A Handbook for Families

These are the basics; click here for Montessori Philosophy and School History Handbook

Welcome

The faculty and students of Mountain Pathways would like to thank you for joining our community and welcome you to our extended family of families. Your input is appreciated on all matters regarding the operation of the school and the care of your child.

Mission Statement

Mountain Pathways School is a community that fosters respect and a lifelong love of learning by nurturing the intellectual, emotional, and physical well being of its children.

Operating Hours

Mountain Pathways is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 am (7:45 a.m. for Before School registrants and drop-ins) to 2:30 (5:30 pm for After School registrants and drop-ins) from late August to late May. A summer session is offered from June to early August. The school will be closed for Winter Break for two weeks at the end of December. There is also a one-week break in spring and at the beginning and end of the summer session. See the annual calendar for other specific holidays and closings.

Children that we serve

The age range of children is from 1.5 to 14 years old. The toddler Pre-Primary, 2-4 and 3-6 year-old Primary classes meet in the Children’s House (the wooden building), the 6-12 year olds Elementary and Middle school students meet at the Norwood House (brick). Our maximum enrollment is 86 children.

Contact information

The administrative office is located just inside the main entrance to the Children’s House. The phone number is 828-262-5787. Email is mpathways@gmail.com. Our website is http://www.mountainpathways.org/.

Parent fees and payment plan

Tuition for the 2016-17 school year is $5,950. A $500 discount is offered to siblings. See the Schedule of Fees for payment options and supplemental charges (such as snack/activity fees and Before/After School).

Meals (See Appendix A for full lunch and snack suggestions)

Children bring their own lunch to school. Mountain Pathways encourages all children to eat foods that are healthy. We ask that you feed your child a healthy breakfast each day, and please send nutritious lunches. Please do not send dessert items such as candy, cookies, soda pop, etc. If you begin the school year by telling your child that things are not allowed at school, she/he will soon cease to ask for them. To keep you informed about what your child is eating at lunch, teachers will make every effort to send leftover food back home.

The morning snack is provided in the preschool (Children’s House) classes. The activity fee covers the snack cost.  The morning snack in the 6-9 class is provided by the 6-9 parents on a rotating basis. Snack for the older children is brought from home daily.  

Our Faculty

Lead teachers in the classrooms of Mountain Pathways are held to a high standard of excellence. Our lead teachers range in education from a minimum of Associate’s Degrees to Master’s level graduates. All have completed Montessori training, and have an average of more than 10 years working with children. All assistants are hired based on experience with children and backgrounds are thoroughly checked before the hiring process begins.

Communication:

Conferences- The Administrators and Teachers are always available for appointments.

The Email Requirement – As a dedicated ‘Green’ School, MPS makes all major announcements through the group email list. Please make sure the office is aware of any changes made to your email address. There is also an Announcement marker board in the entrance hall.  Please take daily notice of the information posted.  There is also a bulletin board in the front hallway of the Children’s House.  

The Pathway: (The School Newsletter/Blog) - is posted on the internet at regular intervals. An email is sent out with a  link to the new posting. The Pathway informs parents of activities in the school and upcoming special events. Please take the time to read these letters in order to appreciate the range of activities at MPS and to keep up to date with your child’s school life.

Ride Changes- Please email all special pick up arrangements to mpathways@gmail.com as early as possible. This is preferable to a phone call.  Children will not be allowed to leave with anyone not listed on the Authorized Pick Up List included in your Online Family Update Form.

Pick Up/ Drop Off Policy

Items to be provided by parents (1.5 - 9 year-olds)

Clothing:

Please send your child to school in comfortable, washable clothes. We encourage closed-toed shoes such as tennis shoes (we do not recommend sandals or other open-toed shoes). The children do not wear their outside shoes indoors, so please provide your child with a pair of indoor slippers. These shoes will remain at the school. Each child will have their own cubby, and we ask that you keep it supplied with a change of clothes that are appropriate to the seasons (include socks and underpants). When choosing your child’s clothes, please keep in mind that we expect independent toileting in the 3-6 and 6-9 classes. Overall, snaps or belts can be difficult to remove or put back on. A good criterion is: can the child dress him/herself in the morning? The child’s ability to successfully dress is a powerful instrument in developing self-image and self-respect. To avoid confusion and to prevent loss of clothing, label all clothes with your child’s name, especially garments that are frequently removed (sweaters, jackets, raincoats, hats, gloves, etc.). A lost-and-found basket is kept outside the main office. Please make every effort to check this on a weekly basis.

