Our son attended Oak Valley Center 4th through 9th grade. When he entered in 4th grade he was having very severe problems. We moved for my job to the best public high school in North Carolina and our son did very well. He graduated this year and will be going to college. His mother and I believe this was only possible because of the great work Oak Valley did. We both have advanced experience in special education and there are only a few schools in the nation that can do what Oak Valley does. The only problem is that it is extremely difficult to get in. They have very limited spaces. There are lots more kids that need help like Oak Valley provides, but there are only a few schools like Oak Valley to help them. Oak Valley needs to be cloned and replicated until there are enough schools like it to meet the needs of all the kids. This would require a fair amount of extra money from Fairfax County, but they should do it anyway.
Oak Valley has been very difficult for my son. They do a poor job at supporting kids who are being bullied. All they do is give the student a reflection sheet and place them in an isolated room, hoping that everything will change. Its like they don't know how to handle teenage problems. I wouldn't recommend this place at all.
OVC does a good job of behavior management and a social skills training. The staff are very caring and really provide individual support for each student. The program lacks a science lab, native foreign language teachers (the math teacher is teaching spanish), a modern internet interactive experience for both students and parents in terms of homework and grades/feedback, and lacks any extracurricular experiences such as sports and clubs. While it conveys the basic academic material far better than public schools, the state of special education funding seems to severely limit the overall student experience. I would recommend the school for children with emotional challenges as one of the only outlets for academic learning.
OVC has been WONDERFUL..my son's school experience has gone from constant administrative referrals and suspensions in public school to actual LEARNING!!!! His teachers are really engaged, he is proud of his academic achievments and comes home with stories about his good interactions with his new friends as well as the staff.
Oak Valley Center provided my son a safe environment to discover a love of learning. He went there for his Junior year, only; however, the one year was enough to teach him skills he needed to cope in the regular classroom, and actually begin to consider college.
My Son attended this school until recently. He has had a long history of emotional behavior issues and has attended other schools similar to this one. His first year went pretty well and he really connected to the staff. This year is his senior year and he has one VA Standards of Learning (SOL) test to complete and his credits for the year. This year has been very different, as there was a large turnover of teachers and admin staff. He has had a very hard time connecting with the current staff. Instead of turning this into a diatribe, trashing OVC, I will only tell you what not to expect. 1) Don't expect much in the way of emotional support for teen problems. 2) Don't expect much in the way of flexibility. It is OVC's way or the highway. 3) Don't expect a real physical education program.
Oak Valley has been a miracle in our son's life--school has gone from being a miserable ordeal to something he looks forward to. The staff--the principal, teachers, TAs, counselors, everyone--are wonderful and supportive, and provide lots of structure and consistency. Great communication, strong academics (my son is way past me on math and science at this point), and they really love the kids. The first time we visited, Dr. V (the principal) opened every classroom door--and every student was engaged. That says a lot. Because of size, there are no extracurricular activities and I really wish they had more of a music program (they learn and perform a couple of songs at the end of the year) but overall, this school has changed our lives and that of our son, and we cannot recommend it highly enough.