FAQs

Greetings!  We are unable to hold live Open Houses at this time, please read the FAQ’s below to learn more about Elysian. 

Hybrid Model – One thing to note, as with all other schools in Hoboken, this year is unique as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. We have transitioned to a hybrid model allowing students to participate both in-person and with a remote learning component. Currently, our hybrid model uses an AA (Monday and Tuesday), BB (Thursday and Friday) grouping with half of the students attending in- person learning at any one time. Wednesday is a remote day for all students.  Families also have the option to have their children attend school fully remote, five days a week. 

While many things are different this year, we also hope to give you an idea of what Elysian is about during “normal, pre-Covid” times.  While some of our activities have been suspended for the time being, we hope this overview gives you an understanding of the dynamic and joyfully active environment that is Elysian Charter School for the last 23 years!

Health Care– Elysian employs a full-time nurse on site. Together with our director, Susan Grierson, they oversee our school’s mitigation and safety protocols utilizing CDC and State Health Department guidelines. Our health services number one goal is to keep our students and staff safe.

What is a Charter School?  

Charter School began operating in the State of New Jersey in 1997.  Elysian is among the first cohort of schools that were awarded a charter.  We opened in September of 1997 and we have been here ever since!  Charters were designed to bring innovation to public education, allowing schools to create new ways of teaching and learning. 

How are Charter Schools different from local traditional schools?

Charter Schools operate as their own district. This means that we are not associated with the local school district and are governed by our own Board of Trustees elected by our school community. Charter schools are public schools and there is no fee to attend.  

Charter Schools are required to follow the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in all content areas, just like any other public school. At Elysian we believe that students learn best with hands-on learning. It creates enduring understandings of content, excitement and allows our students to become critical thinkers and lifelong learners. Staff creates engaging activities to make learning fun. We pride ourselves on creating and personalizing instruction. Our students are very responsive and it shows! They love coming to school and our attendance rates and parent feedback proves it!  

We believe in a school where students make meaningful and respectful connections with each other and the Elysian staff.  We also believe in giving students a voice in their education and community.

How many grades does Elysian have?  

Elysian is a K-8th grade school.

How many students are in each class?

Elysian has 16 students per class, two classes per grade and 32 students per grade. Our small class sizes allow teachers to develop close relationships with students and their families. They can get to know their students and discover what kind of learners they are. Are they visual?  Auditory? Do they read better than they write?  Are they wiggle worms that might need time to get up and move around?  Do they prefer to read curled up in the corner?  All these observations can be assessed to give the teacher insight into the best learning practices for an individual child and assist them in being the best learner that they can be. Small class sizes are key to this kind of understanding between teacher and student.

What is a typical day?

This year, our school day begins at 8:15 and ends at 1:15 for the hybrid schedule. We have staggered arrivals and use two entrances so ensure that our children can arrive at school safely. All children and staff are screened with temperature checks and a Covid questionnaire before entering. Normally our school day runs from 8:20-3pm.

Students generally start the day with a morning meeting in homeroom, where attendance is taken and the agenda for the day is reviewed. Many teachers use the question of the day to build community.  In addition to the core subjects, specials are also offered. See details below.  Recess provides a break and fresh air at the park across the street.  

How do Elysian teachers teach

In 1997, we created our mission statement:

Our goal is to create a safe environment to educate and inspire children to become curious, lifelong learners – strong in academic preparation, who have an appreciation of the arts, the diversity of all the peoples of the world, and the importance of community.  We hope to give them the confidence to pursue their dreams. 

Elysian uses a hands-on approach to learning.  If students are learning about trees, they go for a nature walk, collect the leaves, come back and sort them by shape, draw etchings of them for art, make posters, write about them and read about them. If they are learning physics, they team up to build and design structures, such as a bridge, that might hold up to rigorous testing and competition. 

Students sit at tables with several students. We believe in the value of collaborative learning and sharing of ideas.  Students share ideas and often work in partnerships or small groups. It is this unique feature of Elysian that is one of the reasons that makes children love coming to school.  They find structure, guidance, feel empowered to make decisions, ask questions and seek solutions.

What special classes are offered?

Elysian offers five special classes. They are Art, Physical Education, Music, Spanish and Dance. Special classes are taught by certified teachers in their field, offered weekly and allow our students to be creative and get physical activity. This year we introduced ukulele instruction for our 4th and 5th grade students! You can see our student’s artwork throughout our building and during Community Meetings, students will perform and showcase their projects.

Technology

Elysian is a 1-1 school with individual chromebooks offered for every student in grade 3-8. This year, we also purchased I-pads for student use in grades K through 2.  Our full time technology coordinator is available to help troubleshoot any internet issues whether they are at home or at school.  We are in the process of upgrading our Wi-fi network to support our students. Teachers are also using Nearpod and other innovative technologies in their classrooms.

