SRS Student–Parent Handbook

Updated for the 2019-2020 Academic Year

Welcome, St. Raphael School Families!

We’re delighted to partner with you in pursuit of restful classical education for your students. The below handbook outlines the structure of our online academy, the philosophy of education that we embrace, and the policies we have set in place to facilitate a smooth and fruitful experience for students and teachers. Please review this handbook carefully, and don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have. You confirm your commitment to these policies and agreements by enrolling your student in a Scholé Academy course.

I. The Scholé Learning Philosophy

 

The word scholé (pronounced skoh-LAY) comes from a Greek word meaning “restful learning,” with connotations of reflection, contemplation, and leisure. Put simply, scholé means undistracted time to study the things that are most worthwhile. We at St. Raphael School value learning that is restful rather than frenetic. How do our educational philosophy and methods differ from those represented by progressive education? Modern education is largely an education in anxiety. In this system, students commonly take eight or more courses at a time, which contributes to the stress and anxiety now associated with the term student. For each of their classes, students are typically graded numerically by teachers who are often driven to “teach to the test” and who must use assessments that produce easily quantified data—in other words, dehumanizing tests that are machine readable. Students in such a system learn to cram, pass, and then forget.

By contrast, our courses of study cultivate unrushed learning with meaningful, deep engagement of fewer books and concepts (comparatively speaking), so that learning becomes memorable, enjoyable, and permanent. St. Raphael School instructors create an atmosphere of restful learning by modeling peace, tranquility, and love of the subject, and they utilize methods of evaluation that assess understanding and mastery of the subject rather than just the input and output of facts.

This means that even in an online classroom setting, the St. Raphael School faculty works to create engaged discussion and learning and seeks to build relationships with and among students. We have worked hard to structure our courses so that the amount of work required is in accord with the allotted time, while an atmosphere of contemplation, conversation, and reflection is also cultivated. Our instructors are masters of their disciplines and experienced teachers, many of whom have written the text from which they teach. They seek to wed truth to beauty in their teaching and to cultivate education in its fullest sense, ensuring that through St. Raphael School your student will receive excellent, classical instruction that leads to wisdom and mastery.

As part of their training and orientation, all St. Raphael School instructors study the following. If you are interested in exploring the concept of scholé in more depth, we recommend these resources to you.

In pursuit of scholé, St. Raphael School employs 2 key pedagogies that set it apart from other online schools. First, we emphasize the development of virtues in students; second, we employ patterns of “liturgical learning.” In fact, liturgical learning is an important part of developing student virtues. While it is beyond the scope of this handbook to fully describe the student virtues and how we seek to cultivate them, the student virtues should nevertheless be briefly described.

 

1. Student Virtues

 

Augustine described education as essentially teaching students to “love that which is lovely,” following on Plato’s idea that affections and taste must be cultivated. The classical and Christian traditions have emphasized that it is critical to model for students the love for the true, good, and beautiful, and by various means to cultivate and stir up a love for them. C.S. Lewis makes this case persuasively in his little book The Abolition of Man. He tells us that we need to cultivate not only minds but also chests (the visceral, affective part of us), especially since presently our modern schools neglect the cultivation of affections, rendering us as “men without chests.” He comments that modern students are not so much “jungles to be cut” as “deserts that need to be irrigated.”

Even the word student suggests this. It is derived from the Latin word studium, which means “zeal,” “fondness,” and “affection.” Thus, etymologically considered, a student is someone who is zealous and eager for truth, goodness, and beauty—that is, for knowledge. Is it not true that there are many students who are not really students? Until we have a child before us who is seeking and zealous for knowledge, we really don’t have a student before us; instead we have someone who we must force to do academic work, usually by means of the carrot and the stick. Such a “student” will be generally uncooperative and resistant (even if passively so), and will quickly forget what he is forced to “learn.” Teaching such “students” is no fun at all. By contrast, once a child becomes eager to learn—to know—and is, in fact, “in love” with math, history, language, or logic—then teaching is a joy.

Great teachers know instinctively that they must cultivate this studium, this zeal, in their students. Naturally, parents play the most vital role in this development, and in education a partnership between parents and teachers is required for true success. (Please note that we include guardians when we refer to parents, but for the sake of space, we use parents throughout this handbook.) So what are the key student virtues that we need to cultivate in our children? What are the corresponding vices that they must overcome?

