Oak Haven School
3. PORTRAIT OF Oak Haven School AT THE TIME OF THE VISIT
Tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sac, Oak Haven School is located in a small residential area of eastern Coventry, Rhode Island. The surrounding neighborhood is one of closely built ranch style homes. Many students walk to this neighborhood school. Their smiling faces are reflected in the murals of smiling children painted on the outside of the building.
When the children enter, they immediately see the school-wide theme of “Journey Across the United States” that permeates the school. Red, white and blue banners, stars and flags are everywhere. The corridors are lined with colorful murals of dinosaurs and the solar system, remnants of school themes from previous years. These unifying themes are the first visible sign of the unified, supportive, cooperative spirit that lies within the school. Banners stating school beliefs and student responsibilities hang prominently on every classroom wall. The transfer of these guiding beliefs into action is quickly evident when students and teachers begin their day.
This positive learning environment vividly reflects the passion and dedication of the principal, teachers and support staff. Working together, many have implemented new instructional practices from looping to guided reading. Creative scheduling for some teachers has created common planning time for them to share their ideas and coordinate their instruction. However, hampered by lack of adequate support staff, time to plan with colleagues and professional development; these new teaching practices are just beginning to spread throughout the school. Instruction groups are changing from homogeneous to heterogeneous. Special education teachers are struggling to implement a more inclusive instructional model. Despite these factors, teachers proudly boast about the success of their students and the willingness of the staff to try new approaches.
While the building is clean and neat, it needs repair. Buckets of water and stained ceiling tiles are evidence that the roof leaks. The heat fluctuates greatly. Computers often do not work. Classroom space is limited. However, none of these factors deter the teachers from providing a learning environment “where great minds can grow.”
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