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Oakland School District Superintendent Patti Lovemark stands alongside an Oakland Elementary School mural that features the ‘Oaker’ acorn mascot, which was painted by students.

Oakland School District is a close-knit community nestled on a hillside and home to 600 students who attend the elementary, middle or high school.

“There’s something magical here,” says Oakland School District’s Superintendent, Patti Lovemark. “It’s a close caring environment and feels like family.”

Superintendent Lovemark has worked as a classroom teacher at various levels, special education director and a curriculum director during her education career in Douglas County. A few years ago she retired and soon after became a contracted special education director in the Oakland School District before accepting her current role as the superintendent.

“I love what I do,” she said.

Lovemark isn’t the only one who loves what she does. “The commitment of the staff makes the district remarkable,” Lovemark said. “Once people come here they realize how special this place is. So many of the staff are home-grown Oakers, from our cooks, custodians, office personnel and teaching staff. They may have gone away for a brief period, but decided to return.

Sometimes a staff member will comment, ‘I just love working here.’ It is that enthusiasm that makes Oakland a special place. The administrative team consists of staff who have been here many years which contribute to the stability and success of our schools. They started as teachers and became leaders in the district.”

The staff is committed to offering a secure environment where students gain knowledge and skills, develop social responsibility, self worth and value learning throughout life. Students are nurtured from grades K-12, and during the course of their academic careers have access to integrative learning that includes science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM), literacy, social sciences, career and technical education (CTE), music, athletics, clubs and organizations such as FFA.

Many of the opportunities are made possible thanks to staff who are involved in programs that extend beyond the classroom walls.

People seem to appreciate the well-rounded education offered to students and the high expectations the staff has for students. One-third of the student population lives outside of the district. For the past 10 years the high school has had a consistent graduation rate of 95% or better. This is achieved through the high expectations in place at all schools across all grade levels.

While reflecting on the pandemic, Lovemark says, “When times get tough, the community continues to band together,” and is thankful that in-person learning has resumed. She also shared that staff and community are excited to be resuming activities and classes that are as close to normal as possible.

COVID-19 relief funding from federal and state sources has helped the district continue to grow and make further investments in technology, the arts and the social-emotional health of students. Each student and classroom has access to Chromebooks and educators have access to other upgraded technology as well. “This has been a positive move forward for students and staff,” says Lovemark.

As for the arts, recently a new vocal music teacher and an elementary art teacher have been added to the team. “We previously had one art and one music teacher for all grade levels,” Lovemark explains. “It’s exciting to see these areas develop.”

An extra focus on the social-emotional health of the students has enhanced the services offered to students, adding an additional layer of support. “We understand the importance of the social, emotional, and behavioral needs of our students,” Lovemark points out. “We’ve expanded our counseling services from one to a team of four people.”

The district is well rooted. “I continually thank people for their patience, grace and support. I really mean that,” Lovemark says as she mentions the incredible community that includes students, staff, families, community partners, boosters, board members and the PTO.

To learn more about the Oakland School District #1, visit oakland.k12.or.us.

Heather Villa is a communications specialist for the Douglas Education Service District, which offers collaborative, high-quality, equitable and locally responsive educational services to the community and 13 public school districts.

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