Our Educational Vision

Oakcrest School respects the dignity of each human being and is committed to his or her personal growth and flourishing. Our educational vision is grounded in a deeply Christian understanding of what it means to be a human being and to be a woman, as revealed in Sacred Scripture and presented in the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

As we read in the Bible, beginning with the first chapter of Genesis, God has created men and women in His own image and likeness: as rational, free, and relational beings with immortal souls. He has entrusted us with the task of filling the earth and sharing in His dominion over creation, calling us to a life of work and contemplation, love and service, and ultimately to union with Himself in Christ. 

Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. He is capable of self-knowledge, of self-possession and of freely giving himself and entering into communion with other persons. And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 357) 

At Oakcrest School we understand that a fully human education readies the student to hear this call and to respond freely, and our educational vision, with our liberal arts curriculum at the core, is especially suited for this task. Our person-centered commitment is manifest in our efforts to foster good character; in class sizes small enough to allow each student to be known, loved, and encouraged to grow; in our personal mentoring program; and in our deep appreciation for the role of parents and family in their daughter’s education. We aim to foster respect for and understanding of other human beings in our students themselves, through deliberate efforts to teach dialogue, authentic friendship, and a spirit of service. 

With our faculty and decades of experience in single-sex education, we are also especially suited to help young women flourish. Of course, men and women share equally in human nature and human dignity; at the same time, they are distinct and complementary in their manner of being. St. John Paul II (Pope, 1978-2005) spoke often of the genius of women as a special capacity to be attentive to the needs of persons, in the home and in all the spheres of work and civic engagement in which they find themselves: 

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way. Of course, God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way - precisely by reason of their femininity - and this in a particular way determines their vocation.
(St. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Mulieris Dignitatem, n. 30) 

We take seriously this mission of being trustees of humanity. We aim to educate each student holistically: as a unity of body and soul, in the interrelation of intellect, will, and heart. This commitment imbues our entire school culture, inside and outside of the classroom, including co-curricular activities, the daily patterns and traditions of the school, and our approach to technology, which we view as a tool to be put at the service of learning, not as an end in itself, nor as a replacement for human relationships. 

Liberal Arts Curriculum

Our liberal arts curriculum is at the core of our person-centered educational endeavor. Liberal arts, as their name suggests, are the studies that free a person from ignorance and uninformed opinion by training her to inquire into and understand the very principles of knowledge: to think logically, to look carefully and listen reflectively, to dialogue with others, and to discern the essential from the inessential. The student of the liberal arts is not content to unreflectively assimilate facts and information presented about a subject; rather, she has the discernment necessary to evaluate sources and to think for herself. 

Understanding that knowledge is no fragmented assortment of data, the student of the liberal arts sees the big picture; she finds the broader meaning of individual facts and subject areas when she sees their relation to the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. 

And since freedom is the ability to choose the good, a proper liberal education will form not only the intellect, but also the will and the heart. An appreciation for the role of wonder and delight in beauty is fundamental in this regard. Wonder leads to a healthy reverence and eagerness in the search for truth, along with authentic human innovation and creativity. Wonder occurs, in the first place, through regular and frequent experience of the natural world, attentive observation and play. Wonder and delight are also fostered through the encounter with beauty. What is true and good is not only learned through reasoned argument, but experienced through images found in history, literature, songs, dance, poetry, etc. that allow the student to grasp truths intuitively, find pleasure in them, and feel an affinity towards them. For this reason, the fostering of wonder and of delight in beauty are essential components of our education, especially in our Middle School, as these are highly impressionable years in one’s life. 

Moreover, a liberal arts education teaches the tools of learning. These tools, commonly referred to as the Trivium, are: Grammar (the art of observation, categorization, and memorization), Logic (thinking clearly and well), and Rhetoric (persuasiveness and beauty in expression of thought). These tools prepare the student to contemplate truth, to understand and explain the world around her, and give her the skills necessary to learn anything throughout her whole life. For these reasons we give them priority over technical training. The liberal arts are essential preparation for any profession because they teach effective thinking and communication, and a student of the liberal arts can acquire subsequent training in particular fields more easily because she has acquired the tools of learning. Nevertheless, liberal arts have as their proper aim the pursuit and attainment of the truth simply because it is good in itself. 

The Trivium also roughly corresponds to the stages of human intellectual development. The Grammatical stage coincides with our 6th grade year, while the Logical stage begins during the 7th, and continues through the 10th grade. The Rhetorical stage coincides generally with the 11th and 12th grade. While these stages of human development are not strictly delineated and the corresponding tools are in fact each needed in every stage of learning (even in the senior thesis), they do express the broad curricular and pedagogical needs of students as they develop and suggest areas of emphasis for different age groups. Our curriculum follows this general division, while always recognizing that each student’s path of learning is unique. 


Education is ultimately a “leading forth” of the young person to authentic freedom and truth. Because we are personal beings, this transformation occurs through relationships, especially friendships, through rich conversation and the modeling of virtue. The student develops her intellect and character in communion with her family, her teachers, her peers, but also with those great men and women who have gone before her. She is invited into the great conversation of the best thinkers of the past and discovers her own intellectual geography as a result. 

Our instructional techniques are thus rooted in this personal and relational understanding of education and include narrative and mimetic instruction, as well as Socratic dialogue. A narrative pedagogy presents truth through story. In this method, for instance, a science teacher might teach cellular structure by introducing the students to the burning scientific questions of the men and women famous for their cellular discoveries, and all this without “spoiling the plot” of what these men and women discovered until the students themselves discover the conclusions by conducting the experiments themselves. Mimetic instruction teaches students to argue to universals by examining various types and arguing from them. For instance, an English teacher might present a variety of friends in literature and ask “what makes a good friend?” thereby prompting the student to apply literature to her own life. Socratic dialogue engages the student’s intellect through discussion, and question and answer. This method is particularly effective in guiding the student through subtle and difficult topics such as mathematics, moral theology and philosophy. For instance, a math teacher might guide the student to see the logical relationship between two formulas for herself by a guided question and answer conversation. 
1619 Crowell Road, Vienna, VA 22182