The Earth School Handbook


The Earth School Mission Statement

The staff, families, and support agencies that comprise the Earth School community nurture the development of our students through our ongoing collaboration and deep commitment to knowing each child through his or her unique strengths and interests. We work to be a place where children and adults from diverse backgrounds come together to celebrate our differences, to appreciate our common humanity, and to contribute to our community. Our mission is to support children’s inherent love of learning through curriculum that is active, playful, socially conscious, and rigorous. The Earth School’s educational program is designed to support children’s academic achievement and to encourage their commitment to the peaceful resolution of conflict and the preservation of the Earth’s resources.

The Basics

The Earth School Entrance

Parents are asked to use The Earth School Entrance on Avenue B and 5th Street at arrival and dismissal when a safety agent is present. At other times, when alarms are on, parents must enter using the Main Entrance on 6th Street and Avenue B. There is a safety officer at the Main Entrance daily from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Security and I.D. Cards

All visitors are asked to show a picture ID and sign in to enter the building. For quicker entry, parents, caregivers, and those who regularly pick up will be issued Earth School ID Cards. Simply snap a selfie and email your name, your child's name to Stevie ( You may also wish to take a picture of your ID and use it as "wallpaper" on your cellphone. That way, you can simply show the ID from your phone. The security of our children depends on accurate monitoring of visitors entering and leaving the building. Failure to cooperate with these safety protocols could result in restrictions to parents’ open access to the building.

Door Alarms and Surveillance Cameras

There are door alarms and surveillance cameras at all building exits. The building may only be entered and exited through doors with posted School Safety Agents: 6th Street Entrance at all times; 5th Street "Earth School" entrance at arrival and dismissal ONLY. People who exit through unguarded doors will set off loud alarms requiring an immediate response protocol to determine if an unsupervised child has left the building. The door alarms help insure the safety of our students, including very young students and those with disabilities. Exiting from alarmed doors causes false alarms and interrupts the school community. If you or another adult accidently triggers an alarm, please let the office know so we can avoid further investigation and silence the alarm.


The school day begins at 8:30 a.m. The school opens for students at 7:45 a.m. Note: We do not have supervision before that time so please do not drop children off earlier. Parents may bring their children for breakfast from 7:45 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. in the cafeteria, where they will be supervised by an Earth School staff member. The Earth School entrance on 5th Street and Ave B opens by 8:00 a.m. Students entering earlier must use the 6th Street entrance. For safety, caregivers should escort young children who arrive before 8:00 a.m. down to the cafeteria to confirm that a staff member is present. Families are always welcome to stay. All students who arrive before 8:25 a.m. must wait in the cafeteria. Children may not wait in the hallways before 8:25 a.m. without a caregiver.

Morning Gym and Library

The gym (Grades 1 - 5) is available for children and families beginning at 7:55 a.m. All children wishing to go to the gym must get a gym pass from Carmen in the cafeteria by 8:05 a.m. Child will not be admitted to the gym without a pass. Additionally, families may bring or send children to the second library beginning at 8:00 a.m. Staff in these locations will escort children to their classrooms at 8:25 a.m.


Students are dismissed from their classrooms at 2:50 p.m. Caregivers should enter and exit through the 5th Street entrance and pick up at the classroom door. Children who are not picked up on time will signed into “Late Pick-up” in the cafeteria. Please do your best to be on time. If you must be late, please call the office so we know you are on your way. Authorized pick-ups must sign out students when they are picked up after 2:50 p.m.

Authorization for Pick-Up

Parents and legal guardians are required to fill out an Authorization Form indicating all persons who have their permission to pick up their child from school. Any changes to this list should be submitted in writing and sent to the classroom teacher. No child may be released to an unauthorized person. With written parental consent, 4th and 5th graders may be dismissed on their own to walk home or to other after school destinations. This must be indicated in writing on the Authorizations Form.

Half Days

Half Days for students are scheduled throughout the year to provide time for family conferences and professional development. Students are dismissed at 11:55 a.m. on all half days. Please consult the Earth School Calendar for a complete list of half days. Please note that Earth School half days may differ from other Department of Education schools. Six half days, approved by the PA and the faculty, are for essential professional development. After school programming is provided on these days by advance request.


It is important that healthy children come to school every day! When children are frequently absent, they miss important instruction in their classes. It may be difficult for them to catch up on projects and missed experiences.

