The Canterbury Brook Academy of the Arts Handbook 2023-2024
About Our School Canterbury Brook Academy of the Arts has been designed to be the only school of its kind in our region. The school caters to children in transitional kindergarten through grade nine upon its physical inception, expanding by one high school grade each year until the year 2027, whereupon we will graduate our first class of twelfth graders. It is our goal for each student who graduates from our school to be equally prepared for a competitive collegiate education or professional success within their chosen artistic field. It is also our explicit mission to be as capable of servicing the needs of neurotypical students as students with language-based disabilities and anxiety. As such, our teachers are specially trained and our staff is carefully prepared to be able to handle the needs of all learners accepted into our program.
About Our Staff The vast majority of our staff are highly experienced teachers who know that more is needed than what is provided in the commonly used academic standards in our nation and who recognize that the standards are often incongruous with what the data reveals about pediatric and adolescent brain development; our founder has taught in four states over her 18 year career as an English teacher and literacy specialist, dedicating her life to language-based education. Because of our own experiences and those of our founder, we will be going far beyond what is outlined by the state standards. We will be explicitly teaching phonics, computation, grammar, penmanship, writing, reading comprehension, and geography, with the innate understanding that students do not learn these subjects through osmosis, nor are these trivial topics that can be merely touched upon briefly or taught merely to a proficiency level. There is a reason why the parochial and independent private systems of education have been such models of academic excellence over the generations, and it is a shame that, within the public sector, the baby has largely been thrown out with the bathwater in efforts to “modernize” education. Moreover, we utilize hands-on approaches to math and science, using a full STEAM program with our students to engage all learners and appeal to multiple intelligences. All of our teachers are trained in PAF (Prevention of Academic Failure) and OG (Orton-Gillingham), equipped to handle the growing number of language-based disabilities found in students without needing to employ a pull-out method of intervention through the district. This is not best practice, and it is of critical importance to us that we design our curriculum around data-based practices, developmental science, and time-tested methodologies. We are able to serve a wide range of learners through this sort of approach, which is very valuable to us as a school and to the community as a whole. Additionally, with every child in our program receiving the same robust literacy instruction from the earliest grades, every child has an equal opportunity toward success and need not ever feel “different” in a negative way.
About Our Grading Furthermore, we grade very differently, using a growth-based method of assessment. Each quarter, every child in every grade will be given a list of fourteen SMART Goals, formulated by his or her teacher(s). These goals will be both based on the curriculum map for the student’s grade level and on the individual student’s needs, with the acronym itself standing for goals which are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Our report cards reflect percentage mastery of these goals. Rather than students beginning each quarter with a 100% average and dropping from there despite efforts and growth, our students begin at a 0% and grow with every task completed, showing further proficiency with their set goals, always with the goal being full mastery. This allows for very deliberate instruction and study, enabling teachers, students, and parents to work closely together toward the success of each child. Our report cards also indicate students’ progress in social-emotional learning (SEL), including community service requirements at every grade level. We believe heavily in experiential learning and assess students mainly using a project-based approach rather than explicit nightly homework. We also offer frequent learning excursions so our students can explore topics from history and science to music and art outside of the classroom as well. Students' report cards reflect their percentage mastery of set goals as well as their adherence to CBA's policies, their social-emotional growth, and their executive functioning abilities. Report cards are issued quarterly, and parent conferences are offered virtually each quarter.
