Corvallis Public School District: Surprising Menu of Options

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There are 14 schools in the Corvallis school district: seven K-5 elementary schools, one K-5 charter school, one K-8 school, two middle schools, two high schools, and one alternative high. With a total of 6,564 enrolled students and 368 full-time teachers, there’s a student to teacher ratio of about 18 to 1, making the ratio much lower than other towns which have upwards of 25 to 1.

Of the 14 public schools in the area, a few of the offered programs deserve showcasing, as do a few of the charter schools.

As far as the district itself, a Dual-Immersion Spanish program is offered to students at Lincoln Elementary, Garfield Elementary, Linus Pauling Middle School, and Corvallis High. This program essentially means that a topic, for instance the planets in the solar system, will be taught in one language and then the next topic which could be ecosystems would be taught in Spanish; this way 50% of the instruction is in English and the other 50% is in Spanish. Studies have shown that students in these kind of programs often test in a higher percentile than their monolingual peers.

In addition to the language program offered to select schools, there are gardens on many of the campuses that help teachers incorporate nature learning and exploration in the curriculum. For instance, Lincoln Elementary is home to a garden funded by a partnership with OSU that provides educators the opportunity to come in and give mini lessons on curriculum the students are learning in the classroom. There are also opportunities for students to learn about healthy choices with local farmers who bring in fruits and vegetables for sampling.

At the Muddy Creek, a 4-H wildlife steward charter school, students get the opportunity to utilize the environment to enhance their education while studying the habitat and present findings to their peers. This school is unique in that it blends grade levels: grades1 to 2, grades 3 to 4, and grades 4 to 5.

The oldest age group studied habitat restoration last school year and has since turned their research focus to other outdoor charity projects. Muddy Creek is also big on integration of art into the common core curriculum, but tends to shy away from newer technologies such as iPads, which the school doesn’t supply. One should note that no after-school care is provided but often kids utilize after-school care at nearby elementary schools.

The after-school care provided to most Corvallis schools is through a partnership with the Boys & Girls Club, which is referred to as STARS. In STARS students spend time after school finishing homework, interacting with their peers through indoor and outdoor play, team building, and art activities.

Another school that should be mentioned, because it’s only a 30-minute drive out of town, is Kings Valley Charter School. This K-12 public charter school in the Philomath School District was ranked fourth on Washington Post’s list of most challenging high schools in the nation. This is because Kings Valley strives for individualized learning programs through use of hands-on activities. Student opportunities include gardening, cooking, sewing, ceramic making, and science. There are also numerous other academic, sports, and fine arts clubs to help foster student development and education.

Area public schools offer a wide array of choices for students and parents alike. Some schools lean more toward technology integration, others incorporate more of nature into the curriculum, and others stress hands-on students learning. In other words, there is more variety among public schools in Corvallis than one may think. It is worth spending some time looking at a number of them, because inter-district transfers mean you have options for your kiddo.

By Liz Sterling

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