Welcome to the Forest Class

Kindergarten and First Grade

“Our 5 year-old is thriving at GCS. She is excelling with so much confidence thanks to the nurturing, individualized learning she has been provided academically, socially, and emotionally. There is no superior early education that could compare to GCS and their dynamic, loving staff!”

- Forest Room Parent
At GCS, our Forest Room focuses on a positive, encouraging introduction to an academic setting while recognizing the power of play. We believe that much of a child's learning is constructed through play as they then have authentic experiences with leadership, collaboration and critical thinking. Through child-led, teacher directed experiences, and a rich literacy component, ForestRoom students are incorporating social skills, language development, reading and writing skills, science and social studies discoveries, and developing a love for math.

Exploration
We start each morning encouraging students to explore the ever changing materials in the classroom which are tied to one or more units of study.  This time to come into the classroom and get comfortable is an important piece of flexible time within an increasingly structured day as students adjust to the academic aspects of kindergarten and first grade.

Morning Meeting
After exploration, we start each and every day with a class meeting.  During this time, we greet each and practice social skills, listening skills, and memory skills.  Morning Meeting is a time to thoroughly discuss the day and schedule so that students feel comfortable knowing what to expect.  Activities may include a book or story as well, as we study different subjects throughout the year.  

Daily 5
Daily Five is an academic component of GCS that helps students foster independence and time management skills.  Because of our individualized curriculum, each student will learn how to work independently and in small groups, as well as one-on-one with the teacher within this framework.  More information on Daily 5 is included in the Forest Room Academic Overview each year.  

Wiggle Time / Recess
Forest Room students enjoy a morning and afternoon recess time.  Ample time to play and enjoy the outdoors is an important piece of our daily routine.

Number Corner 
Number Corner is a daily math meeting that puts students in charge of calendar work and data collection.  This is used in conjunction with other math instruction but is always a favorite time of day for students to chart findings and solve problems and patterns.

Shelf Time
Shelf time is an important part of the work students in the Forest Room do.  Studying in thematic units allows students to explore materials and games that are related to subjects and to find their own interests and creativity along the way. Balancing structured academic time with time to explore the classroom materials creates the environment of learning that makes the Forest Room tick!

Responsive classroom practices create a culture of friendship and respect between students and teachers. Project-based learning allows students to learn through a variety of experiences and field-trips throughout the year foster opportunities to engage with the community in ways that bring learned skills to life. Our multi-age class helps the forest students develop a sense of community that supports varied social and academic development by fostering collaborative skills, while diminishing competition and comparison since all students are not expected to have identical skills. A love of learning is the outcome when students are able to express themselves in their own unique learning style.




Latest Events in Forest

Forest

Forest January Newsletter

MLK Jr Day - DAY ON! Will send details of the day after teachers are able to get a better sense of the weather. Bakery Field Trip - TBA

Forest

Forest: February Newsletter

This month we are learning about US History and focusing on Presidents and US Symbols/Landmarks!

Forest

Forest: March Newsletter

Spring in the Forest Room!

Meet the teachers

Caroline Jones
Lead Teacher

Caroline Jones
Lead Teacher – Forest

Early Childhood Education - Ashworth College 

I began my teaching career at a very young age as a dance instructor in Monroe County, WV where I went on to eventually own a studio. It was there that I initially discovered my love for teaching, working with children, and serving my community.  I spent my summers in the Energy Express program where I developed a love for the classroom.   I went on to study performing arts at Radford University, and stepped away from university life in 2014 when I became a mother to my daughter, Lyla.  It was during this time in my life that I discovered GCSand fell in love with the community and environment. This played a huge role in my return to school to earn my education degree. I was thrilled to step into the role of Lead Teacher after four wonderful years of service to GCS in the capacity of PE and Dance teacher, along with my roles as classroom assistant. I have been honored to play a role in shaping the environment of education to best serve children and families.  

Classroom Environment and Community 
I believe the first years of primary school to be incredibly important.  For some students, this will be their first experience away from home.  For others who have attended preschool, it will be their first full day scholastic experience. With this in mind, I knowhow important it is for The Forest Room to be a positive experience and introduction to learning. We will dedicate time to getting to know one another and forming a positive classroom community.  Within the community, we will create a strong foundation for a lifelong love of learning.  To me, honoring early childhood education means creating a classroom community where each member feels safe enough to take risks, express curiosity, and ask questions, all while being held to high standards.  In the Forest Room, we will learn through play and form friendships that encourage social and emotional growth, while introducing academics as a whole and to each child individually.  Our classroom will utilize tried and true systems likeResponsive Classroom and project based learning, while encouraging each child to have a voice in their unique education and reaching their goals.  Each day brings new gifts!

Creating the Culture
of the Classroom

Over the first six weeks the primary focus of all GCS classrooms is to set up the structures and behavioral atmosphere needed to create the ideal learning environment for all students. Students co-create this environment so that they feel safe to voice their concerns and needs, clear in their understanding of behavioral and academic expectations and inspired to learn and grow as a valued member of a real community. Click on the links below on the right for details.

Click on links below for details

Daily agenda Introduced
Every classroom has a daily agenda and the day begins and ends with a morning circle to discuss the the goals for the day and what may have been missed at the end of the day so students are aware of what adjustments will be made for the agenda on the following day.
Classroom Structure Development
Students make lists of what will make the class work smoothly. Procedures are set for how students operate in the classrooms, how they transition from activities, how materials are used and put away, and how they will take responsibility in the classroom for their behavior for their needs.
Social Behavioral Constructs
Procedures for how teachers respond to breakdowns with students, and how peers respond to each other if there is a conflict are developed. Teachers model behavioral responses for students to emulate, which helps to set the tone for a harmonious classroom environment.
Building Trusting Community
Teachers connect with students on a human level to create relationships as caring community members not authoritarian teacher/student roles. Strategies such as being at the door in the morning, saying good morning, showing empathy with separation from parents or emotional concerns of students may have.
Class Promise
A behavioral contract for the rules that govern the class is co-created by students and facilitated by the teacher. All students sign or add hand prints to validate the contract. The contract may get read daily and students are reminded that failure is ok and the class promise is in place for students to realign with if a breakdown occurs. Teachers post the promise in a visibly prominent place in the classroom for students to refer to often.