• Is an alternative learning experience right for your student? When it comes to education, some families focus on preparation for post high school education like college or trade school. Others prioritize preparing students for the workforce, developing social skills, or encouraging them to participate in civic life. The dedicated educators at GBS truly believe alternative learning experiences can accommodate all approaches and they look forward to serving the various needs of families all over Washington State.

    Downloadable PDF for FAQs                                         

    Frequently Asked Questions about Griffin Bay School     

    What is Griffin Bay School?  Is it part of the San Juan Island School District?

    Many people are familiar with Friday Harbor Elementary, Middle, and High School. But not as many people are familiar with all that Griffin Bay School offers. Griffin Bay School is a Public School and part of San Juan Island School District. Griffin Bay offers a full array of public school course offerings, curriculums, and supports. We pride ourselves in forming a personal connection with the parents and students, offering flexibility in learning methods and timing, focusing on making a positive impact in each student's life. We would like to work with the parents to create the most innovative program we can. 

    What is the definition of ALE?  What is it about Griffin Bay School programs that make them ALE? 

    ALE means “Alternative Learning Experience” where some or all of the instruction is delivered outside of a regular classroom schedule.

    Who is eligible to enroll in Griffin Bay School?

    The eligibility criteria to enroll in Griffin Bay School are as follows:

    1. Be a resident of San Juan Island, or complete a Choice Transfer from another district, or enroll in our Mutidistrict program.
    2. Be school age (5 years old through 21 years old) and have not yet received a diploma from any school.
    3. Be willing to commit to one semester of enrollment.
    4. Be willing to work independently and check in every week with your teacher.

    This is a public school which means we provide the curriculum and the student and or family provides the actual instruction. We have multiple curriculum options that can be discussed with your teacher when your independent learning plan is developed.

    How is Griffin Bay School different from the traditional elementary, middle school, and high school programs?

    Griffin Bay School offers three different alternative paths for public school education:


    In the full remote enrollment option, students take courses from their own location off campus. Students (or parents with the students) check in weekly with the lead teacher assigned to you. We provide the curriculum at our cost by either checking out materials and texts to you, assigning you to online academy courses, or providing guidance on independent learning opportunities. You check in with your Griffin Bay School teacher at least once a week so they can monitor growth and progress in your coursework.


    Some families and students, for various reasons, would like to partially enroll in GBS. We can reduce enrollment to 60% (or higher) in a remote manner. By being partially enrolled, a K-8 student is free to participate in another school or in a homeschool setting up to 40% of the time. Some families choose to homeschool their students in one content area but partially enroll in GBS for the other courses. We are flexible.


    Perhaps a student was unable to pass or complete a high school course. They can enroll in GBS to retake a course, or take courses they aren’t able to fit into their high school schedule. Students who are enrolled in another of our district's schools (FHHS, FHMS, FHES) would talk to their school counselor about this option and whether or not the student can participate in their course remotely or on campus.


    Griffin Bay School now offers an online program for anyone living in Washington State.  Please call/text (360) 298-6025, call (360) 378-3292, or email conniedomenech@sjisd.org for more information.

    What is an Online Academy? Is there a Griffin Bay Online Academy option?

    There are some Online Academy Programs available in WA State that require families to “choice out” of our district and into a different district in another community while keeping their residence here.  Student support state funding follows the students.  Griffin Bay School offers an online academy through its full remote program that keeps funding local, and provides support from teachers and mentors here on San Juan Island.

    What is the difference between the Griffin Bay Online program and “Remote Learning”?

    Remote learning refers to “where” the instruction and/or completion of a program will be implemented. The primary (K-3) and intermediate (grades 4-8) can either be traditional (paper and pencil) curriculum sent to you, or an online program. For multi-district students, online curriculum is the only option.  These students will primarily complete the expectations remotely with weekly checks from a certified staff member.

    The online program is the curriculum that can be accessed remotely, partially on campus, or all on campus. Currently, secondary students (9-12) at Griffin Bay are primarily enrolled in an online program with few exceptions determined during the educational planning process with each student.

    Does Griffin Bay School offer support for students who are homeschooled?

    Homeschool is different from teleschool, remote learning, and online learning.  Homeschool is even different from enrolling in an online academy that is outside our San Juan Island School District.  Homeschool, or “Home-based Instruction”, is when a parent or guardian assumes full responsibility for their student’s education, without direction or guidance from any public school system.

    That being said, Griffin Bay School offers support for homeschool families through part-time enrollment for classes that meet the needs of homeschool families.

    From the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI):

    “Washington state law recognizes the desire of some parents and families to seek a home-based instruction for their children...

    ...RCW 28A.200.011(1) states that each person whose child is receiving home-based instruction under RCW 28A.225.010(4) must file annually a signed declaration of intent that he or she is planning to cause his or her child to receive home-based instruction. The declaration is to be filed by September 15 of the school year or within two weeks of the beginning of any public school quarter, trimester, or semester with (1) the superintendent of the public school district within which the parent resides, or (2) the superintendent of a nonresident public school district that accepts the transfer, in which case, the student is considered a transfer student of the nonresident district.”


