Fifth and sixth grade at Rohan Woods begin with a real adventure. Each September, the independent, coeducational elementary school for students age 2 through grade six takes its older students on a trip designed to let them flex their leadership muscles, bond with their classmates and get hands-on, immersive lessons in science.
This year, students traveled to California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains to visit Yosemite National Park. For four days, they hiked and learned about the park’s environment, terrain and wildlife and what it takes to survive there. Most importantly, they got a chance to sharpen their skills in leadership, problem solving, team building, communication, courage and collaboration—all central values of the school’s mission.
“Not only do students get to experience all of the science happening in one of the most amazing national parks, but they also get to practice vital soft skills with their peers,” says Kim Breckenridge, the science specialist at the school. “This is a big advantage that a Rohan Woods student has in their transition to secondary school and development into young adults.”
The experience also is meant to complement the school’s challenging curriculum and project approach, particularly its strong science program. Prior to departing on the trip, the students spend time in the classroom learning about the topics they’ll explore in real life. The location alternates each year; in 2020, students will travel to Huntsman Marine Science Center in Nova Scotia to study marine biology and immerse themselves in an entirely new environment and landscape. “Children are exposed to two completely different regions that require unique skillsets to study the culture and the environment,” head of school Sam Templin-Page says.
To ensure students get the most out of the trip, they are accompanied by school staff instead of parent volunteers, marking the first time many of them are away from their families for an extended time. “Besides helping students develop leadership skills, the larger purpose behind these trips is to give them an opportunity to be independent and make mistakes,” Templin-Page says. “They rise to the challenge of navigating travel logistics, taking care of their belongings and staying organized.”
This year, one of the group’s connecting flights was cancelled late at night, stranding them in Dallas until the next morning, which tested their flexibility in a way that could never be replicated in the classroom, Templin-Page notes. “It takes a lot of courage for fifth- and sixth-graders to venture away from their comfortable homes,” she says. “There are a lot of unknowns, but we help coach these kids through new situations, and they handle it like champs. Of course, it is always more fun to travel and experience new things if you are doing it with 20 of your best friends.”
Rohan Woods, located at 1515 Bennett Ave., is a coeducational elementary school for students age 2 through grade six. It hosts an Admissions Open House from 9 to 11 a.m. Nov. 5. Pictured on the cover: Students in Yosemite National Park. For more information, call 314.821.6270 or visit rohanwoods.org.
Cover design by Julie Streiler
Cover photo courtesy of Rohan Woods School
Pictured at top: Fifth- and sixth-grade students took school lessons outside of the classroom with a trip to Yosemite National Park in California.
Photo courtesy of Rohan Woods School