Supplies

Every class will distribute a list of supplies that will be needed throughout the year. If you are able to donate any of the items on the list, please let your child’s teacher know. We do appreciate donations at any time during the year.

Bringing items to School

Please do not let you child bring candy, gum, jewelry, or toys to school. Children enjoy sharing with their classmates, but these items can lead to distraction and sadness if an item gets lost.

Items of special interest such as books, pictures, insects, rocks or shells are always good for sharing. Your child’s teacher will inform you if there is a special day of the week planned for sharing (a.k.a. ‘show and tell.’)

Evaluation of your child’s progress

Each child’s progress, both personal and academic, is assessed continually through a combination of careful observation, anecdotal records, and samples of the child’s work. Results are used to improve and individualize instruction. No grades are given. Children are helped to understand and correct their errors. Children’s progress is reported to parents in the form of narrative comments, following an outline of objectives. A child’s progress is reported in comparison to his or her own previous performance, and parents of primary children are given general information about how the child compares to North Carolina curriculum guideline levels. Parent/teacher conferences are oral with a written summary. The Iowa Test of Basic Skills is given to children upon completion of the 6-9 year-old program, and the 9-12 program. (North Carolina requires that children be tested upon completion of their 3rd and 6th grade years.)

Grievance Procedure

If there is a concern relative to the classroom, please consult with the teacher(s) in that classroom. If the concern is not resolved, then please see the Director. Concerns about non-classroom matters should be addressed to the Administration. If the issue is of extreme severity, such as legal or ethical behavior on the part of a MPS employee, and the issue is not resolved at the level of Administration, please write a letter to the Board of Trustees. A board representative will then contact the Administration in writing, requesting another meeting take place between the Administration and the person with the concern to seek resolution, and will set a deadline for a written reply from the Administration to the Board representative. All of this information will then be filed by the Personnel Committee for use in its annual evaluation of program, policies, and employees.

PLEASE SEE APPENDIX B FOR THE FULL DISCIPLINE POLICY.

Basic Ground Rules for Children and Adults:

INSIDE:

Ground rules are guidelines for respectful activity in the school environment. There are four basic ground rules. They focus on respecting oneself and each other, respecting each other’s work and respecting materials.

  1. RESPECT one’s self, others (peers, teachers, parents), materials, animals, plants, and the earth. Some examples are:

  1. DO NOT INTERRUPT (with our voices or body) someone else’s work

  1. WALK SLOWLY at all times when inside the school building.

  1. SPEAK SOFTLY

OUTSIDE

SUPPLEMENTAL SCHOOL RULES

SCHOOL FUNDING AND VOLUNTEERING INFORMATION:

At Mountain Pathways School we constantly strive to keep tuition affordable. The difference between tuition and actual costs is made up through various fundraising efforts throughout the school year. Parents are expected to participate in these events. Parents are also expected to volunteer throughout the school year with various standing committees, ad hoc committees, and work projects. These efforts by parents are the only way to keep tuition at a manageable level. Tax-deductible contributions are accepted and encouraged! Contributions may be designated for a specific purpose within the context of MPS by-laws and policy. Copies of the by-laws and minutes from meetings of the Board of Trustees are available upon request from the School’s office.

Financial Aid

Mountain Pathways School may provide tuition aid to students based on financial need. All scholarships are given regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin. All financial information is confidential, and the Financial Aid Committee makes the final decisions. Applications for financial aid may be obtained from the school office and submitted with the regular student application for enrollment or by May 1 of the prior year.

