Where is The Birches Academy located? 419 South Broadway in Salem, New Hampshire. Click here for directions
What is the tuition? We are a public school. There is no tuition for New Hampshire residents.
What grades do you serve? We have students from grades Kindergarten – 8. Grades 6-8 are in a middle school model.
Is the school only for Salem residents? No! Any NH student in grades K-8 is welcome to attend. Sending towns currently include Salem, Windham, Pelham, Derry, Londonderry, Atkinson, Manchester, Danville, Hooksett, Hudson, Litchfield, Hampstead and Plaistow.
Is there an entrance test? No! Entrance is through lottery in Kindergarten then a wait list for subsequent grades. We accept children with a diverse range of learning abilities. See the ADMISSIONS section for more details, including information about how we work with IEPs or 504s.
What time is your school day? Class time begins at 8:45am and ends at 2:50pm. Drop off begins at 8:25am. Pick up begins at 2:50pm, and ends at 3pm.
Is transportation provided? Children who reside in the Salem school district are eligible for transportation provided by the district. For students from other towns, we encourage carpooling, and provide assistance in facilitating those opportunities.
Do you offer extended care? We offer Before/After Care for students. Early Birds begins at 7:30am and Night Owls runs until 5:30pm. More details are available on our Before & After Care page. We also offer a variety of enrichment programs based on student interest and staffing availability. Click here to check out our Enrichment page.
What do students do for lunch? The Birches Academy’ students eat in the calm environment of their classrooms with their teachers and teaching assistants. Students can bring their own lunch, or choose a hot, healthy lunch menu provided daily by Papa Gino’s.
Is The Birches Academy a nut-free school? We are not a nut-free school. If your child has health or allergy concerns, please contact the Dean of School to discuss the best plan for your child.
How are classrooms structured? The Birches Academy has a mix of single and multi-age classrooms: Kindergarten, Grade 1-2, Grade 3, Grade 4-5, Grade 6 and Grade 7-8. There is a maximum of 25 students per class.. Each K-5 classroom has one Lead teacher and one Assistant Teacher, meaning we have a 12.5 to 1 ratio. Grades 6-8 operate in a traditional middle school model; there are 4 Lead Teachers and one Assistant Teacher, with students changing classrooms per subject.
What is the curriculum? The Birches Academy is committed to providing a rigorous academic program. All subjects align with the Common Core State Standards and State of New Hampshire Frameworks. Specific programs are chosen by the Dean of School and teaching staff.
Our goal is to meet each child’s needs and ability to progress. Subjects are integrated and differentiated as appropriate. Resources are aligned with Common Core, research based, student centered, hands-on, and include arts integration (fine art, music, and/or performance), all in an effort to promote higher order thinking skills.
Do you teach to the ability of each individual student? The Dean of School and faculty are committed to meeting each student where they are. To this end we spend a great deal of time assessing and understanding each child’s ability. Teachers, parents and students will meet together to set individual goals for the student. There will be additional instructional material, aside from the programs implemented in the classroom. Teachers have options and the flexibility to best meet the needs, abilities and learning style of every student in order to facilitate and maximize learning for each.
How are students assessed? The Birches Academy is required to take the same standardized tests as all New Hampshire public schools; we administer the New Hampshire Statewide Assessment System tests. The Birches Academy also administers a standardized test of our choice (NWEA’s MAP test) in order to document a baseline assessment of each student. Ultimately, this will provide us with the immediate feedback necessary to meet the needs of each individual student. Day-to-day assessment will include formal and informal methods based on students acquiring competence on the Core Competencies.
My child has an IEP. How does that work? If your children is on an IEP or 504 plan, these remain in place at The Birches Academy. The school district from which your child is coming is responsible for providing the services Each sending district has their own policies. Some may send a representative from their district to offer services at The Birches Academy, or they may ask us to provide the services for which they will reimburse us the costs.
After you receive notification that your child has been accepted to The Birches Academy, please contact us to schedule a meeting with you, your Sending District, our Dean of Students and our Dean of School. We will discuss your child’s IEP, strategies for the Sending District to meet the needs of the student and whether The Birches Academy will be the best placement for your child.
What technology do you use in the classrooms? The Birches Academy is committed to leveraging up-to-date technology to aid student learning. Classrooms are all outfitted with projectors and smart boards. Teachers take advantage of opportunities to introduce and incorporate technology into the core subjects. iPads and laptops are used in the classrooms. In the middle school we ask student to bring an Ipad, Apple laptop or Chromebook.
