This is our 6th year at OGE, and I've seen a progressive decline in leadership and methodology. We've gone through 4 principals, with the current one being a non-existent presence. Previous principals were pro-active and visible in hallways, at functions and events, and engaged and communicated with parents. Due to the principal turnover, there has been some teacher attrition, and new teachers have not yet found their rhythm within OGE.
Most discouraging is the establishment of rules to control students at times when they should be allowed to let off energy. In addition to the mind numbing classical music silent lunchtime, my child's class is regularly made to walk laps at recess instead of playing, because though only a few students were "talking in the hallway" or "acting up at lunch", the entire class is punished as a group. The "acting out" behavior in itself doesn't seem enough to warrant punishment for the "few involved", let alone everyone.
For the past three years, OGE instituted a rotation system in 4th grade where students have 4 teachers. It's taught our child to be flexible and to deal with multiple learning styles (positive), yet the coordination and communication among teachers seems to falter, causing homework overload, multiple assignments and testing on same days and general lack of awareness as to the individual needs of students. Parent teacher conferences are only staffed by the homeroom teacher, who has limited information for other classes.
Our last child at OGE has increasingly struggled due to these and numerous other reasons, leading us to explore alternatives for the next year.
I chose this school over private school for my two daughters. Great school, amazing parental involvement. Would like to see more "specials" like library and foreign language and more after school offerings (golf/tennis). Love the school overall though.
Principal turnover is terrible for a school and we are on our third Principal in the past four years. Our new Principal seems to bring little direction, personality or presence to her position and rarely interacts with the children or the parents. An inordinate amount of focus on being quiet at all times (even during lunch) and a minimal amount of outdoor time (20 minutes) doesn't allow for socialization or time for kids to develop relationships with each other. I appreciate the passion our teachers bring to their positions, but also feel that at a 1 teacher per 25 kids ratio, that the class sizes are too large to focus on each child's individual needs or to give extra attention to kids who need it- and they all need it at one point or another. If you were thinking of moving to this area solely for the school I would urge you to reconsider.
I believe Oak Grove is a good school, however our experience was not great. My child began in kindergarten with a new teacher who was so focused on him sitting quietly every second of his school day that it significantly affected his confidence. During the in class assessments, if he became distracted and provided a delayed answer, it was marked as if he had not mastered the material. Many of the older teachers lacked patience in the same respect, not knowing how to channel the energy of the young boys. There is even a time out table in the middle of the cafeteria that was often full with boys who were talking during the classical music period, placed there by the ever so stern cafeteria monitors. It was not until we switched classrooms that we experienced a teacher with more patience, and were able to see the spirit of Oak Grove that many speak of. I do have to say that as a minority I feel as if my son stood out more (in the way that a red sports car speeding on the highway gets the ticket while speeding with the other cars). My husband and I both observed him at school numerous times, even pointing out to his former teacher that she missed other kids doing the exact same thing. She omitted telling us when our son was taunted or hit by other students, and pushed him once which she was unable to deny when confronted in the presence of the principal and vice principal. I honestly lost faith in her. I tried to not let it cloud my judgement regarding the school, but it's difficult. If you are a minority and thinking of choosing this school, or parents of very wiggly, active children, I suggest the following: Be involved. Ensure that they know your expectations. Of course hold your young one accountable, but hold them more accountable.
For us, it was overwhelming to hear our son say that he was not looking forward to school. And that he knew he was going to have another bad day. For that reason we are going private, to a place with a smaller teacher to student ratio and greater transparency.