MY CHILD’S LAST SCHOOL USED TO HOST CURRICULUM NIGHTS AND PARENT/TEACHER INTERVIEWS. WHAT HAPPENS AT THE DRAGON?
Most schools face challenges of scale—there are too many students for teachers to respond individually to parent concerns. In our experience, traditional curriculum nights and parent/teacher interview nights serve to keep parents at bay, to restrict their access to teachers to brief individual contacts. The most productive kind of teacher/parent meeting is individualized, open ended, set up at a mutually convenient time, not part of an assembly line. We are not keen on the standard model by which anxious parents file through the offices of weary teachers at ten minute intervals. Instead, we encourage you to take advantage of our small size to develop direct and meaningful relationships with your child’s teachers, exchanging emails, setting up meetings and phone conferences. In addition, our Open Houses are unique opportunities to meet with other parents, with Dragon teachers, to share your experience of the school with prospective parents, and to benefit from guest teachers and speakers who share and broaden our vision on a variety of topics, from archaeology to zoomorphism.
HOW DO I KNOW HOW MY CHILD IS DOING AT SCHOOL? ABOUT HIS/HER ASSIGNMENTS?
The Dragon Community uses an online database called “Quickschools”. Everyone should have received your username and password from our registrar. Once you have logged into Quickschools, you will be able to track your child’s progress, view your child’s weekly class schedule, and even receive text messages reminding you of upcoming field trips. There is a gamut of other communication features including mass email and voice messaging and a dashboard showing you which school events are upcoming. Quickschools provides parents and students with access to homework and grades and even allows each teacher to track attendance.
HOW WILL I HEAR ABOUT CONCERNS? WHAT IF I HAVE WORRIES?
We will email or phone you the minute we have any questions or concerns about your child. We want you to email us as freely. Nothing is more important for your child’s academic and emotional success than support at home.
OKAY, BUT WHO DO I CONTACT, AND HOW?
For non-urgent messages, please call our main number, 416-323-3243. We now have a communications officer who answers the phone from 8am to 1:30PM Monday through Thursday. Otherwise, we check the messages several times a day and try our best to respond rapidly and responsibly. For concerns about a class, a teacher, or work, please contact the relevant teacher directly by email, and cc. Dr. Fox (email@example.com). If you have an emergent need to contact you child beyond Mon-Thurs, 8AM – 1:30PM, the fastest and most secure way to do so is via your child’s cell-phone. We are sensible about cell-phone usage at Dragon. Our communications officer should have sent a list of teacher emails to you. If you cannot find this list, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT IS THE ‘PARENT ACCOUNT’?
Because The Dragon takes advantage of so many activities outside the school, from museum visits to using the athletic facilities at the Jewish Community Centre on Bloor, as well as purchasing art supplies, performance tickets and books for our students, we keep a running “tab” of costs incurred to the school for each student. Our accounts department will send you invoices by email at bi-monthly intervals. These can be paid either by cheque or by credit card. Please note that all our accounts correspondence will be by email unless otherwise requested (we are saving the forests one page at a time) and we will bill you for activities for which we have paid no matter whether your child attended or not.
HOW DO WE GIVE CONSENT FOR TRIPS?
You will have signed a blanket consent form and returned it with your child’s registration papers. This covers our ordinary trips to local events and museum sites. We will send specific consent forms for more complex trips (involving longer distances, etcetera).
WHAT ABOUT LUNCH?
About half the students at Dragon bring beautifully prepared home-made lunches. Some even eat these lunches. The rest fan out to neighbourhood fast food eateries, which range from junkfood to sushi, priced accordingly. The students like to eat together at the school, with different social groups claiming various classrooms.
The Dragon does not provide a nut-free environment. Our students are old enough and responsible enough to avoid allergens. We will be glad to keep an epi-pen for your child in our medical supplies. (We do not take responsibility for administering medications, but can hold prescriptions for your child if necessary).
WHAT IF MY CHILD MISSES SCHOOL?
You must report your child’s absence by phone or email. Please email email@example.com, please phone us or leave a message at 416-323-3243 if your child is ill or has an appointment. Notes and assignments should be available through Quickschools. It is important to encourage your child to make up for missed classes and assignments. You should also feel free to contact your child’s teachers directly by email. We are very responsive!
WHAT ABOUT SOCIALISING AND EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES?
The Dragon, obviously, cannot support many formal clubs, sports teams, eighty piece orchestras. We do respond to and support our students’ interests, from scheduling ski days to participating in Model UN sessions. We rely on our parents to help us organize and run these opportunities, and on parent class representatives and Guild members to help us reach out to each other. We do have informal connections with other small, progressive schools. There too, we need student enthusiasm and parent effort to co-ordinate visits, projects and social opportunities.
Dragon students are organized into home “forms”, the group of classmates who will go through the programme together. In part in response to size, in part to good evidence that mixed grade level configuration benefits students socially and intellectually, students are assigned to the academically appropriate form. The whole school, in a sense, is your child’s homeroom—we begin every school day with a whole school, discussion based assembly, in which the Principal takes the role of homeroom teacher (and it is through the Principal that all concerns are ultimately channeled).
IS THERE A PARENT BODY?
The Dragon Parents’ Guild is a key part of our school community. The Parent Guild not only arranges events and speakers, supports school initiatives and fundraising, but also serves as an informal advisory board, raising concerns and providing wisdom to the administration in managing the day to day and the long-term vision of the school.
HOW IS THE DRAGON STRUCTURED?
The Dragon Academy was a set up by owner and founder Meg Fox as a numbered Ontario corporation, 1423724 Ontario Limited. The Parents’ Guild, with the addition of other friends of the school, functions as an informal Advisory Board.
ISN’T EDUCATION A CHARITABLE ACTIVITY?
Friends of Progressive Education is a registered charity (#85662-0273-RR0001) which functions at arms’ length from The Dragon. FPE has made generous grants to The Dragon over the years to support our tuition assistance fund, our innovative Integrated Progressive Science Programme (including equipping our laboratory), and The Green Dragon project in Environmental Education. Future dreams range from supporting the research and professional development activities of The Dragon to acquiring a permanent home for the school and the foundation. If you wish to become involved in the activities or FPE and/or to make a donation, please feel free to contact Michael Seven, President of FPE, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Secretary Jonathan Freedman, at email@example.com.
HOW DO I GET IN TOUCH WITH OTHER PARENTS AND STUDENTS?
The Dragon Academy releases a comprehensive contact list each academic year. Individuals who do not wish us to share their contact information are asked to so inform our registrar. Ours is a tight-knit and inclusive community—just pick up the phone. You should have received this contact list from our registrar. If you cannot find this list, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. A number of parents have arranged carpooling by figuring out who lives near them. (Most students use the TTC.)
WHERE CAN MY CHILD LEAVE HIS/HER POSSESSIONS WHILE AT SCHOOL?
We do have banks of regular lockers, and each student is entitled to have one. Please send your child with a regular combination lock (and make sure we have the combination at the office).
IS THERE A DRESS CODE?
Not beyond what common decency would suggest. We have tried for years to get them to look like bankers, but without much success.
WHAT ABOUT MEMENTOS OF THEIR YEARS AT DRAGON?
There are many occasions when photos are taken. This year, we have entered into a partnership with picaboo.com to create a real physical yearbook! There is also a regularly produced Dragon newsletter, which we aim to distribute electronically at the beginning of each month. Every member of the Dragon community is welcome to contribute to it.