October 2023

Dear Oak Knoll School Community,

My younger son is a senior in college. He left to go back to campus in mid-August and won’t return until November. A few weeks ago, I set up my ironing board in his bedroom as a matter of pure practicality and convenience. It’s nice to have it up permanently so I don’t have to take it up and down whenever I need to iron something. My son doesn’t know this and doesn’t need to know this since I will put it back in its rightful place before his return home in November. Every two or three days, I head in there to iron something and find myself staring at a life-size decal of Derek Jeter on the wall. This made me think about the people who influenced my children’s lives. In the case of this particular child of mine, it is mostly baseball players. A plaque printed with Lou Gehrig’s speech is on the back wall. A poster of Jackie Robinson, tattered by our most recent move, is rolled up in a corner, and of course, there is the gigantic Fathead of Jeter. These three men, perfect strangers to our family, have undoubtedly influenced my son. As I contemplate this, I breathe a sigh of relief. Gehrig’s speech is all about gratitude. The quotation on Robinson’s poster is all about selflessness, and for my son, Jeter is the embodiment of commitment, respect, and tenacity. As I leave his room, I flip off the light switch right below the Celtic cross on the wall, a gift for his confirmation.

As parents, we try our best to instill values in our children that we deem most important (hence the cross we gave him a few years ago). At some point, external influences take root in ways we can’t control. We must hope that we have provided a strong enough foundation and example that they seek role models, friendships, and other relationships that reflect those values. Eventually, my son will move out of this house, and I doubt the Derek Jeter decal will accompany him. The Jackie Robinson poster definitely won’t survive another trip. The Lou Gehrig plaque might make the cut, and I will see to it that he takes that cross. Regardless of these objects and their ability to withstand time, I know the sentiments will remain. If my husband and I have laid the foundation for seeking the values our son has represented on his wall, we shall claim this (not-so-small) victory. Phew.

Thinking about my son’s room made me think about the classrooms and hallways at Oak Knoll and the icons, posters, pictures, symbols, and other items that our students casually encounter on daily basis. It is our intention that they represent faith, love of learning, community, compassion, respect, growth, and tradition — the seven goals of Holy Child education. When they graduate from Oak Knoll, they will not take these posters and symbols with them, but if they take those values, all of which are instilled in them at home, then as educators and parents, together we can claim that (not-so-small) victory. Phew.





Jennifer G. Landis
Head of School

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