This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Posted April 17, 2015
- a parent
Words that I never, I mean never ever in a billion years, thought I'd hear out of my 16 year old son ."Mom, I can't wait to work on my science homework. It's going to be so cool. Do you wanna hear my idea?" Need I say more? Thank you Explorations Academy!
I watched my daughter, a very bright and creative introvert enter Explorations Academy as a student who liked to observe and not offer her perspective or share her insights in groups, a student who held back in giving her all to her assigned work, avoid attending school whenever possible, doing bare minimum - go to being an A student, pushing her boundaries, giving her best, challenging herself, engaged with the teachers and fellow students, inspired to do her work, develop independence, accountability, confidence and courage. One of the most jaw dropping developments was discovering her ability to write with profound depth and flow - insights that moved me so deeply. This creative ability was nurtured and encouraged by her adviser and mentor Kiira, who coordinates the fantastic mentoring program in the school. Explorations Academy has such a commitment to acknowledging the students as individuals, in community . The teachers and staff are an incredible community of people who are dedicated to an education that prepares students to be the best they can be - confident, connected, capable, present, well educated individuals. Thank you Explorations Academy - WOW, what a gift!!!!
My son has just completed his first term at Explorations Academy High School. He began his freshman year of high school at a good public high school here in Bellingham. Within that first year he came to realize that he wanted to learn in smaller classrooms, have more dedicated attention from his teachers because of the smaller class size and be challenged to find his destiny and his fullest human potential. He seems to have found that here at Explorations Academy. Each of the teachers challenge him to find his own voice, to be held accountable for his finest work and acknowledge the unique human being that his is. The curriculum and the teachers model the possibility of crafting a life rather then just living their life. They encourage the students to find a life of "meaning" rather then simply "doing". We are very happy to have found such a supportive place for our son as well as a place that prepares young people to enter their world with the confidence and compassion to make a difference.
As the father of a 16 year old daughter attending Explorations Academy, I am nothing short of amazed at what this team is accomplishing. My daughter is inspired, engaged, activated, charged with energy and thriving. I could list many areas in which I have seen growth since she began, but I will mention just one: her ability to express herself. Since starting at Explorations, Samia's ability to articulate her ideas and in particular, her opinions have blossomed substantially. This is no doubt the work of the intellectually potent class environment... Adding to and reinforcing these abilities have been a huge leap in her vocabulary. What you are doing is academically expansive - no explosive - while staying exceptionally relevant to the life of an adolescent and at the same time to the needs of a rapidly changing world which is in many ways in crisis. All the while, you have incorporated the arts, exercise and movement, wilderness exploration and international excursions - not as isolated items, but integrated seamlessly into the organic nature of how the terms are designed. The teacher s dedication, creativity and enthusiasm for the curriculum is clear. Well done!
My son is in his first year at Exploration. I am excited to see how he has developed confidence as a student. The caring staff has supported and encouraged him in his development. They teach the students to be comfortable with who they are while encouraging them to strive for excellence. My son is learning amongst a peer group that respects each person s individuality both socially and academically. It is a psychologically safe environment where students do not have to be distracted with social posturing and can focus on learning in a cooperative, healthy social environment. Through practical involvement in the local and global community, students develop a sense of hope and capability while learning in and about the world. I am happy to see my son excited about going to school and enthusiastic about learning.
I have spent quite a bit of time at Explorations as a visiting educator. I have been blown away by the curriculum, field opportunities and sense of community I have seen. It is highly evident that the staff is very passionate about teaching, but also about learning. They consistently strive to create meaningful curriculum and present it in a fresh, exciting way to tailor to many different learning styles. In turn, the students feel comfortable discussing, analyzing, thinking critically, and immersing themselves in what they are learning. Because they are committed to their education, and have faith in their teachers, they have respect for each other as individual thinkers, their facility, and the ongoing opportunities they have as students. I have been in many different schools, but have never seen the students and the staff come together to build a foundation of wellness, education, and community that thrives. They go beyond jumping through educational loopholes; the learning is meaningful and applicable. The students are becoming passionate, respectful critical thinkers that will benefit the well-being of their communities.
I visited the site last night. Students, parents and staff gathered for a potluck dinner and presentation by the head administrator. It was refreshing to be lead as a group to discuss current topics in our lives and our community. Each table was a mix of parents, students and staff, therefore we had an opportunity to hear from three aspects of the school community. Not only do I get a sense of the students' perspective, but I get to share with them how I value their learning environment and share with them my desire to support them in their academic and personal growth.
My son attended Explorations Academy for four years and recently graduated. He is a very bright and unusually creative young person who just didn't fit into the institutional school mold. At Explorations, he was able to find his own path and express himself in his own ways -- while being exposed to very bright and creative teachers and a highly relevant academic curriculum. Further, Explorations provided him the opportunity to travel to India, Peru, and Kenya during his high school years, which gave him a window on global citizenship most young people only dream of. He is now in his second year at university and our family is very grateful for the experience he had at Explorations Academy.
It is hard to overstate what a great experience Explorations Academy has been for my son. He graduated last month with a wealth of experience most don t receive in a life time. Not only did he do well in his studies he got to travel to Cuba this year to learn firsthand the differences between our two countries. (He had gone to Guatemala for a month his first year at Explorations and to Indonesia for a month his junior year.) He ranked in the top 90 percentile of all American students when he took his SATs this year and if this wasn t enough to be impressed with the job Explorations was doing just ask my son and he will tell you that he really enjoyed going to school there. As a parent I can only say how proud I am of my son and how happy I am with Explorations Academy.