Thirty years ago, Daniel K. Ludwig envisioned a neighborhood community with an elementary school as its focal point. Located forty miles north of Los Angeles, Westlake Village emerged nestled in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains with White Oak School at its heart.
Our neighborhood school shares open space with the central park of the First Neighborhood. Many students walk to and from school on the winding greenbelt paths that link the homes to our campus. Our courtyard joins modular classroom buildings and play yards where students, staff, and parents gather on weekends as well as throughout the day. In addition, White Oak is home to the YMCA's extended day care program, a kindercare program, and the campus is in constant use by community and civic organizations and sports teams.
Consequently, White Oak's educational philosophy is child-centered and its staff is nurturing and compassionate, highly trained, committed to excellence, and of impeccable character. These qualities inspire children to give their best effort to succeed, and their parents to be intimately involved in all aspects of school life.
At White Oak School, teachers, parents, principal, and support staff see ourselves as a single entity, bonded by a common purpose - to provide each of White Oak's students with an education that gives them a chance to succeed. Our togetherness is what makes White Oak School unique; what makes it worthy of our national recognition is that the children's chance to succeed becomes reality.
The partnership begins in the classroom where parents volunteer their time to enable teachers to create the opportunity for each child to succeed. Parents assist teachers in virtually all classroom activities so that instruction can be customized to meet the needs of every child. This requires flexible schedules, multisensory experiences, and varied grouping that can only be accomplished through the daily assistance of dependable, dedicated parents.
Formally, the partnership is realized through a well-organized committee system - the most important of which is the School Site Council (SSC). The SSC develops and implements White Oak's Improvement Plan as a means of creating and evaluating White Oak's Mission Statement. For example, this year (1998-99), the SSC commissioned a Technology Committee to prepare a new three year plan to integrate modern technology into the classroom. Though in place for only a few months, it has already facilitated the acquisition of twenty iMac Computers, numerous color printers, digital cameras, scanners, and software. The partnership is solidified through the Parent Faculty Club (PFC), which has rallied the parent community to respond to cuts in state fund by raising $100,000 annually. Without these funds, essential programs such as music, art, computer education, and use of the library would be eliminated.