Orange Grove Charter School is one of the two schools in the Charleston County School District (CCSD) which elected to become autonomous and be governed by an independent board of directors. It left the CCSD with an Average rating in 2007 and attained an Excellent rating by 2010. The school has maintained the Excellent rating ever since.
As a charter school, Orange Grove Principal John Clendaniel has the flexibility to select curriculum materials, hire faculty and implement programs. The school started its middle school program during the 2015-2016 school year at the former Oakland Elementary School building on Arlington Drive. The school currently enrolls 1020 students and will expand to 1150 students next school year when it adds an eighth grade class. There are currently 360 students on the school’s waiting list.
Orange Grove Middle School just had its lease extended at its Oakland campus by the Charleston County School Board with the option to eventually move into the former Middleton High School building on William Kennerty Drive. A successful fundraising program has enabled the school to equip each of its middle school students with a Chrome books tablet.
Satisfaction with the school is incredibly high. In an end-of-year survey from the past school year, 96% of students and parents indicated that they are satisfied with the school. The school has a 95% teacher retention rate. A walk down the school’s orderly hallways reveals many smiling students and teachers.
Orange Grove Elementary uses the SRA self-paced reading program in kindergarten through second grade. Students typically spend 90 minutes per day on reading and math. They also receive Spanish language instruction starting in kindergarten.
The school places an emphasis on individualized learning. Teachers are trained to interpret student test scores and give them more work in the skill areas which most need emphasis. There is an Academic Specialist at each grade level who works with students in small groups to boost their skill development.
Principal Clendaniel aims to create a family atmosphere in the school. “I want everyone in the school to feel safe, loved and respected,” he says. “It’s not all about test scores. We have a lot of fun at Orange Grove.” As an example the students participated in a costume parade in the Sandhurst neighborhood the Friday before Halloween.
There is a strong emphasis on character development at the school and students receive recognition for displaying exemplary behavior as part of the Character Cub program (the school mascot is a tiger). The school also focuses on career opportunities and holds several career day programs during the year.
Enrollment for the 2017-2018 kindergarten class will take place in January. Applications are available at http://www.ogesc.com.