If a child will be absent, parents should notify the office by phone or email ( between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. When the student returns, a doctor’s note or written explanation of the absence should be submitted to Carmen Nieves in the main office. If the child’s absence was due to an infectious disease, a physician’s note is required for re-admission. Absences of three or more consecutive days without notification are subject to an attendance investigation by the Department of Education. Please note that attendance patterns are an important consideration on middle school applications. In the event of a planned absence, such as a trip or funeral, parents are required to notify the classroom teacher and the office in writing.


One of the most important ways that parents can help their children succeed in school is by getting them to school on time. Teachers take attendance on forms that are sent to the office at 8:35 a.m. along with school lunch counts. Children arriving after 8:35 must stop in the office for a late pass and deliver the late pass to his/her classroom teacher. Failure to get a late pass may result in the child being marked absent for the day and delayed lunch service.

Here’s why it’s important to be on time:

    • Latecomers miss part of the school day. Teachers design arrival routines to allow children time to transition into the school day. By coming late, children lose sync with their classmates and begin their day in an unsettled fashion.

    • Time management is an important life skill that helps children succeed.

    • Latecomers may disrupt the class schedule or create distractions for other students.

    • Lateness and absences are monitored by the Department of Education and are part of your child’s permanent record. They count heavily in Middle School admissions and negatively impact The Earth School’s attendance ratings.

Early Dismissal

If a child must leave school before dismissal time, parents or authorized caregivers must go to the main office (Room 140) where they will receive a dismissal slip to give to the supervising teacher. No child will be released early without an authorized adult to accompany them.

Family Income Inquiry (aka School Meals Application or Lunch Form)

Each year, the Department of Education collects information about family income in order to determine federal subsidies that support schools to serve students who are economically disadvantaged. The Family Income Inquiry form (previously called the School Meals Application or “Lunch Form”) can be completed online or on paper forms that are sent each September. We need to collect one per family. The form can be found at: You will need your child’s birth date, but it is NOT required to enter the school ID number.


MTA bus and train passes are available for students who live more than one mile from school. Applications are available in The Earth School Office.

Scooter parking

Scooters, skateboards, and strollers used for transportation may be parked in the designated area off the Earth School lobby (the entrance room to the women’s restroom, near the auditorium). These items must be picked up at the end of each day. Due to space constraints, bicycles are not permitted.


The school nurse and the Ryan Community Health Clinic are located in Room 128. Practitioners are available during the school day for medical emergencies. Parents can sign up with the clinic for free health screenings, immunizations, and other services. Each child must submit a yearly Health Form indicating that they have had their annual health exam.

Head Lice

Occasional head lice break outs are an unfortunate aspect of classroom life. Left unchecked, lice can spread quickly from head to head. To prevent such infestations, the Parent Association sponsors a service to periodically check all students’ hair for lice. Any child found to have live lice will be sent home with written instructions for lice removal. Children can return to school once the lice and nits are removed and the hair is rechecked. Tying long hair back, not sharing headwear, and not playing with others’ hair can reduce the risk of getting lice.


The Earth School is home to an onsite University Settlement School-Based Mental Health Clinic. Counseling services for children are available in school and scheduled conveniently to complement your child’s class schedule. This program is paid for by Medicaid and does not require a school referral. Also through University Settlement is Families Thriving, a free family support program which includes individual and group services. For help connecting with these and other support services, contact Guidance Counselor Shirley Suares or School Social Worker Rebecca Forlenza.

Emergency Contact Information Form

Each year, parents are required to update their child’s Emergency Contact Information. We need this important information to provide for children in the event that they become ill or injured in school, are not picked up on time, or if we should need to contact you immediately. Please notify the office of any changes in phone numbers, address, or other information that occur during the year.

Emergency School Closings

The Schools Chancellor will announce any citywide decision to close or delay the opening of schools prior to 6:00 a.m. Please check the Department of Education website ( or call 311 for the latest information. School closings are also broadcast on local radio and television stations.

Health & Safety

Avoiding Colds, Flus, and other Contagious Illness

To restore your child’s good health and to reduce the spread of illnesses to others, children must stay home when they are sick. Children who have been ill with fever, chills, vomiting, or diarrhea should stay home a full 24 hours after all symptoms have cleared.

Please inform the school immediately if your child has contracted strep, scarlet fever, conjunctivitis, pink eye, chicken pox, measles, etc. so we can prevent the spread of these highly contagious illnesses.

Tips for avoiding illness:

• Rest at home if you are sick.

• Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze. If a tissue is not available, cover your mouth with your inner elbow.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

Safety Protocols and Drills

As per Department of Education Regulations, we conduct fire and emergency drills throughout the year using the General Response Protocol (GRP). Teachers introduce these drills in age-appropriate discussions that emphasize safety and preparedness.

