The Book
of Gratitude


Wholehearted Thanks

The immense generosity of Oakwood’s many donors and treasured volunteers is visible in the milestones of student life and felt through the everyday joys of exploration and learning on campus. The growth of our Annual Fund, Endowment, and Capital campaigns during the 2014-2015 school year is a testament to the unmatched commitment of the Oakwood community—the parents, alumni families, grandparents, friends, corporate and non-profit partners, faculty and staff who are honored here.


5 Gorilla Suits

in service during Eric Walter’s 31 year tenure at Oakwood

Rhodes Scholarship

1 Rhodes Scholarship

won in 2015 by Oakwood Alumnus David R.K. Adler, ’10


33 Members

of the class of 2015 performed songs, speeches, and stand up acts at graduation

Headmaster, James Alan Astman, Ph.D. construction video


James Alan Astman, Ph.D.

Oakwood is flourishing

Pardon Our Dust

It was a sight few of us who saw it will forget: 35,000 pound trailer units being hoisted by an enormous crane from the elementary school fire lane over aged eucalyptus trees onto a concrete foundation in the middle of our elementary school campus. (To safely lift and move the trailers, the crane had to be loaded with almost 250 tons of counterbalance weight.) Over the course of an astonishing weekend, we witnessed the basic structure of The Story Center, arriving from the sky, arise from the ground up.

In the weeks that followed – including, the very next weekend, placing the Music Studios – those trailers were transformed into magnificent facilities. Inevitably, along the way, there were inconveniences: the daily noise of hammers and power tools; temporary paths to guide people safely around the construction zone; dirt that got tracked into classrooms; and, surely too, a buzz of and amazement at the speed and quality of the building process. All that was missing was a familiar sign: Pardon Our Dust While We’re Under Construction!

What can be said of a building going up can also be said of a child growing up: under construction, and generating a lot of wonderful dust in the process. That basic insight – about the revelatory, joyous, and messy process of learning and maturing – is Oakwood’s foundation as well as its goal. It accounts for the warmth and dynamism of the classroom, and the bittersweet response to rituals like Step-Up and Senior Commencement. After all, change is a fact of daily life in a school.

And so, when the landscape, itself, is transformed, as it was last fall on our elementary campus, parents, teachers, and students alike become newly aware of the power and beauty of change – especially in the name of learning. And they are reminded of the power and beauty of a community coming together to make change possible.

This year’s Annual Report, The Book of Gratitude, is a testimony to our school community, and to the spirit of collaboration, imagination, and entrepreneurship at its core. That spirit not only makes new buildings possible; it sustains our growth as a school. So I write with deep gratitude for our community’s abundant generosity and the devotion it reflects to the very idea of Oakwood: a school committed, in every way, to being under construction.

Everyone who reads this Annual Report should appreciate that Oakwood is flourishing in no small part because of the leadership and support of our Board of Trustees. But the Board has been, for the past three years, the beneficiary of an exemplary Board Chair: Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali. Liz not only knows every nook and cranny of school life; her love of Oakwood is irresistibly contagious. I know of no more effective or selfless fundraiser, and I am hard put to imagine a better partner in leading the school. Since I began my tenure as Headmaster with her father, Stanley, as my first Board Treasurer, it is a special privilege for me to call her my very dear friend. We are all in her debt.

James Alan Astman, Ph.D.


11 Ideas for Social Change

presented to CA Senator Bob Hertzberg by Oakwood 4th Graders in Sacramento


4 championships

won by Oakwood athletes in 2014-2015: boys’ basketball, boys’ volleyball, girls’ tennis (individual), boys’ track and field (individual)

Sierra Leone

12 girls from Sierra Leone

attending the Bumpe School who will receive food, books, uniforms, shoes, school supplies and school fees thanks to the $5,000 raised by the Oakwood chapter of Girls Learn International

Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali ES ’76

Chair, Board of Trustees

Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali ES ’76

I am proud of our Oakwood

In my last Annual Report letter as board chair, I want to share with you something I learned from a fundraising expert, my father Stanley Hirsh. He used to tell me that there were 3 kinds of donors:

Donor 1: People who will just never give. No matter their wealth or status, they do not see beyond themselves to help with their resources. This is never about financial capacity, but rather about choices. Soliciting these donors is usually a waste of time!

