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It all starts here

A beginner’s guide to Gordon 2014

Academic, racially diverse, child-centered

Welcome to Gordon School! I am so pleased that your family has decided to join Gordon’s community. As the Head of School, I am eager to meet and talk with you about Gordon. Over the coming months, Gordon will become a place of connection for you, an opportunity to build new relationships, and, most importantly, a challenging and exceptional learning environment for your child. This Beginner’s Guide to Gordon was created to assist you in learning the lay of the land at Gordon. As with any new place, there are programs, committees, events, people and more that take time to fully understand. I hope this guide will prove a useful resource in the coming months. I also hope your mentor parent will assist you in getting to know the school, and, of course, the faculty and staff are always available to answer your questions, too. September will be a very exciting time for your child to arrive. Gordon’s Second Century Campaign has funded the construction of a new theater, two new music classrooms, an after school programs classroom and a new dining hall, all of which will be open in the fall. In addition, funds from the campaign have been designated for the school’s endowment, which supports financial aid. Enjoy your spring and summer and prepare for a busy and productive fall at Gordon for you and your child. All my best,

Ralph L. Wales Head of School P.S. All of the information in this guide is online, as well, linked at

Basics Academic structure

Gordon is divided into three divisions: Early Childhood (Nursery, Preschool, Young Kindergarten and Kindergarten), Lower School (first through fourth grades) and Middle School (fifth through eighth grades). Nursery and Preschool each have one classroom, with two teachers leading the group. In Kindergarten to fifth grade, each grade has three classrooms, each led by one teacher. In sixth, seventh and eighth grades, students meet daily in advisories, groups of seven to ten students and one adult, the advisor. Each student belongs to one of three academic sections, with one teacher for humanities and another for math and science. The Teacher Residency PROGRAM

Gordon partners with the Roger Williams University School of Education for the Teacher Residency Program, a one-year intensive Master’s Degree program. As part of their work, teacher residents spend two semesters working alongside Gordon faculty in the classroom. Parent organizations

The Gordon Community Association, or GCA, is the school’s parent association. The work of this extremely active group is woven tightly into the life of the school, and all Gordon families benefit from the GCA’s fundraising and volunteering efforts. Parents of Students of Color, or POSOC, is a group of Gordon parents that meets throughout the year to discuss the distinct issues, needs and experiences of students of color who attend independent schools. The Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the school. Their primary responsibility is overseeing the school’s finances. The Head of School reports directly to the trustees. This structure, with the trustees at the top of the school’s organizational chart, is typical of independent schools. Some of Gordon’s trustees are education professionals, but most are parents of Gordon students or of a graduate. They meet monthly during the school year. Beyond the school day

Supervised care is available from 7:15am to 5:30pm throughout the school year, every day except weekends and federal holidays. Camps are organized during winter and spring break, and Gordon hosts a variety of day camps that run throughout June and into July.

Connecting Gordon recognizes the importance of collaboration between the school and students’ families. Here are a few examples of ways you can help maintain a solid connection between your home and the classroom. Keep your contact information fresh

Over the summer, you will receive information on how to log in to the Gordon website. Learn how to use the password-protected forms to provide the school—and other families—with any changes to your contact information during the year.

Go to Ages and Stages

Ages and Stages is a series of informal breakfast meetings for each grade level. The school psychologist and the division director lead a discussion of the developmental stages that children experience at each grade level. This is one more opportunity to strengthen your connection with the division directors and with the families of your child’s peers. Use the school

Read the weekly emails

Students, parents and caregivers are welcome on campus until 5:30pm every school day, as long as every child is directly supervised by an adult.

Weekly emails provide reminders, announcements, and links to forms. This is a simple way to stay on top of the day-to-day life at Gordon. Email or use the link on the home page to join.

Students’ families are welcome to borrow books from the Joukowsky Family Library. In addition to the main collection, the library has a rich and current selection of books on parenting and education.

