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Our Name Says It All....
Berrien Springs School District has an outstanding track record of creating phenomenal, unprecedented programs reaching students of all ages and
abilities for its own community and beyond. Why are we called a "Parent Partnership?" Because BSPS believes that every student is unique, and that education can be adapted to fill the unique needs of students and their families. BSPS is not just a school of choice, it is a district of choices. They realize that students are best served with a variety of choices, and support your decision to homeschool. We partner with you by providing outstanding elective educational opportunities at no cost to you, right where you are!
How does this program work?
This a free program paid for by your tax dollars and generously provided and supported by Berrien Springs Public Schools. The Partnership is available to homeschool families from Berrien, Cass and VanBuren counties.
Students, grades 1-12, sign up as part-time Berrien Springs students. According to HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association), they retain their status as homeschool students as long as parents provide 51% of the students' total education including all core subjects: language arts (reading, spelling, English grammar, writing, literature), arithmetic, science, history, and federal and state government. The school district receives tax dollars and in turn provides extremely valuable and fun non-core (elective) educational opportunities families might not otherwise be able to enjoy.
The novelty of our program is that you choose how you want to benefit from what the Partnership has to offer. Benefits of participating in the Partnership include:
- Fellowship with other homeschool families in educational and social pursuits
- Up to 5 degree based college courses, including books, free per semester for high school students, depending on grade level (see dual enrollment)
- Up to 6 valuable and exciting community project based learning classes per semester for all ages that may be too costly or inaccessible otherwise. See (Classes Tab) together with corresponding online resources
- Foreign language access through Rosetta Stone and k12 PowerSpeak (see Rosetta Stone) (see k12 Power Speak)
- Free CTE (Career and Technical Education)…exceptional county-wide vocational programs for Juniors and Seniors (see CTE)
- Access to other exciting non-core virtual classes for all ages (see Virtual Classes under Classes Tab)
- Free (student admission) to exciting field trips (see Field Trips under Classes Tab)
- Access to certified teacher support
- Access to fun and education online resources like BrainPOP and Reading Rainbow
- Greater understanding of Berrien Springs Schools and the support and diversity in our community.
What are my options?
Elementary (grades 1-5) and Middle School students (grades 6-8)
May take up to 6 of any combination of online Virtual classes and/or Community Project Based Learning classes - all descriptions found on this website under Classes Tab.
High School students (grades 9-12)
May take up to 5 of any combination of Community and Dual Enrollment classes per semester. See the Dual Enrollment tab for grade level restrictions.
Requirements and Considerations:
- Students must be 5 years of age by Sept. 1st of the academic year for which they are registering, so that applies not only to Fall semester, but to Spring as well (see FAQ section below). A waiver is available, by request, for students turning age 5 by Dec. 1st of the academic year.
- Students may not be enrolled in any public school, including online public academies (except for the Berrien Springs Virtual Academy). This program serves strictly homeschooled students.(see FAQ's).
- Online registration is required for every student, every semester. A copy of each student's birth certificate is only required when registering for the first time. We do not require SS# or vaccination records.
- Students must maintain weekly contact with their mentor teacher and participation in online components that correspond to community project based learning classes on their schedules.
Mentor Teacher Requirement:
To comply with state requirements and keep our program alive and well, we require weekly certified teacher (mentor teachers) contact with every student. Homeschool, family friendly certified teachers (mostly Partnership parents and community class teachers!) will be assigned to each partnership family to establish once a week, 2-way communication via phone, email, text or community class site visits with each student. Be assured, these teachers will understand their role as simply a point of service for any instructional issues or help that a certified teacher may offer. Mentor teachers will not inquire about any of your classes or schooling other than those electives you have signed up for with the Partnership. They will have nothing to do with your regular homeschool curricula or activities. Even though communication has to be between the mentor teacher and student, of course that can and should take place in the presence of parents when at all possible. The mentor teacher's job is to record that weekly contact (how are your classes going, what have you learned? etc.) has been made. The teachers will report to Sharon Haynes if there are any issues that arise such as poor attendance. They will also be aware of our attendance policy that all families agreed to at registration; the expectation that students attend at least 80% of classes for which they have registered. They will understand the occasional illness or missed class due to a field trip.
Online Component Requirement:
The Partnership is excited to offer Google Classroom to our students. Every Partnership student will have a school email that is used to access their Google Classroom. The Classroom is a one-stop portal for accessing the online portion of each community class on the student's schedule, chat with community teachers, access their virtual classes) and chat with their mentor teacher. Only a pre-test and post-test are required in each component along with active participation all semester (watching the online resources), but especially during the count month period (4 weeks: 2/10 - 3/8). We will be able to see and track that activity. Compliance with this process is very important in order to be accountable for the few parameters we have that make this awesome program a reality.
Summary: Program Compliance:
In order to remain active in the Parent Partnership a student must:
* show good faith in maintaining 80% attendance record in all community classes for which they are registered.
* (High School)complete all dual enrollment classes with a passing grade. Drop outs will require parents to reimburse the school or be disqualified from the program.
* meet the virtual class completion goals (if one or more virtual classes are chosen) as outlined on the Virtual Class Guidelines on the virtual page of this site.
* take the pre and post tests offered by each Community Project Based Learning class and show evidence of learning at the end of the semester by participation in a semester-end project such as recital, sports event, drama production, project completion, art show, etc.
* participate in each online component during each week of the Count Month period and take the Pre- and Post-tests.
