Ridge and Valley Charter School is based on the assumption that human beings are a thread in the miraculous web of life supported by a living universe and that we as humans have a profound responsibility to respect the Earth. The school’s primary focus and mission is centered on ecological literacy and sustainability. At Ridge and Valley the children learn to make choices in their lives that promote the long-term health of the planet and, therefore, themselves. Each child is cherished and respected, and their creativity is nurtured and supported.
The curriculum uses the universe and earth as the context for learning. Students are encouraged to develop critical thinking skills, to challenge traditional assumptions and derive new models for honoring the world around them. The innovative, progressive program is highly experiential, allowing children to learn using project-based and hands-on experiences, often set out-of-doors in the local bioregion and within multi-aged groups. The expeditionary curriculum, offering ever-expanding regional experiences, increases in complexity across the grades and provides regular opportunities for in-the-field application of skills and knowledge. Using this experiential approach, the students meet and exceed the New Jersey Student Learning Standards set by the state Board of Education.
The school structure is student-centered with staff referred to as “Guides” rather than teachers. Beyond all mandated state tests, learner assessment primarily consists of projects, presentations, service learning, portfolios and rubrics, rather than traditional, one-dimensional paper and pencil formats. Feedback is provided to, and created by, the students in the form of holistic student self-reflections and Guide narratives. Additionally, Ridge and Valley collects non-traditional data on mission-specific goals such as self-directed learning, social-emotional learning and expeditionary skills.
The school founders and Trustees, a group of local parents embedded in the community with grassroots organizational backgrounds, are committed to a non-hierarchical governance structure. The school leaders are considered coordinators and work by consensus building and empowerment of staff talent. This perspective is mirrored in the children’s experience where relationship building is an integral part of the program, based in the school’s formal circle governance structures. The school encourages active participation of students and parents in shaping the educational experience and strives to build a stronger community both inside the school and beyond the school walls.
The mission is further modeled and expressed at the school facility through several sustainability principles and practices, including the use of previously used modular classrooms; installation of “green” carpets and linoleum floors; installation of full spectrum daylight lighting through a NJ Smart Start Buildings Grant through the NJ Clean Energy Program in 2008; solar panels for electricity production installed 2004; rain garden built in conjunction with Rutgers University in 2011 to mitigate stormwater runoff into local watersheds; rain barrels to capture roof water runoff installed in 2004; native species focus for landscaping; use of Integrated Pest Management principles; organic garden and orchard; classroom compost program; TerraCycle program to keep packaging out of the waste stream; pack in-pack out lunch program; and use of non-toxic cleaning products.
About Ridge and Valley Charter School
Local community members established Ridge and Valley Charter School to pursue innovative and personal excellence oriented teaching methods within the public school system, gaining approval of the school’s charter in 2002 and opening the school for students in the 2004-2005 academic year.
Ridge and Valley Charter School is a public K-8 school of choice that provides students an education for a hopeful sustainable future. Our educational program and curriculum honors children as individuals and emphasizes personal excellence, hands-on experiential education, self-directed and outdoor learning, project-based learning, earth literacy, bioregional studies – all in the context of our 13.7 billion-year-old Universe.
RVCS is a tuition-free public school that follows NJ state education standards and testing requirements within the context of our mission.
Want to Learn More? RSVP for our next Information Night on Thursday, October 5th, 2017 at 7 p.m. by calling Jen Ross @ 908-362-1114