Communications from School
Communication between families and the school requires collaboration. A working partnership with active involvement and frequent communication demonstrates our shared commitment to your student and to the school community. Direct communication, based in a positive, constructive dialogue between individuals, is vital. If you have a question or concern, please discuss it with the teachers first before repeating it to others. If you do not feel comfortable doing this, seek help from the administration to set up a mediation. Adults, as well as students, need to communicate directly, express their feelings and listen to those of others. Please help us model productive communication strategies for our students.
Some guidelines may be helpful. We propose that we all think about the integrity of our communications regarding school community members by:
- Not talking about a person who is not present in the conversation
- Directly addressing a person with whom you have a problem or conflict, helping to keep second-hand information, rumors or inaccuracies from spreading
- Addressing that person away from a group and, if a third party is needed to feel supported or safe, getting another teacher’s or administrator’s help
- Giving people the benefit of the doubt by listening to their side and recognizing that a misunderstanding is not the same thing as intentionally hurting someone
In the interest of frequent and clear communication, a variety of vehicles have been established at FSA.
Elementary Student Folders—Kid Mail
Every elementary school student is given a folder to carry home each day and to bring back to school each morning. This folder greatly facilitates communication between home and school. One side of the folder is for notes and homework from school to parent and one side is for notes from parent to school. Teachers check folders each morning for notes from home. Since your student’s work and teachers’ notes will arrive home via the folder, please check it every evening and ensure it comes back to school every day. To avoid loss of important business items, do not send tuition payments, money, enrollment contracts or any other important document via Kid Mail. Please bring or mail them directly to the Office instead.
The school’s website is also a source of information including upcoming events, the weekly afterschool activities schedule, copies of forms, letters that have been sent to the school community and homework for elementary classes.
Middle School Communication
As students become increasingly independent, communication patterns change, requiring parents and school to make adjustments. Communication between parent(s), teachers and student continues to be fundamental to student success. In the middle school we have the following communication tools:
- The student’s planner is a central communications tool, linking student, teachers and parents. The planner “belongs” to all of these parties, so students, who tend to seek more privacy in middle school years, must share their planners with parents. Parents are required to sign the planner once a week to indicate that they have seen the homework assignments and completion record as represented by H’s for missing or late homework assignments. The planner is a great place to write simple notes to teachers.
- Jupitergrades is an on-line information-management system that the MS uses to communicate about homework, attendance, and grades. Jupitergrades will be explained during the Mandatory Orientation on the first half-day of school. We expect all families to be familiar with and use Jupitergrades. If there is a conflict between a signed homework assignment in the planner and a posted assignment on Jupitergrades, students should follow the planner.
- The FSA website is a source of information, including upcoming events, the weekly afterschool activities schedule, and copies of forms and homework for middle school classes.
- Important announcements to families—either the middle school as a whole or to a particular class—are sent via email.
The student’s advisor is a family’s primary communications link to the middle school team. Your student’s advisor is typically your student’s homeroom teacher. Certainly families are able to contact subject-area teachers personally, but the advisor is the person who oversees a student’s academic program and synthesizes information about all aspects of a student’s day. The advisor can answer questions or find the answers to questions. Advisors will specify how they can best be reached during orientation.
Questions that parents have about the information—or any other aspect of the school—can be directed to advisor or teachers by phone, email or a note delivered to a teacher’s box. Telephone extensions and email addresses for faculty and staff can be found on the FSA website, under FSA Community/Faculty and Staff; click on the name of the person you wish to contact. Please do not send important or sensitive notes with students.
Teacher-initiated communication will occur when a student has a homework or behavioral issue that requires home support and follow through.
The Monday newsletter, called the Late Quaking News (LQN), is sent via email to every parent on Mondays, except during and after a long holiday and during the summer break. It is also available on the school website under Publications. If you do not have an email address, please contact the school to arrange for a paper copy. Each edition contains important information about day-to-day operations and events at school. Announcements and requests from FSPATA, the Administration and the teachers are published in the LQN. Other important notices may be sent home, such as listings of Afterschool Clubs and updates about upcoming fundraising events.
An announcement sheet, sent occasionally for important, time-sensitive communications, is an email-only newsletter containing items that cannot wait for the Late Quaking News.
To be aware of events going on at school, families should read all communications sent home or emailed each week.
Guidelines for Newsletters. The Late Quaking News (LQN) is a forum for parents and members of the FSA community; community members can freely submit items on any topic they wish. The editor edits for length, spelling and punctuation. Items are cut or abridged for content only when they conflict with the mission of The Friends School of Atlanta or its testimonies. The LQN is published to the website and in hard copy to those who don't have email, by request.
Written copy should be left in Karen McMichael’s box or sent to her via email by noon on Wednesdays.
