I am a substitute teacher, so my perspective is "an inch deep and a mile wide," but Open World Learning was my favorite school to work at. As a sub, I can quickly tell which schools treat their students with respect and which schools don't: In so many schools, the students are suspicious and defensive, and I have a difficult time helping them with anything. Although Open World Learning is very diverse both culturally and in terms of learning styles and challenges, I always had very interesting, honest, challenging and intellectual conversations with students of all kinds. My impression is that of a community where students take responsibility for their own educational choices.
My child attends this 40 year old, small project-based school in St. Paul and it is a great fit. The staff is caring, models and expects quality work and makes an effort to get to know all students as unique individuals. They have a strong emphasis on social/emotional development and this creates a culture where everyone belongs. This school is very diverse both ethnically and economically and all kids seem to do well here -- there don't seem to be the cliques that other schools have. The Expeditionary Learning model (new within the last 3 years) is an excellent fit with the founding "open" philosophy. I guess the biggest plus for our family is that my child feels known, appreciated and is challenged to work at a high level.
Open World Learning Community (OWL) is a small school community where everyone is known and matters. Students work in multi-age classes rooms allowing them to move ahead in subjects in which they excel. By high school advanced students often attend post secondary schools for some of their classes. The environment is warm and welcoming with no cliques. It truly is an overlooked gem in the district.
Open school once was a place for my child. New policies restrict the freedom my child can not find in any other high school, but its outstanding diversity is just the type of community I want my child to be in.
My children love the playground, but the school community leaves a great deal to be desired. It sits in the middle of a residential area, yet there is no connection to the residents. I have chosen to send my children elsewhere.
My children have attended St. Paul Open for 2 years. This school is in a major transition. It has potential to be a good school...but I don't see it happening anytime soon. If you are looking for your child to be challenged, it won't happen here. There is very little parent involvement. If your child wishes to play sports he or she is bused to Central High to do so. The bar is set so low here that any student can succeed. If you are looking for a school that won't discipline your child and passing is good enough, then this is the school for you.
My daughter has thrived at Open School. She has excelled in areas (extracurricular and academic) she might not have gotten a chance to experience at a larger public school. Open has addressed her learning disability (dyslexia) with an understanding and positive attitude. I appreciate that the staff at Open has gone out of their way to help my daughter succeed.
My kids have been attending Open School since kindergarten and second grade. I specifically chose this school for the cohesiveness that it provides in the school community. I think a great deal of the problems that Open School has experienced in recent years has been due to an ineffectual principal. I'm hopeful the school will return to it's founding principles with the recent change in leadership.
This is the best I have ever encountered for my children they are all truly happy there. The good thing there is it's sturtured and yet let's children learn as they wish. The teachers are magnifecent and know alot about the children there. The other fun thing is everybody knows everybody there. There's a friend for everyone. it's the most non-conformist school in existence. every body can find some measure of acceptance there. I will admit on the downside the principal is a bit weak in her leadership and the school is not as open as it once was but it is still a palce that let's children be themsleves. the best acomplisment I think is the sight council so parents can have a direct influence on what goes on in the school.
The school has poor leadership, a frustrated staff, and is not truly an 'Open' School. It really is false advertising in that regard. The small size is a definite benefit, however. The teachers are excellent teachers and because of the small size are able to have relationships with students and make connections that are important to helping students succeed.
Sadly, Open School is not what it once was, nor what it's name purports to be. It is not an Open School, nor does it allow for much self-directed learning at all anymore. The fun, lively, unique Open School that pushed kids to grow no longer exists. It's a sad thing. The teachers have been, in our experience, excellent teachers and our children have done well there, but we do mourn what the school lost. We have chosen not to send our younger children to Open for this very reason. They really should change the name. If you are looking for self-directed, open school like education, there are some great charter schools out there.
Honestly, when we initially chose this school for our son we were thrilled with the 'concept' that was given to us. We were told that this is a progressive school based on the 'Open Education' education philosophy. The principal of the school herself has been one to say 'This is NOT an open school'. The teacher that we have experience is a fantastic teacher, and I have found that 90 percet of the teachrs truly started at Open to make a difference, but if you are looking for a progressive, alternative to traditional education, Open school is not what you are looking for.
Open School is a school where students can feel open and comfortable, regardless of who they are or what social circle they are a part of. Open school emphasizes community. Open school greatly encourages creativity and individuality. Prospective students should be self motivated, respectful, flexible, and open to new ideas. Open school grants students much freedom and it is very important that students do not abuse this freedom, so the school can continue to operate in that way. I would recommend this school for anyone who feels frustrated with traditional overly structured or rigid public/private schools. I am a former student who had lots of problems at traditional schools because they were so big and they did not respect my insight on what I needed. When I got to open school, it worked because I came into it respectful and open minded, a must. Good luck!
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