How is OSCS different from our other local schools?
OSCS is a small school designed for young children grades K-5. The school has a warm welcoming culture, encouraging parent visits and participation. Each student will personally know and be comfortable with all of the ten Ocean Studies teachers and staff members. The school fosters cooperation between students rather than competition, and introduces research and investigative techniques beginning in kindergarten. Field trips and our hands-on marine lab are the keystones of our program that integrates science and the core subjects in a meaningful way.
What is the OSCS curriculum about, and how will you implement that part of your program without taking time away from the basics?
The OSCS curriculum is about integrating the study of our surroundings in science and math with a meaningful “blended Montessori” curriculum that aligns Florida State’s Common Core and STEM Curriculums. The school day includes daily reading, writing, mathematics, geometry and research into student topics of interest. Topics investigated include: marine biology, earth science, geophysics, energy, ecology and environmental science. At OSCS, the marine studies part of the curriculum is integrated into the school day.
Why is there no homework at OSCS?
OSCS students spend at least seven hours at school each day. Six of their most productive hours will be spent in academic learning activities. Many of the students have working parents and/or different after-school obligations that make it difficult to begin “homework” before dinner. The forced academic work of a tired student in the evening results in very little learning, does not build good study habits, and often results in negative family interaction when parents have to coax their child to complete the assignment.
Who will the teachers be?
Our highly qualified Florida State Certified elementary teachers have a strong love of mathematics and science, and many have Montessori certifications. We prefer to hire local teachers, but perform a Florida-wide search for teachers with extra educational certifications to cover our needs.
How do the kids get to school?
OSCS encourages community life around the school. When parents come into the building to drop off their child, they are able to communicate with the administration and teachers. OSCS believes that this communication builds a stronger, better school. The school will help arrange carpools for those who will not be able to drop off or pick up their child.
I'm a working parent, concerned about the prevalence of in-service days, half days, unusual holidays and furlough days when school is closed.
Consistency is one of the foundations of solid learning. We like the students to be at school from 8:30-3:30 five days per week for that reason. We do follow the district vacation calendar for the convenience of parents who have children in other schools. We do not have furlough days. We have three half days and one teacher in-service day in the school year. We may celebrate some unusual holidays but we celebrate them at school! Attending school five days each week creates a culture of consistency, order, and empowerment.
Do you offer school lunches?
We do not offer school lunches. We ask that the parents send a healthy lunch from home. We have a low-sugar policy and a milk/water drink only school. We also offer “Friday Lunches” as part of our fundraising program.
How can parents be involved with their child's education?
OSCS wants to encourage parents to participate in their child’s learning experience. We will need parent volunteers in the coming years as field trip drivers for our marine studies excursions, for reading listeners (a program which boosts individual student reading speed and comprehension), and help with our fundraising events. Many of our parent volunteers give time utilizing their talents, such as simple gardening, plumbing, provide food for events, etc.
Are there any fees or tuition we must pay?
OSCS is a free public charter school that does not charge any fees or tuition.
For working parents, is there before and aftercare available?
Before school care is from 7:00-8:30 am and after school from 3:30-6:00 pm; the adjacent private Montessori Island School runs the daycare program for elementary students. The elementary students will be separated from the Montessori Island School preschool children, and will have art and games in a different classroom and on a separate playground during these hours.
Are there after school optional activities or clubs?
The convenient dance studio next door offers various dance and gymnastics classes. Several classes and clubs will be offered after school with fees determined by and paid to the individual instructor by the parents.
Why do you group mixed age level classes?
Our classes are organized to group a two-and-three-year age span, which allows the younger students the stimulation of the older students, who in turn benefit by serving as role models for the younger students. Students stay in one class for two or three years, making the class culture very stable and allowing the students to develop a strong sense of community with their classmates and teachers. The age range also allows especially gifted students the stimulation of their intellectual peers, without requiring that they skip a grade or feel emotionally out of place.
Why are the class groupings open plan?
In our “open-plan” classroom, two teachers work as a team to teach and address the needs of two classes of mixed aged students in one classroom, a ratio of one teacher for 13 students. Our marine science instructor will bring two groups of 13 students to the marine science lab. Classroom teachers will work with the remaining students, giving individual and small group lessons according to the curriculum plan.
My child has special needs, will your program work for my child?
Every child has areas of special gifts, a unique learning style, and some areas that can be considered challenges. Each child is unique. Our program allows the students to learn at their own pace and is quite flexible in adapting to different learning styles. In many cases, children with mild physical handicaps or learning disabilities may do very well in our type of program. On the other hand, some children do much better in a smaller, more structured classroom. Each situation has to be evaluated individually to ensure that the program can successfully meet a child’s needs and learning style.
Will your students take the standardized tests that are given in other public schools and how will you evaluate them?
OSCS complies with the School District Policy on the administration of all statewide, standardized tests, uses standardized assessment testing to determine the knowledge level of each entering student, and to assess the student’s progress throughout the year. We also review and monitor the use of portfolio work. Students work toward personal mastery rather than a standard letter-grade.
How will you report student progress?
OSCS uses four ways to report student progress.
1- Students prepare a monthly self-evaluation of the past three months work- what they accomplished, what they enjoyed the most, what they found most difficult, and what they would like to learn in the three months ahead. When completed, they meet with the teachers, who review it and add their comments and observations.
2- Portfolios of the student’s work are created and retained in the classroom for review by the student and teachers.
3- Three times per year a parent/student/teacher conference is held to view the student’s portfolio and self-evaluation and discuss the teacher evaluation of the children’s progress.
4- Twice a year the teachers provide the parents with a written narrative report discussing each student’s work, social development, and mastery of fundamental skills.
Will my child adjust if he/she later moves to a local traditional public school or a private school?
Children moving from OSCS to a traditional program will have outstanding skills and a strong academic background. Most students have an excellent ability to make new friends, are used to being cooperative, and treat teachers and peers with respect, making transitions smooth and easy.
Is your program effective for the highly gifted child?
Highly gifted children find OSCS to be both challenging and flexible enough to respond to their individual needs.
Will your program teach religion or ethics?
As a public charter school, no religious training will be taught. We will discuss and learn about the holidays and celebrations of different nationalities and religions as part of our cultural geography lessons.
How do you handle discipline and classroom management?
OSCS has developed the “OSCS Elementary Behavior and Discipline Guidelines for Students” which is consistent with district policy and is distributed to all enrolling parents. It is based on honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. At the lower elementary age, the minor behavioral infractions of most students will result in a discussion with the teacher, determine how to make a better choice in the future, as well as a written a letter or essay about the issue. For a more major problem, the procedures in the guide above would apply.