FAQs About River Grove

Grove Elementary: Questions Welcome

What grades does River Grove serve?

We are a K-5 school.

Is River Grove free? Who can attend?

Yes, River Grove is a tuition-free public charter school. Any K-6 student who lives in Minnesota can attend River Grove.

Is River Grove part of a local school district?

No, we are our own independent Minnesota district (#4254). We can make our own decisions quickly, enabling us to be responsive to our school community.

How many classes are there? How many students?

For 2023-24, we will have a maximum of 200 students.

How many students are in each class?

For 2023-24, the average per class is about 18.

How long is the school day?

For 2023-24, 8:30am to 3:15pm. We have a slightly longer day than neighboring elementary schools to allow for longer lunches, extra recess, and more time outside!

Is busing available?

Yes, we own and manage our own buses with four routes that service a wide area from Marine on St Croix down to Bayport, MN. Because we own our own buses and employ our own drivers, we have the flexibility to do more field trips to local historical sites, performances, and educational venues.

Do you provide school lunch?

Yes, we will provide hot lunches daily.

Do you have before and after school care?

If enough families require it, we are able to provide before/after school care.

Does River Grove’s calendar follow Stillwater’s?

Because many of our families also have students in Stillwater Area Schools, we do consider Stillwater’s calendar when making ours, but they may not match exactly.

What is unique about River Grove?

Research shows that exposure to the outdoors has numerous long-term benefits to students’ intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development. Simply by being surrounded by nature, children experience an environment that refreshes, relieves anxiety, and enhances a sense of peace. But we go further, intentionally bringing our kids outdoors for both free play (with extra and longer recesses) and structured learning activities. River Grove will partner with Manitou Fund to use that organization’s 800-acre Warner Nature Area just north of Stillwater. There, students will use hiking and cross-country ski trails, “outdoor hallways,” outdoor learning settings, and a wide variety of natural surroundings that enable us to get kids outside for recreation AND learning.

Who are your teachers? How do you differentiate for students of varying needs?

We are proud of our fully licensed teachers and of our exceptional special education department! Please read about our teaching staff on our website and contact us with your specific questions.

Our first goal is to make our students feel welcomed and supported in his/her classroom — this is the springboard for everything else!

One tool we use early in the school year is computer adaptive NWEA Map Growth Testing, which helps us understand where our students their learning. Teachers receive results right away, which enables us to react more quickly. We can then organize students into small groups and partners, utilize computer programs that support or challenge students on different levels, and engage intervention or differentiation strategies such as iRead, Reading and Math Corps, advanced math groups, or leveled reading groups.

Do you have a special education program?

River Grove has a very experienced staff and a wide range of special education services to fit all of our students’ needs. Communication with your child’s teacher is the first line to address concerns. You and your teacher will work together to determine the best course of action for your child.

What is the curriculum at River Grove?

The mission of River Grove is to utilize the school’s and local area’s natural resources, history, arts, and community as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, physical education, art, and other curriculum subjects. The model relies on teacher expertise to select and implement curriculum, as well as assess overall effectiveness. The foundational curriculum aligns with Minnesota State Standards.

For example, when covering topics required by standards, we use real-life examples that are right outside our doors, such as landforms or habitats. During nature hikes, students take a clipboard and worksheet and identify what they observe, or we “hike with a purpose” and look for bugs or animal tracks. Literacy units can incorporate letter writing and visits to our local post office to mail the letters. During units about plants, we can visit a local greenhouse and partner with our next-door neighbor (Big River Farm) for real-life experiences. For mapping units, we take our classes into the downtown area to map out the town.

How do you use technology in the classroom?

Studies have shown that a high computer-to-student ratio correlates to positive impacts on student outcomes in English/language arts, writing, math, and science. River Grove boasts a 1-1 ratio — meaning each student has access to a computer — and utilizes computers and smart learning systems where appropriate. Although we are nestled in the woods, we have high-speed internet in all of our buildings and use Chromebooks to enhance and enrich learning and build 21st century skills.

How is charter school enrollment determined?

Applications to enroll are accepted during the Open Enrollment period. Once that is over, if the number of applications received exceeds the number of open spots within a particular grade, all applications will be entered into a lottery. The lottery will determine those students who will be admitted or put on the waiting list, and ensures that each application received during Open Enrollment has an equal chance of receiving an Invitation to Enroll. (Enrollment preferences, such as sibling priority, may apply.) For more information, please see our Enrollment Timeline page.

What kinds of specialists, extra-curricular programs, and partnerships does River Grove offer?

  • Our expanded physical education program includes “Adventure PE” (big-group games and outdoor exploration), and DAPE (Developmental Adapted Physical Education). Much of our phys-ed classes are held outside. In the winter, our special “Winter Warm-Up” program leads kids in snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
  • A variety of after-school clubs help kids express their individual creativity and learn skills, such as Spanish, Art Exhibition Club, Make Your Own Board Game, fiber arts and crafts, “green club,” ping pong, and more.
  • In the early fall, our sixth graders have the wonderful team-building opportunity to spend a week together up at Camp Widjiwagan in Ely, MN.
  • We partner with the St. Croix River Association’s Rivers Are Alive K-12 environmental education program. Our sixth graders attend the St. Croix Youth Summit.
  • We also partner with The Zephyr Theatre in Stillwater. Their team of musicians and performers bring classroom music and performance art to River Grove. The end of the school year culminates in an amazing musical!

What Programs Does River Grove have in Place for Social-Emotional Learning and Supporting Students?


River Grove’s teachers, administration, and staff are experienced in and aware of the many social-emotional pressures that students face daily. Students who feel their experiences and viewpoints are unwelcome, judged, or stereotyped may not learn in the same way that other students might. At River Grove we believe that emphasizing positive behavioral traits is an important step in building the character of the students. Our teachers and staff have chosen the acronym “PRIDE” (Perseverance, Respect, Integrity, Discovery, and Excellence) to represent the behaviors we wish to see in students. These behaviors will be celebrated and reinforced throughout the year. We hope that families can participate in focusing on these traits at home in partnership with the school.

Wellness Policy

River Grove is an Allergy Aware school. In order to protect the safety and wellness of all our students, it is our policy that food items are NOT given out as classroom rewards or for birthday parties and celebrations. Please see your child’s teacher for ideas to celebrate important events using non food items. 

Grading/Report Cards/Conferences

Parents get report cards twice a year. The grading system is:

E = Exceeds grade level standards
M = Meets grade level standards
P = Progressing towards grade level standards
N = Does not meet grade level standards
IP = Individual Progress
NA = Not applicable
FS = Future Semester

We also have intake conferences (called Welcome Conferences) at the beginning of the year and regular parent-teacher conferences twice a year.

Do you give tours?

How can I support MACS financially or otherwise?

  • Thank you! We have our 501(c)3 nonprofit status. To contribute money by check now, please send your check to: Marine Area Community School, PO Box 178, Marine on St Croix, MN 55047. Or, donate online!

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