The perspective of the Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie is based on the Quaker belief system, which emphasizes community building, reasoned discourse, peaceful co-existence and values-based learning. This historical movement began in 17th century England yet thrives today within contemporary society.
“Our method is embedded in community, and starts with real problems in real communities. We give space to students to play with concepts and emphasize depth over breadth in the way we teach,” says Stephen Miller, Humanities Department Chair and Faculty Mentor, Oakwood Friends School. “Students still work hard, but they care about wanting to solve problems. Our classes are pretty small (average class size is 8-10), and the focus is on project work versus delivering information. It’s a progressive approach, one that emphasizes a moral perspective and values like equality, integrity, stewardship and simplicity.”
Miller admits that when new students arrive, those concepts are often just words to them but by the time they are 12th graders, they accept and embody them.
Students from a dozen countries, multiple religious, cultures and beliefs currently attend Oakwood, with a nearly even mix of boarders and day school students. “I recently taught a class on International Relations, and kids were there from all over the globe,” he says. “It’s rewarding to have multiple perspectives on the same question.”
The striking thing, says Miller, is that although Oakwood was founded in 1796 and is New York’s oldest co-educational boarding and day school – and one of the oldest in the United States – its focus on fairness, interdisciplinary studies, global awareness and more are at the forefront of current trends dealing with racial, sexual and gender equality. “We have been talking about these issues for a long time, and are proud to educate young people so they will be able to enter the conversation with an engaged, moral perspective,” he says.
Featured Program Areas
Programs at Oakwood aim to educate the spirit, scholar, athlete and artist in each student. Many students embrace the opportunity to push themselves outside their normal comfort zones by participating in teams, performing in plays, learning new instruments and engaging in courses that bridge traditional areas of study with contemporary global issues.
• Global Affairs Certificate: Students enrolled in this program complete an independent research project from a global comparative perspective. Projects vary widely – from fashion to nuclear fusion – and graduates engage in rigorous academic work alongside practical experiences. Mandarin Chinese is offered as a language option, and coursework includes such classes as Ethics, Asian Religion, International Relations, Cultural Anthropology, Modern Middle East, Postcolonial Studies, Revolutions in Three Countries, Economics, Greek Philosophy and Globalization.
• Robotics: Even a program such as Oakwood’s exemplary Robotics concentration crosses disciplinary boundaries and is in line with Quaker values. Students interested in math and science learn to see questions of aesthetics, ethics and morality while studying theory, design and application. The three sections of this yearlong course examine embedded sensor technology, robotic design/coding and theory/engineering applications.
• Academic Support Center (ASC): Students with identified academic learning differences benefit from this highly personalized instructional program that meets during the academic day and primarily focuses on planning, organization and work completion. Because of Oakwood’s ethos of equality, students enrolled in the ASC are not divided from other students or tracked into a separate program. While engaging in the full scope of Oakwood’s academic offerings, they receive the additional academic assistance needed to learn effectively and succeed at a high level.
Come Visit the Oakwood Friends School
Oakwood Friends School holds several Open Houses throughout the fall, providing an opportunity to meet students, faculty and tour the campus. Several events and guest speakers are scheduled throughout the year as well with the Hudson Valley community always welcome. Recent speakers included nationally known artists, chefs, scientists, engineers and political pundits.
Founded in 1796, Oakwood Friends School is New York State’s oldest co-educational boarding and day school. It is an independent, college preparatory boarding and day school serving grades 6-12, and is accredited by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS). Devoted since its inception to fundamental Quaker values, Oakwood Friends School puts this belief into practice by focusing on the individual learner, and cultivating a vibrantly diverse community. Call today or visit the website for more information and to begin the enrollment process.
Oakwood Friends School
22 Spackenkill Road
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Phone: (845) 462-4200
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