Over the first two months of school, we will be teaching and practicing GRP safety protocols with all students, including Fire Drills (evacuations) and Lock Down Drills which are practiced throughout the year. Parents and others visiting the school are required to follow all drills and safety procedures. For details, see Emergency Readiness Information Letter on the school website.

Families are also encouraged to register with Notify NYC to receive information about emergency events, and call 311 for additional information about a school during an emergency or evacuation.

Guidelines for Being Together

Respect For All

The NYC DOE is committed to maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment that is free from harassment, intimidation and/or bullying and from discrimination based on actual or perceived race, color, citizenship/immigration status, religion, creed, national origin, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or weight. The Earth School was recognized by the DOE in 2016 and 2017 as a “Respect for All” school.

The Earth School is strictly committed to examining systems and structures which perpetuate historical patterns of bias, exclusion, dominance, and privilege. Throughout the year, there are many opportunities for staff and parents to contribute to this important and ongoing work.

Rights and Responsibilities for Earth School Community Members of All Ages: The Earth School’s Discipline Plan

Teachers and staff at The Earth School are committed to maintaining a learning environment in which all students feel safe, respected, and supported. Educators work collaboratively with students to establish rules, brainstorm consequences, and solve conflicts as they arise. When a student struggles with meeting community expectations, we view this as a “teachable moment,” an opportunity to build the social and emotional skills needed to be a helpful community member. Our approach to discipline is based on a set of beliefs and principles that guide our work in this area of social and emotional learning. The Earth School Discipline Plan includes the Statement of Rights and Responsibilities for Earth School Community Members of All Ages, Children’s Edition, Guiding Beliefs and Principles, and Non-negotiable Behaviors for details.

For serious matters, we also take guidance from the DOE’s Discipline Code which is available in ten languages on their website.

Screen Time, Social Media Policy and Practices

Children need adult supervision in order to learn appropriate Digital Citizenship and Safety Skills. Parents are encouraged to closely supervise and limit the use of social media and internet exploring by elementary age students. Digital media is highly “addictive” to young and old alike and may take time away from other important learning experiences. Students may discover inappropriate and upsetting content. While it is challenging for parents, we strongly that student do NOT communicate with each other through social media or group texts. We recommend that students younger than 4th grade do not bring cellphones to school.

The Earth School personnel communicates with families in various ways, such email, newsletters, and through posts on classroom blogs and websites. The school acquires yearly written consent from families for posting photographs of children on public not-for-profit websites. Families are welcome to take photographs of their children at school events and field trips, but may not share photographs that include images of other people’s children on Facebook, or any other social media site. Please see DOE Social Media Guidelines for more information.

Toys and Electronics Policy

Classrooms at The Earth School are provisioned with a variety of educational games and play materials appropriate to the developmental level of the students. Children are not allowed to bring toys to school, including action figures, dolls, trading cards, skateboards, heelies, electronics, tablets, cameras, iPods, etc., without the expressed permission of the teacher.

The Use of Cell Phones

We strongly recommend that students below the fourth grade do not bring cellphones to school. If a student needs to bring a cell phone to school, it must be turned off and given to the teacher at arrival and picked up at dismissal. Students are not permitted to keep cell phones in their possession during the school day. To foster opportunities for conversation, the use of cell phones and other devices in the school hallways before and after school should be limited to necessary communications. Please NO: social media, games, web browsing, entertainment. We kindly ask that parents support these school habits by limiting their own cellphone use in the hallways.

The Earth School’s Cell Phone Policy

    • Cell phones may be brought to school, but must be turned off and stored with classroom teacher during school hours.

    • Cell phones that are not stored with the teachers during the school hours will be taken and returned to the child’s parent.

    • Repeated (4 or more in one year) violations of the cell phone policy will result in the loss of the privilege of having a cell phone on school property.

We request that the use of cell phones, tablets, and other devices be limited to essential communications in the school hallways before and after school.

Recess Guidelines

Be safe. Be kind. Be responsible. Be respectful.

We are safe.

We go up the ladder and down the slide feet first.

We climb the monkey bars. We don’t sit on top of them or climb on the rooftop.

We don’t climb the fence.

We use jump ropes for jumping. We don’t tie ropes around people.

We don’t throw ice or snow.

We stay off ice and icy equipment and out of puddles.

If an adult feels you are being unsafe, you will be asked to take a short safety break to reset. Breathe or count slowly to 30.

If you continue to be unsafe, you will have to leave the recess yard.