About Testing We are not enormous proponents of standardized testing before a certain age. For this reason, we would recommend that parents opt out of the NYS tests until students enter the Intermediate School, at which time exposure to timed testing is beneficial in preparing for larger exams that are coming in the upper grades. Our students do take Regents exams on a yearly basis beginning in grade 8. These Regents exams will enable our students to earn a Regents Diploma or a Regents Diploma with Advanced Distinction depending on their scores. We do not teach to the test, but we do a very good job of preparing our students to achieve enormous success on these exams as the subject matter covered is absolutely important for academic success. We also utilize the IOWA exams starting in the Primary School. These exams are given in only ELA and math and are used as a barometer for our own progress as a school, not as an indicator of your child's academic profile. The data we glean from these assessments will be shared with you, but we caution you away from allowing yourself to fall into the trap of putting too much emphasis on the score itself rather than on the percentile growth from year to year. That is the area of importance in our eyes and absolutely our purpose for administering the test to begin with. Students are also given the tools and preparation necessary to take several Advanced Placement (AP) exams during their years in the Intermediate and Upper Schools. These exams are excellent training for college and can result in a lessened course requirement at the collegiate level should they earn strong enough scores. Moreover, the course material designed in these classes is rich beyond measure and aligns well with what we believe about how deeply students should be exposed to meaningful academic lessons. As such, we absolutely endorse and encourage our students to take advantage of these opportunities to show off their skills and shine.
About Our Teamwork Approach Our faculty meets as a whole group on a monthly basis with bi-weekly PLC’s (professional learning communities) at each grade level. Once a month, the students have a half day to allow for ample professional development among our teachers. Students’ records are shared freely across the grade levels so that incoming classes are never fully strangers to the following year’s teacher(s). Mindfulness is a huge part of our curriculum, and as such, we have established a mindfulness center within our building where our counselor can work with individuals or groups of students and teachers can spend time with their classes or one another. Though we do not operate as a parochial school, we do want to create a spiritually nurturing environment for our students in every way possible. We want CBA students to be known for their compassion, spiritual awareness, and heart for service. Together as a team, from the Early Childhood team through the Upper School and over to the Arts Departments, we all work in tandem to prepare our students for enormous success in college, if this is the path they select, just as well as we have prepared our students to be successful, independent, responsible working artists after graduation. We believe that there is merit in both paths, and we feel very strongly that students should be encouraged to pursue their passions professionally whether this takes them through multiple degrees or straight into a trade. All of our teachers across all schools and departments work together as a team with our staff to ensure that each child in our program is seen as an individual. When they graduate, they are all a product not only of Canterbury Brook Academy of the Arts but of every faculty and staff member they have come in contact with during their years with us. We take this responsibility very seriously, and we are all committed to ensuring that graduation day is not the end of our involvement in their lives; we are always here for our students, cheering for them no matter where life takes them.
About the Arts As an arts academy, our students will be exposed to all disciplines of art education through formal daily classes beginning in transitional kindergarten. In addition to a rigorous and comprehensive academic curriculum, our students will take classes in visual arts, theater, music, and dance during their school day. Beginning in the Primary School (grade 3), students may choose a pre-professional or recreational track within certain disciplines of the arts. We also encourage students to take music classes in the instrument of their choice during these early years. We have several local studio partners that we work closely with if you need guidance regarding more specific instrumental training. By the time students enter the Intermediate School, they have the ability to select 3 electives a day from within our four arts tracks. Students can hone in on a specific interest or diversify and try as many things as they are interested in. Starting in the Upper School (grade 10), students can declare a major from within the arts programs should they so choose. Our arts directors are full CBA faculty members and will be extremely involved in your child's education, just as much as their academic instructors. Their staffs have been carefully selected and are eager to help promote your child's love of the arts. Each of our directors works together with the others to ensure the success of the entire arts department, and students see this cooperation in real time through collaborative efforts to put on shows and showcases. A respect for all of the arts is fostered in our students, and even if they choose to never make the arts more than a hobby or outlet in adulthood, their early exposure to this level of arts instruction will serve them well throughout their lives.
