Good community and diverse student population. Teaching methods are surprisingly traditional for the Bay Area with a strong emphasis (and reliance) on testing. School is bursting and many grades are over enrolled, which means you may be bumped after the first week if you are new and the grade is over subscribed. Principal is energetic, but not a able to successfully direct all of her teaching staff. Instead she does quite a bit of "horse trading," rewarding active volunteer parents (who will complain) with spots in the best classrooms (so they won't complain). This is not really a secret among Otis parents. We were new to the school and (no surprise) our child landed in one of the marginal teacher classrooms. Rough year for our child, who made great social connections, but was not supported well and lost a year academically. We tried to address with the principal mid-year and didn't make any real progress. After solid and caring K-4 teachers at our child's previous school, Otis was a huge disappointment for us. Happy for a fresh start at a new school next year.
Otis has been great for both of my kids. I had one child who was in GATE and one who gets special education support, so we've experienced how the school works for two very different children. My academically successful child had advanced reading and math and I always felt that the curriculum was adequately challenging. The support that my more academically challenged child is receiving is phenomenal. The classroom teacher goes way above and beyond in providing help, and special ed provides several hours a week of general one-on-one help, social skills, and OT. It's overcrowded so space is an issue, but kids don't get lost in the shuffle. The parent community is highly involved and a lot of fun. It's a great community of people and a great school.
Otis is a warm community school with a REALLY high level of parent involvement. The community at the school is a bit quirky and you can definitely feel the unique culture at Otis. The PTA funds field trips, classroom supplies and buys technology for student use. Dr. Clem does an amazing amount with the few resources the district gives her and motivates the school community to make up the difference. My children have had teachers who work hard to provide an education for them. I can't say that all of the teachers are innovative but they are still effective at their craft and care a lot about the students. It is overcrowded but the staff does a good job in managing that.
We are half way through our tenure at Otis and would definitively say that the school has exceeded all of our expectations. Our son has been fortunate in that each of his K-2 teachers have been an excellent "fit" for him. And after the first week, we are equally pleased with his 3rd grade teacher. We love the diversity, a strong and passionate school principal, the stunning amount of parent involvement and volunteerism, the many school traditions and events (ranging from Art a la Mode to Walkathon to Gingerbread House to Fall Carnival), and excellent school-parent communications (weekly e-newsletter and principal-parent-student assembly). Our neighborhood school has given us the opportunity to meet and befriend so many of our neighbors -- a true community resource.