Check backpacks

Teachers enlist their students to bring notices and classroom newsletters home to their parents. Encourage students to take their courier responsibility seriously; these notices are a great way to find out what’s happening in their lives. Go to Orientation on September 2nd

Meet your student’s classroom teacher, their division director, and other classroom parents on the day before school begins. This is also your chance to pick up your copy of the Directory, a basic resource that will help keep you connected all year long. Go to New Family Coffees

The Admission Office hosts a series of morning gatherings at Gordon immediately before school. Younger siblings are welcome. Go to Overview Nights

At Overview Nights, your child’s teachers give you a look at the year to come and a detailed preview of the coming year’s curriculum. The conversation at Overview Night gets the family-teacher relationship off to a strong start early in the year.

The Nursery and Preschool sections of the Mann Family Early Childhood Playground are open to everyone outside of school hours (the Kindergarten area is used by Gators). Young children and their families can be found lingering there after pickup on sunny afternoons. Families also use Gordon’s playgrounds and fields on the weekends. An on-campus play date is a great alternative to a visit to one child’s home. All adults are invited to serve themselves coffee and tea in the kitchen throughout the day. Even the quickest stop can result in a friendly encounter between adults.

Meet faculty, staff and volunteers New students have many new people to meet, and so do their families. Classroom teachers

Your child’s classroom teacher is the first person to go to when you have questions, concerns and ideas about your child’s development. Classroom rosters are announced in a mailing that goes home to parents in August. There is more on how to communicate with teachers elsewhere in this guide. GCA representatives

Each grade is assigned a volunteer from the Gordon Community Association who serves as a conduit for communication between the home and the school. You can count on this person to keep you posted on major upcoming school events. Mentor

The Admission Office matches each new family with an experienced Gordon family that has a child at the same grade level. These mentors can be great resources as your family transitions to Gordon. The nurse

Gordon has a full time nurse, Sandy Horton, on duty. It is important to keep the nurse briefed on all health issues, so that the school can respond quickly and appropriately to all students’ needs. She can be reached by phone through the front desk, 401 434-3833, or, and forms and fact sheets from her office are available at The front desk staff

The school’s receptionists, Kim O’Donnell, Denise Johnson and Kay Webber, are everyone’s first stop when they are looking for a student, a teacher, or a piece of vital information. Next time you call the school, or pass through the front office, take the time to introduce yourself.

The Head of School

The Admission Office

Head of School Ralph Wales is responsible for your child’s education and welfare during his or her years at Gordon. You’ll get to know Ralph informally, at school events and in the hallways, but you should also feel free to schedule a one-on-one appointment with him at any time by contacting the Assistant to the Head, Clare Blackmer.

As a new family, you already have a relationship with Admission and Financial Aid Director Emily Anderson, who will remain available to you throughout your time at Gordon. Any questions on enrollment or financial aid should be directed to Emily, Associate Admission Director Jennifer Ciplet or Admission Assistant Zoreilis Perez-Reyes.

The academic directors

The academic directors oversee the day-to-day implementation of the curriculum, and remain on call to respond to individual faculty, student and parent needs. Together, they are responsible for your family’s experience at Gordon. The Assistant Head for Faculty Professional Growth and Multicultural Practice Kimberly Ridley works with faculty and administrators to enhance the school’s multicultural curriculum and support teachers in their work. Most students begin at Gordon in Nursery, Preschool and Kindergarten, so the Early Childhood Director Maureen Kelly has the pleasure of welcoming families to the school. The Lower School Director Maryanne Pieri shepherds children in first through fourth grade, and their parents, through the years when students’ language and math skills blossom, and they become increasingly capable of independent work. The Middle School Director Danny Karpf oversees fifth through eighth grade, the culmination of a student’s Gordon experience, and plays a key role in preparing students for the new challenges of secondary school. Lynn Bowman runs the Teacher Residency Program, a Masters in Education program

run in cooperation with Roger Williams University. Gordon teachers teach courses to a cohort of graduate students, who are placed in two different Gordon classrooms during the school year.

