One of the most anticipated weeks in the school life of a St. Thomas’s student is the fifth grade trip to Nature’s Classroom. Last week, the fifth grade trekked out to Ivoryton, CT for a five-day-long residential environmental education program where our students participated in activities and projects that enhanced their learning and built community. Nature’s Classroom is just one of many on a large slate of purposeful field trips that happen throughout the year that serve as part of the experiential learning program at the school.
The students at St. Thomas’s participate in over 30 field trips every year (5-7 per grade) ranging in scope from a day at a local renowned cultural facility to a week-long trip to a major U.S. city. Head of School Gina Panza says, ” St. Thomas’s Day School students explore their world through an extraordinary series of field trips and educational excursions. Our experiential program provides for learning to extend beyond the classroom walls whereby allowing students to develop an increased awareness about their neighborhood, community, our state and the global world.”
Field trips not only provide teachers the opportunities to extend and enrich the learning that goes on in the classroom, but promote a love of learning that follows our students with them throughout their lives. “What I remember most about St. Thomas’s is the field trips,” says alumna Victoria McCraven ’09, who is currently studying at the University of London in the School of Oriental and African Studies as a Fulbright Scholar. “There was always an emphasis on history at St. Thomas’s, and not just colonial history. I remember clearly a trip to the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, among many other places.” Through field trips our students are exposed to multiple perspectives and given access to experts in their particular fields.
In addition, this type of learning, allows teachers to meet the needs of all kinds of learners. St. Thomas’s recognizes the uniqueness of each child and their individual learning styles. Student engagement is not limited to a classroom, or on a playground, or in a Chapel, but extends to the brooks of Nature’s Classroom and into the museums of Washington, D.C. Our students are empowered to learn in all types of settings and are transformed by their experiences throughout the years.