What is a portfolio and how does it work? The Birches Academy utilizes a “Portfolio Method” to help students keep a record of their achievements throughout their academic careers. Students work with teachers to select works to be added to their individual portfolios. This allows students and teachers to reflect on progress they make each trimester and to celebrate their growth throughout the year. Each student’s portfolio travels with them as they progress through the grades. Portfolios in grades K-5 are done using paper and are kept in a binder, while portfolios in the upper grades are maintained electronically.
Is there a music program? We believe music is an important component to educating the whole child. As an arts integrated school, we incorporate music, along with fine arts and performance into the core curriculum. Students attend music class in grades K-8 and are introduced to the ukulele starting in grade four. Band is open to middle school students starting in grade six. There are availabilities for intermediate and advanced placements. Chorus is open to students starting in grade four, and in middle school there is an opportunity for students to audition for select chorus.
Do you offer foreign language? Currently, all students from K-8 take Spanish as part of their curriculum. For more information about the foreign language aspect of our curriculum, please click here.
Do you offer physical education? We are required to offer physical education under New Hampshire state law. We do not have a gymnasium, but our PE teacher has each classroom twice a week in either our outdoor spaces or our open space called The Woods.
How do I apply? Click here for an application; you will need to submit one per child.
Do you offer tours? Yes; see the current schedule here.
If I have a student currently enrolled, will my other children get preferential treatment if they apply? Yes! Siblings are guaranteed a spot in kindergarten. In other grades students will be admitted into the class, or if the school year is already in progress they would move to the top of the wait list. Siblings of graduates will be treated as siblings for purposes of placement.
My child is on the wait list. What does that mean? Once a class is full we add further applicants to a wait list for each grade on a first come, first served basis. When we have an opening, we contact the first person on the wait list for that grade level. If that person cannot take the opening, we move to the next student on the list and remove the declining student from the list. Because we understand it can be in the best interest of students to maintain stability in some cases, students who decline to move to the Birches Academy of Academics and Art after March 1st may remain on the wait list for the following year.
What happens if one of my children is accepted through the lottery process, but not the other(s)? Siblings receive priority placement, as long as there is space available in the class. If there is not an available spot in the appropriate grade, then the sibling(s) will be added to the top of the wait list.
Does the school have a library? Each classroom houses a library with age and grade appropriate books. Teachers also have access to book lists and literacy resources above/below grade level to meet the needs of individual students in their classroom.
My child had special medication and allergies. Do you have a nurse? State law does not require us to have a nurse on staff. Because we lack the funds for this position, we do not currently have a nurse at our school. However, medications can be distributed by the Dean of School, as agreed upon with parents. Many teachers are trained in First Aid/CPR. If your child has health or allergy concerns, the Dean of School will meet with you upon acceptance in order to determine the best plan for your child.
Is there outdoor space available for the children to play? We have outdoor space, as well as some playground equipment, available to students. This may not look like your traditional school yard with a swing set and slide, but it does include an area for children to run, play basketball, four square, etc. Each class – even middle school – has daily outdoor recess, as weather permits.
AND A FEW OTHER THINGS
Where do graduates go to continue their education? Our graduating students have gone on to a mix of Public, Private and Charter High Schools. Here is a sample of some of the high schools that our students have been accepted at and/or gone to:
Public: Pelham, Pinkerton, Salem, Timberlane, Windham
Private: Austin Preparatory School, Brooks School, Central Catholic, Derryfield School, Lawrence Academy, Lowell Catholic, Presentation of Mary, Trinity High School
Charter: Academy of Science and Design, Founders Academy, Granite State Arts Academy
How is The Birches Academy financed? When we were founded in 2012, we received a $600,000 Federal Start Up Grant. This funding allowed us to secure a location, furniture, books, curriculum, technology, etc. The funding model in NH for charter schools is such that we receive significantly less money per student than a traditional public school. Additional monies needed are secured on an ongoing basis via grants, fundraising and donations.
If you’d like to support The Birches Academy, please see our Get Involved section of this website.
Are there volunteer opportunities? Yes! A charter school relies heavily on the involvement of their families and community. In whatever way you are able to volunteer, we welcome you! For information on how to volunteer, click here.
If you have any questions that were not answered on this list, please feel free to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.