We are kind.

We include others. “You can’t say you can’t play!”

We shake hands at the end of the game.

We are gentle with people’s bodies. We don’t fight, play fight, or hit others with balls.

If someone gets hurt, we stop and help or get help.

If someone is being teased or treated badly, we try to help or get help from an adult.

If someone is very angry or hurting others, we get help from an adult. We stay out of it.

We are kind to the trees and other living things. We don’t pull or climb on branches.

We are responsible.

We stay in the yard. We don’t leave without a pass from Carmen.

We pick a yard and stay there. We don’t switch yards.

We don’t ask for passes after “5 more minutes” is called.

We put balls and jump ropes back into the bag at the end of recess.

We line up together to go back to our classroom with an adult, not by ourselves.

We dress for the weather. Coats come out and stay on when it is below 40°.

We are respectful.

We use appropriate school language.

We listen to directions from any adult in the yard.

When line up is called, we stop, carry balls to bags, walk onto our lines. We find our spots quickly and quietly.

Meals and Snacks: Healthy Eating at The Earth School

At The Earth School, children’s health and safety is our first priority. We take nutrition very seriously. Gardening and cooking instruction using our organic rooftop farm encourage children to learn about healthy foods from seed to table. We ask that our Healthy Food Guidelines are considered whether packing a lunch, donating snack, or celebrating a birthday. Due to student allergies, the Earth School is peanut-free. We understand that whole and organic foods can be more costly. The community is committed to enacting “food justice” by seeking resources so that all students have opportunities to eat wholesome foods in school.

Healthy Food Guidelines

When available, choose fresh fruits and vegetables.

Whole, unprocessed and homemade foods are generally healthier choices.

Read the labels: Avoid foods that contain peanuts and multiple unknown ingredients.

Limit sugary drinks and fruit juices.

NO candy, gum, or soda.

A healthy breakfast sets the stage for focus and energy. Breakfast is free for all students in the cafeteria from 7:45 to 8:20 a.m. Children wishing to eat should arrive in the cafeteria by 8:10 a.m.

Lunch from the school cafeteria is free for all students. Younger children eat in their classrooms. Older students eat in the cafeteria. Children may bring a lunch, if preferred. Please note: Candy, gum, soda, and foods containing peanuts are not allowed.

School Snack and Celebrations

Snack routines vary from class to class. Teachers and class parents will communicate procedures for donating snack at the beginning of the year. Please check with teachers to find out if there are children with specific food allergies. The Earth School is a peanut-free school. Please check allergen warning labels.

Here are some terrific choices:

    • Fresh fruit (apples, pears, grapes, bananas, melon, blueberries)

    • Fresh vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, green beans, celery, peppers)

    • Crackers, cheese, popcorn, pretzels, yogurt, raisins, tortilla chips, rice cakes, sunflower butter

Food Allergies & Peanut-Free Policy

To make our community safe for students with allergies, The Earth School strives to be a peanut-free environment. Please check labels carefully when sending lunches or snacks. Please indicate on your child’s emergency contact card and notify your classroom teacher of any allergies or dietary restrictions.

Birthday Celebrations

We ask that birthday celebrations be kept short, simple, and “not too sweet.” Check with your child’s teacher to find out if, how, and when birthdays are celebrated in the classroom. When bringing food to school, please consider our Healthy Eating Guidelines. Birthdays are also acknowledged each month during Weekly Town Meeting. Families who wish to abstain should inform their teachers so accommodations can be made.

Celebrating Home Cultures

Throughout the year, there are many opportunities to share family culture, traditions, foods, holidays, home languages, and stories. We also recognize and learn about the changing of the seasons by marking Equinoxes and Solstices at community gatherings. Families who wish to abstain should inform their teachers so accommodations can be made.

Sustainable Living for a Healthy Planet

The Earth School is committed to educating for a sustainable future. Sustainability means working to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Education for Sustainability integrates:

Basic environmental literacy


Love of place

Systems thinking

Ecological economics


Citizenship skills

The Earth School community has adopted “P.E.T.-Free” Single Use Water Bottle Policy (the Poland spring type of bottles). Community members are asked to use reusable water bottles or reusable cups instead of single use plastic bottles. Please do not pack single use water bottles for lunches, trips or other school events. We recommend avoiding the use of other single-use plastics, such as straws, plastic bags, plastic utensils, etc.

