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Oakridge head of school announces retirement

🕐 4 min read

Jon Kellam, The Oakridge School’s Head of School, will retire in summer 2022 from the position he has held for 15 years. His retirement will mark the end of a remarkable career in education that has lasted nearly three decades at Oakridge.

Kellam said there is peace in knowing, that in life, there is a season for everything. Having accomplished much professionally, he is looking forward to more time with Kristi, his wife of 28 years, and their sons, Cole ’16 and Cade ’18.

“After many months of thoughtful deliberation and fervent prayer, Kristi and I have determined that the next academic school year, 2021-2022, will be my last as Head of School,” Kellam wrote in an announcement that followed a call with faculty and staff.

“Making the announcement this far in advance is out of my respect and love for the Oakridge family – the community I cherish. The timing also coincides with the end of my contract on June 30, 2022, and will afford the board sufficient time for a national search for my successor,” Kellam said.

The school is at 5900 W. Pioneer Parkway in Arlington.

Kellam is one of the most experienced and trusted heads of schools in the region, the school said in a news release. He and his team have spent a decade preparing Oakridge children for college and life by incorporating creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and character into the  curriculum.

The addition of four new makerspaces (STEAM labs) and formalized public speaking and writing initiatives have added breadth and depth in learning, said Oakridge Board Chair Jim Haddock. As a “school of the future,” the Learn 21 program (2014) was the catalyst for enabling students’ access to 1:1 learning through the integration of technology. In 2016, Oakridge was recognized as the Lausanne Learning Institute’s Spotlight School for Innovation, and from 2017-2019, Oakridge hosted a national conference for innovative teaching and learning on campus.

“During Jon’s time as Head of School, his fundraising efforts raised millions of dollars toward building the Quinn Kindergarten Center, developing the Oakridge Athletic Complex, and growing the school’s endowment,” Haddock said. “Oakridge is an extraordinary place, and Jon Kellam has contributed significantly to its success. In addition to the accomplishments highlighted here, he has demonstrated and modeled what vision, passion, dedication, and kindness can accomplish. Jon has been loyal and consistent, often reminding his team that ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ His commitment, tenacity, and heart have been priceless to our community.”

Kellam’s commitment to academic success is reflected in the strong performance of Oakridge students.

In the 2019-2020 academic year, all 76 Oakridge seniors — representing nine countries and 39 cities across Dallas-Fort Worth — were accepted by nearly 160 colleges and universities across the globe. The Class of 2020 earned more than $12 million in merit-based scholarship offers.

In the past five years, 100 percent of Oakridge graduates have enrolled in post-secondary education. During Kellam’s tenure as Head of School, Oakridge has graduated 1,062 young men and women.

“When I reminisce, I am particularly proud of the positive relationships we have established with thousands of students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, and grandparents,” Kellam said. “In my remaining year and a half, I pledge to continue leading our school with my heart and soul. Our team will remain focused on delivering the mission and working toward strategic improvement.”

Kellam joined Oakridge in 1993 as an English teacher. He went on to coach numerous sports, and held various administrative posts, including director of summer programs, head of middle school, and associate head of school.

He is the immediate past board president of the Southwest Preparatory Conference, a position held from 2016-2020. He has served on the board and in multiple leadership roles with the Independent Schools Association of the Southwest, and is currently on the board of Texas Private Schools Association.

Kellam holds master of education and bachelor of science in education degrees from Texas Christian University and completed the School Leadership Development Institute at Stanford University. He also earned a fully funded fellowship to the Klingenstein Head of Schools Program at Columbia University in 2014.

Prior to his time at Oakridge, Kellam taught English and business and coached soccer and football at Crowley High School.

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