Oakman High again tabbed as one of nation’s best high schools
by Briana Webster
Feb 22, 2014 | 5820 views | 0 0 comments | 48 48 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Students sit in an Access Distance Learning Spanish class at Oakman High School Friday afternoon. The school learned in November 2013 that it was ranked as one of the best high schools in the nation according to the U.S. News & World Report. Daily Mountain Eagle - Briana Webster
Students sit in an Access Distance Learning Spanish class at Oakman High School Friday afternoon. The school learned in November 2013 that it was ranked as one of the best high schools in the nation according to the U.S. News & World Report. Daily Mountain Eagle - Briana Webster
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OAKMAN — Oakman High School was recently named one of the best high schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and principal Patrick Gann couldn’t be prouder.

Based on the scores of the graduating class of 2013, the school was awarded the bronze medal due to the students’ performance on state exit exams and internationally available exams on college-level course work.

“It was a U.S. News & World Report top 10 best high schools. They give a bronze, silver and a gold, and we qualified for the bronze,” Gann said. “Basically, when they look at test scores and the demographics of the school, they look at the reading and math scores based on the socioeconomic impact of the demographics.” 

At the time of graduation, the Class of 2013 was more than 90 percent proficient in the subjects of math and reading on the Alabama High School Graduation Exam — which is now extinct due to the new Alabama College and Career Ready Initiative, otherwise known as Alabama Common Core.

“The graduation exam is going away, and they’re doing a new accountability model based on the ACT. All eleventh graders this year will take the ACT as a gauge of academic performance,” Gann said. “The ninth and tenth graders are taking the ACT Quality Core. All that is going to be blended together in developing a grade for the score.  “The standards are becoming more rigorous,” he continued. “The graduation exam was a minimal standard whereas the ACT is based on College and Career Readiness criteria.” 

Oakman High also ranked No. 1 in the county with the highest graduation rate last year at 94 percent. District-wide Walker County’s graduation rate last year was 81 percent. Cordova High School came in second at 86 percent, and Dora High School ranked third with 85 percent.

Gann happily gives his faculty, staff and students full credit for the high school’s success, saying the teachers not only educate the students, but they also care about each one.

“My teachers do an excellent job of teaching and taking care of the kids. They instill responsibility, citizenship and being productive. There’s no program in place; they just do it,” Gann said. “The secret to our success is that they just care ... They do it naturally. They take the extra time and determination to work with the kids and let them know that they’re not just a product, or they’re not just a number. They work for the whole child.” 

Gann has 14 years in education with six of those years as the assistant principal and now in his fourth year as principal at Oakman High School. There are currently 22 teachers on staff at OHS and 292 students enrolled from ninth to twelfth grade.

From the time he began teaching in 2001 up to the present, Gann spoke about the evolution of teaching and learning in the classroom. He said teachers work “10 times harder at what they do by doing lesson plans and coming up with creative, innovative lessons to try to reach and motivate kids that are of the generation who have to be entertained because of the changes in technology.”

“It takes more than just lecturing. They have to differentiate their instruction to try to bring meaning to a lesson and bring it to life,” Gann said. “They also work harder in professional development, taking classes to pick up the new skills to adapt to the changes in curriculum and the student culture.

“ ... Even though we’re deep in analyzing the data, there’s more to teaching,” he continued. “The whole child is what we focus on. The data is important, but we want to make sure they’re well-rounded in all aspects.”