Frequently Asked Questions

  • FNSE Have questions about our organization, donations, meetings, or other concerns?
  • North Shore Elementary Looking to learn more about the school, programs, staff and what's in store?
  • Contact Us Please reach out to us if one of your questions wasn't answered, or with feedback.

Questions About FNSE

What is the best way to stay informed?

Follow us on Facebook and attend our monthly meetings.

How has FNSE contributed so far?

To date FNSE has been able to contribute time, talent and treasure to North Shore Elementary. Some of our accomplishments to date are:

  • Help SAC write and adopt a uniform policy for all students
  • Support and assist in the implementation of recess for all students every day
  • Provide a classroom boost ($1500 per classroom) to instructional teachers and in grades K-5 as well as support staff (Speech, Gifted, OT, VE). FNSE is still working to boost Art, Music, PE, and the Media Center
  • Collaborated with the PTA efforts in supporting teachers through Teacher Appreciation and provided teacher breakfasts and lunches
  • Funded Professional Development for teachers
  • Funded gifted screening for all Kindergarten students
  • Provided additional funding for Field Trip support
  • Helped develop a smart growth plan in collaboration with the Pinellas County School District to enhance physical and structural elements of the school

How are donations used?

All donations to FNSE go directly back into the students, school, teachers and faculty. We like to have funds on hand to support professional development for teachers and field trip support.

What does FNSE hope to achieve?

The mission of FNSE is to partner with North Shore Elementary in their work to ensure it is a dynamic, engaging and successful public school that proudly serves families in the Northeast region of St. Petersburg. We envision that North Shore Elementary is such a dynamic, engaging, and successful school that it is a key driver for families and businesses to locate to the area. To that end we hope to be a model for other neighborhoods about how you can engage and support your local public school in mutually beneficial ways.

When was FNSE created?

FNSE officially incorporated as a 501(c)(3) in 2015. We have been working together and meeting monthly (more or less) ever since.

Which events will FNSE host or take part in this school year?

The 3 upcoming events that we’re focused on are:

  • Open House Oct. 16 6-7:30PM (6-6:30PM school tours)
  • Fall Festival Oct. 26 10AM-2PM
  • Ready Set Kindergarten Jan. 16

Read more about the event details.


Questions About North Shore Elementary

What if any are the physical upgrades we can expect to see at North Shore now and in the future?

North Shore Elementary opened in 1927 as Coffee Pot Elementary and has all of the original buildings plus a few new ones and a few portables.  In recent years, attention has come for the need to:

  1. Update areas of North Shore’s campus
  2. To allow our school pride to show with better views from 1st Street and 34th Avenue
  3. To plan for growth

North Shore Elementary completed the first phase of a campus renovation in the summer of 2017 in which the school entrance (on 35th Avenue NE), front office, main hallway and the fireplace room were renovated.  Addressing the external perception issue along 1st and 34th, we are very excited that the current chain link fence will be replaced with black aluminum fencing tied together with brick columns accenting the original architecture of the school. Additionally, we are working to make the sign on 1st into more of a monument sign, and increase the landscaping along the parking lot to soften and improve curb appeal.

Lastly, a smart growth master plan is currently being developed. In collaboration with parents, administration, the district and a local architect firm, this growth plan will include: a new 6 or 8 classroom building, the addition of VPK to North Shore, and potentially completely transform the 1st Street side of the campus. This construction should be starting in the 2019-2020 school year with an aimed completion of January 2021.

How has FNSE contributed to the school:

  • Provide a classroom boost ($1500 per classroom) to instructional teachers and in grades K-5 as well as support staff (Speech, Gifted, OT, VE) and Specialists ( Art, Music, PE and the Media Center).

What kind of discipline challenges do the teachers face?  How are they encouraged to address them?  

The instances in which students are referred for excessive behavior or discipline problems is virtually nonexistent at North Shore Elementary.  Our school expectations are embedded in our Guidelines for Success that form the acronym KNIGHTS (Keep Trying, Nurture our environment, Inspire cooperation, Give our best effort, Have respect, Take responsibility, Support fellow Knights).  Our Guidelines for Success help teachers align their classroom rules with the school‐wide Positive Behavior System (PBS) and expectations. The Guidelines for Success are reviewed daily on our morning news show, the Knightly News, and are posted throughout all common areas in the school.

Our school utilizes a school‐wide Positive Behavior System (PBS) classroom management plan consistent with our core values, Guiding Principles, and CHAMPs. CHAMPs is a proactive and positive approach to classroom management. CHAMPs translates the research on effective classroom and behavior management into easy-to-implement, practical strategies for classroom teachers. Teachers incorporate restorative practices in the classroom through weekly circle meetings, as well as other informal classroom circles. Additionally, restorative practices are exercised when addressing student discipline issues.

What are the Before and After-Care Opportunities at North Shore?