The Fifth Street Farm

The Fifth Street Farm is a 2400-square-foot rooftop farm on top of the Robert Simon Building. Opened in 2012, the Farm is available to the three schools that share our building. It is designed for young people to experience growing their own organic produce and to learn about the importance of plants in our world. All classes may reserve times to visit the farm. Interns, parent volunteers, and teachers lead gardening activities. Vegetables and herbs from the farm are harvested for our cooking classes, our annual picnic, and the school cafeteria. For more information or to volunteer, visit the or contact

The Classroom

School Supplies

Every child is required to have a backpack or school bag. Classroom teachers distribute supply lists before school starts and periodically request donations. The school offers free school supplies to students if available. Please speak to Jocelyn, Melony, or Abbe if you need something. Children are responsible for the return of books and materials borrowed from their classrooms.


Children learn through active exploration and play. They frequently use paint, clay, sand, soil, and water. Please send children to school in clothing appropriate for these activities. Children need fresh air and exercise all year to stay fit, healthy, and focused. Children play outdoors throughout the year. Please be sure that they are dressed for the weather, including gloves, hats, scarves, and suitable footwear. An extra set of clothing labeled with your child’s name should be left in the classroom for Pre-K and K students.

Department of Education Policy on Outdoor Play

“Children benefit from vigorous exercise and should be given the opportunity to play outside whenever possible. Unless it is snowing, there is ice on the playground, or the wind chill factor creates an effective temperature below zero degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius), temperature alone should not be a barrier to outdoor play.”


Homework expectations vary by teacher and grade although it is recommended that all students spend time reading or being read to each day. We believe that homework should never be overwhelmingly burdensome to our students and their families. When the homework experience is overly stressful, the negative impact will outreach its benefit. In general, the amount of homework increases each year as students become more able to complete independent assignments. Since students are actively engaged during the school day, many are exhausted by the time they get home. Teachers are aware of the other important activities that happen after the school day. Since research and parent opinion on the benefits of homework in the elementary years vary, it is a topic that continues to surface in community discussions.

Class Trips

Field trips are an integral part of the class curriculum and should not be missed. One way that parents participate in the school community is to accompany their child’s class on trips. Parents are notified in advance of class trips. Signed permission slips must be returned to the classroom teacher before each trip. Suggested fees are collected by teachers to cover the cost of school trips as needed. Funds are available to supplement the costs of trips, as needed. All children may participate whether or not they have paid.

Overnight camping trips are planned for third through fifth graders. These trips are an important part of The Earth School experience. Teachers will send information well in advance. Representatives from the camps visit to answer questions prior to the trips. While families and students may be at first nervous to participate, this wonderful opportunity should not be missed!

Open Work and Community Open Work (C.O.W.)

During Open Work time, students have the opportunity to pursue their own interests and creative inspirations. Activities are wide-ranging from developing writing, art, or science projects, to building with blocks, making jewelry, or playing math games. Community Open Work (C.O.W.) is a time in which all Earth School classes simultaneously have Open Work. This allows students to work in other classrooms. Students, teachers, and parents also run special “C.O.W. clubs” to visit other classrooms to work on a common interest or activity. C.O.W. is an opportunity for parents to share their own interests with the school community, to get to know students, and to contribute diverse and rich experiences for students. Parents who are interested in running a club or finding out more should contact their child’s teacher.

Class Formation Policy

At the end of each year, the faculty meets to create the new class groupings. A committee of the teachers and paraprofessionals who know the children well meets with the principal and the teachers who will be receiving the students. The placement of each child is discussed and a decision is arrived at through consensus. The decision is guided by two major considerations: the creation of good working groups and the needs of individual children. Our thorough process is guided by these principles and questions:

Groups must be balanced by gender and grade.

Is there a balance of age and gender?

Groups must be balanced by learning styles.

Are the strengths of students well balanced in each group?

Groups must be balanced socially.

Does each group offer individual students opportunities to maintain old friendships and create new ones?

Parent input, weighed with the above principles, is taken into consideration.

Once the groups are formed, they are assigned to classrooms and teachers. The process of forming these classes is taken very seriously by the staff. We use our best judgement and professional experience when placing the children in classes. It is not our policy to consider requests for particular teachers or to change groupings once announced.

Assessment and Progress Reports

Student Assessment

The Earth School is committed to accurately assessing student learning and knowing children well. We believe that this is best accomplished using a variety of techniques over the course of the year. Teachers determine children’s literacy and math skills using a variety of tools and techniques, such as individual reading assessments, sound-letter surveys, performance tasks, quizzes, and classroom observations. These ongoing records inform daily decisions and are communicated to families during conferences and in written reports in January and June.

