The Strategic Plan, and most importantly students themselves, called on St. Margaret’s to make learning more relevant and to nurture personal growth and life skills that will serve them well in school and their journey beyond.
As a part of the new schedule designed to support student health and wellness, St. Margaret’s carved out time dedicated to learning experiences that are relevant and develop important life skills. The hour-and-45-minute Innovation Block will occur nine times a year for juniors and seniors, and will provide rich opportunities for students to delve into topics and activities that are of interest to them outside the normal structure of class.
Students will choose two mini-courses from offerings that were created based on input from them and faculty. Offerings include skills-based classes such as cooking, personal finance and investing, detecting disinformation in modern media, resume and career development, safety and personal health in college, graphic design and entrepreneurship; health and wellness classes such as yoga, mindfulness and meditation, hiking and positive psychology; and passion classes such as film art, fantasy sports and analytics, handcrafts, and eSports. Two sessions of mini-courses will run during the Innovation Block through the year and tap experiential opportunities to get students practicing and applying their new learned skills and include personal reflection.
Student excitement is palpable for the new program.
“We have the opportunity to learn things that will be useful in life that don’t fall into a typical classroom environment,” said senior Matthew Margason.
Senior Matthew Colglazier added: “The most powerful part is it opens up a whole new dimension of things we learn. Much of what we learn is centered around core academic areas, but in reality, it’s about learning in every aspect of your life.”
The notion of choice also resonated with students.
“The fact that I was able to choose increases my anticipation and excitement for what we get to do,” said senior Will Reinkensmeyer.
Added senior Emily Sun: “I am excited about the freedom to do something at school you might not normally do, and bond with classmates with a common interest.”
The Innovation Block supports Strategic Plan goals around expanding experiential learning, developing student health and wellness programs and cultivating important life skills. Through ethnographic research with students as a part of the design thinking process, students told school leaders that they wanted more relevancy to their learning, connection with others and better use of time.
“We created the Innovation Block in response to clear messages from students and in alignment with our strategic goals,” said Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives Ryan Dahlem. “School schedules often restrict innovation, but in this case our new schedule is driving it.”
The following is the entire list of Innovation Block offerings for juniors and seniors during the 2018-2019 school year.
- College 101: Safety and Personal Health in College
- 5 Hacks to Prep You for Your Career Journey and Get You Hired
- Detecting Disinformation: Developing Modern Media Literacy
- Dorm Room Cooking
- Personal Finance and Investing 101
- eSports and Gaming
- Fantasy Sports and Analytics
- Graphic Design
- Hiking and the Outdoors
- How to Start a Start-Up
- Intro to Film Art (and TV too!)
- Mindfulness and Meditation
- DIY Handcrafts
- Experiencing Positive Psychology
- Yoga: Find Your Strength, Feel Your Peace