Parent/Student Handbook and Verification Form-Click Here



School in the Woods

Parent/Student Handbook


2018-2019 School Year


Review Verification Form




Instructions for parents:  Please review the attached handbook with your child, then complete and sign this form below.


Please return only this completed page to the school within one week.  Keep the attached handbook for your reference.



We have read, discussed, and understood the School in the Woods Parent/Student Handbook, which includes our school's and Academy School District 20's guidelines and procedures.


Parent(s)/Guardian name:   ______________________________________


Signature: ___________________________________________________


Student name: ________________________________________________


Student Signature (required): _____________________________________


Date:  ______________




School in the Woods

Parent/Student Handbook


2018-2019 School Year



School in the Woods is an educational choice for fourth grade students in Academy School District 20.  These young naturalists attend school each day for the entire school year on 640 wooded acres in Black Forest.  A significant part of instructional time is spent outdoors in this 'living classroom', actively exploring and learning about weather, water, soil, plants, and wildlife.  Enthusiasm for the natural sciences enriches teaching and learning in all areas of the curriculum.


This handbook is a guide for students and parents of the School in the Woods.  Pages 1 through 8 contain information that is unique to our school.  It is very important that both students and parents read and understand these guidelines.  The following pages contain Academy School District 20 policies that apply to all district schools.  Parents should be certain they read and understand these policies.  If you have questions about any of these policies, please talk with a teacher or school district administrator.


The information in this handbook will help all of us have a wonderful year of exploration, discovery, and learning together at our School in the Woods.


 "Nature is an educational

stimulus of rare force."

--  Enos Mills,

Father of Rocky Mountain National Park


12002 Vollmer Road, Colorado Springs, CO  80908

School Phone:  234-4330





School Begins:  8:35 a.m.  Dismissal Time: 3:35 p.m.



Mission Statement


The mission of School in the Woods is to enhance, nurture, and develop well-equipped, life-long learners and responsible citizens who value and become stewards of our community and world in an academically challenging program with a unique science integrated curriculum for 4th grade naturalists with expanding interests in nature within a trusting, emotionally healthy and safe field-based environment.





The School in the Woods will follow the regular District 20 school calendar. Students at the School in the Woods are expected to meet the same attendance requirements as all other students in the District.  For more details, please see the District 20 Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities. 


If your child will be absent for any reason, please inform your child's teacher the day before, if possible.  If your child is ill, please call the school at any time and leave a message on the School in the Woods answering machine.  If the school does not receive a message, we will call parents at home or work to let you know that your child is not at school. Please do not e-mail teachers about absences or emergencies, since teachers do not always have a chance to check e-mail at the start of the school day. 


Please do not drop your child off before 8:25 a.m.  We encourage all carpool students to arrive by 8:30.Instruction begins at 8:35.  If you arrive after 8:35, you are considered tardy and an adult must sign the student in at the office.


Because of the unique nature of the School in the Woods program, when your child misses school, he or she may miss outdoor science experiences that are impossible to make up.  So, if at all possible, we ask that you not plan for your child to miss school for vacations or other optional absences. If you still find it necessary to prearrange school absences, you must complete an "Absence Notification Form" which is available in our office. Please try to schedule doctor, dentist, and other appointments after school.  If you must schedule an appointment during school hours, it would be best to arrange for your child to return to school by noon, since much of our outdoor field learning will take place in the afternoon.


Student Health


Teachers at the School in the Woods want to do everything we can to help our students stay healthy.  Please do NOT send your child to school if he or she is not feeling well.  If an outdoor activity is planned for the entire school, all students will need to go outside.  If your child should be injured or become ill while at school, we will call you right away so that you can take your child home.  We are a small school, and students will be working closely together.  Please do not send your child to school if he or she has a cold or other medical condition that you suspect might spread to others.   If everyone will keep their children home when they are not feeling well, all of us will have a healthier school year.


Please inform your child's teacher if your child has any medical condition that may be aggravated by being outdoors.  It is especially important that teachers know if your child suffers from severe allergic reaction to insect bites, or from asthma that may be brought on by pollen, plants, weather, or exertion. 


