Student led conferences

Student led conferences

Our annual student-led conferences are one of the many things that make Ridge and Valley Charter School unique.

Student-led conferences are meetings with students, parents, and guides, during which a student shares work and discusses his/her progress. The intention is for the student to lead the meeting from start to finish. Student involvement in a conference makes learning active, provides opportunities for students to evaluate their own performance, and encourages studentsto take responsibility for their learning. Having students take charge of the conference makes them more accountable for what they are learning.

Prior to conferences, the students, with guide support, collect work that reflects what they have learned. Students then evaluate their work and, as they conduct their conference, explain skills they have learned and share goals they have set for themselves. While a guide may serve as the conference facilitator, the student will lead the conference.

Student-led conferences offer the opportunity for students to play an important part in their own educational process. This approach fits beautifully with the holistic, student-centered focus of our mission that recognizes children are capable and responsible. We have chosen to use this format because of the many benefits to the students, including:

  • Having greater accountability for their learning;
  • Learning to think about and evaluate their own progress;
  • Gaining a greater commitment to school work and learning;
  • Building self confidence and self esteem;
  • Encouraging student/parent communication;
  • Building communication and critical thinking skills;
  • Placing greater responsibility on the student;
  • Allowing students to become more actively involved.

Families benefit from this format as well as it:

  • Helps families learn more about their child’s learning and skills;
  • Offers an opportunity for families to help their child set positive goals;
  • Encourages active family participation in their child’s learning.

Conferences are a wonderful opportunity for families to see, hear and experience their child’s learning and progress.

Bio Blitz

Bio Blitz

Friday June 3 – Saturday June 4, 2016

White Lake Preserve – 97 Stillwater Rd, Hardwick, NJ and Ridge & Valley Charter School – 1234 RT 94, Blairstown, NJ

All are welcome to this family friendly event!

Join the challenge to document as many species as possible in the Ridge & Valley Bioregion in our 1st Annual BioBlitz. Meet naturalists, learn about the species at White Lake Preserve and become a citizen scientist by participating in data collection and observation.

Camping Registration (PDF)
Participation Release (PDF)
T-Shirt Order Form (PDF)

Ridge & Valley aerial

The preserve is recognized regionally by bird and insect enthusiasts for its abundance of observable species. And it is home to some of the rarest plant communities in the U.S.

Many BioBlitz activities will be offered at the White Lake Preserve located on Stillwater Road in Hardwick, NJ. The 394 acres of Warren County’s White Lake Preserve are home to some of the rarest plant communities in the U.S. In the center of the preserve is a 69-acre, spring-fed limestone sinkhole lake surrounded by marl fens, wetlands and meadows. In the upland areas are limestone forests, cedar glades, and rocky outcrops teeming with moss, ferns, and fungi.

BioBlitz participants are also welcome to will explore the various wetlands, meadows and streams on Ridge & Valley Charter School’s 18 acre campus located at 1234 Rt 94, Blairstown, NJ. Abbreviated activities will be spaced throughout Friday and Saturday to accommodate those who need a slower pace and the ability to stay close to a home base. Overnight primitive camping will also be available on the RVCS campus.

Primitive overnight camping will be available to the first 30 families for the event. A 10’x10′ area will be allocated to each family. Locations will include:

  • Lower Octagon area
  • Lower Meadow
  • Four Directions

Please see the attached registration form to list your preferences. Camping sites will be given by preference on a first come first serve basis to those who pay the $20 camping fee and fill out a complete camping registration form. No refunds will be given as this will pay for needed facilities.

Primitive Camping Agreements for RVCS Campus:

  • Rain or Shine
  • BYO dinner and snacks
  • BYO camping equipment and gear
  • No alcohol, drugs, smoking
  • No pets, grilling or open fires
  • No access to electrical outlets
  • Primitive camping with Portable Toilet Facilities only
  • Carry in, carry out
  • Shared fresh water available
  • Parental supervision of children at all times
  • Sites packed up by 11AM. Leave no trace

Join us on Saturday morning for a Fundraising Bake Sale. Coffee, Tea and baked goods will be available for purchase.

Community Service Day

Saturday, April 16
10:00am – 2:00pm

Community Service

Join other families in showing gratitude for a school that honors, nurtures, and guides your children.

A lot of work is completed for the students, guides and school. There are always a variety of projects such as:

  • printing out resources
  • organizing materials
  • removing invasive species
  • pruning and trimming
  • sorting through classroom libraries
  • preparing the garden for Spring
  • photocopying

Please consider participating in this very important event.

Your contributions, large and small, greatly benefit the children of RVCS and the entire school community. Even an hour or two of your time is greatly appreciated!

Integrative Learning in action

Integrative learning is a cornerstone of the Ridge and Valley education. Students learn by doing and subjects are interwoven. Here students continued their study of Colonial America by researching, designing and then creating a food storage system on the school property.







Guide Lisa Masi

It was wonderful to see representatives from all of the class groups take part in the assembly this week. Choosing class names is a dearly held tradition at RVCS.

Students actively research and decide upon a name that is supported by all students in the class group. It was determined early on in the process of creating our school that the founders, Trustees, staff and students would do work through the process of consensus. It is not easy, especially in a culture where democratic voting is valued and practiced. Although the democratic process is valuable and has, indeed, allowed our nation to flourish, consensus allows all of our community to be heard.

“Consensus decision making is a creative and dynamic way of reaching agreement between all members of a group. Instead of simply voting for an item and having the majority of the group getting their way, a consensus group is committed to finding solutions that everyone actively supports – or at least can live with. This makes sure that all opinions, ideas and concerns are taken into account. By listening closely to each other, the group aims to come up with proposals that work for everyone. Consensus is neither compromise nor unanimity – it aims to go further by weaving together everyone’s best ideas and most important concerns – a process that often results in surprising and creative solutions, inspiring both the individual and the group as whole.”

Students and class groups use consensus in various ways throughout the day and year, from deciding on a class name to deciding between making raspberry jam or autumn olive leather. Although the impact of each consensus decision is different, the process remains important and respectful of all of the students involved.

I have heard some observers wonder why consensus is important, and certainly why we have to celebrate the process and outcome of things such as class names at assemblies. I would offer the following: because it is a celebration of everyone being a part of a community. As we tell students throughout the process, consensus is about everyone being heard. The outcome may not be something that one expected, nor may it be something for which one is particularly excited. It may be uncomfortable. But it is a process that allows everyone to be okay with a decision, no matter what that decision ends up being.

So I offer my thanks to those who participate in and observe our assemblies where we celebrate that each person is respected enough to be heard and considered. Respect is one of the core values at RVCS. Consensus is such a valuable way to embody respect for all of our community. I am grateful that our students are learning that they are worthy of being respected and to respect.