Oak Ridge, TN schools take the lead in innovation, technology and academic achievement
The Oak Ridge Schools system comprises a preschool, four elementary schools, two middle schools and Oak Ridge High School. Academic excellence prevails throughout the system, as evidenced by many awards and accolades bestowed upon the schools, staff and individual students. In 2016, for example, Oak Ridge High School had three National Merit semi-finalists who scored in the top one percent of students in the state on the qualifying PSAT/NMSQT exam. The high school has also graduated students with perfect scores on the SAT and ACT college admissions exams. Oak Ridge teachers lead by example. In fact, more than 80 percent of teachers hold at least a master’s degree.
It makes sense that a city founded on science, technology, engineering and mathematics would boast a school system that excels today in STEM education. The Access Oak Ridge initiative is in the process of putting a digital device in the hands of every middle school student, and both Jefferson and Robertsville middle schools have been recognized for their math and technology-based curriculum. Jefferson Middle School students earned certificates of excellence from the Math Counts state organization, while the school placed first overall in the region and third overall in the state. Glenwood Elementary was awarded grants to fund its supplemental STEM curriculum.
St. Mary’s School accommodates students in pre-K through eighth grade. The school is committed to STEM education and boasts a primary science lab and one of the state’s few primary science curriculums for pre-K through fourth graders. In 2010, St. Mary’s was named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education, which placed the school among the top 10 percent of schools in the nation for academics. Oak Ridge Christian Academy was established in 1992 and serves students in pre-K through 12th grade. The Montessori School of Oak Ridge encourages self-discovery and promotes individual growth for its students, ages 2 to 6.
In addition to the University of Tennessee in nearby Knoxville and the online courses of King University, Oak Ridge students have multiple higher education options, including the Oak Ridge campus of Roane State Community College, which offers career prep programs in nursing and bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education, interdisciplinary studies and elementary education; and Pellissippi State Community College, which offers courses in subjects ranging from business and computer technology to natural and behavioral sciences. Thanks to the Tennessee Promise Program, graduating seniors can attend community college free of charge.