The Business Office

The Business Office has all of the information you need about billing and tuition, and the Business Manager, Tom Cicatiello, is also responsible for maintaining the school’s physical plant. Assistant to the Business Manager Carmen Garcia should be your first stop if you have any concerns about billing and payment options. The After School Programs Coordinator

Every family works with Aleida Benitez at some point in their time at Gordon. She coordinates the 3:30-5:30pm Gators and YAP programs, and also manages three seasons of enrichments, daylong coverage on conference days and certain holidays, four weeks of day camps and the occasional evening program. Introduce yourself, and your child, and get to know her team. The Development Office

The Development Director Kerrie Donahue handles all of Gordon’s fundraising efforts, organizes special events and maintains the school’s connection with alumni. She is also an excellent resource if you are interested in volunteering at Gordon. The Associate Director of Development Mollie Mattuchio is directly responsible for the school’s relationship with alumni and their families. Paola Martinez handles the Development Office’s logistics, and serves as the school database coordinator. The three manage the school’s Annual Fund, which represents a significant portion of the school’s annual operating budget. Manager of Publications and Public Relations Geoff Griffin is responsible for much of the school’s photography and written communication. Bring him questions about the website, weekly emails, monthly mailings and advertising.

Communicating with teachers Conference days are formally scheduled in October and March. On conference days, school is not in session, and Gators childcare is available all day. Families are welcome to reach out to teachers outside of the context of conference days as well. On Overview Nights in the beginning of the year, each teacher will go over the best ways for families to contact them. Twice a year, in December and in June, all parents of children in Kindergarten through the eighth grade receive a detailed written evaluation of their child’s progress. In sixth, seventh and eighth grade, these reports are augmented with letter grades. Nursery and Preschool parents receive progress reports in June. The front desk is always ready to connect anyone with a teacher’s voice mail. Teachers check their voice mail at least once a day, and will return phone calls as quickly as possible. Teachers also have email addresses at Gordon. These addresses follow this pattern:

first initial last name

For example, Gordon’s founder, Helen Cooke, would have had for an email address.

Teachers will respond to an email with a request for a direct one-on-one conversation if they feel that email is not the best way to cover the topic at hand. Faculty websites

All faculty members have websites that they use to support classroom work. Some of these function as libraries for photos. Others may post assignments and upcoming deadlines. At the fall Overview Night, teachers explain what families can expect from their websites. Faculty websites are linked from: and initial, last name Please note

Teachers sometimes cannot check email or voice mail until well after the school day has ended. Any message that requires a quick response, like a change in a student’s after school plans, for instance, must be conveyed by speaking directly to the receptionist at the front desk. Any changes in address or contact information should be communicated through the school’s online parent directory, at

The calendar The most complete and up-to-date calendar is at On a desktop computer, listings can be filtered, and dates can be displayed as a grid or as a list. The school produces a wall calendar that is available at Orientation. This has the basic dates and event listings that are unlikely to change after the school year begins. An updated version of each month’s printed calendar is included in the school’s monthly mailings. Athletic schedules

Full athletic schedules are online at game schedules for the entire upcoming season, as well as the coming week’s practice schedules. In the case of inclement weather, the decision to cancel games is always made by 1pm. Cancellations are announced immediately at, and in an athletics email list that families may sign up through the “join email list” link at the bottom of every page on the website.

News and forms Thursday emails

On Thursday evenings, Gordon sends out an email with news and reminders to all Gordon families. The mailing list includes every email address on file with the school, and Gordon will confirm the email addresses over the summer. on the website

All of the news and links in the weekly emails are archived at All of the forms and RSVPs parents need to fill out are online at Throughout the week, Gordon posts news and photo essays online. Links to these are posted to Gordon’s Facebook page and included in each Thursday’s email. To browse through these essays, visit in the mail

The front office mails one large envelope home each month. These mailings include a newsletter from the school’s administration, as well as other notices and forms from the school. These consolidated mailings reduce the number of mailings sent home throughout the year, and simplify household management for families.

