We in admissions are often asked, “what kind of student fits Oak Hill Academy’s mission as a school?” So, today’s blog post is right to the point in answering that question.
Oak Hill Academy’s mission is to provide a structured and nurturing environment for students who have not had the kind of success of which they are capable. Our school is full of highly capable, intelligent students who were unmotivated and struggling in their previous environments. Our school is full of students who, deep down, wanted more for themselves but had become frustrated and had shut down–academically, socially, and quite often within their own family dynamics. In order to break that cycle, their families decided to look for a new approach and found Oak Hill Academy while searching boarding school options.
Here are some common themes in our enrollment discussions–you may, perhaps, see your student and current situation in some of these:
- A learning difference is going unaddressed in a large school setting. Having a learning difference such as ADD or slower processing can wreak havoc on self-esteem if not addressed in a supportive, non-judgmental way. We get that here at Oak Hill Academy and many of our students are here, in large part, to change that dynamic. Our classes are small; there is lots of one-on-one extra help available through tutorials; and perhaps most importantly, there is encouragement here to help students build a “growth mindset.” We are college-prep (well over 90% college acceptance rates over the last 12 years), so a sense of competency develops while students are getting the support they need to establish new habits and strategies.
- Frustration has led to a family dynamic that is full of tension. Students who are not enjoying academic success are constantly having their self-esteem challenged. This can lead to a peer group where academic success is not a priority, instead replaced with many of the other things that can become important to teenagers: social media, gaming, and peer acceptance. Oak Hill Academy provides a structured environment that places a priority on taking care of academic business, and places social life in perspective. Boarding school by nature is full of rules. Oak Hill Academy doesn’t invent difficult rules–but we know our students and their challenges. Things like our limits on cell phone and social media access, mandatory study time, and a dress code may not be “popular” with our students, but they know the benefits. What does this mean for families? From my first year here, over 13 years ago, I noticed family relationships improve. And I used to chalk it up to “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” That may be part of it, but the lasting effects come from the fact that as students change the way they see themselves, their approach to family relationships changes too–for the better.
- Maturity is a by-product of attending boarding school. Some boarding schools expect new students to already possess a high level of maturity. Oak Hill Academy sees developing this maturity and character as a huge part of its mission. We are not a “sink or swim” environment. Instead, our approach includes as much coaching as teaching, as much nurturing as there are rules, and as much academic support as there is rigor. Students who need this approach are our mission. Students who can see the opportunity, can grow tremendously.
Please visit oak-hill.net and take a deeper dive into our approach as a non-military, non-therapeutic, but structured small, coed, college-prep boarding school.
Here are some thoughts from a recent graduate’s parent:
I remember my first desperate phone call with you, followed immediately with the Skype interview in which you point-blank asked D if she could seriously commit to the 5-week summer program. That made up our minds that Oak Hill was the place that our daughter needed to get back on track. So the next day we packed up and drove 8 hours to Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, where she stayed that summer, then attended 2 more school years.
During her time there she was supported by every single teacher, staff member, office professional, team member… everybody! You are a family there on ‘the Hill,’ and you welcomed D into your family and took care of her well-being the entire time she was there with communication, understanding, firm rules, expectations, and love. The school provided subjects that challenged and interested her while the teachers provided connection, passion and enjoyment for their jobs and what they are called to do. Mrs. Groves and Mrs. Crede were instrumental in guiding her through her own anxiety challenges and any roommate/ dormmate issues with love and understanding. They got to know D not as just another teenage girl, but as a girl who is special, and they do this with every single student at Oak Hill.
Thank you, thank you for the passion, dedication, understanding, and love that you provided D. The Oak Hill family was the saving grace for our family. I will recommend Oak Hill to anyone.