At Oak Crest Academy, the Upper Elementary includes the third through fifth grades. At our school for academically gifted learners, students thrive in an atmosphere of intellectual curiosity that includes social interaction with their age-group peers. One way we foster this environment in the Upper Elementary is by creating groups based not just on age, but also on academic and social similarities among students. We are firmly committed to the development of the whole child and the idea that we can get to know each of our students as individuals. While students are challenged in the Upper Elementary, teaching occurs in a safe, caring, and nurturing environment. Students thrive when appropriate challenge is coupled with compassionate teaching and personal relationships. We are able to develop individual relationships because each classroom consists of a qualified teacher working as a partner with students. Class sizes are limited to 16 students, so the student-to-teacher ratio stays low. Upper Elementary students are happy, hard-working, and intellectually curious; we are consistently amazed by their enthusiasm and creativity.
The Upper Elementary serves as a bridge between the Lower Elementary and the Middle School. In this regard, we work to steadily increase the depth and complexity of the content to prepare students for the additional organizational and time-management responsibilities that they will face in the sixth through eighth grades.
While in the Upper Elementary, all students are asked to work increasingly outside of their comfort zones in each of their classes, giving an equal effort to areas of relative strength and weakness. Our academic curriculum includes not only language arts, math, history, and science, but also Spanish, art, music, physical education and many other elective classes. Our focus on the whole child places equal importance on such disparate topics as expository writing, the scientific method, historical trends, mathematical concepts, Spanish vocabulary, and musical and dance notation.
In order to meet the needs of our students, all of the curriculum is above grade level. However, we are philosophically opposed to acceleration for the sake of acceleration. We much prefer to enrich and solidify a student’s understanding of a concept rather than simply introducing them to the subsequent item on a list. Our students, by the end of fifth grade, emerge from the division as confident, eloquent learners with a sophisticated understanding of a multitude of different concepts and ideas. They are not merely receptacles of factual information, but complex thinkers capable of analysis of the content presented and synthesis of their own unique ideas.