Giving at Gordon Volunteer for the GCA

The Gordon Community Association, the school’s parent volunteer group, will contact you in August and September with opportunities to get involved in its busy and varied list of activities. Volunteer in other ways

Many teachers welcome family members into the classroom to share a special skill, hobby or area of expertise, or simply to read a book aloud to students. Ask your classroom teacher how you might help. The librarians always appreciate help shelving books or staffing the checkout desk. Volunteers labor behind the scenes at the after school theater productions, as well as the special events produced by the Development and Admission offices. The Development Office’s Annual Fund welcomes parents who can call other parents to talk about philanthropic support for the school. The Admission Office enlists interested parents to assist with recruitment, mentoring, leading tours, and more. Fundraising The Annual Fund, or the Gordon Fund, is a fundraising drive in which parents, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the school contribute to Gordon’s annual budget. Every gift from a Gordon parent, no matter what the size, helps bring the Annual Fund to its goal of 100% parent participation. The Second Century Campaign is a capital campaign that has raised $7.5 million

dollars for endowment investments and facilities improvements including the dining hall, the theater, two music classrooms and the after school program space. Gordon’s endowment consists of assets that are managed by Gordon’s Investment

Committee. Gordon uses the interest from these investments, but does not spend the principal. Endowed funds are portions of the endowment that are dedicated to a specific area of school operations. These funds can be established in recognition of a family, person, or graduating class with a minimum gift of $25,000.

Safety and security Privacy and the directory

Winter storms

Gordon provides the directory to support communication among households on matters directly affecting students’ lives.

Gordon has a simple policy for extreme weather:

Parents are urged not to allow the information in the book to be used outside of the context of Gordon. The use of the names, addresses, emails, or phone numbers for any other purpose, however well intentioned, undermines the school’s efforts to sustain open, easy and effective communication among Gordon families. Privacy and the web

Gordon vigorously defends the online privacy of families. Students’ names are not used on the website. The private portion of the website is protected by the same security standards used on the websites of banks, email providers and online retailers. Parents are also welcome to change the information in their profiles so that it cannot be viewed online. Privacy and Publications

Gordon routinely uses photographs of campus life in publications and on the web. Student names are not used. Families give permission for this during the enrollment process each year. Parents are also asked to give a separate permission to have their child included in press coverage, or other media not created by the school.

There are no delayed openings or early closings. If school is cancelled, the decision will be made by 5:30am and announced shortly thereafter on radio and television, and through the school’s automated phone alert system. If school is not cancelled, classes will begin on time and the school will remain open until the last child is picked up. When school is closed, all afterschool programs are cancelled as well. Bus riders should check for closures in their local school district. If local public schools are closed, the bus will not be running. Crisis communication

Gordon has an upgraded two-way radio system, secure doors during school hours, and ample medical evacuation supplies. A crisis planning team meets on a monthly basis to review established procedures and plan for regular school-wide drills. Gordon uses a third-party notification service that sends telephone messages to parents with important information about emergencies and timely announcements, including school cancellations due to inclement weather. The system is configured so that, when it is used:

all of phone numbers listed in the school directory will be called

Any questions about privacy can be directed to the Manager of Publications and Public Relations, Geoff Griffin, at

caller IDs will display “411”

the system will play a recorded message when the phone is answered

Emergency contacts

Visitors to campus

During the enrollment process, all families fill out a form with emergency contact information that remains on file with the school. Copies go with chaperones whenever students leave campus. Parents are responsible for keeping this information current; the information can be updated at Contact the front desk if you have any questions.

After 8:30am, all exterior doors are locked. Anyone arriving on campus needs to be buzzed in at the front office. Adults on campus must wear name badges. Gordon employees will have photo badges. Parents, contractors and other adults must pick up a name badge at the front desk. Students who arrive after the 8:15am bell must sign in at the front office. Students leaving school before dismissal must exit through the front office and sign out.

