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FOA Unites Science and Education during World’s Fair & 20th Anniversary Celebration

On Friday, May 5, Five Oaks Academy kicked off its 20th Anniversary Celebration with its first-ever World’s Fair! This celebration highlighted their commitment to global studies, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) as well as the support of the many countries represented within their own school community.


FOA students were the emcees for the World’s Fair celebration that kicked off with student musical performances from each program level as well as a Latin dance mix performed by Middle School Spanish 3 & 4 students. After the performances, parents, grandparents, friends of FOA, and students, enjoyed viewing STEAM projects from each level, a flag-making activity with the Children’s Museum of the Upstate, taste testing of German Pretzels, and an art show featuring student works from both the Art History and Creativity programs. FOA alumni Joey Adamson, who currently attends Clemson University, treated students to a special exhibition featuring his engineering car project as well as a car from Clemson Racing for the Worlds Fair.


The first World’s Fair was in 1851 and was held in London. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the World’s Fairs became huge celebrations of the immense and ongoing progress. The Fair was driven by a desire to display scientific and technological innovation and gains. In 1918, Dr. Montessori held a very unexpected exhibit that featured a classroom with 30 children, aged 2 ½ to 6. The classroom was called the glass house because it had extensive window panes that afforded the World’s Fair attendees easy viewing access. Her exhibition has been celebrated as a critical event that united science and education as she put the field of education into the progress paradigm. She won two gold medals for her educational insight.

Italian Honey Bees are Back at FOA

The bees are back at FOA! We have two hives of Italian honey bees that are located on our nature trail. Our first two attempts prior to COVID ended in the queens swarming the hive and with an infestation of European Hornets that devastated the hives. We are excited to say that our two new hives are thriving!

The Italian honey bees are very gentle honey bees. Both hives have accepted their queen and are settling in nicely. They are bustling with activity, and the queens have each laid about 30,000 to 40,000 eggs in the last three-four weeks. They have nearly run out of room to lay more. FOA parent and beekeeper extraordinaire, Dan Magner, purchased the hives and bees for FOA and is our bee advisor. The Upper Elementary students are working with him to help maintain the hives, learn about the bees, and teach other program levels about the amazing Italian honey bee!

On Friday, May 20, “Dan the Bee Man” met with the Upper Elementary students and explored the hives. This exploration included looking for the presence of the queen, assessing the space for the hive to grow, and discussing how to manage pests properly. Students learned about the life cycle of the Italian honey bee, different jobs in the hive, communication, and the overall changes in the hive throughout the year. Having two different hives also gives us the opportunity to see what effect the hive’s placement has on the hive’s success (i.e. sunlight, access to water, etc.). At this time, the hive down by the river is doing slightly better than the one near the trailhead, in that they have stored more honey, and the queen has laid more eggs. We look forward to following both of the hives’ successes and involving every program level in this exploration.

International Festival

A sense of joy and happiness was in the air at our International Festival held on Friday, May 6. This was the first major festival we have hosted on campus since the pandemic started, and it felt wonderful to see everyone and socialize. We have over 30 countries represented in the Five Oaks community, and native clothing worn by children and adults alike reflected our international community. In addition to the Spanish songs, the students’ performances celebrated children around the world, and elementary students presented songs in sign language.

Everyone enjoyed the student performances, which were enhanced by instruments purchased with a grant from FOA grandmother, Angele McLaughlin. We were especially proud for Dr. Spencer Jordan, director of SCISA (South Carolina Independent Schools Association), to present Five Oaks Academy with the 2020 W. Keller-Kissam School of Honor Award, and we appreciated his very kind words about our school: “I have been to all 127+ schools within our association, and there is not one school – large or small – that I can put up to par with Five Oaks.”


After the program concluded, students and their parents enjoyed activities such as inflatable obstacle courses, The Nomadik Few Gourmet ShavedIce, pies from Rachel’s American Pies, colorful streamers, and photos with Frankie the Fox! We look forward to our next opportunity to join as a community, meet new people, and talk with each other!

Community Day Projects and Accomplishments

A special thank you to all of the volunteers who showed up and worked SO hard during our Spring Community Day! We accomplished so much and had a blast doing it!

Our many volunteers: replaced all stairs in the Main House (many of which were broken), laid a stone walkway next to P2 to help with drainage issues and create a path for the students to walk on, installed attic stairs in both LE classrooms providing much-needed storage, counted money from Coin Challenge, worked on the Art Show, moved the playground gate, repaired broken spindles, painted the new fence in front of the school, cleaned windows, fixed chairs, repaired broken classroom furniture, and much, much more!

