, or sexual orientation.

Admission process

  1. The potential student and the student’s legal guardians meet with Peter and other interested parties.
  2. The potential student and the student’s legal guardians meet with Peter and admission committee (including at least the main teacher, a potential classmate and a parent of potential classmate).
  3. The potential student attends The Farm School for three trial days (this is the public school limit for absences without doctor’s note).
  4. The whole school discusses the student and votes at special after school meeting.

Notification Process

The Farm School administrators will notify The Farm School community of new and departing students via the community email list. This notification will occur at the following key points:

  • When it seems likely a new student will be attending or a current student will be leaving or when it seems likely that a new staff member will be joining or leaving our team.
  • When an entrance or exit decision has been made
  • When a new student starts at the school or leaves the school.
  • When a new student completes the trial period.

Conflict Resolution (Staff/Parent)

    • The faculty and staff of The Farm School strive to be as available and accessible to you as possible. If, at any time, you are dissatisfied with the actions of one of our staff, please, as a first recourse, speak to that staff member. If you are unable to resolve your conflict through that conversation, please contact Peter and let him know the nature of the conflict. If your conflict is with Peter, please let him know. If your conversation does not resolve the conflict for you, please contact Teresa Ferguson (the Chair of our School Board) and let her know the nature of the conflict.

Version: June 2018