Experiential Learning

We have found that many students with learning difficulties take in information very quickly when they experience it directly. This approach can provide context for material from academic classes as well as stand on its own as a way to pick up some essential life skills. From its inception, the Academy has emphasized learning through direct experience as the method of choice wherever possible.

There is an international trip every year for students of all ages. Students learn to take public transportation, navigate customs, and communicate in an unfamiliar place. Participants stay primarily in youth hostels, allowing them to interact with youth from all over the world. In recent years, the school has traveled to Guatemala, Iceland, Italy, Japan, and Costa Rica.

Most grade levels take a curriculum trip at the end of the school year:

Eighth graders take a train trip to either Chicago or Toronto, stay overnight, and learn to navigate the bus system and orient themselves using maps, as well as visiting local attractions.

Ninth and tenth graders take a road trip to an area associated with a specific watershed or body of water, and learn the history and ecology of that region. Recent trips have been to Cape Cod, the St. Lawrence River area, and the Ohio River Valley.

Eleventh and twelfth graders take a week-long trip each year to a major city or region of the US and learn about its ecology and history. In recent years we have traveled to Yellowstone National Park, New York City, Key West, the Grand Canyon, and through the Mississippi Delta to New Orleans.

The University of Michigan is a nearby resource for many field trips and educational opportunities which can benefit Academy students. Recently all students attended a day-long symposium in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which featured activities designed to help students find their voice and speak out against racism and oppression. We also make two field trips per year to the campus to see live theater productions by the Ann Arbor Young Actors Guild. The University Art Museum, as well as the Museums of Natural History and Archaeology, are popular destinations for class field trips. University professors and graduate students help judge our school science fair, and have been featured speakers in many Academy classes.