This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Oyster-Adams Bilingual School4
Posted December 31, 2014
- a parent
Our daughter started in Kindergarten this year, and our experience has been pretty positive for the most part. We were excited to have the bilingual option as we've been trying to raise our child in a dual-language home and wanted to reinforce that academically. Many families come into Oyster viewing it as an alternative to private options that teach spanish...it is not. Oyster is very diverse, which can be a blessing and a curse for those interested in developing solid spanish-language skills. Many students enter as native speakers, while others have no exposure to spanish when they start. This means teachers often have to cater to lower levels for both Spanish and English. While the new administration says they're interested in differentiated instruction, the reality is that this is very difficult with large class sizes. Our child's spanish has actually gotten worse since starting here! However, Oyster is a wonderful environment with dedicated and passionate teachers, and a real community feel to it. She has made many friends and is developing well socially and emotionally, but we'll have to supplement the spanish learning in other ways.
The school is outstanding for its academics, diversity and bilingual immersion program. While all schools have pros and cons I believe that my child is getting a great education academically and socially that is comparable to any other public or private school in the area. We have friends with kids in other area schools, both public and private and they all complain about one thing or another. The complaints range from being unhappy with a teacher encounter or a particular policy. However, my daughter is thriving academically and she is now bilingual. So, the school is a great fit for our family.
We are at Oyster elementary this year (Kindergarten) and we have been VERY happy with the school! The teachers are wonderful and my daughter has made huge progress this year. I like that the teachers try to differentiate in the classroom through small groups so they are able to meet the needs of all kids wherever the child is at. I appreciate the use of field trips to make learning a bit more hands on. I have appreciated the school community and the efforts to support families along with children. Overall we are thrilled with the school!
The school has no leadership. Teachers are totally unsupported and left on the own battling their own problems with no support from their principal or from the rest of the very incompetent administration. As a result there are a number of growing discipline problems. The school does not have a consistent or effective behavior management system so children do whatever they want. This is particularly true in 5th grade this year. Overall, there is a tone of disrespect and disorganization across the building. The school runs thanks to the very competent and dedicated teachers not the administration. By 5th grade many parents take their children out in search of a more structured and organized middle school that handles problems like these more effectively.
We have had an awful experience with the Spanish Assistant Principal in the middle school campus who doesn't seem to be capable of managing discipline problems or anything else for that matter. Our child has been suffering from constant bullying from the very beginning of the year and nothing seems to be done by either the administration of the school counselor. We are not impressed by the incompetency of the administration to handle these matters. It is incredibly frustrating for parents and students.
We agree with the review below that the environment is that of a big family. To be honest, that is not enough for us. It is important that there is a nurturing environment where the kids feel safe but no when the academics are put at risk. We have been very disappointed with the school's policy of "one size fits all" where kids who have the potential do not get challenged once they get to Middle School. We are also shocked by the incompetency of both assistant principals (one of them has been very rude to us) and their uninspiring principal. The ongoing and increasing discipline problems that don't seem to get resolved are also a problem. As, one parent points out, there are not real consequences for those who do not follow the rules. I agree that most of the teachers are excellent and very committed to the bilingual program but there is not much they can do with so little support from their administration. You can sense their frustrations as soon as you enter the school.
I am well aware that Oyster Adams is not for everyone. It is fairly chaotic, zero leveled math except for one pretty low-key eighth grade Algebra 1 class, and yes, some questionable teachers. But honestly, this school is home. The environment is that of a big family. Everyone loves everyone and tries to make them happy and smart and wonderful. It's not a touchy-feely kind of support, it's more that you know you're loved when you walk in those doors. OA kids are fiercely loyal, unbelievably intelligent, unified, and more than prepared for the real world. It may not be "challenging" or have a GT program, but the unflinching devotion of everybody in these schools is palpable. The middle school is small and by the time the kids graduate, they might as well be siblings. It's not that everything is about bonding, this bonding just happens and it is beautiful to watch. The kids cry on the last day of school. They high-five on the first. The teachers will do anything if the kid tries hard enough, and believe me, many of those teachers are unparalleled elsewhere. I cannot give OA enough praise. Try and look past the critics and into the heart of this school, and you will be blown away.
As the parent below points out, Oyster Adams is about uncertainty and miscommunication which is very frustrating for both parents and teachers. Classrooms are under resourced and teachers are overloaded with work (some of them have over 50 students) whilst the funds are directed to pay for 3 not very effective assistant principals. It would make more sense to invest that money in the classrooms to support the teachers instead. Besides this, discipline continues to be a problem as there are not real consequences for bad behavior. Bullying is also an issue. Students have a lot of power and they know it. The school is falling apart rapidly.
O-A is currently considered the best Spanish instruction in DCPS. It has a more diverse and educated Spanish-speaking population than other public and charter schools. Very international, tolerant, and welcoming to families of mixed heritages. However, it can be frustrating. The teaching model seems to change often because DCPS budget and staff models aren't applicable to O-A being in two locations. Elementary grades are split over a mile apart but DCPS gives one music teacher. Parents pay for a second one. No longer two teachers per classroom. Some teachers work with 50 children. High % of SPED but under-resourced. Middle school is VERY small. Principal is aware of challenges and growing bilingual competition from charters. My children have been happy and the community is generous with money and time. But the school is very dependent on families. More and more are exploring charters. But O-A continues to be the leading bilingual school in the city. If you can handle uncertainty and some miscommunication, but enjoy creativity and diversity, it can be a great school.