Experiential Ed's many Opportunities

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It’s the beginning of an exciting year in the Experiential Education Department. Not only has the personnel changed, but the scope and structure is shifting as well.  

The department has welcomed two new members of the team, Laura Brown and Chrissy Wakeling (’02), both Assistant Directors of the Experiential Education Department.

“I love being on this team. We all bring different strengths and it’s really fascinating to work with Laura and Kent,” says Wakeling. “Laura and I balance each other out in different ways. We’re able to bounce a lot ideas off each other.”

The Experiential Education department has always handled Outdoor Ed trips, Project Week, service days, and clubs, but this year they will be taking on Senior Projects as well. The department structure has also shifted, and the work is no longer owned by individuals.

“Experiential Education is changing its model to be fully collaborative in everything we do,” says Kent Renno, Chair of the Experiential Education Department. The team meets often to coordinate their efforts. They will still have a point person for each department facet, but all of them will be a part of making things happen, especially for things like Project Week or service days that happen on a specific day or week.

Restructuring also comes with an opportunity for reflection. “With two new people, it’s a great time for us to ask the ‘whys’. ‘Why are we doing this? Is this the best way or best for the students?’” says Renno. “’Oh that’s just the way we do it’ isn’t good enough. We are a school for education and that means for everyone, not just for the students. As adults we’re always learning and improving our craft.”

As the year gets underway, the team will use this knowledge to create a plan for the future of the department. They will work closely with Flavia Vidal, the new Director of Teaching and Learning, to cast a long term vision for the department that aligns with the school’s multiyear strategic plan. Wakeling is particularly excited to find new ways to collaborate with other departments like the Idea Lab and DEJI team and even to find ways to relate the things their department does. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be having social justice conversations and incorporate that work into the Project Weeks or senior projects. We want to find ways to mix and support each other in those pillars,” says Wakeling.

As an alum, Wakeling bring a unique perspective on the work and fondly remembers Project Weeks and Outdoor ed experiences as some of her most memorable experiences at Overlake. “I got to learn about and challenge myself and push myself in ways I didn’t know I was capable of being pushed. That’s what I’m excited to keep providing for students here,” she says.

There’s still room in upcoming Outdoor ed trips with more being added all the time. Look at the options and sign up here.