Kristen GraciaPrincipal, Oak Knoll SchoolRead our Weekly Newsletter and follow us!Follow me on Twitter @KristenGraciaFollow Oak Knoll on Twitter@ OakKnollOttersInstagram @oakknollotters#goMPCSD #OKbestyearyet
Principal Messages 2018-2019
Welcome to Oak Knoll School! My name is Kristen Gracia and I am the lucky principal of this most distinguished school, in the most incredible community, with the most caring staff and students. Oak Knoll is a huge part of my life, as I am also a mom of two former Oak Knoll Otters, and live within the MPCSD community. I have been an administrator at Oak Knoll for over ten years and a public school educator for over twenty. My daily work stems from my fundamental belief that school should work for all students. Too often students are expected to fit into the mold of school, and, as a result, end up failing in some aspect of their young academic and/or social life. Sadly, students then begin to dislike school, and in turn dislike trying new things, being creative, taking risks, and ultimately learning. Therefore, we regularly examine our systems and strategies to ensure we are being flexible, equitable, and creative in meeting the varying strengths and needs of our students.
In order to create an inclusive school climate where students (and staff) feel comfortable and confident, we prioritize social-emotional learning (SEL). Many leaders, educators, and parents ask for our school climate recipe. They wonder how and why Oak Knoll stands out when it comes to connection, climate, and vision, not to mention academics. While we do promote student voice, individuality, creativity, and healthy discourse, the primary answer to the question about our school climate is always easy. Our success boils down to one variable...the people.
When we all show up as caring participants within our community, we create an environment for our children to thrive, as well as build a strong foundation that our staff, students, and families can depend upon. I deeply value the unique connection between teachers, staff, parents, and students at Oak Knoll. No matter what challenges come our way, together, we are able to activate our growth mindset, show compassion, and work collaboratively. This is why you will often hear us say, “Together we are Oak Knoll.” It is our togetherness that creates the strong connection, inclusive climate, and strong vision at our school.
Our school mission, “Every student, an exemplary scholar, a valued friend, and a courageous citizen” is our primary driver. Our mission is anchored in teaching students about mindset, compassion, and civic engagement. We believe that exemplary scholars have a growth mindset, valued friends are compassionate, and courageous citizens recognize the needs of others and see themselves as part of the solution.
Our teachers are intentional about building a strong and safe classroom community so our students can take risks, be creative, and learn deeply. This process takes many forms, from greeting students by name every day at the door (or on Zoom), to getting to know each student, including their interests, strengths, and needs. Goal-setting and targeted instruction is the path that leads our students to academic success, but again, we know their success is only as strong as their ability to apply a growth mindset, show compassion and see the needs of others from a global perspective. It all connects!
Continuous improvement is a best practice that we value, so we continually seek feedback from all stakeholders, including our students. With our own growth mindset, we are comfortable with feedback and honest reflection, which leads to meaningful improvement. It’s no surprise that each new year at Oak Knoll will be our best year yet!
Principal, Oak Knoll School