Donor 2: People who can be educated about philanthropy. Many people are not raised to be donors: they do not grow up with philanthropy in their DNA, but when they learn to give and love a cause, they do so generously and with great pleasure.

Donor 3: People who are naturally inclined to give. These folks are born to share, giving is in their essence and many times they give even before they are solicited. They know their support can make a difference. This is never about a fixed dollar amount; we all know that for one family a $50 gift can be a greater stretch than a million dollar gift is for another family.

I am proud of our Oakwood. This Annual Report celebrates donors who understand and value philanthropy. This year, 99% of Oakwood parents donated to the Annual Fund, we increased Endowment giving over the previous year, and we raised $2.75 million for two new buildings on the elementary school campus—The Story Center & Music Studios. These fundraising successes, as well as other accomplishments, are shared in the pages of this book.

We have an inspirational Advancement team to steward all of our campaigns, and we have praiseworthy parents who reach out to their fellow parents to contribute. It has been an honor to chair the Board and work with a group of outstanding Trustees who have focused efforts on increasing giving and thoughtfully working to educate our community on the school’s needs and the values of giving.

My father’s philanthropic goal, which Oakwood shares, is that in the act of giving to a place where one’s heart and soul is deeply invested, that the experience be deeply rewarding and joyful.

Thank you to all of our donors. We are grateful for your support and love of our school.

Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali ES ’76


Oakwood School Board of Trustees

Board of Trustees

  • Elizabeth Hirsh Naftali ES ’76, Chair
  • Marta F. Kauffman, Vice Chair
  • Michael Marshall, Treasurer
  • Greg Silverman, Secretary
  • Bridget L. Baker
  • Mitchell Butler ’89
  • Nancy Carell
  • Meryl K. Chae
  • Adam N. Fogelson
  • Ken Fritz
  • Kourosh Ghassemieh
  • Adam Goodman
  • Phyllis Gottlieb
  • Pamela Skaist Levy
  • Jen Lichtman
  • Roger Love
  • Jeffrey Markowitz ’82
  • Barbara Marshall
  • Edward Perron, Past Chair
  • Debbie Reed
  • Peter Schube, Past Chair
  • David Simon
  • Andrew B. Sugerman
  • Bonnie Vitti
  • Daniel Weiss
  • Kimberly West-Faulcon


  • James A. Astman, Ph.D., Headmaster
  • Chris Thomas, Chief Operating Officer
  • Elliot H. Spokane, Chief Financial Officer
  • Nancy Leptuch Virrey, Director of Advancement

Guest Members

  • Hillary Fogelson, Co-president, Parent Organization
  • Laurie Spivak, Co-president, Parent Organization
  • Kimberly Berman Kleid ’91, Chair, Alumni Association

16 Exquisite Sushi Plates

made by students on display at the Annual Ceramics Program Sushi Luncheon

lap steel guitars

28 Lap steel guitars

produced by students in Dave Badger and Phu Tranchi’s Physics classes—8 of these were donated to the Valor Academy charter school


195 Years

of combined teaching experience for retiring faculty and staff members Larry Dilg, Sallie Phelps, Susan Schechtman, Leslie Sigmund, Kerry Sjoblom, Elliot Spokane, and Eric Walter

Voluntary Support Summary 2014–2015

Oakwood School Operating Budget 2014–2015

Unrestricted Annual Fund 5 Year Comparison

Unrestricted Annual Fund 5 Year Comparison

Oakwood School Operating Budget 2014–2015

Oakwood School Operating Budget 2014–2015
3D printer

27 3D printers

built by Oakwood students during the Immersion course 3D Printers: Building & Designing the Future


600 pounds of steel and wood

thanking the community of donors who gave to The Story Center & Music Studios campaign.

radio tower

817.77 hours

of KOAK radio listened to by Oakwood students in 2014–2015

Hillary Fogelson and Laurie Spivak

Co-Presidents, Parent Organization

Hillary Fogelson and Laurie Spivak

Our parents show up, roll up their sleeves, and dig-in

It is truly a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of the Oakwood community and to have served as your Parent Org presidents for the past year. We couldn’t have done it without our fabulous team of officers, our cadre of committee chairs, and our committed volunteers. We are so grateful to the many parents who help to make our school the extraordinary institution that it is.

