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NFS LogoThe North Fork School

General Description & History

Since 1996, The North Fork School has offered academically rigorous, integrated humanities programs to McCall-Donnelly students. Accredited by The Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges since December, 2000, the North Fork School program is dedicated BOTH to rigorous academics, and to avoiding the undermining of funding for local public school programs.

All North Fork School students are dually-enrolled in the local public schools. Because students come out of the public schools for only a small part of each day, the public schools receive full payment for each of our students. The North Fork School programs reduce public class sizes, and the schools still receive their full allotment of tax dollars.

As a cooperative of self-employed tutors, The North Fork School is not yet organized as a 501(c)3 educational organization; our small, financially-challenged community is one reason why we have not taken this step. One of the main goals of The North Fork School is to enhance educational opportunities in McCall without affecting the financial resources of McCall-Donnelly public programs. As all of our students (and their families) are also involved in other public or private school programs, we feel that another commitment to fundraising or board membership would be excessive, both to our families, and to the community, which firmly supports public programs.

The North Fork School accepts all students who want to work hard, regardless of their ability to pay the full tuition. In 2002-2003, half of all NFS families required some special plan or assistance to make their personal finances work.

Writing Workshop students miss one hour of the school day; their writing course supplements the curriculum in their public school. Core program students leave their schools for 2.25 hours per day. Two days per week, they have English, and two days are spent in History class. Art is integrated into their schedule throughout the year. This integrated humanities program supplants their work in those subjects at the public school. In addition to in-class time, all core program students are required to put in 5.25 hours of homework per week.


Academic Goals

The North Fork School provides an established, integrated curriculum with a scope and sequence that is intimately monitored for each individual student. Successful acquisition of skills and positive leaning attitudes become goals for all North Fork School students. The following student/teacher ratios allow each individual student to have personal, immediate attention by teachers throughout the year.

2003-2004:
1st Year Program 8:1
3rd Year Program 7:1
Honors World Lit. (Eng. II), 4:1
AP/Honors American Lit. (Eng III), 5:1

2002-2003:
Writing Workshop, 10:1
2nd Year Program 8:1
3rd Year English 6:1
HS English II, 9:1

The North Fork School curriculum is detailed and rigorous. NFS integrated programs are aligned with the typical progression of 6th (Ancient Cultures), 7th (geography), 8th (American History), & 9th (World History) social studies programs in the public schools.

Students and teachers communicate by and use the internet resources available to them through the North Fork School, including continuously monitoring and participating in assignments on the school website & class pages. North Fork School students develop a high degree of technological comfort, as they must type all of their papers, edit for each other over the internet, interact with teachers and each other on the school website, and pursue research projects using global technological resources. The North Fork School's goal is for each student, teacher, and parent to be absolutely conversant in current technologies, so that they are comfortable using such tools on a daily basis in their college, work, and social lives.

North Fork School students are guided through the steps that will enable them to become successful students and productive, creative, self-motivated, life-long learners. As a primarily academic alternative to full-time enrollment in public schools, The North Fork School guides and counsels students in the academic requirements necessary for achieving admission to and being successful students at selective preparatory schools and colleges.

Such advice includes, but is not limited to:
          writing successful application essays;
          compiling appropriate resumes, which include focused work or community service experiences;
          establishing effective study habits and techniques;
          conducting self-assessment of student academic strengths and weaknesses;
          offering a High School year-by-year planning process for college-bound students and their parents.

This last item includes video and print resources for help with the application and testing processes, and information on financial aid issues. The North Fork School offers these resources to families, and expects that they will be self-motivated in taking the initiative to utilize all resources available to them and to their students.


Facility

The North Fork School site is a relaxed, homelike setting that offers students a variety of choices according to their personal learning styles. Discussions take place in a Socratic atmosphere that allows students to approach and examine their own ideas, connections, and conclusions. Several rooms allow for writing at desks and tables, or in comfortable chairs, alone, or in the company of other students. These inviting, comfortable, well-lit spaces allow students and teachers to meet together, or to be alone, as their needs require.

Students and teachers are all aware of and promote basic values of responsibility, honesty, respect for oneself and one another, and hard work. Academic progress and positive academic attitudes are encouraged and nurtured at The North Fork School, allowing students the space, support, and freedom from social conformities that permit them to cherish the life of the mind.


