School Spotlight – Oakwood Elementary
In many schools, academic success is measured by test scores. But at Oakwood Elementary in Plymouth, academics aren't the only barometer of success.

"They don't just tell you something and go, 'okay, learn this right now,' said Jack Buboltz, a 4th grader. "There's just a lot of stuff here for you to do, so you wouldn't get bored easily."

Believe it or not, the benefits of this school extend beyond the anti-boredom factor. Yes, this school of 500 students is high performing, but at Oakwood it's paramount for staff members to ensure that students are in an environment where their social and emotional needs are met as well.

"We are a great big family," said Andi Cohen, a second-grade teacher, who has worked at Oakwood for 12 years. "We get to know each other. We build relationships with the students. And so the students feel not only in the classroom that they're welcome, and that they're at home, but throughout the school building as well, with any of the teachers and staff that are here."

Speaking of those students, Principal Sarebeth DeNeui says that the diversity of their population is what makes the school unique.

"Our school is pretty diverse, we have over 11 different languages that are spoken here," DeNeui said. "We do have a diverse population, so not only do we embrace that, but we celebrate that and we try to incorporate it into our everyday learning."

If the diversity wasn't enough to highlight, the school just celebrated one other accolade that put them on the map. On Sept. 28, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that Oakwood was one of 342 schools nationwide to be named as a National Blue Ribbon Honor School. The award honors schools where students achieve high learning standards, or make notable improvements in closing the achievement gap.

Oakwood's principal attributes that success to one thing.

"I think that it really comes down to relationships with students and families in that it does take more than just teachers and staff to be able to make a difference," DeNeui said.

Delane Cleveland

Oct. 3, 2017


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