Relentless Pursuit of Excellence Earns Occoquan Elementary National Award
Posted on 11/18/2016
Picture of students on stage carrying flags

Soaring student achievement, staff commitment, parent involvement are hallmarks of Occoquan Elementary, a National Title I Distinguished School.

Against all odds and breaking all barriers, Occoquan students are succeeding at astounding rates. The school has reached national prominence with its latest award. The student population includes 67.4 percent eligible for free and reduced lunch, 53 percent English language learners, and 12 percent identified for special education services.

Principal Hamish Brewer credits students, his team, parents, and community partnerships for the school’s success.

“Occoquan has always been a school staffed by those willing to go the extra mile, those that build a family within the walls of the school, and those that believe they have a mission and not a job,” says Brewer. “We have created a high octane, high achieving, caring and nurturing educational environment.”

Occoquan ES staff at Statue of Liberty
Instruction is data-driven, Brewer says, and weekly lesson plans are created around data. “No one student belongs to any one teacher; we are all responsible for all our students, as a grade, as a team, and as a school,” he says.

Students enjoy two recesses daily; teachers use microphones through their audio-enhanced classrooms to help English learners; unlimited field trips enrich student experiences; mentors are role models and tutors; and online programs as well as a take-home tablet program keep learning active during lab time, classroom instruction, and at home. Families are continuously kept up to date on student grades and progress. Teacher professional development is also continuous, even during the summer.

Occoquan Elementary has earned multiple PWCS School of Excellence Awards and is fully accredited under Virginia’s accountability program. Over four years, the Standards of Learning pass rate for economically disadvantaged students increased from 59 percent to 87 percent. In math, scores for this group increased from a 79 percent pass rate to 94 percent, topping the state average of 66 percent by 28 percentage points. Pass rates for English language learners and students with disabilities also have soared. Scores for those with disabilities increased by 40 percent, from 52 percent in reading to a 72 percent pass rate, far above the state average of 46 percent. Math pass rates for this group in just two years rose from 62 percent to 85 percent.

“We win this as a team,” Brewer said. “We could not be more proud to represent Prince William County Public Schools and the Occoquan community as a National Title I Distinguished School.”

The national award is the first such award for a Prince William County Public School.

Representatives from the school will be recognized during the National Association of State Title I Directors' annual conference in February in California.

Occoquan ES celebrating diversity with national flags