Mea Culpa Moment

On this sixth week of school, the administrative team realized the front office voicemail was still set to the summer message.


It’s been corrected - thanks to the parents who let us know our error. We appreciate and encourage your feedback while we’re ironing out our new systems!

Please send any and all feedback to Thanks for being in this boat with us.

Harvest Fest Appreciation Post!

Thank you so much for your incredible contributions to this year's Harvest Fest! It was the largest and most successful one we've had yet--a worthy celebration of our Great River community!

There were SO many people--students, families, and staff alike--who dedicated time, energy, and resources to make this incredible day possible. Thank you to co-coordinators Monique, Holly, Jennifer and Jessica. You guys were the best team in making sure this event went smoothly! Thank you to Jenny, Jim, and Zack for pulling off such a special music set that included a community sing-a-long, GRS student and student alumni band Why Not, and professional Congolese musicians Saima & Dallas. Thank you also to Jim and Mary for saving the soup! (You guys know what I'm talking about!) Thank you Scott and the forestry occupation for setting up the straw bales and pumpkins and preparing farmstand items for sale. Thank you to Tami and the 9th & 10th graders who performed admirable community service during Harvest Fest. The event would not have been the same without your participation! Thank you to the 6th Bridge students who cleaned and prepped veggies for the soup! Thank you to all the students who harvested the pumpkins and veggies at the farm, and brought your homemade goods to the festival! Thank you to Scott Brown of The Accounting Group for sponsoring the hours of "free babysitting," aka the bouncy houses. Thanks to Stacey for being our official Harvest Fest photographer. Thank you to Charlie and Jennifer for getting the word out about this event, resulting in such a great turnout! We had two amazing chefs who raised our soup experience to new levels--Kristin and Lisa--and many prep chefs too! Thank you so much to all the PEG Ambassadors who put in extra volunteer time before, during and after the event. Thank you so much to the setup and cleanup crews - you guys made the place look so beautiful to start and made sure every last piece of debris was picked up at the end! 

Thank you most of all to everyone who came out to enjoy the event and be part of the celebration! 

Harvest Fest Reminder!

A special note for all volunteers and attendees at this years Harvest Festival:
There is speculation that a giant glowing fireball may be hanging in the sky this Saturday afternoon. Please be advised that this is considered a normal occurrence and may cause warmth, light and cheery dispositions by those in its presence. Do not fear, some of us may remember this natural phenomenon from previous times, be sure to soak it up with our GRS community with a hot bowl of soup!

When: Saturday October 13th 2:00-5:00pm

Where: Great River School (outdoors)

What: Celebration of the harvest season with “stone soup” in the cauldron, live music, farm fresh food and crafts from the adolescent key experiences to purchase, lots of activity stations and crafts, bouncy houses and our GRS community to keep you company. 

Also, there are a few slots left to be a part of the volunteer team. Be sure to sign up to be a part of the fun of making it all happen. 

Harvest Fest!!

One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn't as individuals.” – Jean Vanier

Harvest Festival is this Saturday! We are so excited for this opportunity to celebrate the bounty of the season and our growing community together. Please join us for an afternoon of stone soup, crafts, music and community. 

When: Saturday October 13th 2:00-5:00pm

Where: Great River School (outdoors)

What: Celebration of the harvest season with “stone soup” in the cauldron, live music, farm fresh food and crafts from the adolescent key experiences to purchase, lots of activity stations and crafts, bouncy houses and our GRS community to keep you company. 

Also, be sure to sign up to be a part of the fun of making it all happen. Volunteers and supplies still needed:!/showSignUp/30e0d49a4a62babf94-20172

Urban Farming Pumpkin Sale


Great River School Urban Farming will be selling pumpkins and spinning gourds (picked by adolescent students at Buttermilk Farms 👩🏼‍🌾) daily after school until our supply is gone. Pumpkins range from $1-5, depending on size, and spinning gourds are $0.25 or five for a dollar. Exact change is appreciated - thank you!

Harvest Fest Reminder!

“There is no secret, but this is certain, that it is only by sharing may we make a feast”

~author unknown

Harvest Festival is right around the corner! We are still in need of donations and day of volunteers. Please check out the Sign-Up and register to make this annual family event a huge success!