 

Virtues

  • Love: Love is a master virtue that fuels and empowers the other student virtues and leads to them. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 13 that even if we speak in the tongues of angels (high linguistic achievement!) and fathom all mysteries (surpassing the learning of a genius) but have not love, our achievement will be worth nothing. Students are called by God (and thus should be called by us) to “love the lovely” and to glory in God Himself and His revealed mind in nature, Scripture, and ourselves. Knowing of God’s goodness in the world, and His goodness toward us, we can live out of love and gratitude in all we do, including in our studies and our pursuit of the true, good, and beautiful in all of our academic work. We can always say to our students therefore, “Choose joy.”
  • Humility: Humility is another master virtue that leads to other virtues. We cultivate humility by taking students to the heights and showing them greatness. In the presence of greatness, students become conscious of their own slender resources and will not take on anything beyond their power, but instead learn to rejoice in what is given them in their measure. Humility will also lead to gratitude—gratitude even for those friends whose gifts and capacities surpass our own. Sertillanges writes, “In face of others’ superiority, there is only one honorable attitude: to be glad of it, and then it becomes our own joy, our own good fortune.”
  • Patience: Patience involves bearing difficulties well, enduring the hardship and “suffering” that does come occasionally (and sometimes regularly) as part of learning new skills and acquiring new knowledge.
  • Constancy: Students who exhibit constancy keep steadily at a task, remaining focused and diligent. This virtue enables students to push away even “good” distractions that would inhibit learning and mastery.
  • Perseverance: Perseverance is similar to constancy, but this virtue requires a willful spirit to do what must be done, and even to love what must be done (reminding us that love is a master virtue). Students will be motivated and inspired to persevere by the vision of mastery, capacity, and wisdom that teachers lay before their eyes. Small wins and slowly increasing capacity will also kindle perseverance, constancy, and patience.
  • Temperance/Studiousness: Students need to avoid excessive negligence (laziness) and excessive curiosity and ambition (vain ambition and overreach). To master an art, students must walk the wise, proven path, starting at the beginning and mastering each step. To leap ahead (even when they can to some degree) does damage to the necessary discipline of mastering an art. Sertillanges says, “If you want to see things grow big, plant small,” and go to the sea by way of the streams and rivers—it is folly to go jump in the sea. Recall as well the tortoise and the hare. Students also must balance or temper their studies with other academic work and with their other responsibilities and human being (good exercise, prayer, worship, family living and contributions, etc.).

 

Vices

  • Pride: Pride drives students to love their opinion and thoughts such that they cannot learn from others or discern the broader wisdom from other minds that would inform them.
  • Envy: Envy agitates the mind by refusing to honor the gifts and capacities of others; it hinders students from learning from other honorable and able students.
  • Sloth/Laziness: This is where the good gifts and capacities of students go to die.
  • Sensuality: Indulgence in sensuality (not only of the sexual variety) creates lethargy, befogs the imagination, dulls the intelligence, and scatters the memory; sensuality distracts from learning.
  • Irritation/Impatience: Irritation and impatience repels exhortation, direction, and constructive criticism and thus deters students from mastery and leads them to increased error.
  • Excessive Ambition (a form of intemperance): Excessive ambition leads students to leap ahead of their capacity without true mastery and integration (often out of pride), which ultimately slows down learning and leads to patchy, nonintegrated understanding.

All of these vices compromise a student’s ability to attend, to judge/assess, and therefore to truly know. All of these vices also tend to come together and lead to one another—they are interconnected.

These virtues are not so much taught as they are cultivated and modeled. We should make students aware of these virtues and we should in fact occasionally teach them directly. However, it is very important that students begin to hunger for these virtues themselves and cry out to God for them. This seems to be the point of Proverbs 2—if students won’t cry aloud for wisdom and seek it as hidden treasure, they won’t ever get it. Therefore (among other things we do), we must exhort our students to ask God for virtue and wisdom—a prayer He delights to answer (James 1).

 

2. Liturgical Learning

 

“Liturgical learning” is a phrase that describes the use of the embodied patterns from church worship and tradition for shaping the way we order time, space, and language in our schools and homeschools. We believe that using elements of a liturgical pattern within our classes is an effective way to recover reflection and contemplation as part of learning. We think that it is a faithful application of the classical tradition, and it differentiates us from other online schools.