If your child needs to take medication, either prescription or non-prescription, an adult must deliver it to school in the original container with a completed Academy District 20 Permission to Administer Medications form.  By law, we cannot allow students to take any medication unless this process is followed.


Dressing for the Outdoors


We expect that students will be going outdoors for some part of every school day.  If it is very cold, raining, or snowing heavily, we may go outdoors for only a few minutes to look for animal tracks, record temperatures and precipitation, or to experience our "living classroom" in a different kind of weather.  But students should never assume that we will not be going outdoors. 


Students should wear comfortable clothing and footwear that is suitable for going outdoors.   They should be aware that clothing may become wet, muddy, or even ripped while outdoors.  Sandals, Crocs, and similar open shoes are not suitable for outdoor wear at our school.  Dresses or skirts are NOT recommended.   We will have a few school days during the year when students may "dress up" if they like.


We ask each student to bring to school at the beginning of the year a pair of slippers or moccasins that are not super fancy and have a hard bottom.


These items should be clearly marked with the student's name.  They will remain at school for the entire school year in case the student should get wet, muddy, or cold while outdoors and need to change clothes at school.


We strongly encourage students to listen to weather forecasts each day and come to school dressed for the worst possible weather.  Remember that Black Forest is usually colder than Colorado Springs, and may receive substantially more snow.  When in doubt, it's better to wear more and not need it than to regret leaving a warm jacket or hat at home.  Multiple layers work well during the colder days.





There will be no hot lunches (except Pizza Fridays) or other foods available for purchase at the School in the Woods.  Students will need to bring their own lunch, snacks and beverages each school day.  Please bring foods that do not need to be refrigerated or microwaved.  Ice packs and thermoses work well.  On cold days, we will provide hot water for students who would like to make hot chocolate or soup.  Some days, we may eat lunch away from the school building, and those lunches should be easy to carry in backpacks.


Severely Allergic Children


Severe allergies are very serious and can be fatal.  While District 20 cannot guarantee that a student will never experience an allergy-related event while at school, the district has created procedures designed to reduce the risk (Procedure EF-R-1).  A Food Allergy Task Force developed Guidelines for Protecting Students with Life-Threatening Allergies and Food Intolerances are on the district website.  At School in the Woods, we have designated our school as a cashew, pistachio, and sesame seeds free school. School in the Woods will remain vigilant regarding student allergies and make adjustments to eating situations as is needed.


Phone Calls


Students may use the school telephone with permission of a teacher.  Students should try to make plans for after-school activities before coming to school.


Whenever possible, parents wishing to contact the school should call before or after school.  Teachers may not be able to come to the phone during instructional time.  If there is no answer, please leave a voice message and a staff member will return your call as soon as possible.  Phone messages will be checked regularly.


Parents who prefer to e-mail teachers with questions or concerns are welcome to do so.  Teachers will respond as soon as possible.  In case of emergency, or if an answer is needed immediately, please call.


Cell Phones


Cell phones must be turned off and stored in the student's backpacks during school hours.  If a student needs to make a phone call during school hours, they should do so only after consulting with the teacher. They will be directed to use the school phone.




Emergency School Closures


The safety of students is District 20's first concern.  Please listen to local radio stations when there is snow or other hazardous weather to find out if school is in session. A 20Alert will be issued.  Do NOT call School in the Woods, since it is very unlikely anyone will be there.  During snowstorms, roads in Black Forest may be worse than those in the city. 


Please make arrangements ahead of time for your child to have a place to go if school is released early and there is no one home.  Even if school is in session, parents are always welcome to keep students at home or pick up them up early at School in the Woods if you are concerned about the weather. 



Taking Children Out of School and Child Custody


If you need to take your child out of school during the day, please let us know ahead of time.  If we don't know that you will be coming, it is possible that we may be out in the field when you arrive for your child.  If anyone other than a custodial parent will be picking up your child, we need to have a written note from a custodial parent giving permission for the child to go with that adult.