This is one of our most accessible volunteer activities. Commitment times start at 1 hour and families can volunteer together (including little ones.) Adolescent students are encouraged to volunteer and 9th/10th grader receive volunteer hours.

View the Sign up Here

Elementary Parent Info Night - Attachments

Hello all! 

If you weren't able to make it to our Parent Info night last week for whatever reason (didn't have a canoe handy to navigate the torrential rain waters, perhaps?) we wanted to make available all of the documents that went out that evening! 

You can find LE information here and UE information here. Please feel free to reach out with any questions you might have. You can direct questions to Jean at

Thanks much!

The Elementary Team

Big Canoe will offer childcare 8 am- 5 pm on Wednesday, October 17

Are you wondering what to do with your elementary-aged child on this extra day off of school? Big Canoe will be hosting a full day of activities and fun for kids on Wednesday, October 17. Our experienced guides will lead children in games, crafts, and challenges, while saving time for imaginative exploration and play as well.

Who: any elementary-aged child

Location: Great River School, elementary entrance

Cost is $50 for 8 am-5 pm October 17 (Sibling discount/scholarships available; please inquire)

Includes 2 healthy snacks; an optional catered lunch may be ordered at an extra charge.
Space is limited! Please sign up using this form. You will be invoiced for payment.

Note: We are not able to offer care on Thursday or Friday October 18-19.

Questions? Please Email

Arrival/Departure Norms

Hello Elementary families!

I wanted to share some information with you all regarding our Arrival / Departure procedures. First and foremost, thank you immensely for patience and cooperation as we learn how to operate with more students and vehicles! It's not easy, and your participation is much appreciated! I know this is long, but reading and heeding will ensure a smooth morning and afternoon for all!


  • All vehicles waiting to drop off students should line up behind the 3 or 4 orange cones located near the main GRS entrance -- the space in front of those cones is reserved for busses and transportation vans.

  • As you arrive, please find a spot in line behind the furthest car in line. If a large gap forms, you will be directed around cars to fill in the gaps.

  • At no point should anyone park on the north side (school side) of Energy Lane (unless parking west of the Elementary building.)

  • Elementary will now have a huge green flag indicating that drop off time has OFFICIALLY begun! Students shouldn't get out of their vehicles UNTIL the flag is up!

  • The only students getting out of vehicles before official drop-off starts are: adolescents, Big Canoe students. Everyone else should remain in their vehicles.

  • Adults should refrain from exiting their vehicles when dropping off unless absolutely necessary.... getting in and out slows down the entire process. Students should have bags and all other belongings ready to go if possible. Exceptions are understandable (child in car seat, unloading large bags/items etc)

  • If you DO have to pause your vehicle for an extra amount of time, please put on your hazard flashing lights to indicate that you won't be moving, allowing others to go around.

  • As you leave, please continue west down Energy Lane and exit onto Energy Park Drive. Please do not drive through neighboring lots or make u-turns to go back east.


  • For pick up in the afternoons, all classes have been given new vehicle tags to be fixed to your sun visor (passenger side) and flipped down during pickup time. This will allow us to see your child's name and classroom and get them cued up easily.

  • Every student has been given 2 tags, and if you need more, please let me know so I can print them! Feel free to distribute to your carpools as necessary.

  • New backpack tags are ALMOST finished (laminating them currently!) These have a matching number to your child's car tag, and now have a QR code on them so we can easily access your contact info! Attach to your student’s backpack with a safety pin or zip tie.


Thank you for your continued cooperation and patience as we refine our procedures and work towards a smoother experience for everyone!

Derek Damron
Green Flag Extraordinaire

Sign up Now to Volunteer at Harvest Fest!


On Saturday, October 13th 2-5pm we will have our all-school fall festival, Harvest Fest! The festival features farm fresh food and crafts from the adolescent key experiences, a cauldron of soup made by your contributions, face painting, bouncy houses caramel apples and LIVE music! We are looking for volunteers to donate supplies, help set up/clean up, paint faces and stir the soup! Thank you in advance for your time and energy in making Harvest Fest an event to remember! 

View the Sign up Here

Great River Annual Fund Announcement

Great River School is kicking off the annual fund campaign this year - read below (or text “goats” to 71777 to find out how you can support the school).  

