Oak Grove Elementary named one of Missouri's "Gold Star" schools

Oak Grove Elementary named one of Missouris “Gold Star” schools (Source - Poplar Bluff Schools).jpg
Oak Grove Elementary named one of Missouris “Gold Star” schools (Source - Poplar Bluff Schools)

August 12, 2019 at 2:56 PM CDT

Updated August 12 at 2:56 PM

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (Heartland News at 9) - Oak Grove Elementary in Poplar Bluff, Missouri has been named a 2019 Missouri Gold Star School for its high academic performance.

Oak Grove Elementary serves first graders through third graders and was also nominated among the top eight schools in Missouri by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“Congratulations to your students, principal, teachers, staff and your school community on their commendable efforts and great achievements that have led to these recognitions,” wrote Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Margie Vandeven in an award letter addressed to Poplar Bluff Superintendent Dr. Scott Dill in June.

84.5 percent of Oak Grove students score proficient or advanced in mathematics and 75.7 percent on the English language arts portion of the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP) test during the 2017-18 school year.

If these performances continue into the current year, Oak Grove will earn the Blue Ribbon School Award, the highest achievement for a school in the United States.

“It’s great to be recognized, but whether we’re being recognized or not doesn’t change the work that we’re doing, because we know the work that we’re doing is having a positive impact on students and staff,” Oak Grove Principal Jenifer Richardson said. “There is no finish line.”

Programs like Capturing Kids’ Hearts relationship-capacity initiative allows school personnel to focus on improving outcomes of student success.

“Every single person on our staff, certified or non, has a role in re-teaching or enrichment,” Richardson explained. “We changed our mindset to: If the way we taught a lesson plan did not work, what do we need to change?”

Gabby Bullock is a leader in student success and has stepped up to conduct biweekly meetings to focus on data to drive instruction, identifying learning gaps and adjusting response-to-invention groups.

Christy Young, a teacher of 14 years, admitted that it was difficult at first to accept that something in the curriculum was not gelling, but marked a turning point in her career.

“We used to go in and shut our doors and focus on our class, and that was it,” Young continued. “Now we focus on the ‘all means all’ mentality with our students. They’re not my students or another teacher’s; every third-grade student belongs to every teacher.”

Initiatives like these have helped distinguish Oak Grove Elementary as Title 1 or ESEA school honored by the state of Missouri.