We have compiled a list of commonly asked questions below. If you have a question that is not addressed below, please contact us and we’d be happy to answer it for you.
What is the student/teacher ratio?
We try to keep our student/teacher ratio as close to 5:1 as possible. Because of our unique Montessori environment, there are many times that a student is working one on one with a Blossom staff member. Blossom employs four full time teachers, two full time teacher’s assistants, a contract speech/language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist and counselor.
Will my child be challenged?
Upon acceptance into our school, a customized Growth and Development Plan is created to meet the needs of your child and family. A Blossom Growth and Development Plan lays out the curriculum academically, socially and emotionally for your child. Because we know that no two children are the same, Blossom believes in teaching the whole child and meeting his or her unique needs.
Does Blossom offer scholarships?
Yes. Blossom participates in various scholarship programs to help families offset the cost of tuition. Please visit the scholarship portion of our website for more information by clicking here.
Does Blossom provide speech therapy?
Blossom contracts with a speech/language pathologist who is proficient in American Sign Language. The amount of time a child receives speech and language therapy is determined at the child’s Growth and Development plan meeting at the beginning of the year. When a new student is accepted with an existing IEP (Individual Education Plan), Blossom meets or exceeds the minutes required by the existing IEP. If there is no IEP, the child is assessed and the decision is made in partnership with the family, the teachers and our Blossom Partners.
Does Blossom offer Before and After Care?
Yes. Blossom’s Before Care Program is from 7:30 - 8:30 a.m.each day. The Before Care program provides a variety of academic activities and games to challenge students and to keep them involved. Our After Care Program is from 3:00 - 5:30 p.m. The children participate in reading, a variety of optional clubs, Girl Scouts, individual tutoring, arts and crafts, team building and games. To read more about our Before and After Care Programs, click here.
Do you offer ASL (American Sign Language)classes?
In lieu of ASL (American Sign Language) classes, Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf is currently participating in the Deaf Florida Family Literacy Academy.
In addition, we encourage you to check out the Sign Language Dictionary page on our website that will help you either learn your very first signs or brush up on some old signing skills that may have fallen by the wayside.
Is Blossom subject to FCAT? If not what type of testing is done?
As a private school, Blossom is not subject to FCAT testing. However, we adhere to the Sunshine State Standards and the Montessori Scope and Sequences. More often than not, the Montessori Scope and Sequences are more rigorous than the Sunshine State standards!
Although the FCAT is not administered, the Montessori curriculum teaches the students the skills necessary to achieve success on the FCAT. Annually, we administer the Stanford Achievement Test 10th Edition, normed on the Hearing Impaired Percentiles by Gallaudet University.
What Montessori training do your teachers have?
All of our teaching staff have had experience working in Montessori classrooms and have had various types of Montessori training. Blossom is committed to the very best education for our students and is currently working to provide professional development opportunities to all of our teachers.
Our Associate Director completed Montessori Training through the Seacoast Center for Education at the New Gate School in Sarasota, Florida. It is an American Montessori Society (AMS) affiliate and is accredited by the Montessori Accreditation Commission for Teacher Education (MACTE).
What type of experience does the teaching staff have in Deaf Education?
Each member of our teaching staff has an extensive background in both Deaf Education and in Deaf culture. Please visit the Meet the Staff section of our website for bio’s on each member of our staff.
School for the Deaf
2012 – 2013
BlossomMontessoriSchoolfor the Deaf is the fulfillment of a dream of Ms.Julie Rutenberg. She wanted to bring the Montessori method of teaching and learning to Deaf children in the Tampa Bay Area. As a former student of a Montessori program, Ms. Rutenberg saw the strong connection between the sensorial presentations used for instruction in a Montessori classroom, and the need for an interactive delivery ofinformation in a classroom for Deaf children.
Ms. Rutenberg openedBlossomMontessoriSchoolfor the Deaf in August, 2003. Results thus far have been impressive. Enrollment has grown steadily and children are getting the chance to grow and learn within a Montessori-based curriculum.
Blossom provides a unique setting in which the academic success of each student is the main focus. This can be accomplished because class size is small and communication is direct. In the classroom, each child is encouraged to use their preferred mode of communication. Teachers work one-on-one with students in order to meet individual needs.
As a Blossom family, you will become part of this amazing academic environment. Our families are precious to us and we appreciate everything you contribute to this wonderful learning experience. The teachers, staff,volunteers, and friends of Blossom welcome you to the most unique educational opportunity for children in the state ofFlorida.
