"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.
We agree with Fareed Zakaria who said: “The most important thing that schools can do is to make people aware that understanding the world is very much part of the requirement of being an educated person.”
Education is key to building the sense of global citizenship that global problem-solving requires.
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 just completed a two-week exchange with Colegio Paulo Freire High School from Montevideo, Uruguay. Our connection to this school began several years ago when Señora Karow went to Uruguay as a Fulbright exchange teacher. Since then we have hosted six visiting teachers and administrators from various schools throughout Uruguay. This student exchange begins a relationship which will hope will bring our schools and our students closer together in the future.
On Jan. 26, we welcomed 12 students and two of their teachers into our school community and into our homes. Their students shadowed host students in the upper school, attending classes and extracurricular activities with them. They were able to experience the daily routine of an American high school student, from toaster waffles in the morning to lacrosse practice after school and homework at night.
“I was expecting them to be very different, but Maggie was just like we are. It was so much fun,” said Lorissa Gotsch '20, one of our host students. Her brother, Wesley '20 agreed, “It was a lot of fun, but I also learned a lot about another culture. I really want to go there next year.”
Saiyara Noor '19, said it was a little bit of a culture shock. “Their houses and their lives are so different. They are so close to each other and they act like brothers and sisters – like kissing when they meet. I wish we were more like that.”
Oak Hall is grateful to all of our host students and their families for the tremendous effort they put forth to welcome the visitors and to make their experience such a positive one. We would like to thank the Gotsch family, Amiel family, Olcese family, DePlato family, Lipori family, Stevenson family, and the Noor family for their participation in this exchange.
“This experience created lifelong friends that we will never forget,” said Emma Lipori '19.
Dozens of Oak Hall students are now in contact with students from Montevideo through snap chat and other social media and both visitors and hosts believe that they will continue this relationship. Colegio Paulo Freire has invited us to send 12 students to Montevideo for Spring Break 2018 to experience life in Uruguay and see the sights including Punta del Este, the hot springs in Salto, the capitol city of Montevideo, and Colonia – the original Portuguese settlement.
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.