To say that our experience has been frustrating would be accurate. We received an acceptance letter for kindergarten at 8am, then a letter saying that they had "inadvertently" sent out acceptances to everyone who had applied and that they would have the actual results to us by 4pm. At 5:30 we received a rejection letter. I have very serious doubts about the competence and ability of the staff and administration here after my interactions with the school during this fiasco. I think we may have dodged a bullet and will not consider Opal school at any point going forward.
I'm a second year teacher at Opal. I came to Opal because I fell in love with the educational philosophy; however, that philosophy and culture to not extend to the staff of the Opal school. The founding teachers push non-founding teachers so hard we all break at some point and the teacher turnover is the highest in Portland Public Schools The open dialogue and imagination are only available to founding teachers. The rest of us are berated to conform. As a school with high teacher to student ratio and one that allows children of teachers to be in the program many of the students are children of Opal School teachers. Many of whom have behavioral issues and are untouchable. Overall I still love the philosophy of education and am inspired by some of the amazing dialogues and work with my peers. However, what has been demanded of me has been challenging as the work is great; however it is the how it has been demanded that is wounding and difficult to handle and why a number of the 2 and 3 year tenured teachers will be leaving after this year.
My son is repeating Kindergarten in public school after having attended kindergarten at the Opal Museum School. Montclair Elementary did an assessment on my six-year old son and here are the results: "When Lucas entered Montclair he knew the names of 19/26 of the upper case letters, 12/26 of the lower case letters, 7/21 of the consonant sounds, and 0/5 of the short vowel sounds. He did not know any of the approximately 40 Kindergarten sight words. As of yesterday, he now knows 25/26 upper case letter names, 23/26 lower case letter names, 13/21 consonant sounds, and 4/5 of the short vowel sounds. He knows 5 Kindergarten sight words, all of the ones we have learned to date. He is able to count to 29. On September 17 he was given the Oregon Statewide Kindergarten Assessment. I only have the raw scores from this assessment. Lucas was able to correctly name 12 letters in one minute. He was able to give the sounds for 5 letters in the next one minute timed test. In addition to these two measure, a math test was given. It included simple counting to 10, simple addition and subtraction to 10, and number sequence to 20. Lucas was able to answer 8/16 problems correctly. " Sad!
The Opal School has been a tremendous gift to our family, and I cannot say enough positive things about the education our child is receiving there. We have one child in our neighborhood school and one at Opal, and wow....the differences are incredible. Opal is truly a magical place, and approaches education from so many different directions -- social, emotional, academic, artistic, physical. Out child continues to grow as a confident, sensitive and inquisitive collaborator in her education, and this is in large part to the competent and brilliant educators at Opal. She knows deeply that she has the power to learn, and even at 5 years old she is able to articulate that confidence and chart a path forward. The teachers and staff are hugely committed to the school and to children and families. We have been welcomed into the community with open arms, and have been provided with loads of opportunities for volunteering and other social events. Our child is absolutely thriving at Opal. We feel hugely grateful that this school exists in Portland, and also that they work so hard to share their research and insight with other local programs and schools.
Opal is amazing unique school. It supports kids learning of social responsibility and community involvement. I am confused by the bullying comment. Kids are given space to interact with each other and carefully guided when conflicts arise. The test scores might be poor in 3rd grade, but they are stellar by 5th, as the school does not "teach to the test." The downside to Opal is it only goes to 5th grade.
Opal school is truly amazing! My son started at Opal in second grade and is now a fifth grader. What I've noticed about Opal is that it produces highly engaged learners who are self confident and happy. What my son is taking away from Opal is truly invaluable. I couldn't be happier.
Stay Away! While the classrooms look lovely, children are not learning. Children in 3rd grade cannot do basic math or read! Children can barely pass the OAKS test (which is *not* hard). Children learn bullying here. You have to pay a 300 dollar materials fee!!! Stay away!
My children attended Opal School for their elementary school years. I cannot say enough wonderful things about their school experience. My children were supported and nurtured by all of their teachers throughout their school experience. The teachers, staff and parents are a dedicated community of people who care deeply about educating our children. My children benefited tremendously. I can confidently say that my children know how to think, ask questions, inquire, be creative and have a strong sense of who they are and the gifts that they bring to their community. It truly is a place that is preparing children for the 21st century! I learned so much as well, and only wish that Opal School went all the way through high school!
Opal school has continued to amaze me. My child is attending for his second year. The children are treated with the upmost of respect, the curriculum is intentionally designed to inspire and challenge children, the environment is very beautiful and the educators continue bringing leading ideas in education to the classroom. It is very rare to find a school that is so committed to excellence in so many ways.
Enticed by the Reggio Amelia philosophy and CM2 location we left a "mediocre" public school to attend Opal. After a short time, we were substantially and consistently disappointed with the overall school culture created by inexperienced teachers, troubled leadership, a lack of social boundaries allowed with the children, plus a very poor practical interpretation of the Reggio philosophy. My child received report cards that revealed the teacher knew nothing about him. And worse, high marks were given where no testing or even lessons were given which I can only guess was to meet PPS test scores to remain funded by supposedly meeting benchmarks. Many of the kids there since preschool were illiterate in second grade. Classroom management was so unskilled that at times it resembled a sort of Opal "Lord of the Flies". Returning to public elementary was a relief. Run, Run, Run from Opal.