    Specifically, what options does Griffin Bay School have for elementary age students?

    For primary students (K-3), Griffin Bay School offers students and families the opportunity to complete an educational plan with a certified teacher, weekly contact with that teacher to monitor progress, and all the curriculum (traditional or online) to guide the instruction. The difference between this and tele-schooling is that each family decides when their child will do the work. It is not guided by a set schedule with the exception of the weekly check-ins with the certified teacher. Parents will work closely with their children to guide the instruction.

    Specifically, what options does Griffin Bay School have for students in grades 4-8?

    Intermediate students (grades 4-8) at Griffin Bay offers students and families the opportunity to complete an educational plan with a certified teacher, weekly contact with that teacher to monitor progress, and all the curriculum (traditional or online) to guide that instruction. As students get older (middle school age), more of the instruction is shifted to online. The difference between this and tele-schooling is that each family gets to decide when their child will do the work. It is not guided by a set schedule with the exception of the weekly check-ins with the certified teacher. Parents work closely with their children to guide the instruction.

    It is possible for a student to be partially enrolled in Griffin Bay and in the middle school. For example, a student could take core classes at Griffin Bay School, on site or remote, and attend FHMS for other courses such as band, art, physical education, etc.

    Specifically, what options does Griffin Bay School have for high school students?

    Secondary students (9-12) at Griffin Bay School primarily do the work online with exceptions that may be decided together with an instructor during the education plan development. The curriculum can be offered on site, partially on site, or fully remote. The courses offered include but are not limited to regular classes, career and technical education opportunities, and advanced placement sections. Each class completed equals a .5 credit and places a student on a path to graduation.

    A Griffin Bay secondary student will receive college admission guidance and develop a high school and beyond plan. The objective of the secondary opportunity is to move students toward a high school diploma and provide the necessary support for the next step each student wants to take. In short, a Griffin Bay School graduate will be college and career ready.

    If I choose Remote Learning for my student, how will my students get curriculum materials and work packets?

    Access to material depends upon the discussion you have with the certified teacher during the educational plan development. Curriculum that is checked out to you may be mailed to your home address or picked up at Griffin Bay. Some of the curriculum is electronic and will either be emailed or you will be provided access codes for admission to specific programs.

    How much time would be spent online?  What does a daily schedule look like?  How often will assignments be due?

    There is not a one size fits all answer to these questions. The plan that the parents, student, and certified teacher develops will guide the method of delivery. The State expects that work provided equals 27.5 hours a week, but how that is conducted and when it is done so depends on the flexible plan created in the initial meeting.

    How often does the student and the teacher meet?  For how long?  Where does the meeting occur? Is it appointment based and is it as an individual or is it a group meeting?

    Each student/family will meet with a teacher weekly for progress monitoring and coaching. This will be scheduled. The time will be determined during the initial meeting. This is an individual meeting with the student. This two way communication for remote students can be through email, phone, or on zoom. However, this can also be face to face. Each family can decide this when the plan is developed.

    What does the online program look like?

    This depends on the age of the child. Primary students in a full online program would be connected to what is called a “grade level suite.” Students would be provided access to core classes and follow the guided instruction.

    Intermediate students could follow the same plan as the primary students. However, they also have access to creating a plan that includes partial online programs. For example, a student could be assigned one course in math online while completing other classes on another school site.

    For high School students, the online opportunities are based on the courses needed to complete the graduation requirements.

    What will the classroom based program look like?

    Classroom based courses for grades 9-12 are twofold. The first is that there are full time Griffin Bay students who choose to complete the work, online or traditionally, on site. They are provided guidance and coaching while working independently.

    There are other students from the high school who need to retake a course or cannot fit a necessary requirement into FHHS’s tight schedule. Therefore, a student takes an online course at Griffin Bay on site to ensure movement forward to graduation.

    Is there a Griffin Bay School building?  Where is it? 

    The recently acquired Griffin Bay School building is in the open area between Turnbull Gym and the tennis courts on the high school campus.  This was formerly the Head Start building on Grover Street (behind the elementary school) and has been refurbished, remodeled and retrofitted for staff and students of Griffin Bay School,  grades K-12. 

    Will students of all ages and grades levels commingle in the Griffin Bay School building?

    Elementary age students through 5th grade will complete all work remotely. However, the plan is to create a separate wing in the new building for younger students and families to attend and receive guidance in study pods. 

    I’m interested!  How do I get more information on how to enroll?

    To find out more information and then enroll, go to the Griffin Bay website and click on the "How to Enroll" tab.  There you will find three ways to contact us: By phone, by email, by text. Once you make contact with us, a certified instructor assigned to your child’s grade level will reach out to you to discuss the plan in more detail. If this is a right fit for you, you will be guided to meet with our registrar to complete admission. A starter packet for your child to begin will be sent to you and a meeting to develop the educational plan will be scheduled.