Attendance policy

        Your child will receive the maximum benefit from school if he/she attends class regularly and arrives on time at 8:25 am. Children who come late to class miss group lessons, instructions and interrupt class work. The latest a child may be brought to school is 10 a.m. If you need to bring your child after 10 am, special arrangements need to be made with the office. Children not picked up from school promptly at dismissal interfere with the teacher’s clean up and preparation for class the next day. Children remaining at school beyond 2:45 pm will be sent to the After School Program, and parents will be charged the $14 drop-in fee.

        Attendance records are kept and become a part of your child’s cumulative school records, which are forwarded when a child leaves Mountain Pathways to attend another school. After five unexcused absences, parents will be called for a conference with the child’s teacher. Unexcused absences are when a child is absent and no notification has been made in advance, or when no note is sent upon his/her return to school. Absences due to family travel may be excused if the school is notified ahead of time.

        Excessive absences or repeated tardiness will result in a conference with the Administrator. If the situation is not addressed, continued absences or tardiness may constitute grounds for a child’s dismissal from Mountain Pathways.

Health Policy

        At Mountain Pathways School we are concerned with all aspects of your child’s health and emotional well-being. We make every effort to insure a safe and healthy atmosphere at the school. We need your cooperation in the following areas:

1.        Illness:

        We strongly encourage that your child stay home from school when sick. A child should be free of fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or colored mucus for at least 24 hours before returning to school. If your child requires medication to be given during the school day, we are required by law to have WRITTEN permission to administer the medication. This permission must be written on the “Permission to Administer Medication” form available in the main office. The medication MUST be in the original container and the form must accompany the medication. A different permission slip must be filled out for each medication to be administered, and it must be signed and dated by the parent. The medication needs to be handed to a teacher for storage in the lock box. We ask that you never send a child to school with medicine or store medicine in the child’s pocket or lunch box.

        When your child stays home sick, please call the school and let us know the reason for his/her absence, especially in the case of contagious disease (mumps, chickenpox, strep throat, etc.).

        If your child has any ongoing chronic medical conditions, please inform us in writing. In cases of serious illness, we may request permission to contact the child’s physician for more information. A form will be filled out at the beginning of the school year by the parents with health information such as allergies, activity restrictions, medications, and permission to seek emergency treatment. This form must be returned to the school and will be kept on file in the school office.

Contagion Policy: Mountain Pathways reserves the right at all times to ask that a child be picked up or request a medical release before a child returns to school for highly contagious conditions.

2.        Immunizations:

        North Carolina State Law requires immunizations for every child enrolled in school. It is the parents’ responsibility to present a certificate of immunization for each child. The school must receive this information within 30 days of the enrollment of the child. There is one exemption to the required information: a medical exemption form. Mountain Pathways no longer accepts religious exemptions. For more information on exemptions, please contact the school office. We are also required by law to have a copy of your child’s original immunization records.

3.        Medical Records

        Medical records must be updated yearly.  A physical is required by law for kindergarten age children.   You must also provide copies of original immunizations every time they are administered. Every NEW student needs to have had a physical within the 6 months preceding the first day of school.  The attending physician will need to sign the school medical form.

4.        Head Lice:

        We have implemented a “no nit” head lice policy as per the recommendations of the Health Department and Watauga County schools. This policy means that if at any time lice or nits are found in your child’s hair, we will be calling you to pick up your child. After you have treated the child and child’s possessions, clothes, bedding, car seat, etc., and have gotten the “all clear” word from Heath Department or your doctor, the child will be welcomed back to school. As a community, all parents will appreciate this policy as it greatly reduces exposure of all children.

5. Emergency Procedures: A child who becomes ill, is injured, or develops a fever (100 degrees or higher) during the day will be isolated from others, and parents will be called to pick him/her up. If parents cannot be reached, the alternate adults listed on the child’s emergency form will be contacted. In the case of a medical emergency, every effort will be made to reach you or your child’s doctor. If we cannot contact anyone, the school will use the emergency facilities at the hospital. The signed Medical Release form that you fill out insures that your child receives prompt medical attention. Parents assume charges for medical services.