Narrative Reports

Each student receives a Narrative Report in January and June. Based on data collected by the teacher, these reports document each child’s development, interests, and progress in school subject areas. The process of creating these reports ensures careful reflection on each individual child’s growth. To prepare for writing, teachers spend time reviewing the student’s work and written observations and records. They synthesize this data in detailed summaries. Individualized goals are created for each child to prioritize their next steps. Though labor intensive, we feel that Narrative Reports and the reflective process that they require are far superior to “letter grades” or checklist report cards. Please read the report carefully and share it with your child. If you have questions, your teacher is available to review the report with you. Your written feedback is also greatly appreciated and lets the teachers know that the report has been read.

Family Conferences

Frequent communication between school and home is very important in supporting students’ success. Family conferences are held three times a year to discuss individual progress and goals and to review student work. Sign-up sheets are posted in advance outside the classroom. Afternoon and evening time slots are provided. Additionally, teachers are available throughout the year to meet with families if needs arise.

Earth School teachers hold Family Conferences three times a year as published on the school calendar.

    • November Family Conferences includes time to look at student work from the first two months of school and discuss goals for moving forward. Teachers will schedule a 20 minute conference with each family.

    • Winter Family Conferences includes time to discuss the Narrative Reports, look at current student work, discuss goals previously set, and set goals for the remaining months of the school year. Teachers will schedule a 20 minute conference with each family.

    • June Conferences are used for Portfolio Conferences and Performance Based Assessment Roundtables (for 5th Graders)

In February, all public schools are required to contact parents with a written note if there are concerns about a student’s readiness for the next grade. If there are concerns about your child’s readiness, a “Promotion in Doubt” letter will be sent home. The promotion decision will be discussed at the winter conference. The final promotion decision will be made in June.

Portfolio Work Collections

Cumulative portfolios are kept for each child at The Earth School. These large envelopes contain work from each year the child attends. Students and their teachers select work to place in the portfolio. Reviewing work over several years is an interesting way to look at how learning is taking place for that student. Prior to graduation, each student is assigned an adult mentor with whom to go through the work and select pieces to exhibit during the final weeks of school. The portfolios are stored in each classroom and are available for viewing by parents upon request.

Standardized Testing

As mandated, The Earth School administers standardized tests in grades three to five. The test schedule is contained in the School Calendar of The Earth School website. Teachers in testing grades introduce the test format to prepare students for the testing experience, but there is no formal “test prep.” The class curriculum follows grade level standards so students are prepared to demonstrate mastery in a variety of contexts, including standardized exams, to the extent of their current ability.

Performance Based Assessment Tasks (“PBATs”) and Roundtables

Fifth grade students are given "Assessment Tasks" and time to prepare during the weeks before the Roundtables. On the day of the Roundtables, students present their thinking and solutions to the panel of evaluators using a letter which describes their work. Each student also performs a “live” problem in front of the panel of evaluators. Peer and adult evaluators will give each student written feedback in several areas based on a rubric developed by Earth School teachers. Participating in the Roundtable process is an educational experience that requires that students be well-prepared in order to articulate and defend their work to peers, community members, and “outside” guests, including teachers, school leaders, parents, and other public education stakeholders. Student performance on the math projects as well as during the Roundtables will be reflected your child’s June Narrative Report.

Test Refusal Policy

Recent public scrutiny of high stakes testing practices has given way to a growing movement of families who are opting out of the State exams. Parents around our city and state are asserting their right to refuse the tests without penalty. The Earth School is committed to acknowledging the diversity of our community and to respecting each family's right to make this personal decision for themselves.

Department of Education STARS Grading System

STARS (Student Transcript and Academic Recording System)

The Department of Education is now requiring all schools to record grades in their online data collection system, called STARS (Student Transcript and Academic Recording System). Formerly, this was done in a different system (SEMS) which is being phased out.

Earth School records using a pass/fail (P/F) grading policy for STARS, as follows:

    • P/F grades are recorded twice a year (interim and end year).

    • Any student making steady progress during their current grade level will receive a grade of “P” in each academic subject area. The “P” means that they are expected to pass to the next grade, but does not indicate the degree of mastery or struggle.

    • Occasionally, teachers assess that a child may not be ready for the challenges of the next grade. The decision to retain a child for a second year in a grade is made over time in consultation with parents and is always discussed first at a family conference and in the January Narrative Report. The decision always takes into consideration multiple forms of evidence across learning domains. Students will receive an “F” on the end year grade as an indication that they are not promoting. Although required by the DOE, the Earth School objects to the labeling of students with letters and numbers and believes that children should be proud of their progress even if they would benefit from more time in their current grade.