Blossom’s mission is ‘Giving Parents a Choice and Children a Chance’ because we believe that together we can change the world…one child at a time.
“Once I knew only darkness and stillness … my life was without past or future … but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.”
Table of Contents Page
Meet the Staff 4
Hours of Operation 5
Coming and Going 5
Attendance Policy 6
Dress Code 7
Policies and Procedures 9
Release from School 9
Inclement Weather 9
Use of School Resources 10
Reporting Abuse 10
Responsibilities of Parents 11
Parent Checklist 11
Student Illness 12
Other Things You Should Know 15
Selected Readings and Websites 16
Blossom’s Mission Statement, Vision, Core Beliefs 17
“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”
Meet the Staff:
Ms. Julie Rutenberg, Director / Founder
Ms. Tara Bonano, Business Manger
Mrs. Darlene Guzman, Teacher 12 – 15 Classroom
Mrs. Amanda Livesay, Teacher 9 – 12 Classroom
Mrs. Elaine Hampton, Assistant 9 – 12 Classroom
Mrs. Katelyn Vetter, Teacher 6-9 Classroom
Ms. Jennifer Potter, Assistant 6 – 9 Classroom
Ms. Colette Derks, Teacher 3-6 Classroom
Mrs. Jamie Dejesus, Assistant 3-6 Classroom
“What a child doesn’t receive, he can seldom later give.”
Hours of Operation:
The Before Care Program opens at 7:30 a.m. Monday through Friday.
The academic day starts promptly at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at 3:00 p.m.
The After Care Program begins at 3:00 p.m. and is available until
5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday
Regularly scheduled extra-curricular programs are also scheduled throughout the year. These activities will take place after the academic day has concluded. Blossom students are currently involved with Brownies/Junior Girls Scouts, Sports, Art and Garden Club, and a variety of community events. Additional extracurricular opportunities will be made available throughout the year such as field trips, camps and appearances.
Coming and Going:
v School age students who arrive on time to school do not need to be signed in. If a child arrives late, they must be signed in by an approved family member, guardian, or family friend. Please see the Administrative Assistant if you arrive late.
v Students attending Blossom’s Pre-school must be walked into class every morning. Upon arrival, a VPK or C.C.C. parent must sign the Sign In/ Sign Out form available in the Pre-school room. Parentsmust also sign their child(ren) out when picking them up at the end of the day.
v Students will not be released to anyone who does not have prior documented clearance on file with the school.
v After care service closes promptly at5:30p.m. If an extenuating circumstance prevents a parent from picking up their child prior to5:30p.m.they must call or text the Director to make arrangements.
- Julie Rutenberg, Director (727) 424-4194
v A Late Fee of $7.00 per child for every five minutes past the hour of5:30p.m.will start accruing at5:31p.m. A check or cash will be accepted as payment at the time the child is picked up. The staff member on duty will calculate the total charge due.
Tardiness: The start up exercises of a Montessori school day set the pace for the rest of the day. Every effort should be made to ensure your child arrives to school on time. If your child is tardy they must be escorted to class by a parent or guardian and signed in at the front desk. This is to ensure the safety of our students, and allows for the teacher to discuss the tardiness with the parent or guardian. Every five (5) unexcused days of tardiness will result in an unexcused absence (please see guidelines for excused tardiness below).
Excused Absences/Tardiness: For a student’s absence/tardiness to be excused, it must meet one of the following criteria:
1. Sickness of student.
2. Sickness in the immediate family of student.
3. Danger of exposure to illness.
4. Medical or dental treatment/appointment.
5. Important events requiring student participation in such activities as
state or national contests, tournaments, concerts, or performances.
6. Other reasons verified by the parent/guardian.
*To be excused, advance permission is required
Unexcused Absences: If a student accumulates five (10) or more unexcused absences they may be dismissed from Blossom to allow enrollment to another student.
The success rate of students who attend school regularly and without interruption is markedly higher than those for whom attendance is unstable. The teaching staff and administrative team of Blossom will do everything possible to assist parents with the safe arrival of their children to Blossom on a regular basis. Parents are encouraged to inform the teaching staff and administrative team if extenuating circumstances will prevent a child from attending Blossom on a regular basis.
Excuse Forms: A student who has been absent must bring a completed Excuse Form on their first day back at school. Each student will be given several blank Excuse Forms at the beginning of the year. Additional forms are available from the Administrative Assistant and Director.