Field Trip Policy

  1. Field trips will be educationally motivated and will be integrated into the curriculum.
  2. Parents will be notified in advance of field trip arrangements.
  3. Parents will be asked to volunteer to drive.
  4. While we understand the desire of parents to share in the field trip activities with their child, it has been our experience that children often behave differently when with their parents. Inappropriate behavior can be dangerous in a moving vehicle and can disrupt the whole group. When there is a question regarding discipline on occasions when both parents and teachers are present, the teachers’ judgment will prevail. On field trips, the school is legally responsible for your child’s safety and welfare. If there is a problem between parent and child on a field trip, the child may be asked to ride with a different adult. This decision will be discussed between parent and teacher on a per case basis.
  5. It is vital that drivers remain in contact with one another. If there are too many cars to easily stay together, subgroups will be assigned by the teacher. Every attempt should be made to keep these groups together. Drivers are expected to bring cell phones and share numbers with each other in case separation occurs.
  6. Drivers are expected to be extra cautious and obey traffic laws and speed limits at all times.
  7. All children and passengers must wear seat belts at all times. There can be no “double belting”. Children under age 8 or 80 pounds must be restrained in an age-appropriate car seat.
  8. Parents are urged to bring story tapes, music or games to play quietly on field trips. The teachers are available to help make suggestions.
  9. Unless otherwise specified, children are not to bring spending money. All field trip money should be turned in prior to the date of the field trip.
  10. Each parent or chaperone will be assigned a small group of children to supervise on the field trip. These children are your responsibility. Please stay with your assigned children and take a head count often.

Before and After School Program

The Before School program runs at School from 8 - 8:25 each day and allows the teachers to use their early mornings for planning and materials preparation. Children who arrive prior to 8:25 am will be shown to the Before School program and families will be billed the $8 drop-in charge. Their classroom teachers will begin greeting students in classrooms at 8:25 am. At the end of the school day, children enrolled in the After School program will be dismissed to the After School Teacher.

**We can only offer drop-in care if the after school program is not at capacity, and we can still meet NC mandated staffing regulations.

Policies for Before School and After School:

Birthdays

Birthdays are a special time of sharing for the children.  Please talk to your child’s teacher about a healthy snack. Some suggestions are yogurt, fruit kabobs, muffins, popcorn, small finger sandwiches, etc.

Please do not bring gifts or party favors such as balloons. If you plan a party outside of school, please mail or email your invitations. Invitations that are distributed through the school can cause upset and rejection for those who are not invited. A school directory will be available in the first month of school.

Celebrating Holidays

One of the basic premises of the Mountain Pathways philosophy is respect for different beliefs. Many times, the most visible symbols of a religious belief are reflected in holidays. Holidays also reflect many basic human values, such as joy of family life, respect for other human beings, etc. At Mountain Pathways School we seek to emphasize the underlying values which holidays celebrate. In this way, students learn the true meaning of various holidays.

Naptime

All students aged 1.5 up to 4 years (except in special circumstances) will take part in naptime. Nap begins in the toddler classroom and the nap room after lunch and ends at 2 pm (or later for toddlers). We ask that you not interrupt nap for early pickup unless prior notice has been given to the office.

ABUSE & NEGLECT REPORTING

Staff members are trained upon hiring in the recognition of symptoms of child abuse and neglect. Any concerns are brought immediately to the director, and in accordance with North Carolina Statutes, all suspicions are reported immediately to the County Department of Social Services. It is the policy of Mountain Pathways School to cooperate with any state-initiated investigation of abuse or neglect.  Any investigations that may occur must be treated with the confidentiality policies already stated.

Abuse occurs when a parent or caregiver injures or allows another to injure a child physically or emotionally. Abuse may also occur when a parent or caregiver puts a child at risk of serious injury or allows another to put a child at risk of serious injury. Neglect occurs when a child does not receive proper care, supervision, or discipline, or when a child is abandoned.

Inclement Weather/ School Cancellations

.

