By Erin Cawley, Junior High Dean
At Noble Academy, we have a unique structure to our comprehensive educational experience because we understand students learn differently, which leads them to approach concepts differently. The obvious components of our all-inclusive program are our differentiated learning management techniques, our supportive environment, and our incorporation of research-based strategies and instruction. However, a comprehensive educational experience at Noble Academy also includes a hefty dose of experiential learning designed to educate the “whole” child and help make content connections to maximize understanding. The emphasis on experiential learning helps our students become active participants in their personal learning journey. These experiences are delivered to the entire student body through speakers highlighting the importance of owning your differences and making good choices or is regularly evident through our various grade-level specific programming.
Our Lower School program incorporates experiential learning through frequent trips to Spring Arbor (a retirement community) to help students experience outreach and compassion, all while practicing their reading skills. They also take the students to Betsy Jeff Penn 4-H camp for a day of team building that includes high ropes courses that instill techniques needed to help students learn how to work together as a team. Most recently, they were treated to an exciting presentation by a foreign exchange student who was able to speak first hand about Chinese culture and customs, as well as a production called “Dear Math” to help tackle feelings of math related anxiety. On the horizon for our Lower School students is a trip to the Center for Education, Imagination and the Natural World for a hands-on learning experience, centered around empathetic listening.
In Junior High, students went on a virtual field trip via Skype with the Turtle Hospital in the Florida Keys to learn how they rehabilitate injured turtles and release them back into their natural habitat as part of our unit on life in the ocean. Experiential learning was also evident as students walked the shores of the Shackleford Banks in search of various signs of ocean life and collected samples from the barrier islands. This overnight trip was part of our annual Skills Week program which culminated with a visit to Fort Macon and the Maritime Museum as part of a NC History unit. One of the most exciting displays of experiential learning in the Junior High is definitely our annual Entrepreneur Week where students get to take a break from traditional classes to experience the world of entrepreneurship. They are charged with creating a business proposal, marketing plan, constituent surveys and a working prototype to display during our culminating marketplace.
Experiential learning in the High School takes on many different forms from Flexuary, our cross-curricular study of a particular topic, to our three-week long spring senior internship program. Experiential learning is also evident through our Cooking with Chemistry class because students learn that science basics are a lifelong necessity, as well as in certain English classes that wrap up their novel study of Life of Pi with a field trip off campus to try some local Indian cuisine. Some notable in-the-field learning opportunities that also come to mind when talking about our High School program is in Biology classes where students regularly take hikes to look for evidence of storm damage and document their observations through notes and a photo journal. In Earth Science, students make regular trips to a local lake to test the pH and chemical levels and then discuss differences. High School students also learn through their experiences every fall when they participate in Skills Week. During this time, the juniors are taken on college visits to learn about one type of life after high school experience. Meanwhile, the sophomores and freshmen attend SOAR which is an outdoor adventure camp for kids with ADHD and learning differences that focuses on the development of self-confidence, social skills and life skills through various activities like hiking, climbing, caving, etc.
Keeping in mind that the above activities are only a sprinkle of what can be observed on any given day throughout the halls, I think it is safe to say that Noble Academy truly provides one of the most comprehensive educational programs around!