Our goal is to engage each mind and heart, to inspire a lifelong passion for learning, and to instill compassion for others. The Oaks was founded on these tenets and we try to live up to them every day.
At The Oaks, education is a partnership of teachers, students and parents. We believe that emotional support is essential for a child to be able to take risks and make the mistakes necessary to master skills and build relationships. Teachers tap into children’s innate sense of fairness to help the class decide how to live and learn together. Beginning in kindergarten, children author their own code of conduct in a “Bill of Rights.” The students agree early that “Everyone has the right to play” and that “Everyone has a right to their feelings.” It is within such a secure environment that children can best test their intellectual skills and their social prowess.
We take pride in the small town we've created in the heart of a sprawling city. Through campouts, circuses and parking lot banter, parents are as much a part of the school's lifeblood as teachers and students. Their hard work in fund raising, in the classrooms and in governance helps the school thrive. We believe that when children see parents as part of the daily rhythm, scholarship and citizenship become family matters.
Our students take care of each other. That is not to say we always get along, but that we devote time to learning to live together peaceably and respectfully. Students learn that conflict can be a springboard to deeper understanding. That in turn cultivates a sense of trust so that students will support one another in their struggles and applaud one another for their triumphs. Through shared experiences, they embrace what we hold in common and honor what is unique in each of us.
We believe in reinventing the wheel or at least in having children take the wheel apart to see how it works and then challenging them to improve upon it. Our classrooms are engaging and intellectually stimulating. Such “experiential” classrooms are not always tidy or quiet. They require batteries and bulbs; solutions and slime; spider eggs, hamsters and the possibility of escape; scissors and glue to cut, paste and rearrange one’s thoughts; books and puppets with personality; missteps, hugs and the occasional epic battle of wills; and time -- time for tears of frustration, time to find the words, time to heatedly debate and time to quietly reflect. Beneath the bustle of activity or the quiet of concentration, classrooms are structured to convey a sense of logic, purpose and wonder.
The Oaks is a developmental school, which simply means that the teaching adapts to the child and not the other way around. We limit class size to allow teachers to design a structure that is dynamic and responsive to students’ interests and learning styles. We expect collaboration, accountability and hard work. We believe that students learn best when they are partners in their own education.
We want our students to revel in learning in the same way an acrobat loves the high wire, with its element of danger and moments of exhilaration. Education is not a possession; it is a process, and an imperfect one at that. We promote critical thinking and urge students to sift and weigh the evidence and consider the source.
At The Oaks, character development and moral depth inform everything else. We guide students as they learn to think for themselves, care for their community, and act on their convictions. Our goal is for the students to have the confidence to stand up for themselves, their ideas and each other.