The Zhao/Chen Family

Class of 2019 and 2024

As parents, one of the most difficult decisions is which school to send your children to. This is especially unsettling because chances are you won’t know if you made the right choice until years later, even long after they have graduated.  We are lucky we have chosen Oakwood, the right school for our children, Eric and Gwyneth.

We attended many different open houses and school tours. Oakwood stood out. Two stories made a huge impression on us. When Mrs. Helvey gave us the tour, we entered the AP Physics classroom and saw a teacher and exactly one student!  Only one student signed up that year, and the class was on! One-on-one teaching is like heaven to the parents, but it might be hell to that lone student, with nowhere to hide, but we are parents, so we were sold!  When we got home, an email awaited us. It was from Mr. Saleet, the art teacher at that time.  We had a brief conversation with him during the tour about our son’s interest in studying design. In the email, he explained to us he uses Pratt Institute’s method in teaching design in his art class, complete with links to the Pratt Method.  Teachers going beyond the call of duty, we were sold again!

Our children’s experience at Oakwood further proved that the two stories above were not a fluke. Mr. Berniker convinced Eric to take a more challenging class, while we parents tried for weeks to no avail. Dr. Pak happily helped Gwyneth research Italian art as she needed inspiration and references for her college application portfolio.  Mr. Hubbard keeps pushing and encouraging Gwyneth to overcome her reluctance to show her art to others.  Mrs. Wilmot did such a great job teaching AP Computer Science that Gwyneth, who used to say she “would never do anything CS-related,” is now considering adding CS as an option to her future academic pursuits, besides her main interest in concept art design.  All these were things we as parents wanted but couldn’t convince our children to do and thus had given up, but the Oakwood teachers continue to make it possible.

Oakwood teachers and staff have done so much in providing a safe and nurturing environment for our children to explore, grow, and flourish, both academically and in extracurricular activities. Giving back, both in donations and through volunteering, is the least we can do. The small class sizes and small school environment give each child more attention and involvement from teachers. But being a small school also means that everyone–teachers, staff, and parents, have to pitch in more with their time and talent to provide all the enhanced opportunities our kids enjoy and to build the community so every student feels they belong.

When Eric was at Oakwood, one activity he loved doing was 3D printing. He would do the design in class, mount the machine, and set it running. Since the printing took many hours, they would let it run overnight and check on the finished product the next morning. If the design was not right, he would see that the filaments ended up all over the place, like a pile of spaghetti!  In that case, he would modify the design the right way, print it again, and check on it again the next day.  His 3D printing projects won quite a few Scholastic Art Competition Gold Keys and were a core part of his college application portfolio. If it weren’t for the parents who generously donated the 3D printers to the school, none of it would have happened.  My friends’ children who attended other larger schools, even if they had a 3D printer, there were so many students who needed to use it, they had to wait in the queue, and each student couldn’t access it more than once a week. At the same time, Eric got to use the 3D printer at Oakwood every day if he needed to. 

We have benefitted so much from the generosity of other Oakwood families, and we want to give back and pay it forward so we can support the school, the teachers, the staff, and the community so that Oakwood can continue to provide excellent education to all the current and future students. We want Oakwood to be here still when one day, our grandchildren are ready to enter school.

The Tom Family

GP ’24, ’32
As our granddaughter finishes her Senior year we can look back with the knowledge that she has received the best possible education these past six years, and we can anticipate even more exciting opportunities for our grandson as he continues his growth at Oakwood.”​

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The Zhao/Chen Family

P ’19, ’24
“Oakwood teachers and staff have done so much in providing a safe and nurturing environment for our children to explore, grow, and flourish, both academically and in extracurricular activities.”

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The Bruce Family

P ’32
“Cameron continues to grow in confidence, and he accurately reflects the core personal values Oakwood School expects of their students.”

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The Saffarian Family

P ’30, ’33, ’35
“Respect, mindfulness, and kindness are embedded into the Oakwood culture, and those are a few of the most valuable aspects for our family.”

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Nisanti Wilmot

P ’23, ’25, ’28, ’31
“The school campus, with its natural beauty, never ceases to inspire me, and I deeply appreciate the autonomy I have when it comes to designing and delivering my classes.”​

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Jeff Ruster, Jr.

“Although my career here is young, it’s unmistakably clear: every aspect of my growth, from being a student to evolving as an individual, my choice of college, and eventually transitioning into an educational career, all owe their beginnings to a singular moment—the pivotal decision of Oakwood’s admissions department to take a chance on me back in 2013.”

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Kelli Frazer

P ’21
“The support, camaraderie, generosity, spirit, and connections that I have because of Oakwood are invaluable to me both personally and professionally.”​

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Oakwood School Book of Gratitude