Judging a Book (Perhaps by its Cover): Vigilance in Showering your Children with Good Reading
Stephanie Passero, English Teacher
Flannery O’Connor in Mystery and Manners claims that an English teacher’s job is to teach her students good taste. What should be a simple good—encouraging our children and teens to read for pleasure—has become increasingly difficult with our modern culture’s acceptance of wrong as right.
Finding Meaning and Beauty in the Work of the Home
As a wife, mother, and a professional, Miriam Buono shares her perspective and her wisdom on finding beauty in one’s vocation as a woman. She shares the words of the saints as well as practical tips on how to find beauty throughout the home.
Is there an ideal vision for educating upper school girls?
Christine Nussio, Upper School Director
The educational vision for the Upper School is designed to prepare Oakcrest Students intellectually, morally, and spiritually for adulthood. At Oakcrest, our students develop love and respect for truth, and develop the virtues necessary for authentic interior freedom which enables them to know, desire, and choose well in life. Through our liberal arts curriculum, our students become lifelong learners with the moral courage and intellectual honesty to pursue wisdom and truth in all their endeavors.
Is there an ideal vision for educating middle school girls?
Cecilia Escobar, Middle School Director
I was asked to write on the ideal vision for educating middle school girls. Big topic. A bit intimidating, for sure. To begin to answer it we should ask ourselves “What is the ideal goal of education and how do we get there?” The objective is what sets the stage for the vision and, as in most things in life, there are various good, solid paths that lead to the same destination. Oakcrest’s vision of education is firmly established with the end-goal in mind.
I recently shared with parents and friends of the Oakcrest community my impressions from the great 2014 book Hold On To Your Kids by Drs. Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Maté. I read excerpts from the book and connected it to what I witness in my practice as a psychotherapist here in Northern Virginia.
Throughout junior year, Oakcrest students engage with the themes of "person" and "woman,” exploring what it means to be "Trustees of Humanity." These remarks were delivered at the Class of 2024 Junior Ring Ceremony, which marks a milestone for the students as they prepare to enter into the leadership of the school as seniors.
Beyond Oakcrest: A Message for High School Graduates
Mary T. Ortiz, Ph.D.
Below is an excerpt from the address given at the Class of 2022 Commencement Ceremony by Head of School Dr. Mary T. Ortiz.
This is a significant day in the life of each member of the senior class, but also in the life of the school. The graduation of each class is a bit of a magical moment in which all of us together want nothing else but to raise minds and hearts in thanksgiving. Savor this union of hearts and minds because it is a small, but nevertheless true reflection of heaven.
What Is a Fully Human Education and How Can It Help Your Daughter?
Mary T. Ortiz, Ph.D.
As parents, you are the primary educators of your daughter with the responsibility of forming her moral personality. For over 45 years, Oakcrest School has been working in partnership with parents to help them with this noble task.
What guides our work is our understanding of the human person. Why does this matter?
School is coming to an end, and vacation is right around the corner. Are you seeking to grow in your understanding of how to be a better parent? Would you like some inspiration in how to better relate to your daughter? Could you use something a bit more substantial to read at the beach? Below is a list of books sure to sharpen your parenting skills.
Is Your Daughter Interested in Playing Sports in College? Here Are 8 Helpful Tips.
Does your daughter have a dream of playing sports in college? Pursuing college athletics is a very exciting prospect for the student-athlete, but it can also be daunting. Many people might not know where to even begin. This guideline will help you understand the basics of the recruiting process and what you can do to boost your chances of finding just the right college sports fit.
True Friendship: Where Virtue Becomes Happiness by John Cuddeback
A Review by Mary Elizabeth Naegele
“A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: He that has found one has found a treasure,” a friend writes in a birthday card, quoting Sirach, and the recipient wonders if one could be paid a higher compliment.
Seven Questions You Should Ask When Choosing Your Daughter's School
Mary T. Ortiz, Ph.D., Head of Oakcrest School
In this extraordinary time, it is easier to appreciate the deeper meaning of the things we may have been taking for granted. For me, it’s the joyful sound of laughter, singing and conversation that permeates the halls of our school and the smiling faces that greet me each day.
Three Ways for Parents to Face FORO (The Fear Of Running Out): Addressing A Scarcity Mindset
Elena Kilner, Oakcrest Class of 1997
One morning last spring, I was up early trying to place a grocery order in time to get a delivery window sometime in the next two weeks. As I opened my pantry door, my foot struck something. Whatever it was didn’t budge. As I looked down, I realized it was a 50lb bag of flour. Next to it was a 15lb canister of dry milk. A sigh escaped my lips and I put my list down. The symptoms were clear. I had a case of FORO (Fear Of Running Out) and it was time for me to face reality.