For example, one could use the following “order of worship” as a pattern for ordering a lesson. This pattern or template is intended as a guide that is not “followed to the letter” but nonetheless shapes the “learning liturgy” of St. Raphael School classes to distinguish them as scholé courses. The lower-case “liturgies” are not a replacement for the liturgical life of the Church. They are designed to cultivate student and teacher virtues within the context of the classroom. We encourage our teachers to build elements of “liturgical learning” into their courses thoughtfully and intentionally, in recognition that these routines and habits are formative. Our faculty embraces and loves incorporating this approach, and we believe our students will too.

Please note that the pattern of a class is determined by the course instructor. Many of our teachers incorporate elements of the following pattern, but the embodiment of “liturgical learning” will vary from teacher to teacher and class to class.

  • Welcome/Greeting: Students are greeted by beautiful image(s) and music, perhaps with an inspirational quotation or key question, which they are asked to contemplate for several minutes.
  • Grateful Acknowledgment: The students and the teacher express gratefulness for the art, one another, the opportunity to study some aspect of God’s creation, mind, nature, humanity, etc.
  • Confess What We Need: The students and the teacher confess a need for a disposition, a frame of mind, a virtue, a heart that seeks and calls out for wisdom, etc. A written confession may be read and/or prayer offered. (Key Scripture: Proverbs 2:1-7).
  • Teach/Present/Discuss: The teacher leads a traditional lesson, ensuring that students are engaged and participating.
  • Confess What We Know/Have Learned: The teacher leads a summary and review, sometimes taking the form of “creedal” confession that edifies.
  • Expression of Thanksgiving: The teacher (or a mature student) leads the class in expressing gratitude to God, the teacher, and/or other students.
  • Benediction/Dismissal: The teacher gives a prepared benediction written by the teacher or from traditional sources.
  • Processional: The students return to beautiful music and images. Students are free to leave immediately or remain for quiet contemplation.

As we seek to recover and renew the scholé tradition of education, we know that we will misstep and veer from this path—after all, we don’t know the path nearly as well as we would like. Still, we believe that finding and walking that path will be enriching to students, parents, and teachers. As we seek to recover the classical tradition of scholé, we welcome parental feedback and ideas about how we can better embody scholé in our online classes.

II. Classroom Technology

 

For our live online classes, we use a video-conference software called Zoom, which is both powerful and easy to use. Students join their instructors for real-time “face-to-face” class sessions that mimic a brick-and-mortar classroom experience. Class participants can see and hear each other throughout each session, a feature that facilitates engagement with the material and interaction among the instructor and students. Our instructors can also share their computer screens to show students documents and photos, use a virtual white board to annotate, and even allow students to share their own work on the screen. This streamlined technology allows us to bring our students “face to face” with experienced instructors and engaged peers while affording the flexibility of learning from home.

 

1. Sample Class

 

 

2. Technical Requirements

 

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later) or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be a much better solution, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection:You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1.5 Mbps or better. You can test your internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer.

Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class.
Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use.unnamed-e1455142229376

To download Zoom:

  1. Visit zoom.us/download.
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

 

3. Joining a Class Session

1) Be sure you have downloaded Zoom as outlined above.

 

2) Launch the Zoom application/program on your computer.

 

3) A small window will open with several options for joining or starting a Zoom meeting.

 

4) Click “Join.”

5) You will be prompted for a meeting ID number, which we will provide to you prior to the class session. You will use this same ID number each time you join this class.

4. Class Recordings and Permissions for Recording Use

 

Class sessions are recorded and made available to students to review when they are unable to attend live sessions (please see our attendance policy below for the specific number of absences allowed per year).

Video clips taken from class recordings may be used and distributed for promotional purposes. If you do not wish a clip of your student’s class to be shared in this way, please notify the St. Raphael School principal, Joelle Hodge, at jhodge@classicalsubjects.com at the time of enrollment.

III. School Policies

 

1. Statement of Faith

 

Our teachers teach from within the Orthodox Christian faith and will relate class concepts to the Christian faith when pertinent. We seek to present all teaching and learning restfully with scholé. While scholé as an idea originated with the Greeks, it was transformed and extended by the Church, especially in monastic centers of education. St. Raphael School seeks to recover this approach to education that is contemplative, “liturgical,” restful, and full of Christian peace. Our faith commitment is summarized in the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made:

Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man;

And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;

And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;

And ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father;

And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, Whose kingdom shall have no end.

And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father, Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, Who spoke by the Prophets;

And we believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins.

We look for the Resurrection of the dead,

And the Life of the age to come. Amen.

