I feel that there are a number of new teachers working to establish a system and style that works. There are fewer established teachers that have it down and are good at it. I have really respected almost all of the teachers my children where assigned, but they are mostly gone. Of the teachers that aren't so great they are still there- so best of luck ...
There is a cultural aspect that I have noticed that is very clear to those who are new to the state, and seems to manifest itself as the children get older. This can be hard on kids that are not part of the prevailing culture. So honesty, fairness and and integrity become quite subjective.
I have had children in this school for the past eight years, and have seen a definite change. Instrumental and foreign language programs whittled away, and classrooms bursting with kids (as many as 32!) thanks to open enrollment. People driving their kids from all over the valley add to the traffic before and after school making it a total nightmare. The teacher turnover rate has been increasing steadily, so the reassurance and dependability of knowing the staff is no longer a given. But my biggest gripe is with the upper grades, lack of qualified science and math teachers. When my children started at this school the upper grade teachers were amazing and inspiring, my older child whizzed through her advanced math classes. I would not say that now. My younger child entered Fifth grade excelling at math and loving science,left sixth grade unprepared and unenthused about both. I know talking with other parents our experience isn't a unique one.
I think Oakridge teachers are slipping and it's not necessarily their fault. There has been an upheaval in teacher loss in recent years due to retirement, jobs taken elsewhere or teachers forced out. The replacements are new to teaching (not to say they won't be good with some experience) or tenured and the school doesn't have much say in those. This trend will continue for a few more years I fear as some of the best teachers at the school are aging and looking to retire soon. Also, class sizes are quite large, especially in the lower grades. This is in part due to the Music program which requires us to take on more students for funding. The national average and recommendation for Elementary class size is about 24, Oakridge has many classes of 28, 29. Some of that is set down by Granite District as they want their class sizes to be around 27 but we are even larger than that. This also puts a large strain on teaching quality when they have so many kids in the classroom and many distractions, especially in the lower grades. Thank heavens for parent classroom and reading volunteers, I think most teachers are very grateful to have such excellent parental support!
I think Oakridge is a good, not excellent or great but definitely solid. I think parent support is paramount in motivating their own students and volunteering in the classroom and schools. I would hope that better quality teachers can replace teachers who leave and that class sizes can normalize in the coming years. I love that it has Arts and Music but have been very disappointed with the lack of science in the classroom and as an extra. I have heard that Lego League is coming for the upper grades and hopefully that will fill a void for those kids really interested in technology. I think the Principal, though kind and thoughtful, could use a little more backbone when handling tough teacher and parent issues. That might come with experience but I do wonder if "passive and placating" is how Principals are trained these days. I can't speak to that but I hope to see a bit more "fight" administratively. I would like to see more neighborhood and community kids walking/biking to/from school. My children walk daily--rain or shine and it's important for their development, independence and in learning responsibility. Obviously I understand many live far or out of boundary but we walk past many houses where parents are pulling out of their driveways to drive to school. This is a safe neighborhood and if we see more kids out walking, the safer it will feel for those afraid (safety in numbers). It will also feel like less of a "drop off" school to those concerned and is better for the environment.
Oakridge is an amazing school. Our current principal is very inter-active with all students and parents. She has taken the time to get to know our community and supported us in a very positive way. Our teachers are nothing but top notch! If you have any concerns, I suggest that you talk with them, it has always worked for me. The only way that wouldn't work for you if is you have your own personal agenda. If so, take advantage of the open enrollment and find a better fit for your child. You would be doing all of us a favor!
Part I: Regarding the September 4th comment and those addressing it: I am a "drop-off" parent who selected Oakridge (thank goodness for open enrollment!) for my children starting at kindergarten because I was so impressed with the combination of strong academics and arts programs. I am distressed to see art, music, dance, drama and physical education programs disappearing from our schools and am thrilled that the Oakridge parents, teachers and administration still value these for our students. I was nervous about the change in principal and it's potential effect on these programs. I've been pleased to see that she is supporting the unique programs we value. I have also been very impressed with the warm relationship she's formed with students as well as her maturity and diplomacy with parents. She has my full support. She stepped into some awfully large shoes and I hope the community will continue to support her as she gains more experience. (continued in Part II...)