Setting and Context

We Are Crew, Not Passengers!

Culture and Community Context

Polaris is an expeditionary school where students engage in interdisciplinary, in depth studies and adventures gaining real world experiences. This is also a choice based where students have to choose to attend this school and they have to want to go here. The building is K-12 which makes it a very unique environment to be educated. This school harnesses the students natural passion to learn and helps children develop the curiosity, knowledge, skills, and personal qualities they need for successful adulthood.

The principle is ever engaged with the students and parents. He also loves to educate members of the community about his unique school and all the going ones that happen here. 

Support Structure 

Parents are a huge part of the support structure for students. Polaris has the highest number of parent volunteers in the district. The school has a couple paraprofessionals and school counselors for students who need them. The school is made up of teachers who really care about the students and what they are learning. However there isn't an art room for K-5 students making it somewhat difficult for the traveling teachers.

Demographic Characteristics

Students come from all over Fort Collins and beyond including, Greeley, Windsor, Loveland, Ault, and Eato creating a diverse learning environment.

Classroom Environment and Students

The class room is the effect size to rangle 18 2nd and 3rd graders. There are some high tables and a low table for students who want to sit on the floor. They also have access to headphones if the room gets too noisy. There is a chime hanging in the room that when chimed the students know to be quiet and look at the teacher or in our case teachers. There is also a sink in the room that also has a drinking foundation attached. Its super helpful for an art class because they don't have to ask to wash their hands and they can wash their tools and brushes right away and that saves trips to the restroom. 

The morning routine helps the students be responsible for themselves and their belonging. They have to more their attendance stick, place chairs around the tables, put snacks, lunch and backpacks away as well as turning in any homework. The students are generally very respectful but they are kids. If one does mess up they take initiative to apologize or tell them how they felt when the other was mean. 

School-wide Policies for Management, Safe Schools, Conflict Resolution and Students with Special Needs

Information on School-wide Policies and Safe Schools can be found on the district website.

The classroom has some really cool management practices put in place. One of my favorite is if a students is talking to much or being disruptive you can send them out in the hall for a walk. They walk in front of the other teachers classroom so they are never out of sight of somebody. Then when they feel ready they can come back into the class. Once they do thy don't want to be sent out again so they avoid doing whatever got them out there in the first place. They also have bathroom passes that they put on their desk wen they leave. They don't have to interrupt you taking to a student and you know where they went. There are also a couple tables set up where students can work alone if they need to. Also like I mentioned earlier, headphones for if it gets to loud and they can't concentrate. 

The school has a redirect system in place the ever student should be familiar with:

  • 1st redirect: politely remind the student to get back on track. 

  • 2nd redirect: politely ask them to change their behavior and tell them what type of behavior is expected. Also, remind them that the next time they will have a discussion in the hall. 

  • 3rd redirect: talk with the student in the hall about their behavior. If there is another redirect the student may be removed from the room

  • 4th redirect: create a problem solving contract, where the student and teacher talk about what they can do to adjust these behaviors.

  • 5th redirect: Administrative support in the office.

Poudre school district also has many things set in place for safety. 

  • Campus Security Officers, part of the PSD Security Department, work at school sites as the eyes and ears of the district. Duties include security; vehicle, bike, and foot patrol; special event coverage; and crisis response and assistance. 

  • School Resource Officers are certified police officers based at PSD middle and high schools. SROs help maintain the schools' safe learning environment, improve school/law enforcement collaboration, and promote positive relations between students, staff, and law enforcement officials. 

There is also an emergency response and preparedness plan set in place:

1. Prevention
School prevention include visitor screening, suicide assessment and intervention, implementing prevention programs, and conducting threat assessments.

2. Protection
Some school protection programs include evacuation, sheltering for hazard, lock down, lockout and "run-hide-fight" protocols.

3. Mitigation
Examples of mitigation include installation of backup generators for power outages; early warning systems for severe weather events, fencing hazardous areas, safe construction and defensible space for wild land fires, and the presence of School Resource Officers. Any of these measures could mitigate the impact of an event.

4. Response
Taking action to effectively contain and resolve the crisis or emergency, including all aspects associated with notifying and protecting the students, staff, public and property.

5. Recovery
Assisting students and staff in the healing process and restoring educational operations in schools. The two main priorities of this phase are the emotional recovery of the students and staff and the physical recovery of school.

Polaris exercises a nondiscriminatory policy for all of their students. They have metal health services that assist the student as well as the family. The school also has two paraprofessional on staff that assist students who have developmental or learning impairments. SWAP stands for School to Work Alliance Program. It assist students:

  • Are 15-24 years old

  • Applicants of/or eligible for DVR

  • Have mild to moderate needs in employment

  • Live within the PSD school boundaries

  • Want to work and/or a desire to develop pre-employment skills

  • Have the capability to work independently

and helps them find jobs and learn how to be self sufficient. 

Feel free to follow these links for more information about Poudre School District and Polaris Expeditionary Learning School

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