2. Student Placement

 

For each of our courses, we provide:

  • Class Description
  • Target Grade Range
  • Specific Placement Information.

First, read the available course descriptions, noting prerequisites, target grades, and course objectives. If you think your student is prepared for the course, go ahead and register. After registration, a placement assessment may be provided to students, depending on the course and the student’s previous enrollment with St. Raphael School.

Registration is not finalized until the student’s placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.

Class Description: A detailed class description has been provided for each course St. Raphael School offers. We have asked our instructors to convey their vision for the course: the course objectives, target grade range, student expectations, as well as the skills and virtues students should be cultivating during the course. Please read these class descriptions carefully to help you make the best decision for your student(s).

Target Grade Range: We have found it helpful to let families know who the target student will be for each course. However, there may be times when students are outside of the listed grade range, may be above or below grade level for their age, or have not completed the listed prerequisites.

If your student falls outside the listed grade range, he or she must be approved by St. Raphael School before he or she is granted admission to the course. If you have a student who fits this description, please contact us before purchasing the course.

A note about controversial topics in upper-school courses: From time to time in our upper school, students are encouraged to participate in a healthy and robust debate on a wide range of topics. We are a committed to providing a Christ-centered education to all of our students, but we also encourage our students to wrangle with theological, social, political, and moral issues and questions. Our courses are designed for student engagement and discussion. We expect our instructors to navigate these waters wisely and well. And we expect our students to step into the arena of these class discussions with maturity and respect for their cohort and instructors. We will always encourage our students to share their class conversations with their parents and local clergy. But we will provide opportunities for these conversations during some of our class sessions.

Specific Placement Information: If you have any questions about the placement of your child, please call us at 866-730-0711; we would be happy to help you determine the best fit for your student.

Our goal at St. Raphael School is to help match prepared students for new course challenges and provide them the best opportunity for success.

Ages for Enrollment

  • Students enrolling in St. Raphael School lower-school courses should be at least five (5) years of age before the first day of class but not older than eleven (11) by the first day of class.
  • Students enrolling in St. Raphael School middle-school courses should be at least ten (10) years of age before the first day of class, unless otherwise specified in the course listing on the St. Raphael School website.
  • Students enrolling in St. Raphael School upper-school courses should be fourteen (14) years of age before the first day of class, unless otherwise specified in the course listing on the St. Raphael School website.

Handwriting and Typing Requirements

  • Students enrolling in St. Raphael School courses should be able to write and communicate at their grade level. Lower-school students will be expected to write their work legibly by hand or to dictate writing assignments to an older sibling or parent to write down for them. As the students progress into the higher levels of lower school (approx. 5th grade and up), increased comfort with typing is expected.
  • Students enrolling in middle- and upper-school courses must have adequate computer keyboard skills for interacting during class and typing written assignments.

Basic Computer Skills: All students must also be able (sometimes with parental guidance) to interact with Schoology, the learning management system used by SRS, to view homework, post assignments, view feedback, etc.

Please note that St. Raphael School, in its sole discretion, reserves the right to deny admission to a student for any reason.

 

3. Student Learning Challenges/Disabilities

 

To best enable us to meet your student’s needs while maintaining high standards for our courses, we would like to invite you to dialogue with us if you think your child might demonstrate a developmental difference that could limit his or her ability to fully engage with the course and its standard requirements. Our instructors are not equipped or trained to serve students with learning disabilities. However, in many cases students with learning challenges are able to participate fully in our courses with outside assistance. To ensure that we can serve your student well, we ask that you please contact us before registration if your student has any unique learning challenges or has been diagnosed with any learning disabilities. If you have questions about the placement of your child in one of our classes, please contact us prior to registration, and we would be glad to discuss possibilities for accommodation. In some cases, we may request that the student and/or parent meet with the course instructor to determine the best course of action.

Students with learning disabilities who are accepted into St. Raphael School courses are enrolled on a provisional basis. Within the first 3 weeks of classes, the parent or teacher may determine that the course is not the proper fit for the student, and a refund will be issued. To the best of our ability, we seek to ensure proper placement before the start of the school year. However, if an issue becomes apparent within the first 3 weeks of classes, the parent or teacher may request that the student withdraw for a full refund.

