"A welcoming, diverse, and supportive learning community where students are empowered to pursue their academic, artistic, and athletic passions."
Oak Hall School’s mission statement was adopted to reflect our school’s sense of purpose and to define our aspirations for our students. The words “welcoming” and "diverse" occupy a prominent place in that statement because we believe a welcoming, diverse atmosphere that teaches global awareness and cross-cultural experiences are critical components of a great education.
A commitment to global education recognizes the fact that the world is interconnected culturally, demographically, environmentally, economically, and electronically. We believe that there is no substitute for a hands-on, person to person cross-cultural experience. Our programs emphasize fostering long-term partnerships, international travel that includes homestays whenever possible, “digital exchanges,” as well as multiple opportunities to host and learn from international students. We often lead with the arts as they are universal and provide a window into other cultures.
Global Culture Exchange & Partnerships
Uruguayan Student Exchange
Two-week exchange with Colegio Paulo Freire High School from Montevideo, Uruguay.
As part of our on-going commitment to global education, Oak Hall School sponsors a yearly student exchange with a high school in Montevideo, Uruguay. Our relationship began over a decade ago when Señor Karow was sent to Uruguay as a Fulbright exchange teacher. Since then, we have hosted visiting teachers and administrators through the State Department and now have initiated an independent exchange between Oak Hall and Paulo Freire.
In 2017, we welcomed the first delegation of students from Uruguay who spent two weeks experiencing the daily routines of American high school students from toaster waffles to lacrosse practice.
“I was expecting them to be different, but Maggie was just like we are and it was so much fun,” said Lorissa Gotsch ’20, a host in 2017.
The following year (2018), Maggie returned the favor, opening her home to Lorissa for a two week visit to Uruguay. A dozen Oak Hall students attended classes, toured historic sites, ate delicious authentic foods, and learned about the lives of their counterparts in Uruguay. “Their generosity to us was overwhelming,” said Señor Karow. “They took us all over the country, featured our exchange on their nightly news, opened the governor’s palace to us for a private tour, and hosted a memorable asado in our honor at a vacation home in Punta Del Este. We were treated like honored guests and, best of all, like family.” The students on the exchange are still in constant communication with their new families in Uruguay.
In March 2019, it will be our turn to welcome a dozen young people from Paulo Freire who will be attending classes, practices, events, and living with the next generation of Oak Hall host families.
The Andros Island Sister School Project was conceived in 2002 by Gary Bone, art teacher at Oak Hall School and Susan Johnson, art teacher at Central Andros High School. Andros Island is the largest and least populated of the Bahamas. It is 100 miles long and 40 miles wide with a population of less than 8,000 and is mostly rural.
When our project began Central Andros High School was in a state of decline and neglect. Many classrooms lacked basic things like electricity and screens on the windows. There was no place to sit and eat lunch. The needs of the school were great and morale was low. After returning from an initial trip to the school, Mr. Bone shared photographs and observations with Headmaster, Richard Gehman, and the project became a reality.
Over the years Oak Hall students and faculty have made nine trips to Andros in support of our ongoing efforts to improve Central Andros High School and Fresh Creek Primary, its main feeder school. Various projects have benefited hundreds of students on the island. Some Oak Hall students returned to help year after year. We have shipped tons of books, computers, televisions, school supplies, PE equipment, paint and material for physical improvements to the schools.
Our mission has been to help the school to improve academically as well as to elevate their morale. We renovated the basketball court by shipping 75 gallons of blacktop sealer along with all the necessary paint and new rims, nets and balls. The school responded by buying new uniforms for the basketball team. They beat us handily in the inaugural game! We shipped down 25 highly serviceable computers that were available due to upgrades at our school. Our IT Director, Michael Martinez, networked all of the computers and supervised the building of counters in a classroom and installed a computer lab. Over the years we expanded the network to include the entire school, including connecting the school to the internet and adding printers for student work. We were pleased that CAHS was the first school on the island to be internet connected.
Later, a very successful former resident of Andros returned to the island and visited the school. He saw the rather basic lab that we had put together and decided to make a donation to the school of 25 new Dell computers and tables. We took the other computers and created a work room for teachers and put computers on the desks of the administrators. This is another example of the community being moved to match our efforts.
On other trips we painted three large murals to beautify the front of the school and participated in music collaborations with students from OHS and CAHS that led to a performance at the Crab Festival with students of both schools on stage together. We built 12 picnic tables so students at CAHS would have a place to each lunch and study, and remodeled the school store known as the Tuck Shop. We planted a “peace pole” at the school to commemorate members of both faculties that had died. All of these projects were accomplished through the efforts of students and faculty of both schools.
As a result, Bahamians became more proud of their school. More improvements on their part led to Central Andros High School winning an award from the Bahamian government for being the most attractive school on the island. On the heels of this, EDTECH magazine sent a reporter to Andros to write an article about our efforts to improve the school and our use of technology at the school. We were given a $1,000 award for our efforts, which went to cover the cost of our projects.
The next phase of our relationship with the people of Andros Island began in 2016. Through our contacts on the island we have developed a new opportunity for collaboration. Future trips to Andros will be in support of the work of the Andros Conservancy and Trust (www.ancat.net). Home base will be the Sunset Point Field Station in Fresh Creek. Students will work in the recently established Central Andros National Park helping to restore habitat and build simple amenities. They will learn about the beautiful but fragile coral reefs and other aspects of the unique ecosystem of Andros. We have also established a program with a different school, The Promise Institute in Love Hill, where our students will lead art and science projects for the Bahamian students. Oak Hall students will also collaborate with a local youth volunteer service group. Naturally, there is always time for snorkeling the reefs and diving into the famous Blue Holes.
Changzhou #2 Middle School
Oak Hall established a partnership with an amazing high school in Changzhou, China in 2007. Our initial delegation arrived in Changzhou in March 2007. We discovered a school with nearly 1,300 years of history and great achievements.