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 larger district?
How many spots are available in each class?
  • Current board-approved class sizes are:
    • Kindergarten: 20
    • First: 22
    • Second: 23
    • Third: 24
    • Fourth: 24
    • Fifth: 25
    • Sixth: 26
How many classes are there? How many students?
  • For 2020-21, we have 205 students in 11 classes (two each of Kindergarten through third grade; one each of 4th through 6th).
How long is the school day?
  • For 2020-21, 8:30am to 3:00pm.
Is busing available?
  • Yes. River Grove owns and manages its own bus transportation. We currently have 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.
Who are your teachers? How do you differentiate for students of varying needs? Do you have special education services?
  • We are proud of our teachers and of our exceptional special education department! Please read about our teaching staff here, and contact us with your specific questions: info@marineareaschool.org or 651-409-3122.
  • 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 are in their learning. Teachers receive results right away, which enables us to react more quickly. We can then organize students into paraprofessional-staffed 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 Corps, advanced math groups, or leveled reading groups.
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.
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 land forms 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 a certain animal track. 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 are able to take our classes into Marine on St. Croix to map out the town.
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 even 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.
What kinds of arts, extra-curricular programs, and partnerships does River Grove offer?
  • Band/orchestra starts in fourth grade with Erika Hammerschmidt.
  • In addition to classroom art, River Grove hosts artist-in-residence Karron Nottingham eight times a year.
  • Phys-ed specialist Katie Bruns comes to River Grove four days a week for PE, 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.
  • We partner with Stillwater’s Zephyr Theatre for vocal music and performance. The Zephyr Theatre also directs our amazing sixth-grade play, performed in May.
  • 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.
How is charter school enrollment determined?
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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