* maintain weekly contact with assigned mentor teacher. A different mentor teacher may be assigned if this would increase success of contacts.
Where is the school located?
Berrien Springs School District is conveniently located in downtown Berrien Springs, just behind McDonalds and close to the Fairgrounds' west entrance. See the Contact Us page for directions. Students are not required to spend any minimum amount of time on BSPS campus.
If I join, am I committed for the year?
Registration is on a semester by semester basis. You may change any or all classes at the start of a new semester.
Are teachers background checked?
Berrien Springs Parent Partnership strives to ensure the safety of all students by conducting and/or requiring thorough background checks of all off-site and ancillary teachers in contact with our students in the course of Partnership classes out in the community. These background checks are in compliance with mandates by the State of Michigan for public schools.
My child will not be 5 by Sept. 1st, is there a waiver?
Yes, as long as your student will be 5 years of age by Dec. 1, you can sign an early enrollment waiver available after you have registered with the Partnership - be sure to notify the Director.
Are vaccination records required?
No, homeschool students are "non-public" students and do not participate in seated classes with public students. All of our classes are taken at home and in the community.
Do I need to use a certain curriculum at home?
No. The curriculum you choose for your core classes or any other class is entirely up to you. The school does not inquire about your homeschooling. You may use curricula from anywhere, including online homeschool providers unless that provider is a public school (K12, Michigan Virtual, etc) other than Berrien Springs Public Schools. You may be part of the Berrien Springs Virtual Academy and the Parent Partnership.
Are there any limits on the Community Classes we choose?
No more than 6 per student in grades 1-8 and no more than 5 for high school students. We encourage a balanced schedule each semester to promote maximum student exposure to all non-essential subject areas, such as art, communication, physical education, technology.
I'm new to homeschooling, where do I find curriculum?
No problem, there are more options than you can imagine. Email Sharon for a list of suggestions on how to get started: firstname.lastname@example.org
What is the Berrien Springs Virtual Academy?
If you want your kids to be at home, but don't want to be responsible for teaching the core subjects, Berrien Springs' Virtual Learning Academy may be right for you. They serve students in grades 1-12, provide all curriculum and live mentor teachers through online access and testing at the Lab across from the Middle School. Virtual Academy students may also take Partnership electives! Virtual Academy students must complete one successful semester before adding Partnership electives. For more information on this program, contact Rachel Stout at 473-0500.
Does the Partnership provide books or computers for students?
All core classes (Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Government and History) are taught by parents at home, using any curriculum they choose. Partnership classes are strictly elective in nature. The Partnership does not supply books or such materials. Laptops are available to borrow in rare cases where the internet is not available at the student's home and the student is unable to come to the Virtual Lab during after school hours to work on their virtual classes. The computer lab at the Virtual Academy (across from the middle school) is open to Partnership students from 3:30-5:30 M-F.
Where are classes held?
All field trips, unless otherwise specified on the trip's itinerary, originate in the Middle School cafeteria. All other community classes are held in locations all over the tri-county area. Consult the Community Resource Class links for individual class locations and details.
All these classes are free?
Yes! There are no class fees for any of our virtual or community resource classes except for private music lessons lasting longer than 30 min. (parents pay the difference). The only expenditures are for adult and/or non-enrolled sibling discounted admission fees for field trips (if that class is chosen), and expected items that may need to be purchased as a natural consequence of participating in a particular class. For example, if your student begins guitar lessons or ballet, you will need to borrow or buy a guitar or ballet shoes or music books. Dual enrollment college classes: tuition, regularly assessed fees and books (if you choose to turn them in to BSPS) are paid for by BSPS.
*Please note: it is important to make as informed a decision as possible when choosing your student's Community Resource classes. Most locations will allow a student to drop a class after one meeting, at no charge, if it wasn't a good fit for the student, but not all. Some classes plan ahead based on the number that have signed up and have purchased materials, hired teachers, etc. and there might be a fee for class time or materials given to the student if the student drops after one or two sessions. The school cannot pay for classes that students do not complete, so there might be a rare instance that a family would be asked to pay for the class time incurred prior to dropping the class.
Are grades or credit given for any classes?
Traditional grades or credits are not given for any class (except college classes), they are either pass/fail or complete/incomplete as appropriate. Community teachers will give a pre-test to all students regarding their prior knowledge of the class subject, and the same test as a post-test at the end of the semester to assess the knowledge the student gained during the semester. Teachers submit class percentages to the Partnership Director which is used to show overall Program efficacy in helping students learn these valuable subjects.
Are there attendance requirements?
Attendance for field trips is kept by partnership staff as parents sign in on the morning of each trip. To maintain the integrity of the program, we need to demonstrate an overall excellent rate of completion of classes taken by our students. Each Community Project Based Learning class teacher takes their own form of attendance; if a student consistently doesn't show, then we will drop them from that class, not the partnership. Failure to consistently attend any of the classes chosen, including virtuals, jeopardizes continuation in the Partnership. Academic achievement in each class is ultimately determined by the parent, with feedback and/or tangible evidence from teachers and projects.
Can my student be part of another school and this Partnership?
Students must be homeschooled. Students may belong to any homeschool program, such as co-ops and networks, and be members of the Partnership. Students may not be registered in any public school, including publicly funded (free) virtual (online) schools, academies (except for programs provided by Berrien Springs Public Schools), and so on. Students may not be full time students in any private or parochial school. Students may not be part of another partnership at the same time.