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Posted: June 7, 2012 8:13 p.m.

Live Oak has academic, artistic focus

If it's one thing that is evident at Live Oak Elementary, it's that for them, it's all about the kids. Not just academically, but artistically as well.

"At Live Oak, we focus on preparing students to be college or career ready," said Principal Erika Anderson. "In doing that, we have a program called Life Skills, in which we teach students the soft skills that are needed to be competitive in today's global job market. These skills include how to debate, ways to work collaboratively with others, etiquette, among other topics. This class is taken by all of our kindergarten through fifth-grade students. We are also really proud of our Arts in Education program at Live Oak. Our Art in Education program included a national artist (Stacy Ridgeway) spending two weeks here at the school teaching students and creating an interactive mural for our school and an Art and Music night, in which students performed and unveiled a bottle cap mural.

"Something that is also unique to Live Oak is our Academic Specialty classes for all kindergarten through fifth-grade students. One is our academic vocabulary class, which teaches students about Greek/Latin root words, similarities and differences in vocabulary and words that are used in the Georgia Department of Education framework units. Our other Academic Specialty class is the math exemplars class, which focuses on having kindergarten through fifth-grade students utilize a universal problem solving framework to develop their mathematical reasoning and mathematical communication skills. The last thing we're really proud of is our growing community involvement program - 1,400 volunteer hours were logged last year from mentors, volunteers, and parents.

"So you can see we're really proud of our staff, students, and parents!"

Superintendent Gary Mathews heaped praise on the school as well.

"One of the things I like best about Live Oak is the way they showcase student work throughout the building. It's a literal education about what's happening in classrooms just to see the many student pieces displayed. From visiting the school, you readily see actively engaged students which signals a true learning environment. At Live Oak, teachers and administrators are committed to best practices which have resulted in the school making federal Adequate Yearly Progress coming into last 2011-12 school year despite the prediction that the school would not make AYP. That said, LOES is currently a ‘focus school' under the state's new No-Child-Left-Behind waiver which means there is one or more underperforming subgroups under the new standards. However, visits to the school and briefings from our instructional strategist Dan Mulligan tell me that LOES is blessed with a dedicated staff and principal who will give the children their all and will indeed work their way out of ‘focus school' status. With all state assessments at present in the 70s, 80s and 90s at this school with a student body that is approximately 82 percent free and reduced lunch, students at LOES will show progress and have shown already that they can ‘beat the odds' when it comes to achievement."

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