Information for Students and Parents

First Days of School The first day of school is always the Thursday after Labor Day. We will spend the day at Morse Hill Outdoor Education Center in Leverett doing community-building activities. Everyone will need sturdy shoes and outdoor clothes, lunch and snacks, sunscreen, and bug spray (optional). On Friday, September 7th, we will go canoeing or swimming if conditions allow, so in addition to the above list, please also bring swimming clothes and a towel. A note on swimsuits: some students and faculty feel more comfortable swimming in shorts, tshirts, or other clothing not sold as gender-specific swimwear. Please wear what you feel comfortable in! You will find that others are doing the same!

First Day of Classes Classes start the following Monday. We ask that students come to school with an open mind and willingness to try new things. Please bring a lunch and plenty of snacks every day, as well as the following supplies by the first day of class:

School Supplies

  • a washcloth or hand towel for the bathroom
  • a reusable water bottle or cup
  • science: marble notebook
  • humanities: folder
  • math: either a notebook or a binder with paper (some students prefer a notebook of graph paper)
  • Latin: either a notebook, a binder with paper, or a computer/Google doc/etc.
  • writing: either a notebook, binder with paper, or a computer/Google doc/etc.
  • an adequate supply of pens and pencils
  • optional: laptop.

Technology  We have laptops and a desktop computer for student academic use. Students may also bring a laptop from home if they prefer. Phones should remain in students’ backpacks during the school day unless they get permission from a teacher to use them. Students can listen to music with headphones while they complete independent work, and on long field trips while in the van.

Sick Policy  We do not have a school nurse, and therefore cannot provide a place for sick students to rest for extended periods of time, nor can we assess whether they are well enough to stay. If a student is unable to fully participate due to illness, we will send them home.

Nuts   Due to allergies Four Winds School is a nut-free building.

Rules  Besides the major ones outlined in the Student Handbook (which are to ensure the safety of everyone in the building), Four Winds has relatively few rules. There are some small ones, such as not eating on the couches, that you will learn about at the beginning of the year. In general we give our students as much freedom as they demonstrate the ability to handle. Generally changes to the school rules happen in the context of a school meeting and with input from the students. Our goal is that students feel ownership of the code of conduct and that they want to be responsible for their own actions.

Support Your Four Winds Student

We hope to work together to ensure that your student has a successful school year. Please read the following guidelines:

Biweekly   Students at Four Winds work at their own level and pace. Every two weeks students will set goals for the biweekly and later complete an assessment of whether they have met those goals. The completed biweekly is like a mini report card. We will send this home every other Friday. Please ask to see it!

Homework   At Four Winds we do not assign homework. We believe that students should have time after school to spend with their families or to pursue their other interests. However, if students get behind on their biweeklies due to mismanaging their time, they may have to bring work home to catch up. By ensuring they complete this work at home, you will be helping them not only to get back on track, but to learn from their mistakes.

Curriculum   We have had success with a wide range of students, using books and materials that are effective in a self-directed learning environment. The Four Winds program has the flexibility to accommodate our students’ specific needs. Therefore in most cases we do not substitute alternative curriculum materials.

Communication   We strive for frequent and open communication with our students’ families. If we email home with a question or concern, we are trying to support your student and will appreciate a quick response. If you have questions or concerns, please email us or schedule a meeting after school. We send home a Weekly Update email every weekend which has important information about what’s going on at school. You can also stay informed and involved by coming to open houses, joining the board, following us on Facebook

Drop-Off and Pick-Up   The school day is 8:30am until 3:30pm. We have half days (8:30am-12:30pm) on the 3rd Wednesdays of October, March and May. Tardiness affects your student academically and socially, so please bring your student on time. Also, the teachers frequently have after-school commitments and cannot stay to watch your child if you are running late. Please be timely.

Early Pick-Up  It may happen that we have to send your student home early due to illness or a behavioral issue, in which case we will call home to coordinate timing and transportation. We do not have a school nurse, and therefore cannot provide a place for sick students to rest, nor can we assess whether they are well enough to stay. If a student is unable to fully participate due to illness, we will send them home. Likewise we don’t have a space such as a principal’s office in which to separate students who can’t remain safely in the classroom.

Payment   Payments can be made by cash, check, or PayPal. We will send an invoice before payments are due. Please note that students may not start the school year until we have received their deposit and first payment, and that continued failure to pay an overdue balance will result in legal action.

Thank you for your support in these matters. We are excited for this coming school year!