- Program Basics
- Virtual Classes >
- Bittersweet Stables: All About Horses
- Cedar Lodge Stables
- Red Bud Gypsies Ranch
- Sandmann Farm: Horsemanship 101 & 102
- Circle C Stables
- Ground Zero - Exploring Equine Education
- Mounted Archery
- Horse Care and Management with Patsy Little
- Janine Frizzo: Small Animal Husbandry
- Spring Creek Equestrian Center
- YMCA Camp Eberhart
- Buchanan Art Center
- Miniature Furniture Construction
- Ceramics/Pottery >
- Creative Design with Robert Ritzenthaler
- Design Street in Plainwell
- Drawing and Painting Classes: see tabs >
- Jewelry /Beadwork >
- FLC: Art and Culture Around the World
- Ground Zero: Archery Art
- Krasl Art Center
- Nature and Community Arts
- Stained Glass Options >
- Water Street Glassworks >
- Business and Finance >
- Chess >
- Dance: Fine Arts >
- CTE: Career and Technical Education
- Drama >
- Family Adventure Trips >
- Field Trips
- Foreign Languages >
- Humanities >
- Nature/Environment >
- Gymnastics >
- Martial Arts
Physical Fitness & Sports
- Swim and Gym Locations
- Swim Lessons/Swim Teams >
- Technology >
- Vocational Education >
- Dual Enrollment / CTE
- Meet your Mentor
- Contacts / Resources
Welcome New Families! Welcome back program veterans!
(Just hover over class listings to see options or click on header titles and use the buttons)
*Check out our new calendar page for important dates. Click on link or title on task bar above.
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. We realize that students are best served with a variety of choices, and support your decision to choose the type of schooling that suits your student and family best. 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. Because BSPS is a district of choices, we offer all students an array of options. The Partnership is available to district students, homeschool students* (see FAQs below) from Berrien, Cass and VanBuren counties, and private school students who either live in-district (Berrien Springs residents) or attend one of the many schools located within the BSPS District.
Students, grades K-12, sign up as part-time Berrien Springs students through the Registration tab. According to HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association), homeschoolers 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, social studies 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 students in educational and social pursuits
- Up to 2 degree based college courses, including books, free per semester for high school students, depending on grade level (see dual enrollment)
- Up to 4 valuable and exciting community project based learning classes per semester for all ages that may be too costly or inaccessible otherwise. See (Classes Tab).
- Foreign language access through Rosetta Stone and Middlebury World Languages. (see Rosetta Stone) (see Middlebury World Languages)
- 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
- Greater understanding of Berrien Springs Schools and the support and diversity in the greater community.
What are my options - how many classes can my students take?
Elementary (grades K-5)
May take up to 4 of any combination of online Virtual classes and/or Community Project Based Learning classes - all descriptions found on this website under Classes Tab. Students cannot take more than 1 class in the same category as defined by the Partnership (Art, Dance, Music, Phys Ed, Life Skills, etc.).
Middle School and High School students (grades 6-12)
May take up to 4 of any combination of Virtual and Community classes per semester. Students cannot take more than 1 classes in the same category (Art, Dance, Phys Ed, Life Skills, etc. EXCEPT for Music. A second group music choice (i.e. band, orchestra, choir) is allowed. No more than 2 of the selections can be Dual Enrollment courses. 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 full-time in any public school, including online public academies (except for the Berrien Springs Virtual Academy).
- Online registration is required for every student, every semester. A copy of each student's birth certificate is required when registering for the first time, along with the Special Services form specifying if special education or therapy services were provided to the student in the past and if so, if the parent desires to continue or discontinue. We do not require SS# or vaccination records.
- Students must maintain weekly contact with their mentor teacher to verify project-based learning in all partnership classes.
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 (except public school on-campus students). 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. 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 is date-stamped and that project-based learning is ongoing. The teachers will report to the Program Director 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.
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. Withdrawal after the drop period or a failing grade will require parents to reimburse the school or be disqualified from the program. Books must be returned to the college (if rented) or BSHS.
* 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 chosen by the student and teacher such as recital, sports event, drama production, project completion, art show, etc.
* 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 McDonald's 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.
What are the Partnership office hours?
Partnership staff do not have an office on campus, but have an inbox at the Central Office (STEM/Central building) on campus. Our hours are the same as Central Office, M-F, 8-4:30, following the school calendar. We are best reached via email and we do our best to return messages in a timely manner.
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 national 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.
How are classes added and removed from the program? Class Selection Policy
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, homeschooled and private school students are considered "non-public" students. Private school students must abide by the directives of their school. 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 core subjects. You may use curricula from anywhere, including online providers unless that provider is a public school (K12, Connections Academy, Michigan Virtual, etc) other than Berrien Springs Public Schools. You may be part of the Berrien Springs Virtual Academy and the Parent Partnership according to the Virtual Academy's policy.
Are there any limits on the Community Classes we choose?
No more than 4 classes per student in grades K-12. 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, etc., therefore students cannot take more than 1 class per category(K-12); with music being the exception (6th - 12th) may take a second music class from the group music category.
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 K-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 according to the following policy:
Virtual Academy students may sign up for up to 2 Partnership classes (K-12), not including Dual Enrollment which is part of the Virtual Academy's schedule.
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?
Those in the Field Trip Class who choose the BUS option for a trip must come to the Berrien Springs Middle School cafeteria prior to departure. Those choosing to DRIVE to a Field Trip location merely meet at the trip location. 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 Independent Music Study 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 are paid for by BSPS up to a maximum limit. Dual enrollment books, unless rented, MUST be returned to BSPS at the end of each semester. Rentals must be returned to the college on time.
*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 choose wisely; if you do not take the class off of your student's schedule by the deadline, you may be asked to pay for the class time incurred prior to dropping the class.
Are grades or credit given for any classes?
Neither traditional grades nor credits are 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.
Can my student be disqualified from Partnership participation?
Yes, continued participation in the partnership is dependent upon abiding by all requirements. Examples of non-compliance:
* lack of or late weekly mentor teacher conversations and thoughtful answers to the project-based questions posed by the mentor teacher's weekly question
* poor record of attendance in one or more courses
* failing grade in one or more dual enrollment courses without reimbursement to BSPS
* any disruptive or injurious behavior to self or others during partnership participation
* statements made to the effect that the student intends to withdraw, for any reason, or rude and threatening language made against the program or school
Are there attendance requirements?
Yes, students are expected to attend at least 80% of each class on the schedule and must "pass" every class. 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 and the family may be responsible for payment incurred up to that point. Failure to consistently attend any of the classes chosen, including virtuals, will result in the student losing Partnership privileges. 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 not be full-time public school students in any school other than BSPS. Students may belong to any homeschool program, such as co-ops and networks, and be members of the Partnership. Students may not be registered full-time 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 be full time students in any private or parochial school as long as they live within Berrien Springs School District. Private school students living outside of the District are not eligible. Students may not be part of another partnership at the same time.