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Frequently Asked Questions

 

General Operations

Daily Schedule

Academics & Grading

Family Involvement

Admissions & Tuition

Elementary Classroom

Frequently Asked Questions

 

General Operations

What makes West Branch School special?

It is truly a family school. It is a developmental, functional, child-centered community, providing children with the social and emotional support vital to academic learning. It is a safe and happy place to learn.


Is the school licensed?

Yes, the school is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and has been since it was founded in 1971.


Are all the teachers certified? 

Yes, all are certified.


What is the student-teacher ratio? 

10:1 (although this varies slightly from year to year)


How many students does the school enroll?

Between 45 and 55.


What grades does the school offer?

West Branch School is licensed for Kindergarten through eighth grades. Children may enter West Branch School at any time between Kindergarten and sixth grades. Families wanting their child to attend West Branch School for the seventh and eighth grade years must petition the school body after the teachers reach a positive consensus.


What are the hours?

Morning meeting, the first formal event of the school day, begins at 8:45 a.m. Students are encouraged to arrive at, but not before 8:30 a.m. School ends at 3:00 p.m., and students should be picked up no later than 3:30 p.m. unless enrolled in our after school program.


Is there an After School program?

There is a program of after school activities from 3:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. every school day. It is available to children who attend West Branch School.


How does the calendar compare with that of the public school?

It's very similar, and the number of school days is the same.


How does the school handle discipline?

We work consistently at helping the children develop social and emotional maturity. When there are conflicts, they are addressed immediately. In a small meeting, the children meet with a facilitator (generally a teacher, but sometimes another child), take turns explaining their personal perspectives of the issue, and try to work out solutions. In cases of persistent misbehavior we use a time to "stop and think" about choices and behavior and family consultation. Our objective is to help children internalize discipline. Bullying and abusive behavior is not tolerated at West Branch School.

Family Involvement

West Branch School is a parent/teacher run organization. Parents can volunteer as much time as they would like. West Branch School has offered more options than ever to parents in terms of time commitment.

Parents can volunteer as much time as they would like, but are required to sign up for several cleanings and or teacher coverages per school year (often about 6). A teacher coverage is a time when two parents plan and teach a curriculum based project to the students during the hours of 1 pm to 3 pm. These generally occur once or twice a month. Teacher coverages are considered to be a valuable part of the curriculum, and parents can always get ideas from the teachers, or other parents. This is a great time for parents to share their talents and interests with the students. Parents are also required to attend three work weekends per year. This is a community effort to spruce up the school and usually involves about six hours per family per work weekend.


Committees are essential to the operation of the school. These may include: admissions, fund raising, advertising, etc. Each family is expected to serve on one committee. All families must participate in our annual Fair: our largest fundraiser as well as a fun, all-school event.


There is a "Buy-Out" option for parents who would prefer to pay a fee in lieu of Teacher Coverage and Cleaning duties. Please ask for details.

What else could I do for the school if I wanted to?

Practically anything. Drive on field trips, teach (anything from a one-day to an all-year class), read with students, serve on additional committees, serve as an officer, be a resource person, or even contribute financially. For some parents, the school is a central part of their lives.

Academics & Grading

Does West Branch School offer a full-day kindergarten?

Yes, most kindergarteners are enrolled for the full day. Children must be 4 years 7 months old by the first day of school. A visitation and an assessment of readiness are both required.


Are the children divided into classes by grade, as in the public schools? 

No, not really. As a rule, children working at Kindergarten through second grade levels meet in one classroom. Children working at grades third through eighth grade levels meet in two other classrooms. The three large groups are frequently subdivided into skill groups and project groups of various sizes depending on curricular need. Important are such factors as reading ability, social and emotional maturity, special interest, and group dynamics. It is also recognized that a single child might be operating at very different skill levels in different subjects or project areas.


How large are the skill groups? 

Generally 6-11. (Skill groups are small academically oriented groups.)

Does the school give grades?​

Children of fifth grade age and above receive report cards though parents of younger Upstairs children may request them. Special requests are honored at all times.

Then how would I keep track of my child's progress?

Communication between teachers and parents is a cornerstone of West Branch School education. There are three scheduled conferences per year. At the third the teachers discuss the results of your child's national standardized tests. All West Branch students take these tests each year. In addition, teachers or parents can schedule informal conferences at any time. West Branch teachers encourage ongoing communication with parents.


How does the school meet the needs of children ahead of or behind grade level?

Partly by placing them in appropriate groups and partly by individualizing. The school enrolls a very wide range of children, but with its small teacher/student ratio, the school has no need to teach to the middle. The teachers work with each child for three or four years, therefore are familiar with each child's unique learning style. This enhances group placement. Those who need additional tutorial help in reading or math receive it through the Blast Intermediate Unit 17. Also, we have the extra welcomed help from volunteers, teachers' aides, and student interns. Teachers also spend individual time with students during breaks and after school.

What educational resources does the school have?​

We have an impressively extensive library, a good selection of educational games, toys math manipulatives, science kits etc. Our computer labs with both Mac and PC platforms grow yearly, and we are connected to the Internet. We have a great selection of software for our students. Students begin using computers in Kindergarten. Keyboarding is taught throughout the school experience.


What role do field trips play?

They are a major part of our hands-on approach to learning. Frequent and varied, they range from local half-day jaunts for the younger children to more extensive, multi-day excursions for the older ones.

How do West Branch graduates handle the transition to public school?

As a result of both formal and informal research carried out by teachers and parents at various times, we can say confidently that, in almost every case, they handle the transition very well. Our graduates tend to be quite prepared with a good academic background, a lot of experience in social problem solving, on-going contact with children of all ages and strong self-esteem. The result is that they usually adapt readily to new situations. They are quite routinely placed in honors classes in the middle schools

General Operations

What makes West Branch School special?

It is truly a family school. It is a developmental, functional, child-centered community, providing children with the social and emotional support vital to academic learning. It is a safe and happy place to learn.


Is the school licensed?

Yes, the school is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and has been since it was founded in 1971.


Are all the teachers certified? 

Yes, all are certified.


What is the student-teacher ratio? 

10:1 (although this varies slightly from year to year)


How many students does the school enroll?

Between 45 and 55.


What grades does the school offer?

West Branch School is licensed for Kindergarten through eighth grades. Children may enter West Branch School at any time between Kindergarten and sixth grades. Families wanting their child to attend West Branch School for the seventh and eighth grade years must petition the school body after the teachers reach a positive consensus.


What are the hours?

Morning meeting, the first formal event of the school day, begins at 8:45 a.m. Students are encouraged to arrive at, but not before 8:30 a.m. School ends at 3:00 p.m., and students should be picked up no later than 3:30 p.m. unless enrolled in our after school program.


Is there an After School program?

There is a program of after school activities from 3:30 p.m. 5:30 p.m. every school day. It is available to children who attend West Branch School.


How does the calendar compare with that of the public school?

It's very similar, and the number of school days is the same.


How does the school handle discipline?

We work consistently at helping the children develop social and emotional maturity. When there are conflicts, they are addressed immediately. In a small meeting, the children meet with a facilitator (generally a teacher, but sometimes another child), take turns explaining their personal perspectives of the issue, and try to work out solutions. In cases of persistent misbehavior we use a time to "stop and think" about choices and behavior and family consultation. Our objective is to help children internalize discipline. Bullying and abusive behavior is not tolerated at West Branch School.

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