The Gordon day: before school Getting Dressed

Keeping peanut-free

Gordon does not have a uniform, but there are basic expectations, and Middle School does have a specific dress code that can be found at

There are students who are gravely allergic to peanuts, which puts them at a risk for a major reaction that may require emergency medical treatment.

Students should have sneakers or other closed-toe shoes on during school. Flip-flops and sandals are not suitable for climbing, running and exploring and thus are not permitted on the playground equipment or recommended for school. Students go outside throughout the winter months, and they should have warm clothes and be prepared to play outside. During fall and spring, sunscreen should be applied before children are dressed. All children must wear sneakers with non-marking soles for physical education classes. Good judgment is expected of all students. Teachers and staff will use their discretion in determining whether or not an article of clothing is considered appropriate. If a student’s attire is unacceptable, parents may be called to come pick up their child. Health Check

When ill students attend school, they slow their own recovery and pose a health risk for their classmates. A student should not attend school if he or she

has been vomiting

has a fever of 100 degrees or higher

has diarrhea, persistent severe pain or severe cold symptoms.

Children exhibiting any of these symptoms while at school will be sent home.

Parents are asked to carefully read and mark the ingredients of all foods that are to be shared in a classroom. Early Childhood and the Friday Gators Program are peanut free zones, and Lower School and Middle School students have peanut-free tables at lunches. The school’s caterers do everything they can to ensure that the foods served do not have peanuts, peanut oil or trace amounts. However, parents who have any concerns about the ingredients of any product should send their child to school with what they know to be a safe lunch or snack. Getting to school

Details on free bus transportation are available at If you have questions about busing, please speak to someone in the Admission Office or at the front desk. Parking and dropping off

New families should note that traffic congestion occurs at Gordon but does not last long. By arriving even a few minutes before eight, families may find parking and drop off much easier than it would be a few minutes after eight. When parking in the Maxfield Avenue neighborhood, please be respectful of neighbors’ lawns and driveway access. Parking is not allowed in front of the school: not in the inner circle nor outside the circle by the stone pillars. That area is a fire lane and must be kept clear at all times for emergency vehicles.

Packing food

Students are responsible for their own lunches, either bringing them to school or signing up for the school’s lunch program. Refrigeration is not available. Only Middle School students have access to a microwave. Regular, skim, and low fat milk is supplied to all students, and water and plastic utensils are available. There is a charge for the school lunch program, and signup information and details will be available in August. Early Childhood and Lower School students have snacks provided in the morning. A second snack is provided in the afternoon for Early Childhood. Middle School students may bring a snack from home to have during morning recess.

7:15-8am: Early arrivals

Students may arrive any time after 7:15am and go directly to the after school entrance. Children are supervised until 8am, when Lower School students are dismissed to go to their classrooms and Early Childhood students are walked to their classrooms. Students are not allowed to enter the Middle School before 8am. This coverage of early arrivals is free of charge.

The Gordon day: the school day 8-8:15am: Classrooms open

Classrooms open at 8am, and school begins at 8:15am. Parents of Early Childhood and Lower School students are urged to bring their children a few minutes before the 8:15am bell to ensure a smooth start of the day for everyone. After 8:15am: Late arrivals

Students who arrive after 8:15am must be signed in at the front desk. By 9am: Reporting absences

If a student is absent from school, the parents must call the front desk before 9am on the day of the absence. To leave a message outside of school hours, dial 401 434-3833 and press 9. When a parent calls in a student’s absence, they may request that the student’s homework assignments be made available to them. Middle School students can frequently find homework assignments on their teachers’ web page. 11:45am: Early Childhood half day

Dismissal for half-day students in Early Childhood is 11:45am. On Fridays, all of Early Childhood is dismissed at 11:45am, except on those Fridays when the entire school is dismissed at noon. 3:15pm (2pm Fridays): Dismissal

