Departmental travels — Kingswood-Oxford School (KO) & Phillips Academy (PA)


Above: Carson and HCHS members with KO’s history chair Anne Serow in the faculty lounge


Above: The history department building (house) at KO


Above: HCHS members joined by Emma Frey and Peter Drench outside the academic building that houses the history department

After our initial visits to the Calhoun and Brooklyn-Friends School, my fellow colleagues and I spent Thursday on the very spacious campus of the Kingwoods-Oxford (KO) School, and the following day at Phillips Academy (PA). The first thing noticed upon our arrival to KO was its campus. Although a day school, KO felt like a boarding school. I suspect much of this had to do with the amount of down time between classes for both faculty and students. This was one of the more noted things about our visit to KO and PA; students did not feel rushed, and faculty members were comfortable in their transition from class meeting to class meeting. The function and highly utilized faculty lounge for teachers at KO and PA played a role in this feeling, as well as a strong sense of community. Students took advantage of the student center and the multiple student lounges.


Above: Student Center & Dinning Hall at KO


Above: Temporary dinning hall at PA. Their new one is set to open soon.


Above: Sivils, Malouf, and Phenicie

The faculty at both KO and PA were much like the ones I met at the Calhoun School; they were energetic, passionate, academic, scholarly, and just plain old nice. Both schools stressed an emphasis on student motivation, hence the level of engagement coupled with their academic prowess proved to be highly stimulating. We found the curriculum of both KO and PA to be very challenging. PA’s history teacher, Emma Frey, stated that the academic work for students is quite rigorous because of the amount of weight and accountability placed on their shoulders. Moreover, students’ expectations of themselves and their peers promoted a high level of academic pressure to engage in class activities and discussions. Why? Because as one student noted: We are supposed to be the brightest.


Above: Meeting in the faculty lounge at KO. It was here that we discussed the academic culture of the department. HCHS department chair Christine Metoyer conversing with KO’s members about the function of technology and faculty autonomy


Above: On of the student lounges at KO; I love the picture of Martin Luther King Jr. framed.


Above: Kevin Sivils observing PA’s history department’s lounge and faculty offices and library. I was impressed with the types of journals and academic news letters on the conference table.


Above: Carson in front of PA’s Oliver Wendell Holmes’ Library

In the end, we were thoroughly impressed with the unpretentious nature of all four schools we visited. New England Schools have been amply misrepresented by Hollywood; I have visited a few of the nation’s most prestigious schools while working on my research about race and independent schools. You can read about that here. Kevin Sivils will draft a post on the Brooklyn-Friends School with some reflection, and Suzan Phenicie has drafted a post on our overall experience as well. I am looking forward to meeting a few teachers I met at future conferences, such as Emma Frey – a dynamic teacher and scholar at Andover. I hope to chat with her again this summer at the World History Association Conference in Salem, Massachusetts.


Left: A classroom/office of the KO history department. love the pictures of Malcolm X and MLK Jr. I found the schools we visited to place a high value on diversity.

Below: As you drive down the main street of Andover, this is what you see as you enter its campus.



8 thoughts on “Departmental travels — Kingswood-Oxford School (KO) & Phillips Academy (PA)

  1. This is probably a dumb question since I know how much you love it, but how well did Exeter live up to your expectations?

  2. I would definitely go to school there just by looking at it…the campus reminds me of parts of Oxford and Cambridge when I briefly visited those schools. I’m glad you had a great trip- hopefully you can bring some of the ideas from these schools to ours next year! Too bad I won’t be here to enjoy them.

  3. Patrick: I have been to Exeter before; I liked it and its people; we were at Phillips Academy — different place but founded by the same person. It was worth it. Just being around your friends and colleagues and doing what you like makes it worth it.

    Dillon: Both

    Jenny: You can come back after you study history and experience it; hey, you might want my Euro course.

  4. ah…..oops, I take it that you were referring to Andover then. Many apologies. I should have thought first. Oh, and actually, Exeter was started by the uncle of the guy who started Andover. Here are some concrete figures Dillon:

    for a boarding student at Phillips, it’ll run you about $39,100 for tuition and then an extra $2000 dollars for additional cost. That doesn’t include travel expenses. For a regular student, the cost $30,500 dollars per year.

    It’s kinda crazy in my opinion, but the cost of living is supposedly higher in the northeast. My calculations only suggest an increase in living costs of 76% though. Even then, we would have to be paying almost $18,000 dollars for tuition here in Houston. I wouldn’t be at HCHS if we had to pay that.

  5. Metty mentioned that one of the schools uses a blind admissions process…they don’t look at income etc. when reviewing applicants…and if you get in, then they will make sure that you are taken care of financially.

  6. Looks like a very interesting trip. May I also add a comment about your previous posting. Without saying- life would be boring without diversity! Also regarding your confusion on my recent posts of us in the water- we took a “baby moon” when I was about 3 months pregnant with Hannah. Those pics are from that trip to the Caribbean. It has been so cold here I was reminiscing about being on “some beach some where.” There is a county song sung by Blake Shelton with those lyrics. : )

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