Experiential Learning And Outdoor Education
Experiential Education opportunities further the mission to create independent learners not only in the academic realm, but in the real world realm as well. Students participate in a variety of day trips in and around New York City, as well as longer trips to Washington, DC and Philadelphia. These trips provide new experiences that reinforce or expand upon the classroom curriculum.
Students have participated in film screenings and lectures on the Holocaust at both the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Jewish Museum; an “Explore NYC Day!” where students toured the New York Aquarium, the Intrepid Museum, and Ellis Island; and a scavenger hunt around the city, which provided practice in reading maps and navigating the subways, as well as learning about some of the major attractions of New York.
In the past several years, students have also traveled to Philadelphia to visit the National Constitution Center and Independence Hall to reinforce a unit on the Founding of the United States. Students traveled to Washington, DC for three days to tour sites including the Supreme Court, Arlington Cemetery, and the National Gallery of Art. For many students, this trip provided their first experience of leaving New York City and traveling without their families, which is just as valuable a learning experience as visiting these sites, and is sometimes even more important for WPS students. These programs are a major strength of WPS, as they simultaneously reinforce curricular goals and provide students with unique and important experiences.For more information on our Experiential Education program, please contact Elisha Mittleman, Dean of Student Life.
The WPS Outdoor Education Program leads students into unfamiliar and challenging environments to facilitate goal setting and appropriate risk taking, improve communication skills, demonstrate how learning strategies are used outside of classroom environments, and encourage a commitment to social and ecological responsibility as well as the development of resiliency. These experiences are able to profoundly impact these key factors in a young person’s life in a manner and to a degree not possible in the typical classroom setting – this is uniquely so for students with learning difficulties. No environment teaches the most vital skill of overcoming obstacles quite like outdoor education. As one student put it, “I learned never to give up, even when the experience seems beyond my limits.”
WPS Outdoor Education Program has been an integral aspect of the school’s curriculum for more than eight years. Each year students are invited to participate in week-long programs that frequently vary in their location and specific activities. Over the years we have taken students mountain biking through Amish Pennsylvania, backpacking and rafting and rock climbing on and along the Appalachian trail in Virginia, caving and camping in the Castkills, canoeing on the Delaware River, and canoeing on the Potomac River. We have worked as schooner ship or “tall ship” crew members in New England and in the Virgin Islands. We have taken students to experiential education camps such as Frost Valley YMCA in upstate New York, and to The Mountain Institute in West Virginia. Through these experiential activities we have been able to help students who we serve, students who are working to overcome expressive and receptive language difficulties, dyslexia, executive functioning difficulties, and non-verbal learning disabilities.For more information about Outdoor Education opportunities, please contact Evan Schlissel, Outdoor Education Coordinator.