With more than 30 parent-run committees, it is difficult to overstate the depth and breadth of Oakwood parents’ commitment to our school, in terms of time and talent. Parent Org hosts teacher and faculty appreciation events, our New Kinder Picnic, and Parent Education events.

Our Secondary School Used Book Sale, which is both parent-initiated and parent-run, saves our families hundreds of dollars. The Fall Fair, our biggest community-wide family event of the year is run entirely by parent volunteers. Our hot lunch program on the Secondary School campus and Taco Tuesday and Pizza Friday at the Elementary School are parent-run and serve as both conveniences for families and fundraisers for the school. Bookwood and our Library Tribute, both Parent Org events, have become key sources of funding for new library resources.

Oakwood parents don’t dial-it-in; our parents show up, roll up their sleeves, and dig-in, and we can’t thank you enough!

We also would like to thank the Administration for your support over the past year. We have not shied away from change; to the contrary we have embraced it. From moving the fair to the fall, to consolidating events, to shifting leadership structures, to streamlining systems, to introducing new fundraising mechanisms, and to changing things that “had always been done that way,” at virtually every turn the Administration has had our backs and has supported our efforts. It is a testament to an institution that lives by its principles.

“Nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy,” and while it hasn’t been easy, it has been so worthwhile serving such an awe-inspiring community. Thank you for the opportunity.

With gratitude,
Hillary Fogelson and Laurie Spivak


Parent Organization Leadership


Vice President – Elementary School

Vice President – Secondary School


Marketing & Publicity Officer / Secretary


Nominating Committee Chair

Watts Towers

$1,843 worth of popcorn

sold by 3rd graders to benefit the Watts Towers Arts Center


705 applications

to 179 different colleges and universities submitted by the 65 students in the class of 2015 (100% earned admission to a 4-year college or university)

Immersion program students

33,386 miles

travelled by Immersion program students to Malaga, Beijing, Costa Rica, Oxford, Death Valley, Birmingham, New Orleans, New York City, Montana, Catalina Island, The Virgin Islands, Washington DC, and Riverside

The Story Center & Music Studios

Donor Wall

The Story Center, residing at the heart of the elementary school campus, is a multidimensional “home” for innovative teaching and learning experiences. It is the hub where stories provide the nexus for inquiry, research, collaboration, and creativity.

The state-of-the-art Music Studio is designed to promote understanding and cultivate appreciation of the music-making process through instruction, theory, composition, and performance.

The capstone of these new buildings is surely the most elegant and ingenious donor wall ever designed: a bookcase filled with stainless steel “Books of Gratitude” acknowledging the many, many parents (past and present), alumni families, staff members, and others who made these buildings possible. We want to acknowledge and express our deepest thanks to Mark and Susan Fuller (and their remarkable design and fabrication teams at WET Design) for their unprecedented gifts to the school: the stunning outdoor “bookcase” that graces The Story Center, and the brilliant outdoor water-play features (all requiring cooperative play to enjoy!) in our elementary yard.

Kimberly Berman Kleid ’91

Chair, Alumni Council

Kimberly Berman Kleid ’91

It has been a time of transition for us on the Alumni Council. Zach and I are looking forward to guiding the Council forward in our endeavors to connect the Oakwood communities of past and present. We look forward to partnering with new leadership and forming a collaboration with a new director who will support, motivate and inspire us in true Oakwood fashion!

