Q: When is a Principia Upper Schooler not a Principia Upper Schooler?
A: During Experiential Education Week, when they are lawyers, entrepreneurs, diplomats, or non-profit directors.
Experiential Education Week, or EE Week, is an opportunity for Upper Schoolers to put their learning into practice, providing real-world context for their daily classwork. “The more we can give our kids real world experiences and let them interact with the real world, [the more] we build strong academics,” explains Upper School Principal Samantha Dry. “It's about developing the skills of the child so that they can engage with academics in a stronger way.”
In planning this year’s EE Week, Dry and the Upper School faculty planned four grade level-specific programs: Freshmen explored entrepreneurship while visiting small businesses around the St. Louis area; Sophomores performed mini-internships, shadowing professionals in a variety of occupations; Juniors worked with regional organizations to advance solutions for the annual Impact Challenge; and Seniors got a crash course in real-world life skills.
“Seniors traveled through rotations learning basic life skills taught by community experts, including baking/cooking, budgeting, job prep and resume building, sewing with a professional seamstress, and even basic car maintenance,” explains senior class coordinator Grace Hinthorne (US’XX C’XX).
Meanwhile, shadowing local professionals gave sophomores a preview of the skills they’ll need to succeed later in life. Sophomore class coordinator Beth Juell-Pomeroy says, “The sophomore job-shadow opportunity was a phenomenal educational experience that took the students beyond the walls of the classroom. Students were involved in careers such as law, small business, cooking, sports management, and engineering. They learned how to use spreadsheets, contributed to financial analysis, and developed communication and interpersonal skills.”
One of Juell-Pomeroy’s students, Amerie, summed up the week this way: “While shadowing the law firm, I learned about the important skills that a lawyer needs and the daily activities a lawyer does. We visited a law firm, a law school, and even attended some meetings. I could not be more grateful for this experience; it has truly helped me see that the law profession is something that I want to study in college and given me a greater insight into what work life is like."
“Experiential Education Week is four days. And yet in some ways, it’s the most authentic and impactful week of the year,” she reflects. “It’s authentic, it’s relevant, it’s transferable education.”