On questionable weather days, (days where you wake up to freezing rain, sleet, snow flurries with a “heavy accumulation” forecast, an inch or more of snow, flooding, or public schools have closed) teachers and the Director call each other to report conditions in their part of the county and make a decision about conducting school. If it is determined that it is too hazardous to drive, then school will be delayed or canceled.

The decision will be made by 7 am and will be posted on the inclement weather advisory in the Bulletins on the front page of our website www.mountainpathways.org . It will also be posted at http://www.ncweatherclosings.com/. You will also receive a blast email at your email we have on record.

School Cleaning Procedures

The classrooms and common areas of Mountain Pathways are cleaned daily by staff (including, but not limited to, vacuuming/mopping/sweeping floors, dusting and disinfecting of shelves and common work items and supplies, disinfecting of sinks and bathroom areas, etc.). The school buildings are also professionally cleaned at regular intervals.

Statement of Inclusion

Mountain Pathways School does not discriminate against any applicant family based on race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability. When space allows, we welcome every child that is able to follow our rules and expectations.  The school strives to meet all needs of individuals with disabilities or special education needs.

APPENDIX A

Meal Patterns for Children in Child Care Programs


When good eating habits and positive attitudes toward food are established at an early age, the chance of an individual enjoying optimal health throughout life is increased. For young children, eating a nutritionally balanced diet is essential if they are to grow and develop normally.

Daily nutrient intake judged by the National Research Council to be adequate for maintaining good nutrition has been formulated and called Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). The RDA is based on age, sex, weight, and height of an individual. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed for use by the Child Care Food Program meal patterns for breakfast/supplement/lunch that equal approximately 1/3 of the RDA.  The meal patterns are based of the premise that if the meal pattern is followed, the food consumed will be equal to approximately 1/3 of the RDA.

The Child Day Care Commission approved use of the USDA meal patterns as the minimum amount of food which can be served to comply with the licensing standards for adequate nutrition. This publication is intended to assist centers and homes with the preparation of the correct quantities of food. The following meal patterns contain the minimum food components needed to comply with licensing requirements:

Appendix B: Full Discipline Policy

At Mountain Pathways we strive for each child to grow intellectually, socially, and spiritually within an environment which is carefully designed to encourage independence, self-discipline, respect and exploration. We believe that all children in our school are capable of choosing acceptable behavior.

Our behavior philosophy consists of the following rules:

Each classroom will spend time throughout the year discussing the ground rules, appropriate behavior and expectations, and attitudes. All children will participate in these discussions, and all will have a clear understanding of these expectations. However, the children will challenge authority and test the ground rules from time to time. The faculty has worked together to develop a respectful approach to discipline which combines problem-solving with logical consequences. If a child chooses to break a rule or forgets a rule, the following consequences will occur.

  1. Teacher Intervention: the teacher and child discuss the inappropriate behavior and problem solve to aid in redirection of that behavior. A warning of a logical consequence will be discussed.
  2. Teacher Intervention and removal from group: When the inappropriate behavior has already been addressed in step one and the behavior persists, the child will be removed from the classroom and will have a private conference with the teacher. At this time, more problem solving with logical consequences will be imposed on the child. For example: A child is throwing the golden beads, and we are at step two. The beads will be taken away from the child, and the child will be redirected to a different activity. If the behavior occurs again, the Director will be involved and will have a conference with the child and/or teacher.
  3. Parent Conference: If the inappropriate behavior continues to persist, the parent will be called in for a conference to discuss their child’s behavior. At the conference, the parent(s) will be made aware of the child’s continued inappropriate behavior and will be given support to redirect their child. The parent may also be asked to come and observe their child at school.
  4. After the conference, if the behavior still persists, the teacher will call the parents to come and stay at the school with their child or remove the child from the school for a day.
  5. Continuance: If the inappropriate behavior is still occurring, the teacher and/or faculty have several options:
  1. A contract is written up between the child and the school clearly defining the expectations. The child and the parents will be asked to sign the contract and full compliance is expected.
  2. A “staffing” may occur. Staffing is when all the teachers come together for a meeting to discuss and problem solve the inappropriate behavior. From this meeting, the following may develop:
  1. Modification of the child’s schedule and structure to enable him/her to concentrate and be successful in the environment.
  2. An outside professional may be invited to observe and evaluate the child.  He/she will work closely with the teacher to see how the needs of the specific child can best be met.
  3. In some cases, the faculty and administrator may decide to place the child on a “probationary period” to give the child some time to change his/her behavior as well as to give the teacher time to re-evaluate the behavior. At the end of this probationary period, the parents and the faculty members involved will hold another conference to determine what additional measures can be taken to best meet the needs of the child. In extreme cases, the teacher and parents may decide that the best measure for the child is for him/her to be removed from the school on a permanent basis.
  1. Extraordinary Circumstances:
  1. Mountain Pathways does not practice corporal punishment.
  2. No Weapons are allowed on campus at any time.
  3. The school reserves the right the search any student at any time.
  4. Students are not allowed unsupervised Internet access.
  5. Mountain Pathways does not tolerate any sexual misconduct.