I am excited for a new year and look forward to getting to know more of you both in my capacity on the Council and as the parent of a second grader!

Very best,
Kimberly Berman Kleid ’91

Alumni Council Leadership

Alumni Council & Giving Volunteers

totem animals

46 totem animals

chosen by Oakwood 3rd graders, although some believe that the animals choose the children

Elementary School

48 students

(our entire 6th grade class) led Prospective Parent Tours on the Elementary School campus

Class of 2015 Matriculations

Oakwood School Operating Budget 2014–2015

Colleges in italics indicate more than one student matriculating


1,116 times

the Elementary School courtyard bell was rung by 3rd graders during the school year


20 per cent

of the current secondary school student body has been part of Middle School Debate, so in any classroom of 20 students you walk into at Oakwood, an average of 5 students have been trained in debate (you’re welcome)

pointe shoes

18,432 battements kicked

per dance student, for a grand total of 645,120 kicks

About Oakwood

Oakwood School, founded in 1951, is a leading independent school serving students in grades Kindergarten through twelve throughout the Los Angeles area. Located on two campuses in the San Fernando Valley, Oakwood offers a college preparatory program with students matriculating to top colleges and universities across the country and beyond. Small classes and low teacher to student ratios foster creativity, independence, and 21st century skills. Oakwood families represent the diverse and wide-reaching spectrum of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Oakwood School is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

This Annual Report acknowledges contributions received between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015. We make every effort to publish accurate, up-to-date information, but errors do occur. If your name has inadvertently been misspelled, omitted or listed in the wrong place, we apologize and ask that you call the Advancement Office at 818-732-3062 so that your record can be corrected.

The Advancement Office welcomes inquiries about Oakwood’s fundraising programs. Please contact Nancy Leptuch Virrey, Director of Advancement at 818-732-3174 for more information.

Oakwood does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, or country of origin in the administration of its admission, education, athletic, scholarship, financial aid, employment or other school programs.

Oakwood School in Brief


Elementary School Founded


Secondary School Founded




Secondary School Faculty/Student Ratio


2015 Senior Class





Charles & Emilie Haas Endowment


David Pianko ’95 Memorial Scholarship Fund


O.N.E. (Oakwood New student Endowment)


Other Endowments


1 Dinosaur

spotted on the Secondary School campus, thanks to our “preh15toric” seniors

Whistling Vivaldi

37 readers

of the Oakwood community joined the Parent Org Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee in reading Whistling Vivaldi over the summer


67% increase

in book circulation at the Elementary School since the start of the 2015–2016 school year



  • Nancy Leptuch Virrey
  • Bret Nicely
  • Julie Masterson


  • Casey Ahern
  • Emmalynn Alfaro
  • Marcos Arias
  • Marlene Astman
  • Angelina Attwell
  • Ren Bell
  • Melissa Berton
  • Victor Cohen
  • Sarah Culberson
  • Andrea Falconer
  • Kelly Finn
  • Claire Friedman
  • Chisara Iwuagwu
  • Ivan Johnson
  • Laurie Lew
  • Margie Llinas
  • Arianne MacBean
  • Sergio Martinez
  • Eden Naftali
  • Melissa Palmer
  • Gaye Pettibone
  • Steffany Perez
  • Alison Raitt
  • Linda Rose-Winters
  • Christina Shirinyan
  • Kat Svetlik
  • Justin Sweitzer
  • Stephanie Sztanski
  • Agatha Tamara
  • Phu Tranchi
  • Liz Willis
  • Eric Walter

Book Design and Creative Direction

Web Design


  • James A. Astman, Ph.D
  • Dr. Jim Culberson
  • Ruben Diaz
  • Matt Harbicht
  • Jessie Mobely
  • Bret Nicely
  • Janet Thomas
  • Coral von Zumwalt
Thank You! Thank You!

Support Oakwood

We are so grateful for your continued support of our school. Every gift, regardless of size, makes an impact.

Support Us



The full Book of Gratitude is available to Oakwood families, faculty, and supporters.

Download the Book of Gratitude