FAQs About Great River School

    How big is Great River?

    Great River enrolled 428 students in the 2016-17 school year. Our board has adopted a strategic plan to expand our program and increase the number of students we serve to 690 by 2022.

    What grade levels do you serve?

    Our program spans grades 1-12.

    When does the school day begin and end?

    School begins at 8:30 AM and ends at 3:10 PM. The Front Office is staffed from 8:00 AM until 3:30 PM.

    Do you have school buses?

    Transportation is available for most students. Read all about it at our Transportation page.

    Is before- and after-school care available?

    Yes. Elementary students can participate in before-school programming from 7:30 to 8:30 AM and after-school programming from 3:10 to 5:30 PM. Please see the Big Canoe Kids Club page for details.

    Do you charge tuition?

    No. Great River is a public, tuition-free charter school. There are no fees to attend. However, we welcome donations to support our unique program. Read about the many ways you can support Great River School. 

    What's distinctive about Great River?

    Mission: Great River School, an urban Montessori learning environment, prepares students for their unique roles as responsible and engaged citizens of the world.

    Vision: Great River School integrates academic and social experiences in an environment of civility and trust. The Montessori philosophy and the International Baccalaureate diploma program inform the curriculum and pedagogy, inspiring deep questioning and peaceful action.

    Great River School fosters self-expression in a supportive environment that values critical thinking and the richness and strength of a diverse community.

    Great River School encourages students to seek new challenges and explore their abilities. Instruction through travel, practical learning, the arts, and micro-economic ventures provide relevant skills to meet the world with compassion and a sense of responsibility.

    See the Program Details page for more information about our curriculum.

    See the Head of School blog for running updates on school culture, mission, and vision. 

    Do you work with students who have IEPs?

    Yes. Charter schools are open to all students and offer a unique educational program where students can expect to receive a quality education based on results. 

    What extracurriculars do you offer?

    Our Activities and Athletics page gives an overview of extracurricular offerings.

    How do I enroll?

    Please visit our Enroll page and complete the simple online application for enrollment. Each March, Great River holds a lottery to fill openings. Students who apply after the lottery deadline will be placed on a waiting list.

    Are there residency requirements for enrollment?

    All Minnesota residents are welcome to apply for enrollment. We will also accept enrollment applications from those living outside of Minnesota (e.g., families anticipating a move) but residency is required at the time a student's enrollment begins.

    What about lunch and recess?

    Time to eat and time to move and play are valued at Great River.

    • Elementary students (Grades 1-6) have a minimum 25 minute cooperative lunch to eat in community each day, and an additional minimum 35 minute outdoor recess every day.
    • A1 students (Grades 7 & 8) have a combined 45 minute lunch and recess every day.
    • A2 and A3 students (Grades 9-12) have 25 minute combined lunch with freedom to go outside each day. 




    Additional Information


    Great River's authorization by the State of Minnesota as a public charter school and Novation Education Opportunities (NEO) gives GRS credentials to grant a Minnesota high school diploma. As a charter school, GRS is an independent school district under the governance of our own School Board. Additionally, GRS is accredited by the International Baccalaureate Program as a World School for the 11th and 12th grade program. There is no accreditation process for Montessori Secondary schools.

    Authorizer Contact Information

    Novation Education Opportunities (NEO)
    Wendy Swanson-Choi, Executive Director  

    432 Denmark Ave, Ste 130
    Eagan, MN 55123

    Faculty Licensure & Accreditation

    All GRS faculty are state licensed.  All elementary faculty are trained Montessori teachers. The majority of adolescent faculty have attended a 5-week adolescent orientation program with the North American Montessori Teaching Association in Ohio. Others have taken courses with the MN Montessori Training Center or in Bergamo, Italy.  International Baccalaureate teachers are IB trained.

    Postsecondary Enrollment Options

    Adolescent students at Great River may take courses for college credit through the Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program.  To learn more about this option, please visit this page or contact Dean of Students Matt McElrath at mmcelrath@greatriverschool.org.

    Standardized Testing

    Great River School is a public school and as a public school is required to administer standardized testing.  We administer the following tests:

    • MCA math, reading, & science in Grades 3-11
    • ACCESS for ELL (English Language Learners)
    • ACT plus writing for Grade 11

    The testing schedule can be found here.

    Test Scores, Demographics & Staffing Profile

    You can use the Minnesota Department of Education's website to access statistical and other information on Great River School

    Peacemaker MN Partner School

    Great River School is a partner in the PeaceMaker Minnesota network of schools dedicated to the reduction of bullying and the teaching of social and emotional skills.

    Articles about Great River