Last year Oak Meadow collaborated with Northfield Mount Hermon School (NMH) to enroll nine students from an orphanage in India. Teachers from both schools work with the students using Oak Meadow’s curriculum and distance-learning teaching model in a shared mission to provide educational access to underserved students.
This summer, Executive Director Michelle Simpson-Siegel and her 10-year-old daughter, Zinnia, joined NMH’s community service teaching team for three weeks at Joybells School and Orphanage in Dheradun, India, situated on the foothill of the Himalayas. NMH offers the summer community service trip to high school students.
“I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to travel and work with NMH colleagues and students in support of the children at Joybells,” said Michelle. “Joybells is truly a remarkable place. The 39 students, age three and up, start their day at 5 AM with farm chores—the gardens supply almost all of the food for the orphanage—followed by yoga, breakfast, and a school assembly.”
Classes run until 1:30 PM when the heat of the day demands a break. There is an afternoon study session, followed by football (soccer)—they would play all day!—and arts and crafts. I have seen few schools run as well. The children are composed, respectful, focused, and willing. Really magical and memorable.”
Michelle learned that there are 31 million orphans in India. “It’s a staggering statistic. Nine students out of 31 million seems rather insignificant, unless you are one of those nine children. So, we will continue to do what we can with what we have to give.”