FAQs About River Grove

Grove Elementary: Questions Welcome

What grades does River Grove serve?

We are a K-6 school.

Is River Grove free? Who can attend?

Yes, River Grove is a tuition-free public charter school. Any K-6 student who lives in Minnesota can attend River Grove.

Is River Grove part of a local school district?

No, we are our own independent district. We can make our own decisions quickly, enabling us to be responsive to our school community.

How many classes are there? How many students?

For 2020-21, we have 196 students in 11 classes (two each of K–3, one each of 4–6).

How many students are in each class?

For 2020-21: K = 20, 1st = 22, 2nd = 23, 3rd = 22, 4th = 24, 5th = 25, 6th = 26. The Board votes on class size every year.

How long is the school day?

In typical years, 8:30am to 3:30pm. We have a slightly longer day than neighboring elementary schools to allow for longer lunches, extra recess, and more time outside!

Is busing available?

Yes, we own and manage our own buses with four routes that service a wide area from Marine on St Croix down to Bayport, MN. Because we own our own buses and employ our own drivers, we have the flexibility to do more field trips to local historical sites, performances, and educational venues.

Do you provide school lunch?

Yes, we have a full kitchen and provide hot lunches daily.

Do you have before and after school care?

If enough families require it, we are able to provide before/after school care.

Does River Grove’s calendar follow Stillwater’s?

Because many of our families also have students in Stillwater Area Schools, we do consider Stillwater’s calendar when making ours. But they may not match.

What is unique about River Grove?

Research shows that exposure to the outdoors has numerous long-term benefits to students’ intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development. Simply by being surrounded by nature, children experience an environment that refreshes, relieves anxiety, and enhances a sense of peace. But we go further, intentionally bringing our kids outdoors for both free play (with extra and longer recesses) and structured learning activities.
River Grove’s setting within the 900-acre Wilder Forest just north of Stillwater encompasses hiking and cross-country ski trails, “outdoor hallways,” incredible play spaces, a kids-favorite sledding hill, outdoor teaching settings, and a wide variety of natural surroundings that enable us to get kids outside for recreation AND learning.

Who are your teachers? How do you differentiate for students of varying needs?

We are proud of our fully licensed teachers and of our exceptional special education department! Please read about our teaching staff on our website and contact us with your specific questions.

Our first goal is to make our students feel welcomed and supported in his/her classroom — this is the springboard for everything else!
One tool we use early in the school year is computer adaptive NWEA Map Growth Testing, which helps us understand where our students their learning. Teachers receive results right away, which enables us to react more quickly. We can then organize students into small groups and partners, utilize computer programs that support or challenge students on different levels, and engage intervention or differentiation strategies such as iRead, Reading and Math Corps, advanced math groups, or leveled reading groups.

Do you have a special education program?

Yes, we have a very experienced staff with a wide range of special education services to fit all of our students’ needs.  An assessment involves a comprehensive, individual evaluation to understand the way your child thinks and other aspects of his development. You or your child’s school can request an evaluation.

What is the curriculum at River Grove?

The mission of River Grove is to utilize the school’s and local area’s natural resources, history, arts, and community as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, physical education, art, and other curriculum subjects. The model relies on teacher expertise to select and implement curriculum, as well as assess overall effectiveness. The foundational curriculum aligns with Minnesota State Standards.
For example, when covering topics required by standards, we use real-life examples that are right outside our doors, such as landforms or habitats. During nature hikes, students take a clipboard and worksheet and identify what they observe, or we “hike with a purpose” and look for bugs or animal tracks. Literacy units can incorporate letter writing and visits to our local post office to mail the letters. During units about plants, we can visit a local greenhouse and partner with our next-door neighbor (Big River Farm) for real-life experiences. For mapping units, we take our classes into Marine on St. Croix to map out the town.

How do you use technology in the classroom?

Studies have shown that a high computer-to-student ratio correlates to positive impacts on student outcomes in English/language arts, writing, math, and science. River Grove boasts a 1-1 ratio — meaning each student has access to a computer — and utilizes computers and smart learning systems where appropriate. Although we are nestled in the woods, we have high-speed internet in all of our buildings and use Chromebooks to enhance and enrich learning and build 21st century skills.

How is charter school enrollment determined?

Applications to enroll are accepted during the Open Enrollment period. Once that is over, if the number of applications received exceeds the number of open spots within a particular grade, all applications will be entered into a lottery. The lottery will determine those students who will be admitted or put on the waiting list, and ensures that each application received during Open Enrollment has an equal chance of receiving an Invitation to Enroll. (Enrollment preferences, such as sibling priority, may apply.) For more information, please see our Enrollment Timeline page.

What kinds of specialists, extra-curricular programs, and partnerships does River Grove offer?

  • In typical years, band/orchestra start in fourth grade.
  • In addition to classroom art, River Grove hosts an artist-in-residence program.
  • Our expanded physical education program includes “Adventure PE” (big-group games and outdoor exploration), and DAPE (Developmental Adapted Physical Education). Much of our phys-ed classes are held outside. In the winter, our special “Winter Warm-Up” program leads kids in snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
  • A variety of after-school clubs help kids express their individual creativity and learn skills, such as Spanish, Art Exhibition Club, Make Your Own Board Game, fiber arts and crafts, “green club,” ping pong, and more.
  • In the early fall, our sixth graders have the wonderful team-building opportunity to spend a week together up at Camp Widjiwagan in Ely, MN.
  • We partner with our next-door neighbor, Big River Farm. Kids get hands-on experience with planting!
  • We partner with the St. Croix River Association’s Rivers Are Alive K-12 environmental education program. Our sixth graders attend the St. Croix Youth Summit.
  • Recently, we received a DNR grant to build a fishing and archery physical education program.

Grading/Report Cards/Conferences

Parents get report cards twice a year. The grading system is:

E = Exceeds grade level standards
M = Meets grade level standards
P = Progressing towards grade level standards
N = Does not meet grade level standards
IP = Individual Progress
NA = Not applicable
FS = Future Semester

We also have “intake conferences” at the beginning of the year and regular parent-teacher conferences twice a year. For kindergarten, the school year starts 2 days later than the rest of the grades to provide a solid start for our youngest learners.

Do you give tours?

How can I support MACS financially or otherwise?

  • Thank you! We have our 501(c)3 nonprofit status. To contribute money by check now, please send your check to: Marine Area Community School, PO Box 178, Marine on St Croix, MN 55047. Or, donate online!

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