ODC really dropped the ball on my son. He is highly gifted in math but had struggled with writing and executive function skills. His second grade teacher thought he had dysgraphia but never suggested testing. His fourth grade teacher, who thankfully is no longer there, told him he was lazy and disorganized in front of the other kids. His fifth grade teacher told me that our son was one of the best math students he'd had and he would sometimes give him extra work to do, but for most of the time he was at ODC, he was never challenged in math. The only thing the school wanted to concentrate on was the fact that he was not doing well in language arts, and so consequently he began to hate school. We have since moved out of state and our son has gotten thorough testing, something that seemed impossible to have done in Virginia Beach, and he was diagnosed with high functioning Aspergers, which goes hand-in-hand with problems with executive function skills and attention problems. ODC (and Kemps Landing too) are great schools if your child is not asynchronous in development, but if they struggle with a subject, it's difficult to get a proper diagnosis and help.:
We LOVE Old Donation Center. Although the curriculum is based on the same city-wide curriculum as all other VB schools, it is wonderfully differentiated - complete systemic integration of scientific thinking, tons of project-based learning. Every unit includes projects which really enhance the depth of their knowledge and relates it to the real world. Teachers/Administrators are wonderful and caring... right down to the janitorial staff. Very strong parent/PTA involvement allowing for diverse special programs in-school (like the parent-run science lab) and after-school (lots of club options) and really fun activities creating a sense of community (since as a magnet school students live all over the City). Bussing is combined with Kemps Landing (Middle School) but those kids have been very friendly and helpful to the elementary kids. My only concerns are regarding dismissal. First, they dismiss non-bus-riders about 10 minutes before official dismissal time. Then, because of bus delays, the bus riders routinely wait another 30 minutes. Why lose those last 10 minutes of the day? Additionally, verification of who is picking up a child is not done at all in the car lines.
Amazing school - can't say enough good things about the level of differentiation and the quality of the teachers and administrators. The level of parent involvement is remarkable and the activities that are offered during and after school add to the already-stellar learning experience.
Despite the distance from home, we could not ask for a better learning environment for our child. Differentiated instruction across the board with the most engaging, hands-on learning that I have seen at any school. Devoted and extremely knowledgeable administrators, teachers, and staff along with enthusiastic parents and PTA. The extracurricular activities that are offered are also amazing as well.
An amazing experience. At this school they incorporate current events into class lessons. Alos they know what information is boring, and they reconize that. they try to make it fun. Like today, were were studying proper nouns and my teacher told us that she knew it was a boring topic, but she made all of our grammer problems into jokes! A great school and wonderfull support.
I am about done with my college career and looking back on my past, I have to give credit to ODC. I was a student there from the time they first opened as a full-time school when I was in 3rd grade until 5th grade. The rigor, challenge, and interesting nature of ODC led me to middle school at Kemps Landing Magnet School, then AP classes in high school, and finally to a full academic scholarship at ODU. Of course, I cannot attribute all of my academic success to my elementary days, but if I had to choose a point from which my success started, I would have to choose my time at ODC where I had the most memorable, supportive, and proud teachers and administrators. I can remember having to be bribed by my mother to agree to go to ODC full-time, but I am so grateful she did!
I've had 2 children here and we absolutely love this school and highly recommend it to anyone! the teachers are wonderful and they understand gifted kids! Don't let a long bus ride deter you - it is so worth it.