In most cases, when parents are divorced, both Mom and Dad continue to have equal rights where their children are concerned.  If you have a court order that limits the rights of one parent in matters of custody or visitation, please bring a copy to the School in the Woods.  Unless your court order is on file with us, we must provide equal rights to both parents.


Home Learning Policy


Home learning is an integral part of the School in the Woods curriculum.  Through daily home learning, students practice and extend skills learned at school.  Regular home learning assignments also help students develop responsibility, self-discipline, and time management.  Home learning provides a valuable link between home and school by helping parents know what their child is learning.


Research supports the value of daily home learning.  However, excessively long periods of home learning can be counter-productive.  School in the Woods teachers will follow District Twenty guidelines, which recommend approximately forty minutes of home learning each school night for fourth graders.  Home learning may include:


            •  Skill practice (such as practice of spelling words or math)

            •  Research

            •  Work on a group or individual project

            •  Independent reading






These are some important guidelines for helping your child with home learning:


            •  Allow your child some time to unwind before beginning home learning

            •  Set a regular study time; make home learning a habit

            •  Provide a comfortable, well-lit, distraction-free place to do assignments

            •  Communicate to your child that home learning is important

            •  Help your child understand that home learning is his or her personal responsibility

            •  Have your child write down all home learning assignments

            •  Hold your child responsible for getting home learning to and from school

            •  Recommend that your child concentrate on tough assignments first

            •  Show confidence in your child's ability; don't do the assignment for your child

            •  Let your child know that extra-curricular activities will not be an excuse for                                  unfinished home learning


If your child is routinely spending significantly more than forty minutes on home learning, or often seems frustrated by home learning assignments, please discuss this with your child's teacher.  If your child is completing home learning assignments very quickly, challenge him or her to carefully check over the assignment for thoroughness, accuracy, and neatness.  At least twenty minutes of independent reading each night, in addition to assigned home learning, is strongly encouraged.


If a student is absent, he or she should check with the teacher the next day for any assignments missed.  If your child will be absent for several days, please check with the teacher to see if there is an assignment he or she can be doing at home to help minimize lost learning time.


Discipline Plan


The underlying attitude for everything we do at School in the Woods is RESPECT:

                        RESPECT for oneself

                        RESPECT for other students and their opportunity to learn

                        RESPECT for teachers and parents

                        RESPECT for our school

                        RESPECT for other living things

                        RESPECT for our planet


School in the Woods is a unique school with unique students.  We do not anticipate serious behavior problems at our school.  But if a student's behavior is disruptive to learning, disrespectful to teachers, dangerous to others, destructive to school property, or harmful to the natural environment, we have a school discipline plan.  Such behavior may result in loss of recess, removal from the classroom, or loss of participation in outdoor activities.           


In cases of serious or repeated infractions, our school principal will become involved.  Continuing concerns may result in suspension from school, according to the attached District Twenty Policy JICDA, Code of Conduct.  Parents will be notified of any serious behavior problems at school as soon as possible.  We ask parents to support us in our high expectations of School in the Woods students.


Forbidden items: The following have no place at the School in the Woods:  knives, weapons of any kind, drugs, cigarettes, lighters, matches, skateboards, hard baseballs, water guns, portable radios, personal music devices and electronics.  These items, or anything else which is potentially dangerous or disruptive, will be held by the teachers.


Report Cards and Parent/Teacher Conferences


Report cards are issued four times a year, after each nine-week grading period.  School in the Woods will use the same report card as the other fourth grades in District Twenty.


Twice a year, we have Parent/Teacher Conferences.  This is a time for parents, teachers, and students to talk about the students', their progress in school, and their special needs.  At the School in the Woods, we think both parents and teachers are educators, in other words, partners in helping each child learn.  The teacher and student will have information to share with you at the conference.  Because time is limited, we suggest you think about what in particular you would like to ask the teacher in advance.  If you need to meet with a teacher at any other time during the school year, please call and schedule an appointment before or after school hours.




Adult visitors are welcome at the School in the Woods.  But please let us know ahead of time that you will be coming, since we may be out in the field.  Parents visiting school are discouraged from bringing preschool children or infants.  If you wish to talk with a teacher about your child, please make an appointment.  Teachers cannot stop in the middle of the school day for unscheduled parent conferences.  We do not allow children from other schools to visit School in the Woods during school hours.  Due to the possible impact on wildlife and student allergies, we cannot allow pets to visit.