 

4. Enrollments and Withdrawals

 

Tuition

Payment for courses may be made online on the St. Raphael School website or by calling the office at 866-730-0711. Tuition for each course is listed on the course page and also at checkout. St. Raphael School offers the following two payment plan options:

Option 1:  A deposit of $75/class will be due on the date of registration (refundable through May 1, unless a placement evaluation has been administered; specific details are provided below), and the 3 remaining payments will be automatically charged on June 30, July 30, and August 30 (or the next weekday).

Option 2:  A deposit of $75/class will be due on the date of registration (refundable through May 1, unless a placement evaluation has been administered; specific details are provided below), and the remaining balance will be split into equal monthly payments, which are automatically billed on the 30th of each month (or next business day). This payment plan runs from the month of registration through the month of February 2020. (For those registering in May, the plan is a 10-month plan; for those registering in June, the plan is a 9-month plan, etc.) For this payment plan there is a $50 finance fee which is added to the total of the invoiced amount. The fee is applied once for every three classes (i.e., $50 for 1–3 classes, $100 for 4–6 classes, etc.).

See below for our withdrawal/refund policy. If you would like to register with a payment plan, please call our office at 866-730-0711.

 

Withdrawing from a class

There is a $75 deposit built into the cost of each course.

  • If a placement evaluation has not been administered, withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted a full refund, including the full $75 deposit. The remaining $35 of the original deposit is paid to the instructor for the placement evaluation.
  • After May 1, withdrawals are granted a full course refund, less the $75 deposit. Students may withdraw from a course through the second week of classes. After the second week of classes, no refund is given.

 

Waiting lists

If a given course is designated “Full with waiting list” and you’d like to be added to the waiting list, please contact us with your request, including your name, phone number, and email address, as well as the following student information: name, grade (2019–20 school year), and date of birth. If a seat becomes available, we will notify those on the waiting list in the order in which the requests were received by our office. In some cases, St. Raphael School may offer an additional section of a course if a course fills up quickly. In these cases, we will notify those on the wait list of the new section when it becomes available for registration.

 

Class cancellations or changes

On rare occasions, SRS may have to cancel a class or move students to a new section of a class with a different instructor. A full refund (including the full deposit) will be given to parents of a student whose class has been cancelled. If a student has been moved to a new section of the class with a different teacher, parents will be permitted to withdraw from the course and receive a full refund if parents withdraw within ten (10) business days of receiving notice of the move to a new section.

 

Transfers from one section of a course to another section of the same course

Should a student need to transfer to another section of the same course, the instructor will generate an official Grade Report from Schoology, and also provide an exported grade report to the new instructor. In cases where a course does not grade student work, only the relevant portions of the student’s Schoology information will be transferred to the new class.

 

Withdrawing from a course in process (after add/drop deadline)

Should a student withdraw from a course before the conclusion of the term, the instructor will generate an official Grade Report from Schoology, and also write a brief narrative of the reason for the withdrawal. These documents will be placed in the end-of-year grade report folder on Schoology for that course and will remain as part of the student record there.

 

5. Orientation Sessions for Parents and Students

 

One week prior to the start of a course, the instructor will hold a brief orientation session for parents and their students. This session is an opportunity for students, parents, and the course instructor to introduce themselves to one another, test the classroom technology, and ensure everything is in working order for the first day of class. Parent and student participation is required.

Details regarding the orientation session will be provided by the instructor via email during the month of August. If you or your student are unable to attend the orientation session, please contact the course instructor for access to the recording of this session.

 

6. Attendance Policy

 

Our classes are live and highly interactive, with students regularly interacting with their instructor and peers and participating in class discussion. Students are expected to attend classes with their videos turned on and to function as a full participant in each class, contributing to the class dynamic and success of the entire cohort. 

There are, of course, circumstances, both planned and unplanned, in which students must miss a class. In such circumstances, we provide students with a recording of the live class session so that they may play back the session they missed. Whenever possible, we ask that students alert their instructor of their absence before missing class.

While recordings of live sessions are a helpful tool for occasional absences, they are not a sufficient replacement for class participation in the long term. With this in mind:

  • We allow a maximum of 12 absences for yearlong courses that meet 4 times per week
  • We allow a maximum of 9 absences for yearlong courses that meet 3 times per week.
  • We allow a maximum of 6 absences for yearlong courses that meet 2 times per week.
  • We allow a maximum of 3 absences for one-semester courses that meet 2 times per week.
  • During the summer term, absence permissions are handled by the course instructor on a case-by-case basis.

