Sandra Hurley was the founder and Director of The Oxford School, which she began in 1999.
The Oxford School began with seven students, ranging in various grade levels, on the first floor of a rented house on Hunter St. in Woodstock, Ontario on September 7, 1999.
Sandra was determined to build a school in which expectations of students would be higher than other schools. She was not afraid to defy convention, as she was a visionary and dreamt of creating an amazing school for children to excel. Honesty, Integrity and Kindness were the three pillars on which the school was built.
By the following year, the student body had increased to 26 students. Sandra decided a larger building was needed, so she rented the second floor of a building on Graham Street. The school was now located in the core of the city with easy access to the Woodstock Public Library and Victoria Park.
With the growing population of the student body, Miss Hurley decided to approach The Woodstock Collegiate Institute, a high school located beside the new Oxford School building, to work with them to create the Reach Ahead Program. This program allowed students who were excelling to attend Grade 9 classes and enrich the courses that they enjoyed.
Sandra’s vision rang true with many parents. Even in the first few years there were exponential increases in enrollment. By 2003 TOS had a student population of 72 students, which was served by a faculty of 10 teachers.
As the school continued to develop a strong reputation for its dynamic curriculum and nurturing environment, Miss Hurley needed to find a more permanent and appropriate home. In September of 2005 the school moved into a larger school building in Innerkip, complete with sufficient classroom space, which supplied access to a gymnasium, art, music and drama rooms. There is also a large playground with play equipment, tennis court and baseball diamonds.
Traditions developed by Miss Hurley
Each morning the entirety of the school gathers at 9 a.m. to sing ‘O Canada’ and say a morning affirmation.
Every Friday the student body gathers together for tea and cookies. This provides an opportunity for the students to share what they have learned during the week. It also provides a venue to share music, drama and art.
To further instill the moto of the school, Miss Hurley developed a reward given each Friday at tea, the Oxford Kindness Bear. Students or teachers who witness another displaying acts of Honesty, Integrity or Kindness are nominated for this award. The bear goes home with the student for the week and is returned by the following Friday for the next recipient.
The grade 7/8 class works together to evenly divide the student body into teams. Each team is designated with a colour and participates in a variety of games and competitive activities developed by the senior class. This is also when we have our yearly water gun fight, which is a refreshing way to end a fun-filled day.
Following the hotdog lunch on Play Day the senior class challenges the teachers to a game of Soccer Baseball, where all the younger students watch and cheer.
School Pot Luck
Each November, parents sign up and bring in a variety of different food dishes to be enjoyed by the students and teachers as they all sit and enjoy together.
Every January the students look forward to skating together at the arena, enjoying hot chocolate and Timbits afterwards.
March Break Bubble Release
Just before everyone leaves for March Break the students and teachers gather outside the school. They make a wish and then blow bubbles. Previously this celebration consisted of releasing balloons, but due to environmental reasons bubbles are now released instead.
Annual Garage Sale and Bake Sale
The grade 7/8 class work on an entrepreneurial project, in which they must organize a garage and bake sale for the school. Parents, students and teachers are all invited to share in this sale on a designated Friday in May. The money made from this sale helps fund the school year book.
Fancy Dress Tea
This is the last Tea of the year, where students, parents and teachers dress up and attend a small program where the Kindergarten and Grade 8 grads are acknowledged. The whole student body participates in a year end song and it is a beautiful way to end the year.
The school was purchased in 2018 and many of Miss Hurley’s traditions and ideas have been promised to continue. With the solid foundation Sandra Hurley has built, we look forward to seeing it continue and grow in the years to come.