Students attending Blossom are required to wear uniforms Monday through Thursday. The uniforms consist of a polo shirt (purple, light blue, yellow, grey, or black) with the Blossom insignia. Students may wear khaki/tan or navy shorts, slacks, or skorts with their uniform shirt. When the weather becomes cold, students may wear jackets, sweaters or sweatshirts over their Blossom uniform. Uniform shirts may be ordered from:
ALLEN’S SPORTS CENTER
6585 Seminole Blvd.
Hours of Operation Pricing
Monday through Friday 9 – 6 Polo – Youth – $14.99
Saturday – 9 – 5 Polo – Adult – $15.99
On Friday, students are allowed to wear clothing of their personal choice. Please note the following guidelines for Fridays:
Shirts must overlap pants. Students will do a great deal of work sitting on the floor, as well as physical movement inside and outside the classroom. Students must wear shirts that cover their body when sitting on the floor. No spaghetti strap, strapless, or belly shirts may be worn.
Shorts, skirts, and pants should be an appropriate modest length for working, exercising, and playing while at school. Shorts must be worn under skirts. Hip hugging pants must be covered by an appropriate length shirt. No skin should show when a student stands or sits down. Pants should be loose fitting enough so that students can participate in all activities. Clothing that advertises products dealing with or having references to profanity, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, violence, or representing weapons or gangs will not be permitted.
Facial piercings are unacceptable. American Sign Language is a visual language. Obvious facial piercings are distracting. Additionally, there is possibility of injury when on the playground (getting hit with a ball or an inadvertent bumping or fall). Students must remove all visible facial piercings before coming to school. Earrings worn on the ear are not considered facial piercings.
Shoes should be comfortable and appropriate for outside events. Tennis shoes/sneakers are strongly recommended. Montessori classrooms are active and energetic. footwear should be adaptable to outside as well as inside activity. No flip flops or open toe shoes may be worn to school.
Hats/head covering may not be worn inside the building. Hats or head coverings are not allowed in the classroom or inside the school. Students must remove any hats and/or head covering before entering the building. Hats may be worn outside while on the playground, if deemed appropriate.
Parents are always welcome to visit or observe their child during the school day. In order to make your visit as pleasant as possible, it is required that you first check with the Director to find out what activities are planned for the day.
A Montessori classroom depends on the child’s ability to enjoy their uninterrupted great work time. Often, the presence of a parent or family member can distract a child from their expected studies. Please discuss any visits with the Director in advance. If a visit would impede the normal functioning of the class, parents would be given an alternate day to visit.
Parents and families are invited to attend birthday parties, special events and other classroom activities throughout the year.
“It is remarkable how great an influence our clothes have on our moral state.”
Policies and Procedures:
Each child attending Blossom will have a preferred mode of communication. The staff of Blossom will respect each child according to their ability and preference. Knowledge of American Sign Language is not a requirement for becoming a student at Blossom, but American Sign Language will be used, discussed, and encouraged when appropriate.
Activities performed by thevolunteerswill be varied as determined by the classroom situation and teacher. Volunteers may not discuss student progress or activities with parents/guardians. Ifinformation is needed, parents/guardians must contact the teaching staff or administrative team.
Release from School:
No child will be released to anyone other than the legal guardian(s) unless verified arrangements have been made in advance with the teaching staff or administrative team.
On occasion, Floridaexperiences inclement weather. If the possibility exists for this to happen, parents/guardians are asked to heed local weather warnings and follow the advice given by weather experts. At no time should a parent/guardian risk their own safety, or that of their child, in order to attend Blossom. In these situations, parents/guardians should call first to see if Blossom’s regular hours of operation are still in effect. Making up of days missed due to mandatory school closings will be announced, if necessary, during ParentSchoolmeetings. If inclement weather strikes while school is in session, please contact the school immediately forinformation and pick up time/procedures. Please note we followPinellasCounty schedule, we will advise you of school closings. We will also make every effort to post school closings on Bay News 9.
Use of School Resources:
Students may not interfere with the operation of the computer network by installing personal software, shareware, or freeware. Any student who knowingly visits or downloads websites that are deemed by the teaching staff and administrative team to be improper, pornographic, or detrimental to the high standards ofBlossomMontessoriSchoolfor the Deaf will be held accountable. Punishment for such an offense could lead to dismissal.
BlossomMontessoriSchoolfor the Deaf places high standards on all of its students. The use of tobacco, alcohol, drugs, profanity (spoken or signed), abusive language (spoken or signed), physical/written threats, harassment, or any other inappropriate behavior on campus will result in immediate dismissal. This is done in order to protect the safety and integrity of all of the students attending Blossom. All dismissals will be the decision of the administrative team.
