REVIEW OF Oak Bridge Academy BY parent, Colleen Coghlin
- Date of Review
June 09, 2022
Gr. 5 - Gr. 6
(5) Student Experience
My child has had a fantastic experience at Oak Bridge Academy. He loves that there are fewer kids than in a standard public school so things are not as overwhelming and it does not get as loud as a standard classroom. Having registered behaviour therapists in the class provides the additional support that he needs on a daily basis. With the smaller amount of kids in the classroom, they can get to know each other better and feel more comfortable with the group of peers. For the most part, the same kids stay together year-over-year to enhance their bonding. My child has learned so much in regards to his emotional growth over the past two school years and that has given him a significant amount of confidence in himself and varying situations that used to cause him difficulty.
(5) School Leadership
The leadership and administration of the school are the best I have worked with. They are always available and willing to discuss anything pertaining to your child or the school in general. They are very responsive when emails or messages are sent in. They are very supportive to all of the staff and children and my child always has positive things to say when asked about them. They are very on top of communications to go out to the parents and anticipate questions that we may have. We have had discipline issues with our child and the administration was very fair and worked with us and our doctors to determine what could be done to assist in the situations.
We are very happy with the quality of instruction at Oak Bridge. The teachers we have encountered are always upbeat and pleasant to deal with. The video parent-teacher conferences we had demonstrated the passion that the teachers have for the school and all of the children that they are teaching. We receive copies of all of the assignments through the Class Dojo system. We also receive almost daily pictures of what is happening in the classroom. As the class size is small, the teachers are able to tailor the learning to the child and provide the extra support they need. The children are able to move to different class levels for subjects as needed, even being able to move up grade levels to help challenge their learning.
I would say the academic strength is that they can tailor the learning to the child to make sure the appropriate material is being instructed. Whether that is moving them down a grade level to help foster confidence and bring them up to the appropriate level or providing them with extra work to help keep the child engaged and work ahead. I feel the school cultivates a non-competitive culture where the children know and understand that everyone learns at a different pace and level. That will help the kids to understand and prepare them for life's next steps of working with individuals of all abilities and levels. The one academic weakness may be that due to the nature of the students, doing projects on a group level can be challenging. However, overall I don't believe that will affect anything long-term and I feel that Oak Bridge definitely will be preparing my child for life's next steps of integrating back into a traditional high school.
Extracurricular opportunities may be the one area that is lacking. There are some groups/clubs that operate (which COVID did put a damper on). However, due to the nature of the children that attend the school, there are no athletic clubs or teams that operate at a high level. So that needs to be looked at outside the school if your child is athletically inclined. There is not a competition focus at the school for clubs and sports so that would have to be sought elsewhere.
It is a small student body with only about 5 classes and 50 kids. It makes for a very tight-knit community. The kids are all very accepting and inclusive. My child has had opportunities to go and help teach certain subjects or material to other classes! With COVID, the students were only spending time with their own class, however, the restrictions are lifting and more cross-socializing is happening now. From what I have seen, the students all get along and enjoy being with each other at the school. My son was invited to his first birthday party in years this year which meant a lot to him. What stands out to us is that the students are all generally happy when we see them at drop-off and pick-up.
(5) School Life
The overall quality of student life at Oak Bridge Academy is outstanding! My son loves to go to school now and is racing to get into the school each day at drop-off. He feels much more accepted for who he is and that he does not have to try to adapt to the typical school system. He has built a level of trust with the teacher and registered behaviour therapists and truly enjoys being there each day. As it is such a small school, the kids in all grades get to know each other which fosters such an inclusive and accepting student body. The students are also well known to all support staff. They have amazing field trips/activities such as horseback riding as part of the class schedule and trips to the butterfly conservatory and African Lion Safari.
The parent community is great! Since COVID, we haven't had as much of a chance to get to know all the other parents, however, everyone we have met is very friendly. I know that we can reach out to any of the parents to discuss school/life and they would be more than willing to lend an ear. We are provided with a list of emails for all the parents in the class and a location map of where people live. This helps facilitate outside get-togethers if you choose or arrange to carpool to the school. There are numerous ways that parents can get involved in the school from initial set-up to fundraisers & committees. As the class sizes are small, most of the field trips do not require parental supervision.
(4.5) School Location
The school location is in south Cambridge, which even with us living in Elmira only takes about 40min to get there. It is located within a church building that is a stand-alone building on a corner. However behind the building is a huge soccer field, baseball diamond and climber. This allows the kids plenty of space for outside activities. The students do not venture beyond the school grounds unless it is a planned field trip.
The admission process I found to be very calm and reassuring. We applied at a time when we did not know what we were going to do for school when the traditional school system was not meeting our needs and we had to pick up our son each day. As soon as we reached out to Oak Bridge Academy to inquire about the school and get more information, they were very responsive and helpful and felt like a weight/stress was being lifted. My son and I were able to visit the school for a short tour and discuss more of what the school had to offer. Then we filled out forms and the school did a 1/2 day trial to make sure that it would be a good fit for our son within their school system. After that, we completed additional paperwork and discussions. But it was NOT stressful and we felt very supported through the entire process.