Educational Institutions

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

  • Sunderland, MA
  • www.northstarteens.org

Mission Statement

North Star was founded in 1996 by two middle school teachers who were looking for a better way to support teens. North Star is an inspiring and viable option for any teen in the Pioneer Valley to live and learn without school.

Main Programs

  1. North Star membership
  2. Music Program
  3. Theater Program

ruling year

2002

Executive Director since 1996

Self-reported

Kenneth Danford

Program Director since 2003

Self-reported

Catherine Gobron

Keywords

Self-reported

homeschooling, unschooling, alternative to school, self-directed learning

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Also Known As

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

EIN

01-0613583

 Number

3351631896

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Student Services and Organizations (B80)

Secondary/High School (B25)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

North Star membership

A Customized Academic Plan

Together we will envision and map a personal educational approach.

The academic plan will be based on the teen’s interests while also fulfilling the parent’s needs. North Star facilitates this process through discussion, brainstorming, and recommendations based on 16 years of supporting families through this process.

If the teen is under age 16 we will help you write this plan up as a homeschooling curriculum for submission to your local superintendent. This is a very straightforward process. Your superintendent's office will certify you as a homeschooler. This is the contract that makes leaving school legal for youth under age 16.

Personal Advisor

Each teen is assigned an advisor. Through regular meetings we help imagine and realize goals, track progress, and facilitate tutorials and community connections.

This relationship is at the core of the North Star experience.

Parent Conferences

Together North Star staff will meet with your family at least three times per year to envision possibilities and to review achievements. More meetings are scheduled as requested.

Parental involvement is expected. There are many opportunities for parents to be a part of our community.

Classes, Workshops, and Tutorials

North Star offers classes, workshops, and tutorials between the hours of 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM, four days per week.

Our classes represent the interests and passions of our current collection of staff and range from biology to yoga and anywhere in between. Most classes have fewer than 10 students. We have a core staff of long-term professionals and a large, extended staff composed of work study students from all of the five colleges, interns, and community volunteers currently ranging in age from 17 to 70.

North Star provides tutoring in a wide range of subjects, such as mathematics, foreign language, guitar, and computer programming, as available.

A New Way to Approach Learning, Education, and Life

Our focus is on the individual and his or her particular strengths, needs, and goals. We meet teens where they are and support them in becoming whomever they want to be.

Rather than focusing on weaknesses, we ask: "What are you good at? What do you love to do?" and build from there.

Category

Children & Youth (0-19 years)

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

None

None

Budget

Program 2

Music Program

Josh Wachtel leads the Music Program at North Star. The program includes many available group classes from chorus to improv to rock band, as well as individual music lessons.

Category

Performing Arts

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

None

None

Budget

Program 3

Theater Program

Ellen Morbyrne has been directing the theater program at North Star for 10 years. In recent years she has been joined by co-director Nia Steiner.

Through our theater program teens thoroughly explore the art of theatre: ensemble-building, heightened physicality, dynamic vocal techniques, scene study and text work (both for scenes and for monologues), physical improvisation (solo and as an ensemble), and Improv exercises. Based on student interest, we present fall and spring Sharings of work done in class, and we will support the preparation of pieces that students might wish to share at the North Star Variety Shows. Fully-staged plays are audition-based and open to the whole North Star community – casting decisions are commensurate with actors’ demonstrated commitment, as well as talent, ability, and compatibility with available roles and other actors.

Category

Theater

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

None

None

Budget

Social Media

Blog

Videos

External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

LEARNING ALTERNATIVES INC
Fiscal year: Aug 01-Jul 31

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

Executive Director

Kenneth Danford

Program Director

Catherine Gobron

BIO

Co-founder of North Star, Ken has been working intensively with teenagers and their families since 1991. Previously a middle school social studies teacher, first in Prince George’s County, MD, then in Amherst, MA, Ken left the Amherst school system to found North Star. He brought with him extensive education and training, including a B.A. from Amherst College in Psychology and an M.A.T. in Social Studies from Brown University.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Gary Bernhard

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

No

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

No

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Yes

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?