Second Campus for Post Oak High School
Now in its 50th year, The Post Oak School in Houston, Texas, added a high school program on a second campus, noting its largest enrollment ever at 416 students. The school is led by Head of School John Long, who is in his eighteenth year at Post Oak.
The new program opened with 16 freshman and will grow to 120 students in the four grades. The high school expansion has been three years in the making and included adding three full time teachers, three part time teachers, and a high school director. It also included opening a newly renovated building on a second campus. The high school building is an open-concept, 6000 sq.ft. space tailored to the needs of the new program. It includes a full science lab, meeting rooms, kitchen, and design studio.
The high school campus is located in Houston’s culturally rich Houston Museum District. It is situated to leverage partnerships with many of the city’s top companies and cultural institutions. Subject matter experts at each organization are adjunct faculty and work with the high school teachers to create real-world experiences built on the school curriculum. These are not the “going-out” activities of the elementary, but full-fledged, long-term access to an idealized microcosm of adult society (prepared environment) suited for adolescent interests and energy.
The high school’s core faculty, each with expertise in their own discipline, provide the link to the cultural institutions, extending the student experience. By connecting students directly with world-class experts around Houston, classes expand and student engagement is maximized through contact with reality.
The sixteen students come from a diversity of backgrounds. Some have experience in Montessori schools, others do not. They come from a mix of private and public schools; two come from the Post Oak Middle School.
The start of the year included visits to local museum partners such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Houston Zoo. At the organizations, students met with curators, went behind the scenes, and got a sense of their expansive campus.
Following the orientation days, the sixteen students, three faculty, and High School Director James Moudry set off on a one week Odyssey trip along the Gulf Coast. During the day in New Orleans the students took in a personalized Hurricane Katrina tour with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Rose before visiting the World War II Museum. The next two days were spent doing field marine biology studies at the Marine Education Center at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Lab. Students kayaked, fished, and trawled the Mississippi Sound as they learned about the marine ecosystems of the barrier islands and Gulf Coast.
The trip was an engaging community-building experience. The shared travel served to connect the students and create a single community out of their diverse educational backgrounds. As the adage goes, “There is no better way to get to know someone than to travel with them.”
As the high school grows over the next few years, there will continue to be new adventures for everyone. The school is currently recognized as a Candidate School to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme starting in 2014.