Ottobine Elementary School was built in 1958 in order to consolidate Briery Branch and Clover Hill Elementary Schools. It was built equidistant between the two communities at Ottobine. It was comprised of students enrolled in Grades 1-7 with an estimated capacity of 200 students. Several years after construction, students from Clover Hill were transported to Bridgewater Elementary School since Ottobine's enrollment exceeded the size of the school building. In 1968, an addition of five classrooms plus a library was added to the eastern section of the school to increase the building capacity. Seventh grade students were transferred to John Wayland Intermediate School after its completion. Physical education was taught in the cafeteria until the gymnasium was completed in 1978. In 1985, sixth grade students were moved when Rockingham County adopted the middle school concept.
Major renovations took place in the summer of 1990. The renovations involved the removal of asbestos and the installation of new floors, ceilings, and lighting in the older western section of the building. In 1999-2000, Ottobine Elementary School is expected to house about 300 students in grades PK-5. Ottobine will serve four year-olds in a federally supported Pre-Kindergarten Program. After completing fifth grade, Ottobine students attend Wilbur S. Pence Middle School. Following completion of eighth grade, Ottobine students attend Turner Ashby High School.
Ottobine adopted Dr. Philip McInnis's Assured Readiness for Learning program during the 1983-84 school year. Combined with the leadership of Chapter I coordinator Sarah Scott and Principal Ed Price, the program contributed to steady increases in student test scores throughout the 1980's. In recent years, the Ottobine staff has developed a reputation for innovation among Rockingham County educators with early implementations of whole language instruction and manipulative-based math instruction. The Ottobine Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (OPTSO) spearheaded fundraising efforts which resulted in the construction of the playground area in 1991.
During 1991-92, Ottobine entered into the Strengthening Our Future school-business partnership with ROCCO, Inc. and James Madison University. A wide variety of reform-minded programs emerged from the partnership, including an annual partnership focal event such as the Future Fair in the spring of 1992, the Global Village Fair in the spring of 1993, and the technology Fair in May of 1994. During 1992-93, the partnership supported the development of Rockingham County's first comprehensive elementary school foreign language program as all Ottobine students began to learn Spanish and about the Hispanic culture from JMU student teachers. Much progress was also made during these years in the area of technology education, telecommunications and in the areas of math and science as Ottobine was selected to participate in V-Quest program. For these efforts the Ottobine faculty, staff and community received much publicity and recognition, and a variety of national, regional awards which are on display between the office and gym areas.
The Ottobine School Council also was developed during the 1991-92 school year and it was implemented during 1992-93. The principles of Total Quality Management were added to the process during 1992-93. Ottobine was one of four Rockingham County schools selected by the School Board to pilot the site-based shared decision-making concept during 1992-93. The School Council provided Ottobine with a unique decision-making structure which involved teachers, parents and the administration as equal partners.
During the 1994-96 school years, Ottobine was visited by the Governor's Commission of Champion Schools, which listened to a panel of teachers, staff, students, parents, community, and business partners talk about why and how Ottobine has become such and innovative and special school. Partnership efforts were continued, highlighted by a World of Work Fair in 1995, a Farm Fair in 1996, and a Global Village Fair in 1997. The staff has negotiated a balanced scope and sequence of units of study across the grade levels, and began to implement a more inclusionary model of special education services. The Ottobine staff shared its efforts in technology education, with a feature article in the ITEA journal, The Technology Teacher, published in the spring of 1996.
During the 1997-98 school year, the You Otter Be Proud student recognition program was instituted whereby students are recognized each six week basis based on good work on the six pillars of the Character Counts program. Bridgewater College was added as an official fourth member of the JMU/ROCCO/Bridgewater/Ottobine business partnership. Partnership efforts continued to flourish capped off by the 1998 Environmental Fair. Technology Fair 1999 captured everyone's imaginations as we looked to the year 2000 and to the future. A Power Macintosh computer lab was installed at the school in the summer of 1998.
During the summer of 1999, practically the entire building was repainted. Electrical service was also upgraded to support window air conditioners which were installed during early fall of 1999. This project enabled most of the school to be air conditioned.
Over the years, the Ottobine staff and community have established themselves as dynamic groups dedicated to innovative education of children who live in southwestern Rockingham County. This reputation is built on a tradition for hard work established under the guidance and example of teacher experts and under the leadership of the following principals:
Ramona R. Pence (2000-2006)
Lynn Sprouse (1997-2000)
David W. Burchfield (1994-1997)
Dr. Robert P. Grimesey, Jr. (1991-1994)
Nancy J. Lantz (1989-1991)
Charles J. Wright (1988-1989)
Edmund P. Price (1980-1988)
Dr. Fred W. Kennon (Summer, 1980)
Edward L. Smith (1976-1980)
Edward A. Byrd (1964-1976)
Gar Miley (1958-1964)