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Welcome to Oak Knoll School! As you walk onto our campus, you will notice the focus is on the whole child. Learning is not limited to our classrooms, but is accessible everywhere on campus. You will see children of various ages working together and learning from each other. You will see students who love to read, as evidenced by the large number of students who stroll around book in hand. In the halls, you will hear children as young as five playing violin, or classes of kids engaged in a debate, or small groups of students discussing their reading. If you glance into the open doors of our classrooms, you will observe students using technology as a learning tool, students engaged in dynamic lessons, and individual students sitting with their teachers receiving targeted instruction. In the Science Lab you will see students working hands-on with experiments and asking and answering scientific questions. You will notice students taking the initiative in tending our school garden, planting seeds, and caring for the chickens. You will see students running the broadcast studio that produces the KNOL morning news and will watch the student tech crew doing sound checks behind the scenes at school-wide assemblies and performances. At recess, you will find children self-directed and participating in various games, sports and other activities, such as visiting our bustling school library. During this time, you might also notice groups of kids in the Gaga (Israeli dodge ball) pit, which students advocated for, designed according to geometric principles, and then built during math classes. Oak Knoll is a big school of over 700 students that feels small, personal and focused on its mission: every child an exemplary scholar, a valued friend, and a courageous citizen.
Smart is not something you are; smart is something you get through hard work. This slogan epitomizes the school’s Mindset philosophy. We teach Dr. Carol Dweck’s “Mindset” research to our students and parents. They understand that intelligence is not an asset determined at birth, and that the brain is pliable and capable of amazing accomplishments with practice and perseverance.
Oak Knoll believes in the power of relationships. We have implemented specific strategies for building long-term student/teacher relationships. Teachers tutor every student in the classroom who has not yet reached proficiency. Tutoring is designed around academic goals and is also used as a critical time to deepen relationships.
Developing exemplary scholars may be impossible without focusing on the whole child. We also emphasize students becoming valued friends and courageous citizens as part of our school mission. We keep rules to a minimum, emphasize self-directedness and creativity, and dig deeply into yearly school themes designed to build citizenship. We believe in restorative discipline (there has not been a school suspension in 4 years). Our fervent belief in inclusion for students with disabilities has helped create an appreciation and celebration of unique differences. As we take our students on this educational journey, we emphasize strategies that develop a deep sense of compassion and confidence. As one student put it, “I love how you can try new things here and nobody makes fun of you.”
Dear Oak Knoll Parents,
I hope this finds you enjoying some time together with your family. As summer comes to an end, I would like to welcome you back to Oak Knoll for another great year. For some of you, it will be the first of many! We welcome all of our new families and are confident that you will quickly feel at home.
I can still clearly remember the feelings I experienced as a child preparing to start school each year. I was excited to meet my teacher, see who was in my class, use that fresh box of crayons, and wear my new pair of school shoes! For me, not a lot has changed because I have that same enthusiasm about returning to Oak Knoll this year as principal. I will still be wearing new school shoes, but the reasons for my excitement have evolved.
Here are my top 10 reasons why I am exhilarated about Oak Knoll for the 2014-15 school year:
- Oak Knoll students make me smile, they work hard and impress me with their thinking, capabilities and great ideas. I look forward to seeing each and every bright face on Wednesday August 20th for our first day!
- My good friend and co-principal, Mr.Ackerman's wise presence and incomparable experience.
- Miss Leff, our new Vice Principal is joining the Oak Knoll team. Miss Leff comes to us from Encinal School where she was a classroom teacher. Miss Leff earned her B.A. and Masters degrees, as well as her teaching credential from Stanford University. Leah is a teacher leader, a promoter of Design Thinking, and a great addition to the Oak Knoll staff.
- The energy, intellect, and determination of our AMAZING teachers and staff. Thanks to their efforts and skills, Oak Knoll is now a California Distinguished School!
- The smiling faces of Mrs.Snow and Mrs.Petersen, our incredible office staff. If you ever have questions about anything, Barb Snow and Cathy Petersen are your answer!
- Mr.Barraza's calm voice over the walkie-talkie saying, "Sure, no problem." Victor Barraza is our custodian, and thanks to him and his team, our school sparkles!
- The intellectual conversations and planning with staff, parents, and community members to ensure that we accomplish our school mission: every student an exemplary scholar, a valued friend, and a courageous citizen.
- The innovative spirit of starting a new school year, and working with our School Site Council to devise a comprehensive Site Plan with academic goals that stretch all students.
- Creating a strong home-school connection, because we all know it takes a village! Make sure to follow me on Instagram@oakknoll2014 for quick and easy snapshots of what's happening on campus.
- Our dedicated and organized PTO and MPAEF parents who have been planning for our return, ready to run with the joint campaign! The PTO and the MPAEF continue their collaboration to make Oak Knoll the best it can be for our kids. Donating to the PTO provides our school with curriculum enrichment, field trips, community building events, and well-supplied classrooms. Your donations to the MPAEF place more teachers and specialists in our school. Without your support and the help from our PTO and the MPAEF, our school would not be extraordinary.
As always, my door is open to you as a school leader, an educator and a fellow parent. I look forward to our continued partnership. Please join me in the excitement that this year holds.
Principal, Oak Knoll School