Please note: Though we will endeavor to have recordings for each and every class, we can’t guarantee that we will have recordings 100 percent of the time (e.g., occasionally we run into technical difficulties). Our teachers are available to their students in class, via Schoology messaging, and during office hours. If your student has to miss a class, anything you can do to minimize the extra work required of the teacher would be greatly appreciated. As you might expect, teachers can’t reteach the material via email. However, our teachers are accessible to their students and provide assistance as needed.

If at any time a student’s absences begin to near the maximum number of missed days, the course instructor will reach out to begin a conversation with the parents and take meaningful steps forward to help resolve the problem. Our admin team will also be made aware of the concern.

If a student reaches or exceeds the maximum number of missed days, the course instructor and the admin team will work diligently with the family to resolve the issue. If the parent is unresponsive, or if no resolution can be reached, we will suspend the student’s enrollment in the course until the issue can be resolved. We will compassionately work with families to find a reasonable way forward. However, without resolution, the student will be withdrawn from the course without refund, and the student will not be permitted to complete the course.

Our students live all over the world, and there are occasionally natural events that prevent a family from being able to attend their scheduled classes. Please make your instructor aware of any extensive damage or displacement due to natural disasters. We are happy to accommodate families in these cases.

 

7. Grading, Course Completion, and End-of-Year Grade Reports

 

While St. Raphael School courses will be “restful,” we also recognize the need to provide grades for students who will be using this course as part of their prepared college transcript. It’s a delicate balance to achieve both restful learning and excellent academic performance. Earning a specific grade should not overshadow achievement goals for mastery of this discipline. Often, for disciplines in classical education, learning the concepts introduced will be a necessary and significant component of future success in upper-level classical education. In that sense, attaining mastery is its own reward.

Teachers will often assign the following grades based on students’ level of achievement: magna cum laude (with great praise), cum laude (with praise), satis (sufficient, satisfactory), and non satis (not sufficient). Ideally, every average student working diligently should do praiseworthy work (cum laude). Those who excel beyond this expectation will be the magna cum laude students. Students who do adequate but not praiseworthy work should be designated satis. Non satis means lacking sufficiency or adequacy. These assessments are not mere grading instruments but ways for both the student and the instructor to assess mastery. We recognize that some students will need a traditional grade designation for reporting purposes such as transcripts. If you would like a recommendation of a traditional numeric or letter grade, please notify the teacher at the start of the course. You may also use the feedback found in Schoology under “Grading” and “Assignments” to help you determine an appropriate grade for your child.

St. Raphael School serves homeschoolers by providing online instruction, but we do not replace parents as the administrators of homeschools. As such, the ultimate authority on a student’s grade is his or her parent. If a parent feels the need to modify the teacher’s assessment in his or her own records, as the administrator, he or she should feel free to do so. However, only students who complete the required work for a given class at a level deemed satisfactory by the instructor will receive a grade report from St. Raphael School.

 

Student Concerns

 

There are occasionally times when a student’s behavior necessitates academic probation, a change in enrollment status, or withdrawal after the start of the course. These situations will be handled with compassion and great care. Most of the specific details of the situation will be handled on a case-by-case basis. The teacher will alert the principal when the student’s performance dictates that academic probation, a change in enrollment status, or withdrawal might be necessary.

In other cases of poor student performance (a student ill-suited to the demands of the course, excessive absences, failure to submit homework, refusal to participate, refusal to turn on video or audio, egregious behavior, etc.), the teacher will first reach out to the parents, making them aware of the situation(s), and asking for their assistance in resolving well those concerns.

If, after the meeting, the behavior continues, it may be necessary for the principal to become more involved in the situation. It may be necessary to place the student (and family) on academic probation. Academic probation may consist of the following requirements:

  • The parents will agree to take a more active role, staying in good communication and serving as a partner on the home front in the following ways:
    • The parents will help encourage the student to faithfully attend classes, arrive on time, stay for the duration of the classes, be sufficiently prepared for each class, and engage appropriately in class.
    • The parents will regularly check in with the student to ensure his or her assignments and other homework are completed with a best effort. 
  • The student will agree to faithfully attend all classes, arrive on time, stay for the duration of each class, and engage appropriately during class.
  • The student will agree to faithfully submit homework on time, complete assignments in their entirety, and apply a best effort to coursework.
  • The student will agree to stay in good communication with the instructor, helping the instructor better understand where the student might be struggling or when he or she is feeling overwhelmed.
  • The student and family agree to achieve satisfactory level work (or higher) during the process. And the student and family agree to avoid absences and tardy arrivals during the process.
  • The family will be provided with a reasonable window of opportunity to make adjustments and bring up grades and performance. The student will be reevaluated at a specified date to reassess the situation.

