The Post Oak School
Founded in 1963, The Post Oak School now enrolls nearly 450 PreK-12th grade students on two campuses. The school originally served children between the ages of 3 and 6 in a one-room schoolhouse located in the Briar Grove section of Houston. Post Oak advertises itself as the oldest Montessori school in the Southwest United States.
Post Oak is a non-sectarian school. The school is culturally and ethnically diverse and accepts qualified students regardless of race, color, religion, or national origin.
Location and Facilities
The main campus of The Post Oak School is located in the city of Bellaire within the metropolitan area of Houston, Texas. The campus occupies a 3.5-acre lot located at the intersection of Bissonnet Street and Avenue B and is easily accessible from the West Loop, US-59, and the Westpark Tollway. Built in 1986, the 55,000-square-foot building includes 19 classrooms, a library, a music studio, an art studio, a gym, an outdoor playground, a commons area, a recreation field, a basketball court, and gardens.
The Post Oak High School campus is located in the Houston Museum District just off US-59, giving students immediate access to the resources of the nearby museums and cultural institutions. The school building, which serves as the hub of this extended campus, is characterized by an open floor plan and features a design lab, a science lab, a presentation area, small group work areas, and a reception area.
For grades PreK-8, The Post Oak School admission process generally requires a campus tour, a completed admission application, transcripts or report cards from previous schools, teacher recommendations, and an interview. An electronic version of the application is available to view online. Siblings of current Post Oak students are given priority in admission, as are applicants whose parents have attended a series of four informational classes. The school prefers to admit children at age 3 or younger; however, older children are also eligible to enroll. Many students come from other Montessori schools, but not all.
The Post Oak High School admission process requires a general application, transcripts from the applicant's current school, teacher recommendations, a community member recommendation, ISEE test results, a student essay and work sample, a school-day visit, and an interview. Applications are available online for high school applicants. Prior Montessori experience is not required for admission to the high school.
Academic Tracks and Curriculum
The Post Oak School utilizes the Montessori educational method, which was developed by an Italian physician, Maria Montessori, and serves children from birth to the age of eighteen. The Montessori Method emphasizes independence and freedom within limits, and it takes into account the variation in behavioral tendencies of children of different ages. It involves mixed age classrooms, student choice of activity, and uninterrupted periods of work. The school emphasizes active, hands-on learning, meaningful work, self-direction, the development of personal interests, and the opportunity to cultivate real-world social skills through peer teaching and collaborative learning.
The high school is an International Baccalaureate World school where students study English language arts, foreign language, history and the humanities, science, math, fine arts, and physical education. Twice each year, students participate in single, intensive multi-week classes that are collaboratively selected and designed by students and faculty, such as Psychology or Entrepreneurship and Design. Students also complete a community service requirement, a capstone research project, and a capstone course entitled "Theory of Knowledge."
High school students use the resources of the Houston Museum District, the Texas Medical Center, and local colleges and universities to extend their classroom learning and to open opportunities for long-term internships tailored to their interests. Students have visual arts classes at the Glassell Junior School, theater classes at Main Street Theater, and physical fitness classes at the Gibbs Recreation Center at Rice University. Students conduct research in the field around the Museum District and do library-based research at the Fondren Library at Rice University and at the Doherty Library at the University of St. Thomas.
The Post Oak School believes that “in a fundamental way, all children have special needs.” The Post Oak School aims to respond to each child as an individual and to help each child identify personal interests and develop skills. For example, one child may be ready to do far more than what a narrowly-defined curriculum might prescribe, while another child may need to repeat an activity before understanding, and of course, some children have diagnosed learning differences. In many cases, Post Oak can meet those needs in the classroom; in other cases, the school not have the resources or the expertise to do so. In either case, Post Oak will make that determination with parents and in consultation with outside experts.
Children learn Spanish language and culture from the earliest ages at Post Oak. In the elementary years, Spanish instruction includes formal lessons. Younger children concentrate on basic vocabulary and conversation, while older students learn Spanish grammar, verb conjugations, and written Spanish. High school students choose to study Spanish or Mandarin Chinese.
Students at Post Oak work in various media of the visual arts. For younger children, artistic expression is always available in the classroom as a choice of activity. Once children enter the elementary years, formal classes introduce a variety of artistic media, including drawing, painting, and sculpting. Elementary and middle school classes design sets for classroom theatrical productions and produce models and illustrations to accompany academic work. High school students walk to the nearby Glassell Junior School for their visual art classes.
Students engage in music study and performance from their early years at Post Oak. Elementary, middle, and high school students continue performance as well as music appreciation and music history.
Elementary, middle, and high school students study theater as appropriate to their ages with a focus on performance and performance support work. High school students work with the Main Street Theater for their theater arts classes and performances.
The Post Oak School offers students technology that is matched to their stage of development. Pre-elementary students utilize common hand tools and other manipulative learning materials, but no electronic technology. Young elementary students use computers in the school library for research, and by the upper elementary level (grades 4-6), there are desktop computers in the classroom. Middle school students use laptop computers in class, and each student is issued an e-reader. The high school is an iPad environment, and students use the device as an e-reader, to produce work in writing and other media, and for various apps that have academic applications. High school students explicitly learn how to manage e-mail, files, calendars, written work, and the other elements of their electronic, online lives.
The Post Oak School offers optional after-school enrichment classes, including art, choir, dance, Chinese, Spanish, and chess classes. A variety of clubs are also offered for student participation, including cheer squad, Montessori Model UN, stamp collecting, a running club, and intramural sports.
Post Oak School offers interscholastic competition at the middle school level (grades 7-8) in the following sports: cross-country, volleyball, soccer, and basketball. Upper elementary students (grades 4-6) can participate in intramural sports afterschool. In the spring, a post-season flag football team is offered for students in both elementary and middle school.
At the high school level, students may participate in outside athletic clubs, as the athletics department is currently in development. While there are currently no interscholastic sports at the high school level, however, physical education classes utilize facilities at Rice University and enable students to explore a range of fitness options including ultimate Frisbee, yoga, basketball, track, and volleyball.
The Post Oak School invites parents into a partnership in service to their child. In terms of the day-to-day life of the school, there are many opportunities for involvement, from service on the board of trustees to cooking with small groups of children; from sharing your professional expertise with classes to helping chaperone field trips; and from gardening with children to working with parent committees to organize community events.
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