About the Academy Our program is divided into four “schools,” each serving a different age/grade level of students, groupings we have made carefully based on scientific data regarding brain development. Our Early Childhood Program will serve our transitional kindergarten through second grade, and students will be grouped in two classrooms, each with a full-time teacher and an aide. By combining TK and K as well as 1st and 2nd grades, we will allow our teachers to fully differentiate and provide both support and enrichment for each child depending on his or her learning profile. Our Primary School will serve students in grades three through six, also split between two teachers who will have aides. The Intermediate School will work with students in grades seven through nine in individual groupings by grade level, as will our Upper School, serving students in grades ten through twelve. In our inaugural year, our sixth graders will share a homeroom with their fifth grade counterparts, and they will join them for classes in the arts as well as lunch/recess, but they will take departmentalized classes. This class of sixth graders will be the smallest in our departmentalized section with only ten students accepted. Students in the Early Childhood Program will take general classes daily in art, music, theater, and movement, allowing them to explore all areas of the arts. Our Primary School students will also take daily classes in each area of the arts, but these classes will be more specifically focused; for example, they will take each style of dance throughout the week at either a recreational or pre-professional level depending on their preference and pre-exposure. Again, we do have studio partnerships established locally and would be happy to help you find more instruction in any of the arts outside of the many lessons included in our standard school day if you would like to expand your child's training.
About Our Operation Our school will offer busing through NYS’s private school busing system. For students living within 15 miles of the school’s location, this busing will be provided at parental request. For students with IEP’s, the state laws technically state that busing can be provided at an up to 50 mile radius of the student’s home should the parents be able to prove, in the CSE meeting, that the school in question can provide a service the home district cannot. The CSE would then place the student in that school and provide busing. Other students can be brought to school by parents and guardians, taking advantage of our carline. We do offer aftercare programs and after school clubs for additional costs, but otherwise we do not have fundraising fees. We will have monthly events for our families to enjoy, and these events help us cover the costs of “extras” we decide to undertake for our students. Monthly learning excursions will be paid for by parents, but we will utilize our connections to keep costs as low as possible. Our lunch program is provided through partnerships with local restaurants and is optional. Students who opt to order lunch will be given multicultural menu options on a monthly basis. Students may also bring lunch from home. Snack will be part of the day from TK-12th grade since many of our students are engaging in kinesthetic art forms and will need a snack during their day to stay healthy. All food brought into the building, whether through the lunch program or snacks/lunches from home, must be peanut and tree nut free. Additionally, if there are contact anaphylactic allergies in a child’s homeroom, parents of children in that class will be alerted so that unnecessary exposure may be provided and all children can feel safe at school. We also utilize a sensory-sensitive, developmentally-aware uniform at all grade levels, supplied by Land's End. You will also note that our teachers, too, employ the use of a uniform. Data has shown that teacher and staff uniforms are a highly effective method of creating unity, especially in the eyes of students. The powerful visual created by a united teachers' uniform reminds students on a daily basis that we are as united as they are and hold ourselves to the same high CBA standards that we look for from our students. Moreover, the uniform we have chosen is antimicrobial, a factor proven to diminish the potential spread of germs in school buildings. The health and safety of our students is always at the forefront of our minds, so this appeals to us greatly. We utilize fire drills and lockdowns as mandated by the state, and you will be notified of these drills as they happen in case you want to continue safety discussions with your children at home.
About Our Special Events Though our school employs many non-traditional approaches, we will still offer our students many time-honored traditions within education so that there is no sense “missing out” on the usual milestone moments. When leaving the Early Childhood education program, our students in grade 2 will have an Ice Cream Sundae social with the students in grade 3, preparing to join them the following year. In grade 6, students will enjoy a Bridging Ceremony into our Intermediate School, which will be hosted for them by the 9th graders who are moving up and into the Upper School through a Ring Ceremony, wherein they will receive their class ring in a formal ceremony. Graduation in 12th grade will be preceded by special events like prom, a graduation trip, and a baccalaureate dinner cruise. After graduation, we will do an all-night party in the gym for our graduates, hosted by their teachers, with karaoke, dancing, games, and plenty of food.