We welcome the interest and help of parents and other adults who would like to donate their time, enthusiasm, and expertise to the School in the Woods.  Some volunteers help out on a regular basis.  Others are essential to assist with special events.  Still others may have specific knowledge or skills about nature and the outdoors to share with our students. Some volunteer jobs can even be completed at home.  If you would like to volunteer at our school, please complete a Volunteer Interest Form. District policy requires all volunteers to attend a Volunteer Orientation session. For our students' safety, new volunteers are subject to a background check and finger-printing; returning D20 volunteers who were have completed the D20 requirements last year are ready to go!  No need to do the two processes again!





We will celebrate Halloween, the winter holidays, and Valentine's Day with school parties.  Refreshments, activities, and decorations will be planned by teachers and room parents.  Students and parents will be notified well in advance of the dates and times of any parties or other special school events.  If you do not want your child to participate in these parties, you are welcome to keep your child home from school or pick him or her up early on those days.




Birthdays are very exciting for fourth graders, and we will happily celebrate them at School in the Woods.  But we ask that students NOT bring treats to share with the rest of the school on their birthdays.  Lots of sweets are not healthy for growing children, and it's asking a lot of parents to provide treats for three classes of students.  Please do not plan surprise parties for teachers or students.  Private party or other party invitations are not to be passed out at school.


As an alternative to treats, we have a suggestion.  If you like, you and your child may select a book and present it to the School in the Woods library on your child's birthday.  The book does not need to be new, and it does not need to be about nature or science.  The only requirement is that its content is appropriate for fourth graders.  Fiction and non-fiction are both welcome.  We have a special bookplate that will indicate that your child has donated this book to our library. 





Carpools:  Some parents choose to drive their students to School in the Woods.  Carpools are arranged by parents who are interested in setting this up.  Parents should not drop off students at the school before 8:25 A.M.  At the end of the school day, you may park in the parking lot and wait for the children to walk out to meet you.  Carpoolers will be released after the bus has departed. Please do not block the bus lane.



Please review our District 20 Transportation Bus Riding Guidelines. It can be found on the District 20 website ( Click on Parents/Students, Transportation, and then Bus Riding Guidelines. It is imperative that respectful behavior is demonstrated on district busses at all times. Please discuss as a family what behavior is acceptable and encouraged. Transportation fees are determined by District 20 Transportation Department.


Library options


School in the Woods has a library onsite that follows the same policies as all district schools.  In addition, every Monday from 9:45-11:15 we get a visit from the Pikes Peak Library District bookmobile. If you would like your child to check books out from the bookmobile, send in a PPLD library card for him or her to leave at the school. It will be returned to you at the end of the year. Your child will be responsible for paying any lost book fees to any PPLD branch, before being allowed to check out any additional materials.





Academy School District 20 protects the confidentiality of student records in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Therefore, without written consent from a parent or guardian, we do not disclose personally identifiable information from a child's educational records unless disclosure is covered by one of the exceptions in FERPA (see administrative policy JRA/JRC). If you wish to allow a third party (for example, a step parent) access to personally identifiable information from your child's education records, please contact your building administrator to request a third-party consent form. Each parent or guardian must complete the form and have his or her signature notarized. Return the notarized forms to your building administrator. The permission will be effective until a parent/ guardian revokes permission in writing and submits the revocation form to the building administrator.




Academy School District 20 protects the confidentiality of student records in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Therefore, without written consent from a parent or guardian, we do not disclose personally identifiable information from a child's educational records unless disclosure is covered by one of the exceptions in FERPA (see administrative policy JRA/JRC). If you wish to allow a third party (for example, a step parent) access to personally identifiable information from your child's education records, please contact your building administrator to request a third-party consent form. Each parent or guardian must complete the form and have his or her signature notarized. Return the notarized forms to your building administrator. The permission will be effective until a parent/ guardian revokes permission in writing and submits the revocation form to the building administrator.