Oakwood School’s philosophy is simple. Every student should reach his potential in a safe, caring and nurturing environment. We stress four essential goals for each student:
- Achieve academic potential;
- Learn appropriate socialization skills;
- Engage in transition planning for the post high school world, and
- Have fun at school!
Along with a strong academic component, we help our students develop a positive self-image by creating an atmosphere where they can acquire emotional security, self-esteem and socialization skills. These critical skills are essential for a successful transition into the “adult” world.
Oakwood School is certified by the New Jersey Department of Education. A comprehensive middle and high school curriculum, incorporating the N.J. Common Core Curriculum Standards, is taught by our highly qualified staff in both self-contained and departmentalized classrooms. Two teachers and/or a certified educational paraprofessional teach in each classroom. Approximately two thirds of our staff hold Master level college degrees or higher. To facilitate the technology component of the Common Core Curriculum, each student has access to a Google Chromebook and Google Apps. Our teachers receive professional development in all areas of the Common Core Curriculum Standards. Our approximate 2-1 student to teacher ratio ensures that students receive an abundance of individualized and small group attention.
Some of our students have not been successful in school due to their delayed or lagging social and emotional disabilities. Some do not understand the meaning of “being reasonable.” Therefore, a major focus of our program is to teach students how to develop age-appropriate social skills. We achieve this through a school wide Character Development Curriculum, Positive Behavioral Support Program and a Collaborative Problem Solving approach. We also structure our day so there are brief periods to encourage students to engage in a variety of self-directed activities and projects such as sports, Art Club, Music Club, Kennel Club, etc. It is during these supervised activities that students learn reasonable and successful ways to relate with peers and staff. One of our philosophies is that “mistakes are an unexpected treasures,” if one learns and grows from his mistake. Additionally, during physical education classes, team sports encourage cooperation, sportsmanship, and the development of self-control.
Transition into the Adult World
Transition planning and implementation is a key component of our program and we accomplished it in a variety of ways:
- Mainstreaming back to sending district schools and/or county vocational schools;
- “Fast Start” at Brookdale College: This program is for academically proficient students over the age of 16. Students can enroll in a variety of non-matriculation courses which serve as an introduction to college level course work;
- Y Achievers Program: Oakwood School collaborates with the YMCA to bring The YMCA Teen Achievers Initiative Program to our students. This twenty week program motivates and encourages young adults by giving them the support, direction and opportunities to pursue their personal, academic and career goals. The goals of the Teen Achievers Initiative are:
- Emphasize the importance of completing high school
- Explore the world of employment and career choices
- Develop talent and leadership skills
- Provide positive role models
- Encourage the development of sound values and a sense of self
- Job Shadowing: In conjunction with local department stores, Oakwood School students will have the opportunity to “volunteer” their services and be “shadowed” by store employees who will help them learn specific workplace readiness skills and how to interact with co-workers and patrons.
- Work-Study Programs: In conjunction with sending districts, students are eligible to work part-time to help ensure a smooth transition into the workplace after graduation.
School can be Fun!
School doesn’t have to be all work and no play! We arrange our day so that students have fun! We play baseball, football, basketball, box ball and kickball. Each room has games, Google Chromebook, Internet access and some type of play station. Students can attend the Art Club, Music Club, Kennel Club or just chill! Classes take school trips throughout the year to Great Adventure, Medieval Times, Kateri Environmental Center, Thompson Park High/Low Ropes, etc. It is not unusual to find pizza in the classrooms after the Positive Behavioral Support coupons start to add up! We feel very strongly that educationally and emotionally challenged students need time to disengage from academics and engage in enjoyable activities they they choose!