Five Tips to Help Your Daughter Become a Stronger Athlete
As a parent, you want your daughter to succeed in whatever sport she plays. However, success is defined by so much more than achievements or wins. It is crucial to help student-athletes develop healthy routines and healthy mindsets that will prevent injury, nourish them, build up their strength, and help them to find joy in their sport.
What makes a woman beautiful? In the workout room of my college dorm, colorful letters plastered on the wall spelled out one answer: “You are beautiful if you are confident.” The phrase was meant to be motivational, but it also begged the question: What happens when I’m not feeling confident?
Meg Meeker's book Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy and Safe (Regnery Publishing, 2019) is a tidy little handbook for how to raise a daughter with character, confidence and resilience who is on a path to heaven—in eleven easy steps!
Selected remarks by Mary T. Ortiz from a Head of School Coffee
I'd like to share a couple lessons that I thought would be helpful as we've been living in this unique time in our country's history. There are positive lessons that have come from quarantine that are very helpful in our educational work with young women.
My introduction to heirloom flowers came from a visit I made to Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, several years ago. It was a beautiful, warm June day and we found ourselves in the garden and took the garden tour.
Every fall my physics students learn how to analyze motion up and down an inclined plane. On the one hand, it seems very basic—almost boring. Doesn't this happen every day all around us? On the other hand, it is one of the most mathematically complex and intimidating problems in introductory physics. And yet, it is beautiful.
How to be the Best Partner in Your Daughter's Education
An important mark of a great school is that it works closely with parents for the good of each student. When parents are in unison with their daughter's school, together they are best able to achieve the common goal of educating young women of character. How can you be the best partner in your daughter's education?
Getting into college requires a lot of hard work and preparation. But the journey doesn't end once you receive your acceptance letter! We want to prepare our students so that they are ready to thrive as soon as they begin their college years.
Mary T. Ortiz, Ph.D. Keynote Address for A Woman's Choice Advocates for Life Dinner
I am honored and grateful to have been invited to address you. Thank you for supporting the generous and needed work that A Woman's Choice does on behalf of mothers and children. We have been introduced in these last months to a distinction between essential and non-essential work; while this may apply to functions and tasks at a particular time, and even this is debatable, it can never apply to human life.
How Young Women Can Build Their Future in High School
For Alexandra DeSanctis (Oakcrest Class of 2012), writing has always been a calling. "When I graduated from Oakcrest and went on to Notre Dame, I already knew that I wanted to use my talents as a writer and my love of history and politics to become a journalist," she says. Today, she's living that dream as a staff writer for National Review,where she covers politics and culture.
7 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Daughter's School
Mary T. Ortiz, Ph.D.
In this extraordinary time, it is easier to appreciate the deeper meaning of the things we may have been taking for granted. For me, it’s the joyful sound of laughter, singing and conversation that permeates the halls of our school and the smiling faces that greet me each day, especially now that we are back to in-person learning.
Smartphones have become a staple in the lives of today’s teens. Many teens even see their phone as another appendage. Smartphones can be a wonderful tool. Yet, now more than ever, teens need guidance on how to form and prioritize face-to-face relationships. In this day and age, how can schools build an environment that promotes healthy habits surrounding technology use?
Reading offers a lifetime of enrichment. By encouraging your children to spend some of their free summer time reading, you can help them improve their reading skills as well as develop the life-long habit of reading.
Beauty plays a crucial role in a young person's education. The types of books, music, and art that a student is exposed to and the kinds of things she is taught to consider lovely and worthy of preservation profoundly form her mind and soul.
Our personal happiness does not depend on the successes we achieve, but rather on the love we receive and the love we give.”1
“Friendship multiplies our joys and offers comfort in our sorrows.”2
I would like to share with you some thoughts on an outlook that the leadership of our school considers an important goal: placing greater emphasis on people before tasks so that everything we do is imbued with possibilities to develop relationships and authentic friendship.
Yoda and Luke Skywalker. Dumbledore and Harry Potter. Socrates and Plato. We’re all familiar with famous mentors and their protégés, both real and fictional. But what does mentoring look like for an everyday teenager?
Kate Hadley, Director of Mentoring and Terri Collins, Director of Parent Support
During the time of the Covid quarantine, most of us are having more time for family dinners together without the delays of driving to and from work and extracurriculars that can reduce the number of people at the table. We have heard many people say that they are grateful for these family dinners and plan to try to carve out time for family dinners post-Covid.
I would like to share a thought with you during this difficult time. It is taken from an essay on “Learning in Wartime” by C.S. Lewis. Although referring to a different type of evil than a pandemic, Lewis speaks to the heart of education during the most trying of times.
Living without many of our well-worn routines, it is natural that there have been moments of tension and frustration. In times of sudden change, especially when that change means we are cut off in a significant way from direct personal connection with people, we can tend to “shrink,” to close in on ourselves.