Chromebooks are available for take home use for any student who needs a computer for remote home use.  

A Day in Kindergarten at Elysian

Literacy – Throughout the year, children will be immersed in reading a variety of books. The year begins with reading to “Old Favorites”  such as Caps for Sale and The Three Billy Goats Gruff.  Integrated into our daily activities are phonics lessons and activities, necessary for kids to begin to read, write and decode. Children simultaneously become authors and illustrators, writing about what they know and personal narratives. Reading and Writing are taught via a Workshop model which allows students to develop independence, learn at their own pace and receive differentiated instruction based on their needs. All our reading and writing goals align with the NJ State Standards.  

Math – Our work focuses on understanding numbers, patterns and shapes. Through games and activities children practice counting, composing and decomposing numbers, evaluating quantities and identifying shapes and measurable attributes. Our Math studies are standards based as well.  .

Science and Social Studies – Children spend the year learning about themselves and each other through research and observation. We focus on the needs of people, plants and animals. We analyze how people are similar and different. We think about and discuss how people can impact their environment and the environment affects us as well. 

Our school day also includes Free Choice Center time as well as Specials; Art, Music, Movement, Spanish, and P.E.

Grades 1-4

In grades 1-4, the classroom teacher teaches all content including  daily instruction in math, literacy – reading and writing and units in science and social studies. Grade level teachers work closely, collaborating and sharing ideas.  

Elysian uses the Teachers College Units of Study in Reading, Writing and Phonics (for grades K-2).  Our math program is a program called Bridges.  Mathematics at Elysian is a mix of the math that appears naturally throughout the day:  cooking, finding patterns on the sidewalk outside, planning fundraisers and comparing data and a comprehensive math curriculum based on the New Jersey State Standards.  Elysian embraces the workshop model in its teaching. Teachers model for children, send them off to work independently and use the new skills or strategies and bring the class back for a share.  Our curriculum is aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning  Standards.  For science, the Next Generation Student is used to guide them as they create curriculum for their classes.  Across the grades, there is an emphasis on social-emotional learning.  Kids at this level spend time learning how to get along with each other, how to advocate for themselves and ask for help, how and when to ask a question – all skills that carry with them through their long career as students.  This helps to lay the groundwork for becoming a lifelong, independent learner. 

Grades 5 – 6

Starting in 5th grade, classes become departmentalized. Students have a homeroom teacher and change classes for Math/Science and Humanities (Writing/Reading/Social Studies).

Math – In grades K – 5 we use a program called Bridges which is composed of daily problem solving that leads us toward math generalizations and representations. In 6th grade, we use the Connected Mathematics Project.  (See Math – Grades 7 & 8 below) These math programs offer a comprehensive standards-based curriculum as well as innovative supplemental resources called Number Corner.  All of their teaching materials promote strategies that emphasize conceptual understanding, procedural fluency, and problem-solving skills through the use of visual models and coherent learning progressions. 

Science – This curriculum draws on the standards set forth in the State’s Next Generation science outline.  Operations such as observing, measuring, classifying, predicting, and experimenting are the core of the science program.  We provide students with hands-on opportunities to explore interesting problems that extend their knowledge and insight.  Our units include structure and properties of matter; matter and energy in organisms and ecosystems; Earth’s systems; stars and the solar system.  

Language Arts & Social Studies – Reading and writing lessons continue to use the workshop model.  The major writing units are narrative craft, informational journal essays, literary essays, researched-based argument essays, and fantasy stories. Within each unit, students will take one writing piece through each step of the writing process ending with a published piece.  The reading units are analyzing themes in fiction texts, tackling complex nonfiction text, an author study, reading/researching debatable issues, and analyzing fantasy novels.  Students also participate in book clubs.  

In social studies, for example, 5th graders begin by studying the Age of Exploration followed by the thirteen colonies and ending with the Revolutionary War.  Skills developed include note taking, outlining and conducting research all which will culminate in a hands-on project that brings the time period to life. 

Middle School – Grades 7 & 8

Our middle school begins in 7th grade.  7th & 8th graders have a homeroom teacher as well as different teachers for core classes (Humanities, Math, Science, and Spanish). Also offered are Health and Physical Education. Middle school teachers continue to educate using the workshop model.  Students continue social-emotional learning through an Advisory program, and regularly take on leadership roles in the school by working with younger children and helping with various school programming.

A hallmark of the Elysian middle school program is seminars – multi-disciplinary courses which incorporate art, music, movement, and so much more. Examples of courses include Art History, Career Options, Music and Lyrics, Coding, and World Religions. 

Math – In middle school we use the Connected Mathematics Project in 6th – 8th grade classes and the Discovering Algebra program with those who choose to take on a full algebra 1 class in 8th grade. These middle school programs pick up where 5th grade left off with investigations into the mathematics of daily life that lead us to greater understanding of ratio and proportion as well as the many functions that we use to represent the data that surrounds us.   Focus is on student experiences, often in small groups that lead to larger discussions and individual understanding of concepts.   Our classes are busy and noisy with mathematicians hard at work building, drawing, discussing and arguing their way through big math ideas. 

