The teachers are granted a lot of freedom to cater to their kids' needs, and each has an unique style in going about that making each teacher very individual. Although the school puts a lot of effort in matching up kids to teachers, you will have the same teacher for 2 grades, so it is important as a parent to be diligent in making sure the teacher you got is a good fit for your child and to discuss it if there are any issues. However, having graduated and left, my dd still talks about the awesome teachers there, and she was matched up very well with hers.
Because students share a classroom for 2 years with not just the same teacher but also the same students in their grade, they create strong bonds with them. They learn how to face and deal with any differences or issues going on between them because they are likely stuck with each other for a long time. :) In my dd's classes, they had morning and afternoon class meetings every day in which they discussed anything that might have gone well or wrong so that things get taken care of quickly and don't fester and grow.
No nightly homework is given. They believe children should have some free time to pursue their own personal endeavors and ideas, and there is a lot of responsibility given to the teachers to get the kids educated during the school day. The way I saw this play out with my child was that children were assigned weekly tasks that they were required to get done in the week, and they were responsible for getting it done during the school day. If they didn't allot their time properly and didn't get things done, then they had to finish it at home. The other side of this was individual projects. We actually spent a bunch of time researching and building at home on my dd's flight project. However, students could opt to do larger or smaller projects. So, the amount of work you end up doing at home may be up to your student. The more you do to support your student at home, the more your child can get out of this school. The sky is the limit, and this school grants your child the freedom needed so that it is up to them how far they go.
Although students are taught to address teachers and staff by their first names, it is specifically because they are taught that all leaders, including school officials, must earn their respect by acting to be worthy of it - not just due to a title. Working in Silicon Valley, I could really get behind this. What matters in most great startups is not your pedigree, but what happens when the rubber hits the road. Because of this, sometimes it is hard to find substitute teachers that can handle it (the students will stand up for themselves if things aren't done properly), but it also means that the teachers at Ohlone have a handle on their kids precisely because they are darned good at what they do.
BEST. SCHOOL. EVER. When checking out the schools in PA, I was told whatever school you got, your kid would get a solid educational experience. I did not find that to be true - huge differences between our neighborhood school and Ohlone. It was night and day. After starting at El Carmelo where there was serious bullying that was often ignored and difficulties getting an IEP despite having teacher support, Ohlone was an absolute breath of fresh air. It was immediately noticeable upon meeting the students. They go out of their way to hold doors open for you not out of respect for elders, but to be nice. The popular kids tended to be popular not because they were rich, flashy, or political... They were just nice kids that others simply wanted to be around more. The way life should be! Cliques were not an issue making it easy to be friendly with multiple groups of friends. Previously my dd had great difficulty making friends, at times asked to betray one friend to gain another. At Ohlone it was easy and she found many good friends. In the past my dd strongly protected her individuality and right to act differently (why conform to be like people who treated her meanly) and had her self esteem pummeled for it. She blossomed and had her wounds healed at Ohlone. Special education was quickly offered and carried out generously. The providers were very good and effective. Having a single teacher for 2 grades only helps with that. Previously, teachers were just getting to know my dd well when it was time to move on to the next one. Having been bullied, my dd was very sensitive to detecting it. She didn't see any. One parent told me that when it happened in a class, the teacher took the time to write a play in which the bullies got the roles of bullied kids to understand how it might feel. That took care of it. Where my dd used to think that the world was full of mean, unempathetic people, she now has a lot of hope and the self esteem to believe she can help the world be better. I credit that 100% to Ohlone. It actually brings a tear to my eye that somewhere there is a school producing the next generation of assets to communities. It's now being realized that soft skills are key indicators to future success. This school really excels, all the while getting top test scores and not teaching to the tests so much. Truly the best school I've ever seen and may ever see.
Wonderful school, great staff, great community and environment, but the children are not academically challenged. Many of the fifth graders are not fully ready to enter middle school. I guess the middle school teachers are the ones that work hard with our kids to bring them up to middle school standards.
Ohlone is truly unique, I can't say enough good things about it. It has brought out the best in our children, educating them towards self-confident curious learners and creative problem-solvers. The teachers' dedication is second to none, they understand the children, and every child is given the opportunity to reach his or her full potential. As an aside: Even though they don't 'teach to the test', my children's test scores went up after switching to Ohlone from a different (comparable) school.
This "choice" school is truly a gem. We have had 2 of our children attend Ohlone. We have been able to compare this school with another private school where we sent our oldest child. Ohlone instills a love of learning, independence, and initiative that the private school was unable to provide. They adhere to their philosophy and project based learning is taken very seriously. There is also an emphasis on whole child development.
This school is fantastic. With mixed grade levels, students are able to work at different levels of work and be supported by older kids and help younger students. It is a public comprehensive program encompassing the humanities, sciences and arts. Best of all - the school has a farm where students learn about growing and eating healthy food and taking care of small farm animals. It's the best!
They actually teach at Ohlone, not just get through the day. I don't think I realized just how wonderful the place was until I was exposed to other schools. Both of my children who have gone have really become motivated to learn for its own sake. So instead of stopping when they did just well enough to get an A, they were always motivated to learn and do more. And despite not having homework every night (maybe because of it?) have done really well in middle school and beyond. The teachers are really supported to do some of their own thing -- so one class did claymation, another does Shakespeare, some go different places for the simulation. It does depend on the teacher, but that is part of what makes the teachers motivated -- and the school better.