        

        

                        

        

In conclusion, it is seldom necessary to go past step 2. However, it is occasionally necessary to move through all of the steps listed above to ensure your child a safe and secure place to learn.

Appendix C: Late Tuition Policy

Mountain Pathways Montessori School recognizes that making a commitment to fund private education for their children is a very serious one that parents do not take lightly. We also recognize that there are sometimes mitigating circumstances which prevent parents from making timely tuition payments and honoring their financial commitment to the school. When these circumstances arise, we want to make every effort on our end to help families keep their children at MPMS, and, in the Montessori spirit, help make it possible for parents to reasonably fulfill their obligations. It is therefore our policy to work with families on an individual basis if tuition payments should fall behind.

However, the reality remains that MPMS simply cannot operate without the honoring of all financial commitments by parents to the school. In an effort to keep tuition payments as low as possible, we necessarily run a very tight budget, and therefore rely on each family to pay their fair share on a timely basis. In return for our willingness to work with families who are struggling financially, we ask first and foremost for timely and honest communication with our administration. If this communication does not happen, and a payment plan is not agreed upon as outlined below, a certified letter will be posted outlining our own requirements for payment. Ultimately, if reasonable plans for payment are not crafted, and a good-faith effort made to meet outstanding obligations, we will, again in the Montessori spirit, have to impose consequences that will unfortunately have the biggest impact on the children. Please read carefully the following policy….

30 days past due:  When tuition is 30 days past due, the office manager will send a reminder to the parties under contract. In the reminder will be an invitation to make an appointment to meet with the office manager to create a payment schedule.

60 days past due:  If tuition is still in arrears, and parents have made no effort to set up a payment plan after 60 days, a certified letter will be posted informing them that their child(ren) will be unable to attend school after an additional 30 days, unless the bill has been paid to date, or a reasonable payment plan has been made in consultation with the office manager.

90 days past due:  If payment is not remitted or a payment plan agreed upon after 90 days, an additional certified letter will be posted alerting parents that their child(ren) will no longer be able attend school until their financial situation has been rectified. At this point, their deposit will be applied to any outstanding balance, and the remaining balance will be referred to a collection agency. After tuition is paid in full, parents will need to reapply to have their child reinstated.

In cases where a balance remains at the end of the school year, the Board of Directors requires that parents fulfill a payment plan as rendered by school policy to be implemented over the course of the summer. Balances must be cleared by August 1st in order for students to return for the next academic year. If the balance is not remitted by this date, parents will need to reapply to re-enroll the child; if there is a waiting list, he/she will be accepted in the order in which we receive the application.  

If a child is withdrawn from school before the end of the school term, and before the parents’ contractual agreement is honored in full, MPMS expects any outstanding balance to be paid in full after 90 days of the withdrawal of the child.  Contractual payment plans can be arranged.

As a last resort in all instances, MPMS reserves the right to employ an outside agency or the court system to collect all overdue tuition.