With UE’s return from Wolf Ridge, fall key experiences are complete! Thank you to the many parent volunteers who came to unpack bins, inventory tents, and welcome these intrepid students back to school. We encourage you to take some time this weekend and check in with your student about their experience - how will the skills they developed aid them in their educational journey this year? Here’s what one Upper Elementary parent said about their student last year:

This is our kid’s first time away from us (except for with grandparents) and it feels like our first big "letting go" moment...but this isn't an email about parental anxiety. It's about the WOW moment of our kids spending three nights away at such a stellar experience, connecting with the natural world and with their community of classmates. And also experiencing some independence (and perhaps anxiety) away from their families, but ultimately seeing that they might be capable of more than they thought.”

Great River is able to offer pioneering public Montessori programming, such as experiential key experience trips, through the donations of community members. As we unveil our annual fund thermometer for the year, we’re asking every GRS family to make a contribution to ensure our programming can continue for years to come.

Students & families are able to create their own fundraisers, shareable with your networks, to support & help fund GRS’s dynamic programming.

Thank you! We are so grateful to be in community with you.

Wolf Ridge Arrival Clarification and Thursday Wolf Ridge Update!

Hello families! 

We are so excited to welcome our students back tomorrow! 

We had a blog post that was confusing today about arrival times - I apologize! 

A clarification on pickup of students tomorrow: 

  • We expect the bus to return between 2:15 & 2:30pm

  • If you can, you are encouraged to pick up your student right away by 2:30pm

    • we will send updates on arrival by text and posts to facebook if any timing changes due to travel! 

  • Parking available on Energy Lane *outside the pickup line* or follow our regular parking guidelines (linked) 

  • Please do not park in the pickup line on the north side of energy lane. If your student is still awaiting pickup at 3pm, we will have students participate in regular end of day pickup line! (i.e parent pickup/bus) If you have any notes to send us about pickup of your student, please email


Thursday at Wolf Ridge was wonderful. So great to see students settling into a routine outdoors with their peers - relationships new and old forming and deepening. Hikes, water study, changing colors of the leaves, and a rainbow sighting! Students are strong, heart-ful, persistent, and ready to come home to you! 

Sam O'Brien

Head of School

he/him/his why pronouns matter

“An education capable of saving humanity is no small undertaking; it involves the spiritual development of humans, the enhancement of value as an individual, and the preparation of young people to understand the times in which they live.”~ Maria Montessori 

Wolf Ridge Arrival Time

We expect the Wolf Ridge buses to return to school tomorrow (9/28) shortly before our normal 3:10pm pickup time - parents can pick up their students in the pickup line as normal.

If you want to park and come inside the school, please do not park in the pick-up line. Parking is available across the street in the Bandana Square public parking lot or in the limited visitor parking on the north side of the school.

Wolf Ridge Day 3 update!

Today was another magical day full of adventure, beauty, and challenge at Wolf Ridge. 

Today's short reflection will highlight field groups. Field groups are a mix of children from all GRS classrooms, and one of the many ways that community has been built this week.  There are approximately 16 children in each multi-age group. These children spend five to six hours a day in these groups working together with a variety of Naturalists that consistently balance classroom time with outside time as nature is the primary classroom here at Wolf Ridge. It has been wonderful for not only students, but also staff getting to know children from every classroom this week! 
Though there are a few homesick kiddos, they are in good hands and comforted daily by the beauty of this place, their friends, books, stuffed teddy's, worry rocks, etc. but mostly by the thoughts of those that love and support them back home.  They will be home soon! 

Eric McBride &
Upper Elementary Staff 

Upper Elementary Fall Social

Tonight from 6-8 pm is the PEG (Parent Engagement Group) Upper
Elementary fall social at Urban Growler (2325 Endicott St., St Paul, 55114).

Urban Growler is a family-friendly brewery with a full menu, including a kids menu. Come when you can and stay as long as you like! If the weather's nice, we'll be on the patio, but we'll also have access to their event room. We'll have some games and activities for little ones. Hope to see you there!

Wolf Ridge Update! 9/24

by Matty B., Crow Wing Guide


We are here safely and happily.  Students marveled as we rounded the bluffs over Duluth. Then we started to notice the red maples as we approached Finland.


Finally, we settled into an afternoon at our new camp home. Part of our day was an awesome raptor event with several specimens and a demo of how strong an egg is.  There will be heavy sleepers tonight!