Section 39.201(1)(a), Florida Statutes requires any person who knows or has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the Abuse Hotline. According to section 39.205(1) Florida Statutes, any person who knowingly and willfully does not report known or suspected abuse is guilty of a first degree misdemeanor and is subject to criminal prosecution.
Before entering, all children must have a blue 680 and a yellow Annual Health Examination form completed and provided to Blossom. Both forms can be obtained and filled out at the County Health Department or from your child’s doctor. Students who do not have this completed form on file at Blossom prior to the start of the school year will not be able to attend until it is completed and turned in. This is a State mandated law.
“Service to youth is the rent we pay for the space we occupy on earth.”
Responsibilities of Parents:
NOTE: Any family that is receiving a financial scholarship or financial assistance from Blossom must attend a minimum of 6 Family Events sessions. Attendance will be taken at each meeting.
Academic year 2012-2013 Parent School Schedule
- Friday ……………….September 7, 5-7pm
- Friday……………… October 26th 6:30-8:30 pm
- Friday……………….November 16th 11:30-1pm
- Thursday…………….December 20th 6:30-8:30pm
- Thursday……………February 7th 5:30-7pm
- Friday ………………March 15th 1-3pm
- Thursday……………April 4th 5:30-7pm
- Tuesday…………….May 21st 10-12pm
- Thursday……………June 6th 11-1pm
The following records must be on file with Blossom prior to the student beginning school. It is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to update thisinformation as the year progresses should any changes occur such as person authorized to pick up the child, phone numbers, addresses, etc.
1) Student’s Birth Certificate (copy)
2) Immunization Record (BLUE 680 FORM)
3) Physical (Health) Form
4) Audiogram (if applicable)
5) IEP (if applicable)
6) Completed Student Application (purple)
7) Completed Emergency Release (yellow)- 3 notarized original
8) Judgment/Custodial Order of the Court (if applicable)
*Note: If there are custodial issues that in any way limit the access any parent has to the child, Blossom must keep a copy of the Court Order recognizing such status. No parent will be denied access to their child without an Order from the Court or other official documentation clearly defining such circumstances.
If a student becomes ill or shows signs of not feeling well, a Blossom staff member will take the child’s temperature, identify by communicating with the child, any specific symptoms such as upset stomach, headache, sore throat, etc. The parent will be contacted if the child represents any symptoms of illness. In the event of vomiting, diarrhea, fever or rash, parents will be contacted and are required to pick up their child from school within one hour of being contacted. The student will not be permitted to return to class until they are free from symptoms for a 24 hour period. If a communicable illness has been identified such as strep throat, chicken pox, etc., a doctor’s note will be required in order for the child to return to school. Please remember when receiving medications such as antibiotics for your child, to request where possible, medications that can be given in the morning and evening or once a day when the child is not in school. Blossom does not administer medications of any kind. Parents are welcome to visit Blossom to administer any necessary medications at the appropriate time.
In cases of extreme emergency and the calling of ambulance/paramedics is warranted:
- A staff member will make every effort to contact the parent or guardian first. Then the emergency contact on the parent Authorization form. (discretion will be used and “911” will be called immediately if necessary while contacting parent).
- The staff will make arrangements for a qualified or certified interpreter to meet the child at the hospital.
- If no parent or guardian has been able to be contacted, a staff member will accompany the child to the hospital in the ambulance.
The hospital closest to Blossom is:
Largo Medical Center
201 14th Street S. W.
Largo Florida, 33770
It is against Blossom’s policy to administer any type of medication, lotions including sun block and mosquito repellent of any kind. If this presents a problem to the family, please contact the Director to discuss your personal situation and possible available options.
Homework will be assigned throughout the year and will have a direct effect on your child’s overall grade. Homework assignments typically have one or more purposes:
Practice homework is meant to reinforce learning and help the student master specific skills.
Preparation homework introduces material that will be presented in future lessons. These assignments aim to help students learn new material better when it is covered in class.
Extension homework asks students to apply skills they already have to new situations.
Integration homework requires the student to apply many different skills to a single task, such as book reports, science projects or creative writing.
Here are some general homework tips for parents:
v Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to do homework.
Avoid having your child do homework with the television on or in places with other distractions, such as people coming and going.
v Make sure the materials your child needs, such as paper, pencils and a dictionary, are available.
Ask your child if special materials will be needed for some projects and get them in advance. If you have difficulty finding or supplying the necessary materials, please contact your child’s teacher immediately to work out a solution.
v Help your child with time management.
