Leveraging the Community

So as part of our strategic planning conversations recently, we’ve been talking and thinking a lot about how we can give our students more “real-life” opportunities as part of their school experience. Things like community based and regionally based service learning trips, experiential field trips, and internships, where kids can get out into the world as young people to not only affect some positive change, but to gain some rich life experience as well. I know that these experiences will absolutely help them to uncover a passion or a spark that will give them some added purpose, focus and meaning in their lives, and these experiences will teach them some important life skills that simply cannot be taught in a traditional classroom environment. 


We’re looking at this as a school wide initiative, beginning in the lower school and moving up through the grades, and it’s exciting to think about how we can leverage some learning opportunities outside the walls of our campus. I’m really intrigued by the idea of student internships and service learning projects that get kids out into the community for days or even weeks at a time. I know of some schools that frame much of their curriculum around the idea of community based learning, and their focus is to show students that learning doesn’t need to be confined to the classroom. In some school programs it’s actually the students who create their own learning experiences and schedules, and in many instances they spend more time away from the classroom than in it. I know that this looks very different depending on the age of the student, but with the right support and structures in place, I think there is definitely a way to get all of our kids benefiting from experiences like these in one way or another.


Obviously, there are plenty of ways to bring some “real life” experiences into the school as well by leveraging not only our local and global community, but technology as well. We’ve been trying very hard lately to give our students as much of this as we can by taking advantage of guest speakers and guest presenters but I think we can do even more. I know in the lower school we could take better advantage of the wealth of expertise that we have in our own parent community for example, and I know that there are some untapped resources that are just waiting to be discovered and explored. It’s all very exciting for us as a school and I guess I just wanted to get you all thinking of ways that we could leverage more learning opportunities like these for our kids. 


Send some ideas my way or pop in for a chat, or even try a few things in your own classrooms…then share! Let’s all start thinking of more ways to connect student learning to real life and real world situations, and please feel empowered to stretch the learning opportunities beyond the walls of your classroom and the school. Have a wonderful week everyone and remember to be great for our kids and good to each other.

Quote of the Week…If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done

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About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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