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Chad Cianfrani​, Head of School

The Sacred Waters of Standing Rock SD, Peking University, the Republic of Georgia, and approximately 70,000 honey bees resonated with one voice at Oakwood Friends School these past few months. Seemingly disparate locations, projects, professional opportunities and activities served as inspiration while faculty presented research, attended conferences, created art, and built relationships this summer.

Sacred Waters: Oakwood’s ceramics and visual arts instructor spent her summer visiting members of the Lakota Nation, including one of her recent students and 2018 Oakwood graduate. Through first-person interviews and videos, she gathered inspiration, information and waters of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers.  The interviews and water will be incorporated into her month-long exhibit, Each Day Water which will be on display at Art Centro in Poughkeepsie this October.  Her work directly informs both the ceramics classes and the larger discussions on campus around water rights, environmental issues and service learning.

Peking University: Oakwood’s Philosophy teacher and Humanities Chair participated in the 24th World Congress of Philosophy at the University of Peking in August. The theme of the week-long event was “Learning to Be Human” and included a focus on teaching philosophy and ethics at the high school and middle school level.  The conference hosted approximately 8,000 attendees from more than 140 countries. During the conference, he presented on his own published research and served on a roundtable discussion panel. This material directly reflects the philosophy and globalization courses offered at Oakwood in grades 6th – 12th.

Republic of Georgia: Oakwood’s Music Director travelled abroad this summer to present at several international conferences. In July, he attended The International Society for Music Education (ISME) in the Republic of Georgia where he presented his dissertation research on music education in the United States prison system. This fascinating research focuses on how hearing prison ensembles perform, or performing with them, directly affects individual attitudes towards those incarcerated. He draws on this work throughout the academic year, incorporating aspects of community engagement and outreach into his classrooms.

Honey bees: Watching a group of 6th graders, wearing 6th grade-sized beekeeper suits, is nothing short of awesome.  After a summer of darting through, tuple trees, willows and campus flowers, the first batch of Oakwood honey was spun from the campus hives and our 70,000 or so resident bees. These hives, along with the four-season greenhouse contributes the middle school science curriculum.

Faculty engagement over the summer speaks to the breadth of interests, the depth of curiosity and an awareness that education extends well beyond the confines of a 55-acre campus.  Summer work translates directly into fall curriculum and elevates the learning environment across the board.  It draws upon a diversity of thought and reiterates the importance of a global perspective within education.  With students from across the country and around the world, Oakwood’s boarding and day program draws a diverse cross-section of learners.  Students, working closely with faculty, reach into both their local and global community, constantly blurring the line between classroom learning and real-world application.


Learn more about Oakwood Friends School, its programs, the students and the faculty at www.oakwoodfriends.org or visit with the students and faculty at the Open Houses on October 27th and 28th.

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