Ocean Knoll Elementary School is a center for creativity in our community. Although its demographics would suggest it to be one of the least desirable schools in the district, it has become one of the most attractively innovative.
The student body of 470 is championed by principal Angelica Lopez, recent recipient of the Elementary Administrator of the Year Award for Excellence in Theatre Education, presented by the San Diego Educational Theatre Association.
Born in the state of Michoacán, Mexico, Lopez came with her family to Encinitas at age 6 and, without speaking English, began first grade at Capri Elementary. She went on to receive her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in San Diego, and as she currently finishes her doctorate, she is an inspiration to many.
Lopez attributes much of her clarity of vision to hearing Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert, speak on the essential nature of creativity in education. Under Lopez’s guidance, Ocean Knoll has implemented a program that incorporates essential skills set forth in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years program, emphasizing critical thinking in a global context. The Leichtag Foundation granted funds for Ocean Knoll’s application for the sought-after International Baccalaureate status.
Lopez hesitates to accept credit for her school’s successes, instead acknowledging its staff, parent community and many partnerships. According to Lopez, “We continue to struggle with the budget situation, but don’t use that as an excuse to not knock on doors.” She said, “When you can clearly articulate your goals and vision, the resources come pouring in.”
Due to asking for assistance, opportunities have been abundant for Ocean Knoll, including partnerships with UCSD Science Lab, The Kid’s College and The Sage Garden Foundation.
Lopez expressed the good fortune of permission, freedom, and support of the Encinitas school district, under the leadership of Dr. Tim Baird.
“Due to strong endowments, we’ve actually seen an increase of arts at Ocean Knoll,” Baird said. “The students themselves are able to develop projects that envelop art.”
With funding received from Proposition P, the school has been able to provide iPads to all students enrolled in the third through sixth grades, which has opened up limitless innovative possibilities for creative learning experiences.
Baird expressed excitement in watching students play electric guitars plugged into the GarageBand software on their iPads, creating their own music. Taylor Guitars donated 15 instruments to the school, which have provided means for many students to learn not only to read music, but also to write their own.
The school also provides a rich array of other programs such as Art Attack, Playwrights Project, dance and vocal music.
Lopez queries, “If we don’t provide a variety of experiences at elementary level, how will students know what their passion is? If never explored, how can they tap into it?” She continued, “We have to stop saying we’re preparing children for the 21st century, because we are already in the 21st century.”
You can learn more about Ocean Knoll Elementary at eusd.net/SchoolSites/ocean-knoll-elementary-school.