Welcome to Oak Hill Lower School
Family members are encouraged to become involved in their student’s school life and the larger school community.
Parent involvement enhances the education that students receive and allows us to provide all students with more activities and opportunities than would otherwise be possible. The Community Service Organization (CSA) is charged with providing family members information about how to engage in school life, organize volunteer opportunities and monitor community service hours provided.
As with most high quality education organizations where involvement is part of the culture, we have an expectation that each parent performs 30 hours per year per family. Those families not providing 30 hours or more of service time to the institution will be charged $20 for each hour not submitted, up to 30 hours. The maximum amount charged per family is set at $600. A first round of billing for those families who have not submitted their required hours will begin in late May/early June. A final review of hours will occur just after the last day of school and the billing records will be updated accordingly. Any service time done during the summer break will be recorded towards the next school year unless there is a formal agreement with the CSA steering committee. Exceptions to the policy on hardship grounds may be considered by the CSA steering committee on a case-by-case basis and are reviewed annually. Please review the guidelines in the CSA bylaws as found on their webpage.
Specialists work with lower school students throughout the week.
With their specialists, students develop public speaking skills, art and music appreciation, foreign language foundations, computer literacy, and a respect for nature, among others.
Music instruction is part of every K-5 student’s experience at Oak Hill School. Each grade meets 2-3 times per week for general music class where they sing, play instruments, compose, prepare for performances, dance, play musical games, and listen to music from around the world. I
Public Speaking for the Lower School includes exercises designed to meet the needs of the individual student.
Students in Visual Arts Programs at Oak Hill School learn to communicate personal expression, cultural values, and heritage as they experience the power visual images have influencing human behavior. Art projects incorporate elements of problem solving, technical skills, and aesthetics in a variety of 2-D and 3-D media.
The Natural World Program encourages an ecological perspective on all aspects of human life. By this we simply mean viewing the world from the basic understanding that human beings gain their sustenance and live out their lives through wonderful networks of interdependent relationships.
The fundamental philosophy of Oak Hill Physical Education is to teach the students the importance of physical fitness over a lifetime, to give them the tools to be able to be fit and healthy throughout their lives, and make it a fun and positive experience for every student. In essence, we are teaching them a lifestyle.
At Oak Hill School, we seek to integrate technology into the classroom and into everyday life at the school in ways that are appropriate and which enhance learning and community.
Oak Hill’s Lower School is a vibrant, exuberant, shining example of elementary education. The small classrooms are inviting and safe places where students are allowed to explore and to create and share and to grow. In these early years, children will gain the social and academic foundations, the tools, that will allow them to prosper as they move forward in their academic lives. Critical thinking and analytical skills are emphasized.
Our students are independent and creative thinkers at an early age.
Our teachers work hard to develop a holistic learning environment– one in which a student is nurtured and both challenged and encouraged in learning. Through a myriad of lesson types and styles, our instructors strive to teach the whole child. Classroom lessons are supported by a rich array of specialty classes – students receive P.E. every day; and there are offerings in technology, music, art, and public speaking. The beautiful physical surroundings of our the campus serve to enhance the Lower School experience. With rolling green hills, native oaks, wildlife, streams, bee hives, and organic gardens, OHS is gifted with the perfect tool for hands-on learning when it comes to ecology, nature and the environment.
The staff and faculty of OHS pride ourselves on producing creative, intelligent and adaptable students, ready and able to explore the world and become global citizens.
To further this mission and philosophy, every LS child is given training in foreign languages. This begins in kindergarten where students are introduced to French and Spanish and Mandarin and continues throughout the Lower School. By 3rd grade, students focus on one particular language. They pick it up and they run with it.
Lower School Students may also choose to attend our many after-school enrichment programs, allowing even the youngest to immerse themselves in activities such as sewing, singing, chess, dance, computers, theater, language, yoga, and more.
Oak Hill is very proud of its World Language program. In grades K-2, students take Spanish, French, and Mandarin each week for 30 minutes each. In grade 3, students decide which language they want to focus on, and continue through 5th grade taking 2 45-minute classes each week. Students learn basic phrases, writing, and culture in a variety of settings, and develop an interest and understanding of our global community.
From the desk for Mary Ellen Arbuckle, Assistant Head of School
In the spring of 2003 I hand delivered an application to teach kindergarten and first grade at Oak Hill. I asked to walk around and look at the school and right away I knew that Oak Hill was a place I wanted to be. I saw happy teachers and happy children engaged with each other and the curriculum in an amazing natural setting.
When I started teaching in the fall of 2003, Oak Hill had three lower school teachers and 35 children. The specialists were music, physical education, art, computers and Spanish. We regularly met in the “Gather Room” for shared activities and impromptu talent shows.
The lower school has been steadily growing for ten years, adding four new classrooms in the fall 2005, and another in 2011 as we gradually added students and divided into separate grades. The 2015 school year started with 93 students and over the years we’ve added public speaking, outdoor education, and language classes in French and Mandarin. The statistics don’t tell the real story. The real story happens in the classrooms.
Every year, after weeks of gathering information and artifacts about their families, kindergartners create a family museum box. I watch kindergartners enthusiastically share their creations with first graders, who are intently listening and asking questions. In the fall, first graders dig for potatoes in the garden as if digging for gold. Then they count, weigh, clean, cook, and share their bounty with the second graders who planted them the prior spring.
I love watching the second graders walk by my window with Ms. Lynn and Mr. Jim in their beekeeper suits as they go to harvest the honey from the Oak Hill hives, which they will later spin out, bottle, and share with the Oak Hill community. And then the third grade cartography class marches by with their writing tablets as they gather information to create a map or as they decipher another student’s map to find a treasure.
The fourth grade class is in charge of managing the lower school’s classroom food waste. Each week they collect the compost from each classroom and feed the earthworms who live in a bin in the garden, creating nutrient rich dirt to add to the garden beds. You might also see our responsible fifth graders collecting the recycling from special containers throughout the whole school and delivering the collection bins for pick up.
Another common early morning scene is fifth graders gaily walking by with pillows and blankets. They’re having a “Read-o-Rama” day, which means they read all day, trying to meet a collective page-number goal set by Ms. Kim. Or you might see fourth graders dressed like pioneers pushing wagons down the hill on the final leg of a simulated journey on the Oregon Trail, on their way to a pioneer meal in the woods cooked over a wood fire.
Every week, I watch the fifth graders head out to lower school classrooms for their mentoring activities and watch the eyes of the first graders light up as three fifth graders walk into the room, eager to engage first graders in games and make-believe play.
On another day I see second graders dressed in bee costumes performing a play they wrote themselves. Or maybe I see the third graders excited that the an earthworm has just left a casing from which babies will hatch. An ordinary day at Oak Hill is rarely short of extraordinary!
Some years ago a second grade class was gathered at a local restaurant to celebrate a birthday. The children sang the normal happy birthday song in English. Then one of the children said, “Let’s sing it in Spanish!” and they did. Then another student said, “Let’s sing it in French!” and they did. Then the loud restaurant began to get quieter as observers noticed something unusual happening, and another child said, “Let’s sing it in Mandarin!” and they did. Everyone got really quiet, and someone asked, “Where are those children from?”
I am so proud to share in the creation of a great school!
Lower School Director,