Experiential Week

Submitted by: Ed McManis, Head of School

Years ago, one of the first school experiential trips I took was to Portugal, where another teacher & I took a dozen students biking down the coast. Highlights included the stunning beauty of the Iberian Peninsula, the morning croissants and the warmth of the people. Most interestingly was the mistaken notion by folks in the small towns we biked through--followed by our sag wagons--that we were part of the Portuguese Olympic team. “Viva Portugal!” we heard over and over.

What each of us took back to the States was a life changing experience. Many of the students I rode with had previously struggled in school; reading was tough, or math, or just “school”. But on this experiential, travelling in another country, other skills emerged. They were confident, world travelers; they were using their natural life skills, their strengths. The experiences were transformative.

And so, each year I look forward to Sterne’s Experiential Week and all of the learning possibilities. The classes are cross-curricular, hands-on, collaborative, creative, and a great opportunity to explore and implement the “multiple intelligences.”

(Those familiar with the renowned educator, Howard Gardner, are familiar with this concept.)

Students and teachers get a chance to delve into specific passions, explore new topics from different angles, and travel. This year, Sterne’s Experiential Week classes include film making, upcycling, high octane adventures, cooking and cuisine, an exploration of Chinatown, and a casino unit, to name a few.

We’re especially excited about our trips this year. The 7th and 8th graders will take a trip to Washington D.C. Our high school handball team will be competing in a tournament in Edmonton. There is also a high school trip to South Africa where students will get to visit Johannesburg and learn about its complicated history. This includes a pre-lecture by Sterne’s own Board Chair, David Bradlow, who grew up in South Africa.

We’re excited to offer these varied experiential opportunities and classes to our students, and to share in these learning experiences. As my old teaching buddy, Sophocles, reminds us: “One learns by doing a thing….”