By Sarah Beauchemin
Academic achievement is not just about getting good grades. It also means helping students learn how to apply their book knowledge to the real world so they can shape their own success and be a positive influence in their community.
Ingenuity Charter School – an independent study program that blends online learning with in-class instruction to serve underrepresented San Diego high schoolers – helps its students become curious, involved lifetime learners through regular monthly field trips.
The field trip destinations for Ingenuity’s 2018-19 school year include a wide array of cultural, educational and natural settings. For example, they have visited San Diego State University, attended a performance at The Old Globe Theatre, and will be touring the Birch Aquarium, Whaley House, San Diego Superior Courthouse and local community colleges this spring.
Finding connection through nature
Some of the most impactful field trips for Ingenuity students have been the ones that take place out in nature.
This year, Ingenuity partnered with Outdoor Outreach – a San Diego nonprofit that facilitates physical outdoor experiences to connect youth with the transformative power of the outdoors. This provides Ingenuity’s students with the resources and opportunities they need to become successful, happy and healthy adults.
“Living in San Diego allows us to do many great activities that connect us with the natural world around us,” said Brian Maytorena, instructor and field trip coordinator for Ingenuity Charter School. “Yet many of our students have not ever had these opportunities. These field trips focus mainly on activities that get our students engaged with the world around them.”
The list of outdoor adventures for Ingenuity high schoolers this year is exhaustive. They include surfing, outdoor and indoor rock climbing, snowboarding, a high ropes course, tide pooling, mountain biking, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and hiking.
“Our students tend to have unique needs, talents and interests,” said Maytorena. “I believe that by offering a diverse amount of field trips we can reach the highest number of students.”
Helping to inform in-class studies
The field trips also allow Ingenuity instructors to encourage their students to challenge themselves and participate in things they would not normally do. Much of this includes visits to sites that complement the subjects students are learning in class.
For instance, if a student is taking a Government class, they can attend the field trip to the Superior Courthouse for additional context. Or if they are enrolled in Biology or Earth Sciences courses, they can participate in the hiking or tide pooling field trips, which show ecological connections to their own personal lives as well as the importance of preserving resources.
To be sure, the field trips help Ingenuity students gain exposure to a range of real world situations, both in nature and the working world.
But another crucial benefit is that these trips greatly improve students’ interpersonal and social skills. Many Ingenuity students come from challenging backgrounds where they do not always have the opportunity or support to fully develop these essential tools for lifelong success.
“I feel that many of our students do not know many other students,” said Stephanie Hall, Resource Specialist at Ingenuity. “These field trips allow the students to meet their peers and socialize outside of the classroom. Since we have started going on the field trips, I feel that they have become much more engaged in the events.”
The feedback from students about Ingenuity’s vibrant and diverse field trip program has been overwhelmingly positive. Teachers meet regularly with their students to learn what field trips students think will prove to be the most useful in their post-high school lives and careers.
“It is my hope that these unique experiences provide that spark to encourage further study of their own interests,” said Maytorena. “This in turn will drive and give direction to their lives after high school graduation. I believe that these field trips can be a powerful and motivating force for our student population.”
For more information about Ingenuity, please call (619) 262-2046 or visit www.ingenuitycharter.org