The Teacher of the Year Award Goes to...!

The 2021-22 OCS "Teacher of the Year" honors went to High School Science Teacher Julie Pugh and Middle School Math Teacher Tyler Erickson. Formally known as The Atsinger Teaching Excellence Award, the title is awarded to faculty instructors for their teaching performance throughout the school year and those who are recognized by their colleagues.

Read more here!

Transcending Culture Through Photography

Amber Seat literally stumbled upon her love of photography in the most romantic city in the world. When she was in second grade, her father took the family on a business trip to Paris.

“None of us spoke French at all, and on one of the days that we got lost in the city, we stumbled upon a fashion photo shoot in one of the squares,” she recalled. “I fell in love with the idea of creating scenes like those made in the ancient square. There were big lights, props, a full crew of photographers, assistants, make-up artists, and models. Many young girls may have been attracted to the models in a situation like this, but I couldn't keep my eyes off the cameras.

Fifteen years later, at 23, she returned to Paris on her own, this time with her very first manual camera, ready to capture the distinct visuals of Paris to create her original photographic art.

Fast forward a few more years, and Seat still has her eyes and hands on the camera. As the middle school yearbook and photography teaches she helps budding photographers learn the ins and outs of apertures, shutter speeds and composition. When not in the classroom, she continues to develop her own style. Her work has appeared in galleries in San Francisco and New York.

This past year she was lauded for two significant achievements.

This fall, her work will be featured at the 17th Annual Pollux Awards in Barcelona, Spain. Sponsored by the Foto Nostrum Photo Magazine and the Mediterranean House of Photography, the exhibit will debut in October 2022 in Foto Nostrum's gallery.

Seat took a series of photographs in the fall semester titled “The Wasteland” taken at the Lake Delores abandoned waterpark in Barstow, Ca. She submitted three from the series and was awarded honorable mention in the Street Photography Category.

“Several photographers that I admire and that inspire me will also be displaying their work at the same gallery in October, when these will be displayed. I'm excited to go to Barcelona this fall to see my work hanging on the walls of a gallery and to meet and work with some of the biggest names in contemporary photography,” she said.

In the spring she was awarded the 18th Julia Margaret Cameron Award for Professional Section: Children. The competition was centered around women photographers internationally, and the jurors of the competition selected four winners.

Her pieces came out of her series she created for her Master of Fine Arts Project, “We’re Unable to Answer the Door.”

It starts with the first time a parent leaves a child home alone. Do not cook in case you burn down the house. Do not wear socks on the stairs; you will slip. Do not run with scissors. And whatever you do, DON’T ANSWER THE DOOR!

Drawing from personal experiences and observations, We’re Unable to Answer the Door is an exploration into the resilient nature of children and a parent’s balance of protecting them while giving them responsibility.

“My sisters and I recount stories from our childhood and often ask ourselves, ‘Where were our parents while we were doing this?’ I found life a thrilling adventure - too young to really understand what was going on around us and too naive to know that maybe a five-year-old shouldn't be cooking unsupervised. We focused on the good and escaped mostly unharmed,” she recalled.

This series chronicles the lives of children who are given the responsibility to run their own world. A world where there is the potential for disaster yet a praiseworthy sense of accomplishment. Through the playful, lighthearted surface, a deeper question remains: How much responsibility is too much?

Winning competitions and garnering honors mean more than accolades to Seat. She gains deep satisfaction that through art she can reach people and connect globally,’

“I am so honored that the message transcends language and culture,” she shared







Celebrating Women's History Month Featuring:

Believing that America would offer them a better life, and greater educational opportunities specifically, Connie Choi’s family came to the states from South Korea in 1980. Her parents wanted to start their own business, so when the United States opened their doors to South Korean immigration, her family took a leap of faith.

It seems providential that someone born in a country whose name means “place of many trees” would inevitably live and work near a “place of 1,000 oaks.”

High school Spanish teacher Violeta Valladares was born in Guatemala’s capital city, Ciudad de Guatemala.

Middle school Bible teacher Mary Wong came to the states from Taiwan as a toddler when her father was called to pastor a church plant in the states. Coming from a country where Buddhism is practiced has helped her understand God’s heart for all ethnic groups.

Hailing from our northern neighbor is College Counselor Val Johnson, whose Mennonite roots and family traditions go back to the Canadian Saskatchewan prairie. Johnson’s parents were born in the middle of the prairie, moved to Burnaby, British Columbia, where she was born, and then came to the states for her father to start a US branch of the Canadian company Nutra Bio.

Being a teacher has always been Lily Cook’s dream, and she was living it as an educator in China long before she came to the states in 2007. Born in a small town in Shan Dong Province in Northern China, she went through the Chinese educational system, graduated college, and grad school, and began her professional career.

Originally from Shanghai – also known as the “Pearl of the Orient” – Nan Schutz has found a home at the Oaks Christian Online School (OCO), where she has served in operations and development for the last four years.

OCS Spanish teacher Sandra Ruben loves to create windows into other worlds for her students, whether through stories of her past or by teaching them about Spanish-speaking countries. She was born in Medellin, Colombia, and her parents immigrated to Miami, Florida, when she was six months old, in part to provide educational opportunities for their children.

Oaks Christian Middle School welcomed Helen Ritenour this year! A native of South Korea – born in Anyang countryside outside of Seoul, her background makes her well-suited to teach history by “having a variety of perspectives from which to glean and appreciating diversity greatly.” She is fluent in Korean and English with a little bit of Spanish and Russian.

One of Katy Greenwood’s early memories as a newly arrived immigrant to the United States was making a cross-country trip at 13 with her family from Florida to California in a mobile home. Originally from Lima, Peru, they were headed to Camarillo, where Greenwood has lived for the past 35 years.

OCS staff accountant Katherine Lao has a rich multi-lingual and multi-cultural experience; she was born in Shanghai, China, raised in Germany since the age of five, and immigrated to the United States at 11.