The OEF came to life in October of 1994 after a year of diligent work spearheaded by John Pittenger, then a resident of West Nottingham Township and former Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of PA. “Pitt,” as he was known to his friends, knew how to get things done.
The Oxford Educational Foundation (OEF) is a private non-profit community organization founded for the purpose of assisting the Oxford Area School District. The seed that germinated into the OEF was planted a year earlier at a Hershey, PA educational leadership conference hosted by the PA Association of School Administrators and the PA School Boards Association. Richard Winchester, then a school board member of the Oxford Area School District and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lincoln University, attended these mid-week sessions.
The workshop that caught Winchester’s special attention was entitled “Making an Education Foundation Work for You” – the ABC’s of how to begin and operate an educational foundation in your school district. Presented by Dr. Margaret Kuypers and George Plosa, administrators in the Hatboro-Horsham School District. Education foundations attract money for special purposes, but they could also recruit parents, alumni, and retired citizens as mentors, tutors and role models.
These themes resonated with Winchester. He was also an educator at Lincoln University and anxious to improve the educational pipeline. Fired up by this experience at Hershey, Winchester returned to Oxford and looked for allies who might help with the process.
Colleagues on the school board, Nancy Andress, Bob Domzalski and Phil Leyman were early recruits. Oxford alumni and community activists, people like James Gordon, Kathy Elters, Pam Donnelly, Etha McDowell, Rowena Jenkins, and Denise Fritsch, also signed on. Together with Pitt, Winchester and Charles Lewis, the business administrator of the Oxford Area School District, these were the people who formed the “steering committee” for the OEF. School superintendent Robert Meckes, assistant superintendent, Ray Fischer, former school board member Steve Roberts, and alumni Jim McLeod and Jim Herr were among them. Perhaps most importantly, Pitt persuaded Randy Sebastian, Oxford alumnus who Pitt mentored during his high school years and steered into Harvard Law School, to lend his professional talent pro bono.
A partner in the firm MacElree, Harvey, Gallagher, Featherman and Sebastian, Randy guided the steering committee through the maze of paperwork. Between January and September 1994, OEF By-Laws, Mission Statement, Articles of Incorporation, PA Charter as a Non-Profit Corporation, IRS 501.c.3 status, and membership application were all approved. Finally, in October, 1994, the steering committee went out of existence and the first annual meeting of the OEF membership elected its first Board of Directors.
In January 1995, the Board of Directors, now at a full complement of 15, elected officers. A generous contribution from the Oxford Area Educational Association and a gift from John and Marion Ware established a financial foundation for the fledgling OEF.
In its first three years, with John Pittenger as President, the Foundation formed its board committee structure, hired a Volunteer Coordinator to recruit volunteers and mentors in the schools, purchased a satellite dish for use by the schools, assisted the High School in its organization of a Career Day, attended alumni reunions, and provided an OASD and OEF bi-annual joint publication of the Oxford School News.
As the year 2012 began, the Oxford Educational Foundation was the recipient of an anonymous $1 million gift. The gift would assist the school district in expanding its educational mission and strategic plan over the next five years. It would be used to increase technology use, update curriculum resources, provide professional development for staff, replace equipment in the music department, sponsor summer art and music academies and to refurbish each school media center with books, e-books, etc. The donors expressed great enthusiasm in being able to support the important work being done in the Oxford Schools, as well as great confidence in the leadership and staff of the OEF and the OASD to successfully implement the initiatives undertaken by this donation.
With this strong foundation the OEF continues to build on its accomplishments:
Instituting an annual grant in the OASD in memory of John C. Pittenger
Providing an Annual Report
Setting up an Endowment Fund
Providing teacher professional grants
And multiple other programs explained in depth throughout our website.
Creating an Oxford Alumni database
Establishing the Randy Sebastian Volunteer Person of the Year Award
Annual Oxford Area Education Association and Oxford Educational Foundation Breakfast
Mentor/mentee annual picnic
Strengthening mentor/tutor/volunteer program
James McLeod graduated with a degree in business administration from the University of Dayton in 1973, Mr. McLeod returned to Oxford as owner and operator of McLeod Motor Co. Since 2001 Mr. McLeod has served as Executive Director of the Oxford Area Senior Center. Mr. McLeod has a long record of service at the local, county and state levels. In 1994 he helped establish the Oxford Educational Foundation, he joined the foundation’s Board of Directors in 1995.
John C. Pittenger
John C. Pittenger helped create the Oxford Educational Foundation in 1993. Mr. Pittenger passionately believed that education was the road to better self-government and a better democracy. He exemplified these beliefs through his tenure as the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education (1972 to 1977) and his teaching assignments at Harvard, Rutgers, and Franklin and Marshall College.
Randy Sebastian was a founding member and integral to the start up of the Oxford Educational Foundation. He was an Oxford graduate in the class of 1964 who then graduated cum laude from Harvard University. He earned a law degree from Villanova University and returned to Chester County to practice law and raise his family.
John H. Ware IV
John H. Ware IV was a charter member of the Oxford Educational Foundation and was an active board member for its foundation years. He attended Oxford Area High School, University of Pennsylvania and Lincoln University.
Dr. Richard Winchester
Dr. Richard Winchester devoted his professional life to education. A graduate of Ursinus College and doctoral graduate of the University of Rochester, Dr. Winchester was a member of the staff and administration of Lincoln University for 39 years as a history professor and vice-president. Dr. Winchester’s involvement with the OEF continues to this day. In his retirement, he has served as an OEF facilitator and continues to work on the Strategic Planning Committee.
We are constantly looking for tutors and mentors for our students. Join us!
Students & Parents
Are you a student looking for tutoring or mentoring? Are you a parent looking for support for your child?
Teachers & Principals
We give grants to teachers and principals. Apply today!