In the Teacher/Parent Work Space, you will find mailboxes for each teacher and staff member, as well as for FSPATA and the Board of Trustees. Anyone wishing to leave mail for teachers, staff, FSPATA or the Board of Trustees may do so any time during the school day. Notes (clearly labeled) may also be sent in via your elementary school student’s folder for delivery to the correct boxes. Requests for conferences or phone calls may be left in writing in teacher mailboxes.
A few weeks after school begins each year, an updated FSA Directory will be published to the parent/student secured section of the website, under the Directory/Forms/Info tab. Directions for accessing the secured area are given during parent orientation; you may also get these directions by contacting Karen McMichael from an email address FSA already has on file for you. The online directory is kept up to date. If you do not have an Internet connection, you may request a paper copy.
The Directory includes the name of every student, organized by classroom. With each student listing are parent names, daytime phone numbers, home addresses, email addresses and home phone numbers. Directory information is used to contact parents in case of emergency, and in case of an unexpected school closing. In order for your information to be kept up to date, you must return the Enrollment/Medical Information/Release that is included with your contract for enrollment. If your information changes during the year, please let the school office know as soon as possible.
Directory information is for personal use only and is not to be used for business solicitation, other than for FSA’s own approved development efforts.
To ensure accurate communication and agreement with school policies, parents, committee clerks and others who need to send written notices home separate from the newsletter must have their notice read and approved by the Head of Elementary School (for Elementary classes), the Head of Middle School (for Middle School classes) or the Director of Advancement (for all-school communications) prior to distribution. A copy should always be filed with the Administrative Associate.
Occasionally e-postcards will be sent to the FSA community to call attention to an important issue or event and to provide date, time and any instructions on how to participate. For example, prior to the Community Potluck celebration in November, all members of the community will receive an epostcard explaining the details of the event, including what each family is expected to bring.
Teachers may be contacted via email or the contact information provided at the top of the faculty/staff member’s page on the FSA website.
Parents are expected to follow rules of email etiquette in their correspondences. Please adhere to the following guidelines:
- Be concise.
- Do not attach unnecessary files. For security reasons, attachments will not be opened unless the recipient expects it, so please call or write before sending them. Hackers are getting very clever with disguising their emails to look like the real thing.
- Do not forward chain messages.
- Protect our ears. Writing only in capital letters is understood as the electronic equivalent of shouting.
- Use a subject line that is relevant to the message.
- When responding to an email, use the reply feature and leave in all the previous communication relevant to the topic.
- When responding to an email, consider first whether you should use "Reply" or "Reply All." The first option sends the response only to the sender of the email, and the second sends it to the sender and to everyone else who received the email (except the recipients who were blind copied).
- Be mindful of the public nature of email. Email messages with or without confidential information are about as private as postcards.
- Answer all questions asked.
- Read your email before sending it and use spell-check if your program has this feature.
- When sending email to a group, use the blind copy feature on your email to protect those receiving the communication. Put your own email address in the “To” field. Sharing other people’s email addresses without their permission is the equivalent of giving out private phone numbers and addresses without permission.
- Be polite. Don’t “flame” people by sending abusive or inflammatory emails. Messages sent in anger only exacerbate the situation and are not productive. Things to consider before sending email: Would I say this to this person’s face? Am I putting this person in an awkward position? How would I feel if I received this email?
- Anyone sending flames will be denied this form of communication for the duration of the school year or until the person to whom the email was addressed requests the sender to be reinstated, whichever comes first.
- Allow a reasonable period of time for your answer. Thoughtful responses are worth waiting for!
The Friends School Parent and Teacher Association (FSPATA) holds meetings throughout the school year. Please check your school calendar for dates and times. Childcare is provided for school-aged children of FSA families.
Any parent or teacher may request that a topic be placed on the agenda. You can either put the request in writing and leave it in the FSPATA box in the school office, or call one of the FSPATA clerks to explain what you would like to discuss. Be sure to indicate how much time you think should be allocated to your topic. At these meetings all voices will have an opportunity to be heard and all decisions that need to be made will be reached, in the spirit of Friends, through the discernment of a “sense of the meeting.” In practice, this means that all present agree either to move forward or not in some way on the issue or question under consideration. If necessary, individuals may choose or be asked to stand aside to allow a decision to be made.
Other forums will be scheduled from time to time on various topics as the need arises. In the past, these forums have explored and resulted in recommendations about the school’s foreign language and physical education programs, development of a sex and health education policy and curriculum, as well as issues related to race and racism. Most recently a forum convened by the Diversity, Equity, Justice Committee explored the topic “Parenting in the Global Community. These forums will be announced in the Late Quaking News.
FSPATA Liaison to the Board of Trustees
The FSPATA Clerks serve as a communication conduit between FSPATA and the Board of Trustees. They will take special concerns of parents to the Board (via the appropriate committee clerk or to the Board as a whole) and communicate back to parents via FSPATA or to specific individuals, as appropriate. There are also FSPATA representatives to committees of the Board of Trustees. For more information, talk to the FSPATA clerk(s).