    • All P/F grading will also take into account any revised promotional criteria included in IEPs, for students receiving Special Education services.

    • Parents can view grades in STARS using the NYC Schools Account log in.

STARS and Middle School Applications

Because end year fourth grade STARS grades are viewed by middle schools during the application process, in addition to P/F summary grades (see above), the corresponding section of the narrative report will inserted for each subject area. These sections are copied directly from the reports which are distributed in June. Parents can also view this in My Schools using the NYC Schools Account log in.

Individualized Attention

Special Services at The Earth School

A variety of special services are available at The Earth School, including speech, occupational and physical therapy, counseling, and language instruction for English Language Learners. Parents and teachers can request screenings for these services to determine student eligibility. Parental consent is required for full evaluations and to receive ongoing services to address special needs. Please speak to your child’s teacher if you have concerns.

The Support Team

The Support Team is a group of educators and specialists who strategize with classroom teachers to support the needs of individuals and small groups of students. The team devises a plan which is implemented over several months using resources from within the school. Examples of areas that the team might target include organization, making and keeping friendships, confidence, specific academic skills, and self expression. The team may suggest modifications to existing curriculum and routines to better support individuals. Working with children who are ready for greater challenge or to pursue a topic in more depth is another area that the team considers.

Parent Leadership, Collaboration, and Resources

Parent Involvement

All parents and caregivers are encouraged to get involved in our school community in some way. Being involved supports children’s success in school and contributes to creating a rich and diverse school community. Parent involvement has made the school what it is today and has the power to shape its future in meaningful and lasting ways. There are many ways to contribute: become a class parent, lead a C.O.W. club, volunteer in the garden, or office; or become a part of a shared decision-making body such as the School Leadership Team (SLT) and the Parents’ Association (PA).

Fundraising is another important way that parents support the school. Each year, the Parents’ Association needs to raise around $350 per child to pay for classroom materials, enrichment programs, camping trips, and special events. The major fundraisers of the year are the Fall Fair, the Annual Appeal, the Read-A-Thon and the Spring Auction. Smaller fundraisers, such as Friday Popcorn, movie nights, bake sales and the Coffee Club are held as well. Your participation and new ideas are welcome and greatly appreciated!

Parents Association

All parents are members of the Earth School Parents Association. The Parents’ Association oversees all fundraising activities and orchestrates many school events. The money raised by the PA supports several enrichment programs that benefit our children including music, dance, and camping trips. The PA is also a forum for parental concerns and represents the views of the parents at District, S.L.T. and weekly meetings with the principal meetings. Parents’ Association executives -- Co-Presidents, Vice President, Secretary, Large and Small Events Coordinators, Communications Director and Co-Treasurers -- are elected each year. PA Committees form to coordinate other initiatives throughout the year. All parents are encouraged to attend monthly PA Meetings in the School Library. In addition, the PA communicates digitally using the Konstalla platform with important news and upcoming events.

School Leadership Team

The School Leadership Team (SLT) is comprised of the principal and elected representatives of the parents and staff. The SLT meets monthly to discuss and decide on matters relevant to the overall functioning of the school community, including budget, the Comprehensive Educational Plan, hiring, and programming. These meetings are open to all members of the school community and minutes are posted outside the office and on the SLT page of the school website.

Comprehensive Education Plan (CEP)

The Comprehensive Education Plan or "CEP" is a document that schools are asked to prepare each year at this time. The CEP is derived from school data and needs assessments and is meant to guide the school's improvement for the upcoming year. The CEP is organized around the six elements of the Chancellor's "Framework for Great Schools": Rigorous Instruction, Supportive Environment, Collaborative Teachers, Effective School Leadership, Strong Family-Community Ties, and Trust.

CEP Process:

1. Collect feedback, data, input from internal and external sources Staff, Parents, Administration, Assessment data, Quality Review Feedback, etc.

​2. Tally and cluster needs and priorities

3. Select a topic from each element

4. Draft CEP on shared document. SLT and faculty comment/revise

5. Share final draft for SLT/Staff Review and SLT Approval

Class Parents

Class parents are classroom ambassadors, communicating information from the Earth School PA and administration to their classroom community and vice versa. Each classroom needs two class parents. As a class parent your job will include:

Connecting class families through an email list

Maintaining communication between your child’s teacher and class families regarding field trips, class events, volunteers, and classroom needs

Organizing class breakfasts and class celebrations

Being a positive presence to help every family have a sense of belonging and voice

Promoting school and fundraising events

Class Kick-Off Evening: Potluck and Curriculum Night

Early in the year, we invite parents to visit their children’s classroom to meet the teacher and the other parents in the class and to get important information about the class curriculum. Teachers describe plans for the year including topics of study, the daily schedule, and homework routines. Parents can ask general questions and find out ways that they can support their children at home. There will be an opportunity to express your availability to help out in the classroom or become a class parent. All parents are encouraged to attend. Childcare is available.