About Our Code of Conduct As a private school, we have the privilege of being able to maintain a zero tolerance policy with regard to certain behavioral choices. There are certain transgressions which would absolutely result in immediate expulsion from Canterbury Brook Academy of the Arts, though most infractions would be reviewed with parents and student, a plan for remediation instituted, and every effort made to "right the ship" before a decision like that was made. We call this process the Custodial Review. However, we will not tolerate, for any period of time, any of the following behaviors and would, immediately, call for the removal of a student from our building should this student: -bring a firearm to school -bring illicit drugs to school -intentionally cause significant physical harm to another member of the CBA family -take a photograph of another student in any state of undress -make a credible threat to harm any member of the CBA family
About Technology Technology is a wonderful thing when used properly. CBA students are equipped with Chromebooks from fifth grade on for academic purposes. The use of a Chromebook for any other purpose during school hours will result in a custodial review. Though Chromebooks are the personal property of each student, we request that profile and background pictures remain appropriate at all times. Cell phones are not particularly welcome at Canterbury Brook Academy. Students in the Early Childhood Program and Primary School are prohibited from bringing cell phones or Apple watches to school. If your family has an extenuating circumstance necessitating a child in grades TK-6 having a cell phone in school, please contact the main office to discuss this matter with our Head of School and create a plan that works for your family and CBA. Students in the Intermediate and Upper Schools may bring cell phones to school, but students must be prepared to hand their cell phones each morning during homeroom, powered down. They will get their cell phones back at dismissal, but they may not turn them on until they have left the property. Students may not use cell phones on campus at any time, including during after care and after school clubs, without the explicit permission of a faculty or staff member. If a student is found with a cell phone during the school day, it will be confiscated and brought to the main office. A parent or guardian will need to come and retrieve the phone; it will not be returned to the student without a custodial review. We also request that students not bring cell phones on field trips; we have ample chaperones and plenty of ability to reach families in the case of emergency, and it is unnecessary for students to feel responsible for this communication. Students should also plan to leave cell phones either at home or with their guardians during school events and performances. Plenty of pictures will be taken before, during, and after these events, and we would rather our students be able to stay in the moment than behind a screen. Social Media is another hot topic in the world of education today. We have worked extremely hard to develop what we feel is a very fair policy regarding social media and our families. Students in our Early Childhood Program and Primary School MAY NOT have their own social media accounts on any platform. Should parents and guardians choose to allow their children to utilize their own accounts to peruse platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, etc., that is a familial choice. Beginning in the Intermediate School, students may have a social medial presence if their parents and guardians decide that this is the right move for their individual family. However, please note that we will not tolerate students using social media inappropriately from anywhere. If a CBA student posts inappropriately, we do reserve the right to call a custodial review and request the remission of this post. Moreover, should a CBA student utilize social media against another child, this will be seen as an act of bullying and immediate action will be taken, the manner of which will be in accordance with the severity of the attack. Please be completely aware that we are making these policies to protect our students. Every decision we make comes from our desire to ensure the safety and well-being of each child in our program. We appreciate your support and believe firmly that our teamwork with you enables us to successfully educate, guide, and enhance the lives of the children we are lucky enough to teach.
About Dress Code and Hygiene Students at CBA should dress for success and ensure that their cleanliness is a priority. For more specific information, we would recommend that you carefully read over our uniform page. Please do note that the following items are not allowed to be worn on campus for family events, dress down days, or school events unless otherwise noted:
Cropped or bra-styled tops
Sagging pants or shorts that hang below the buttocks
Shorts or skirts that are not fingertip length
Clothing with inappropriate writing or logos
Anything with a drug reference featured
Heavy chains or locks
Earring hole expanders
Facial or body piercings beyond those in the ears (3 earrings max per ear)
Backless shirts or tanks
White "wife beater" tank tops for male students
Corset tops for female students
About Food Students can bring food from home, order through our restaurant-catered lunch service, or partake in NYMA's mess hall food program. Students at all grade levels should be bringing a healthy snack from home for snack time (morning for the Early Childhood and Primary School students; afternoon for the Intermediate and Upper School students). No student at any grade level is allowed to have caffeinated beverages, sodas, or energy drinks during the school day. Drinks should be packed in reusable bottles that can be filled at our water fill station. Water and juice are encouraged beverage options. No peanut or tree nut products are allowed in school at any time. For birthdays, students may send in treats with the permission of the classroom teacher. Celebrations will be held during lunch for the Intermediate and Upper School students and during snack for the Early Childhood and Primary School Students. No student will ever be left without lunch. If lunch is forgotten, it can either be dropped off later by a guardian or provided through the school or our restaurant partners at the cost of the parents ($7). We can provide top 8 free, allergen accommodating lunches in these situations with ease.