If academic probation is a success, the teacher, the principal, and the parents can discuss which, if any, of the requirements may be lifted, and continue on with positive growth.

Should the academic probation not yield the desired results, it may become necessary to move the student to audit status, or officially withdraw him or her from a course. In these cases, if the student is not exhibiting virtuous behavior, and the ongoing concerns are within the scope of poor student scholarship, willful negligence, pride, laziness, etc., it may be time to withdraw the student. This decision will be made by the principal and the teacher and will be discussed with the parents by both. The specifics of this process will be handled on a case-by-case basis and in collaboration with the principal.

In the cases where hard working, virtuous students may be facing an unexpected family crisis or a change to their schedule, the teacher and family may elect to allow the students to continue on as an auditor of the course. In those cases, the student may attend classes and participate, but not be required to submit assignments or earn grades or credit for the course.

 

8. Academic Dishonesty

 

In the event that a concern arises regarding academic dishonesty, the steps listed below should be taken.

The instructor will do the following:

  • Reserve judgment and allow the facts to be revealed.
  • Reach out to the parents and the student and make them aware of the concerns. The instructor will explore whether there is any way the student could have legitimately misunderstood the scope of liberty he or she was allowed to take when completing the assignment.
  • Consider the academic maturity of the student: Is it possible the student wasn’t aware of how to complete the assignment in an academically responsible way?

If, after exploring the situation, the instructor and parents are confident that the student has not been academically dishonest, the following actions will be taken:

  • If there were any areas where communication could have been stronger to prevent a misunderstanding, the instructor will take those steps to clarify for the sake of this student and the other students in the class.
  • If the student is in need of citation skills or other reference skills, the instructor will make a recommendation to the parents so that the student can be better prepared in the future. These resources can also be made available to the rest of the class just in case it would be helpful to them as well.

If, however, it becomes evident that the student was academically dishonest, the following actions will be taken:

  • The student must apologize, in a meaningful way, for his or her behavior.
  • The student must redo the assignment. The parents and the teacher may decide if the new submission will earn full credit, partial credit, or no credit. The parents will actively participate in this decision.
  • The parents and student should understand that future instances of this behavior will result in a more serious response, which may impact the student’s grade and/or ongoing enrollment in the course or St. Raphael School.

 

9. Addressing Concerns

 

If, at any time, you have a concern regarding your student, the course, or the instructor, we encourage you to contact the course instructor as soon as the concern arises. Likewise, should our instructors have any concerns about your student, they will reach out to you right away. Our instructors wish to keep lines of communication with their students and students’ families open at all times, and the vast majority of concerns can be resolved quickly if expressed promptly. With the exception of very minor concerns, we encourage you to set up a call with the course instructor to discuss the matter over the phone. We have found phone and/or video conversations to be far more effective for resolving concerns and conflicts than email, which naturally lends itself to ambiguity and misinterpretation.

If you have already spoken with the course instructor and you are dissatisfied  with the resolution of the issue, please do not hesitate to contact our office, and a member of the St. Raphael School administration will be happy to hear and address your concern.

 

10. Special Events

 

Throughout the school year, St. Raphael School and Scholé Academy will offer a variety of community events, such as Open House, College Night, Latin Colloquia, and Coffee with the Principal and Teachers. Some of these events are open to the public, and some of them are intended for our communities only. For these community events, your attendance is welcome, but not required. Please also feel free to spread the word when we offer events to the general public.

One additional special event will be a surprise “Snow Day.” There are many benefits to homeschooling and online education. One thing many students miss by taking courses online is the absence of the unexpected Snow Day (let’s be honest: teachers love them too!). St. Raphael School will plan to provide one surprise Snow Day during the winter months. We will select one week for each teacher to declare a Snow Day for each of his or her classes. Parents will be provided with more details as the day approaches. Shhh…it’s a secret!

One final note: To accommodate our Orthodox families who observe Holy Week and Pascha on their own liturgical calendar (which does not always coincide with Western Holy Week and Easter), we have created a flexible absence and assignment-submission policy. Holy Week is a busy time for many families, and since our Orthodox families will not always enjoy Western Easter week as vacation, we have asked our Scholé Academy teachers to modify the attendance policy and provide flexible assignment submission deadlines to those Orthodox families who elect not to attend classes during Eastern Holy Week. Orthodox student absences that week will not be counted against the maximum allowed days. Students and teachers should work to coordinate assignment deadlines as needed.