Important All School Gatherings

School gatherings reinforce community among parents, children, and staff. A schoolwide Weekly Town Meeting is held on Friday mornings after drop-off in the Blue Play Space downstairs. Parents are encouraged to attend when they can. The Annual Potluck Dinner is a fun way to meet other families, staff members, and parent leaders. At the Annual Town Meeting, parents and teachers come together to review the year’s work and plan for the future. Children attend special activities while the adults participate in the day’s events.


ParentCorps is an interactive support group for families of Pre-K and K children. ParenCorps builds on the strengths of culturally-diverse families and engages parents as partners in helping children succeed. Each session focuses on an important topic for parenting young children and provides a comfortable atmosphere for sharing strategies and learning from one another. Parent Corps meets one morning a week for a 14 week cycle. For more information, contact Shirley (Guidance), or Jocelyn (Parent Coordinator).

Communications Between Home and School

School Telephone

The Earth School Office may be reached by calling (212) 477-1735. Follow prompts for the nurse, guidance, and parent coordinator. Children may use office phones for emergencies only. Teachers are discouraged from giving out their cell numbers and may not receive calls in their classrooms. The office staff can get important messages to classrooms as needed.

Backpack Mail

Please establish a routine with your child so that you receive any “mail” sent home with your child. Notices, homework, fliers, and permission slips are sent home with children. Please respond in a timely manner. While some notices, such as permission slips, must be signed, we aim to be a mostly “paperless” community through our website and email communications. Public Computers are available for parent use in the PA Room and the Library. If you need help accessing email, please contact Jocelyn. If you do not have regular access to email and prefer to receive “hard copy” notifications, please indicate this on your yearly School Authorizations Form.

Staff Email Accounts

All staff members have email accounts. You may contact teachers and other school personnel via email, but please keep in mind that teachers have limited time to check their email during the school day. Many Earth School teachers are willing to communicate with parents beyond their daily work day, but please limit these requests when possible.

Email Lists

To reduce the use and expense of paper notices, many important announcements are communicated via email lists. While we try to limit the number of emails that go out, there are always crunch times with a lot going on. Public Computers are available for parent use in the PA Room and the Library. If you need help accessing email, please contact Jocelyn. If you do not have regular access to email and prefer to receive “hard copy” notifications, please indicate this on your yearly School Authorizations Form.


A newsletter from the Principal and a Parent Association digest are sent every week via email and/or paper (upon request). Teachers and grade teams also put together newsletters to highlight class events, make announcements, and share information about classroom life. Many teachers have individual class websites where you can find a variety of photographs, assignments, book lists, and blogs.

Translation Services

Chancellor’s Regulation A-663 requires translation and interpretation services in the nine most common languages other than English spoken by parents of New York City school children. These languages are Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, French, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Urdu. Services are available upon request. خطة امكانية الوصول إلى اللغة লয্াǩেয়জু aয্াকেসস pয্ান 語言使用計劃Plan de acceso lingüístico

The Earth School Website

The Earth School website contains continually updated information about the school, a weekly letter from the Principal, as well as links to the staff and student portals, class websites, after school programs and the school calendar. Please check the calendar regularly for meeting schedules, school closings, half days, and special events. The Earth School website is maintained by parents and volunteers in collaboration with our technology coordinator. Parents with computer experience are always needed to keep the site updated with photos, events, and school news.

NYC Schools Account

With a NYC Schools account you will be able to access key information about your child's progress in school, including attendance, general student information, and test scores in one of ten languages on a computer, phone or tablet. You will need your child’s student ID and access code from Jocelyn ( to log in.


The DOE Annual Parent Survey gathers information about your overall satisfaction with our school and results are published on the DOE's public website. Completion rates reflect the level of parent involvement. Each family receives a green envelope with the survey to fill out along with postage-paid envelope. You can also complete the survey online using your access code (provided in the green envelope). The survey takes less than five minutes to complete.

Each spring, The Earth School’s Leadership Team (SLT) conducts its own Parent Involvement Survey to get feedback that is specific to our school. The results of this survey are reviewed by the SLT to to inform future planning.