History of Green Oaks School
"My child isn't learning anything at school"
These frustrated words come from many parents after years of fighting the school system to have academics taught to their children with Down syndrome. Many parents have found that inclusion (placing students with special needs in the regular classroom), works quite well for their children with intellectual disabilities during the early grades, but often begins to break down in about the fourth grade.
The social, emotional and cognitive gaps widen between these children and their typical peers. While usually well-intentioned, public school personnel are often undertrained and overwhelmed with the number of children with special needs who must be served. Consequently, the children with special needs spend hours every day in classrooms where they cannot comprehend what their classmates are learning, yet are not given appropriate alternatives. Other students are placed in special education classes that focus only on life skills. Still other individuals with Down syndrome and similar intellectual disabilities are in classrooms where their potential is far underestimated or overlooked due to variety of needs in the class.
As a unique private, Christian-based school in North Central Texas for individuals with Down syndrome and similar intellectual disabilities, Green Oaks School has been an answer to prayer for our students and their families. The school was brought into existence through the efforts of a dedicated and talented group of community leaders, including educators, medical professionals, and concerned parents. Frustrated with the lack of educational opportunities for children with special needs and tired of watching them struggle to belong, the founding board members turned a vision into reality.
A primary focus of Green Oaks School is to teach academics at the level of ability and interest of our students. One of the keys to our success is the low teacher to student ratio. Other areas of focus include social skills, speech & language, and computer skills. In addition, the students participate in Stretch 'n Grow (an exercise program), Speech and Occupational therapies, music, art and bowling. Now in our sixteenth year, Green Oaks School is serving students through young adulthood and beyond. The older students continue to study academics, but also focus on careers, self-responsibility skills, independent living skills and job training in our community.
Although we have not placed emphasis on inclusion, we do not desire to provide a segregated environment. We work with many local groups, schools, and individuals to ensure our students have opportunities with a variety of people. In addition, our older students are integrated in the community through job training and other community based activities. Ultimately, we desire for our students to have the skills to be a valued, active part of their communities.
The school opened in August, 2000 with four students, ages 11 to 14. With
each new school year, we increased our highest age level and then added a program for adults, Green Oaks Adult Learning (GOAL).
We are currently serving 83 students between the ages of 5 and 53 years old, all of whom have Down syndrome or a similar intellectual disability. Our school continues to grow and thrive, changing the lives of individuals and their families for the better.
Working in collaboration with the Down Syndrome Partnership of North Texas, we have formed an adult social club for individuals with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. The club meets twice a month and has proven to be instrumental in helping our people develop meaningful friendships while learning social and recreational skills.