PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Students across our area are about a month into the new school year.
Hidden Oaks K-8 School, just west of Boynton Beach, has a little more to brag about this year, jumping up two letter grades since 2019, the largest gain in the entire School District of Palm Beach County.
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Hidden Oaks K-8 School was stuck as a "C" for years. But through a lot of hard work, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, they've now raised their grade up to an "A."
It's not always the easiest solution, but problem solving and hard work can equal success.
"We just knew we were an 'A.' We just hadn’t had the opportunity to let everybody know that we are an 'A.' We are an 'A' school," Principal Shari Bremekamp said.
Bremekamp's school is boasting some of the biggest gains across the School District of Palm Beach County during one of the most difficult times in education.
"It took everybody to make that change. It’s not one person. There’s no magic formula. It’s just everybody working together with a common goal," Bremekamp said.
School grades are determined through a series of achievement scores and learning gains in math, English, and more.
But Bremekamp said when students returned to the classroom last year, she knew she had to start with the basics.
"We had to focus on our social-emotional well-being of our kids," Bremekamp said. "When kids feel safe, teachers feel safe, staff feels safe, everybody is ready to go."
Then it was an all hands on deck teamwork approach.
"This is one of the years I can really see my teaching and relationships with the students are going to pay off," teacher Carolyn Brown said.
Brown moved up to fifth grade English with some of her students from last year. Fourth graders showed some of the biggest learning gains across the school.
"That’s one of the best parts of teaching because I was able to see them in fourth, and now I can see they’ve really matured into fifth graders," Brown said.
"They made a goal as our group to try to do their best to help our school become an 'A,'" teacher Michelle Gottlieb said.
Gottlieb also moved up to fifth grade this year and said having that comfort with your students is key.
"Knowing your student is super important," Gottlieb said. "Knowing their background, knowing the environment they have to learn in. So having that relationship with them is very important."
So now that Hidden Oaks K-8 School has achieved its goal, the next part of the equation is to keep it.
"We didn’t even think of it. We were just like, we know we can do it. This is us. This is how we are," Bremekamp said.
To see the latest grades from every school in Florida, click here.