“To me, Oakland is much more than a school, it’s an institution that molds entire futures. Coming into Oakland with a plethora of learning differences, Oakland has not only helped me academically, but truly helped me better understand myself and my capabilities. From the start, each student is informed that CAN’T is an excuse, and that greatness is in everyone’s future.
At Oakland, teachers believed in me, allowing me to believe in myself. From academics to social skills, I have learned to adapt in the real world and succeed. At this point, I have my own company; I have invented and brought numerous ideas into a tangible means, and sold them to the mass market. I can tell you now, if it weren’t for the people who believed in me, things could/would be much different. The values that Oakland school taught then, and that I still hold true now, has made me who I am today.
Some of my greatest accomplishments since leaving Oakland:
- Getting my bachelors
- Getting my Master’s degree- Cum Laude
- Setting records for Athletics in HS
- Starting a business
- Helping others
- Creating both business and personal relationships that have made me a better person
My current product is Slydz Interchangable Eyewear, http://www.Slydz.com. I invented it because I wanted to solve temporary issues with eyewear frames. As a customer, I hated to break the hinge on my glasses (very easy to do), buy a new pair just because of the color, style, design, or material, and I hated to spend an arm and a leg on eyewear frames. Figuring out the solution, I now can provide the most customizable, durable, affordable and a quality product to anyone that wears optical or sunglasses. Learning to use ADHD to my advantage, Oakland’s been a true impact on my wellbeing.” ~Max Silver
Matt attended Oakland from 1989 to 1993. He came to Oakland for his middle school years and was reading at a first grade level when he began. He had superior math skills and didn’t think reading was important. Matt had severe dyslexia and had given up on reading. Margaret Shepherd, the founder of Oakland School was Matt’s first reading teacher. He would argue with her every day and say, “I can do math, I do not need reading.” One day Mrs. Shepherd asked him to do a math problem…a word problem. “Two apples plus three oranges equals how many fruits?” Needless to say, Matt wasn’t able read the problem and therefore solve it. This problem was what got Matt motivated to learn to read. Donna Wells, his next main reading teacher taught Matt to read and he ended up graduating in eighth grade on an eleventh grade reading level! He went up ten reading levels in four years! He then went on to Western Albemarle High School and became an Eagle Scout. Next he attended the University of Virginia and graduated with a business degree from the McIntire School of Commerce. In 2007, he took over the Sammy Snacks business, http://www.sammysnacks.com/. At that time, the company was struggling to make it. Sammy Snacks now has 7,000 whole sale accounts! Matt is a successful business man and wonderful community member. He attributes Oakland to building his confidence and helping him believe in himself. He says that the daily one-to-one and phonics program taught him to read. Once he knew how to read, he felt he could accomplish anything if he worked hard. We are so proud of Matt and his excellent achievements.
Katherine began Oakland School in the summer of 2003. She was about two years behind in school and during her fourth grade year she did not make any progress. After one week at summer camp, Katherine declared, she loved it and did not want to go back to public school, she wanted to attend Oakland for the year-round program. Her parents knew that this was the best choice for their daughter, so they moved closer to the school so Katherine could be a day student. Katherine has a central processing disorder and although she received services in the public school system, she wasn’t achieving to her potential. Katherine attended Oakland from fifth to eighth grade. She went from having a hard time socially to having many friends and relating to her peers. She said that Oakland helped her self-confidence and increased her reading level from a second grade level to an eighth grade level. Katherine attended Grier High School after Oakland and is now attending Savannah College of Art and Design. She is using her creative talents and majoring in Fiber Arts. Katherine was able to get the academic and social foundation that she needed so that she was able to become a successful adult. Oakland School is proud of her progress and excited to see what she will accomplish after college!
Every day for years, my parents drove past the little farm school that would eventually change my life without knowing something great was happening in that cluster of buildings? At Oakland, I transformed from a little, shy girl who got bullied because I could not read like the other kids, to feeling safe and happy at a place where everyone was treated the same.
The first day I toured Oakland, I felt at home and for once could just be me. The feeling that Oakland is home, still has not changed even years since graduating. Oakland gave that shy little girl confidence, friends that understood and the tools to learn.
At Oakland teachers and students share a bond much deeper than at most schools. Because the student body is small, teachers keep a watchful eye on each student throughout their time on campus. It goes beyond just knowing the kid, the teachers and staff help each student figure out what works for them to become successful learners. When I arrived at Oakland I was reading on a preschool level, and now am a sophomore at a college preparatory high school. I still struggle, but have learned how to handle my stress and how to work through even difficult assignments.
I learned many things while I was at Oakland. I learned how to read, how to write, and how to be me. I learned to enjoy hikes down to Mechunk Creek, summer camp away from home and time with friends. Because of my years at Oakland, I have friends from all over the world. They taught me skills that I will never forget and will always be in their debt. Oakland gave me a chance to succeed in this world.
As I sat in the small classroom at the desk of Joe (my reading teacher my first year at Oakland School) I stared at the words on the page and for the first time in my life I completely understood them. I was born with a learning disability in spatial reasoning which made reading extremely difficult because somewhere on the way from my eyes to my brain letters became a jumble of nonsensical symbols instead of forming words attached to meaning. I came to Oakland School at 11 years old after completing the 5th grade. To that point I had been able to use logic and deceit to blunder my way through the public school system without the ability to coherently read anything over a few sentences. However, by the fifth grade it had become apparent to my teachers and parents that I needed special attention if I was to have any chance of proceeding in academics. To that end my parents decided to send me to Oakland School, a decision I have been thankful for ever since.
When I first came to Oakland I was placed in classes that matched my abilities to the difficulty of the class in each individual subject. This class structure allowed me to excel in subjects such as math and science which came naturally to me. This success, in turn, lead to the confidence needed to accept special attention in subjects such as reading and writing in which I had fallen severely behind. The small class sizes and one on one attention from compassionate educators gave me the skills I needed to achieve success in reading and writing I would have otherwise never achieved. As my abilities progressed, the level of instruction progressed with me so I never felt stagnant or overwhelmed in my education. By the time I left after two years at Oakland, I had complete confidence in my academic abilities and was ready to return to the more traditional educational structure of the public school system.
Since leaving Oakland I have enjoyed significant success in the academic arena. In high school I attained a GPA well over 4.0 (weighted) and received 17 college credits through AP and duel enrollment classes. After high school I attended the University of Virginia with the assistance of a financial award from Western Albemarle High School. I majored in biological sciences and refined my passion for scientific study. I graduated from UVA in May of 2008 with a bachelor’s of science in biology. In May of 2010 I was accepted to a doctoral program in biological sciences at Vanderbilt University. Since then I have been working toward my Ph.D in neurophysiology, studying the effects of early life environmental signals on the predisposition of developing depression and anxiety disorders during adulthood. I can unreservedly say that I owe a great deal of my academic success to the help and support of the educators and staff at Oakland. I cannot say what my life would be like today without my experience at Oakland School but I am positive I would not be as happy and fulfilled if my parents had not sent me to the paramount educational oasis of Oakland School.