Jodi Grass

Head of School

How many years have you worked at Oak Grove?

Since 2005.

Why do you work at Oak Grove?

I don’t feel as though I “work” at Oak Grove. I spend my days here out a deep devotion to the philosophy of the school.

A quote that inspires your approach to your job.

“Surely, education has no meaning unless it helps you to understand the vast expanse of life with all its subtleties, with its extraordinary beauty, its sorrows and joys.”
Krishnamurti, Think on These Things

Where is your special spot on campus?

Under oak tree #26.

Coffee or Tea?

Both.

What outdoor experience has been most impactful for you?

Chaperoning seniors in India was an extraordinary experience. Bird watching while hiking through the mountains of the Rishi Valley; experiencing the gentle quiet of small village children reading on the dirt floor of their classroom; careening through the crowded streets of Bangalore and Chennai on a rickshaw; watching master weavers play at the giant loom in the art village of the Valley School; touring San Thome Cathedral; standing next to Valluvar Kottam and participating in a burning ceremony during Pongal on the beach of Mahabalipuram, all of which provided a backdrop to forming a deep bond with individual students. This has had a lasting impact on me.

The best live music performance/concert you ever attended is …

I enjoy most live music performances, but possibly the most formative was seeing the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Roxy when I was far too young to be there. This performance opened my mind to many things including creative expression.

Which teacher in your life affected you greatly? How?

My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Parker! She was a Mary Poppins-esque woman—kind, articulate, beautiful, smelled of baby kittens and cinnamon rolls. She seemed to float around the room. I was so enamored with her that I didn’t learn a thing. Toward the end of the school year, she expressed concern to my mother that I hadn’t learned my letters or numbers and could barely spell my name. She told my mom that when she tried to get me to do my school work, I would rub her neck and say, “Don’t worry, Mrs. Parker, it will all be okay.”

Name something that nobody knows about you.

In the early 1990s, I was sitting in Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting on the coast of California reading an article in the newspaper about a feminist couple in Ovett, Mississippi, that was being harassed for being lesbians. The couple purchased badly depleted, clear-cut land to restore it and to provide literacy programs to local women and girls. Some local residents were protesting the purchase by setting up camp just outside the entrance gate to the property. They were armed with guns. Most recently the land had been set on fire. The article explained that due to the Interstate Commerce Clause, federal agents could not protect the women. Protection would only happen if there were people from other states on the property that needed to be safeguarded, which would give them jurisdiction under Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution–Commerce Clause. Otherwise, the local government had jurisdiction over the situation. Two days later, I was driving a borrowed car with eight easily recruited women on our way to Mississippi.

Person (dead or alive, famous or not) that you’d most like to share a meal with.

Can I pick two? I would like to take a long hike with George Stephanopoulos and his wife Ali Wentworth followed by lunch. I am a huge political geek. George is one of the few political correspondents who allows his guests the time to answer questions without being interrupted. He seems to trust the viewer/reader to sort out the truth on their own. Ali is a comedian and one can never laugh too much.

Name a place you’ve always wanted to visit, but haven’t yet.

The future! Living in the moment can be a struggle for me. I don’t often look back, but too often focus forward. This is a particular struggle when it comes to the future of Oak Grove. I am excited to see the school continue to flourish.

What is your most bizarre OGS experience?

On a chilly afternoon, I was walking through the grove (the official oak grove), enjoying the serenity and I suddenly felt an intense and painful whack on the back of my head. I immediately felt woozy as I looked up to see a red-tailed hawk flying low over my head. Later, I contacted the Ojai Raptor Center to learn the hawk was protecting her nest. As a mother myself, I completely understood and fully forgave her. : – )

Favorite Oak Grove expression?

Saying: “Private school public purpose” Expression: “Wait. . . what?”