Library & Media Resources

The North Fork School believes that learning is a process in which students have the key role. All of our classes are aimed at giving students the ability to locate, evaluate, interpret, and communicate information and ideas in every aspect of their daily academic and personal lives. To that end, all North Fork School students must develop skills for independent learning, and adopt positive, productive attitudes about the learning process. Such attitudes include the ethical use of information and resources; the ability to identify their own academic weaknesses and the courage to solve problems they encounter; the media literacy skills and critical thinking essential to developing their own informed opinions and new understanding of issues; and the curiosity and self-initiative to explore ideas and achievements of a variety of people from various cultures and times.

As all of our students are dually-enrolled in local public school programs, we make use of the McCall Public Library, the McCall-Donnelly High School Library, the Payette Lakes Middle School Library, and the McCall Elementary Library to teach students the uses and values of library skills for life-long learning. The North Fork School has a small library of 270 volumes available at all times on-site to students and teachers.

The North Fork School library collection is reviewed and enhanced annually, with an eye toward relevant subject matter for our core program themes. Magazine subscriptions, non-fiction research volumes, and fiction appropriate to various grade levels and abilities (or to a variety of writing techniques) join video and audio resources to provide students and parents with materials applicable to our studies. These "hard" resources, added to the "soft" internet links available to students on our website, support North Fork School goals and curriculum.


Evaluations & Records

Each North Fork School student is educated at his/her own level. While students do take standardized tests at their public schools, an intimate knowledge of students' academic strengths and weaknesses allows teachers to evaluate students independently of standardized instruments. Exact, detailed, narrative evaluations are provided to parents at the end of each school quarter, and to public schools at the end of each semester.

All North Fork School student records contain a list of subjects taken; copies of all evaluations received by students from all teachers in each year of students' participation; lists of final folder writing pieces for each year; lists of skills acquired and cumulative projects completed each year; copies of student self-evaluation goals as well as self-assessments of progress and of academic strengths and weaknesses; and annual North Fork School application essays.

The North Fork School requests parental permission to receive and retain copies of students' ITBS, ISAT, TAP, PSAT, ACT, and SAT scores from their public school counselors, starting with the year that students enter our core programs. Such standardized test records provide evidence of the areas of student improvement that parents have reported to us in each of our previous school years.


Teacher/Program Accountability & Assessment

As purveyors of a private program, North Fork School teachers must meet or exceed the expectations of students and their parents. Without producing desired results year after year, we would not have a program.

During the past six years, both students and parents in every program have completed course and teacher evaluations. This involvement of The North Fork School community in teacher/course assessment has molded our program, including: removal of teachers who did not meet our high standard of accountability or integrity, whether they were ID State-certified or not; creation of a disciplinary method and behavior policy which allows for immediate resolution of disruptions, and involves parents in finding solutions along with students and teachers; alternative selections of textbooks or hands-on materials that appeal to families, yet maintain our high standards; and the alteration of the First Year Program to meet the developing skills and nascent work ethics of students entering our core programs.

If The North Fork School were not meeting parent/student goals for successful progress and rigorous academics, the program simply would not exist. There is very little staff turnover in the program. The small student/teacher ratio, and continuous personal communication between parents and teachers, ensures a high degree of accountability for the teachers at The North Fork School.


Student Activities

The North Fork School believes that students who have a privileged education have a responsibility to share what they have learned with other students. For this reason, various classes of NFS students volunteered their time in the classrooms of younger students one day/month from 1996-1999. There, the NFS students led groups of first, second, or third graders in writing projects that gave the older children teaching skills, while it offered the younger ones writing role-models and a love of new writing techniques & processes.

During the 2003-2004 school year, 3rd year program students will once again work with younger students, if suitable scheduling can be arranged.

The North Fork School also publishes the annual Blue Moon Literary Review, a magazine of student writing solicited from students across the district. Students in North Fork School core programs edit all submissions to The Blue Moon Literary Review, giving authors suggestions for revisions. All revised pieces are then accepted for publication. In this way, North Fork School students share their knowledge of the writing process with students who do not have the opportunity to take part in Writing Workshops or core program classes.



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