IV. Parent Agreement

 

Please note: Parents confirm this agreement by enrolling their student in a St. Raphael School course.

In the essentials unity, in the nonessentials liberty, in all things charity.

—Augustine

 

Teaching children is a noble activity but also one that can create anxiety. After all, to hire someone to teach your child touches upon and impacts 1) your money, 2) your faith and life philosophy, and 3) the soul of your child. It is important, therefore, that we clarify what each party (St. Raphael School and the paying parent) expects from the other and to commit to treat one another with respect and charity.

What follows is a general description of what we (St. Raphael School, or SRS) pledge to provide to the parent or guardian as the paying customer for our courses. This section is followed by a description of what the customer pledges to SRS, including the various logistical and financial responsibilities and student requirements. We look forward to a successful partnership, serving each other for the education of the next generation.

 

St. Raphael School Responsibilities

 

  • SRS will provide qualified teachers to teach students to excellent academic standards, also seeking to cultivate noble affection and virtues in the souls and minds of students. SRS teachers will follow the scholé learning philosophy of restful learning in a congenial online atmosphere.
  • SRS teachers will provide meaningful assessments to help students and parents gauge the academic progress of students and to help ensure they are on the path to mastery.
  • SRS teachers will neither upbraid nor humiliate students, but they will seek to guide, mentor, and correct students (including their class behavior) in accordance with Christian love and wisdom. When a sensitive issue arises, or an offense or grievance, SRS teachers will seek to speak to students privately whenever possible. SRS expects that the vast majority of discipline and behavior issues will be handled by means of meaningful conversation with the teacher and student.
  • Discipline and behavior issues which are not resolved by conversation with teacher and student will be brought next to the parent or guardian’s attention.
  • Discipline and behavior issues will only be brought to the SRS principal when no resolution has been achieved after conversation between the teacher and parent.
  • SRS will provide high-standard virtual classroom software and learning management system software, and offer general support and guidance in order that parents and students can use these tools well.

 

Parent and Guardian Responsibilities

 

Parents and guardians will encourage students to be diligent in the following areas.

  • The completion and submission of all assignments (on time) by:
    • coming to class on time
    • participating in class discussions
    • maintaining respectful behavior in class
  • Outside of class, parents and guardians will seek to reinforce and complement the “restful learning” approach of SRS.
  • Parents will assist students by reviewing homework and written assignments, and helping students stay organized, on task, and on pace.
  • Parents will review the annual Academic Calendar to ensure that students are prepared ahead of time for coming classes.
  • Parents and guardians will trust the assessments of the teachers and will generally refrain from challenging the assessments of teachers. Parents and guardians will, however, seek to understand the academic progress of students and engage teachers with questions when they need clarity and guidance in order to help their students.
  • Parents and guardians will encourage respectful behavior of students in class and in all communications with other students and the teacher.
  • Parents and guardians will bring any offense or grievance privately to the teacher for resolution. Only after a discussion with the teacher fails to bring resolution will an offense or grievance be brought to the attention of the SRS principal.
  • Parents and guardians will ensure that students engage in the live classes with their videos turned on.
  • Parents and guardians will encourage their students to respectfully participate in the courses, as the instructors design them to include class discussions, projects, peer evaluations, exchange of ideas, homework submissions, and shared class resources.
  • Parents and guardians will maintain good communication with SRS teachers and ensure that students are able to access the learning management system online. Parents and guardians will notify teachers and the SRS administration at (scholesupport@classicalsubjects.com) of any change in email address or phone number.
  • Parents and guardians will ensure that students make up any missed classes by viewing class recordings (distributed by the instructor) and completing any missed assignments. They will also help students follow the course description and syllabus which may be distributed by SRS teachers.
  • Parents and guardians will ensure that suitable computer equipment (see hardware and software requirements in the classroom technology section) is available and working so that students can access the online courses and use them well.
  • Parents with 2 or more students enrolled in an SRS course may allow 2–3 students to use one computer, but must be responsible to ensure that audio and video will work well with the configuration. If the configuration will not work well, parents will be required to provide one working computer for each student. SRS encourages parents to provide one working computer for each student if at all possible.

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