About Exceptional Learners and Special Education CBA does not discriminate against students with IEPs or 504 Plans. We serve the needs of all children whenever possible, and we make every effort to ensure that each child in our program is given the tools needed for success. We honor these service plans and work with the district to ensure that any supplemental services are provided. We also employ our own in-house educator for these exceptional learners. Our students are often reminded that everyone learns differently and that different learning styles are to be celebrated, not mocked. Gifted students and students with disabilities can successfully learn alongside one another and generally have an enormous amount to teach one another if given the chance. CBA is a safe learning environment for all accepted students, and it is imperative that this mentality of acceptance and appreciation be mirrored at home.
About Snow Days, Delays, and Early Dismissals On days when the weather does not cooperate and makes it safer for our students to remain at home, we will shift to a virtual platform for learning. This will not be a rigorous program for your child; we do believe in the wonder of a true snow day- sleeping in, playing in the snow, and coming inside to watch movies in pajamas. That said, we also love our long summers and would prefer not to be forced to extend our school year unnecessarily due to missed days. During weather-induced school closures, the following schedule will be utilized to allow us to count the day as a virtual school day via our Google Classrooms rather than as a closure:
Early Childhood Program:
TK/K: 10:00-10:30 AM: Sign on with teachers for attendance and a book; a small activity will be posted on the Google Classroom
1st/2nd: 10:30-11:00 AM: Sign on with teachers for attendance and a book; a small activity will be posted on the Google Classroom
3rd - 5th Grades: 11:00-11:30 AM: Sign on with teachers for attendance and a learning activity; a small math and small ELA assignment will be posted for completion during the day (due by 5 PM)
Intermediate and Upper School: 11:00-11:30 AM: Sign on with homeroom teacher for attendance and housekeeping; a small activity will be posted for each class; none of these tasks should take longer than 20 minutes to complete but must be finished by the end of the day (5 PM)
For information on delays, you will receive an email blast from the school as well as a robocall altering you of the change in arrival time. We know that sometimes this causes issues with buses, so please know that we will be patient. The same is true of early dismissals. During days with inclement weather, please be aware that should the school need to close early, it is imperative that you make every effort to have your child picked up in a timely fashion or that you immediately contact the school to let us know if you are struggling to make it to us. All pre-scheduled half days will end at 11:30 AM. Lunch will not be served on these days, but snack will be eaten, so please plan and pack accordingly.
About Donations As a private school, we do rely heavily on fundraising to make magic happen for our students. We do not have a fundraising fee for families, but we do encourage your participation in as many events as possible throughout the year both to benefit our school's attempts at building a sense of community and to ensure the success of our programs. Should you or someone you know choose to become a donor, we do have a program we would invite you to consider. Donations of any kind given toward our school are always appreciated, and different rungs of donation do result in different levels of honor within our programs:
Friend: a donation of $500-$1000
Sponsor: a donation of $1000-$5000
Ally: a donation of $5000-$10,000
Philanthropist: a donation of $10,000-$50,000
Angel: a donation of $50,000+
Each spring, we will issue a fundraising newsletter honoring and thanking our friends, sponsors, allies, philanthropists, and angels. We have a beautiful Tree of Life wall sculpture in our lobby where these people's names are also featured. Friends make up the leaves of our tree, while Sponsors are listed on the trunk. The roots of the tree are dedicated to each of our Allies. Philanthropists receive the honor of a classroom plaque, commemorating their generosity to our school on the classroom door of their choice. Our Angels are gifted plaques above the wing of their choice, dedicating this area of the building to the memory of their gift. Please know that every gift, no matter how small, is appreciated. We also maintain a school wish list that can be accessed on our website through our fundraising page; you can also look up our school's name, Canterbury Brook Academy of the Arts, on www.ThingstoGetMe.com and find us there. Please be sure to include your name with your gift so we can thank you appropriately for helping to make our school an even better place for our students to grow and learn.