We are so grateful for our supportive FOA a community that comes together to GET IT DONE!

Annual Student Art and STEAM Show

The STEAM and Art Show is always a highlight of the school year, offering a chance to celebrate the students’ creativity and exploration. Families were able to visit and tour the exhibition alongside their children on Thursday, April 7, 2022. Colorful paintings pinned up along the breezeway are always a hallmark of the experience, while Middle School artwork was featured inside the main house.

Five Oaks Academy provides art exploration and instruction to Primary students through Middle School students with two distinct curricula: Art History and Creativity. Ms. Jill and Ms. Sarah guided the kindergarten through fifth-grade students in studying “Art of the Americas” this year, including artists such as John James Audubon, Frida Kahlo, and Jonathan Green (among others). Students created self-portraits, landscapes, bark paintings, and bird studies inspired by masters.

Within the Creativity program, Ms. Amy and Ms. Sarah guided the 3K students through fifth-graders in process-based explorations of color, emotion, texture, and line. The Upper Elementary students created a collaborative piece that was printed onto fabric to colorfully welcome visitors to the STEAM show. Finally, Middle School students explored resist techniques, low-relief paper collages, art therapy, realistic pencil drawings, captured motion drawings, tessellations, and perspective.

The newer outdoor areas at Five Oaks (such as the courtyard tent, amphitheater, and Discovery Deck behind elementary) allowed for STEAM displays from every age level and featured field guides from nature studies, microscope exploration, book reports, biography projects, “Imaginary Island” designs, and invention projects. Middle School students showcased the 8th-graders’ Legacy projects, in addition to the work they completed to certify our campus deciduous forest with the National Wildlife Foundation. Meanwhile, musicians and vocalists of all ages entertained guests by providing background music in the amphitheater.

Five Oaks Academy was proud to be the first Montessori and STEAM-accredited school through SCISA (South Carolina Independent Schools Association), and we look forward to another year of creative exploration and STEAM-based inquiry at Five Oaks.

Five Oaks Academy Receives the W. Keller Kissam School of Honor Award

The Five Oaks Academy’s faculty, students, and parents were ecstatic to learn that the Academy had received the W. Keller Kissam School of Honor Award for 2020. This honor, given by the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA), was established to recognize the member schools who have demonstrated extraordinary academic service to their school community and to the SCISA organization as a whole.

Executive Director, Dr. Spencer A. Jordan, stated that “Five Oaks Academy was being recognized for the school’s cutting edge interactive academic programs as well as the school’s commitment to STEM education initiatives.”

This honor is particularly notable as it is the highest award given by SCISA, an organization that is comprised of over 120 independent schools in South Carolina. Five Oaks Academy is one of two schools to receive this honor this year.

Congratulations to the Five Oaks Academy Teachers, Administration, Students, and Parents whose unwavering dedication to excellence earned this honor.

Read SCISA’s press release in its entirety below.

P.O. Drawer 690, Orangeburg, S.C.  29116 (803) 535-4820/4821  Fax (803) 535-4840
E-mail:  faullings@scisa.org    www.scisa.org 


Date:  November 12, 2020                                              Contact: Sally Faulling                                                                                                            803-535-4820


          Five Oaks Academy of Simpsonville was presented the prestigious W. Keller Kissam School of Honor Award by the South Carolina Independent School Association.  The award was presented to Kathleen Trewhella-Grant, Head of School, at the association’s annual Fall Heads’ Conference meeting last Thursday, November 5, 2020.  The conference this year was held as a virtual event.       

         The award was established to recognize the member schools who have demonstrated extraordinary academic service to their school community and to our association as a whole.  Executive Director, Dr. Spencer A. Jordan, stated that Five Oaks Academy was being recognized for the school’s cutting edge interactive academic programs as well as the school’s commitment to STEM education initiatives.  

Additionally, Five Oaks Academy was recognized for their overall commitment to parental involvement  and community centered outreach education.  For these reasons, and many others, Five Oaks Academy exemplifies honor in all they do. 

Founded in 1965, the State of South Carolina incorporated SCISA as an exclusively educational organization with the responsibilities of establishing accreditation standards, coordinating academic and athletic competitions, and providing professional development for member organizations.

FOA Alumni Makes the St. Joseph’s JV Football Team as Their First Female Kicker

Girl power is alive and kicking with former Five Oaks Academy student Lily VanPelt. Lily is a Sophomore at St. Joseph’s Catholic School and has made their JV football team as their kicker!