Establish a set time each day for doing homework. Don’t let your child leave homework until just before bedtime. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with classmates.
v Be positive about homework.
Tell your child how important school is. The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires. Arguing with your child about homework is not a productive solution.
v When your child does homework, you do homework.
Show your child that the skills they are learning are related to things you do as an adult. If your child is reading, you read too. If your child is doing math, balance your checkbook.
v When your child asks for help, provide guidance, not answers.
Giving answers means your child will not learn the material. Too much help teaches your child that when the going gets rough, someone will do the work for him or her.
v When the teacher asks that you play a role in homework, do it.
Cooperate with the teacher. It shows your child that the school and home are a team. Follow the directions given by the teacher.
v If homework is meant to be done by your child alone, stay away.
Too much parent involvement can prevent homework from having some positive effects. Homework is a great way for kids to develop independent, lifelong learning skills.
v Stay informed.
Talk with your child’s teacher. Make sure you know the purpose of homework and what your child’s class rules are.
v Help your child figure out what is hard homework and what is easy homework.
Have your child do the hard work first. This will mean he will be most alert when facing the biggest challenges. Easy material will seem to go fast when fatigue begins to set in.
v Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration.
Let your child take a short break if she is having trouble keeping her mind on an assignment.
v Reward progress in homework.
If your child has been successful in homework completion and is working hard, celebrate that success with a special event (e.g., pizza, a walk, a trip to the park) to reinforce the positive effort.
When teachers and parents positively reinforce the importance of homework, the child learns at an early age how hard work and perseverance pay off. Indeed, a lesson to be used again in varied ways in the life of a child.
“As knowledge increases, wonder deepens.”
Other Things You Should Know…
v Volunteers are not instructed to engage in conversation with parents or guardians regarding the performance or behavior of students attendingBlossomMontessoriSchoolfor the Deaf. All discussions about student performance or behavior should be held directly with the teaching staff or administrative team.
v Teachers and/or administrators should be made aware if any situations at home may impede your child’s ability to concentrate or participate in classroom activities. Feel free to send email, write a note, or place a call to your child’s teacher in order to ensure a productive day of engaged learning for your child.
v Hot lunches are not provided by Blossom. Students must bring a lunch and a beverage that can be kept in a proper lunch box (insulated) and consumed without needing the assistance of a microwave. Students may not bring carbonated soft drinks to school (coke, mountain dew, etc…). Students should bring juice, water, or iced tea to enjoy with their lunch. Students are given 30 – 45 minutes for lunch. All students each lunch in a designated area with staff supervision. Students are encouraged to pack a lunch that is nutritious and will help to sustain them until they depart from school. A mid-morning snack will be provided daily.
v BlossomMontessoriSchoolfor the Deaf is a drug free environment. Blossom has a zero tolerance for drugs, alcohol, and tobacco products. If a child is found on campus with drugs, alcohol, or tobacco in their possession, that child will be immediately expelled.
v Blossom has a zero tolerance for firearms or weapons of any kind. Should a child be found on campus with any type of weapon, knife, razor, firearm, etc., that child will be expelled immediately. Toy weapons are also strictly prohibited.
“Happiness is a choice, and once this is understood, one blossoms.”
Selected Readings and Websites:
If you are interested in learning more abouttheMontessori Method of teaching, American Sign Language, or Florida Law, check outthese references!
For Information about
For information about
American Sign Language:
For information about
Child Abuse Laws in the state of Florida:
“You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you’re finished, you’ll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird… I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.”
BLOSSOM’S MISSION STATEMENT:
v To educate deaf and hard of hearing children, their hearing siblings and children of deaf adults (CODA), and prepare them for a lifetime of success in the community.
BLOSSOM’S VISION STATEMENT:
v To be the premier education and communication center for families with deaf and hard of hearing children in the state ofFlorida.
BLOSSOM’S CORE VALUES AND BELIEFS:
v We celebrate the uniqueness of every child.
v We believe that all children possess the ability to learn and succeed.
v We believe that all children deserve the opportunity to learn to fully participate in their community.
v We believe partnerships with our students, their families and the community are essential in accomplishing our mission.
v We value and encourage creativity and innovation.
v We value self-motivation and independent thinking.
v We respect and appreciate everyone for his or her individual differences.
v We value the importance, embrace the culture and welcome the involvement of the Deaf community.
v We believe everyone is responsible and accountable for his or her own actions.
v We believe all communication is important and we accept the responsibility to understand and be understood by others. Because of this, we focus on developing our students’ skills in both American Sign Language (ASL) and English.
“No one can be free unless he is independent.”