There are a number of different options for Before and After-Care at North Shore.  On-site there is the YMCA program that is open from 6:30am-6pm for parents and families.  This program provides breakfast as well as a substantial snack after the school day, and is made up of homework and academic support, as well as extra-curricular activities.  Additionally, the iClass 21st Century Learning Program is a free option for 3rd, 4th and 5th Graders that supports academic learning as well as provides extra-curricular and enrichment opportunities for students.  Finally, the Police Athletic League (PAL), Shore Acres Rec Center, and the Tim McCahan After-School Sports Program all provide a bus pick-up and after-care opportunities for North Shore families.

What sort of additional academic and enrichment programming is available at North Shore Elementary?

North Shore Elementary offers a number of different additional educational opportunities both during and after school aimed at enhancing the learning and educational opportunities for all children.

Castle Apprentice Program (CAP):  CAP is a research-based program out of the University of Connecticut that focuses on giving every child exposure to gifted curriculum and project based learning. This is an opportunity for all students to explore an area of interest in a nontraditional setting.  During a CAP session students spend one hour a week in their selected cluster (a topic chosen based on individual personal student interests) and work together to learn about their cluster and create a final product that they will showcase for parents and families at the end of the session.  Some example of CAP Clusters are: Yoga, MakerSpace, Citizen Scientists, Mural Painting, Team Sports, STEM, Coding, Fairy Tale Theater, Dance, World Travelers, Making Music, First Floridians, and Old School Games.

School Gardens:  In a partnership with Edible Peace Patch, North Shore is developing hands on educational gardens that aim to cultivate healthy minds and bodies, producing successful individuals and thriving communities.  These gardens will be used hand in hand with science and math curriculum to aid in student learning.

7th Hour/After School Enrichments: At North Shore we see after-school activities as an opportunity to extend the learning time for students and thus, we refer to it as the “7th Hour.” School administration and parents are committed to continuing to offer educational opportunities after the official school day has ended, and work together to bring a diverse offering of activities for all students. Some activities are fee for service (with scholarships available) provided by outside vendors, while some are free of charge led by teachers. Examples of current offerings are: Challenge Island (STEM-based team problem solving), Spanish, Yoga, Dance, Soccer, Mad Science, Chess Club, Band, Drama, Cooking Club, Coding Club, Art Club, Lego Club, Girlfriends Club, and Crazy 8’s.

How does the Gifted Program work at North Shore?

Currently North Shore Elementary has 66 students enrolled in its gifted program and houses a full-time gifted Teacher. Students in the gifted program meet daily with the other students in their grade level and the gifted teacher and engage with an innovative project-based learning gifted curriculum.

Unlike many other schools North Shore screens all incoming Kindergarteners for the gifted program, and then has identified students tested by the district.  By doing this the school eliminates teacher and parent bias when testing for the gifted program and is better able to serve all students.

How does testing impact students school day and school experience?

We all know there is a reputation of testing overwhelming public schools and teachers, and taking away from creative learning. There is a perception that in public schools all teachers do is teach to a test and that students are tested all the time. At North Shore we do use dand assessments to help measure student learning but we do not let it define us. All students in grades 1-5 take a MAP Assessment for in ELA (Language Arts) and Math three times a year (Fall, Winter, Spring). Kindergarten takes just two MAP Assessments (Winter and Fall). This assessment consists of an untimed computer based test that takes students around 30-60mins. Additionally, grades 3 and 4 take a Science Assessment through MAP.

In addition to these MAP Assessments grades 3 through 5 participate in the FSA testing. This testing takes place in the spring and is controlled by the state (as far as testing windows etc.). Typically, a student in grades 3-5 will be doing FSA testing for about 5 hours spanning 4 days. This includes two 80 minute sessions for each Math and ELA over a 2-day period. Grades 4 & 5 also take one 120 minute Writing Assessment.

Essentially, the MAPs are check-in tests along the way that the teachers use to assess where the students are and customize their learning, then the FSA is one annual standardized test.

What does homework look like at North Shore?

North Shore believes in its teachers, and that they know how their students will learn and experience school best. As such, homework is a teacher-by-teacher choice. Some classrooms (most K classes) have a monthly packet that goes home with various activities to work through with your student as home time allows.  Some classrooms have a weekly packet, while some other classrooms have no homework at all. There is not a top-down one size fits all approach to homework at North Shore. Parents can discuss with their child’s teacher and go from there.

Does North Shore offer a foreign language?

Seeing and understanding the value of learning other languages, parents and administration have been working together to provide foreign language options for students.  Currently, foreign language is not included in the regular day at North Shore, but Spanish is an option for an after-school enrichment once a week (see Question #10 for more information).

How are art, music, PE, and recess provided at North Shore?

North Shore Elementary has full-time art, music, and PE teachers.  All students have Art and Music once a week and PE 3-times a week.  Additionally, recess is provided daily (for 20mins) and supervised by the classroom teacher. All teachers are given a bag of recess supplies (balls, hula hoops, chalk etc.) at the beginning of the year to help facilitate fun free play outside.

Beyond state standards, how are teachers engaging their students?

