During National School Choice Week this week, the community of Oxford Preparatory Academy shared why they chose their school.
Of 1,226 students at the Chino campus, most live within the boundaries of Chino Valley school district, but some are from Ontario and others from as far as Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana and Moreno Valley, said school vice principal Cyndi Valenta.
The Chino Valley school district’s only charter school ranks as its highest academically.
The school’s educational philosophy is modeled after Harvard University professor Harold Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI).
Students take a self identification MI test every year to indicate their interests and aptitudes in the areas of musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic.
“We give the test every year because kids do change. We are truly trying to develop all intelligences,” Mrs. Valenta said.
“It’s a different way of learning,” said eighth grade student Seth Torres, who has attended the school since its opening in 2011.
He says he is an “intrapersonal learner,” which means he likes be around other people and talk in groups.
“Students work with teachers on their strengths and weaknesses,” said seventh grade student Janelle Torres, who identified her strength as “bodily kinesthetic.”
“I like to be active,” she said.
Applications of MI in the classroom include singing songs, playing games outdoors, and using visual guides to assist students with understanding and retention.
Brian Cordero has been an Oxford teacher since the school opened in September 2010. Speaking of his second-grade class, Mr. Cordero said, “If I feel like my lesson is dragging, I take them outside. This place works for me.”
Teacher Tony Guillen, at Oxford for six years, leads several grades in hands-on science experiments within a laboratory classroom. Mr. Guillen also advises a popular after school Lego STEAM club. STEAM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, art and math. Mr. Guillen said he works with every teacher at the school to develop hands on lessons that match their classroom curriculum.
“As teachers we choose to come here because of the culture we have created,” Mr. Guillen said. “Parent volunteers and kids go above and beyond. Kids are exposed to everything, nothing is left untouched,” he said.
The school’s initial policy of requiring parents to volunteer was changed several years ago, Mrs. Valenta said. “I don’t think we could keep track, our volunteers are here so often,” she said. “Even my working parents help in everything.”
Parent volunteer Reyna Coronado said she has become friends with teachers of her three children at the school. “That’s the whole beauty of this school,” she said. “The reason we stay is all because of the program and the teachers,” she added.
Parent Anne Jones said she volunteers at the school everyday “Everybody’s everybody’s kid,” she said. Ms. Jones has a fifth grader at the school and another who has graduated. “When my kids are gone I will still support this school,” she said.
The tuition free public school includes foreign language classes for students beginning in transitional kindergarten and twice weekly karate classes for grades 3 and 6.
During lunch hour, students can choose to play in one of several sports leagues offered on the expansive campus.
Also open at lunch is a game room with video games, board games and table tennis. The school has a “play first, eat after” policy at lunch.
Numerous after school clubs and sports teams, in addition to band and spirit squad are coached by teachers and parent volunteers.
The school has been plagued by the allegations of fraud and mismanagement directed at former management company Edlighten Learning Solutions since March 17, 2016, when its renewal petition was denied by the Chino Valley school board.
On Tuesday, Oxford’s board of directors voted unanimously to appeal to the State Board of Education on Feb. 1.
The school’s websites states that the next step would be a hearing by the California Advisory Commission on Charter Schools (ACCS) on April 5 followed by a hearing by the State Board of Education on May 10 or 11.