Community News

Fair Oaks: the treasure of belonging to a school that cares

Michelle Remond

They say it takes a village to raise a child. Fair Oaks Community School has brought this knowledge into a living reality and more. This community school, located in the heart of North Fair Oaks, is a true gem: a welcoming place where everyone is invited to belong.

This school understands the needs of the families. Mary Martinez, Family Center Coordinator, teams up with Principal Josh Griffith to build relationships and engage parents, reaching out to offer the wealth of resources the school offers. This makes Fair Oaks Community School a “one stop shop” for family support: from help with forms and parent education classes to free bread from Costco, Second Harvest Food Bank food distribution, an “on demand” food pantry and closet for the distribution of shoes, clothes, diapers and sleeping bags, to help with housing and health insurance, among other services to meet the needs of families.

Fair Oaks aims for high standards and expectations for academics, plus a compassionate and understanding approach to the whole child, and family.  Even though the school is located in a profoundly underserved area with socioeconomically disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, and English learners, the school has continued to grow steadily and outscore the Far Below Basic or Below Basic test results while gaining significant improvement towards proficiency in Mathematics and Language Arts. This is due to the consistent implementation of the SEAL program, teacher training and close teacher-family communication from day one, as well as technology use in the classroom and one-on-one tutoring from a number of different literacy organizations.

Fair Oaks Community School, one of sixteen schools in the Redwood City School District, thrives on a calm climate. Principal Mr. Josh Griffith himself greets patrons, parents and children with his trademark warm, enthusiastic style. "Children have to feel worthwhile, wanted, needed, and acknowledged. This is our job. Without a sense of belonging or of feeling accepted, children tend to wither, become withdrawn, and are prone to introversion. If we allow this to occur our other main charge, academic instruction, will not happen, or it will happen, but at a greatly reduced success rate. Children internalize negative interactions with adults, and never lose this painful memory of snide remarks, putdowns, sarcastic remarks, and hurtful looks and body language from adults to whom they look for validation and acceptance.  We all have painful memories from childhood; and are reminded of them occasionally, when they are triggered by something even now many years after the fact!  Children need to feel wanted, needed, acknowledged. Parents want resources, to truly feel they are not alone in the everyday struggles of life and parenting. We provide that caring touch, a safety net. We do whatever it takes to help children stay in school. At Fair Oaks the goals, hopes and dreams of children and their families matter," says Griffith. Parents themselves love the school and participate in fundraising activities, informational meetings, and variety of classes.

More than a village, it takes a community to raise a child. A community school such as Fair Oaks is raising happy, English and math proficient children.  A true gem, indeed.


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