Science – Middle School follows the Next Generation Science Standards integrating literacy and mathematics to explain daily occurrences within a scientific lens. Students study and create representations that allow them to see various interactions with a new perspective.”

Language Arts- The humanities program in seventh and eighth grades integrates language arts, literacy, and social studies to help students see connections between those disciplines and the world around them.

Trips

Elysian loves to take trips! Trips are a big part of our educational experience. Our students go on overnight trips to camps that provide team building activities. We have a partnership with the New Victory Theater.  Elysian 6th graders participate in the Illuminated Manuscript program with The Morgan Library and create their own books, including illustrations. We go pumpkin picking, visit Ellis Island, go to the Mo Math Museum and witness heart surgery at the Liberty Science Center. We offer many overnight trips beginning in 5th grade and these trips are often described by students as among their favorite memories of Elysian. 

Extra Curricular Activities 

Elysian offers a robust schedule of enrichment activities. We offer after school “clubs” with all kinds of activities.  Some favorites include fencing, ping pong, debate, cooking, Mad Science, jewelry making, sewing, animals, rock climbing, and chess all year long. There is a fee for the classes but as with all our activities, we do offer scholarships so that all our students can have access to all of our programming. 

We have a musical theater enrichment program that produces two plays a year.  Besides acting, students can get involved in costuming, set design, stage management, singing and dancing. 

Sports

Elysian has participated for many years with great success in the Hoboken Recreation League Basketball Program.  We start teams in the 3rd grade.  If you visit our school, you will find cabinets full of our trophies!  We also offer rugby and track.  We have access to a huge, beautiful gym on site.

Parent Participation – We love for our parents to help out and rely on parent support and participation! There are many ways to get involved.  In normal times, the PTSO organizes kid and family friendly events like our Halloween party, Field Day, photo day and our book sale.  We always need class parents – who help with individual class events and communications with other families within their grade.  Often parents like to share their family culture and traditions with the kids and come in to read, cook or share experiences.  

Friends of Elysian

Friends of Elysian are the fundraising arm of our non-profit organization. Friends helped raise the money for our move into our new building. Friends purchased Chrome books to ensure there was a computer in every classroom for every student in grades 3-8 and most recently helped us purchase  iPads so younger remote learners would have access if needed. The funds from the Friends organization help maintain our HVAC system and air-conditioning  for the building.  

Charter School Funding

  1. Fact: Charter schools are tuition-free, public schools. ● Charter schools are funded with public dollars and therefore must operate in accordance with all public school laws including statutes related to assessment, testing, civil rights and student health and safety. (N.J.S.A. 18A:36A-8; 18A:36A-11). ● Charter schools have the freedom to innovate in their curriculum, while providing a structured and disciplined learning environment. Students, teachers and parents are more accountable for student achievement (N.J.A.C. 6A:11).

  1. Fact: Charter schools are part of the local public education system and receive public funding. ● Charter schools are supposed to receive 90% of per pupil funding, however most charter school students, on average, receive about $6,000 less or 69% of the per-pupil funding than their comparative public school districts due to a flaw in the funding formula. ● Charter schools do not receive funding for facilities. On average charter schools spend $1,418 per student for the buildings, upgrades and maintenance from their per-pupil budgets, funding that could otherwise be spent in the classroom. (N.J.S.A. 18A:36A-12)

  1. Fact: Charter schools serve every student who enrolls from the district or region of residence. ● Charter schools are required to accept all students that apply from within the district and cannot implement selective enrollment policies. If more students apply than there are spaces available, charter schools must select students using an open enrollment, blind lottery process (N.J.S.A. 18A:36A-8).

Lottery and Admission to Elysian

Applications are available online at our website, ecsnj.org and clicking on “Enrollment”    All applications are verified by a confirmation email.  

Sibling preference is given for all Elysian families.  Incoming kindergartners of current Elysian families are guaranteed a spot.  Should a sibling be in an upper grade, they will be moved to the top of the list and given preference when a spot does become available.  

Elysian offers a weighted lottery to those applicants who qualify.  A weighted lottery allows low-income families to enter their child’s name three times into the lottery, effectively tripling their chances of being selected.  If you believe you qualify, you must provide Elysian with proof of the assistance. 

You can find more detailed information about our lottery on our website. Go to “Enrollment”, then “Lottery Process”.

Tours

Due to Covid 19 restrictions this year, tours will not be available.  Families who are offered spots, or are on the top five of each grade waitlist, will be contacted and offered a chance to zoom with the enrollment coordinator.  

Still have questions?

Contact Susan Gilbertson, Elysian Enrollment Coordinator at:  susan.gilbertson@ecsnj.org