Growing up in South Korea, where education was highly valued, Jooyeon “Juniper” Moon knew she needed a school that would broaden her horizons and expand her career prospects. Her parents agreed. When her middle school experience did not live up to their expectations, they decided to send her to an all-girls boarding school in America –– specifically one with intimate classrooms, personalized attention, family-like support, and a superb location. After extensive research, only one measured up –– Oldfields School in Sparks Glencoe, Maryland.
Juniper was used to traveling with her father but was still worried about the language barrier and cultural differences in the US. Thankfully, Oldfields had the right mix of international students and girls from the United States, and everyone was quick to help her feel at home. Some even passionately took her under their care.
“Everyone was assuming I was Chinese,” she recalls. “I told two respected seniors that I was Korean, and they made sure to correct everyone!”
At Oldfields School, students form strong bonds with peers and teachers. Ms. Maribeth Littlefield, a long-time educator at the school, is one of Juniper’s biggest supporters. When Juniper occasionally feels down or overwhelmed, Ms. Littlefield is quick to jump in with an extra tutoring session or a trip to get ice cream. She’s even adapted her History curriculum to regularly cover Asian topics and other cultures, making sure Juniper and her fellow international students not only gain new cultural perspectives but also get to share their own cultures with the class.
“You cannot teach history solely through facts and dates,” Ms. Littlefield explains. “You must teach it through the eyes and hearts of those who lived it if you truly want to remember it and do it justice.”
The passionate discussions in small classrooms allow every student to make their voice heard. “We often discuss topics that involve current events from all over the world, which brings us closer as a class,” Juniper explains. As her grasp of English improved, she found the confidence to try new things like running cross country, becoming a leader in student government, and taking Advanced Placement courses. Thankfully, at Oldfields, there are lots of things to try.
In fact, at this school, learning means doing. The dreams and aspirations of Oldfields girls are seen as possible career paths instead of phases. The school prioritizes exploring their passions and trying new things. If they change their minds, that’s alright too –– they will still be applauded every step of the way. It’s this encouragement that ensures young women achieve their full potential well before they head to college or university. At this school, experiential “hands-on” learning ensures stellar outcomes.
Every year, each student picks a May Program taught by one or more faculty members in an area of their expertise. The programs might be on campus, throughout the US, around the globe, or a combination of all three. Imagine two exciting weeks of galloping across the countryside of Iceland, living with a host family in a French historic neighborhood, building shelters for people in need of homes in New Orleans, ziplining and snorkeling in Mexico’s Yucatan region, touring gardens and creating art inspired by nature, learning from and performing with professional dancers, even flying a plane as you study the physics of air and space travel–– May Program makes it all possible. Most importantly, students see themselves and the world in new ways and make life-long friendships.
View this video to see Oldfields May Programs in action.
Interested in aerodynamics, Juniper got to help fly a plane through the “Flight” May Program. She went indoor skydiving, learned how the Wright Brothers conceptualized the world’s first plane, and visited the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. These experiences enhanced her love for science in ways classes could not.
Determined to remain close to the high school that shaped her, Juniper will soon be attending Johns Hopkins University, which is only 30 minutes from Oldfields, as a pre-med student.
Set on 140 acres, surrounded by rolling hills, and close to numerous cultural centers –– Oldfields School also neighbors Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City. This prime location fuels the school’s ability to provide a life-changing education to its girls.
The school’s location is also near inspiring natural resources like the Chesapeake Bay, the Appalachian Mountains, and Atlantic Beaches which are sure to fulfill the needs of environmentalists or aspiring conservationists.
Take current student Michaela, for instance. The school’s location and opportunity to learn outside the classroom is the main reason she joined. “I wanted to become one with nature and get outside my comfort zone,” she says. “Rafting in Maryland’s waterways allowed me to do just that. I am proud to say this was one of the best experiences of my life.”
Watch this video where the students explain why this school where learning continues outside the classroom becomes like a second home.