Parents play a large role in our success. They are encouraged to participate in any way they can. In addition to the Core Values Committee, parents can get engaged in the PTA, which sponsors a host of community activities and supports the school with volunteers and dollars; the Site Council, which is another guiding committee impacting school business; Partners in Education (PiE), which raises funds for supplemental staffing at all Palo Alto schools; and the Farm Council, which is the guiding force behind the Ohlone Farm. There are parents who volunteer in the classrooms and Library on a regular basis, drive on field trips, and volunteer to work with kids on the Farm.
Yes, here in the middle of suburban Palo Alto, we have a Farm. It is complete with animals (chickens, sheep, goats, and now bees), a small orchard, an indigenous plant and pond area, and extensive gardens. Through the Farm, our Outdoor Classroom, we are able to integrate classroom curriculum, especially in science and social studies. Our Farm instructors work with all of our students on a regular basis. The Farm is also the center for our opening and closing ceremonies each year, as well as our fall Harvest Festival, and is an integral part of our culminating activities. It is an important, unique part of the Ohlone experience.
The main focus of the Ohlone experience, though, lies in the classrooms. Each one is a community unto itself. Each teacher is skilled at creating an emotionally safe environment for students while also providing stimulating curriculum. One of our values is to help students to focus on their own growth rather than to compete with or compare themselves to others. This is one reason why we don't have grades. We do an abundance of on-going, meaningful assessment, and our focus remains on the growth of each and every student. Our goal is to create a rigorous program appropriate for each student and to help each student make at least one year's worth of progress each school year. We try to create a love of learning and to model lifelong learning in a variety of ways.
Academically, we also strive to address student needs. Differentiation of curriculum occurs regularly, and much of the students' work is project-based and hands-on. We address all state standards while delivering curriculum that is appropriate for each student. We embrace the work of Carol Dweck and her research related to student attitudes. Our emphasis with students is to give their best efforts and to maintain growth mindsets.
For our entire history, we have acknowledged the importance of social and emotional well-being. Years before neuroscience supported it or it became fashionable, we were addressing social-emotional ("SE") needs on a regular, integrated basis. Teachers are skilled at helping students learn to solve problems, to be positive members of a group, and to make friends. Each classroom also addresses SE skills through explicit lessons related to such topics as resilience, adversity, stress, responsibility, respect, and more.
Ohlone is a wonderful place to learn. This has been substantiated by our many successful alumni who have returned over the years. We also have visitors from all over the world, who are interested in what we do here. We take great pride in not only our test scores and academic successes but also in the quality of people who graduate from Ohlone. We have outlined specific skills which we aspire to instill in each of our students by the time they move on to middle school and beyond.
Welcome to Ohlone, and we hope that you will continue to visit the different areas here on the website to gain a deeper understanding of the Ohlone Way.