August 14, 2019

A New School Year Begins

Denise Ross / Elementary School Principal

Dear Oakwood Families,

A new school year is about to begin, and we are eager to share the many changes that will greet you upon your return. For the last two months, the campus has been abuzz with extensive renovations to classrooms surrounding the courtyard. Sleek, new windows have been installed along with electronic blackout shades. Every room now has drop ceilings with high-energy efficient lighting and central air conditioning. One of the third-grade classrooms has been completely updated, and all classrooms have new furniture with both contemporary design and function. Students will soon enjoy cool, refreshing water from the bottle filling stations at both ends of the campus.

Summer is a time for travel and many of our faculty and staff have journeyed throughout the country by boat, plane, and automobile partaking of pleasurable excursions. Some also used the time to pursue professional development opportunities. The kindergarten and first-grade teachers attended the week-long Orton Gillingham literacy training in Los Angeles and the Singapore Math-based Think Math workshop in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fifth-grade teachers took part in the Northwest Math Institute in Seattle, Washington. Our students and the ever-evolving educational program are the beneficiaries of these teachers’ dedication.

Jaime and a group of elementary campus administrators attended the Science of Teaching and School Leadership Academy at the Center for Transformative Teaching and Learning in Potomac, Maryland. The week-long institute broadened our knowledge of mind, brain, and education science; helped us to identify ways to transform educational practice; and extended our understanding of how to develop action research to implement MBE-informed strategies. It was truly an enriching experience.

At the core of Oakwood’s Strategic Plan lies Teaching and Learning whose primary goal is “to align teaching and learning, in all aspects of school life in and beyond the classroom, with the Oakwood Statement of Philosophy.” In the service of that goal, we have added two Directors of Studies to the administrative staff who will support our vision. On a macro level, they will support the school’s efforts in areas such as articulating and aligning a K-12 program through collaboration with our secondary campus colleagues on curriculum and interdisciplinary opportunities, culturally responsive experiences, and the use of longitudinal data to inform instruction. At the elementary campus, they will provide direct support to teachers in curriculum development and instructional practice, evaluate teacher performance and student engagement, and coordinate professional development.

Melanie Jacobson, who has been at Oakwood for 20 years and has taught both first and sixth grades, will be Dir. of Studies, K-2. Jill Solomon, our math specialist, will continue in that role and also become Dir. of Studies, 3-6. Melanie and Jill will also ensure the success of our new teachers as they begin their Oakwood teaching lives. Nicola Berlinsky will remain a fourth-grade teacher but will also serve as Social Studies Coordinator. Her first set of responsibilities will be to create a K-6 curriculum scope and sequence to help us evaluate our strengths and needs. Additional position changes include Carly Purmort, formerly a first-grade teacher, who will be moving to kindergarten to partner with Julie Miller-Kolsky. Keely Hass, Campus Manager, will be instrumental in overseeing school operations and liaising with administrative offices. Finally, Marlene Huitink, coordinator of the Afterschool Program (ASP), will add to her responsibilities as the Afterschool Enrichment Coordinator to provide students with a quality afterschool experience. (Click here to read about the new faces at both the Elementary and Secondary Campuses.)

Exactly one year ago, I looked forward to a “new and exciting adventure.” I congratulated myself on my prescience, but, in fact, every year holds uniquely invigorating and inspiring opportunities. As always, your partnership is integral to our success, and I know that we are, indeed, Better Together!

With warmest regards,

Denise Ross
Elementary School Principal