CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- The roots of Angel Oak Elementary are nourished daily and the branches are continuing to grow.

Arts Integration and rigorous academics have produced lasting results and the school has improved academics and increased enrollment.

Dance, music, drama, visual arts are not only elective courses and extra-curricular activities at Angel Oak.  Each creative element is integrated in every class, students use dance to understand fractions, and they explore different time periods in history through music.  

“Angel Oak Elementary is special in so many ways. One of the great things we are proud of is our Arts Integration program.  We take the arts, and we infuse them in the classrooms.  It really helps to engage our students, and also helps to increase our rigor in learning. We have a program through Arts Integration training that helps us to connect with kids in a new way.  We’ve noticed a lot of our learners are a little reluctant to engage in learning, and arts integration has helped us connect with them. They want to be up. They want to be moving. They want to be creating, and it’s just helped a lot of our learners to hook into our regular content and express themselves, and they are learning in a new way.”

Principal Judith Condon

The school is considered a leader in Arts Integration for their acclaimed program.

Principal Condon says Angel Oak has visitors from all over the state and southeast tour their school to observe Angel Oak’s Art Integration leadership model.

“We have been named an Arts Integration School through Arts Now, and an ABC School through the state of South Carolina,” Condon said. “An ABC School is an arts and basic curriculum school.  You have to work really hard to get that honor, and you have to prove that you’re using the arts infused in your school in many ways, not only through Arts Integration but also through your arts programming.”

The school also have a partnership with Arts Etc., a Kiawah-based group that funds and celebrates the arts in local schools.

“They support so many things within our building. They bring in performances to our school.  They send our students to concerts and events. They help promote arts in the community, and we could not ask for a better partnership within our community,” Condon said.

Angel Oak has 780 students, with a very diverse population.  

Principal Judith Condon says Angel Oak has four focus areas, Arts Integration, rigorous instruction, cultural competency and social emotional learning. Students have soccer, tennis, and more than seventeen clubs and activities.

Fifth grade-student Fabian Hernandez says, “I think it’s very good because it helps us learn about cultures from different places. We have many good programs here like our strings, our ukulele, our tennis, and our health club that’s about to start up. I’m thankful for all the opportunities here.”  

Fifth-grade teacher and tennis coach Gregory Taylor says, “It’s more than cool.  It’s a pretty amazing school.  I’ve been here seventeen years. They get so excited and engaged about what they’re learning here.  As one of the teachers, I find it a pleasure to be able to connect all the students and engage all of the students in the learning, whereas there have been times students felt they couldn’t connect. They couldn’t really engage, but the reality is with arts integration, everybody is on a level playing field.  Everybody learns.  Everybody is involved. It’s exciting!  It’s interesting, and they see the product of what they create, and what they do and it’s pretty amazing.”

Fifth-grade student Gavin Leavitt says he is already sad about leaving the school the next year. “Because Angel Oak is a great school and has great teachers.  I like all the programs that they have.”

Fifth grade-student Lily Pessagno says, “I love it, because we have so many different ways to learn.  We have so many different programs that are really fun, and the different teaching ways, and I love it.”

Principal Condon says she is proud of the school’s academic achievements, moving from below average in 2017 to good this school year on the state’s annual report card.  

“Angel Oak is a Cool School because you’re not going to see the level of awesome art integration anywhere else in this state. We have visitors that come from all over the state and he Southeast to see what we’re doing in the classroom as a leadership model, and we are very proud of that.”

If you would like to nominate a Cool School, educator, or principal, send an email to Octavia Mitchell at