August 19, 2020

Welcome High School Families

William Perkins Tift / High School Principal

Dear High School Families,

Welcome to the 2020-21 school year! And I would like to extend a special welcome to the 24 new families joining our Oakwood high school community this year. With each day seemingly blurring into the next one during the pandemic, I hope the start of the school year can provide a moment of reset and reflection, of setting intentions and goals for learning and for engaging with the Oakwood community and the broader world.

It has been a summer filled with work at Oakwood, virtually and physically, preparing the program and the facility for the various scenarios of remote, hybrid, and on-campus learning. Last week, many of you joined our webinar to hear about our Remote Learning 2.0 plans, the result of hundreds of hours of formal and informal learning and reflection on best practices. (If you missed the webinar, you can find it here.) Our faculty is poised for a meaningful, authentic, and relevant educational experience with students and families as vital partners in learning. Our theme this year—Embrace the Moment—calls on all of us to more deeply engage with and understand the critical issues facing our institution and our society. We are inviting these issues—institutional racism and white supremacy, public health and safety, partisanship, societal inequity, rigorous scientific inquiry, environmental stewardship, research and fact-finding—fully into our classrooms. Within our community based in trust and care, we must engage with these issues and with one another, with honesty and courage, so that we offer an alternative model to that which we see playing out nationally. In so doing, we return to our founding mission to prepare students for productive engagement and active participation in a democratic society.

I am honored to lead such a dedicated and esteemed faculty and staff. In the coming weeks, I will be introducing to you the newest members of this group, and you will meet them in orientations, classrooms, and community gatherings.

At Oakwood, we often talk about the reciprocal nature of teaching and learning—that true learning does not flow in one direction from teacher to student, but that each of us will also be teacher or student in any given moment. This reciprocity forms the foundation of our partnership as we learn with one another through this school year and beyond.

With hope and gratitude,