By Christa Riddle
Lakewood–At Ocean Day School, a pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade private, non-sectarian, non-profit school in Lakewood, the goal to provide excellent education through instilling in every student a lifelong love of learning is achieved in a cross-grade learning environment that promotes curiosity, creativity, and productivity. This year, Ocean Day School marked two milestones: celebrating their 30th anniversary and having all of their students achieve honor roll for the first time in the school’s history. The school facilitates learning in departmentalized, “five-star” classrooms of no more than 10 students, following a rigorous curriculum aligned with New Jersey’s standards. Educators help students set attainable goals, then guide students along their paths of learning to reach success.
Maria Paradiso-Testa, chief school administrator/ principal, implemented many positive changes, including the departmentalized “five-star” classrooms; character education; the year of community service, during which Ocean Day School established relationships with more than 35 local businesses; and a 30th anniversary gala to celebrate the school’s success. “I have a passion for education and great love for children,” shares Testa. “I personally believe in modeling the example of lifelong learning, so students can see that we never stop pursuing education. Right now, I am working toward earning my doctorate in educational leadership.”
Ocean Day School’s “five-star” classrooms offer cross-grading, so students can learn according to their personal ability and academic levels. This benefits both students working above grade-level and those needing remediation. A “five-star” classroom provides an effective learning environment rooted in differentiated instruction and critical thinking, where the focus of education is shifted from teaching to higher-level, student-centered learning. It extends multiple opportunities for all students to achieve success through addressing multiple intelligences and diverse learning styles. This past school year, Ocean Day School implemented a departmentalized, standardized elementary school curriculum similar to the approach in middle schools and high schools with subject-specific teachers who are experts in their content area.
“Five-star” classrooms at Ocean Day School feature learning centers, experimental labs, and activities incorporating technology, hands-on student participation, and varied lesson deliveries. “In our classrooms, student performance is enhanced, student achievement is increased, and failure is never an option,” explains Testa. “We promote a balance of educating the whole child and teaching to enable standardized test success.” All students take state administered standardized tests at their actual grade levels.
Ocean Day School’s education has yielded promising results. Classes have consistently placed in the top 20 percent nationally on standardized testing; many classes have placed in the top 10 percent, and even the top one percent, nationally. Students have also realized various academic accolades, earning top places in events such as the Monsignor Donovan Scholastic Olympics and the Asbury Park Press Spelldown. They have also qualified for and participated in the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth Search, placing nationally in the top three percent.
Ocean Day School offers before-school care, as well as Oceans, an after-care program. To learn more about the school, visit their website at www.oceandayschool.org. Testa welcomes inquiries at 732-370-8912. The school is located at 678 Fifth Street in Lakewood, amidst a scenic lakeside setting in the Christ United Methodist Church complex. Interested parents are welcome to schedule a visit to experience the school and meet the staff.
-Article written by Christa Riddle, owner of All About Writing, www.allaboutwritingconsulting.com