Lower School and Middle School dismissal is at 3:15pm. Early Childhood dismissal for full-day students is also at 3:15pm, except Fridays when all Early Childhood students are dismissed at 11:45am. Students who are picked up at dismissal wait with their teachers in the front of the school or in a nearby room with their teachers. Adults picking up children can park and walk up to the waiting child, or remain in their car in the school’s driveway pick-up line, where school staff will be on hand to manage traffic flow and safety. Students must be picked up by one of the adults named on the Authorization for Pickup Form that is on file for every Gordon student, and remain in that adult’s care until they leave the campus. Gordon staff reserve the right to check the identification of any adult before dismissing a student into their care. Adults are asked not to pick up their children in the classrooms as it disrupts classroom routines. Students whose rides are late must check in at the front desk and then go to Gators or YAP. If parents or caregivers know they are going to be a few minutes late, they are encouraged to call the front desk.

The Gordon day: after school Students who remain at school after dismissal must be under an adult’s supervision. Gordon has a number of programs that run between 3:30pm and 5:30pm that offer each student safe, positive and age-appropriate ways to spend the afternoon. Gators, for children fourth grade and younger, and YAP, for Middle School students, are the core of the after school programs, covering all of the grades, every day that the school building is open. To insure proper supervision, students will report to Gators or YAP when waiting before or after another after school program. Other after school offerings are coordinated so that they follow the same three-season calendar as closely as possible. Dates and registration information are posted at athletics are open to all Middle School students. Details are online at Lower School Common Ground is offered to after school to students who were

identified as students of color by their parents on the school’s “Family Information” form. More information is available at Enrichments are after school classes offered through Gordon as a supplement to the

school’s curriculum. Music lessons can be scheduled at Gordon with a variety of instructors. See www. for a full list.

The rules and policies outlined in the Gordon Handbook apply during the hours after dismissal as well. This includes the prohibition of students possessing cell phones, iPods and electronic games. Students must be picked up by one of the adults named on the Authorization for Pickup Form that is on file for every Gordon student. Gordon staff reserve the right to check the identification of any adult before dismissing a student into their care. All students must be signed out by a parent or guardian with a Gators or YAP staff member. YAP students may also be signed out by a parent or guardian in the front office.

2013-2014 basic calendar Tuesday, September 2nd Orientation Wednesday, September 3rd Classes begin Thursday, September 25th Rosh Hashana no classes, child care available Friday, October 3rd Monday, October 13th Friday, October 31st

professional development noon dismissal Columbus Day no classes, no child care available Parent-teacher conferences no classes, child care available

Tuesday, November 11th Veteran’s Day no classes, no child care available Wednesday, November 26th Day before Thanksgiving no classes, child care available Thursday, November 27th and Friday, November 28th Thanksgiving weekend no classes, no child care available Friday, December 19th Saturday, December 20th to Sunday, January 4th

Day before winter break noon dismissal

Monday, January 5th Monday, January 19th Friday, January 30th

Classes resume MLK, Jr. Day no classes, no child care available Faculty professional development Noon dismissal

Friday, February 13th Monday, February 16th

President’s Day weekend no classes, child care available President’s Day no classes, no child care available

Friday, March 6th Friday, March 13th Saturday, March 14th to Sunday, March 29th Monday, March 30th Tuesday, March 31st

Parent-teacher conferences no classes, child care available Day before spring break noon dismissal

Friday, April 3rd

Good Friday no classes, child care available

Friday, May 8th Monday, May 25th

Grandfriends’ Day noon dismissal Memorial Day no classes, no child care available

Wednesday, June 10th

Last day of classes noon dismissal

Winter break no classes, child care to be announced

Spring break no classes, child care to be announced professional development no classes, child care available Classes resume

The most up-to-date and complete calendar is always online at

The Gordon School 45 Maxfield Avenue East Providence, RI 02914 401 434-3833

Beginner's guide to Gordon 2014  

A handbook especially for families who will be new to Gordon in September 2014. Request printed copies from or vi...

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