As we grow in fidelity to our academic model, so to have we deepened our ties with our UK partners. This month, these relationships have created two poignant comings and goings at our school.
First, we were excited to welcome home one of our Juniors, Jay, for a break from her two-year study abroad with our sister boarding school in Horsham, UK. Jay is completing her last two years of high school at Christ’s Hospital, one of the oldest and most prestigious high schools in England; as they entered their ‘Half-Term’ vacation, Jay has spent the last two weeks back at ODA sharing her experience, re-connecting with students and staff, and studying for her exams.
Second, we were sad to say goodbye to Ms. Elizabeth, a recent Oxford graduate who has spent the last ten weeks in residence at ODA helping our students and staff to deepen their understanding and practice of the Oxford Tutorial method. Prior to these ten weeks, Elizabeth has worked with ODA for two years as a student liaison, helping ODA students prepare for their tutorials during their time on the Oxford University campus.
Read below for reflections from both Jay and Elizabeth about their experiences– we’re proud to count both of them as ODA family, and will miss them as they venture back to the UK.
(And of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include at least a few pictures from yesterday’s Halloween celebration in this month’s banner. Happy Halloween from all of us at Oxford Day Academy!)
Jay, 11th Grade
As a student at Oxford Day Academy, I received the opportunity this past summer to study abroad in England at a private boarding school named Christ’s Hospital (CH) for two years. After taking the entrance exam and succeeding in securing a spot at the school, all that was left to do was to generate the necessary funding in order to be able to attend, which was fulfilled thanks to a very generous benefactor.
I left the US early September to begin attending CH; it was astounding and quite exceptional. Christ’s Hospital’s campus was amazing, to say the least and their classes were genuinely rigorous and engaging, as was their approach to student initiative.
I’ve gotten the chance to attend multiple voluntary talks and meetings discussing varieties of topics, from law to sports to LGBTQ+ issues; some were organized by staff, others by the students themselves who were really passionate and felt the need to convene and exchange views on subject matters. In mid October, I returned to California and my Oxford Day Academy family during my two week break from CH. Being at Christ Hospital gave me a better understanding about why Oxford Day Academy pushes students to excel academically and does not simply give them a passing grade for mediocrity as do many schools in East Palo Alto and surrounding communities.
Courses are much more in-depth in the UK and although it’s viable, time management is still heavily necessary to achieve adequately. I had a difficult experience adjusting at first, but as time came to pass, it had gotten easier to cope with. I’m still settling in, so there’s still more room for improvement, but I’m really sure I’ll soon come to adapt to the culture of my new school.
Ms. Elizabeth, Visiting Scholar
I spent ten weeks as a Visiting Scholar with the Oxford Day Academy (ODA), and had a truly remarkable time. The experience represented the culmination of the work that I had been doing with the ODA over the past two years at Oxford University. My role at the school largely entailed me working closely with the English and History departments, to assist with giving tutorials in the former, and to cover lessons and deliver Harkness sessions in the latter. Further, I also supported the Mathematics department in delivering a set of tutorials, and supported students with their essay-writing skills in the Sociology of Education classes.
My experience at the school was greatly insightful, enjoyable, and it was a tremendous learning experience which allowed me to reflect on the unique model of learning that ODA offers. Firstly, I learnt that students can greatly benefit from the Harkness model if they are diligent in doing the work it requires of them – the peer to peer support system of learning is brilliant. Secondly, through delivering tutorials, I learnt that students can be made to be critical thinkers: by creating the space for students to think for themselves, they can come up with clear, sophisticated arguments and ideas. Thirdly, the diligence of the teachers and the leadership team in supporting the students through office hours, and a general open-door policy at ODA has created a learning environment where excellence is the standard, and support is readily available for students to tap into to achieve great results. Hence, I am thrilled to have been able to spend ten weeks at the school, and I am confident that the students at the school can grow to become independent and intelligent learners who can thrive academically and become leaders in their communities.