When she was in the FOA Middle School, she wrote a narrative essay on her goal for being the first female kicker in the NFL. Lily also made a goal post on the soccer goal here at FOA for her 8th-grade project. Lily’s mother, Michelle VanPelt said, “She has worked so hard to learn it and has been fearless, defying expectations and winning over skeptics, all while playing major travel soccer and taking honors classes at St. Joe’s. The Varsity coach told me how incredible mature she has been communicating with him and I thought “Thank you, FOA!”

Lily has shown her poise and toughness during their games by handling missed snaps and tackles. Congratulations Lily on this amazing accomplishment! We are so proud of you!

Connecting Community Through Giving Back 

In true 2020 style, our holiday celebration will look a little bit different this year. Although we cannot all gather to hear our students sing songs that bring in the holiday season, we can pull together and make a difference in our community by supporting local charities who have been hit hard by the pandemic. Collection bins will be set out in each carpool line. Join us in giving back this season!

Mark Your Calendar!

November 30 – December 4 – Harvest Hope Canned Food Collection – We will have a canned food drive that will deliver to Harvest Hope. Our MS students worked at this charity pre-COVID. Canned good donations will be accepted from November 30-December 4.

December 1 – December 30 – Visit the FOA tree (decorated by FOA students) and FOA Girl Scouts Troop 3250 tree at the Hyatt Regency Downtown

December 7 – December 11 – Paved Paws Animal League Pet Supplies Collection – Paved Paws, Animal League, a local animal charity, needs food and supplies. Needed supplies include: blankets, toys, dry food, canned food, and clumping litter. Donations will be collected December 7 -11. You can purchase food through FOA Amazon Smiles to support two charities at once! Visit: http://bit.ly/PavedPawsAnimalLeague

December 14 – December 17 – Art for Acts of Kindness – Student’s Artwork Collection – “Little Bits of Happy” Greenville distributes children’s artwork to those in need in the community. We will have a collection during the week of December 14-17.

December 17 – Knit Hat Collection for Miracle Hill – Ms. Amy will be teaching classes to students to knit hats and will also have 2 demonstration craft making sessions from 8:30am – 9:30am for parents on
November 12 (Register: http://bit.ly/Nov12KnittingClass) &
November 16 (Register: http://bit.ly/Nov16KnittingClass).
FOA will be donating those hats to Miracle Hill.
Visit: http://bit.ly/HatsForHope for a supply list.

Tutu Desk Campaign Update

Five Oaks Academy Upper Elementary student, Magdalene, created this amazing video to support and raise awareness of the TutuDesk Campaign.

Thandi Tutu-Gxashe, CEO of Desmond Tutu’s Tutudesk Campaign “Tutudesk Campaign 2020,” visited Five Oaks Academy in the Fall of 2018. She spoke to our students about the shortage of over 90 million desks in sub-Saharan Africa and her Campaign’s mission to provide 20 million Tutudesks to 20 million children by 2020. Thandi Tutu-Gxashe is the daughter of the highly influential leader of the antiapartheid movement in South Africa, Desmond Tutu. Her passion for education and drive to address the vast shortage of desks in sub-Saharan Africa was an inspiration to our students.

Since her visit, FOA has been heavily involved in raising awareness and funds throughout South Carolina for the “Tutu Desk Campaign.” As a school, FOA students have raised $3,226.11 over the past year and a half through lemonade stands, bake sales, and specially-designed T-shirts that have helped raise awareness and funds. FOA also played a role in recruiting both public and private Montessori schools throughout South Carolina via the South Carolina Montessori Alliance to participate in reaching a goal of $20,000. 

The Tutudesk is an environmentally-friendly, light, portable desk that children can use at school or at home, in regular classrooms or outdoors. The organization’s goal is to improve the lives of African children, their communities and countries, and to make Africa a more globally competitive continent by impacting education and literacy.

To donate to the FOA student campaign, visit /…/tutu-desk-campaign-2020.

For more information about the global campaign, visit http://tutudesk.org.

Día de Los Muertos Celebrations at Five Oaks Academy

Maria Montessori was a strong advocate for peace education. At Five Oaks Academy, students build their cultural competency by learning about the many cultural traditions around the world and appreciating their differences. Promoting diversity and understanding of other cultures teaches the Five Oaks Academy Spanish Program’s core value of offering the children a real-world impression of the Spanish speaking cultures worldwide.

As part of the Spanish curriculum, students at Five Oaks Academy will explore the holiday Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, through stories and activities in class such as making alebrijes, cempasúchiles, and papel picado! This holiday, recognized by UNESCO and with origins in Mexico, is celebrated globally with colorful costumes and decor, singing, dancing, and more.

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