North Shore’s principal, Ms. Cooper Dawson, is passionate about student engagement and student learning.  It is a priority at North Shore for teachers to understand what each of their students’ learning needs are and to ensure they are being met.  While students work together throughout the day, they also “cluster” by ability and do individual work as well. The philosophy of Pinellas County Schools is that the only way for all kids to achieve success is to challenge and raise expectations on all students, not just a few.

North Shore has adopted a Project Based Learning model through their CAP Program for several years. Teachers have received professional development to further incorporate the Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) into their regular day.  Additionally, all grade level teams meet weekly with Ms. Dawson to problem solve issues as well as share successes and strategies to better serve students. This collaborative strategy allows for more innovation in the classroom.

What are the middle school public education options for those matriculating from NSE? 

There are many options for middle school that are available to Pinellas County Public School students and families like those who attend North Shore Elementary.  The two current feeder middle schools based on geography are John Hopkins Middle School and Meadowlawn Middle School.  In additional to a regular day, John Hopkins offers 2 additional programs that students may apply for as incoming 6th graders:

  • International Baccalaureate (IB Program)
  • An award-winning Center for International Studies in the Arts and Multimedia Journalism Magnet Program.

Additionally, there are a variety of district application programs available for middle school families such as:

  • Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School (has a gifted program component)
  • Sanderlin (currently a K-8 school with and International Studies focus)
  • Madeira Beach Fundamental Middle School
  • Bay Point Middle School

The district is currently in the process of building build a new middle school at the former Riviera Middle School site in partnership with the YMCA. Currently that school is slated to open in 2022 and will most likely be a combination of zoned students and magnet/lottery students.

As with the selection of elementary schools, there are, and will be, numerous choices available for your child within Pinellas County Public School System that will build upon the wonderful educational foundation provided at North Shore Elementary.

North Shore Elementary is a currently a C school, and in recent history a D school. How is it a good school with a low school grade?

The school grades are based purely on one standardized test given by the state each spring. In elementary school only scores from 3rd, 4th and 5th graders are included in the school grade. There are seven “components” to the elementary school grade. Three of those components are the competency scores in: 1) English Language Arts, 2) Mathematics, 3) Science (5th Grade only). The other four components are an expression of learning gains. Two of these four are learning gains for all students, and two of them are learning gains in the bottom performing 25%. Each of these seven components are equally weighted in determining the school grade. It is important to note that all students are tested with no exceptions.

At North Shore, we are proud of our robust ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) program. We have approximately one unit (or class) per grade made up of students that qualify for ASD services. These students are all tested the same as the rest of the student body. Being a small school and having 12% of our student population qualifying as ASD students can and does impact our school grade. Additionally, at North Shore we are lucky to have a significant number of English Language Learners enriching our school community and house a full-time ESOL Specialist at our school. These students are also all tested in English and their scores included and equally weighted in our grade calculation.

A school like North Shore may have 25-40% of their students consistently make 4s or 5s on the state test (5 is the highest grade, 1 is the lowest), and 25% consistently make 1s or 2s due to factors outside of the teachers sphere of influence. This is a normal distribution of capability which vacillates depending on a school’s socio-economic diversity and inclusion of autistic or exceptional students.

If you would like to learn more about school grades, or look up any data from all schools, visit:

What is the School Population and Diversity?

North Shore is also a uniquely diverse school and believes in the value that this diversity brings to all students. It has been proven that diversity in the classroom contributes to increased learning in all children ( Check out this article on the benefits of diverse learning environments) and we are proud of the diversity that we have at North Shore. As of the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year students at North Shore were: 58% White, 26% Black, 13% Hispanic, 2% Asian, and 1% Native American. Additionally, 61% of students qualified for free and reduced lunch.


Stay Informed

Our primary means of communication is through our Facebook page. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. You may also find relevant information on the North Shore Elementary site or on their Twitter feed.

About Friends

Students at Crisp park.

Friends of North Shore Elementary (FNSE) was founded from sidewalk conversations in 2015. Neighbors with preschool aged children were asking themselves, “Why are families in one neighborhood attending over 10 different elementary schools instead of North Shore Elementary, our zoned school?” The interest in this idea was incredibly strong, and it was clear that many individuals wanted to support their neighborhood school. With the purpose to help bring positive focus and contribution to North Shore Elementary, FNSE incorporated as a non-profit in December 2015 and was established as a 501(c)(3) a few months later.

Headshot of speaker
Vicki and Lee Koenig Parents of a Kindergartener
Upon touring North Shore Elementary, we felt an immediate sense of community. This feels like a small school with a staff who knows and cares about all of the kids. Our son is in a class of 17 kids and his teacher has time for all of them. The faculty truly cares and supports all students. His fellow students are our neighbors - we see them out at the park and around town. He is not commuting to a distant school. We have been especially impressed by seeing teachers and other staff members from the car circle to after care address our son by name and ask how he is doing as he transitions from preschool to elementary school.